Saturday, 27 June 2020

DEM NEVER BAFF

Dem Never Baff

I was thinking this morning.... There were so many news worthy events last Thursday 25th June 2020. The day started with political intrigues in the two major parties in Nigeria. The ruling party, APC, sacked the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) two years, two days after it came into office. Governor Obaseki of Edo State finally clinched the PDP ticket for the September election after other strong contenders stepped down for him. Then news started shifting to the UAE, when the Dubai Police released a stunning video of 'Fox Hunt 2' showing how Nigeria internet fraudster Ramoni Igbalode AKA Hushpuppie, allegedly defrauded over 1.9 million victims to the tune of $435.6 million. Wahoo! Nigerians were still masticating on the depressing news when fresh news broke that Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the immediate past governor of Oyo State, had passed on at the age of 70 after battling Covid-19 related complications. So sad.


While all the news of the decadence of our politicians and youths dampened my mood that day, none got me thinking about life until another video surfaced late that evening of Senator Abiola Ajimobi revealing that he has always told God he wants to die at the age of 70. Ajimobi had stated this during an interview with Splash FM some weeks before he was hospitalized. He had only celebrated his 70th birthday about 6 months ago on 16 December 2019.

I went to bed wondering why anyone will choose to die at the lower limit of old age. Yes, I call it lower limit of old age because David in the bible, like Senator Ajimobi, specified his age on earth to be 70 years (Psalms 90:10) and he died at 70. The interesting thing is that at 70, the bible says David died at a ripe old age, full of years (Ist Chronicles 29:28). Hmm!! But why won't anyone prefer to die at the upper limit of old age (120 years) as specified by God in Genesis 6:3? Genesis 25:8 says Abraham died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years. He died at 175 while Moses died at 120 years. 

So, yes, everyone wants to die at a good old age, but whether you die at the lower limit of 70 years or upper limit of 120 years will depend on what you ask for. I remembered a friend of my aunt while I was in the University. It was the early 90s when Ibrahim Babangida was our Head of State. This man, in his mid life season, will always declare while discussing politics with his friends, that he has no reason to be alive to see the nonsense happening in Nigeria then. I always wondered why he should be making such strong statements. He died not long after while the nonsense in Nigeria continued. 

The nonsense in Nigeria has continued till this day so much so that our politicians have become 'Political Hushpuppies' scamming 200 million Nigerians from APC to PDP. But rather than their behaviours making you speak words that will entrap your destiny, pray for them, because like my young wife will say in pidgin English, 'Dem never baff (bath). How I take know? Because yeye dey smell follow dem.'

Speak life to stay alive and may God keep you to the good old age of 120, full of years and strength. 

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 20 June 2020

WHO PRESSED THE PAUSE BUTTON?

Pause and Play on the Remote control 


I was thinking this morning.....Yesterday, I sat lazily on the couch watching Live Premier league football when suddenly everyone on the pitch froze, or so I thought. I looked again, it was the transmission on cable TV that froze. 'Who pressed the 'Pause' button?' I asked, turning to my son. 'Daddy, but the Remote is with you,' he responded. I checked around me and discovered that I had sat on the Remote Control and inadvertently pressed the 'Pause' button. I pressed 'Play' on the Remote Control and the transmission continued. Though I continued watching from where it stopped when the 'Pause' button was pressed, what was less obvious was that it was no longer real time. The match continued while I was looking for the Remote Control. It became obvious when one of the teams scored and I heard fans at the Viewing centre close by shout 'Goooaal' seconds before it happened on my screen.

'Who pressed the 'Pause' button?' That question lingered as I went to bed. It's nine days to the end of the first half of the year and it seems like someone had pressed the 'Pause' button on the eternal Remote Control of time early in the year. What had happened to the months? How was it possible that as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses, careers, leisure, pleasure and other activities of humans could be paused for so long while other creatures on earth carried on living?

So many students are asking, 'Who pressed the 'Pause' button?' Year 12 (SS3) students started 2020 with great expectations to take their WAEC and IGCSE exams in April/May 2020 which would've formed the basis of their gaining admission to the University within or outside of Nigeria in September. The months are rolling by and no one knows when the WAEC and IGCSE exams will take place. Will they be able to join their colleagues to resume University in September? How can they get visa to study abroad when the embassies have suspended visa issuance due to Covid-19? Who pressed the 'Pause' button?

'Who pressed my 'Pause' button?' That was the question on the mind of Cynthia Kudji, a native Ghana, who while she was 23 dreamt of being a medical doctor. She however mistakenly pressed the 'Pause' button on her dream when she got pregnant and gave birth to her daughter Jasmine. After so many years of being in the 'Pause' mode, Cynthia enrolled in the Family Medicine program at The University of Health and Sciences on the island of St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean while the daughter Jasmine studied General Surgery at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mother and daughter graduated as Medical doctors in March 2020 and will begin their residency in July 2020 at the LSU Health New Orleans. Pregnancy placed her dream on 'Pause,' took her years, but couldn't take her dream.

You probably are looking through your aide-memoire for 2020 and it all but seem like your career, business and travel plans are on hold and you are asking 'Who pressed the 'Pause' button?' The answer could be simple or esoteric, but whatever it is, like Cynthia Kudji, pick up the Remote Control and press 'Play.' Philippians 3:13 'But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead.'

Just press 'Play,' and stay safe.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 13 June 2020

The Kilishi Advancement

Kilishi

I was thinking this morning..... about the progress we have made. The Punch Newspaper reported a mild drama at the Senate on Monday 8th June 2020 when the Director-General of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Professor Hussain Ibrahim, appeared before the Senate Committee on Science and Technology to brief the senators on the activities of his agency. The senate committee chairman had told Ibrahim, 'Just give us the synopsis of what you have developed or generated for local industries in the past 33 years the RMRDC has been in existence. Tell us about your breakthrough.' An elated Ibrahim had said, 'To be honest, we are making progress. We have developed technology to optimize Kilishi production.' Wow! Of all the challenges we have with raw materials in Nigeria, the breakthrough worthy of mention for 33 years of RMRDC was Kilishi technology. Nigeria, we hail thee!

Kilishi is the locally spiced roasted meat made of beef, and it is very popular in the northern part of Nigeria. I have been buying and eating Kilishi for many years and not aware that we now have different flavours or that the packaging now comes with food labels. All we see are vendors selling kilishi wrapped in brown envelopes or old newspapers. Where then is the breakthrough in Kilishi technology?

I have not eaten kilishi since this lockdown began, so in looking for a breakthrough early last week, I decided to check on how well some the investments I made years back are doing. Like the Senate Committee chairman, I asked my Stockbroker to give me a synopsis of all the equities I bought between 2004 and 2006. When the report dropped in my mailbox, I wasn't sure whether to cry or laugh like the Senators. 15 years after, many of the stocks had depreciated while a few gained a few kobos. As I reflected on whether that is a breakthrough, I agreed it is progress. Yes, Kilishi Progress.

So many Nigerians believe we haven't made significant progress as a nation since we gained independence in 1960. They are quick to point at our Aviation, Health and Educational sectors and shudder at how we have remained static, if not retrogressed. They are wrong. In our 21 years of uninterrupted democracy, politicians that fought godfatherism while in office have become Super-godfathers today. Is that not progress? I can hear someone say 'Yes, but it is Kilishi Progress.'

There are so many that have been saving for years to buy a car, buy or build a property or even travel abroad. Anytime they come close to meeting the target, inflation or naira devaluation chips away the value. In their frustration, some are wondering if they are making progress in life. The answer is 'Yes, you are making progress, but Kilishi Progress.' 

Kilishi Progress is one that is so insignificant or irrelevant that the person or institution's later state is either not different from or worse than the former. I have personally taken a stand against Kilishi progress and embrace Psalms 92:12 'The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.' I would rather a 'Palm Tree' than Kilishi progress. 

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Warri to Choba: A Journey of Life in Time

With fellow Corpers at Bonny in 1992

I was thinking this morning..... When last Sunday, my friend and former school mate wrote a beautiful piece titled 'The Road to Mogadishu' on our Hussey College Set of 86 WhatsApp Group chat, we were challenged to pen down our life's journey for the benefit of all. As I mused on the thousands of journeys I have embarked upon in life within and outside Nigeria, none came close to reflecting a portion of my life's journey like a journey I made from Warri to Choba in Port-Harcourt in 1992. It was during my NYSC programme when I was serving as a Biology teacher at Bonny National Grammer School (BNGS) on Bonny Island. I made frequent trips home to Warri despite the very parlous state of the road at that time. But this particular trip left an impression. Life is a journey. 


Though I was aware that the road was in a very bad shape, it wasn't difficult making the decision to embark on the journey confident that I will get to Choba before nightfall. That was exactly my mindset when I left Hussey College Warri ready to leave home for the first time for the University. I had no doubt whatsoever, that in this journey of life, I will be successful. Making the journey possible was not an easy one as sacrifices were made by my parents to raise the transport fare that will take me all the way to Bonny island. This mirrors my admission to Uniben in 1987 to study Microbiology. The joy of getting the admission was soon dampened by the lack of money for my school fees and upkeep. My parents did the only thing they know, sacrifice. I eventually set out to the University with two pairs of trousers and three shirts, because the school fees, like my transport fare to Choba, was all that mattered at the time. Life is journey. 

Back to the trip to Choba. We set out at about 9am with the journey between Warri and Ughelli being a smooth ride, reminding me of my first year at Uniben. As we journeyed towards Patani at the boundary between Delta and Bayelsa States, we encountered a diversion through one of the villages because a section of the road ahead had been cut off by flood. Juxtapose with my life's journey, this was my experience as I moved into the second year at Uniben. There was an opportunity for Science students that did well to transfer to Medical college. Since being a doctor had always been my childhood dream, I made the move from Microbiology to Medicine or should I say Macrobiology. After spending a month in medical school, we returned back to our departments when the transfer exercise failed. I soon realised it was a diversion. Life is a journey. 

My life progressed just like our journey to Choba. When we entered Bayelsa state, it was a chaotic scene around Sagbama. The road had been completely cut off with no alternative routes. Vehicles could not go across. Locals were carrying passengers on their backs through the flooded craters and muddy pits to join other vehicles at the other side of the road. Passengers in commercial vehicles where exchanged like currency transactions at a Bureau de change counter. This is a picture of how I survived my final year in 1991 and the 2 years I spent doing my MSc (1992 to 1994). My family had run into a financial roadblock after my dad had lost his job. It was a tough period that threatened the continuation of my education just like the crater at Bayelsa. Like the locals carrying passengers to the other side of the road, God sent a complete stranger my way who took me in and fed me for the rest of the stay in Uniben. The lifeline ensured that I continued on the journey of life.

We finally left Bayelsa going through the Mbiama bridge that separates Bayelsa and Rivers States. This is akin to how I completed my University education (BSc and MSc) and commenced my working career in 1995. The journey between Ahoada and Choba was mostly straight but with unsafe intersections with community roads and lots of police checkpoints that slowed down the journey. Navigating safely along this road until I got to my bus stop at Choba mirrors my journey in time between 1995 when I got my first job as a contractor personnel with SPDC and 2020, the year of rebooting and reflection. The details of that journey shall be subject of another of my musings.

Somewhere along that journey to Choba, in the midst of the chaos at Bayelsa, a miracle happened. While we were waiting to be carried to the other side of the road, we were tired, thirsty and unsure of what the rest of the journey holds. The villagers had set up small businesses selling cold water, edible worm and other snacks to weary passengers. While others munched, I watched because I couldn't afford it. Then came a helping hand who paid for me to enjoy with others, giving me a new lease of life. This was my experience a week after I left campus to commence my job search. I had walked into Word of Life Bible Church in December of 1994 unsure of what the future holds, but when the gift of life was offered me during the altar call, I accepted Christ that day and the path to my future became clear and assured. I was ordained a Pastor 14 years later in the same Port Harcourt that was the destination of this trip. Life is a journey. 

If I have learnt anything during this journey of my life (Warri to Choba), it is that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all (Ecclesiastes 9:11).

As the world reboots, we reflect. Life is a journey. 

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 30 May 2020

71 Days

Wrongful Imprisonment 

I was thinking this morning..... It was another weekend and I was reflecting on how fast the week has gone by. I never knew it will be possible for me to stay indoors for a full week and time will still jet by like everything was hunky-dory. Can you imagine that I have spent exactly 71 days indoors since the 'ojuju' called Covid-19 scared everyone indoors? Wow! During this period, I have only driven out 5 times for very short periods of time and have mostly been working from behind closed doors. Who had imagined that it was possible to incarcerate everyone; individuals, States and Nations for so long? As I thought about it, it seems clear in my mind that every one of us had been wrongfully imprisoned. 


71 days. That is how long I have been wrongfully imprisoned like Archie Charles Williams who spent more than 36 years of his life at Louisiana State Penitentiary for a crime he didn't commit until he was exonerated March 2019 due to advancement in evidence technology. 'Haba! How can you say that?' Someone may be thinking. One scientific study revealed that the Coronavirus may have originated in bats and then spread to humans via a snake or pangolin. Think about it. I neither eat bat, snake nor pangolin, but someone in China eats a live animal for the shock value and now I am the one that has been locked at home for 71 days.

71 days! Tomorrow June 1st will make it 72 and the windows to the summer season are opening. No one is talking about summer holiday when we have the new normal to adjust to. Kai! Who is responsible for this wrongful imprisonment? One conspiracy theory says the Coronavirus was created in a lab at Wuhan, China. I have never been to China neither am I a Lab scientist, yet they've kept me indoors for 71 days. Who will pay for the lost time, lost opportunities and lost finances from the wrongful imprisonment for 71 days? 

Many people feel like they and their businesses have been wrongfully imprisoned by Covid-19 but they are unsure if they will end up as Archie Williams or Tony Ugochukwu who was wrongfully imprisoned in the US for 15 years but walked out a free man last Tuesday with a $10 million compensation. While some impacted will never come out of the prison, many will be freed like Archie but without compensation. There are others that will not only be free but will be compensated like Ugochukwu. When Archie was asked 'How did you get through 37 years in prison for a crime you did not commit?' He answered, 'Freedom is of the mind. I went to prison, but I never let my mind go to prison.' The first step to overcoming all the challenges associated with this wrongful imprisonment by Covid-19 is to renew your mind. Romans 12:2 'Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.' My mind is renewed to profit from the past 71 days. 

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Fruit of the Eyes


I was thinking this morning..... or rather talking this morning to men. When you look at your wife, in the form of what fruit do you see her? There is a common Nigerian saying that 'if you want to see the red eyes of a man, touch his wife.' I confirmed this early in life when I was living with an aunt and the husband. Great family with so much love and mutual respect between them. One evening, we were in the living room when my aunt returned from her outing with swollen face like I had never seen her with before. She walked straight into the bedroom crying. We all rushed after her asking what was wrong. Amidst sobs, she revealed that a taxi driver had slapped her because she challenged his wrong doing. Of course she didn't let him off the hook that easy but after much pleading from people around, she had to let him go. As soon as she mentioned that a taxi driver had slapped her, what I saw in the eyes of the husband was something I had scarcely seen. He sprang up, with fire in his eyes and headed out the room asking where the man can be found. He was itching to go out there and beat up and arrest any taxi driver within reach. It took a lot of persuasion from my aunt to calm him down. From that day, I never doubted the saying that if you want to see the red eyes of a man, touch his wife.


From the depth of my immaturity, I wondered why my uncle's eyes were red that evening. Years later after I got married, I understood why. It was simply because his wife was 'the apple of his eyes.' Not green apple, I mean succulent red apple. Red apple is not only pleasant to look upon, it is also very tasteful. I found out that the phrase 'apple of one's eye' which first was used in the Bible, comes from a Hebrew expression that literally means 'little man of the eye,' and it refers to the tiny reflection of yourself that you can see in other people’s pupils. It means to gaze on and be fond of that person. 

I was still musing on this when a colleague told me that this Covid-19 induced lockdown has resulted in increased domestic violence. 'Ibabo!' Exclaiming like an urhobo man, I wondered why a man will beat his wife. I imagined what the eyes of these wife beaters will be like. Will they be red as well? If they are red, they are definitely not the red of an apple. A man will never lay his hands on 'the apple of his eyes.' Since a man must find his wife distasteful to beat her, one can reasonably conclude that to a wife beater, his wife is 'the cranberry of his eyes.' Cranberry is a tart, bitter red berry.

What about a man that neither loves or hates his wife? Such a man can be in the same house with his wife for weeks but give her no pleasure. He presents her to the world as lovely but indifferent to her at home. You can't say she is the apple of his eyes neither is she the cranberry, rather a pomologist (an expert in fruits) will say she is 'the pitaya of his eyes.' Dragon fruit, otherwise known as pitaya, is hands-down, one of the best-looking fruits on the planet. But when it comes to taste, it is mild to the point of utter tastelessness; as bland as bland gets. 

The way men see their wives vary from one man to another depending on their upbringing and 'wetin dey worry dem.' From the perspective of the fruit of their eyes, some women are garlic, others are 'agbalumo (udara),' and some bitter kola. Whatever it is, I see this period of the lockdown as an opportunity for men to recultivate their gardens. If your wife was either the cranberry, pitaya or even bitter kola of your eyes, it's time to make the change and make her the apple or mango of your eyes. To the ladies, should your husband treat you like you are bitter like cranberry or tasteless like pitaya, worry not, God has got you covered because you are the apple of His eyes (Psalms 17:8). 

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Life is the Teacher




I was thinking this morning..... two weekends ago I called a friend, a former school mate at the University who I had not spoken to in a long while and we reminisced about our days on campus. We talked about our former classmates and where they are across the world. We remembered our lecturers, how a few had transited, some retired and those still in service. 'Do you remember Mrs G. and Mrs E.?' My friend asked. 'How can I ever forget them?' I replied. 'Do you know that Mrs G. only got her PhD a few years ago and guess what? She was supervised by one of our classmates who was her student in the late eighties.' Wow!

When we ended the conversation, I was paralysed by the thought of what I just heard. I cast my mind back to the late eighties focusing on the two female lecturers my friend mentioned. Great women, classy and good at what they did but without a PhD at the time. I still don't know what personal challenges both ladies had that they could not obtain their doctorate at the time their contemporaries did, but 25 years later, they finally did under the supervision of their former students, who have now become professors. Truly humbling!

I was thinking, how will I feel if my former student was now the one assigned to supervise my PhD project? Would I be humble enough to allow my former student to supervise me in the same institution where I taught him/her? I really don't have an answer. Why didn't Mrs G. and Mrs E. feel too proud to learn from those they taught in the past? I kept prodding. Oh yes, I know why. What depth of understanding they have. They must have realised that 'Life is the teacher and anyone and anything could be the lesson.'

Do you have same depth of understanding?
You were part of the team that recruited fresh graduates to your organisation. One was assigned to you as a mentee. After a few years, he climbed up the ranks and became your MD. Would you be humble enough for him to be your mentor? 'Tufiakwa!' Some will say. 'It's not my portion.' I hear others say. Please be humble enough to learn from him because Life is the teacher and anyone and anything could be the lesson.' 

Many years ago, you preached and converted a few to Christ and that redeemed soul later turned out to be the Pastor of the church you attend. Will you be humble enough and remain a member of the church or you 'port' to another church? If the latter is the case, then you need to understand that 'Life is the teacher and anyone and anything could be the lesson.' It's easy to focus our minds on being the teacher or mentor all the time, but life will sometimes turn things around to teach a lesson. Whenever that happens, please realise that it is not about you or teacher, it is about the lesson. Don't let pride get in the way of your growth because of the person whom God decide to use. It is no wonder Prov 6:6 says 'Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!' Truly, life is the teacher.

Happy Sunday.

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