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Disclaimer: the tale you are about to read is not entirely fiction. Keep your internet browser close by, you might need to verify.

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“Oloshi!”

You ignore the conductor and walk right on, a crisp fifty naira note in your hand, crisper than the one you had just now refused to take from him. He curses even more as the bus zooms off, but you do not spare him a second glance – he is the least of your worries.

Your pocket is your primary worry at the moment, it is empty. Not a komkom milo kind of empty, empty tins can at least make good music; this emptiness is more of an akpa asisa kind, an abrasive kind of empty. And it is all the fault of that stupid bank.

The old man from across the street waves at you and makes to rise from his perch beneath the shade. But your wave back at him is brusque; you slip through the gate and hurry towards your door without looking back. He will be disappointed, you know. Every evening as you return for work, he is seated in the same spot beneath that tree, fanning himself with a sheet of cardboard paper. And usually, you would stop to exchange a few laughs. But not today, not while your tummy and pockets sing a duet of dearth.

It was on a day like this that you walked into that fast-food place at the corner of Sanusi Boulevard and ordered a large meal of rice, beans, plantain and cow-tail. You were washing the spirited meal down with a coke when the waiter approached, bill in hand. You didn’t even look, just waved your Naira mastercard in the air. Get your POS.

It didn’t work the first time – typical. So you tapped in your PIN again. While you waited – you and the waiter, you downed another mouthful of the chilled coke which apparently, you were sharing with somebody named Ehi.

No vex, oga, let me bring another one. And she ran off, leaving the faulty POS on the table, your card still stuck halfway in it. She returned with a grey one and an outrageously brightly coloured one in either hand. You tried again. Again. And again. Still no show, so you finished your  coke, paid in cash and left.

You were seated in the conference room, opposite the Korean investors, when the first debit alert came in, then the second, then the third, then another…and the next. Six of them in all, your account balance read just below five thousand. Sure, you were concerned, but not really worried. These things happened very often, and you were certain that you would receive six reversal alerts before close of business.

But the end of the day came, and there were no alerts. You willed them to roll in so you would not have to call customer care – they took forever to connect and always ended with more promises than fixes. Noon came the following day and you still had not seen any debit reversal SMS. You checked online and your account balance was the same – 4,998.50. So you dialed Customer Care.

They promised to fix it; you really had no choice so you waited. Then you got busy, working hard, while living off your small stash of cash, and you forgot all about it. Until earlier this afternoon when you stood in front of an ATM machine reading “Insufficient balance” on the monochrome screen. You can’t believe you had forgotten to follow up, because who goes to sleep on the comfort of a banker’s word in this country?

As you now stare at the small bag of garri sitting on your kitchen floor like a fat toddler, you realize it is your singular sure means of surviving the weekend. You are angry, angrier because you are helpless. But you are also very hungry. So you fling the tail of your tie over one shoulder and stoop to pour some of the fine yellow flour into a bowl.

Your laptop is sitting on your dining table, lid up, as you left it before going to bed last night. And the sight of it reminds you of a conversation you had with your colleague, Jide weeks ago. He is a twitter-worm and apparently, a website had been the rave at the time, where people reported their bank troubles and they got resolved at no cost.

You pour some water into it and set the bowl of garri aside – given time, the mixture will swell to a quantity that stood a better chance of sating your hunger. As the orange, red and blue colours of your internet browser flood the laptop screen, you mentally pat your own back for subscribing to the monthly plan. The state of your finances at the moment place internet way above luxury.

All you can remember about that site Jide mentioned is that its name sounded like a TV news channel; and you are not very certain but it probably had the words ‘global’ and ‘bank’ in it.

A few minutes of Google later and you are looking at a large picture of the Dubai sky-line – “Dubai is where your search ends,” it read. Wrong one. You start to glide your pointer towards the ‘go back’ button at the top-left of the screen but some words stop you.

Global Banking Issues Network – GBINetwork

‘Our bank is here to encourage all banks to be more efficient and help bank customers blah-blah-blah…

You scroll down and spend the following minutes reading through a deluge of reports sent in by dissatisfied bank customers world-wide, and the responses to them. By your rough estimate, 70-75% of all bank troubles reported here is rectified, and the erring banks even wrote personal apologies in the Comments section.

There is a ‘Click here to post your complaints’ button on the menu bar. You click.

It is loading as you reach for the bowl. The garri has ‘risen’ enough now, nearly doubling in mass and flirting with the inner rims of the large bowl. You spoon a dollop of the sodden paste into your mouth, knead it between your tongue and the roof of your mouth, and swallow.

With a grainy salt-sour taste in your mouth, you begin to type.

***

Y: “Oh boy, Jide, show first.”

Jide: “Wassup nah?”

Y: “Guy, that your link work oh.”

Jide: “Link ke? Which one?”

Y:“The bank one nah…GBIN.”

Jide: “Oh, you use am?”

Y: “Yes oh…my bank really messed up, I just use vex report them for the website.”

Jide: “Enhen…?”

Y: “They called me now to apologize oh, the bank people. I form small shaa, but the grammar just dey increase. Come see the sweet voice wey the babe use dey beg me nah: ‘We saw your report on GBIN, sir, we’re very sorry that you had to endure supri supri supri…’

“Omo, last last ehn, she asked some questions about my account details and the transaction wey cause the wahala, come talk say dem go fix am. As I dey drop phone, guy, alert dey enter my phone fia fia fia!”

Jide: “Wow, you mean am?”

Y: “Hian…see question oh. No be you show your boy the way?”

Jide: “Omo, I never used it oh. I just saw the gist on twitter, that’s how I knew about it. And I dey here since, my bank just dey misbehave…”

Y: “Oh boy, no time oh. Gee-BIN them!”

Jide: “Sharp sharp, bros”

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Do not keep this one to yourself. Tell someborri!

Chisom

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THE LECTERN: MAY I HAVE SEX WITH YOU?

In this month’s edition of ‘The Lectern’, Tobe Osigwe writes about sex, sex education and where we have got it all wrong…as of yet. 

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That we might read…

Plato the classical Greek philosopher believed that dramatists should be banished from the society. His reason was that dramatists are imitators of reality; therefore they are liars, thus, removed from the reality which they try to imitate. I think of a truth that dramatists are imitators of reality but I doubt if they are removed from it. If there is any group of people in our contemporary society that are removed from reality I think its most clergies and fanatical Christians. These people are miles away from reality. Not because they don’t preach the truth but because they have mastered the skillful art of pretending away some truths.

However, if you think that our ever pontificating pastors are only those guilty of this habit of shying away from some truths, then you are sitting on a long thing. Topping the pretenders list are parents. Now, look at how our parents and pastors engage in this vocation of pretense. They will tell you things like, my dear fornication is a sin, don’t allow any man touch you, don’t have sex with any fellow that is not your spouse, keep yourself pure. While all these lines are true, the lie in it is, mere stating of it does not have power to stop one from abiding by it if the teller of the truth does not show how to uphold it. Rather, the teller of the truth has successfully aroused your desire and interest in testing the veracity of the truth.

I for one strongly believe that any problem you do not have a solution to you have no authority to shout from the tree top about the reality and existence of the problem. How can a parent tell the child or ward not to have sex while there is a sharp contrast if the child turns on the radio, TV, magazine, music, film? And, to crown it all, the parent is not curbing or monitoring the intake of such alternative agents of information. As if that is not enough, the child is shipped into a university, office, any other environment where the child is left in close proximity with the opposite sex and the hormones are all screaming and seething to be gratified thus placing the poor fellow in a hamlet situation of ‘to be or not to be’.

For those at loss with the point I am driving at, it’s simple: it’s not enough to say, don’t indulge in pre-marital sex; we have to go further by showing a practical and realistic way for one not to shine congo. In these days of intellectual enlightenment that people find it difficult to swallow axioms hook, line and sinker, one should not assert that something is bad and snooze off. Rather, there is a need to realistically explain why it’s bad and how to escape it for one’s warning to be effective and result-oriented. Failure to do this you have not solved any problem but you have succeeded in making noise and worse still, alienating yourself from such youth who will see you as an anti in the quest of having fun.

Sex is one issue parents don’t like to teach their children and when they do they simply gloss over with the hollow caveat ‘it’s bad’. Something so important and difficult to rise above its sweet temptation is funnily summarized in one straight jacket threat-loaded phrase: it’s bad. It’s bad and so what? Lie is bad and people still lie every day, so is stealing, cheating, fighting and other vices. Methinks it’s pertinent we admit that the reality of one not indulging in pre-marital sex in the way our society is presently structured is as difficult as a Fulani herdsman passing JAMB in one sitting. Let’s face and accept this reality then find out how to overcome it.

If the present foregoing is true, then it’s totally ridiculous for parents to expect their children to turn out good without showing or beefing them up with the required skill set and properly monitoring them. In the light of present societal realities parents need to take charge in overcoming of some moral codes. You can’t just sit down and expect people to remain chaste when there are overpowering modern day realities circumventing their power to remain clean.

Now let’s look at the following modern day realities; a full grown man of about 30 years is living in his own apartment, he pays his own bills and for reason best known to him he has been in an intimate relationship with a lady for two good years without hope of marriage and you tell them pre-marital sex is a sin.

Also, an unemployed youth who is sitting around at home is visited daily by a fellow unemployed youth and they gist away their unemployed time. I leave you to do the math of the end result of their unemployed gist. What of a lady who is in the university, her parents are no longer privy of her whereabouts, she feels she has fallen in love after some guy whispered some sweet nonsense into her ears and you think she will not…? *coughs*. Or a cute guy joins his church choir and at each rehearsal he sits closely with one beautiful church girl and they become brother and sister in the lord. And as we are all aware, hormones do not repent. Do you think they will not…? *coughs again*.

Let’s face it. So many things inevitably bring the opposite sex together these days. So many factors make people keep late night these days, so many styles of socially acceptable dressing, songs, films and activities, religious ones inclusive, make one think of sex every minute of the day nowadays. Also, it’s no longer a secret that parents no longer have a firm grip on their children or know their itinerary – no thanks to civilization. Trying to deny these facts is akin to denying that there is a mystery being who has a mind of its own in between your thighs. And, believing that people can behave modestly despite all these facts by mere warning that sex is bad is like keeping a yam with a goat and expecting the goat to be reasonable.

Trying to shy away from reality with some biblical truths minus sincere practical step is the staple product of most post-modernist day Nigerian parents or should I say Christians- I believe that’s why over -zealous church goers remain the easiest set of people to sleep with once the perfect opportunity shows up. Little wonder most randy pastors and some smart folks are having a field day sampling the Lord’s vineyard.

Parents should understand that helping their children to plan their future will help greatly in curbing pre-marital sex. If one knows that at the age of 24 or thereabout, he is sure to be financially and emotionally responsible, and therefore ready for marriage, I believe the issue of premarital sex will be history. After all, nobody enjoys doing bad, but one resorts to it when one runs out of alternative good deeds or when one is visionless, deluded and ignorant.

To this end, with my short experience, I think the only way one can shy away from pre-marital sex is to flee from it via avoiding intimate relationship, sexually suggestive films, songs, raunchy friends, profaned environment and less of social media. But the fact remains, the longer you run and flee, like every other race, the weaker you become. Yes, each time you add a year, your defenses against withstanding the enticing darts of sexual intimacy and gratification reduce unless you have tasted it and have grown weary of crossing the Rubicon. Or you have resorted to some other secret but perverse way of gratifying this legitimate desire. Or perhaps, the Creator has given you a special grace to withstand sexual urges. But such people are few and rare.

May GOD open our eyes of understanding.

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BY: Tobe Osigwe ()

If you have a piece you would like to post at ‘The Lectern’, send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you want to ‘be read’ but are yet undecided about a subject matter, send me an email too and we can work up something appropriate for you.

“I am @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

THIS THING CALLED FEMINISM

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“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”  – Jane Austen, Persuasion.

“My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone.”
― Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

The women above were expressing, albeit in the subtlest of ways, their dissatisfaction with some of the lowest forms of female-targeted gender discrimination – denigration and objectification. My immediate reaction upon reading these words is not just sadness, but also a fluid outpouring of sympathy, and shame. Because it is true that a lot of men see women not as humans but as appendages to manhood; appendages who have no business thinking or being intelligent.

What I however would like to dissect further in this post, is the rapidly-turning consensual presupposition that men are the one and only reason for denigration of the feminine gender and as a result, they must be punished so that total women empowerment can be attained. This line of thought leads us on to the popular and very controversial topic of Feminism.

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I have always held the opinion that what the majority of us know and practice as feminism is actually – and very ironically – a campaign for the continued denigration of the female folk. A lot of mothers raise their daughters with mantras such as, “Men Are Evil”, “You Are Better Than Them(men)”, “Never Let A Man Ride You” among others; and upon growing into adults, a lot of these women turn ‘feminists’. Their practice of ‘feminism’ is built on a coarse foundation of psychological self-enslavement, carefully disguised as a caring system which would have made all their dreams come true were it not over-run by these ‘evil men-folk’.

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From the start therefore, the girl sees herself as a victim and rightly so, acts like one; she cries foul at every slightest tip in the scale and yells “Me! Me!! Not them!!!”- like a victim; she fights rough, by hook or crook, fair or foul, demanding, beguiling, begging for rights, “the same rights they have”, rights which might have always been there for the taking – like a victim; and no matter how much is acceded, no matter how many victories she registers, she goes to her death whimpering about a world that always chose ‘them’ first and never gave her a chance – like a victim.

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Perhaps there is no better illustration of this psyche-malformation than in the July 8th article published in The Guardian under the title ‘Oscar Pistorius’ trial: Lessons for Nigerian Judiciary’. The writer, Bamidele Aturu cited one of such lessons from the conduct of the female judge who has presided over the Pistorius case thus far as follows: “…the lawyers freely referred to the judge as ‘my lady’ and she did not take offence as some of our female judges, particularly those at the Court of Appeal, do”, he noted. “In Nigeria…our female judges refuse to be addressed as ‘my lady’. They would quickly point out to you that they are not your lady in such a stern way that you would think that you had just called them, ‘my wife’”

Many lawyers in quick defense of this would quickly say that there is no ‘woman’ at the bar…really, there aren’t? Of course there are – if biological differences still exist, that is – women at the bar, so it is more a case of those women not wanting to be regarded as ‘woman’ than anything else. In that case, two options are viable: either ‘woman’ is now considered such a derogatory term that learned females abhor to be so recognized while in their official capacity or it is just a principle of the profession.

I am fairly sure it is not the latter because in addition to the example of South Africa cited above, other instances abound, namely: in England and Wales, judges are called ‘My Lord’ or ‘My Lady’ and magistrates ‘Sir/Madam’; Male judges in Germany are formally addressed as ‘Herr Vorsitzender’ and female judges as ‘Frau Vorsitzende’, which translate as ‘Mister Chairman’ or ‘Madam Chairwoman’ respectively; and in Brazil, the judges can be called “Juiz” or “Juiza,” the male and female versions of judge.

Aturu went on to write – and I agree – that “in other countries, the shift to the use of ‘my lady’ to address female judges was the outcome of the struggle to treat women as women and to respect them as they are. It is therefore, demeaning of womanhood for a judge, for that matter, to stick to a mode of address that denigrates women and reflects a reactionary disposition.”

I have deliberately made this point as plainly and provocatively – if you may – as possible because only in starkness, will truth shine out in its most benevolent glory. As our people say, he is a dead man who hides a festering wound, untreated, behind swathes of fine dressing. The healing balm of truth in this case, is that obsession with the crucifixion of the men-folk for denigrating the womenfolk is no way to conquer gender discrimination. As clichéd as it is, two wrongs still do not make a right; the practice of a victim mentality and the incessant preaching to nail the ‘balls’ to the board, all in the name of feminism are in truth, anti-feminist.

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Eleniyan is a Nigerian who wrote a very difficult to read, but insightful article titled ‘The Need for Feminism in Nigeria and Africa as a whole’ which was published on www.nigeriavillagesquare.com in September, 2009. If it matters to you, I am unaware of Eleniyan’s gender but the writer’s views on feminism shed more light on this very unpopular view of mine.

In the writer’s opinion, feminism “…is not ANTI-MEN! The problem with the anti-men agenda cloaked in feminism is that, in its effort to subvert the order of things, wanting to take power away from men, they forgot the fundamental differences both socially and biologically, between men and women. By peddling their “freedoms” or “anti-men” agenda that are artificial, self-destructive, and merely allow women to have superficial resemblance of equality, they hurt feminism’s aim to improve emotional and psychological relations between men and women and cultivate a genuine respect for women”

He/she went on to explain that this retributive agenda directed at the supposed hunters in flesh of men, has been mistaken for feminism. AND this singular factor is responsible for the many “road-bumps” against feminism in our society.

Feminism is a political, moral, social, and even now religious movement which aspires for equal rights and all-round protection for women. And often, the misconceptions surround the many different definitions of the term ‘EQUAL’.

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According to Eleniyan, “Equality is not sameness in treatment, but fairness in treatment” The idea is that while differences in human compositions and nature make it impossible for everybody to be treated exactly the same, the same differences must discourage unfair treatment of one over another.

I am helpless before the veracity of these words because fairness does not focus on stamping down on one person for another to be raised up; it might be necessary in certain cases, that a head must roll for another to sprout, but the difference is that equality fights against an initial, obvious and compulsive obsession for this to happen, while accepting it when it does happen.

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Fairness does not discard the needs, wants and aspirations of one person in favor of another’s; it accepts everybody – male or female, hunter or hunted – for who they are and treats them with respect. And the achievement of that for women, I believe, is the mission of feminism.

Nelson Mandela did not attempt to victimize the supremacist whites in South Africa in order to free his people of apartheid; he would have failed. He rather believed and fought for equality and fairness. He once was quoted as saying: “Let there be justice for ALL. Let there be peace for ALL. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for ALL. Let EACH know that for EACH the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.”

Even Martin Luther King Jr’s dream was not obsessed with demanding the heads of the white racists on spikes; his dream was “that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL MEN are created equal.’”

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Equality. Fairness. Is the stuff it ought to be made of.

And now it is your turn to share, reader. Whatever your view is – hot or cold 😉 – pen it down in the comments section for us all to share. What is your view of This Thing Called Feminism?

 

 Mention me @ojukwu_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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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!

UNFORGIVEN – III

…contined from Unforgiven II

unforgiven

Charles Umoh had a touch of arrogance, perhaps the fact that he was wealthy added to it. Those two aphrodisiacs were enough to attract any woman to him.

Standing on her doorstep, Ethel couldn’t avoid looking at him; really looking at him. He was greying at the temples in a way that made him very attractive.

“Won’t you ask me in?” he spoke in a low drawl.

His voice jerked Ethel from her semi-trance. She turned to Maria.

“What is this, Maria? How do you know this man?”

“She doesn’t. She just led me here. Because I asked,” he replied. “Thank you, Maria. You may go now.”

Without hesitating, the petite woman turned on her heels.

“Still used to getting your way, Mister Umoh?” she folded her hands across her chest.

“Still defensive around me, Ethel?” he indicated her posture, “Listen, we can do this here and cause a scene or you can let me in and we’ll talk like old friends.”

Only, we aren’t old friends. She thought, we aren’t even friends.

She moved aside and let him in, against her better judgment.

“Nice place you’ve got here, only it’s a bit small. Don’t you think?” he was walking around, like he owned the place.

“What do you want, Charles?” she asked.

“I miss the old apartment. It had memories, you know.”

She stiffened. He was toying with her. The old apartment had been his; he’d only leased it to her for their dalliances. That much had been clear when the relationship ended.

“What are you doing here, Charles?” she wasn’t going to let him get to her.

Her blood was pounding. With rage and hatred for this man. And something else. Excitement – a teeny bit of the old excitement raced through her veins.

It was the Charles effect. It didn’t matter that he was twenty years older than her or that they hadn’t seen each other for three years; he still had that effect on her.

You’re not this person anymore, Ethel. You have Jesus now. You have no right to feel this way about this man.

“I missed you. I’ve missed you all these years, Thelia,”

She winced. That was the name he’d called her before. When they were…together. It was the name she’d told him on their first date.

“You must be crazy. You think you can waltz in here after three years without a word and tell me you what? Missed me? You really must think the world revolves around you, Charles.”

He took a step forward, closing the little space between them. She didn’t look at him, didn’t want to look into those eyes, because then she was afraid her body might betray her. His eyes had always mesmerized her. His gaze had a hypnotic effect on her.

Be strong Thelia. No. Don’t call me that. My name is Ethel. Be strong Ethel.

“I’ve never been the same without you, Thelia. I should never have left,” he continued.

“Yet you did. And that’s the best decision you ever made,” she turned away from him, getting her strength back. “You should leave now, Charles. I’m not that person anymore.”

“What’s different?”

“I found Jesus. I’m saved.”

He laughed; a deep rumbling sound.

“Get out, Charles. I don’t know why you came but it’s time you left. I have work tomorrow.”

“You can’t keep up this good girl act for long, Thelia,” he was coming toward her again, “Remember what you told me once? I am like a drug in your system that you can’t get rid of. What we had was special, Thelia; people don’t recover easily from that.”

She remembered saying those words, when she’d begun falling in love with him without realizing it. It shamed her to think of it now. God, give me strength here. She prayed silently.

“Look at me Thelia. Look at me and tell me you don’t long for me as I long for you? That you don’t feel anything for me,” he was standing very close to her now, and although she was backing him, she could feel the heat that rose in her body as he came close.

“How’s your wife, Charles? And your two daughters?” her words broke the tension and he moved away from her.

“Low blow, Ethel,” he growled.

“Get out before I call Pastor Tim and tell him he’s beloved brother is hitting on his ex-mistress.”

“Tell me how you ended up in church, Ethel. You of all people do not deserve forgiveness.”

Without thinking, her palm connected with his cheek in a movement that surprised even her.

“You! Do. Not. Deserve. Forgiveness,” she said, anger rising in her eyes, “now, get out!”

He looked at her, “this isn’t over. I always get what I want.”

With that he marched out of the house and Ethel crumpled into the chair behind her.

Doesn’t knowing Jesus kill all evil feelings?

How could she still be attracted to this man who’d left her broken when she needed him most?

Love isn’t part of the equation, her Mum usually said while she cleaned up to meet another ‘client’.

What about my daddy? Did you love him? Ten year old Ethel had asked then.

Why do you think I have you? Mum had snapped in response. Love is a mirage and men don’t deserve it. Even though Ethel hadn’t understood Mum’s words then; she knew that somehow, men were the enemy. So Mummy said.

You’re not that person anymoreYou’ve let go of the hate and bitterness.

So why don’t I feel better? Why can’t I be immune to Charles?

Her eyes fell on her bible that lay on the table and she reached for it.

Cast all your cares on me.

As she opened the Bible and began to read, she felt that strange peace draping itself over her.

Be of good cheer; I have overcome.

An insane idea dropped into her head as she read and Ethel reached for her phone and dialed a number.

“Hi Amaka,”

“Eth, what’s up?”

“I’m ready to talk.”

“Oh. Now?”

“No. I’ll see you tomorrow at the office. Kiss Sharon for me.”

As she hung up, she realized what she’d done. Was she indeed ready?

 

…to be continued next week. Happy Sunday!

 

By Mimi Adebayo