it rained again today

I came across this poem and fell in love, not just because it’s a well-crafted piece of art but because boy, I PLAYED in the rain as a kid.

Its writer is a wonderful young man by name of Alyazid Alexander Osinachi Okoli who writes under the pseudonym, ‘The BlackInk’. (Ghen ghen):) When asked about himself, this dude only says “I am a graduate of the great University of Nigeria, read pharmacy…that’s it!”

Hmmm…this poet pipu can like to talk short short shaa. 😉

I’ll drop a little warning before I stop blabbing and post it already; Don’t read this poem as a grammar-savvy intellect or a grown person for that matter, read it like a child, through the eyes of the little boy or girl you used to be.

So! Here goes…

 

IT RAINED AGAIN TODAY

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its raining again….
my little com-com is set
i can hear its drum play
atop our zinc,…chidera lets go

slippers would bar my flow
bare-footed i set for the door
jumping like a milking goat
i scream out loud in joy

its raining again….
My little legs,dangling
held close by my dirty pant
arms spread wide, i soar in the rain

nne went to the market
as usual my plates are unwashed
but maybe she would understand
it afterall rained again, today

its raining again
legs dancing in the mud
sliding up and down the dirt
with absolute reckless abandon

what other fun beats playing
not just it,but also in the rain
screaming,”rain rain go away”
but wishing it poured down

more more and more

it rained again today
mama’s Cain awaits my bum-bum
but right now who cares
tell her it rained again today

– the blackINK.

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THIS THING CALLED…WEDDING.

I attended the early morning mass today; it’s Ascension Thursday. I was early (for an early morning mass, can you imagine?!) so I sat just outside the door and smoked a joint while I waited. LOL…ok, goofs stop here.

I sat and watched people shuffle past me to sit in different pews. There was quite a handful of people but one couple caught my attention; the man was in a suit and the lady wore a simple black dress so it wasn’t their dressing. What drew and kept my attention was the thing they had going for them. They giggled, laughed, never stopped touching – they were clearly in love. I was seated a few seats behind them so I just looked on with this silly half-smile on my face, crying and wailing “Lawwd, see ME!!!!”

When altar activity indicated that the priest would soon be out, the lady picked up a black polythene bag I hadn’t noticed before then, and stepped outside. Moments later as she passed by me enroute her seat, I did a double take. She had changed into a white wedding gown with a train and veil to boot, jewelry winked from her arm, neck and in her hair. A little murmur swept through the sparsely-occupied church and she smiled this small demure J and took her seat. I was dumbstruck and enraged – Cinderella came to church and nobody saw it fit to pre-inform me?!

We all learnt eventually that it was their wedding day, Cinderella and her prince. They wanted a really really small wedding with – the Monsignor made sure to add – “no noise”. I slept through most of the homily – blame it on the sexy-chilly morning – but I was wide awake through the wedding parts where they exchanged vows, rings and kisses.

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What is the deal on This Thing Called Wedding?

Why do people spend so much money and time planning a wedding only to suffer through the day worrying over who received a souvenir and who did not, or who ate the goat meat reserved for the Umunna? When did weddings stop being about a man and a woman, excited as toddlers at the park, committing their lives to a union of love in the presence of God and man? And become a (townspeople) + (friends)*(ex-friends + people-you-never-met-before) reunion? When did it become about having THE wedding of the year and because you never could have afforded it, spending your honeymoon cooped up with your partner eating Pringles and playing ludo?

Some days ago, I met up with friends from my university days for a mini-reunion. Because the rest of us hadn’t been at her wedding about a month back, Jane regaled us with tales of her new life with her ‘my baby’ – she kept calling him that…all dis freshly-married people can know how to make somebori jealous shaa. Anyhow, we got talking about weddings and she mentioned that all she had wanted was a traditional marriage and a wedding blessing. She had eventually agreed to a church wedding one day after her traditional marriage and it had been a small one; a small, happy and classy church wedding (see here if you can’t remember the details).

I asked Ifeanyi what kind of wedding he envisioned when he imagined his; he wants his traditional marriage and white wedding to hold within the same week witnessed by only close friends and family. He thinks it foolhardy to have “the whole wide world at my wedding on top my own pocket!”

Ekene is a friend whose personality is the exact opposite of Ifeanyi’s. Surprisingly, he wanted the same type of wedding as Ifeanyi – “small and classy with very close friends, cousins, uncles and aunts who have actually spoken to me before,” Ekene said. He went further to place a limit on the number of guests he would have at his wedding – “100 and not half a baby more.”

I asked another friend, a female. Your guess is as bewilderedly true as mine – Kaka also wants “a small and classy wedding with just family and a few close friends”.

My poll on ‘This Thing Called…Wedding’ was targeted at young men and women, 20-30 years old who were unmarried, about to be married or less than a year old in marriage. The ‘small and classy wedding with close friends and family’ party won by a landslide over the ‘big wedding with paparazzi and screaming crowds’ party.

Who then wants the big weddings? Who wants the noise, the crowd and the paparazzi? We have them every weekend, in those town halls, school auditoriums and even out in the open to accommodate as many people as are interested. If nobody starts out wanting them, how then do people end up with these weddings?

My research fingered society as the major culprit. My sources will remain anonymous for those of you looking for who to carry wedding-akpo for, but according to them, society in this context means those people you know or have met who will get offended because they didn’t receive invitations to your wedding, THEN show up anyway. They are those people who you sent invitations just so you don’t hurt their feelings, only for them to show up with an entourage. They are also those ones who because they want to do something nice for you – either for genuine or selfish reasons – reproduce your wedding invitation cards and disperse them unto the biblical fertile soil.

We all want our weddings to be about us – that special day where you smile, laugh and dance the best and most you ever have, and then get to treasure the memory forever with the one you love. By virtue of its nature, big weddings rarely ever deliver that yet many a couple find themselves having one.

So if you want a small wedding and you already feel the choice slipping through your fingers with calls and mails from old colleagues and acquaintances who just assume they are invited and “can’t wait to see you at the wedding”, here’s a tip from my wedding-savvy source: HAVE IT SOMEWHERE FAR FAR FAR AWAY. Have your traditional marriage at home – one, it’s tradition; two, ‘they’ always elect to attend the white wedding. If you can afford it, stage it abroad. If you can’t afford it or if like me, it doesn’t sit right with you to wed outside Nigeria, hit google.ng. Search out little places far away from the region where you have spent most of your life. That way, only family and friends who care enough to go through the trouble of travel will be at your wedding. Also, you save some money to have yourselves some good ol’ delicious honeymoon.

Maybe I’m being overly sentimental or hurried in my judgment, but I daresay everybody likes a small, happy wedding. Yours doesn’t have to be without family like the couple whose story I shared at the start of this piece, and you definitely can choose to wear your gown to church rather than bring it in a bag. But if it’s small and classy and filled with joy and laughter, everybody likes it. You best.

That said; I will add that there is nothing wrong with having a big, loud and classy wedding, so far as it is the wedding you and your partner want. That is really all that matters – your choice. Your happiness.

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So what do you think of ‘This Thing Called Wedding’? Have you had any relevant experiences or do you know any secrets or tips for having the dream wedding – big or small? Don’t be shellfish, SHARE IT!

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ON TOP D MATTER: Weeks 9 & 10 of the National Confab

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It’s been two weeks-plus since my last update ON TOP D MATTER of the ongoing National Conference and a lot has happened. WAW brings you recapitulated roll-call of events over the time since then…

  1. NGN3 Trillion Security Allocation:

On the 19th of May, Femi Falana, SAN, while contributing to a debate on the rescue of the abducted Chibok students, alleged that the government from 2010 to 2014, voted N3 trillion on security and expressed concern that nothing much has come out of it in the face of continued security challenges and ill- equipped nature of the country’s soldiers. He therefore urged his fellow delegates to demand that the government account for the manner in which this allocation was spent. His motion met stiff opposition from other delegates like Iyom Josephine Anenih, Chief Anayo Nnebe and Chief Mike Ahamba, SAN. No more was said on the proposed probe.

 

  1. Dead delegates and Replacements:

The National Conference sitting in Abuja was on the 5th of May, Monday hit by another sad news of the death of a delegate, Dr Mohammed Abubakar Jumare age 71, from Kaduna State. Dr Jumare who came to the Conference as an Elder Statesman died in the early hours of Monday in Abuja and was buried later in the day in Zaria. Until his death, he was Chairman of the Local Government Service Commission, Kaduna state. The confab you will remember had earlier lost retired police AIG Hamma Misau from Bauchi state.

Earlier on Tuesday, the 20th, two new delegates emerged to replace the two deceased delegates. They are ex-AIG Ahmed Ibrahim Baba and Alhaji Sidi Amin, who were introduced to other delegates after the committees reconvened for plenary.

 

  1. Extension By Four Weeks:

Vanguard reported that the Federal Government on Thursday, the 22nd of May extended the National Conference by four weeks to make up for lost time occasioned by many public holidays and the hosting of the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA). With this, the conference will now end on July 17, 2014 and not on June 17, 2014 as was scheduled.

Chairman of the conference, Justice Idris Kutigi, announced this to delegates, saying that after a meeting with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, the Federal Government agreed to grant the conference four weeks extension. He revealed that the conference had applied for six weeks to enable it cover some lost grounds but was instead granted four weeks. Deliberating on the issues, the conference secretariat suggested that sittings should also be held on Saturdays and Sundays.

However, delegates rejected the idea and suggested that two hours of lunch time should be reduced to one hour. Again, that was not taken as the secretariat use the two hours lunch time to prepare minutes of proceedings of the conference.

 

  1. Land:

The Land Tenure Matters and National Boundaries Committee has recommended the removal of the Land Use Act from the Constitution because its poor implementation has worsened land problems in the country.

According to the General A. B. Mamman-led committee, the new Constitution should give all Nigerians the right to have access to and own land irrespective of ethnic origin, class or gender as well as the right of communities to have land protected from human activities that would hinder or degrade the productivity of such land, through pollution and flooding.

It recommended the right of landowners to adequate compensation commensurate with current market value and social attributes of land in the event of acquisition by the government for public purpose, and that prior to government acquiring any land from any community, there must be compensation and when the government fails to use the land for a period of 10 years, it would forfeit the land and return it to the people.

 

  1. 13% Derivation for Oil-producing states:

The issue of percentage derivation of oil proceeds is presently at 13% for oil-producing states but it wasn’t that way as at the time inner-caucus proceedings commenced. Delegates majorly from the Niger-Delta pushed for a 50% derivation against the 13% which was status quo. Their counterparts from the North sought to further reduce the 13% to 5%. After debates, a resolution was agreed upon, leaving the derivation as it was for oil-producing states – at 13%. What this means is that for all oil proceeds remitted to the Federal Government, 13% would first be paid to oil-producing states as derivation, a certain percentage to the Federal Government for administration and the remaining percentage shared equally among all states including the oil-producing ones.

Speaking with Sunday Vanguard on the 24th of May, former governor of Akwa Ibom state, Obong Victor Attah who is the Co-Chairman, Committee on Devolution of Power, said the decision to retain the 13% derivation was taken to ensure that certain things were protected within the entity called Nigeria and to guard against what may lead to secession or further inflict wounds against the backdrop that the country was, at the moment, facing security challenges.

 

 

  1. $1 Trillion for Niger-Delta Clean-up:

SOUTH-SOUTH delegates yesterday decried the harm wrought on Niger-Delta environment by oil exploitation and demanded $1trillion about N160 trillion to clean up the region and save the inhabitants. The demand came on a day that Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark warned that Niger Delta might be wiped out without urgent clean up as delegates disagreed over the recommendations of the Committee on Environment.

Lamenting the untold hardship Niger Deltans living along the coastal lines face, he recalled that the United Nations had, in 2011, submitted a report to the Federal government stating that it would take 30 years and $20 billion to clean up the oil spills in the Niger Delta region. He said it was sad that it took the Federal Government two years to set up a committee to consider the report.

In her contribution, a Federal  Government delegate, Ms Annkio Briggs who urged the Federal Government to commence the process of clean-up of the Niger-Delta with initial budget of one trillion US Dollars,  stressed that what was happening in the region was destructive and caused by environmental pollution and degradation as a result of gas flaring and oil spillage.

 

  1. Northern Bid to Scrap NDDC, Niger-Delta Ministry Fails:

Attempts by northern delegates to adopt a proposal for scrapping the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, hit a brick wall as delegates overwhelmingly opposed the proposal. The North, in a position submitted by Professor Aishatu Madawaki, a delegate from Sokoto State, said the existing ministry and agency were a duplication of the Federal Ministry of Environment, since they were performing similar functions.

They proposed that in a situation where the ministry and agency were allowed to remain, then a similar body be created equally for the northern region to take care of its soil erosion, desert encroachment, desertification and deforestation, among other issues in the region. But the proposal did not sail through as delegates opposed it.

Speculations are rife that the bid was born of the drawn-out debates over the 13% derivation paid to oil-producing states from oil proceeds.

 

 

  1. Churches, Mosques Will Now Pay Tax:

DELEGATES at the on- going National Conference yesterday, the 27th of May voted to enlist churches, mosques and religious organizations into the tax net. If the recommendations of the Conference sail through the National Assembly, leaders of religious bodies will be subjected to paying of tax like other Nigerians, business men, government organisations and enterprises.

The decision to make religious bodies pay taxes came up when a delegate representing Civil Organisations, Mallam Naseer Kura in his contribution to the debate on the report observed that religious leaders were making much money and should be taxed.

Also in his contribution, a delegate representing the Nigeria Guild of Editors, Isaac Ighure frowned at the situation where according to him pastors and heads of churches make too much money with some of them owning private jets. “Some people buy private jets when people in their churches are suffering and living in abject poverty, they should be made to pay taxes,” he submitted.

The delegates in their deliberation on the report of the committee on religion also voted that federal and state governments should stop the sponsorship of Islamic and Christian pilgrimages.

A move to scrap Islamic and Christian pilgrims’ boards however, led to an uproar which forced the conference leadership to move the vote on the issue to today, the 28th.

Delegates also rejected a motion for setting aside Fridays as free working days when the matter came up for voting.

 

 

  1. Will Delegates Fast For Nigeria?

Earlier yesterday, a delegate, Prof. Yusuf Turaki had blamed both Northern political and religious leaders for allowing Boko Haram insurgents to fester in the region. Turaki, who spoke while making his contribution to the debate on the report of the conference Committee on Religion at the plenary on Tuesday, warned that Northern Nigeria is at the brinks of collapse and ruin solely on account of religious extremism, militancy, fanaticism and bigotry.

Also contributing, a delegate from Benue State, Senator Jack Tilley-Gyado, suggested that delegates should observe a three-day fast to seek the face of God concerning many sins being committed by those in authority, including past leaders some of whom he said were part of the ongoing conference.

“Please don’t serve lunch for three days” he implored, “We will achieve peace and those who are overweight will lose weight. We should go back and create the middle class. I know that no human beings can equal the Holly Books. But we are not reading them, we are not practicing them”.

 

Will the delegates go with this fast agenda?

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Today and the next three days will tell…

 

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Call for Entries for 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature

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Etisalat Nigeria, today announced the call for entries for the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature, the second edition of the much celebrated innovative literature prize launched in 2013. The Etisalat Prize for Literature which is the first Pan African Literary Award to celebrate African fiction writers seeks to recognise, celebrate and reward debut fiction writers of African descent whose works are published in the last 24 months.

According to the Acting Chief Executive Officer at Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, “the Etisalat Prize for Literature serves as a platform for the discovery of new creative writing talent out of the African continent and is the first prize with the novel concept of also promoting the growing publishing industry in Africa. The winner receives a cash prize of £15,000 in addition to a fellowship at the prestigious University of East Anglia. The winner and shortlisted writers receive a sponsored two-city tour promoting their books.”

The acting CEO highlighted that following the success of the maiden edition last year, the literary community is eagerly awaiting this second edition. NoViolet Bulawayo won the maiden edition of the Etisalat Prize for Literature with her highly celebrated debut novel “We Need New Names”. The Etisalat Prize accepts submitted works which must be a writer’s first work of fiction over 30,000 words, which has been published in the last 24 months. The Etisalat Prize will also launch the online based flash fiction prize later in the year to engage the rising stars of fiction.

A Press Conference will be held in Lagos, in June, to announce the panel of judges for this year’s competition. Rules and guidelines for entry are available on www.etisalatprize.com

Entries close 8th of August 2014.

 

Whether or not the film eventually gets a ratings certificate in Nigeria, “Half of a Yellow Sun” will be seen by millions of Nigerians – Biyi Bandele, Director.

HOAY

To what group do you belong:

Group A:Are you, like millions of Nigerians, wondering why the much-touted ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ movie is still not in our cinemas?

Group B: Are you, like more millions, wondering why our ‘Aba’ boys (AREA!!!) have not flooded the markets with duplicates yet?

Or

Group C: Have you, like me, forgotten all about it?

 

The movie director, Biyi Bandele will help you find out in the lines below – an excerpt from a recent interview:

 

When I heard last month that the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board, headquartered in Abuja, had indicated that it would be unable to issue certification for “Half of a Yellow Sun” in time for the film’s release date, I naturally assumed, at first, that what we were faced with was nothing more sinister than another instance of the typical, if frustrating, culture of wilful incompetence that we’d grappled with during the making of the film — while shooting the film in Nigeria two years ago, there were times when we felt ensnared in impenetrable jungles of red tape, when we would be given the go-head by one arm of the government only to find our path blocked by the other arm.

 

I had no reason to assume that there might be anything more to it than that. I had no reason to assume, for instance, that the inability of the board to issue the film with a certificate might actually be a clumsy, heavy-handed ban in all but name.

 

After all, when the movie had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last autumn, amongst the entourage of Nigerians who flew in to Toronto for the occasion was Patricia Bala, director-general of the Nigerian censorship board. Bala had arrived in Toronto — I was told — with several of her colleagues from the censor’s office. I know for a fact that they watched the movie. I do not know for a fact that they all liked it. I cannot say if any one of them stood up when, as the end credits rolled, the audience rose and gave the film three standing ovations. But I do know that Bala was gracious enough to tell us after the screening how much she loved the movie. At no point did she express any reservations about the contents of the film.Turning Nigeria’s civil war into fiction.

 

It is now nearly eight months since Bala and her board first saw the movie in Toronto and a few weeks since she and her board have failed to issue “Half of a Yellow Sun” the certification that it needs — that the law requires it obtains before it can be shown in cinemas in Nigeria. In those several days I’ve been assailed — on Twitter, Facebook, and by email — with rumors, innuendos, half-truths, and downright lies, disseminated sometimes directly from the censorship board (they have issued at least one press statement), about why “Half of a Yellow Sun” still hasn’t been issued with a ratings certificate.

 

The board claims that is has not banned the film but certain aspects of it “have some unresolved issues which have to be sorted out in accordance with the law and laid down regulations.” It has been rumored that FilmOne, the Nigerian distributors of “Half of a Yellow Sun,” might have been late in submitting the film for certification. Not true. Most films that are screened in Nigerian cinemas are shown to the censor only a day or two before the films open to the paying public. In documentations that have been shown to me, there are instances even of movies being shown to the censor days after the movies had officially opened to the public. “Half of a Yellow Sun” was scheduled to open on April 25. It was submitted to the censorship board at least two weeks earlier.

 

I’ve also heard tell that the censorship board’s inability to make a decision about a ratings certificate for my film has been brought upon it because of a sudden concern that a movie that depicts scenes from the Biafra war might provoke “tribal violence” in a country that has in recent months been besieged with terrorist bombings and profoundly shaken by the abduction of over 200 school girls by Boko Haram.

 

Since the Toronto premiere those many months ago, I’ve seen “Half of a Yellow Sun” at other film festivals in all corners of the globe. And Nigerians being the ubiquitous people that we are have been present in the audiences — quite often in great numbers — at each of these festivals. I am yet to meet a single Nigerian who has seen the film who came out of the cinema thinking that they had just seen a film that would incite anyone to violence. If anything, more than once, I’ve been accosted by cinema-goers — some Nigerian, but really, people of all races — who have been profoundly moved by the experience of watching the film. The refrain I’ve heard from them is, war is nasty, isn’t it.

 

Whether or not the film eventually gets a ratings certificate in Nigeria, “Half of a Yellow Sun” will be seen by millions of Nigerians. The question is: will they be allowed to see it in their local cinemas and on legally acquired DVDs or will they be forced to watch it on pirate DVDs and through illegal downloads? If the biggest film that’s ever been made in Nigeria is available to Nigerians only in bootleg form, the censorship board will be doing to the Nigerian film industry what Boko Haram is trying to do to Nigeria: drive a stake through its heart. I sincerely hope they both fail.

See here for the original article

So there. At least, we know which group should be popping the champagne, among groups A, B and C. #Naija4life

#BringBackOurCountry

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MY BEEF WITH DAME JONATHAN

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It gets tiring having to repeat the same thing to different people. So I will say it one more time,

I DO NOT HATE IYAWO JONATHAN!

She is wife of the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and I will now coman be hating her? Shebi I chop raw craze??

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All my morale can muster is a little beef, just a tiny amount of beef with the first lady. If you are salivating because of all these mentions of beef, you should get off my blog right now! Hahahaha, gotcha! Just joking…seriously though, GERROUT!!!

So the beef…TINY beef, remember…

I was on facebook the other time and this young man updated his status with ramblings about all the great things Mrs. Jonathan had done for her hubby in their wee years as a couple, and how those things made her the Mother Theresa of VWI – Virtuous Women Incorporated – and how God had rewarded her for her virtue with the position of first lady, and how as a result, we (ebullient me included) ought to shut our bad belle mouths and give her some respect. Cha e!

My honest reaction? I just tire! If there exists a Nigerian out there who believes this yiddi-yadda enough to pull out his Nokia phone, tap it out on his keypad, raise the 3-ft network pole and upload it on facebook, then I will…*curses*relobusnxhcouwujsdhpdhow@%*#(hhlfhoh&((*^*(Y&jhk*incantations*… calm down and blame it on Mark Zuckerberg.

Questionses: Since when did VWI become an issue in these spheres? And since when did first ladyship become the divine reward for virtuousness? Mama Oboks down the road is virtuous as far as I know – at least her bòlè tastes like virtuous rainbows – yet she is not even the first lady of her own home. Okay, let us assume that we are in version 2.0 of Planet Earth and here, first ladyship and Mother-ship of the VWI were the reward for virtuousness. Even then, did I ever wonder to the hearing of any being, living or non-living, above or below the earth, about the virtue or lack thereof of Dame Jonathan?

I do not have a problem with the rise to first ladyship of Dame Jonathan or her virtue for that matter. And for Virtue’s…sorry, Pete’s sake, I do not have a problem with her distorted reincarnation of the English language! For once, people, focus! I would respect a good president who intermittently used Pidgin English on national TV; because communication aims for comprehension, Pidgin English is ‘official’ for Nigerians. I wouldn’t crucify the first lady, or any public official for lack of command of the intricacies of the English language. Not because English language is not our first language as some Dameists blindly argue – please ask them which language is then OUR first language in Nigeria? – but simply because gbagaun or the lack of gbagaun isn’t, fitn’t, wasn’t, weren’t, justn’t, wouldn’t and shouldn’t be the issue!

The attention we pay to the gbagaun is merely what it is – a cure for gloom and heartache, entertainment which I enjoy with no apologies along with millions of people out there and – google it if you doubt me – a muse for hundreds of creative Nigerian youths out there.

I have sat in a room and listened to a guy distort the color of my shirt with a mixed vitriolic stream of gbagaun and saliva. But I sat till he finished and even then, I applauded him because in the book of Common Sense Chapter 1 versus 0.5, and I read: “I have come for all who speak sense and make a valid point, gbagaun or no gbagaun”. Besides, our reality in Nigeria is a lot of uneducated people, a lot of mis-educated people, a lot of half-educated people, and a lot still, of educated people.

My beef with the first lady on this matter of the #ChibokGirls is the fact that I am convinced she was putting on a show – a poorly directed show. I have heard argument that her heart was indeed moved over the plight of the #ChibokGirls and I wonder: how long does it take to move her heart? Shebi it is rock of Gibraltar? I have also heard argument that she was just crying out of love for her husband and the persecution he is undergoing at the hands of Saul and his gang of Naija-turtle Ninjas. To which I habatically say again, Cha e!

It took two weeks for the First lady to convene a meeting to discuss the issue of the kidnapped girls. And when she did, she made some grandiose comments that convinced us that the only reason SuperWoman can’t last on TV is because she dwells in our midst…in Aso rock! See here for her exact comments. As I tap out these words on my google map-enabled typewriter, Madam Jonathan is yet to lead that army to Sambisa. She is yet to lay a strand of her royal hair on the line for the rescue of the girls, ya fozikwa her wholesome self, as per her word.

But never mind those things she has not done because really, she has done enough. She has gone on national TV to let us know that the first lady called the principal and other people involved to coman find their childs, but na only them waka come. She put on a real show, as fake as it was hilarious, trying to convince Nigeria – I am scarred to believe – that she is in pain for the kidnapped girls. She has also allowed us – graciously, mind you – the privilege of witnessing firsthand, a display of executive sorrow. At least, I can finally put on my CV that I watched the first lady of Nigeria cry and her handkerchief was really white.

Indeed, she has done enough. In my dreams, I actually imagine Dame Jonathan being a woman of her word, starting with the proclamations she made when she finally came out and we were expecting ‘something’ to happen. I imagine the fine-faced Mama singing into Oga Jona’s hairy ears at night, begging – like Ruth of the Holy Bible – for him to speed up actions to #BringBackOurGirls. In my dream, I see her shedding those tears at the forefront of a peaceful crowd camped and protesting at the presidential doorstep or at the Senate or at Chibok, just like she promised. I imagine her organizing the Nigerian women into a fist whose punch the entire world couldn’t possibly stand. But only in my dreams. Because morning comes and reality sets in, Dame Patience Jonathan has done enough.

I rest my beef.

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P.S. If you steal it and eat it, I won’t even curse or chase after you. Afterall #diarisgodo!

 

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FCT Corps members visit Nyanya Bomb Blast Victims

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The corps members of NYSC Environmental Protection and Sanitation CDS Group, FCT on Friday 16th May visited the Nyanya bomb blast victims at Asokoro District Hospital Abuja.

On arrival, the group was welcomed by the hospital secretary, Mr Iliyasu Mohammed who thanked them for taking time out to visit the bomb blast victims. He took the group on a guided tour around the Accident and Emergency ward of the hospital.

The corps members divided themselves into two teams; while the first team of batch B corps members led by the CDS group’s president, Chibueze Offiah and secretary, Bello Sunday visited with the bomb blast victims, the second team visited the Maternity ward led by their supervisor, Mrs. Busayo Bello Yusuf. In the maternity ward, gift items which had been donated by the corps members were presented to the hospital staff. They included pampers, detergents, rolls of toilet tissue, bars of soap and other sanitary items to aid in the hospital upkeep.

The corps members also spent time chatting with the victims of the blast that rocked Nyanya on the fateful 14th of April, they encouraged them, wished them quick recovery and also prayed for them. The patients were overjoyed to have received such august visitors; an elderly man among them advised the corps members never to allow people lure them into committing heinous crimes. He reminded them that they are the leaders of tomorrow and as a result, had certain responsibilities to live up to.

At the end of the visit, Mr Iliyasu thanked the corps members once more on behalf of the hospital authorities. He prayed for divine reward of their generosity and wished them well in their future endeavours.

 

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ON TOP D MATTER: Weeks 7&8 of the National Confab

nigeria02

 

In light of the recent Boko happenings, our ON TOP D MATTER episode did not feature for last week. However, you did not miss much. Delegates are still in their various committees trashing out peculiar issues and hopefully will have resolutions to present the full house at the expiration of the committee meetings. Here is a Premium times report for some very ‘juicy’ – so juicy it’s oily – gist still hot from today’s proceedings in one of the committees. Enjoy…

 

The northern and southern delegates in the Committee on Devolution of Power of the National Conference again, on Monday, failed to agree on the issue of revenue sharing and derivation fund.

After several hours of a closed-door session, the Committee merely took contributions from its members, which would be discussed on Tuesday with a view to taking decisions on the issues.

While the northern delegates demanded the reduction of derivation fund to five per cent from 13 per cent and should be limited to only onshore, their southern counterparts, particularly from the South-South geo-political zone, asked for its upward review to 50 per cent.

The fund is paid to the nine oil producing states in the country in accordance with Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution. The states are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Imo and Ondo.

 

The northern delegates also called for the scrapping of interventionist institutions and agencies like the Ministry of Niger Delta, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Amnesty Programme for ex-militants and the c-Component of the SURE-P.

The co-chairman of the Committee, Victor Attah, told journalists after its session that it would announce its resolutions and conclusion on some of the issues on Tuesday.

“Every member of this committee has now made his or her contribution to the discussion on resource control, including the two co-chairmen,” Mr. Attah, a former governor of Akwa Ibom, said. “We have given ourselves assignment of what to go and look out for. By tomorrow, hopefully, we will reach a conclusion on those matters and we will be able to announce resolution and conclusion.”

A member of the Committee, Eddy Erhagbe, said during the stormy discussion there was a gradual move towards consensus on the retention of the 13 per cent as derivation fund to the oil and gas producing states.

He, however, said a committee was constituted to harmonise the contributions of the members and present reports to it.

“Everybody has now spoken on the issue of revenue sharing and on the matter of derivation. There were different positions by members of the committee but the two chairmen have summarised. The situation now is that we are most likely going to agree on a number of issues. The extremes have been narrowed down to a large extent,” Mr. Erhagbe said. “Some issues that have to do with the sharing formula have been agreed upon both the horizontal and the vertical and a small committee is going to make recommendations as to monies that will be put aside for development. But on the critical issue of resource control, as regards 13 per cent for now, there is gradual move towards consensus on it. It is expected that we are not going to go below where we are now but there could be the possibility of going up while other provisions will be made to make sure that other sections are taken care of.”

 

Juicy gist, I said…as our good ol’ crude oil continues to be an issue. Till next week, good readers. Don’t slip on the oil!

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BOKO HARAM: a ‘Thou Shalt NOT’ list

Boko Haram

Sometime between the night of April 14 and the morning of April 15, terrorists invaded Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno state, Northeastern Nigeria; they were clad in military uniforms, armed and in trucks. When they left the school, they reportedly carted away 234 teenage girls (roughly between 16 and 18 years old) who were then in the school to write a paper in the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination. Most schools in Bornu and other states of Northeastern Nigeria had been forced close before this time due to the recurrence of such attacks which often left students and teachers dead and kidnapped; these attacks were claimed by Boko Haram, a terrorist group. The group traces its inception to 2002 and has officially adopted the name “the Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad”, which is an English translation of Arabic, Jamā’at ahl as-sunnah li-d-da’wa wa-l-jihād. It is known in Hausa as Boko Haram which by semantic extension of Hausa words, loosely translates to ‘Western Education is sinful’.

By name and actions, this terrorist group has made it clear that theirs is a fight against rationale and logic; surely, battle against education and all forms of new-age development while existing within the new age can only qualify as irrational, and by their manner of execution, evil. The kidnap of the school girls provoked outrage which has, thanks to technological perks of the new age, quickly become global as #BringBackOurGirls campaigns continue to trend all over the world.

A lot of speculations, suggestions, orders and cries have been issued as regards what ought to be done by the government of Nigeria, families of the kidnapped students, citizens, the world and even Boko Haram. This essay will not belabor that already thoroughly hassled subject matter, instead it will focus on what Nigerians ought NOT to do in this fight to stop the terrorism.

 

THE NOT-DO LIST

If we must rescue these Nigerian daughters from their captors, Nigerians must NOT:

  1. Stop Asking Questions.

After nearly three weeks since the incident happened, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, bowed to global pressure and held a media chat on Sunday, the 4th of May in which he took questions on among other pressing issues, the Chibok mishap. I was unable to watch the session but I read the transcripts and while a number of good questions were raised, the president’s answers were – apologies to Hon Obahiagbon – higihaga and lacked vital power of conviction. Two days later on Tuesday, the 6th, CNN reporter Isha Sesay held live interviews in Abuja with Messrs. Doyin Okupe and Labaran Maku, the Senior Special Assistant to the president on Public Affairs and Minister of Information respectively. I watched the live broadcast and in the few minutes it lasted, I learnt – and I am sure, most of the world too – for the first time about actions the government had taken to salvage the situation; most worthy of mention among these was the set up, according to the report, of an information centre not only to answer questions but also to issue frequent updates to the public on the matter of the girls’ kidnap.

 

The difference between the two live broadcasts, apart from the latter being significantly shorter and ironically, in even less conducive setting, is that the interviewer asked the right questions and insisted on concrete answers. Nigerians must emulate that; we must NOT stop asking questions, the right questions and having asked them, we must then insist on somewhat concrete answers.

 

 

  1. Value fear of foolery over human life.

Apart from the many questions begging the government’s handling of the disaster, there are many other questions which have arisen and been circulating social media. These questions, by their structure, relay the suspicions of a certain group of people that the entire kidnap debacle is a sham; this group hinges these suspicions on the premise that the kidnap has some undertones of political sabotage and general foul-play. Some of the questions are captured below in the forms they originated with very minor restructuring:

“Why aren’t the names and pictures of the kidnapped girls published by the school, state government, WAEC or mass media?

Why aren’t the names and pictures of their parents circulating as well?

How come the escapees (some of the girls had reportedly escaped while being hurled away by the insurgents) have not appeared on television for interviews?

How come all 234 students are in SS3 when the entire school has a population of 1200 students?

Did the Bornu state government really give N1m each to parents of the missing girls and if yes, was the money mere compensation for their loss or something more?”

 

While some of these questions are easily answerable by hitting Google, others such as the reason behind the dearth of visual information on the identities of the kidnapped girls remain unanswered. And suspicions have thrived on this; Nigerians are wary that the entire kidnap saga is a premeditated, even farcical drama orchestrated by the opposition to make the Jonathan-led government appear even more inept.

 

These suspicions have even carried over to cast wary eyes on the recent offer of military and logistical help to Nigeria from the United States; the doubters have cited instances of post-US involvement in violence-torn countries viz Syria, Liberia, Afghanistan, et al and they ask, “what will the United States want in return?”

 

While some might and have indeed voiced that – find these suspicions paranoiac and even outrageous, I believe that their existence is proof that Nigerians are paying attention and are thinking. This is good and must not stop because as the Igbos say, onye ajuju anaghi efu uzo. He who asks questions never loses his way. At the same time, the doubters and all Nigerians must realize that if indeed this kidnap is a staged make-up by the opposition and we are all going to look like fools when it is blown open, I daresay that this is one foolery worth practicing.

 

There are a number of things that could be done to defuse the possibilities of this ‘scam’ turning fatal for us as a country – for example, our local media could sit up to ask more questions even of the US-led aid, demand for information on the identities of the kidnapped girls and their families and promptly return feedback to the listening public regardless of the response to the demand, etc – but there are no other options to save the #ChibokGirls besides whatever little action can be mustered by an unarmed public in raising awareness and crying out for help. Assume for an incredulous minute that the kidnap is fake and the bragging video recently distributed by Shekau was a product of technological tweaking, the myriad of attacks, latest among which are the Nyanya bombings, have been real enough – we scraped real Nigerians’ razed flesh and bones off the floor and donated real blood to the injured; the Monday massacre of over a hundred people in Gamboru Ngala of the same Borno state seems real enough too.

 

If there is even the slightest chance that even one girl has been kidnapped and is right now being fattened for the sex-slave market in Sambisa, Nigerians must NOT stop crying foul. If the only price we have to pay, in the event of this truly turning out to be a hoax, is carrying the tag of fools, Nigerians must NOT be afraid to look foolish – it wouldn’t be the first time.

 

 

  1. Make this into a regional or religious matter.

A man residing in Southern Nigeria with his family is watching the news and the Nyanya bomb or kidnap of girls from Chibok breaks. He watches until the news presenter completes her report then he says, “Nawa oh, these Hausa people sef! God help them oh” and he retires to bed for a good night’s rest. This scenario is mirrored in many families in all parts of Nigeria except for parts of the Northeast and federal capital territory that have been affected by the terrorist attacks. It is an inclination by the ‘unaffected’ Nigerian to stereotype every Boko Haram insurgent as hausa or northern, and so long as they restrict their terror to the northern states – their ‘home states’ – it is okay. This thinking is not just wrong but potentially fatal.

 

Researching the uprising of Boko Haram, the distasteful but glaring truth is that Nigeria bred Boko Haram; first by leaving a vast amount of uneducated youths unaccounted and uncared for; second by ignoring the ‘minor’ violent operations of the group in the few years after its emergence under Ustaz Yusuf in 2002; and finally, by turning a blind eye to the cultivation of the idle youth into mercenaries and foot soldiers of the sect. Nigeria is responsible for the growth of this terrorist sect into a large debilitating and malignant global tumor. We did this collectively, as a whole nation of South, North, East, West, Central, Christians and Muslims. And in its bestial attacks, the sect has not spared any sections.

 

I am aware that some supposedly holy men of God, especially affiliated to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) hold a different opinion. They theorize that the bombings and kidnap are all anti-Christian; an Evangelist Owojaiye published a list of 180 of the abductees to prove his claim that 90% of the girls are Christian and so – he affirmed – it was targeted at Christians. This is misleading and a cheap strategy to continue to live in self-denial while profiting from a pitiable situation.

 

Boko Haram has made it very clear that their enemy is westernization and anyone who is in support of it. Also on many occasions, elite Islam scholars have arisen to condemn the sect as a misrepresentation of the ideals of Islam which is primarily a peace-seeking religion. Anyone who is aware of Nigeria’s perilous history with religious crises and yet chooses to ignore facts in favor of this fanatic charade is either blind or thoroughly biased or both. And must NOT be heeded.

 

 

  1. Perpetuate a proven fruitless blame game.

On the morning of April 14, a few hours before the Chibok kidnap, a bomb explosion in a bus park in Nyanya claimed over a hundred lives. The president visited the scene of the blast later that day but was sighted the next day first in Kano for a political rally and then in Ibadan at the celebration of the centenary birth anniversary of the Olubadan of Ibadan. News of these actions sparked a lot of dissent among the Nigeria public who quickly launched into tidal wave upon wave of blames. People attacked Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s family, his university degree in Zoology and even his hometown of Otuoke in Bayelsa state. How could he have been so insensitive?

 

In all of these however, no one thought about the Olubadan who along with his chiefs and people, welcomed the president to his party barely 24 hours after the explosion and fewer hours after news of the kidnap started to trickle in. Nor did anybody consider the hundreds of Nigerians who turned up at the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) rally at Kano on that day, cheering and waving flags. How could they have been so insensitive?

 

The blame game was vituperative, biased, painfully tangential to the issue at hand, and overwhelmingly ineffective. As is characteristic with the art of pointing a finger, all other fingers pointed back at the pointers – Nigerians, until people decided it was time to really act rather than continue to ply the art. People took up the #BringBackOurGirls campaign on different levels, in different places, to different places, and in a few days, the world couldn’t help but notice. The entire globe has seen people in uniform colors, rallying with placards and songs for the return of the #ChibokGirls and the international news media are camped at our doorsteps. Because of the intense pressure generated by this campaign, we’re seeing action or at least, a very striking semblance of it from the president and his government.

 

An adage goes thus, “the lizard who sits in bed, blaming the sun for blazing too hot or the rain for pouring too heavy will die of hunger” Clearly, blames get no one anywhere and must NOT be continued, especially when they only serve to assuage one’s need to vent in a situation that requires much more than mere venting.

 

 

  1. Get distracted by the First Lady.

After having vowed to lead a protest to Borno state even at mortal risk to her person, the first lady of Nigeria, Dame Patience Jonathan convened another high-powered meeting in Abuja with concerned parties on Sunday, the 5th of April. She reportedly burst into tears in a video that has gone viral since then, tagged ‘Chai…there is God o!’ The first lady was also linked with ordering the arrest in Abuja of Naomi Mutah, a lead protester for the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. While the charge has been denied by her aides, the comments and actions of Dame Patience Jonathan in the face of this crisis have been summarily embarrassing.

 

The #ChibokGirls case is one which cries for a mother’s voice and a feminine touch, and in a world that is quickly awakening to the power of womanhood, one can only muse over what significantly commendable differences a more articulated, less compromised, less unwittingly jocular first lady would have made. Dame Jonathan’s peculiarities are not strange to Nigerians but in the face of a crisis whose magnitude has bared us all to the eyes of the world, we must not get distracted by her.

 

If you’re reading this and thinking “Didn’t he just say we mustn’t throw blames?” then please read again. The Nigerian focus cannot afford to be dislodged from the search for these children especially considering recent developments; not even for the first lady, it can’t.

 

CONCLUSION

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”

#BringBackOurGirls

 

Mention me @ojukwu_martin on twitter

Every Sunday

church

This poem is about love

And it is very long

It is a long poem that tells the story of a kind of love

Not the kind of love you read about in romance series

And not the kind you see in soppy soaps

With dark-haired men and yellow-haired dolls

Who never have children because then what color would their hair be

This poem is about love

It is a long poem that tells the story of a kind of love

A love you will not recognize

A love that is disrespectful and blasphemous

A love that does not know its name

I don’t expect you to understand

Don’t understand

I only wish that you would pay attention

No, don’t pay attention

Don’t pay anything

Only listen

It is yet one of the harder requests ever requested

Requesting that one listen

Because we all like to hear our own voices most of the time

But still I wish that you would listen

Only listen

 

This poem is about love

Love that started in the church

In the house of God where the devil worships on Sunday

Every Sunday

And the demons burn incense and bath in holy water

This poem is about love

Love that started in the church

Between a boy and a girl who sat on either side of a man and woman

He was a chorister

Join a choir today

But he did not sing in the choir because he was too good a singer

So he sat just behind them and sang aloud

Sang better than they sang on Sunday

Every Sunday

Every time he sang so that they could hear that he was good

He was singing aloud when the man sat beside him

And a woman followed and sat beside him

And a girl followed and sat beside her

And he was singing aloud just like he sings

Every Sunday

 

She was not a chorister

Remember, join a choir today

She just joined her father and her mother to church on Sunday

Every Sunday

Every time she dolled up in Ankara and silken wraps

She blow-dried her hair with a hand fan

A souvenir from a cousin’s wedding

And she tied it with a yellow headband

A souvenir from a broken heart

And she got in the car and went to church with her father and her mother

Every Sunday

Her father sat down and her mother followed him

Her mother sat down and she followed her

And sat down

Just like she does on Sunday

Every Sunday

 

Pause

Rewind to the last stanza

Not this last last one, the one before the last one

He was singing aloud when the man sat beside him

And a woman followed and sat beside him

And a girl followed and sat beside her

And he stopped singing

He stopped singing aloud like he used to on Sunday

This Sunday

 

He stared

And she pretended not to see

Still he stared

At her full head of dark natural curls

Bound up in a mellow yellow bandana

Grow some dark natural curls today

Buy a yellow bandana, a mellow yellow bandana

Her eyes were hazel and hazy

As if they struggled to cover up mistakes done by, gone by

Her eyes were set a tad too far apart

As if they struggled against their own chemistry

Her nose was a slight button of caramel-tinted flesh that overturned like a fancy W

And her mouth was full with lips lusty and lined

Sun-dried tissue peeled off here and there, like roasted bundles of human phloem

Roasted and ready to eat

And he stared at them too long because he wanted to speak to them

No

To her

He wanted to speak to her and hear them speak to him

But the man and the woman sat between

Garbed in white and unmoving

Like the seven seas and seven hills

Where the seven dwarfs lived with Snow white and the princess, Obeledu

The man and woman sat still

Garbed in white and unmoving

Holding hands

Whispering and pecking when everybody else shook hands

 

The girl stood and made for the altar

Her offering bunched in her hand

She walked like the answer to a charmed human prayer

She walked like she knew she was the answer to a charmed human prayer

The man sat still, the woman sat still

The boy sat still

But only for another second

Then he stood and made for the altar

His offering bunched in his head

He walked like a charmed human prayer

He knew he was a charmed human prayer

He had no money in his hand but there was a song in his heart

All things bright and beautiful

All creatures fair and caramel

All hazel eyes and hair plentiful

The Lord God made them all

 

He waited on the stairs and she never came

Till he dusted his seat ready to give up the game

But then she came and she was the same

Like he had seen back in the pew, just the same

I think I know you from somewhere

It was the dumbest line ever

Learn some suave lines today

No, I mean it

Learn some suave lines

No you don’t know me from anywhere

It was the straightest jab ever

True, I don’t. Give me your number

Smile

Let’s go downstairs

So they went

Down the stairs

And they talked on the way

Down the stairs

About crying babies and praying adults as they walked

Down the stairs

 

Give me your number

No

I shall return here, same time, same pew on Sunday

Every Sunday

Just to see you again

Smile

You are wrong to assume that I will be here, same time, same pew, on Sunday

Every Sunday

Sigh

And they talked some more on the terracotta

A few yards from the gate of heaven

The huge narrow gate to paradise

They talked about foreign languages and strikes and campuses abroad

Then the mass was over

And the din of shuffling feet and bustling voices rose to a fever

Pitch like it did

Every Sunday

They poured forth from the gate of heaven

The huge narrow doorway

 

Give me your number

No, you’re a stranger

In the church we’re one, almost like family, not strangers

It was a suave line

Remember, learn some suave lines

Smile

Give me your number

The dark curls shook no

With the mellow yellow headband in tow

Remember, buy a yellow headband, a mellow yellow headband

The boy smelled the man coming

The girl smelled the woman coming

Give me your Number

No

Aaarrrgh

I shall return here, same time, same pew next Sunday

Every Sunday

Just to see you again

The curls rejoiced in the mellow yellow flames

I hope you do

Smile

Sigh

Give me your name

Smile

And they lived happily ever after

Every Sunday

 

This poem is about love

I warned you that it is very long

I warned you that

This poem is about love

A love you do not recognize

A love that is disrespectful and blasphemous

A love that still does not know its name

I did not expect you to understand

Don’t bother

I am just glad you paid attention

And you listened

 

Her name was Omoye.

 blacklove

I am @ojukwu_martin on twirra