Saturday, 16 November 2019

Power Cut

Power Cut
I was thinking this morning..... about power cut. Again, Nigerians were gifted with yet another public holiday last Monday 11th November and like most Nigerians, I decided to stay home and relax. There was a general power cut in Nigeria a couple of days before which the government explained to be due to system collapse. I thought that the power cut was to last for hours, but in my area, it dragged into and beyond the public holiday. This potentially could have reduced the quality of my enjoyment of the work free day, but thank God my inverter was on hand to bridge the gap.

As I imagined how the average Nigeran is suffering from power cuts, little did I know that tenants of the Aso rock villa also suffer power cuts. They may not be suffering from power cut by the unbundled PHCN like we all do, but they do periodically suffer from a different form of power cut. This much was reported by Sahara Reporters in their news story last week titled 'Real Reasons Osinbajo's Aides Were Sacked By Buhari.' The reporter had written, 'The Nigerian Government has said it sacked 35 aides of Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, to “save money”. Osinbajo whose responsibility as head of the nation's economic team was taken away few months ago, had been the subject of power cuts in recent times within the Presidency.' Hmm!!! Power cuts! 

Whenever I see Nigerian politicians abusing the power entrusted to them by the people through election or should I say selection, to be senators and governors, I shudder. Other Nigerians that were once ordinary citizens having been appointed as ministers, trample on the rights of their fellow citizens carrying themselves like demi gods. By their actions, it sometimes seem like all Nigeria politicians suffer from some kind of genetic disorder that makes them think that the power they wield today is eternal. Why can't they understand that sooner than later, when their tenure is over, they will experience power cut? Even the most draconian dictators Nigeria has even seen suffered power cuts.

Let's bring it closer home. Only recently, there was a massive reorganisation where I work. Some that were in charge of large departments, wielding enormous authority over a large number of subordinates, were assigned roles perceived by some as smaller and less critical. They had just experienced power cut. At the religious front, many leaders that were once engraced with the power of God, had taken interest in worldly things, disobeyed God and consequently suffered power cut like King Saul. The problem is that many simply don't know that the power of God has departed. Unfortunately, many had experienced some form of power cut, could not manage the impact and chose to commit suicide. Sad!

Just like in Nigeria, everyone will one time or another experience a power cut in the journey of life, which could result in emotional or psychological trauma. The question is whether we have developed the resilience to manage the impact of the power cut. Nigerians have devised ways of overcoming electricity power cuts from the national grid by diverse off-grid solutions such as inverter and portable generators (in the 'I beta pass my neighbour' class). In the same way, we must individually come up with creative ways of overcoming economic, political and spiritual power cuts. The error of many is their belief that the power comes from without, not realising that the real power lies within them. Ephesians 3:20 'Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us.'

But you must charge your internal inverter batteries daily, because that is the only time, like Osinbajo, that you can draw on the strength of your internal inverter to survive any power cut. 

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey. 

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Fallen Tankers and Toxic Products

I was thinking this morning...... of overturning trucks. I was listening to the radio last Wednesday, when the presenter interrupted a caller and announced that a petrol tanker has just fallen somewhere at the Eliozu-Rukpoku road in Port Harcourt. He added that policemen were on ground to prevent a fire. As I listened, I remembered the October 31st Daily Post news headline 'Another petrol tanker falls in Onitsha, residents flee,' and my reaction was 'Not again.' Then yesterday I read the Daily Trust news 'Tension in Awka, Anambra State capital, as tanker loaded with petroleum product fell down this morning along the ever busy Zik Avenue road.' Haba!!! Has petroleum tankers now become September rain that falls daily?

But why do we keep having trucks with dangerous goods as content overturning? Today it is petrol tanker, tomorrow it is garbage truck and another day it is a sewage truck. And for those familiar with the Port Harcourt - Aba road, that fallen truck has to be one full of scrap metals. Haba!!! Someone once asked 'Why is it that we hardly see a bullion van carrying bundles of cash overturning and spilling its content?' That will be the day! I know the analytical minds will argue that the bullion van is more stable than the articulated trucks, but my advise is, don't be a sharp guy like 'Mr Igboro' in that Airtel advert, free your mind. Have you considered that a man that has eaten spoilt food is more likely to vomit and stool than one that ate a scrumptious meal? So if what you have within you is toxic, then it is more likely to be spilled than someone that has something precious in him. 

As I reflected further on the incidents, I realised that when a truck overturns or rollover, there are two likely reactions from the public. They can either flee like happened in Onitsha or they swarm the truck to loot the content, like will happen if it was a bullion van that overturned. Think about it and see the parallel. USA and Canada are like bullion vans carrying cash. Very many are waiting for that rare opportunity for the authorities to open the windows for immigration to make the rush. Did you know that the US have about 46.6 million immigrants residents as at 2015? Everyone wants to port to 'akata (the Warri term for America). What about Canada? Canada’s immigration authorities received about 280,000 Express Entry profiles (skilled immigration selection system) in 2018 alone? Wow! People are rushing in like they will do an open bullion van. 

For our beloved African nations, people are fleeing like Onitsha residents did at the sight of a fallen petroleum tanker. God have mercy! African nations are like petroleum tankers driven by assistant drivers that didn't attend a driving school. The tanker trucks have crashed so many times spilling its toxic products (tribalism, nepotism, religious extremism, corruption, crass incompetence etc). Do you know that as at 2015, Nigeria had about 1.2 million immigrants (almost all from poor neighbouring countries) and 1.1 million emigrants? Truth is, until we developed our products to make it attractive and safe for all, we will remain unstable and keep falling like petroleum tankers. The same is true for individuals. Watch what comes out of you because it can either attract people or make them to flee like Onitsha residents. No wonder Matthew 15:11 says 'It is what comes out of the mouth that defiled a man.'

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Las las school na scam

I was thinking this morning...... about the real scam. Last weekend I read the article in Sahara Reporters by one Promise Eze titled 'Las Las School na Scam.' I was fascinated by the title but blown away by his lucid analysis of the ills be-devilling our educational system particularly the universities. I had not realised that the title of the article was lifted from the chorus of a song by Zlatan and Gururu in which they repeatedly chorused 'Las las school na scam.' For non-initiates to the pidgin English club, the phrase 'Las las school na scam' simply translates 'At the end of the day, education is a scam.'

How on earth could I have heard of a song by 'guguru and ekpa' sorry Gururu and Zlatan? Being intrigued by the cliche, I decided to check it out on YouTube and listen to the lyrics myself. After listening, I was surprised at the thinking of these young men but decided to look at things from their perspective for a moment. Like a big screen motion picture, I watched young, passionate Nigerians attend secondary schools where parents bribe teachers and examiners to pass their kids. I saw University authorities give admission to either those with connection or those that can afford to oil their palms. I experienced first hand the poorly funded universities where lecturers force male students to buy handouts and offer female students marks for sex. When they eventually graduated, they couldn't find a decent job but watched with dismay, the Supreme Court declare that you do not need a certificate to be President of Nigeria. As I watched, I understood the frustrations of these young men and why they shook their heads in dismay and concluded that 'Las las school na scam!'

As I thought about their conclusion that 'Las las school na scam,' I wished I could meet with them and anyone that reasoned like them. I would have offered them a warm handshake for such an insightful conclusion. But before then, I would challenge them to think deeply and widely. To think of how their parents gave birth to them and breastfed them. Teaching them to respect authorities, embrace education and be morally upright. But today, they wear dreadlocks, get high on drugs and drop out of school simply because they dreamt of becoming musicians. If they follow their own line of thought, they would have concluded as well that 'Las las parenting na scam.'

Oh I wish I could sit down with these young men for five minutes. I would've reminded them of how their parents sent them to Sunday school and taught them the fear of God from childhood. Yes, I will remind them of how their parents sacrificed and made special clothes for them for church, so they experience first hand, the love of God. What about all the efforts made by genuine religious leaders to shape them? Yet, they ended up being Yahoo boys, scamming people of their hard earned money. Where that did not fetch them enough money, they went into ritual killing, taking the lives they did not create. If I am to help them conclude, they will say 'Las las religion na scam.'

What about life? Many had mapped out the life they want to live, worked at it but got a completely different life. The challenges seem overwhelming, in spite of all their efforts. What will these young men say? You guessed right. 'Las las life na scam.' There are definitely failures and disappointments with the Nigerian educational system, just like nothing is perfect with parenting, religion and life, yet it is not enough to say they are scam. While Promise Eze is advocating for a revolution in our educational sector, I am gunning for a renewal of our mind. If you see the good in anything, you get the good. But if after reading Prov 23:7 that says 'As a man thinks in his heart, so is he,' you still think parenting, education, religion and life are scams, then you should be worried because 'Las las, your mind na scam.'

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey. 

Saturday, 26 October 2019

The Cost of a Penny

One Penny

I was thinking this morning.... about the one cent coin (penny). 'I should be thinking of one Kobo, shebi?' Don't blame me, we no longer have one kobo in Nigeria. After Arsenal were beaten by newly promoted Sheffield United last Monday, their new captain Granit Xhaka was roundly criticised for his performance in the match. Many called him a disaster and asked that he leaves the club. Since Xhaka joined Arsenal from Borussia Monchengladbach in May 2016, Arsenal has invested so much in him, paying him £100,000 a week. He was even handed the captain band after a blind ballot this October, yet he chose to disappoint everyone. One fan was so angry with his performance that she wrote 'WHAT EXACTLY DO WE NEED XHAKA FOR? To make naive fouls, give the other team momentum? Keep players onside? Get red cards? Hospital passes? Lose the ball? Miss headers and tackles? Blame other players?' As I read her outburst what occurred to me is that Xhaka is like the one cent coin that cost more to make than it is worth. 

Do you know that it cost 1.5 cents to produce the one-cent coin (a penny) and only 12.3 cents to make the $100 bill? 'If the cost of producing the penny is higher than its value, then why is it still being produced?' You may ask. Because the cost to make it is higher than its value does not mean it is useless. The penny is needed to complete the currency denominations. Arsenal has invested so much to make Xhaka, but like the penny, he is worth a lot less than what they have invested on him. 

Hmm!! This is so true for many around us. Some friends are like the one cent coin. You invest so much in them to make the friendship work. You visit, spend your money to call and even support them but at the slightest opportunity they wreck the ship of the relationship. When you least expect, 'they fall your hand.' Like one cent coin, it is costing you so much more to make the relationship work than it is worth. 

Note that the one cent coins are not useless, it just cost a lot more to make them than they are really worth. When a child attends a public school in Nigeria but ends up being a very successful executive of a multinational organisation, he is like a $100 bill, that costs so little to produce compared to its value. But when you send your child to a very expensive private school, but he drops off school before graduating to become an NFA (No Future Ambition), he can be akin to a penny that cost a lot more to produce than it is worth. My prayer is that our children will be like a hundred dollar bill, that costs just about a tenth of one dollar to make. 2nd Cor 9:6 'He which sow bountifully shall also reap bountifully.'

Happy Sunday.

.....Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey. 

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Life Embassy

I was thinking this morning...... about life embassy. A close family of mine who was applying for the US visa for the first time was apprehensive when they finally got a date for a visa interview. While the children could not hide their joy at the prospect of visiting Yankee soon, the parents did not know what to expect as the interview date drew closer. The day came, they set out and by mid day we received the call. Disappointment! They were refused the visas. But why? Everyone wondered. This is not the first time they will be travelling out to Europe or the Americas. No need to have a headache waiting for a sensible reason, the US embassy officials owe you none. But why is it that someone with genuine intention to go on holidays will be denied visa while another with no intention of coming back will be granted visa? 

As I sympathise with this family, I remembered my very first experience with these same US Embassy officials many years back. We all had lined up on the rows of seat waiting for one of the three interview counters to free up for the next person in line to step forward. Where we were sitting, we observed a lady (who I would refer to as 'the rejecter') in Counter 1 rejecting almost everyone that came to her, while her male colleague ('the giver') in Counter 3 was granting visa to everyone that came to him. The only problem was that you do not determine what counter you will visit. It is entirely random, depending on the length of time any of the three persons at the counters will spend. I was praying, like I was sure everyone else was, that I should not fall to the lot of 'the rejecter.' Thankfully, I fell to 'the giver' and got my visa, while the person before me fell to 'the rejecter' and got rejected. I have been thinking about what determines whether one falls to the giver or the rejecter? Some will say luck, but I say favour. What I also know is that life is like the US Embassy visa interview. You cannot determine whether you meet a good or bad interviewer.

It starts with our birth. You cannot determine the race, nation or family you will be born into, otherwise you can guess where I will be. Parents are like the interviewers at the embassy counters waiting to take up applicants. The applicant (child) has no say as to the parents they go to. He may fall to a poor parent in a village in Sudan or to the Prince and his wife living in Buckingham Palace in the UK. Wherever he ends up, there he will grow up. Truly, life is like the US embassy visa interview. 

You know how sometimes you had prepared well for the visa interview. You have the right intention and your documents up to date. Yet, you stand before the interviewer and he looks at you and say 'I am sorry, I am denying you the visa.' Meanwhile, a friend of yours that is least qualified for the visa and has only a one-way ticket goes before the counter and gets the visa. Many times in life, you can't explain why, though eminently qualified, you are denied some good things at the time you need them, while someone else that is seemingly less deserving gets it. My friend, do not despair, life is like the US Embassy visa interview. Sometimes there will be no logical reason why you are denied a visa.

Truth is though it may seem that the outcome of your interview is not in your hands, it is expedient that you prepare and be ready for the interviewer. Having done your part, leave the rest to God, because it might just be for your good. Life is like US visa application, where the first sentence in the last paragraph of the rejection letter reads 'Today's decision cannot be appealed.' When a decision is reached on the outcome of your life, there will be no appeal. This much Ecclesiastes 11:3 says 'If the cloud are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth; And if a tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie.'


......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey 

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Do You Have A Menthol?

I was thinking this morning..... about mentorship. Sitting among the guests at the Grand Award Night for 2019 Nigeria Prize for Science and Literature, I was enjoying the glam and glitz of the night but was wowed by some Nigerians doing exploits in their fields of endeavour. I was particularly thrilled by the 12 years old girl that wrote a beautiful book that made the shortlist for the $100,000 Literature Prize. Who and what inspired them to achieve these great feats? As I listened to the eventual winners make their acceptance speech, I understood their secret. They had mentors. It is trite to say everyone should have a mentor, but new to discover that some people have 'menthols.'

You won't be wrong if at this time you are thinking of the hot balm, Mentholatum. That was the direction of my thought when I saw the picture of a banner put out by the Mainland branch of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) who wrote that they were rejoicing with their 'Leader and Menthol.' Many that saw the advert shook their heads in disappointment because they thought the actual word should be 'Mentor' and not 'Menthol,' but they were wrong. 

Menthol, also called Peppermint camphor, is a waxy substance obtained from the oils of corn mint, peppermint, or other mints. When applied topically to the skin, ingested, or inhaled, menthol produces a cooling sensation. Menthol does not lower the temperature of the body or skin. Instead, it produces a cooling effect by blocking the calcium current along the nerves responsible for detecting temperature.

So, when the NURTW folks said they were rejoicing with their 'Menthol,' they knew what they were saying. While a mentor trains and advises someone particularly a younger colleague to be a better version of himself, a 'Menthol,' on the other hand blocks your ability to use sense, giving one the feeling of being cool with himself. Think about it. An 'Agbero' from the motor park, mobilizes his boys, inflict maximum terror on harmless voters and stuff ballot boxes for his boss. As a reward, he is made a lawmaker or commissioner in a government where competent hands were overlooked. How is that possible? Because he has a 'Menthol' and sense has been suspended. 

A society that encourages 21 morally challenged youths to be cocooned in a house for 99 days and the winner goes home with N60 million worth of prizes (N30 million cash, an SUV and other fantastic prizes) but cannot encourage same organisations to give similar or better prizes for excellence in science and literature is developing 'Menthols' and not Mentors. Sense will be suspended. A people that fights on social media wasting the money they don't have on data and spend a whopping N7.1 billion (higher than the monthly allocation of three Nigeria states) in voting for the 'Pepper Dem Gang' should not be surprised when their children start 'showing them pepper' because these children now have 'Menthols' instead of Mentors.

It is an anomaly for people with 'Menthols' to rule over those with Mentors. The incompetent ones are ruling over the learned. The no-good of the society have become our leaders. But I guess this is not new because Ecclesiastes 10:7 says 'I have seen servants on horses, while princes walk on the ground like servants.' Thank God for Organisations that have continued to support the growth of science and literature, but the question is 'are you bringing up your children to have Mentors or Menthols?'

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Relationship is a Currency

Lagos Traffic 
I was thinking this morning..... about relationship. My wife and I were on our way to my son's school for visiting day last Saturday, when suddenly we were frantically waved down by an unknown face by the road side. We wound down to hear the stranger saying we should stop immediately as the engine of our car was almost knocking. It was at this point we heard the strange noise from our car engine, having not noticed the signs on the dashboard. After parking the vehicle, it was obvious we can't continue the journey with it. 'What do we do? Abort the trip? Not an option because our son was waiting to see us? Go back home to pick another car? No, we will lose too much time if we did, because the traffic 'tie wrapper. At this point, I decided to call our regular and trusted taxi man. 'Oga, I dey Osun state o' was his response. Wow! Then it occurred to me that our position was a few metres away from the house of a friend and brother in church. 'Hello, MOG, where are you?' I asked as he picked the call. 'I am just driving out of the house now. Hope no problem?' He asked. 'My car has just broken down in front of your street.' As we spoke, I saw him driving out with his wife sitting in front of the vehicle. Having jointly considered all my options, we agreed that I drive one of their cars while the mechanic handles mine. I suggested that we walk back to his house to pick the saloon car but they both insisted that I took the Toyota Prado they were driving while they walk back home to pick the saloon car. In spite of my reluctance to take the Prado, they convinced me otherwise. As I drove out with my wife in their best car, wondering why they made that sacrifice for us, it dawned on me that relationship is a currency. The value could be worth more than money.

I pondered and wondered as we drove on, the import of what just happened lingered. 'Is relationship really a currency?' I questioned within me. I remembered how recently I had the opportunity of recommending someone for a handsome paying job. No room for multiple CVs, just one person. As I looked at all the CVs in my database, I was confused. Who do I recommend? My eventual decision was made on the basis of relationship. Truly, relationship is a currency, whose value could be more than money. 

Some will argue that you need money to build relationships. Sometimes true, but in the most important relationships in life; that with your spouse, your children or with God, money is least important. Having a rich account of relationship could deliver peace, joy and other dividends that money can hardly give. I am talking about genuine relationship, not Facebook-type friendship. 

I found out that we spend so much time and energy building our financial portfolio. That is great, but how much do we invest in building your relationship portfolio? You can invest in your relationship with your spouse, your children, colleagues or even with God by showing genuine care and being available when needed. A robust investment in relationship will deliver more value than money could ever give. Note that it is not the number of acquaintance you have that matters but those you have a genuine relationship with. No wonder Proverbs 18:24 says 'A man of many companions may come to ruin but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.'

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey