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Square Pegs and Round Holes

Month

March 2016

The Effect of Terror

  

Trump is going to gain more followers from among neutrals and moderates.
Right wing and anti immigrant groups are going to be on the rise in Europe. 

Angela Merkel’s legacy will be questioned for a long time, unfortunately.

Arab migrant youth will be further profiled and targeted and this will, again, push them into the willing hands of the extremists.

Travel industry will be impacted. Global sales will drop and insurance cost will increase on some routes. Travelers will have bad experiences from anxious border control officers, immigration officials and locals acting out of fear and misguided retributive emotions. Visa restrictions will increase and local tourism should see a bounce, but…

Relaxation centres and large shopping malls and other soft targets are going to see a decline in sales. Online shopping will benefit but the human spirit will be the loser.

And that’s the plan. To make the world bigger and add more barriers whilst creating dissension among people of different faiths in order to actualize their agenda. In the end, it will fail, but not before a major climax and confrontation of state sponsors… after the current spate of Ostriching ends.

SAN

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Prof: Notes on Mentorship and Man’s Imperfection 

I remember my time as a youth corps member at a university in Makurdi. I worked under the HOD to my department. Apart from being his technical assistant I also had the duty of taking one of his classes – practical chemistry.
He would occasionally take me out on socials. Mostly just Isi-ewu and drinks on the odd Sunday or Saturday afternoon at one of the quiet joints in North Bank. He became some sort of mentor to me. I had just come out of a rough patch at UI and this quiet town was a place to reflect and plan the next phase of my life. Prof was just the right influence for me.
He was a very wise, soft spoken, strong willed, lean and bearded gentleman. He was an American returnee who could not help expressing his disillusion with the way things were now he was back home. But he was good to me and always seemed to say the right things that gave me hope without focusing on my shortcomings even as he gave me corrective feedback.

Things went downhill after I went to Prof’s house for Lunch, one Sunday. He did not treat his wife well. He would bark at her for not serving me with the right glass and for letting the baby out without proper clothing. They lived in a small official bungalow. Very basic minimalist furnishing…not by choice I suspected. The wife was very careful when serving lunch. She did not want to make more mistakes.
On the way out to dropping me off, we stopped at the same isi ewu spot. He apologized for the behavior of “that girl”. I was not happy. He kept denigrating her. She must have been an Onwa December type wife. Wide age and polish gap. So what?
So I started avoiding Prof. He had let me down. How could he be so kind to me and yet so cruel and unhappy at home? Then he called me one day and told me I was only there for a few months and he intended to ensure I got the full benefit of the exposure he could give in that time. He wanted the school to offer me a staff position. He noticed I was withdrawn after that day at his house. He advised me to never allow the personal lives of those I looked up to affect the mentorship I could get from them. He said no one was perfect and I would never know the story behind what I saw in people.
I took his advice and I have never looked back.
I was with my dad a few weeks ago and he told me how he thought Awolowo retarded Shagamu because of Remo politics (Akarigbo Adedoyin saga, etc.). My dad held that against the sage. Yet he told me how much more Awo did for him and the rest of his generation and the positive influence he had on the leaders that emerged from there.

I smiled. I remembered Prof and all the other formal and informal mentors I have had since then. You pick what you need and leave the rest. Don’t judge and don’t expect perfection in any human.
Good evening folks.
SAN

Open Book Exams – The Triumph of the Information Age

open book exams

I remember the first time I was told my exams would be in the open book format. I looked around me at the rest of the class to be sure I was not dreaming. Of the 30 or so people in that class were two Naijas. So, come exam day, me and my homey loaded every available textbook, class note and other materials we could get our hands on. I remember my heap of books being so high that I could barely see the guy by my side.

So they blew the whistle and I looked at the first question. It went something like: “Stating the models that support your argument, pick a country as a case for a technology colony and predict which of their enabling foreign owned technologies will likely chart the path to their industrial revolution….”

open book exams 1

Confusion. Whatever happened to simply defining the theory, its models and giving an example??? I think I must have spent the best part of 15 minutes of the 3 hour paper resetting my psyche before I could continue. The books and downloads did not help!

It was clear after finishing my post graduate degree from that school why some graduates are taught to think and others to know. Yet knowledge is not static. Those who are taught to know will struggle with adapting to new situations/conditions and change while the former will remain agile, adaptable and innovative while thriving in a diverse environment.

Not too long ago, I saw a poser on a friend’s wall about how two students from Ghana topped the WAEC examination score board. Good for them. Those same students would probably do better at examinations than the best South Africans, Ethiopians and students from most European countries for that matter. But think how much less innovative Ghana is than any of the countries mentioned. It’s the same way I look at other indices when picking a school for my child. While most parents are looking at examination scores and how children are able to recite all kinds of stuff like states, capitals and even governors by heart and do hard crunching maths ahead of their grades; I look at learning environment, diversity/social and networking opportunities, sports facilities, behaviours and general confidence of the students I come across. After that, I believe the missing link in completing the raising of the child belongs to me.

Let me close with the following quote from Albert Einstein –

“Education is not the learning of facts, it’s rather the training of the mind to think.”

 

SAN
Image source: Getty Images; Anon

Shocking the rule of law into being…

Sir,

I live in an estate where the managers, who are the original promoters, subject us to all kinds of abuse. They make rules without recourse to the residents; they will not show us expenditure records or get us involved in the budget process or determination of annual service charge. They have been known to lock us out of the estate and even threaten to arrest our family members, while we are away at work, using the local police. When we fought back by approaching a higher police command with our case, they got someone to write us from Force HQ in Abuja, etc.

 

My Response

  1. Get your lawyers to advise you with a view to petitioning the estate management to the LASG, Commissioner, AIG and IG of police, and the President and publish it in at least two national dailies.

          This will achieve high embarrassment, de-marketing and speedy resolution of this               issue according to the dictates of the relevant LASG laws guiding this.

  1. Also take the estate to court and hinge your case on the NICON town and VGC judgements on similar issue.

 

Nigerians don’t listen and institutions hardly do their jobs until you cause noise and high embarrassment.

 

SAN

Points to Consider on Electoral Reform

1]. When was the last time anyone, especially someone of means, went to jail for any of the offences in the electoral act and related extant provisions of our constitution?

2]. Who pays for the cost of election re-runs and how are they budgeted for? At INEC’s projected cost of $7.9 per voter and a PVC collection rate of 75%, Rivers state with a registered voter count of 2,537,590 cost us about N3B for their guber election re-run

3.] What is our rate of election annulment? Why is this so? How do we stack with the rest of the world in this metric? What system tweaks are being made to address this?

4.] What is our level of voter awareness and confidence? Do voters know the real reason they are voting is to employ folks to work for them? Are voters from certain regions confident to go out on election day to cast their vote? What is being done about this?

5.] Can we afford to keep militarising whole states just because of elections? Can we remove the element of security from our voting? Are we mature for robust electronic voting? Do we have infrastructure in place to actualize this? How have we fared in similar endeavours with drivers license, national ID card, “e-passport”, registration of births/deaths and Jamb/Waec examinations? What is the impact of the supreme court judgement on Dakuku vs Wike (2015) in this regard and can it be remedied constitutionally?

6.] Should a comprehensive electoral reform, with the five points above taken into consideration, not be pursued as a matter of urgency by this administration?

SAN

Bethesda School for the Blind and that Eviction Threat

yemi-osinbajo visits Bethesda home for the blind
Professor Yemi Osinbajo visits the Bethesda Home for the Blind in April 2015

I am beginning to ask myself whether the perception of change by the Executive governor of Lagos State is the same with what I and majority of Lagosians voted for in 2015!
The Bethesda Home is a non-profit organization established to cater for the well-being of blind persons who do not have support from the government or even their families. The home feeds, clothes and shelters them while paying for their vocational and academic education. The home even extends its humanitarian services to indigent blind persons who are not resident on their premises to obtain financial support for pursuing their educational ambitions as well. In 2013, the immediate past Chairman of the Surulere Local Government Council allocated the council’s property on 31 Moshalasi Road, Mushin, for the use of the home to encourage their work. The property was then in a dilapidated state and the home had to raise funds worth millions of Naira to build a fence, fumigate it and renovate the buildings to make them habitable. I recall that a current national leader of the All Peoples’ Congress, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, enjoyed media accolades for donating an eighteen-sitter bus to the home on his sixtieth birthday anniversary.
However, despite the fact that the incumbent second citizen of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is a patron of the home and the residents turned out en mass to vote for APC, the new administration of the Surulere Local government Council with the backing of the Lagos State government is now resolved to forcefully eject them from the property (only the refusal of the Nigerian Police to be an accomplice has delayed this).
Although it is worrying that a government should attack the weak and vulnerable rather than protect them, it is more unsettling to consider what the social implications of this action will be. While monitoring a radio interview of Governor-to-be Akinwunmi Ambode by Jimmy Disu barely weeks to the 2015 gubernatorial elections I recall that Mr. Ambode was asked whether his coming to office would continue the trend of selling property of the state to private business concerns. His answer then was noticeably inconclusive. I will not be surprised if, after expelling the blind occupants of 31 Mushin Road, the site suddenly became the property of a corporate body. But even if, for shame, this course is not followed, I wonder how committed the Lagos State government is to their policy of eliminating begging on the streets of Lagos when they force vulnerable persons out of their shelter right onto the streets.
The government owns the land in Nigeria and it is no secret that they can wield so much brutal force at will. However, I know it is the government’s constitutional duty and moral obligation to protect all citizens especially the vulnerable. The Lagos State Government has much under-utilized land all over the state which they can allocate to the home. That line of action would have helped them hide some of the hypocrisy in their relations with persons living with disabilities.
In case you are unaware, the Lagos State Government instituted an “inclusive” education programme in which they are supposed to modify existing regular schools to accommodate children with disabilities. The scheme was started before Ex-Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola’s two tenures , more than eight years ago, but none of the disabled children that were enrolled in the primary schools ever successfully graduated into secondary schools from those inclusive units. At best, they are children whose parents had to withdraw them and take them to the privately-owned special schools to complete their primary education. The enactment of the Lagos State Special People’s Law in 2011 was a noble gesture to mark the birthday of BRF and it came with the setting up of the Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA), ostensibly a platform for interfacing between the state government and persons with disability. It is disheartening to note that this office has divorced itself from the plight of the Bethesda Home, this being only one of its ineptitudes. But that is another story for another day.
If we, as residents of Lagos State, allow this instance of insensitivity and negligence of duty to the populace to go unchallenged, we are being unwise. Bethesda Home for the blind is the victim today, nobody knows where the pendulum of oppression will swing next!

 

Opeolu Akinola, a visually impaired citizen and people living with disabilities rights advocate, writes from Lagos.

 

Links

Bethesda Home For The Blind website 

Fashola visits Bethesda Home for the Blind

 

 

Caveat: Views expressed and information provided are those of the author.

Vehicle Tint Permit Wahala

nigerian_police_860867363

So after going through the rigor of registering/applying for the ‘new edition’ tint permit from our ‘beloved’ (pun obviously intended) Nigerian police force online, which includes having to go and register through NIMC (national identity management commission), for a NIN (national identity number), which is a required field in the online form for the new ‘revitalized’ (pun intended), tint permit; I discovered, much to my chagrin, that the process is flawed and wasn’t well thought through:

Firstly, it is difficult to know where the biometrics capturing is being done after the online registration. The NPF website makes a vague reference to police commands but fails to provide a listing of where these commands are. After much googling, I found an address for Lagos state police command as: 1 Oduduwa street Ikeja. When I went to google maps, only Oduduwa road and Oduduwa crescent where listed. I then thought maybe they meant Oduduwa road. After traveling from Lekki to Ikeja and driving the entire stretch of Oduduwa road, nothing looking like a police command was found, so we started asking around and eventually found a police man who directed us to the police command which is not on anything ‘Oduduwa’.

It is tucked near Archbishop Vinning church on Muiz Banire street. After getting there, a policeman at the gate approached us and inquired what we want, to which I replied that we are here for tinting biometrics. He said ‘ha!, it’s not today, we only do it on Mondays, Thursday’s and Friday’s.’ I didn’t know if I should be angry, or sad. I marvel at how we do things in this country. How come there is no information out there that the biometrics is only conducted on the aforementioned 3 days of the week? And the police man added that we have to come very early before or by 7am because some arrive by 5am!! As we drove away from the entrance, I noticed about 3 police men in mufti carrying heavy automatic weapons, and they looked like thugs to me. If any of those 3 should stop me at a check point, I’d immediately conclude they are robbers. Anyway, that’s an ‘aside’.. Back to my story…..

Who in their right senses rolls out a process like this that only uses one centre in a city like Lagos to process a document that is required by millions? How can that work?

And this is after the IGP declared that all existing permits, which we all paid for in amounts ranging from 10-25k, depending on who did it and where it was done, has suddenly become invalid? Who collected all those monies which obviously runs easily into the hundreds of millions?

Something is just not right about this. Why would anyone inflict so much stress and pain on the citizenry for a permit that ought to be easily available and free? I hear that it’s nothing but free. Someone who has done the ‘capturing’ like they call it around here, said he had to part with 5k because the police said the permit is free but they need the money for office maintenance!!

I am looking for someone who has the new permit and didn’t have to pay any money.

Someone needs to call the police to order. You cannot just wake up and invalidate a permit that peeps paid decent money to acquire and then roll out a clumsy, inefficient and stressful process to acquire a ‘free’ one.

I don’t see myself waking up at 5am to go to ikeja for biometrics for a permit which may never come. What’s the guarantee that even if one waits all day till evening, you’d eventually do the biometrics?

Obviously, the deadline of this Friday cannot and will not work. And the IGP needs to be told, if he hadn’t received the feedback yet, that this process is nonsensical.

A colleague noted that a friend of his went to Ikeja Police Command last week from Lekki and was told that the permit has been suspended for now. He was at the Kam Salem House, in Obalende, and the same story was told there. It would seem that the Police organization did not think this through this before the publication and implementation. Also, there wasn’t adequate  preparation in place to implement this. Relevant information needs to be published by police in the media to guide the citizens accordingly and save valuable manhours.

– ‘Tayo Oluyemi, an oil industry professional, writes from Lagos.

That Gender Equality bill and Us

women bill

Earlier today, the senate threw out the gender and equal opportunities bill after it failed to pass the second reading. The bill, aimed at bridging the gap between men and women’s rights and to tackle the malaise of gender based discrimination in the society.

The bill titled “A bill for an Act to incorporate and enforce certain provisions of the United nations convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, the Protocol of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the rights of women in Africa, and other matters connected therewith, 2016 (SB.116).

The basis for rejecting the bill was on the certain conflicts wit the 1999 constitution and the Sharia Courts of appeal. There was also deep-seated religious and cultural sentiment based on institutionalized patriarchy.

Nigerians on social media have been up in arms, blaming the senate for their failure to pass the bill, etc. However, I have a different take.

What happened today at the senate was really not about the senators. They were simply espousing the predominant view of those they were elected to represent. We must come to terms with the fact that we live in a society still stuck in the last century when it comes to women’s, child rights and that of the most vulnerable.

This is a society that is yet to come to terms with the Child Rights Act of 2003. A society where children are married before the age of consent and women are seen as possessions by their husbands and extended family. Let’s not even speak about what most traditions and cultures have in place for widows. Granted the bill would have provided legal backing for the solution to some of the things mentioned, but the Nigerian society largely feels no sense of outrage for these abuses.

I believe in equal rights and opportunities for women. I believe in the protection of children and the vulnerable.

Do you? What about your religious leaders or the custodians of your culture? Do they?

Don’t blame the senators. They were only representing us.

SAN


Further reading

The Naked King

 

 

emperors_new_clothes1.jpg

Once upon a time there was an Emperor who loved clothes! And he loved clothes so much that he would get changed twelve times a day.

One day, two strangers arrived at the Emperor’s palace.

“We can make you the most beautiful clothes in the world” they said.

For weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks the strangers worked on the clothes and wouldn’t let anybody see what they were doing. But the Emperor grew impatient;

“Where are the new clothes I have paid you to make,” demanded the Emperor!

“But they are right here, Your Majesty,” said the first stranger. “What do you think? Aren’t they made of the most delightful material, the most sparkling colours and the most fashionable design?”

The Emperor looked around confused; he couldn’t see anything!

“I can’t see any clothes at all,” the Emperor said.

“These,” the strangers said. “These clothes are so special and rare that only the cleverest people can see them. They are too fine to be seen by stupid and ignorant people; that is the magic of these amazing new clothes!”

“Oh of course, of course” said the Emperor quickly (not wanting to appear stupid or ignorant). “They are beautiful; this is just what I’ve always wanted! I’m sure my new clothes will be greatly admired by all of my people.

The Emperor promised to pay the strangers anything they wanted if they would have the new clothes ready for the big parade. He wanted everybody in the kingdom to see them!

The day of the big parade came and the two strangers presented the Emperor with his new clothes.

“Everyone will admire you, Your Majesty.  The new clothes look most wonderful,” said the strangers.

By this time the word had got out that these new clothes were so special that they could only be seen by clever people and, not wanting to appear stupid or ignorant, all the Emperor’s friends said…

“How beautiful!  What colours! What style! Your new clothes are magnificent, Your Majesty!”

“Oh dear,” thought the Emperor. “All my friends can see my new clothes but I can’t. Does this mean I’m stupid and ignorant and not fit to be Emperor? I will have to pretend I can see them so that nobody thinks I’m stupid. No-one can know the truth!”

When it was time for the big parade the Emperor put on his new clothes, said “Follow me” to his friends, and marched out of his palace and onto the street.

Crowds of people lined the road and watched the Emperor and the big parade. There were knights on horseback, huge elephants with jewels and smartly dressed soldiers parading along the street. But the star attraction of the big parade were the Emperor’s new clothes! The crowds had all heard that only clever people could see the Emperor’s new clothes and, not wanting to appear stupid or ignorant, they all said:

“What a lovely outfit!” “Doesn’t he look smart!” “How lovely are the Emperor’s new clothes!”

The Emperor was very pleased that everyone was admiring his new clothes, even if he couldn’t see them himself!

Suddenly, a little voice from the crowd shouted out…

“Hang on! He’s got nothing on! The Emperor’s as naked as the day he was born!”

A hushed silence fell over the crowd and the big parade stopped… Then… Everyone suddenly burst out laughing!

“The little boy’s right,” they said. “The Emperor hasn’t got any clothes on!”

The Emperor blushed and went red. They were right… He wasn’t wearing any clothes at all!”

“Pass me a cloak,” he ordered one of his friends. “I must return to the palace and put some clothes on! I should never have trusted those strangers that only wanted to flatter me and take my money!”

From that day on, the Emperor gave the little boy an important job in his palace because he was the only person that had told the truth. And, whenever the Emperor needed advice he would always ask the little boy first.

_________________________________________________________________

Lesson:

Let our leaders know the truth always. This way, they will have the right information to better serve us. When we keep pretending that all is well without pointing them to the issues and ensuring they attack it with the right urgency, we mislead them and the problem lingers. An example in point is how they kept GEJ blind to the realities of the missing Chibok girls for 17 days! Never shield them from reality. If you do so, they will fail and end up in shame. Guess who suffers a failure in governance?

Ask yourself, on this new march with Buhari, are we doing the same things?

SAN

(Adapted from H. C Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes”)

http://www.worldstories.org.uk/stories/story/65-the-emperors-new-clothes

 

Image source: Jacoby & Stuart (2013).

 

 

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