Marriage is Overrated?

I wrote this 3 years ago on Facebook.
Is marriage overrated?

I read and hear a lot of comments these days about how
overrated marriage is. A lot of single people dread falling
into a loveless and emotionally draining marriage. “I’d
rather remain single and happy than married and unhappy
is the popular refrain”. Why is this so? If all the married
people you know keep complaining about how boring and
dull their marriages are you may conclude that this whole
marriage thing is a scam perpetrated by those already in it.
They are unhappy in their marriages you opine, so they
must be trying to share the misery! Tales of extra-marital
affairs and young people getting divorced make you cringe
at the thought of touching a wedding ring.

At the same time, there is a lot of pressure on single
people to drop the Miss title for Mrs, and for Mr. so so and
so to become a real man. The most popular occupations
these days have to do with weddings; wedding planners,
drinks specialists, wedding photographers, bakers, dessert
makers and purveyors of other such accoutrements that
accompany weddings. Couples are quick to post their
wedding pictures on Facebook soon after the big day,
everyone sends congratulatory messages and you float
lightly like a fluffy butterfly going from one delectable
flower to another. This is Heaven you say to yourself. A few
hours, days, weeks, months or years into it, the things that
used to seem cute now seem irritating, things that were
standing are now flat and things that were smooth now
stretch (you catch my drift).

Hubby wants to hang out with the boys rather than with you
(usually after he gets a phone call he has to take outside).
The children drive you up the wall with their bickering and
whining. And why is iyawo always tired, not in the mood or
experiencing that time of the month? You ask yourself if
marriage truly is overrated. If this is what everyone has
been undergoing, why would they recommend it to others?
Wicked people!

Everyday I interact and meet with couples from both ends
of the spectrum. I see couples with great marriages and I
see couples with failed marriages. I’ve come to realise that
the difference between these two extremes is quite simply
love. I attended a marriage retreat some years ago and learnt a
few things that have helped me since then. The facilitator,
Dr. Okey Onuzo described three kinds of love. Eros, Phileo
and Agape (three big sounding Greek words). Eros means
physical attraction or sexual love. Phileo is based on
companionship and friendship while Agape means
sacrificial love. Eros gets you going in the first few years of
marriage while the passion is still hot and there may be no
children. Phileo helps to keep you glued together and be
able to share your time, a home, aspirations, dreams, etc.
However, the most difficult kind of love to experience let
alone exhibit is Agape.

Agape requires humility, patience, forgiveness and
selflessness. Agape is to put others first and think of their
own wellbeing rather than yours. It takes humility to
subvert your own wishes and instead focus on making
someone else happy. You are not always at your best so
why do you expect your partner to be at their best at all
times? You need patience to cope with the other person
when this happens. Understand that it is not always
personal. This is not the time to judge and be critical. This
is the time to be patient and prayerful. God needs someone
to work through to make things better and that person just
might be you. It is foolhardy to think that you will never
have arguments or quarrels. It is Agape that helps you put
aside your differences even when you are hurt. Whenever
you want to throw in the towel and quit on your partner ask
yourself what life would be like if God quit on you. What if
He decided to count all your infractions and pronounce
your case over and done with? If you are reading this note
then you are most likely alive and that means there is still
hope for you.

Marriage in my humble opinion is just like any relationship.
Your relationship with God requires nurturing on a daily
basis by constant prayer, Bible study, fellowship etc. Your
relationship with people requires calling, visiting, texting
and keeping in touch. Your marriage too requires watering
on a daily basis. It needs work to work.

At the end of the day it’s not whether tough times come or
not that is the issue because every marriage will face those
tough times. It’s how you handle those times that matters.
Just like a well watered and nourished plant will withstand
famine and drought, a well watered marriage will also
withstand tough times.

So go ahead and tell your spouse you love him/her right
away. Forgive what he/she said or did yesterday night.
Today is another day to get it right. Make up your mind that
it will work. Send the children to Grandma’s place and get
away this weekend.

You have only one life to live so
let your marriage be enjoyed rather than endured.

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I’m not your role model

I don’t think Linda Ikeji is a role model. She’s a gossiper, She sells gossip.

With those now famous words a little known On Air Personality (OAP); Toke Makinwa started a firestorm that culminated in a rather gracious response from blogger Linda Ikeji. Linda decided not to throw any invectives at Toke in response. Instead, she simply told her rags to riches story and then let her rabid fans tear into Toke like starved hyenas. Her post has racked up over 1,500 comments as at the time of writing this post.

Who decides who is a role model? No one exactly appoints themselves as anyone’s role model. If you smoke weed then Snoop Dogg may be your role model. If you’re a Christian maybe you look up to Rick Warren or Enoch Adejare Adeboye. Yet others swear by Kim Kardashian because of her glamorous lifestyle. You’ll be surprised that even famed pornographers Larry Flint, Hugh Hefner and John Stagliano have teeming fans who hang on to every word they say. The adoring rented crowd outside James Ibori’s trial venue in Southwark should tell you that even the Devil has worshippers.

Toke comes from a slightly middle class background and can’t seem to understand why anyone would idolize a “lower class” (according to her) girl like Linda Ikeji. Why would anyone look up to a “gossip” who makes money at the expense of the misfortunes and private affairs of others? A “gossip” who runs a simple blog that garners comments with every post and is currently ranked 29 in Nigeria (Alexa ranking). A one (wo)man blog that makes enough money for it’s owner so she doesn’t depend on anyone for her upkeep.

Young people are always looking up to those they can emulate, admire and perhaps become in the future. I look up to Baba Soyoye; owner of Helios, Bayo Ogunlesi, Jamsedji Tata, The Sawiri family, Segun Demuren and other private equity owners, hedge fund managers and entrepreneurs. I decide who my role models are as you decide yours. Some people may even consider me a role model of sorts to which I say “I’m humbled but please set your sights much higher”. Each individual decides who they bestow that honour upon. My spiritual guidance still comes from Dr. Okey Onuzo, John Piper and Steve Farrar. So if you like to knack akpako by all means worship Terry G. I’m not going to decide that’s a wrong choice for you.

So Toke, please let people decide if Linda Ikeji is a role model. She obviously is not in your books. I’m not a big fan of her site either but I’m not going to use my tiny soapbox to denigrate her. By now, the comments and Twitter mentions should have shown you that her Voltrons outnumber yours.

After all one man’s role model is another’s scumbag.

How Much Tax Will You Pay From April 1st?

The Chairperson of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Ifueko Omoigui-Okaru has unveiled an amendment to the Personal Income Tax Act, 2004. The new law removes tax exemptions from some categories of public office holders. But more importantly, the personal relief amount has been increased from N5,000 to N200,000 and 20% of gross income. Also, the tax tranches have been increased as well as the rates. So what does it mean for you? Well it depends on how much you earn. The old and new rates as well as the effective rates are also shown below.

Old Tax Rates


New Tax Rates

Effective Tax Rates

Lower income earners will pay less tax with those earning less than N1million per year paying as low as 5.4%. High income earners who were already paying top rates will just about the same amount as before especially for those earning above

N30million. Those who earn above N50million will pay the same tax. So if you are a big boy like many of our Govt officials, you won’t see any significant reduction in your tax (assuming you were paying in the first place!).

Follow me on Twitter @okshorty1

Senile National Conflagration (SNC)

Nigerians, like normal humans have national pastimes that keep us preoccupied. The British focus on the weather as a topic of discussion, Americans love their politics, celebrities and sports. Nigerians on the other hand is chock-full of political analysis and what my friends on Twitter like to call National Distractions. The latest of such discussions is the Sovereign National Conference which I have taken the liberty to christen the Senile National Conflagration. Senile because the idea seems to echo more among old(er) politicians who have fallen out of favour with the current Government. A conflagration because the idea has reached fever pitch and is spoken about with a burning passion. Proponents of the SNC say this is the conference to end all conferences!

So What Exactly is a Sovereign National Conference?

The proponents say it will be a conference to “sit down and discuss” our existence as a nation. What exactly does this mean? It means every nationality will get a chance to air their grievances with the Nigerian nation akin to the Conference Nationales held in Francophone countries, Benin, Togo and Zaire. SNCs are meant to introduce sweeping constitutional changes and placate aggrieved parties after a civil war or other internal strife. Admittedly, the Nigerian state is an amalgam of diverse peoples which previously existed as distinct nations. With ink in hand, the Southern and Northern protectorates were joined at the hip by Lord Lugard in 1914 and named Nigeria from the concatenation of “Niger” and “Area” by Flora Shaw. Nigeria was born out of the need for administrative efficiency by the colonial administration. The SNC is billed as solution to the problems of ethnicity & religious divides, resource allocation and a faulty 1999 Constitution bequeathed by the Military Regime of Gen Sani Abacha.

Several constitutions have been written in the past to give the natives of the former Southern and Northern protectorates a sense of belonging to the nation. The Clifford Constitution (1922) introduced Legislative Houses for the first time. The Richards Constitution (1946) expanded the Legislative Council to cover more of Nigeria while the McPherson Constitution (1951) included more Nigerians and was a step towards true Federalism. By 1954, power had been devolved to the three regions (North, East and West) and Lagos. While many feel that the regional system of Government engendered mutual suspicion and animosity, it was perhaps the closest Nigeria has been to true Federalism. Sir James Robertson in 1961 remarked that 47 years is a very short time to weld the many different people of Nigeria into a nation. Is 98 years enough?

Even after Independence, attempts were made in 1963, 1979, 1993 and 1999 to give Nigerians a Constitution that will serve the interests of majority of Nigerians and keep the loose amalgamation of nations united. So far, Nigeria isn’t working for majority of its people with 61% living in abject poverty. So the call for a Sovereign National Conference is another step in our history of trying to solve our problems through Constitutional means. On the other hand, Nigeria as currently constituted is working extremely well for those in power. Weak institutions, heightened insecurity, failed infrastructure, extreme poverty, endemic corruption and no distinction between the coffers of the state and personal accounts. So as far as the brigands are concerned, there is nothing to fix!

Is There a Formula for SNCs?

There is no universally accepted formula for convening such a conference neither is anyone bound by the outcome. The most common system is for representatives of various political parties to work out formulas for sharing power and resources. Another method is for elections to take place at the Ward, LGA, State and Regional levels to choose delegates to represent every Nigerian at the Conference. Every issue plaguing Nigeria will be discussed and solutions acceptable to all Nigerians will be proposed. This way, the interests of every Nigerian are protected.

Those who once enjoyed the trappings of office and those who aspire to siphon public funds as well are calling for the convening of a conference to solve the aforementioned challenges. If I understand this correctly, the current beneficiaries of the quasi-unitary state will willingly surrender their rights to their “chop I chop” prebend under a modified Nigerian state. As expected, those in power at the moment and their apologists say the SNC will lead to a break up of Nigeria. Those arguing in favour say Nigeria is not working and a Constitutional change is required to solve all our problems.

Will Convening a Sovereign National Conference be a Panacea for a Faulty and Failing Nation?

Only those benefiting from the current kleptocracy would deny that Nigeria is beset by a myriad of issues. But I make bold to say that ethnicity is not Nigeria’s biggest problem. When Gen Gowon decided to walk away from the agreement to run regional Governments reached at Aburi, Ghana it wasn’t because of the inherent hatred for Southerners. It was because he saw the potential loss of Petroleum revenues from the newly discovered Oil fields of the Niger Delta. Subsequent claims of domination by one ethnic group or the other belie the fact that every ethnic group in Nigeria has stolen money from the Nigerian state and corruptly enriched themselves and their cronies. Ethnicity is merely smoke and mirrors designed to keep the masses spilling each other’s blood. When obscene allowances are shared at the National Assembly, nobody cares where you are from. When contracts are inflated and billions stolen, the Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw, Idoma, Chibok, Berom, Fulani, Tiv and Junkun will close ranks and take their own share of our collective wealth.

Will my Local Government Chairman suddenly start fixing my road after a successful SNC? Will the $16 billion unaccounted for in pursuit of stable power supply be returned and blackouts become a thing of the past? Will a bloated $30billion 2012 budget designed to line the pockets of a few people be trimmed to acceptable levels? Will the scam called Nigeria cease to be simply an avenue for the enrichment of a view at the expense of many? If the problem with Nigeria is merely constitutional, would amendments to the 1999 Constitution be the end of all our problems? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Nigeria’s problem is not ethnicity or religion. Neither is it merely constitutional. The current Constitution is flawed and should be amended as the Americans have done successively to theirs over the years. In my humble opinion, corruption is a bigger problem than ethnicity. Let us prosecute everyone who has stolen from this nation or exile them to Vanuatu with just enough for a plane ticket. Make stealing a shameful and punishable act. Start a process of changing the value system of a people for whom stealing is second nature. Let young people know that taking what does not belong to you is wrong.

The convening of a Sovereign National Conference will not solve all Nigeria’s problems. Nigerians will solve Nigeria’s problems. Do your own part. 160 million Nigerians doing the right thing trumps a few thousand delegates sharing power and money under the guise of “deciding our future”. Maybe I just don’t see it, but a SNC is not the answer.

Follow me on Twitter @okshorty1 to continue the conversation.

Additional research material provided @miss_jayla

This is Why They Don’t Scream

A guy and a girl are in a cab together leaving campus. They take a course together, ECN101. She needs a textbook to study and asks if he has the textbook. He says he does but the book is in his room outside campus. She needs it that night so she follows him back to the hostel complex. She doesn’t go in to the room but stays outside. After 30 minutes he doesn’t come out. She goes to the hostel and knocks on a random door to ask for his room. She is told his room number so she locates his room. She knocks on his door and he asks her to come in. He pretends to frantically look for the book while she sits by the door. He finally brings out the book after she has sat for a few minutes. She wants to leave but he tells to just wait a bit so he can see her off to the bus stop.

While waiting he tells her how he has always liked her and wants to date her. She says she likes him but only as a friend. He makes a move which she rebuffs. He pulls out a kitchen knife and tells her that if she screams he will stab her. He orders her to lie down and take off her undies. He rapes her while she just lies down there. She doesn’t utter a word but just cries in silence. After he is done, he apologises and says it was his love for her that made him do it.

She leaves his room and goes back to campus. She cries all night and confides in her best friend who asks her what she was doing in his room. She explains the story and her friend concludes that while he is a bastard for what he did to her it was partly her fault. If this reaction is any sign of what people will say, then she had better keep it to herself she reasons. She doesn’t tell her parents because they may call her a wayward girl. So she tries to put it behind her and keeps silent.

This happens regularly on our campuses. This is why they don’t scream. This is why they keep silent.

Based on a true story.

419 Reasons to Like Nigeria

For too long, Nigeria and Nigerians have been readily associated with the online scams, financial crime and impersonation – termed ‘419’. However, beyond the unfortunate stereotyping, there are several positive characteristics and cogent intriguing traits of the
country, Nigeria and its people, some of which are highlighted below as part of the ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ campaign which enlisted 100 volunteers and bloggers to share reasons why they like Nigeria. These reasons echo the voices of Nigerians, with resonating similar themes. The campaign is being facilitated in partnership with ‘The 419Positive Project’. 

The full list of ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ is available here (www.419Positive.org)
The list of contributors to ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ is available here
If you would like to say something positive about Nigerians and Nigeria, please do so here.

NIGERIA – THE LAND OF POTENTIAL AND OPPORTUNITY

  • I like Nigeria because it is a land of endless opportunities and possibilities. Nigeria is one country I believe the world is yet to experience it true potentials. I believe Nigerians are sharp, brilliant and accommodating people. Giving the right enabling environment the world will marvel at what Nigeria will become.
  • Nigeria is the most populous black nation – and a buying one at that. From a capitalist point of view, this makes for a great investment opportunities.
  • The fact that Nigeria currently lags behind so much – in infrastructure and developmental terms – hints at the size of the potential for innovation and transformation, and at the huge number of vacancies that exist for ‘transformers’. What I think this means is that the world will be hearing a lot about Nigeria and high-achieving Nigerians (in the public and private sectors) in the near future.

NIGERIA – THE COUNTRY

  • The Nigerian Green and White flag is a notable national symbol. The green color symbolises agriculture, seeing that the country is endowed with masses of arable land, while the white colour signifies unity and peace. Other national symbols include the Nigerian Coat of Arms, which depicts an eagle on a black shield, tri-sected by two wavy silver bands, and supported on either side by two chargers. The national motto underlies the coat-of -arms: “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.” Her national symbols convey great meaning to its people.
  • The Nigerian accent is currently ranked by CNN Global Experiences as the 5th sexiest accent in the world.
  • Nigeria is home to Nollywood, one of the world’s biggest film industries.

NIGERIA – THE CULTURE, THE FOOD, THE WAY OF LIFE

  • Something great to like about Nigeria is our cultural diversity. A strong affinity exists, despite our differences. Learning about other ethnic cultures in my country really helped me personally relate to other cultures when abroad.
  • I think the food is tastier in Nigeria than that I have found in other countries.
  • Nigerians live a communal life style. The extended family is part of the immediate family in a Nigerian home.

NIGERIA – THE MUSIC, THE MOVIES, THE DANCE, THE ART

  • Nigeria has produced many world class musicians. A notable mention in this regard is Fela Anikulapo Kuti. A Broadway show titled ‘FELA!’ was produced in 2009 depicting the life and times of the Afrobeat musician.
  • Nigeria’s movie industry, Nollywood, is reputedly the 3rd largest film industry after Hollywood and Bollywood, and has grown gradually into a $250 million industry in more than 10 years.
  • Nigerian indigenous musical instruments are unique, soulful and rhythmic. They comprise the popular Talking Drum, producing proverbial and storytelling sounds, the Shaker (shekere), the Udu drum, the Lute, the leg and arm Rattle, the Omele, the Ogene (Gong originating in Eastern Nigeria), the Ekwe drum and the Kakaki (A 4m metal trumpet popular in Northern Nigeria). Many of these instruments have been incorporated in South American music over the years

NIGERIA – GEOGRAPHY and NATURAL RESOURCES

  • Nigeria is a nation blessed with rich human and natural resources. As the 8th largest exporter of Oil in the world, with the 10th largest proven reserves, our blessings cannot be overemphasised. No earthquakes, no tsunamis, no droughts, an evergreen land. The rest of the world should live here.
  • The beauty of the Nigerian state cannot but leave one in awe. Blessed with captivating physical features and abundant wild life. From the rolling hills to the vast plains in the North Central Nigeria and the forests in the South, the beautiful scenery of the country is more than breathtaking and with the wildlife spread all over the country; Nigeria is surely a beauty to behold and a tourist’s delight all year round.
  • Nigeria is blessed with tremendous agricultural resources. Cotton in the North, Cocoa & Oil palm in the south amongst many others. The flag is green for a reason

NIGERIA – WEST AFRICA, AFRICA and THE WORLD

  • Nigeria has the largest population of any country in Africa. Approximately 1 out of every 2 West Africans, 1 out of every 4 Africans, and 1 out of every 5 persons of African origin is a Nigerian.
  • Nigeria is the largest contributor of troops to the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) and by extension, is the largest force for peace and stability in West Africa.
  • A Nigerian will stand out anywhere you find him/her, from Libya to London, Tokyo to Timbuktu. Well known examples include Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston Rockets, USA), Olumide Oyedeji (Seattle Sonics), Tunde Baiyewu (Lighthouse Family), Sunday Adelaja (Ukraine), Chris Aire (US), etc.

NIGERIA – INDUSTRIOUS, INNOVATIVE and ENTERPRISING, with ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Nigerians are intelligent, brilliant minds who have proven their mettle in various fields – Wole Soyinka was the first African to win the much coveted Nobel Prize for literature in 1986. Chinua Achebe’s classic novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ was ranked as number 14 in a list of top 100 books in the world by Newsdesk in 2009. Others include Cyprian Ekwensi, Mabel Segun, Chimamanda Adichie and Helon Habila whose literary works have won both international and local awards at various times.
  • We have budding fashion designers. Yes! It’s a line every Bunmi, Amaka and Amina has decided to tow but to disregard the effort and originality of our Fashion Designers would be disrespectful. Tiffany Amber, Lanre Da Silva and Deola Sagoe are building world renowned brands, not to mention the legacy developed by the likes of Abba Folawiyo, Maureen Onigbanjo, Remi Lagos and Zizzi Cardow.
  • Nigerians have excelled in the fields of economics and finance, managing well established global bodies. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the current Minister of Finance, was until recently a Managing Director at The World Bank. Obiageli Ezekwisili is currently the Vice President for Africa at The World Bank. Mr Adebayo Ogunlesi is a first class graduate of Oxford, and Managing Partner of Global infrastructure Partner (GIP), a concessionaire of London’s Gatwick International Airport.
  • We take technology and expand it in ways those who created it could not have imagined. For instance, take the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) which allows you to send broadcast messages to all addresses on your contacts list; Nigerians recently found a unique way of advertising the different businesses they do. Someone started a message highlighting the fact that many people in Nigeria are entrepreneurs or provide a service and included his BB PIN in the message and sent to all his contacts with the charge that they state the service they provide, include their PIN and send on to all their contacts too. This seemingly small campaign has gone “viral” with whole lists of entrepreneurs and their BB PINs being passed from phone to phone. This is a clear sign of the ingenuity of Nigerians!

NIGERIA – GREAT PEOPLE

  • Nigeria is the 7th most populous nation in the world (over 160 million) and most populous in Africa – a gold mine of energetic, determined and talented people in each and every field. From Lagos to Aba to Kano, the Nigerian business spirit and desire to succeed is visible. It requires just proper harnessing of these human resources before Nigeria becomes the super power she was meant to be.
  • Nigerians are passionate, friendly, welcoming, hospitable, and well cultured people. The average Nigerian reflects a combination of vivacity, intelligence, energy, talent, and resolution.
  • We are a nation of people that can hardly hide their excitement at seeing family and friends. Some misconstrue this thinking we are loud but let’s just say we are EXPRESSIVE! If you see us on the streets of New York making a big ruckus and hugging? No sweat. We are just happy to see each other.

NIGERIA – THE RESILIENT SPIRIT

  • The Giant of Africa: Not ignoring the current challenges, eventually, when we get our acts right, we will reign supreme on the global scene. We have the potential and as is much touted by the Warri people – “Naija no dey carry last”
  • The ‘survivor-mentality’ hard-wired into the DNA of Nigeria’s people. The fact that against all the odds (and there are many of them), Nigerians continue to live, hustle and seek to triumph. It is not by mistake that Nigeria is regarded as one of the “happiest” countries in the world, despite its challenging economic and social conditions.
  • We are hardy. The average Nigerian does business under circumstances that are unimaginable to people from other parts. In a place where there is no power, no credit, and scant regulation, people do business and do very well for themselves too. If you can make it in Nigeria, you can make it anywhere in the world.

NIGERIA – TOURISM and SPORTS

  • Nigeria is an amazing tourist haven and is home to the Obudu Cattle Ranch, located in Calabar. It is only 45 miles from the Cameroon border. The Obudu Plateau is spread over 40 sq. miles and is 5,200 feet above sea level. The Obudu resort features a Gorilla Camp where tourists may observe gorillas in their natural habitat.
  • Nigeria has two UNESCO world heritage sites, the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove and the Sukur Cultural Landscape in Adamawa. UNESCO world heritage sites are places designated as being of cultural significance.
  • Nigeria has produced great footballers like Teslim “Thunder” Balogun (the first Nigerian to play for an English Club – QPR), Segun Odegbami, Muda Lawal, Stephen Keshi, Rashidi Yekini (who scored Nigeria’s first ever goal at the World Cup), Nwankwo Kanu, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha, John Mikel Obi, Osaze Odemwingie, to mention but a few.
  • Nigeria has excelled in athletics over the years, still holding continental records in the 100m men and women, 4x100m men and women, 400m men and women, among others. Over 100 skilled Nigerian professional footballers played in First Division leagues in different countries all over Europe in the 2010/2011 season, 9 in England; 8 each in Finland, Norway; 10 in Ukraine and 7 in Sweden.

NIGERIA – UNITY in DIVERSITY

  • Nigerians, despite our diversity are a united people who always strive to help one another. With 774 local government areas, multi religious and ethnic affiliations, 36 States, and population of over 160 million, we still stand undeterred to move forward together.
  • Even outside the country, Nigerians remain united. This gives a quiet assurance somewhat that you can get on a plane and go to any country of the world and find a Nigerian there who will not only make you feel welcome but will go out of their way to be of really good help. I have experienced this several times on my travels and each time it amazes me how all I need to be is a Nigerian, not Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa and once I run into another Nigerian, I will immediately feel at home.
  • Our greatest strength lies in our diversity.

The ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ Campaign is in partnership with ‘The 419Positive Project’.

ABSU Rapists – Information Wanted

We all heard about the heinous rape of a young girl purportedly by 5 students of Abia State University. The supposed students made a video of the crime which eventually made its way to the Internet. People expressed outrage at the rape but few could do anything about it. So I thought about offering a financial reward to anyone who could provide information that would lead to the arrest of the suspects. With my limited resources I knew I couldn’t do much so I reached out to others. A few other friends online and offline who were as incensed as I am are contributing most of it.

So if you have any information that can lead to the arrest and prosecution of all five suspects please send an email to info@eienigeria.org The identity of anyone who provides such information will be protected. The reward for providing this information is N200,000 (two hundred thousand Naira). Any donations in excess of this amount will be given to the victim.

For a detailed reading about the actual rape itself please read this blog post by @sugabelly God bless all those who have spread the message on Twitter and who are contributing towards this cause. Together we can make a difference.

Developing A National Crime Database

Recent security incidents in Nigeria have exposed a fundamental weakness in the ability of our security forces to identify and classify criminals and their activities. When you have to make a statement at a Police Station, you are given a sheet of foolscap paper and a biro. Many Police Stations operate without a functioning computer even at the Divisional level. Our entire security apparatus is manual, fragmented and archaic. Individuals can commit crimes in one state and move to another state to join the Police Force.

I once joked to a friend that you can murder someone in Nigeria and leave your hair sample, finger prints and even your clothing and the Police would be none the wiser for it. An essential part of criminology is data gathering and management. The US operates several criminal databases at the Local, State and Federal levels. Before 1966, this information was not readily available to individuals. This changed with the promulgation of the Freedom of Information Act. Anybody with an internet connection can search for an individual’s name and recall their criminal history.

It is time for Nigeria to begin to work towards a National Crime Database (NCD). This may seem far-fetched but the tools to make this happen are already available. Most Nigerians have some data with at least one level of Government. Between the Register of births and deaths, census data, vehicle registration, income tax filing and voter registration most people have been photographed and fingerprinted by the Government. This data can be the starting point for an integrated NCD. The NCD can be hosted in a central sever at the Force HQ in Abuja with mirror servers hosted in every geographical zone or state. A few terabytes of server space should be able to store data on 80-90% of Nigerians. Additional data can be obtained from the Immigration authorities and from the recent SIM card registration undertaken by GSM operators.

Collating, analysing and storing this data will take a few years and the cooperation of the State Security Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, National Bureau of StatisticsNational Population Commission and the Nigerian Police Force. The previous attempt at National ID card which was fraught with irregularities and corruption allegations will need to be revisited. Perhaps some data can be obtained from here as well.

If an individual commits a crime or is accused but acquitted, these details should be recorded against the individual’s name. Retrieval of criminal records from the NCD could be via specialised terminals/PCs at major police commands and Stations, SMS or web based. The SMS or web based option will also enable Policemen crosscheck an individual’s criminal record at the point of arrest. The Police will need to be trained to use computers and any specialised terminals.

A pilot programme covering major cosmopolitan areas could be undertaken to test the storage and retrieval capabilities of the NCD. This idea may seem outlandish for a developing nation like Nigeria but great ideas start as a flicker and metamorphose into workable solutions through a firm commitment and the cooperation of all.

This project is within the purview of the new Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, so I will attempt to sell the idea to the Honourable Minister, Omobola Johnson.

Rich Man, Poor Country

Business Insider published a list of the wealthiest people in 35 countries on September 13th, 2011. Included on the list was Aliko Dangote, the world’s wealthiest Nigerian, African and black person. There was an interesting conversation on my Twitter timeline about whether his wealth was made honestly and why a poor country like Nigeria can be capable of producing such stupendous wealth. I decided to do a quick comparison of the GDP per capita of each country with each individual’s networth. The results are interesting.

A comparison of networth and GDP per capita

The table compares each billionaire’s net worth with with his country’s GDP per capita. I then ranked the resultant ratio to produce what I call an “equality ratio” (I just made that up). At the top of the list are the OECD countries of Denmark, Austria and Switzerland while India, Nigeria and Mexico are at the bottom of the list. The ranking shows how wealthy each individual is compared to the rest of his countrymen. The billionaires at the top of the list are wealthy in relatively well off countries while those at the bottom of the list are wealthy in relatively poor countries. The lower on the list you are, the more inequality there is in your country. So Lakshmi Mittal and Carlos Slim Helu can be said to also be rich men in poor countries just like Aliko Dangote.

I have conveniently made this as simple as possible and assert that there are limitations with this approach. Make of it what you will!

The original article can be found here http://j.mp/rdWCVa

(Source: GDP per capita (Nominal) Wikipedia

Presidential Media Chat of Sept 12th, 2011 – My Verdict? Slightly Above Average

We finally got to listen to President Goodluck Jonathan speak to Nigerians via a media chat with selected journalists. The event was prerecorded and the questions likely known beforehand. My overall assessment is that he performed slightly above average. Our President is not exactly naturally charismatic so I wasn’t expecting any rousing speeches ala Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States of America. He is also not a strong and imposing figure like former President Obasanjo. So instead of listening to him to get inspired, I was looking for concrete plans and programmes.

A lot of people probably watched the media chat so I won’t bother with the specifics, rather I will rate his answers on key areas.

Corruption: I expected tough talk and a reading of the proverbial Riot Act and not platitudes. He needs to prosecute some high-profile cases within the rule of law. He should make a scapegoat of just one big fish such as a corrupt former Governor to send a strong message to other corrupt individuals. Score: 4/10

Power: I have confidence that the current efforts at privatization will produce some improvements but the effects may not be felt until 2015. While he focuses on improving generation through new power plants, he also needs to pay attention to monetizing and correctly pricing gas resources, localized generation and distribution, market rules for operators, reduction of energy theft and transmission losses and improvement of billing. Privatization is a step in the right direction. Score: 8/10

Agriculture: He correctly diagnosed the issues but was unable to offer concrete plans. He’s expecting a lot from the Minister of Agriculture who has successfully transformed other nations’ agricultural practices. I expect an agricultural master plan with a focus on research into modern farming methods and adaptation of technology, cultivation of seedlings, land use reform and consolidation, irrigation, local fertilizer production, credit for farmers, establishment of processing facilities and improvement of roads for transporting inputs and produce. Score: 6/10

Security: Not much was said about this perhaps for fear of angering Boko Haram. Score: 3/10

Foreign Policy: Excellent responses to the Libyan crisis and Nigeria’s role in peace keeping operations in Africa. However, he correctly admitted that we don’t seem to have benefited much from playing Big Brother. We should have been entrenched in the Liberian and Sierra Leonean economies by now. No country loves another country to its own detriment. Score: 8/10

Single Tenure: Vague rationale for introducing the idea. Still unclear what benefits Nigerians will get from a single tenure over the current system. Score: 5/10

Judiciary: He admitted the challenge but avoided referring to the removal of Justice Ayo Salami by the NJC. The advice to the Judiciary to reform itself was non-committal and vague. Score: 4/10

Overall Score: 5.5/10

I have no doubts that he has good intentions and means well for Nigeria. I do have doubts about his appreciation for the enormity of the problems of the nation. He is an outsider who has had to rely on the political clout of the PDP cabal to ascend to power. However, he needs to understand that he is now the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the FRN and the nation’s number one citizen. While he cannot solve our problems alone, he has the power to galvanise everyone to action.

He cut the figure of a man who needs help. He needs help because he can’t do it alone. He’s our President so we should wish him well and criticize constructively when needed. On Social Media, there are two distinct camps of people who applaud his every move and those who blindly criticise him. Whichever camp you belong to, we need to agree that we all love Nigeria and if the President succeeds, Nigeria succeeds.