The Mind Factor: ‘Nigeria-Ebola’ play in perspective

The proprietress of the secondary school I attended in Aba had this saying she was very fond of and made sure we never stopped hearing. On many occasions while we were in class, or standing on the hard-clay assembly grounds behind the main school building, or seated in the large auditorium, she would face us in one of her uniform loose, short-sleeved blouses, knee-length cotton skirts and black flats. Her slouched shoulders would straighten a fraction of an inch, her amply dimpled chin would incline at a determined angle and set in her dark brown face, her black eyes would burn strength and hope into ours, while she said, “I can do it! You can do it! If I set my mind to it!”

Often she would ask us to repeat after her and most of us would attempt humorous mimicries of her American accent – I cain duweht…you cain duweht…if I set my mind tuweht! We would covertly snicker among ourselves and exchange low high-fives; and a number of our teachers would even crack tiny smiles at our juvenile mischief, but not Mrs Zoe. She would stand stern while we repeated those words and like her, gesticulated accordingly with our index fingers. And it worked because they stuck. The words didn’t just stick in our hearts and minds, they have rung true for me in all the years since then.

I CAN DO IT! YOU CAN DO IT! IF I SET MY MIND TO IT!

The best example that comes to mind is with respect to the emergence of the Ebola virus in Nigeria few months ago. The manner in which EVD was battled into containment in Nigeria reeks of ardent resolve, especially on the part of the health officials and government. The facts that follow establish this as concisely as possible:

Nigeria’s first reported case of Ebola was an imported one, borne by the 40-year old Patrick Sawyer into Lagos via a flight from Monrovia, Liberia. Fortunately, he was suspected of having the virus and was hospitalized on arrival in Nigeria at the First Consultant Hospital, Obalende. Mr. Sawyer died 25 July having infected healthcare staff that had had close, unprotected contact with him prior to realizing he was infected. It was imperative then to initiate containment action against the virus and Nigerian health officials promptly swung into action.

By the 17th of September, records showed the total number of confirmed cases to be 19 with 7 deaths. There were 4 contacts still under surveillance in Lagos and 344 in Rivers State. Over 520 contacts had been discharged from surveillance following a symptom-free 21-day observation window. And by the 1st of October, these numbers remained except for additional two cases – one infection and one death, both marked as ‘probable’.

As impressive as they are, these numbers barely scratch the top of how much work went into the fight to contain Ebola. A doctor’s strike that had been underway for more than a month was temporarily suspended in early August to enable medical personnel help with the outbreak. A State of Emergency was declared, discouraging large gatherings and asking schools to extend summer holidays. As the outbreak continued, the doctor’s strike was cancelled (instead of suspended) and school closures were extended through mid-October. Isolation facilities and centers were established in different parts of the country – one 40-bed facility in Lagos, one 26-bed centre in Rivers state, seven hospitals in Delta state, a quarantine centre in Niger state – along with elaborate plans ongoing to expand on the infrastructure. Volunteers were raised and trained to become primary screeners while physicians underwent training to become secondary screeners, and to distinguish suspected cases of Ebola from other diseases. Thousands of people were screened per day per point of entry – land, sea and air.

The result? There have been no new cases of Ebola in Nigeria since August 31, a strong indication that the virus has been contained.

While the aid of foreign institutions like the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) cannot be discounted, most of the praise has reserved for Nigerian physicians like the late Dr. Stella Adadevoh and the Nigerian Ministry of Health headed by Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu. In the words of a doctor with the Atlanta-based CDC, Dr Aileen Marty, “”The Nigerian government was wholeheartedly into the process of trying to solve the problem”

Dr AdadevohProf Onyebuchi Chukwu

While the encomiums on the ebullient Dr. Adadevoh, who paid the ultimate price in the fight, and her colleagues are without suspect, much of those heaped on the Nigerian government are perhaps more in shock than anything else. Many have wondered at the energy that was mustered by the government in procuring and unleashing resources to fight Ebola; ‘the Nigerian government is incapable of such efficiency’, the disbelieving public has declared.

But is it really?

Dr. Marty of the CDC identified reasons which she thought aided the Nigerian battle against Ebola, and one such reason was that the disease was mostly limited to the wealthier population of Nigeria. “The person who brought the infection was a diplomat,” Marty said. “He was brought to one of the best hospitals in Nigeria, and the people who were infected were individuals who quickly comprehended the importance of following our recommendations.”

This train of thought was shared by a Nigerian who for the purposes of this piece, chose to remain anonymous. In his opinion, Ebola was battled so methodically and decisively because it struck at the heart of the upper social class of the society. “Otherwise why are lower class members of the society still dying daily from malaria and child labor?” he finished emphatically. Some other schools of thought would rather remain grateful – for the containment of Ebola – and hopeful – for the rest.

Whichever school of thought you choose to align with, one truth we can all agree on is that the Nigerian government has shown itself capable of excellence. Whether it was due process or a case of necessity mothering invention matters not at the moment; the country’s leaders have shown that if they put their mind to a task, they can achieve it. Much like the tortoise who claimed he couldn’t dance but was caught gyrating in the inner chambers of his hut to the beats of the moonlight drum, the Nigerian leaders must now dance the music of the gods in the market place. They must now answer a burdened people’s call to accountability par excellence.

But will they? Can they?

“I can do it! You can do it! If we put our minds to it!”

 

 

Extracts from:

How Nigeria contained its Ebola outbreak by Mark Gollom, MSN news.

International SOS report, October 2014.

I am @ojukwu_martin on twitter

 

Why I put out the TB Joshua bribery audio – by investigative journalist, Nicholas Ibekwe

 Nicholas ibekwe TBJoshua

Nicholas Ibekwe is an investigative journalist who has been in the news for releasing an audio recording which he claims captures T.B. Joshua offering bribe to reporters. This happened in the wake of the building collapse in the minister’s synagogue which claimed over 70 lives.

Click HERE for a summarized transcript of the clip and to download and hear it for yourself.

The journalist himself took to the pages of his blog to shed more light on the matter in a piece titled ‘Why I put out the TB Joshua bribery audio’. To answer the self-imposed question, he wrote:

“I had recorded the audio six days before posting it on Twitter. To be sincere, I didn’t think much of it until Saturday morning (I’d explain later). I was intently watching the way the collapsed building was being played out in the media after the rather disappointing way Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, dodged reporters through a back door after his private meeting with TB Joshua on September 14. I observed that Nigerian media were being too gentle on TB Joshua despite the glaring irregularities surrounding the collapse. I read more reports about the “hovering craft” and how Boko Haram could’ve sabotaged the building and other poppycock the televangelist wanted the world to believe.

Very little was reported about the structural defects of the building. Not much was written about the fact that the building originally had 2 floors and was being illegally refurbished with 4 additional floors when it collapsed. We didn’t come hard on the Synagogue Church goons who attacked first responders. We didn’t highlight the fact that many of those that perished could have been saved if NEMA officials weren’t barred from the site for almost three days! We didn’t make an issue of the fact that our colleagues who had gone to report the collapsed building were molested on Saturday.

So when I woke up last Saturday morning and saw the picture of Jonathan shaking hands with a grinning TB Joshua with headlines like “Jonathan consoles TB Joshua,” I said damn it! I couldn’t stomach this blatant impunity…”

He also went on to highlight the less honorable parts of the journalism profession, especially as it is practiced in Nigeria.

Click HERE for the full article as written by Nicholas Ibekwe who tweets @nicholasibekwe.

Then go ahead and spill your thoughts below. As for me and my family, God forbid we speak or even believe ill of an anointed man of God; lest evil airplanes start to circle our small house and it collapses upon us before we have the chance to celebrate Independence day.

For your entertainment, hit Google to read the reactions that greeted the reporter’s actions – from TB Joshua fans and haters alike. One thing is sure – Naija has got talents!

Bless you!

 

 I am @ojukwu_martin on twirra

ON TOP D MATTER: Final weeks of the National Confab

YES, in spite of all the evidences to the contrary, I continue to hope that some respite just might come for us from the National Confab. Find below the summary of events in these concluding weeks of the conference. For the full article, visit here.

 


 

The National Conference convened by President Goodluck Jonathan may be winding up soon, amidst lingering dissatisfaction over the outcome of the conference.

The conference, chaired by Justice Idris Kutigi, a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, has 492 delegates and it is expected to articulate and coordinate the views and thoughts of Nigerians, with a view to building a stronger, united, peaceful and stable nation.

At the end of their four-month-deliberation, the delegates reached consensus on wide-ranging recommendations made by the 20 standing committees of the conference. Some of the recommendations include the creation of 18 new states and an additional state for the South-East geopolitical zone, the zoning of elective positions at all levels of government, the establishment of state police, and the establishment of a commission to address the plight of FCT indigenes.

Others are scrapping of state/local government joint account, scrapping of state independent electoral commissions, removal of fuel subsidy and removal of immunity clause, among others.

The delegates, however, failed to reach consensus on the contentious issues of resource control and derivation principle for the Niger Delta region, which was contained in the main report of the Committee on Devolution of Power.

They were also unable to agree on two new issues: the proposed 5 per cent of the national income, each for the development of mineral resources across the federation and for the special intervention fund for national emergencies.

 

Another death

Professor Muhammad Nur Alkali, who was one of the six delegates representing the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (SCIA) at the 2014 National Conference in Abuja is dead.

He died in his residence in Maiduguri on the night of Friday, August 1, 2014. The 68-year old professor of History, a two-term Vice Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri (1985 – 1992), former Director General of the Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) and Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee under the administration of General Sani Abacha.

More recently, he was a member of the Committee on Insecurity in the North East (The Boko Haram Committee). He will be buried later today, Saturday, August 2, 2014, in Maiduguri.

 

What to do with the recommendations?

Prior to the adjournment of plenary session on July 14, there was intense debate amongst Nigerians on who should implement recommendations of the conference. While some school of thought suggested that the recommendations should be forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law, others believed that that they should be subjected to a referendum before their inclusion in the constitution.

Alhaji Balarabe Musa, the National Chairman, Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), said that the recommendations should not be subjected to referendum on the grounds that most of them were “superficial”.

Musa said that instead of dealing with the negative state of the nation, the delegates only dealt with the consequences of the negative state of the nation. He noted that corruption, organized violence, insecurity and unemployment were some of the factors that contributed to the negative state of the country. And he suggested that as a way out, the National Assembly could regard the recommendations as public hearing.

Conversely, Gilbert Agbo, the National Secretary, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), said that the recommendations should not be forwarded to the National Assembly for passage into law, since some of the recommendations were not in favour of the legislators.

He stressed that Nigerians should be allowed to decide on the recommendations via referendum organized to determine their acceptance or rejection since “power derives from the people”.

Sam Eke, the National Chairman, Citizens Popular Party (CPP), who shared a similar viewpoint with Balarabe Musa, said that the recommendations should be forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration, amendment and passage into law.

He said that those advocating referendum were just “trying to build something on nothing.”

 

Waiting for draft report

There were reports on Monday that the absence of the draft final report, according to reports, may stall resumption of the National Confab, earlier scheduled to reconvene on August 4. The leadership, in a letter to delegates and signed by the Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications, James Akpandem, stated that the decision to extend the resumption date by one week was to avoid a situation where delegates would return to Abuja on August 4 and discover that there were no necessary materials to conclude the session within the time frame specified in the work plan.

There are indications that much interest in its work will have been lost when the conference eventually reconvenes to certify the draft report. The vocal section of Nigeria, from indications, believe more were lost than gained. Their opinion stems from the fact that the country may not be much different after the conference, with major national controversies subsisting.


 

God bless Nigeria.

compatriot

I am @ojukwu_martin on twitter…and I am proudly Nigerian yet

My Beef with Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola

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The 57-year old former commissioner of Lagos state is the present governor of the state of Osun. Getting there was no ride in the park for him; he fought a dogged battle for his mandate following the results of the April 2007 elections, a battle which lasted nearly four years as he was not sworn in as governor until October, 2010.

I remember following the legal battles as a much younger man and rooting for him partly because I admired his tenacity, but also because I believed that only a man who was convincingly justified could hang on to a fight for that long. So when the October judgment came in his favor, I sent Governor Aregbesola a pat on the back via DHL – I am still waiting for him to acknowledge receipt.

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When I was posted to Osun state a few years later for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, it felt to me like somebody in the highest was rewarding my support for the engineer governor’s cause. But one year later as I packed my bags to leave, I was neither an admirer nor a fan of Ogbeni Aregbesola.

My beef with Engineer Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, Executive Governor of Osun state (State of the Living Spring) is a very rare beef. It is red, juicy and meaty, laden with strips and strips of milky, stringy akwara-ndu.

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The beef is justifiable because a lot of it is based on my personal experiences during the year I lived as a khaki-wearing tenant in one of the more rustic communities of the state. Because one can only masticate so much beef in one mouthful, this beef is restricted to the governor’s mishandling of education in Osun.

My primary assignment in Osun was to teach students of a secondary school and like many of my fellow corps members, I approached the job with enthusiasm and a burning zeal to impact positively in the lives of the young ones. But that zeal was soon ruptured because I quickly saw that the system was not designed for much positivity. The educational system I met in Osun state was held high up as a brilliant executive make-over; it was heralded both within and especially outside the state as a revelation – the resurrection of a hitherto dead system. But in heart-wrenching reality, it was still a corpse, only better suited.

The following lines will explain why:

  1. Communication:

In my first class teaching Physics to the SS3 class, something very akin to the following scenario ensued.

“Did you learn about motion in your SS1 and 2 classes?” I asked.

The class nodded as one.

“And the laws of motion?” Nod again.

“Good. How about force and friction, temperature and pressure? You know them?” Nod. Nod.

I was on a roll, flowing and very happy they were following.

Then I called up a girl in the front row. “Ope, please stand up and tell us what pressure is”.

Opeyemi stood – she was a thickset light-skinned girl whose round face made me think of a happy doll with her low-cut hair and marked ample cheeks. She said nothing, just stood with her fingers splayed out, palm down on the desk before her and eyes set on me.

I thought she was shy so I tried to reassure her. “Don’t worry,” I said, “You don’t have to quote your book, just explain it to me in your own words”

Ope stared on at me for a few moments more. Then she said, “Oga, só Yoruba

“What?” I asked, lost.

“Só Yoruba” she repeated, “Só Yoruba dí è dí è”

 flabbergasted

Beautiful people of heaven and earth, she requested that I speak Yoruba to her, or in the least interject sprinklings of the vernacular in my lessons. The reason was that she could not understand the words I was saying in English. Neither could the rest of her SS3 classmates, who were all registered for and few months away from writing the West African School Certificate Examination at the time.

It was not just SS3 students though, and not just the students in my school. In Osun state, I met students who could not write if you dictated notes to them, and when you wrote the lecture notes out on the board, they drew it into their books because they could not read.

oh-c'mon

I kid you not.

Maybe this deficiency exists in more Nigerian states than Osun. Maybe, but for Osun state whose government swears that education is a priority…tsk tsk tsk.

 

  1. ‘Free’ education:

Knowing his beginnings and the path that led him to the pinnacle of power in Osun state, Ogbeni Aregbesola should know that nothing that turns out good in life is ever given free of charge. Not good wealth, not good friends, not good health…and definitely not good education.

Perhaps the biggest irony of the government’s policy of ‘free’ education is that when critically analyzed, the system is not even free. A much-touted dividend of the ‘free’ education policy is the common uniform for all students of government-owned schools.

Aregbe01

About the ‘free’ school uniforms, parents in Osun state had the following to say: “the uniform wears out too quickly and cannot be purchased elsewhere than from the State approved company. We were made to wrongly believe that the uniform would be free as part of the Free Education policy when the first batch was distributed for free. However, purchasing another one afterwards costs about N2,000” (www.9ralife.com)

While we’re on the matter of parents, another sad result of the ‘free’ education system in Osun state is a complete and conscious self-dissociation from the education of their children by parents, especially the unenlightened. In many schools, the PTA was more or less nonexistent and where it did exist, it had no purse to fund events like student socio-cultural and end-of-term gatherings because the government decreed that parents not be levied. On market days, the classrooms dried up because parents sent their children to the market with wares for sale. And on other school days, one too many parents took their children to the farms.

 IMG-20140517-WA0019

No chance, no time, school can wait.

In order to avoid such indolence by parents towards the education of their wards, and in fact, for the sake of reason considering the population of children involved, subsidized education is clearly a wiser path to tow than ‘free’ education. But His Excellency’s government will not hear of it.

 

  1. Opon Imo:

According to Aregbesola, Opon Imo is ‘a virtual classroom containing 63 e-books covering 17 academic subjects for examinations, an average of 16 chapters per subject and 823 chapters in all, with about 900 minutes or 15 hours of audio voiceovers…more than 40,000 JAMB and WAEC practice questions and answers…mock tests in more than 51 subject areas, which approximates to 1,22o chapters, with roughly 29,000 questions referencing about 825 images’.

I wish I could confirm or challenge any of these claims but I cannot because in all the months I spent teaching in Osun state, I never saw an Opon Imo tablet. Neither did my students, nor for that matter, any students in my local government of primary assignment. My enquiries revealed that it was a similar case in many other local governments across the state.

I do not know which students received the 50,000 units of Opon Imo tablets that the governor supposedly ‘distributed across the state’…

Aregbe04

Oh, there they are.

Still, I wish more of them ended up in the hands of the younger students, more than two-thirds of whom are yet to own one. And if they eventually do get the Opon Imo, I would like to ask Governor Aregbesola questions like: ‘Are the learning materials in English or Yoruba?’, ‘Who will teach the children to use the Opon Imo? No, not all the propaganda about support centres and ambassadors…really, who will teach them?’, ‘And you say it will phase out textbooks? How? More importantly, why?’

 

  1. Re-classification of schools:

Another key point of Ogbeni Aregbesola’s education policy is re-classification of schools into elementary school (5 years), middle school (4 years) and high school (3 years), as against the national education policy of 6-3-3. In addition, the re-classification had attendant mega schools which accommodated many small schools bringing children from different religious backgrounds under the same roof to learn.

The administration claimed that this new system would give the pupils more time at the middle school so as to be “better prepared for maturity into high school”.

mock02

From my vantage point at the grassroots, all I saw the re-classification doing was tearing apart whatever hope was left for the struggling Osun child. These children were being taught WAEC syllabus in local parlance, had very minuscule grasp of English language as a result and even less significant academic and social abilities. It was therefore very tactless, in my opinion, to force upon them the rigors of such a transformation.

Seeing as a good number of students still struggled to grasp the technicality of writing their own names, it was disorienting to learn that their class was no more JSS 2 for example, but Grade 7. Many of them quit school when their classes were moved far away from them, to one of the mega schools. And consequently religious havoc erupted in the state as Muslim schools protested against having to conform to Christian students in their midst, and vice versa.

Aregbe06 Aregbe05

The re-classification activity was not just unnecessary but potentially damaging to the struggle of education in the state of Osun. It was a badly conceived move by the governor’s administration and even worse, poorly executed which explains why in many rural communities, the change was just too burdensome that it was made only on paper.

I do not think that Engineer Rauf Aregbesola is a bad man with intentions to ruin Osun state. I think he is an intelligent man – his media and publicity contraptions are so robust that to observers from outside the walls of the state, he can do no wrong; I think he is a shrewd politician who in spite of all, manages to keep both the grassroots and elite smiling for the camera; and I think he is a man whose good intentions for his people are constantly at war with – and losing to – his personal and party political ambitions.

Aregbe07

Come Saturday, August 9, 2014, the people of Osun state will march to the polls to cast their votes for the person who will sit in the executive seat of the state for the next four years. My beef with the man currently in that seat does not project any ill will towards him. It merely calls attention to the potentially fatal tilt of the education system which I witnessed under his leadership.

Hopefully, Engineer Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola or his successor will pay attention; because otherwise, I fear for the future of the children in the state of the living spring.

I rest my beef.

beef02

Locate me @ojukwu_martin on twitter

Ebola

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The Lagos State Government on Friday confirmed that the Liberian native, who was admitted in a private hospital in Lagos over a reported case of Ebola disease, passed away on Thursday night. The 40-year-old Liberian working for a West African organization in Monrovia reportedly arrived Lagos on a flight from Monrovia via Lome, Togo on Sunday July 20, 2014.

Initial tests carried out on the victim at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) confirmed that the man contracted Ebola but authorities as at this morning, said that the result of a confirmatory test was still being awaited from Dakar, Senegal to conclude the tests.

Addressing a Press Conference on the development at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, said that the ministry had started collaborating with all other agencies to treat the body and ensure that it is properly disposed.

He added that because the victim was a foreign national, certain diplomatic steps have to be taken, which includes contacting the Liberian Embassy and ensuring the sanitization of the hospital where the victim was hospitalized before his death.

Dr Idris also stated that the ministry was in contact with the hospital to ensure that the corpse of the victim is sanitized and that the virus is killed to prevent it from spreading.

He also said that steps were being taken by the ministry in collaboration with federal agencies to man all the border points in the state towards preventing any case of anyone with suspected symptoms coming into the state.

The Commissioner explained that the ministry was also engaged in contact tracing with all those whom the victim came into contact with before his death and that the manifest of the aircraft which brought him to Lagos has been obtained by the ministry.

He reiterated that all of such people would be questioned and observed in the next 21 days to ascertain their state of health, adding that the State Government would also set up a treatment centre in case of any other reported case of the Ebola disease in the state.

In addition, the Special Adviser on Public Health, Dr Yewande Adesina, cautioned members of the general public to desist from sending panicky messages via their phones and on social media about the issue.

She stressed that the State Government was on top of the situation, and this explains the reason why there had been media briefings periodically on developments about the case since it broke.

Additionally, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Ibirogba, said that the residents of the state should go about their lawful businesses, with the highest assurances that effective health measures have been put in place to guard against the spread of the disease from any source.

Also present at the briefing were the Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Raji and Permanent Secretary, Primary Health Care Board, Dr Oguntimehin. (culled from ChannelsTV report)

You will recall I first posted about this disease in March when it was still wrecking havoc in DRC and later in April when we first became aware of the potentials of it crossing into Nigeria. Apparently, it has. Nobody seems to be listening to any of the talk about the government being ‘on top of the situation’, as should be expected. I already got a number of text messages, broadcasts and even calls from worried family and friends.

There are a lot of things I am unsure of, especially about the information being spread about preventive measures against Ebola a.k.a The Dumb Virus. But a few of the them which make sense as prevention – not just against Ebola – are listed below:

1. Do not buy and eat any fruit directly without washing it first very well.

2. Try and avoid unnecessary hand shaking; in Nigeria, we shake hands for the entire Europe and Africa put together. If you must shake hands, keep your hands away from your mouth and either use a hand sanitizer or wash with soap and water afterwards. Unlike HIV, Ebola can be spread through contact with body sweat or saliva, so be careful.

3. Avoid eating any meat from apes e.g monkeys and its families. For now, you might want to stay away from eating any meat that you do not know it’s source, most especially beloved ‘suya’ and ‘kilishi’ – they were never healthy anyways. If you must eat meat, buy and cook it yourself with sufficient salt, water and whatever else is used to boil meat.

4. In case you still need to be told, bathe as often as you can. With soap.

5. Stay informed. Watch, read and listen to the news daily; 30minutes away from Telemundo or your ’50 Shades of Grey’ will not kill you, but Ebola could.

Life is precious and singular. Preserve yours.

Mention me @0jukwu_martin on twitter

5 SECRET TIPS HOW TO NOT BE A FRAUD’S-STAR.


Fraud – internet/electronic fraud especially – is on the rise and that is only because many of us fall prey every day. Inspired by a recent experience, I shall in this post, spill the secret tips of how to not be – or be, depending on your birthstone – a fraud’s star.

Who is a fraud’s star? You don’t know?!!

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sigh

Well, the story – which is totally unfounded by the way – goes that Casanova at the dawn of his philandering career lived in a mud house. A very old, broken down, mud house with the ever-dirty raffia sweep posing sentry just outside the door, beside the up-turned clay pot with broken rims and…you get the picture. The legend goes that a French princess from Serbia was on a voyage through Italy and spied Casanova’s hut from the window of her cabin. This princess had known sparkles, colors and light all her life, so she was completely enamored by the drabness of the man’s hut. So drawn was she that she had to see more, so she had her vessel parked beneath a tangelo grove and went on shore.

Casanova met her at the door. The rest of the story is a haze between that meeting and her eventual departure but it was said that before she left, she told Casanova to ask her for anything he desired and she would give it. He asked for a jewel to remember her by and she gave him her neck pendant.

After she left, he melted the golden pendant and formed it into the shape of a small star which he hung from a beam in his roof. And it became a way for him. At the closure of every conquest, Casanova took a piece of jewelry from the broken-hearted dame he was leaving behind – they always offered more but his calling was obviously not for pecuniary gains. He then melted the jewelry and formed it into a small star which he hung from his roof. Nobody knows how many conquests Casanova had in his lifetime but suffice it to say that years later, the ailing Casanova breathed his last beneath hundreds of shiny stars.

To this very day, that mud hut stands beside the tangelo tree on the southern bank of the Le Riviere Faux Pas in Venice, and Casanova-wannabes visit it to hang up the stars of their conquests. THE END.

Now you know what a fraud’s star is; if you still don’t, you need jizeees!

On to the secret tips then. These tips on how to not find yourself hanging from the roof beam of some fraudster’s mud hut are five in number but are meaningless if you do not remember to be wary of greed. Fraud preys on the intrinsic greed in every man and only when this is acknowledged, can the tips in this post come in handy.

What I received this morning was a text message which read:

“Your Line Have =N=30,000 Airtime with NCC. Just Because Your Sim is Register. To Load It Now. Logon To WWW.DATANCC.COM Your Code is 3232 You Have 2hrs Left”

Sender was ‘NCC-CARD’.

I bet you’re laughing now and thinking, “oh, who would fall for that?” and my answer would be you. Us. I can bet some of my hanging stars that had such a message popped into your phone prior to this blog post, your brain would have auto-transformed it so that to your eyes, it would have read:

“Congratulations!! Your line has won =N=30,000 airtime with NCC. To load it now, kindly log on to WWW.DATANCC.COME with the code number 3232”

But thank God for this post 🙂 , we now know to remember to not be greedy. Having remembered that, the first tip comes in

Tip #1. Nothing good in life is free – in real life at least.

Read it again, N.O.T.H.I.N.G. If it appears to be free, you have either paid for it, are paying for it, or will pay for it. Realizing and accepting this for what it is – fact – permits your brain to wander onto the next tip.

Tip #2: Locate the catch. Or the red flag.

Be careful not to confuse a red flag with a catch. In matters like this, there is always a catch. Always. Whether it’s genuine or fake – especially when it is genuine – there is a catch. Red flags however, only accompany the fakes.

The first thing you should do is search for the catch which in this case (had this been genuine) might have been a condition or a requirement of some sort which is the price for the ‘free’ gift. Next – and especially if you couldn’t find a catch – search out the red flag. The red flagS in my case were namely, the sender ID: NCC-CARD. No offense but who?

Another was the time restraint. “You Have 2hrs left” sounds more to me like, “We don’t want you taking any time to think about this, because then you’d find us out”. That and a third red flag prelude the next tip.

Tip #3: Think about it. No, really, THINK.

First, who or what does this NCC stand for?

Next, assume that it stands for Nigerian Communications Commission. If you were the manager for the PR or Sales or Free Airtime Distribution department at the commission, why would you want to reward subscribers for registering their sim cards? There could be some business sense in it for telecommunication companies but for you as the NCC, what?

Then, assume there is indeed some – however minuscule – business sense in running such a promo. How would you do it? How would you spread the information, first to the public and then to the winners? Of course, the commission wants to get maximum credit – pun fully intended – for the give-away so how would you make that happen?

I would love to read your answers as I’m sure will all be super creative. The one which you just might take for granted – because it shouldn’t be optional of course – in answering, would be assigning the task of informing winners to somebody with a above average grasp of the language used in communication. That is absolutely gbagaun-ist but I bet you agree.

Tip #4: Ask somebody.

It could be a friend who works in a related industry (in my case, the telecommunications industry), family, or good ol’ Google. Of course you will have yourself alone to blame if you go asking an ex whose heart you broke into pieces scattered all over Yaba cemetery. In asking, you will need to keep Tip #3 in mind so you don’t end up dangling as a star still, only from the roof of a different fraudster. In my case, I shared the text message – minus the four-digit code – with friends. NOBODY had heard of any such thing. If nobody you know, including Mr. Google, knows about it, and they know nobody who knows anything about it, chances are someone’s waiting to melt and form you into a star.

Tip #5: Test the water. With a long cane!

For those of us who are who are border-line optimistic or honestly, idealistic; whose minds will continue to resonate with the questions “So what?” and “What if I am the first?”; this last tip is for you. You still like to imagine that there is a chance it is genuine, right? Good, so let’s test it out. But while doing that, you want to keep yourself as insured as possible.

How? Still using my case as reference, here is an answer from my experienced friend in the telecomm industry: “Log into the site, should they require any details of yours besides your name and number (even the name is asking too much) get off”

Merely logging in was a risk; testing the water is a risk, even if you’re doing so with a long cane. Be aware of the magnitude of the risk you’re taking should you decide to press up to this point, and insure it as much as you can.

This is what happened after I took the risk…

 SC20140717-100646

I hope you noticed even more red flags. Still testing, I entered the pin:

3-2-3-2. ENTER

 SC20140717-100755SC20140717-100804

 

And I burst out laughing. I sent a reply too…

 SC20140717-110000

You can see it did not deliver; I must have hurt her feelings.

Do you have more tips to add or opinions on the tips above? We can’t wait to read them in the comments.

 

Mention me @ojukwu_martin on twitter

P.S. If you’re an EFCC official and you rushed onto this here page hoping to find a ‘big catch’, how disappointed you must be now tickles me black breaks my heart. The good news however is that I you read to the end so hopefully, you learnt a thing or two about how to catch the real fraudsters. Don’t forget to pass on my blog address to the Chief; we are on the same team after all. Besides, this blog could sure use some celebrity hits. Cheers 😉

EKITI 2014 AND THE RE-DEFINITION OF A GOOD MAN

fayosefayemi

The Ekiti 2014 gubernatorial elections which held on Saturday, June 21 returned Ayo Fayose as victor over incumbent governor, Kayode Fayemi. The results of that election reminded of five lessons which I had hitherto forgotten:

1)       Ekiti 2014 and the re-definition of a good man

By Vincent Nzemeke (@vincentnzemeke on twitter)

“The result of the gubernatorial election held in Ekiti state this weekend evoked memories of a stage play I watched at the Muson Centre, Lagos sometimes in the 2011.

Although it was an adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s famous book ‘A man of the people’, the play which also had the same title was tweaked to fit into the reality of modern day Nigeria.

Debuting just weeks before the 2011 general election, it was a political satire that portrayed our lives as a people. It was set to depict the complexity of elections in Nigeria and how the perception of the people can affect the outcome of an election.

In the play, Tobi an American returnee was vying for a senatorial seat with Chief Omobolaji Bello, a stark illiterate who had accumulated so much wealth from his position as the one and only chairman of the biggest motor park in the community.

During the campaign, Tobi marketed lofty ideas and visions for the community to the people. He waxed lyrical about how he had spent his time and personal resources to develop the community and went about with a list of what he had done and the many things he hoped to achieve if given a chance to represent the community at the Senate.

Chief on the other hand, had a carnival-like campaign that touched every nook and cranny of the community. He had itinerant dancers who made a show everywhere his train stopped. He spent a better part of the campaign period throwing jibes at Tobi and telling the people not to allow him corrupt them with his foreign ways. And of course, he had a deep pocket from which he doled out money relentlessly to the people.

To cut the long story short as we say in this part of the world, when it was time to vote, the people settled for Chief Bello. They rejected the lofty ideas and vision of young Tobi and settled for the chief who had over the years connived with politicians to under-develop the community.

At the end of the performance, the leader of the advocacy group that organized the play asked us (the audience) why the people chose Chief Bello. There were many opinions because everyone had an explanation for what we had just seen. But at the end, we all agreed that there would never be an acceptable definition of “the man of the people”, especially as it relates to politics in Nigeria.

As the results trickled in from Ekiti on Saturday, that million dollar question resonated in my mind. It was obvious from the early results that Fayose, the PDP candidate had a commanding lead.  I was curious to know why the people of Ekiti where it is said that almost every family has a professor would send a cerebral governor like Kayode Fayemi of APC packing and replace him with a man who was impeached some years back.

If the people of Ekiti could turn their backs on a governor whose performance in the last four years has been adjudged to be well above average even by his political rival, who then is qualified to be called a man of the people?

Is it the man with an eye on posterity who devotes himself to building infrastructures and delivering other dividends of democracy that can be bequeathed to the next generation or the one who simply gives the people what they need to survive today?

Since the election ended, I have read tomes of commentaries in newspapers and social media platforms that are at best ridiculous. The Fayose lackeys will tell you that their man won because PDP is better than APC but I don’t buy that.

I have always described both parties as two sides of a bad coin because they are different only in names and symbol. The broom is as corrupt as the umbrella.

The election in my estimation was a protest against Fayemi who even in the halcyon days of his administration had been accused of running an elitist government. I once had a chat with a civil servant from the state who told me point blank that the man was way too sophisticated for the ordinary man in Ekiti.

According to him, Fayemi junkets from one part of the country to the other delivering lectures about how the future of Ekiti would be better while the people lack the basic things they need to live through today.

Fayose, methinks won this election because he is a good man in the Nigerian sense. You see in this clime, no one cares a hoot about tomorrow; we live for now and simply leave the future to take care of itself.

Fayemi concentrated on what posterity would say about him, Fayose bothered only about what those living now think about him. That is why it is so easy for him to connect with the lowest of the low in Ekiti and get them to vote for him.

I am also of the view that Fayemi devoted too much effort to social media rather than getting to the grassroots. As one of the tweets circulated on Saturday puts it: “the peasants and ordinary folks in Ekiti who voted for Fayose have no Twitter and Facebook accounts. The governor should have known that the bulk of those singing his praise on the social media don’t even have time to vote. Fayose did not brag on Facebook, he did not gather followers on Twitter, he went to the people and that was what mattered at the end of the day.

All said and done, Ekiti 2014, has given me a perfect definition of a good man in today’s Nigeria. I believe this new definition will also be useful to those of us aspiring to venture into politics sooner or later.

A good man is he who does not give a hoot about what posterity would write or say about him, he simply lives for now. A good man is not he who talks about leaving a legacy for generations yet unborn; he is the one who shares food, money and other essentials needed by the masses to live through today.

When I finally decide to begin my political career, I hope to be a good man.”

 

As written by Vincent Nzemeke, a friend, brother, former and future colleague who blogs at vincentnzemeke.blogspot.com

2)       When I finally decide to begin my own political career, I hope to be a good man too; a good man who has a twitter account.

 

3)       An incumbent cannot lose a re-election bid in Nigeria unless (a) he slapped a priest in Owerri; or (b) he is not a good man. P.S: Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will do well to know this in view of 2015.

 

4)       Our leaders are not forced to be who they are not by their positions of authority or by political parties or by ‘pressure’; they elect to be the IGODO masquerades they turn out to be.

 

5)       “Leadership itself is merely the opportunity to serve & power is a God-given resource with which we are meant to change lives for d better” – Kayode Fayemi.

 

GOD BLESS NIGERIA!