So I met a girl…

I was recently the host on a TV competition show for people aged 8 – 13 and there, I met Zara.

I remember the first time I saw her. She is pretty with her Fulani long limbs, nose and beautiful eyes, but it wasn’t any of that; what struck me was the defiance, almost anger, that I sensed in this 13-year old. She always wore sneakers and leggings/jeans with her hijab; while discussing with her peers, she would sit thug-mode – you know, that pose where you hunch over with your elbows perched on your knees, legs spread firmly and widely apart – and gesticulate like a rapper. Occasionally she’d laugh, displaying white happy teeth, and only in these rare moments did the child in her shine through. Almost as soon as such a moment happened however, Zara would tighten her lips, brush a thumb over her nose and resume thugging.

One time I was feeling lucky, I told her to smile, because didn’t she see the cameras were on her? Brothers and sisters in solidarity, without so much as a glance my way or even the twitch of a muscle, Zara replied, “I don’t like smiling”. End of matter. Ozugo. As my friend Nike would say, Opari! lol.

Zara is smart; she would answer her questions correctly while playing with the edges of her hijab in a manner that drawled, are we done here? And when she ran into a tight spot, when she didn’t know the right answer, she would give up instantly. Hands still stuck in hijab, she would shift her weight from one spindly leg to the other, and amidst a train of hisses (yes, into the microphone!), she’d set her face in a scowl so visibly irritated that you’d be forced to sniff your armpits – like, is it me? Am I stinking? Then she’d throw an answer at you – because she expects it’s the wrong answer and wants to be left the hell alone – but she’d get it right and qualify for the next round. And then would she permit herself a tiny smile.

This happened over and over, and it irked me quite a bit. I wanted to conk her head and say, in my father’s voice, “Mai fren, dunn be sillay!” At the same time, I wanted to hug her tight and say, “Princess, can’t you see how great you are?!”

I saw through Zara. I saw this smart girl who could win, who wanted to win, but who was so afraid to try because if she didn’t win eventually, it’d hurt too much to hear someone gloat over it. So it was safer to feign disinterest and only try halfheartedly – get the logic? Me neither. 🙂

I didn’t get the logic, but I knew that the weight on this child’s shoulders shouldn’t be borne by even a full-grown adult. I knew that her former attitude (because that’s in the past now, Zara, isn’t it?) would only lead to a dark place in life, a dank bottomless pit in which regardless of how much money, accolades or relationships she garnered, joy would perpetually evade her. I knew that it wouldn’t matter the sad story she came from, life, self-acclaimed Themis that she is, would deal with her justly. And because I knew all these, I knew that I had to teach her a lesson, she and the rest of the children.

So, I got to work. Every time I saw her at camp, I talked to her, validated her; every time I saw a hijab bowed over, I told her to chin up then I smiled at her; every time she stumbled during the competition, I re-validated her. You’ve come this far, Zara, why give up now? Give it your best shot, so that win or lose, you won already. If you give up now, don’t even bother waiting for the results because yours got called already – fail. Be strong, you can do this, you’re beautiful, you’re good, you’re smart…DJ Khaled would’ve been proud of me.

In the end, Zara came in second place nationwide. She won some money, a medal and a trophy for her school. She says she also won a mentor and “an uncle who got my back” (I denied the mentor part, I’m not that old biko). Most importantly though, she won herself confidence and a lifelong supply of precious tenacity.

Now here’s the juice. Zara told me that but for her mother, she wouldn’t even be in school. Having married at 13 herself with zero education, her mother was determined that her daughter would live different. But it was just her; Father Zara and everyone else in Zara’s family and immediate community thought it was a waste of time having my young friend in school. Her mother constantly fought, negotiated, schemed and scraped, to keep her child in school. And so, coming for the competition, Zara wanted to show everybody that she was worth it. She wanted to prove to her father and her people that girls should be allowed to go to school.

“Well, look at you now,” I told her as we sat gisting afterwards, “you did all of that. Killed it!”

She beamed. I asked if she had plans to attend the university and her nods reassured me. She said she would become a medical doctor, an actor and a TV host, and then she would build a big school in her community where girls can go for free.

“I wish my mother was here,” Zara sighed, “I told her not to come because I was afraid I’d fail her.”

“It’s okay, now you know better. You’ll never again let fear rob you of a potentially priceless moment, like this one.” I consoled her. “As for your mother, look in the mirror…she is here.”

I meant it.

When the winners lined up for pictures, Zara held her trophy up the highest, her smile the brightest…so bright I couldn’t help mine.

It was the proudest in your face moment I have ever seen.

 

P.S: Zara is a fictitious name used here to protect my friend. Haba, if iss you nko, will you use her real name?

Chisom

ON TOP D MATTER: Weeks 11 – 15 of the National Confab

It is nothing less than God that has me coming back to this topic of the National Confab. Like many of you readers and Nigerians, I am fast tiring of first, remembering that there are a group of people jaw-jawing it out in Abuja in a bid to produce some solutions to the issues that bother us and secondly, knowing that yet again we are hoping on the power of talk which from past experience is all we know how to do. The recent happenings especially with Boko Haram only served to get me fed up even faster until I came upon this interview published earlier this month.

The interviewee is Prof. Obiora Ike, “a solid intellectual” in the words of my brother-in-law. You can get the full transcript of the interview here but I will share tidbits of it below which recapitulate the events of week 11 – where we left off on ON TOP D MATTER – to week 15 of the National Confab. These tidbits, I hope, will also give you the forbearance to hold on just a little bit more. Maybe something good just might still come of this…

Prof. Obiora Ike, former Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, is the Deputy Leader of the Southeast delegation to the National Conference. He speaks ON TOP D MATTER as follows:

Prof Obiora Ike

ON CENSUS?

There were questions that concerned economic justice; that we have to do a population (census) that has to be realistic in Nigeria, and not where we fathomed any numbers, etc.

Census is being debated and there is going to be a new census in Nigeria in which all the items that were neglected in the previous censuses will become items.

ON INDIGENOUS AND RESIDENCY RIGHTS?

It is not your indigeneship but your residencyship makes you have rights, privileges and duties wherever you are. For instance, if I am born in Lagos, though I live in Kano and I pay tax in Kano, I am a citizen of Kano after five to seven years, and I can aspire to the highest political office in that state. (sic)

So, residency right becomes a very serious matter and the committee has brought it to the plenary and it will now be looked into. It gives you the opportunity to migrate to any part of the country to live.

ON NOMADS AND FULANI HERDSMEN?

(This issue) was very contentious because the law and even people, who come from the South, were very vocal and clear: that any nomad should stay in his nomadic environment.

There was even someone who said we are in the 21st Century and we eat meat produced in other countries and you don’t see cows moving around the streets of New York. But those from the North said even if they must accept ranches, the state and local governments should pay for the ranches and people from the South said no.

Well, we ended without consensus and the next day, a motion was brought and asked we should give a five-year period for the nomads to customize to see that the cows don’t move around again.

ON A UNICAMERAL LEGISLATURE?

A problem identified by people is the take-home package of those in elective positions. It is a crime in a country like Nigeria, where very many people live on less than three dollars a day and very few earn more. But if the system makes it possible, it must be changed and the system that can make that possible is a uni-cameral legislature.

We are going to have a unicameral system whereby the Senate and the House of Representatives will be one House. We will no longer have a president picking his vice during the campaign, but a situation where he will go to House and pick who will be his vice. We will no longer have you appoint commissioners or ministers from anywhere, but the appointment will be done from serving legislators in government.

These are already at the level of the plenary and this will be voted soon at the conference. It has nothing to do with the present National Assembly because over 70 per cent of them are going next year.

These ideals have been well-thought out; there has been comparative study on them; experts have addressed the various committees on these and the people knew quite clearly that what kept Nigeria behind for many years is the number of bureaucracies and every bureaucracy is corrupted.

ON LAND USE ACT AND SPONSORSHIP FOR PILGRIMAGE?

The report of the Land Committee to the plenary is that the Land Use Act should be expunged. First of all, you don’t need it in the Constitution; it can be a decree and we feel it is disenfranchising the custodians of the land. It has provided opportunity for corruption and caused under-development.

It is like the funding of pilgrimage; we think it is not right for government to pay money for people to attend pilgrimage because nobody funds the traditional worshippers and religions. It is a very unfair practice.

ON TAXES FOR RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS?

The fact is no committee recommended taxation for the Church or any religious group. The only committee that may have recommended that may be the Committee on Religion, but I am in the committee and we did not even discuss it.

Religious institutions are voluntary, non-governmental institutions and non-profit-making institutions that add value to the life of a people. So, where do they make money to pay a tax?

After the submission of the report on religious committee was brought to the general assembly, there was an opinion by one member, out of 492, whether religious institutions should not pay tax if they engaged in revenue-generating ventures. It was just a question or proposal that religious institutions should pay tax if they own jets, if they ran hotels, if they ran bakeries, if they ran universities and other such things that make money.

Nonetheless, the confab did not take this item as an acceptable topic. I do have a personal opinion, of course, and that is that religious institutions are sacrosanct by virtue of what happens in different countries. But if religious institutions go into business – and they must register such business as business – then they must pay taxes on those businesses, which are income earnings as business.

ON THE CREATION OF STATES?

The Southeast went to the conference with an expectation that there must be one extra state created for the Southeast;

The Committee on Restructuring of Power in Nigeria approved one more state for the Southeast. It will now come to the general conference for confirmation. If the general conference approves, it will now be left with the President to implement it.

ON ZONING AND THE DEVOLUTION OF POWER?

The Southeast also came with expectations that there must be fiscal federalism within Nigeria; there must be serious devolution of power from the centre to make Nigeria a working federation; there must be clear distinction between religion and state, as religion and state could not be understood to be identical…they demanded a Nigeria that is free and fair; a Nigeria where the conference deliberations will not be put on the shelves.

Local governments do not belong to a Constitution, they belong to the management in an area and therefore should be removed from the Constitution and put into the state where they belonged and states will have the right to create as many local governments as they would wish and could fund. Of course, money comes to the centre; money also comes to the states; so, there will be no need to have a specific number of local governments in the Constitution and the committee unanimously approved this provision.

An issue was whether the federating units in Nigeria would be the states or the zones and on this one, the Western Nigeria (Southwest) came with one clear identity: that the federating units in Nigeria to be the zones. The Northern states did not want it, the South-South did not want it, and the Southeast wanted it.

But when it was time to vote, one state in the Southeast joined the rest and out of the 22 members of that committee, about six or seven voted in favour and that one was not carried. Nonetheless, that committee has recommended — and I am quite happy about it and it looks like there would be an opportunity for zones to arrange among themselves — that there would be zoning.

The zoning policy is already accepted in Nigeria but it is not constitutional but now, it will be constitutional that zones exist and this is the number of them, then they will agree to either collect their money as a zone, or do whatever thing they wanted as a zone. But that has to be done by their Houses of Assembly and then they are bringing it to the National Assembly and making it a national affair.

Right now, the zones will be operating as zones but the federating units will go to the states.

ON BOKO HARAM?

The conference has used every legitimate word in the dictionary to condemn this heinous act by criminals who answer Boko Haram. The conference has been able to limit them to non-religious group because the Muslims have said they are non-Muslims, that they are even anti-Islam because they burn mosques and churches, and they fight government as they fight soldiers. So, they are an insurgency group that is determined the fight the Nigerian federation.

I do not think that Boko Haram insurgency has escalated since the conference started but Boko Haram has been there since year 2002 and that was when a certain (Modu) Sheriff was governor in Borno State. They have also become more violent in years 2008 and 2009 when Yar’Adua was in power and they continued their engagement of the police and Nigerian military recently. But with the imposition of emergency rule in the area, there have been some restraints.

It is very clear that the group is not a war for the President or Nigerian army but a war for all Africans and, indeed, the whole world.

The Nigerian army and President Jonathan have tried; the security is infiltrated and this makes the Boko Haram fight a little bit difficult. Terrorism has not won any war anywhere and if the Nigerian people are united, I do feel it is a phase in the Nigerian history and the people should stand up to it. The international community has become part of it and I don’t think anybody can win a war against the whole world.

 

AFTER THE CONFAB?

A bill is in the National Assembly to appropriate the discussion and resolutions of the conference into the Nigerian Constitution. The President of Nigeria does not need the Senate or House of Representatives to appropriate some of the resolutions that may emanate from the conference because they may be policy directives and government decisions at that level.

The people of Nigeria are waiting to be asked in a referendum to make a choice on what the National Conference will bring up and the conference, by way of its moral weight, has become a voice for the people of Nigeria, whether there is law or not.

But definitely, the conference is not a talk show and the people there are not wasting their time. We are looking at how to develop the country and move it forward.

compatriot

Just maybe…

Mention me @ojukwu_martin on twitter

 

Goodnight, Ijeoma

“EXPLOSION rocked Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on Wednesday, when a car loaded with bomb device exploded at a popular shopping mall close to Barnex Junction, Wuse Central District, leaving 21 people dead.”

That was how the news reported Wednesday’s bomb blast. 21. /tuwenti whan/…ashirin da daya…iri abuo na otu…okan le ogun…21. Very easy…try it. Twenty-one dead. See?

And the ones before them…ninety-seven, 60, two hundred and thirty-four…or thirty-seven. All numbers. Just numbers.

 

Only they aren’t. They are 21 men, 21 women, 21 babies, 60 children, 234 girls…all human. Just human.

Human enough to eat, and drink, and sleep, and cry; like you. Human enough to feel their hearts thud heavily, one last time before it all turns to smoke; like you would have. Human enough to hiss very sadly and feel sorry for those that had gone before; like me. And human enough to circle their hands over their heads, snap their fingers and say “It is not my portion in Jesus name”; like us. Human enough for all of that, but now, mere numbers. All numbers. Just numbers.

 

Ijeoma is just one. Just one, one sister, one daughter, one friend, one Ijeoma. To us, one matters. One is all. One is everything. All one. Just one.

The sorrow you will read in the following lines flow raw from the heart of my pal, blackINK whose pen did the writing. Its sorrow is exactly equivalent to the sorrow felt for every one loss to the manic rampage of Boko Haram; its sorrow swells for every one person lost, every one PEOPLE. People, not numbers.

 

Goodnight Ijeoma

The sun’s gone again
Call it shame or fear
The point’s still the same
Night has yet again come to stay

The wind has left with its warmth
The night’s cold and the stars are alone…

The owl’s wet to the skin
It’s raining heavily tonight
There’s a sadness in earth and sky
There’s a shiver in the owl’s cry…

No message was left
And her goodbye was not heard
If she cried, I hope not for long

We would meet again soon
When the skies would know no night

Tho’ you left so soon
I know you are only asleep
Your dreams we shall all live on
One day we shall all meet again
To yet again part no more

Yesterday if we had known, you would have slept all day

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To Ijeoma and all the victims of the Barnex bomb blast

By blackINK

 

Shamelessly and undeservedly, I share in your sorrow, brother. And like you, I insist that she is not just a number. Goodnight, Ijeoma.

 

I am @0jukwu_martin on twitter

 

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…

 

 Mention me @ojukwu_martin on twirra

 

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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