Saturday 28 December 2019

Do Not Urinate Here

I was thinking this morning.... about evolution and reverse development. Some school of thought believe that with time man had evolved from lower forms of primates into anatomically modern humans. If we follow this line of thought, it should be expected that with each passing year, humans should be making progress behaviourally and democratically. But observing events in the past few days has made me question whether as the world develops, Nigeria is not developing in reverse.

'How do you mean?' you might ask. My niece was returning home to Nigeria for Christmas after so many years of sojourn in the UK. She was returning with the two issues the Lord has blessed her with during the period. By 'issues' I mean children and not problems. On arrival at the Murtala Mohammed International airport, Lagos. Her 11 year old daughter observed where it was written on a wall 'Do not urinate here.' With a curious look, she asked 'Mum, why did they write 'Do not urinate here' on that wall?' 'Because, they don't want anyone to urinate by the wall,' her mum responded. With an even more curious look and maybe a tint of surprise, she asked further 'But why do they have to be told?' Hmm!!! Why must you tell an adult to only urinate in a toilet? As I thought about it, I concluded that behaviourally we may be developing in reverse. 

Like we say in Warri, 'I wonder wetin dey work us.' My niece probably understood why, because she was born and grew up in Nigeria until she travelled out about 15 years ago. What she however did not bargain for, having been driving in the UK for years, was how torturous driving in Nigeria has become. After taking to the steering for a few days, she swore to never drive in Nigeria again. 'There are no driving rules in this country anymore. People drive like they are insane. I wonder why there are not a lot more accidents.' She had lamented. If you drove during this festive period in any of our cities, you will understand where she was coming from. Whew!!! It was hellish in Lagos. Added to the terrible driving behaviour, the roads are bad. As I wondered why the Infrastructures are not improving with time, I recalled the report in the Economist Pocket book that says Lagos is the second worst city to live in after Damascus in Syria (a war zone). When I considered that Lagos was the third worst city in 2018, I concluded that in terms of infrastructure, our development may be in reverse. 

At the national level nko? When it comes to democratic nations, one of the indices of a matured democracy is the obedience of the rule of law. With this year marking 20 years of unbroken democracy in Nigeria, it would have been expected that our democracy should be maturing. Colonel Sambo Dasuki and activist Omoyele Sowore were accused of different offences and thrown into DSS detention. They were taken to court and the courts granted them bail. The DSS refused to release them in spite of protests by well meaning Nigerians. Then on the 20th of December, the US Congress wrote a strongly worded letter to the Attorney General of the Federation (AG) about the implications of disobedience of court orders and how we should behave like a democratic nation. Suddenly, the AG announced the release of both men on Christmas eve. Have we made progress? Yes, but democratically, our development or maturity seems to be in reverse. 

Oh, how this little girl opened my eyes as another year counts down. Why must we be told to do the right thing? Why must we be told to behave? Else, if we continue with this attitude, we will start seeing signs like 'Please do defecate on the bed' in hotel rooms and 'Please do not eat sand.' If truly we have developed from lower forms of primates to anatomically modern humans, there are some things we should not be doing. James 4:17 says, 'Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.' As we enter 2020, I am praying, 'Lord, please help us to behave.'

Happy Sunday and New Year (in a few days).

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

Saturday 21 December 2019

Where can I find a friend like Miss Nigeria?

Miss Nigeria celebrating her friend

I was thinking this morning.... about true friendship. This past week, news broke of how for the first time, black women now hold the titles of five of the world’s top beauty pageants, with the crowning of Miss Jamaica, Toni-Ann Singh as Miss World. According to Time magazine report of 16th December, during the final round of the competition, just three women remained on the stage waiting to find out who would be crowned Miss World. There was Miss Nigeria, Nyekachi Douglas; Miss Brazil, Elis Coelho; and Miss Jamaica, Toni-Ann Singh. 

When the winner’s name was called, Nyekachi erupted to a cheer. She then did a joyful dance around the stage, twirling across the dais in her green gown, before rushing back to hug the woman who had actually won—Miss Jamaica. The fact that Nyekachi was so clearly excited for her friend, even though it meant that she herself had lost the competition, was truly heartwarming. Nyekachi’s ebullient reaction at her friend’s victory has gone viral with people sharing the clip across social media. She may not have won the Miss World crown, but the internet had crowned her thrilled reaction a true friendship victory. It sure made me proud as a Nigerian.

As I read the various comments on social media, that of one Nimelesh @Houseofhilton made my day. She had asked 'Where can I find a friend like Miss Nigeria?' Awww!!! Her question whirled up thoughts within me. Do I have friends like Miss Nigeria? Am I a friend like Miss Nigeria?

As I tried to answer my last question, I recalled how I waited for promotion at work for so long that it became a prayer point. One year while waiting for the miracle to happen, a colleague of mine announced that he has just been promoted. What was my reaction? I was happy for him telling him congratulations. But immediately, my mind started asking why I was not promoted, effectively shifting my attention from the good news, to self. My joy for him became momentary because of my focus on self. As I reflected on the reaction of Nyekachi Douglas, I cried 'Please Lord, make me a friend like Miss Nigeria.'

I have had a fair share of lifting and breakthroughs from the Lord that blew my mind. As far as I can remember, there was hardly any spontaneous reaction of joy or any thrilled response from people around me. No one did the 'zanku,' 'shoki' or the 'azonto' dance for me. At best, having congratulated me, what naturally follows will be 'the God wey do your own, go do for me too o.' Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that response but shifting the attention to yourself takes away from the joy of the moment. Some out of jealousy and envy will be cursing the blessed one under their breath or in their mind. As I thought about it, I prayed 'Oh God, give me a friend like Miss Nigeria.'

The truth is, all of us need a Miss Nigeria in our lives. With such positivity and support, anyone can move mountains. As we count down to 2020, when your friend gets a promotion or a new job or starts a new business, be his or her Miss Nigeria. Ditch the selfishness in every human and be truly happy for him or her without thinking of yourself. Real friends don't focus on self. Proverbs 20:6 'Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?' Seriously, are you a friend like Miss Nigeria?

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday 14 December 2019

Life Like Football Match

Coach Benedict Ugwu 

I was thinking this morning..... On Saturday November 30th, while the Nigerian Professional Football League match between Enugu Rangers and Akwa Starlets was ongoing at the Enugu Stadium, something strange happened. At about the 85th minute of the game, an announcement was made through the public address (PA) system, that the coach of the Coal city side, Benedict Ugwu, has been sacked. The game ended 0-2 in favor of Akwa Starlet (now Dakkada FC). Wow!

The way the sacking was done got many Nigerians talking but got me thinking. Why couldn't the Club Management wait for an additional 5 minutes for the match to end before sacking the coach, if they felt he wasn't delivering? If they must sack him, why would they have to do so through the PA System while he was busy in the dugout? The more I thought about it, the more the life lessons dropped on me like dew on a cold harmattan morning. 

I thought about this couple I knew in the neighbourhood I grew up in Warri. They had six children which I believe they brought up to the best of their ability. Life didn't turn out as expected as all the children dropped out of school. Everyone blamed the parents saying they had failed. It occurred to me that if they were coaches of a football club, they would probably have been sacked like Benedict Ugwu. A non-enthusiast of football will wonder why they will sack coach Benedict Ugwu when he was not the one in the field of play. He has done his best, told the players what to do, but yet they let him down. Hmm! Life is like coaching from the dugout.

Coach Benedict Ugwu was relieved of his job in the 85th minute while the match was still on. Wow! Isn't life like a 90 mins football game with extra time? There are many that have been let go from the match of life early in the first half of their lives. They were still marshalling out their plans on how to win the match, and the heavenly announcement was made to call them home. Yet, others see the match to the end of 90 mins. Life! About 3 years ago, my dear uncle was in the dugout working for the success of his team (family). It was the beginning of his second half and his team was winning, when suddenly the announcement was made. He slumped and that was it. He was gone. He was taken off when the match was only 65 minutes gone (he was 65 years old). But why would the heavenly announcement be made when he was winning the match? Life is like coaching or playing in a football match. Not everyone will stay till the end of regulation time.

When the announcement was made through the PA system announcing the sack of Benedict Ugwu, many Nigerians frowned at and condemned the act, saying it was insensitive. But I asked, isn't that the same way we all are taken off the scene? There is always an announcement. The difference is the response of the crowd of witnesses. Do they give you a standing ovation or boo you out? 

My prayer is that we all will be in the game till the end of regulation time (90 years) plus extra time (30 years) according to Genesis 6:3, but what is important is your focus on your success and that of your team. Should you be taken out before the end of regulation time, like was done to Benedict Ugwu, then you should leave knowing that you have given only your best and impacted lives. This is the season to impact lives, do it with all thy might.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday 7 December 2019

Eighteen? Chai!

Porcelain Anniversary 

I was thinking this morning..... about eighteen (18). I sat up by the side of my bed this morning counting my blessings. I started with my fingers and by the time I got to 18, I had almost run out of toes to count. As I reflected on 18, I said 'chai!' I did exclaim not because I am sad but because the Hebrew word for 'life' is חי (chai), which has a numerical value of 18. Interesting, right? When I say 'Chai,' I am referring to life which is equal to 18.

Flashes of 18 was all over my face as I reflected on the many occasions I have encountered 18 in this my journey of life, or should I say 'Chai'

Years before I turned 18, I was a student of Hussey college Warri. One subject I loved was chemistry. Our teacher then, Mrs Oputa I believe, taught us that the 18th group of the periodic table are known as the noble gases for being the least reactive because of the 18 electron rule. Since then I learnt not to be too reactive so that I can become noble. Chai! While still smarting from an enjoyable chemistry class, then walked in our Mathematics teacher, Shedrach Ogboru, and confused me, by saying that 18 is an abundant number, as the sum of its proper divisors is greater than itself (1+2+3+6+9 = 21). 18 showed up again, but this time to confuse me. Haba! How can a number be abundant and be greater than itself? Chai!

Not long after I left secondary school, I encountered 18 again when I turned 18 years. In most countries, 18 is the age of adulthood, the legal age for driving, drinking and voting. Though I don't drink alcohol, I am still thankful for the privilege to drive and vote not minding that my vote seem not to count in Nigeria. 

As I grew up, I fell in love with certain sports. My biggest love is football, where 'the 18' is a slang term for the penalty area also called the '18 yard box.' I never liked golf until Tiger Woods got on the scene and I learnt that there are 18 holes on a regulation golf course. Polo...that game that they play riding on horses? Naaa!! Not for me, maybe because I learnt horses usually have 18 pairs of ribs and 18 bones in their tails. Bones in the tail? Chai!

I left school, got a job and got born again. I started reading the bible with the eyes of the Spirit. 18 started showing up on the pages of the holy book. First, I discovered in Judges 10:8 that the people of Israel were oppressed for 18 years by the Ammonites. Then, on one particular Sabbath, while teaching in a Synagogue, Jesus healed a woman that had a 'spirit of infirmity' which had bent her over for 18 years! As I marveled at some of the names in the bible, I found out that two of the longest names in Scripture are composed of 18 letters. They are Jonathelemrechokim (in the title of Psalm 56) and Mahershalalhashbaz (the name of Isaiah's son in Isaiah 8:1. Imagine giving your child any of these names. Chai!

There is something about 18 today that is making me so comfortable. Could it be because a comfortable room temperature is 18 degrees Celsius? No. I checked and my AC was off. Bang!!! I know why now. Today is the 18th anniversary of my marriage, which is called Porcelain anniversary. But why is it called Porcelain anniversary? Porcelain is not only elegant and refined, it is also durable and long-lasting—just like our marriage after 18 years together. Chai!

Because life (Chai) has a numerical value of 18, the custom has arisen in Jewish circles to give donations and monetary gifts in multiples of 18 as an expression of blessing for long life. For my young wife and I, we cannot but give God thanks in multiples of 18 for the many blessings He has bestowed on us and on this day, all we can say is thank you Lord for 'Chai'

Happy Sunday and Happy 18th anniversary to us. 

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

Saturday 30 November 2019

The Neighbourhood I Grew Up

The neighbourhood I grew up 
I was thinking this morning.... about the neighbourhood I grew up. As I drove along this earth road in a certain suburb of Lagos, I noticed this mango tree on top a waste dump site. Some will imagine that the fruit of this tree should be contaminated, but no, they are as succulent as any other mango fruit, evident by the number of kids throwing sticks at the tree. If there will be any difference, it will be that the fruit from this tree will be more nutritious. As I considered why the toxic environment the tree grew did not affect the quality of the fruits, I remembered the neighbourhood where I grew up.

I grew up in a neighbourhood in Warri in the 70s where the average number of children per 'Room and Parlour' (R&P) was six. With each compound (or yard) having an average of 6 R&Ps, you can imagine the number of children in the neighbourhood. Our compound, No. 6 Ogboru street, was strategically positioned like Abuja in the midst of Nigeria. Our compound, though in Ogboru street, is bounded to the east by another compound, 15b Father Healey street, while just over the fence at our backyard was Okandeji street. So, I can say that Ogboru, Father Healey and Okandeji streets were the neighbourhood were I grew up. 

Our neighbourhood in Warri was one in which violence was common. Fathers beat children routinely for misdemeanors. The boys 'set blows' and 'kpokpo' each other while the 'jagudas' and 'bomas' terrorise everyone else. To show how rife violence was, there was a saying in the neighbourhood 'Threathen na water, Action dey blood.' In this neighbourhood, when children in the same compound quarrel, the fight will be between the parents. In one instance, there was a big fight between a family in 15A Father Healey and another in 15B. The fight was so serious that one father used cutlass on the other father, almost killing him instantly but for God. Wow! We saw so many fights that I cannot but thank God I did not end up being a street fighter. 

In the neighbourhood where I grew up, during the holiday and at weekends after having breakfast, children are literally pushed out of the house to go play outside. This was the period when television stations resumed at 4pm and closed at 10pm. When outside, the good, bad and ugly children from within and without the 'yard' all come together to play. In the process, negative traits are freely distributed. On one occasion, my elder brother had a close shave with prison when two of the compound boys accompanied him on an errand to buy books at a bookshop at Robert road, Warri. Unknown to him, the boys had stolen from the shop. The security men gave them a chase and my brother was caught and roundly beaten for an offence he did not commit. Thank God that we did not end up as petty thieves.

I grew up in a neighbourhood in Warri where we visited 'oyibo dirty' to scavenge for old comic books and toys. Our parents didn't understand that we needed toys and love comic books. Our only access was to visit the waste bins in front of the large compounds with lush green gardens in the high brow area we called SS Quarters (Senior Staff quarters). Yes, we scavenged the bins of expatriates hoping to find broken toys and comic books no longer needed by their kids, but thank God, we did not end up feeling like the dregs of the society or having an inferiority complex.

The neighbourhood I grew up was not all bad news. There was lots of love, openness and laughter. We were active and did things in the innocency of our hearts. I cannot say that every child that grew up in my neighbourhood turned out great, but we believed that we can be what God created us to be. Truth is, yes the environment or neighbourhood you grow up influences how you turn out in future, but what is most important is nurturing the seed of success and greatness God put in you. Think about it, if the fruits of a mango tree that grows on a sewage dump site don't smell or taste like shit, then why should you reflect the negativity of your neighbourhood or environment? 1st John 3:9 says 'No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.' What I still do not understand though, is why so many good men and women get into government in Nigeria and come out smelling like filth.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday 23 November 2019

Abusive Relationships

Non-existent  Infrastructure

I was thinking this morning.... about abusive relationships. During the recently concluded Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ) 18th Annual conference in Lagos early November, there was a debate about whether ambitious Nigerians should remain in Nigeria, weather the storm and join hands to build the country from within. Or travel out, build their careers and come home where possible, to help lift the nation. The debate was electrifying, with one of the ladies arguing in favour of leaving explaining that being a Nigerian living in Nigeria is like being in an abusive relationship. According to her, the smart advice for anyone in such a relationship is to leave, because too many have died having decided to remain and rough it out. Hmm!!!

I am aware this debate has been on for a long time now, albeit in the minds of most Nigerians and at smaller circles. As I weighed in on it, my mind drifted to the state of the road to my office. A federal road that has been in a terrible shape since we moved in exactly 8 years ago. For the better part of each year, particularly during the rainy season, the road is not passable with commuters sometimes spending hours for a 2km distance. When I considered how much tax the users of the road pay, I could only but imagine their feeling like a wife in an abusive marriage. To add salt to injury, then came the breaking news by Punch Newspaper on Thursday that 'Senate okays 7.5% hike in VAT, 6 other taxes.' Wow! Further squeezing the masses in a nation of non-existent infrastructures? Living in Nigeria as a Nigerian really feels like being in an abusive relationship. 

As I scratched deeper, I saw a country where the simplest of rights are infringed upon. The recent elections in Bayelsa and Kogi came to mind. This is a country where both the right of the electorate and the candidates are violated. First, a woman leader of a political party was burnt to death like we are in a war? Then I heard the lamentations of the governorship candidate representing ANPP in Bayelsa state. He had said, 'How can my running mate (Deputy governor candidate) be from Nembe and voted in Nembe, yet our party had zero votes?' Chai!!! They stole the people's votes including his. Believe me, with what this nation has done to these people, they will feel like wives in abusive marriages. Don't be shocked if they, with their families, decide to walk out of the marriage. 

The truth is, a person in an abusive relationship can never give his best to the marriage. That must have been how Dr Osatohamen Osewengie felt and decided to leave his job as a lecturer at College of Education, Ekiadolor, Edo State and relocated to the USA. Today, he is one of the world's best physicists. He manufactures drones for the American Army. He resides in Texas, USA and has 7 Master's degrees & at least 3 doctorates. Naija!!! See how you are chasing away your most virtuous spouses.

The way I am feeling, I can keep ranting like a frustrated wife, but it's time to shut up before they consider my words 'Hate speech.' But before I sign out, do you know that the most abused person in any relationship in the world is a Nigerian, living in Nigeria and also an Arsenal fan? Chai!!!! It is bad enough to be a Nigerian living in Nigeria but to now be an Arsenal fan at the same time is an emotional, psychological, physical, mental and sometimes spiritual torture. For me, it's high time to take a decision on these abusive partners afterall Proverbs 21:19 says 'Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.'

Happy Sunday.

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

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

Sunday 29 September 2019

The Life in Our Years

Wey Mey's Life Impact Matrix 

I was thinking this morning.... about the life in our years. From where I sat, I observed the lugubrious look on everyone as they listened to the priest give the homily at the Service of Songs (SOS) of a friend last Wednesday in Port Harcourt. She was only 51 years but had lived a good life. Two days later, being Friday, I was in Lagos to accompany a brother in Church to commit the dear wife to mother earth. She was just 50 years. Unlike in Port Harcourt where I was part of the crowd, here in Lagos, I was assigned the unenviable task of praying for the family at the graveside. It is well! At both occasions, I observed how so many energetic souls among the lot that had gathered to pay their last respect have suddenly been humbled and sobered up by that bitter coffee called death. Like we say in Warri, 'all our katikati fade sharp sharp.' 

In our sobered state, the Priest at the SOS in Port Harcourt, having made little or no effort to get everyone's attention, had said among so many other words 'It is not the years of our life that matters but the life in our years.' The statement may have been lost on others but it got hold of me. I took a deep breathe, bowed my head and pondered on those words for days. Though both ladies had transited in the prime of their lives, anyone close to them can attest that they had a rich vein of life in their years.

Why do we have to be reminded that it is the life in our years that matters most and not the years of our life? Shouldn't we be focusing on how much life we are infusing into the years rather than merely counting the years of our life? Many had prayed and worked for years upon years but have given little attention to actually living and impacting those around them. Borrowing from Airtel advert, the years of our life is good, but the life in our years is great. As I thought about the years of our life and the life in our years, my mind began constructing what eventually turned out to be 'Wey Mey's Life Impact Matrix.'

Many are blessed with so many years of their life but did not infuse life in their years. I recall a colleague that had worked so hard, deferring family vacations or any such luxury. His plan was to save up funds until he hit a magic threshold that will make him live a rich life after retirement. Unfortunately, he passed on years before retirement. Truly it is not the years of our life that matters but the life in our years. 

According to Wey Mey's Life Impact Matrix, someone that has impacted humanity but die at 50, would have had more life in his years than another that lived just for himself for 100 years. It is the life in our years that counts and not just the years of our life. The life in our years is measured by the impact you are making on your family, friends and humanity. Where do you stand? My prayer for you is according to Proverbs 3:2 'For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.'

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday 22 September 2019

Some Mothers Do Have Them

The odd one out
I was thinking this morning... I was chilling with my wife last Sunday evening when I received an unexpected phone call from a senior friend, whom I have not seen in over 20 years. To what do I owe this call? What could be amiss? I wondered. After exchanging warm greetings, he revealed why he called. He was looking for his younger brother, who was my classmate in secondary school. The brother had cut off all ties with the family and gone underground for years. He told me the family was worried about his welfare and wanted to know he was fine. Having assured him that I spoke with his brother about 6 weeks ago, he heaved a sigh of relief, told me about an uncle that had a similar strange behaviour and asked in conclusion 'why do families always have one of such?' At this point, I remembered the popular BBC sitcom of the 70s, shown in Nigeria in the 80s titled 'Some Mothers Do Have Them.'

'Some Mothers Do Have Them' is the story of Frank Spencer, a well-meaning yet accident-prone chap who tries his best - and often fails - to please everyone he encounters. His wife, long-suffering Betty, loves Frank very much and dutifully deals with the constant anxiety his behaviour creates for her. As I listened to my senior friend, I thought of a doctor and professor parent that gave birth to five children. All but one of them were brilliant, coming tops in their chosen course at the university. But one is an NFA (No Future Ambition), refusing to go to school nor learn a trade. How can that be? 'Is this child really mine?' One of the parents imagined. Don't despair, what I know is that 'some mothers do have them.'

The manifestations of these kids, the odd one out, differ from family to family. For one family, it is that stubborn child or the one that refuses to go to school. For another, he is the son with criminal tendencies or the daughter that chose to be a 'runs girl.' Yet for others, it is that sick or physically challenged child. I am referring to that one child of the family that gives you so much headache or heartache, that embarrasses you every so often. Many have wished and prayed that the child is different and compliant like others. Do not despair but be comforted by the fact that His grace is sufficient and by the knowledge that some mothers do have them.

But why are they different from the pack? While some believe that their destinies were corrupted like a computer file, others believe they were factory errors. They say just like a machine programmed to fill up bottles with pre-measured volumes will occasionally fill one bottle halfway, so one in a number of kids born will be an outlier. They call this blip 'Factory error.' Hmm!! I don't believe any human is an error, because the bible says we were fearfully and wonderfully made. But could there be a scientific explanation to this phenomenon? Is there a pattern? How come a parent have four kids, and there is an odd one, while another has ten and all are great? Truly, some mothers do have them.

I know many parents, like long-suffering Betty, are frustrated with these kids, the odd one out and probably asking God why. These children, brothers or sisters of ours are not strange, and it may seem their glory is lost but in reality, they are just different. Show them equal love no matter how tough. If none of your children gives you heartache, thank God. But if one is a prayer point, then know that though Hosea 9:11 says 'As for Ephraim their glory shall fly away like a bird from the birth and from the womb and from the conception.' I pray that their glory shall be restored. Don't despair because some mothers do have them.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday 14 September 2019

Xenophobia and the Fears Killing Africa

I was thinking this morning..... about Xenophobia and the fear that is killing Africa. Last week Saturday, I needed to buy an item from Game Shop at the mall in my axis of Lagos and was getting ready to drive out when I was reminded that the better part of the mall which also houses Shoprite remains shut. 'How can we be punishing ourselves like this?' I had quipped. 'Our best efforts thus far at decent shopping is at the verge of being killed. Is this reprisal attack on South African firms really hurting South Africans as much as it is hurting Nigerians? I asked in frustration, looking at my young wife. I quickly let it be when my wife gave me a dissenting look, like 'really, is that your response to the savage attack on Nigerians in South Africa?'

But what's really going on? In the last two weeks, xenophobia has been trending on Google, mainstream and social media. News of South Africans attacking foreign nationals in their nation particularly in Johannesburg region has been making headlines. At the last count there were 11 dead, many wounded and millions of dollars lost to looting and burning of the livelihoods of many, including losses from reprisal attacks in Nigeria. While most Nigerians were spitting venom against the South African rascals, many missed the little interesting information coming from the Nigerian response.

First, those that looted and stole from Shoprite in Lagos left the bookshelf untouched. Why would the people focus on looting perishables and ignore the priceless value in books? Then began the musing as I took a deep dive as to the reason why? The fear of books....I would have called it 'bookophobia' but the English man has a word for it, 'Bibliophobia.' This is an unusual phobia of books. Haha!!! I get it, the problem is not xenophobia but bibliophobia. It must be bibliophobia that the South Africans are suffering from. If they had been reading books, they would have discovered the role Nigerians and other Africans played in their independence from apartheid. When a people don't read, they will eventually turn against each other out of ignorance.

Governments of different countries responded to the xenophobia incident in different ways. While Botswana, Zambia and Lesotho immediately issued travel alerts to its citizens, others withdrew their reps from the World Economic Forum (WEF) planned for South Africa. The Federal government of Nigeria also took some steps, but when I read the Daily Trust report that the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has advised the Federal government to take steps to nationalise all South African companies operating in Nigeria to protest the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians, I was like wow! Why should he make that suggestion? Nothing came to mind but 'Sophophobia.' Sophophobia is the fear of knowledge or learning. Our leaders must be suffering from Sophophobia, they are not learning otherwise they would have learnt from the experience of Zimbabwe and Mugabe that forcefully nationalised foreign companies. If that was farfetched, they should have learnt from the bungling of the P&ID contract that has resulted in over $9 billion penalty against Nigeria.

When a people suffers from bibliophobia and their leaders sophophobia, the natural outcome will be xenophobia. Suffice to say that at the root of xenophobia is bibliophobia and sophophobia. Truth is, I do not worry much about the xenophobia in South Africa, I am rather troubled by the local xenophobia of a scale like we have never seen before, Fulaniphobia in southern Nigeria, Ibophobia in far north, itsekiriphobia in Gbaramatu kingdom, Jukunphobia in Tiv land etc. The signs are ominous if we do not address the unhealthy fears of bibliophobia and sophophobia. Our people and leaders must read books to be free. No wonder Hosea 4:6 says 'My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.' Read for knowledge to end domestic and international xenophobia.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday 7 September 2019

Life is a Class of One

Picnic-themed Backyard Reception 

I was thinking this morning..... about our speed in this race of life. Last Sunday, I was privileged to attend the wedding of the daughter of my good friend and former classmate in the University. As I sat as part of the 80+ guests at the picnic-themed backyard reception, listening to the proud MOB (mother of the bride) giving her speech, I reflected on how far we've come as former classmates in Uniben. I considered how her children are of marriage-able age (the youngest just turned 20), while mine are still teenagers. I recalled another classmate of ours whose son just graduated as a medical doctor, but mine just about entering the University. As I pondered on why it seems I am lagging behind, the face of another of our classmate flashed by and I was reminded that his children are still in Primary school. At this point, it dawned on me that though we were all classmates and graduated together in 1991, life has shuffled us and placed us in different classes today. We were classmates in school, but not classmates in life. Everyone has his unique class. I concluded that in the school of life there are no classmates, because Life is a class of one.

Life is a class of one. Hmm!!! That conclusion held me down for a bit. Ten years after I got employed in my dream job, getting a second promotion became a prayer point. One day, a colleague that we came in together on same level walked up to me and said 'Bros, na wao. We came in together and I have gotten three promotions and you, just one. Is there something you are not doing?' I left him feeling bad but not for long because soon after, I realised that in the school of life there are no classmates. Life is a class of one. He is on his path while I am on mine.

Have you considered why, from the same branch of a tree you have both ripe and unripe fruits? The seeds were released same time, exposed to same nutrients and environmental conditions but yet some ripen before others. Identical twins that deliberately wait for each other to be in the same class, engage in the same business like P-Square (Peter and Paul Okoye) and even wed on the same day, will not get their wives pregnant on the same day. Life is a differentiator. My mind is made up that Life is a class of one.

If it is true that in the school of life there are no classmates, because Life is a class of one, then why do we look at another and feel inadquate, like we are not where we should be? Why would someone that has been privileged to be in a somewhat lofty position look down on others like he is superior in some way? Life is a class of one. I am in the class God wants me to be and you are in yours. Do not sweat over the class others are in, because there are no classmates in life. If you like, give yourself double promotion like we do in those days, life will eventually place you in the class you are meant to be.

Do not compare yourself with anyone, because you are in a class of one. There are no classmates in life. No wonder 2nd Corinthians 10:12 says 'For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.' Be wise!

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday 1 September 2019

FBI 77 and the Criminals Amongst Us

I was thinking this morning.... about the unapprehended criminals amongst us. This past week, news broke that the US Federal prosecutors had indicted 80 people on charges connected to participation in online scams that raked in millions from unsuspecting victims in the United States and abroad. The FBI released the names of these cyber criminals amongst which were 77 Nigerians that are now referred to as the FBI 77. As the story broke, my heart broke as well because again we are on the global stage for the wrong reasons. 

Before I could move away from that story, my mind did a rewind to one month ago. Just 4 weeks back, one name on that list, Chika Odionyenma was better known as a member of one of the sub-committees that inaugurated Emeka Ihedioha as governor of Imo State and was subsequently appointed to a committee for the recovery of looted properties. Another name,
Obinwanne Okeke (Invictus) was featured by Forbes as one of the Forbes 30 under 30. He's been on BBC, given a Ted Talk, spoke at London school of Economics Africa Summit. He has a conglomerate spanning across many African countries dealing on oil, agriculture, infrastructure, solar energy etc. He had a lot of International awards celebrating his achievement, but that was yesterday. Yesterday, these two young men with 75 others were seen as successful, but today, they are referred to as the FBI 77.

The whole drama got me thinking about how one can be a champion today and a villain tomorrow. I reflected on how our political office holders, governors, reps, ministers and others are looting our commonwealth but are being celebrated by many. Imagine N17 billion being budgeted for the entire Nigeria Police Force in 2019, while 469 lawmakers budgeted N139 billion for themselves. This sum and much more will be looted before the year runs out. Not to worry, something tells me that the Lawmakers, governors and ministers of today will tomorrow be known as EFCC 469 or ICPC 36. 

As I mused, there was the Daily Trust headline 'Bandits kill 3, kidnap dozens on the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway' and another on Friday August 30th, 'How Kidnapping is making Families Poorer: Banditry - 1,460 deaths, 330 attacks in 7 months -FG.' I immediately asked, who are those perpetrating this evil in our land? Why are they so elusive to the security agencies? The answer was obvious. They live amongst us in the day and commit their crimes under cover. I am aware that many of these criminals (like Taraba kidnap kingpin, Bala Wadume) may be champions amongst us today but I also know that tomorrow, they will certainly be known as the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) 22.

'I agree with you', some will be saying. What about the rest of us? I considered the millions amongst us stealing from their employers or their church. Contractors cutting corners and giving kickbacks. What about those coveting their neighbour's wife or properties? Most people will not be caught like the FBI 77 or come under the radar like EFCC 469. But one thing I know is that all will form part of the 'Judgement Day 144,000.' While I join millions to condemn the act of cyber fraud, I admonish all to look inwards and be wise because 1st Corinthians 10:12 says 'Let he that thinks he stand take heed, lest he falls.' You may not be part of cyber crime but are you part of any vice bringing this nation down?

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday 25 August 2019

The Portfolios Life Assign to Us

I was thinking this morning.... about the portfolios life assign to us. I was woken up that morning by daylight lazily passing through the floor-to-ceiling panoramic window walls of the apartment on the 37th floor of the building overlooking the city. I couldn't go back to bed because my mind kept dwelling on recent announcements of portfolios to ministers and commissioners at the Federal and State levels respectively. The portfolios assigned to many of the nominees opened up to me fresh lessons about life.

As a child my dad and his friends called me 'doctor.' They said I was smart enough to be a medical doctor and was convinced I can be one. I studied hard and applied to read medicine in the University. When JAMB results came out, I fell short and was admitted to read Microbiology instead. As hard as I tried to transfer to Medical school the next year, I still ended up with Microbiology. As I thought about it today, it seems like life had assigned me a portfolio like Festus Keyamo. As a SAN, Festus Keyamo had all the qualifications of being the next Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation. With the way he defended PMB as his campaign spokesman and chased after corrupt politicians as EFCC prosecutor, everyone had thought that Minister of Justice was the job for him, but alas he was assigned as Junior minister under the man he once prosecuted for corruption. Life!

Life had made many like Lai Mohammed. They get portfolios that match their personality profile and sometimes their names. Lai Mohammed (or Lying Mohammed as fondly called by his haters) is a well known tormentor of the opposition. He has the gift of spining the narrative on any issue. Many say he has 'diarrhoea of the mouth,' because he could 'lie for State' and sometimes speak before thinking. When I saw that he was assigned the portfolio of Minister of Information and Culture, I agreed it was apt. Life is Good (LG).

For some others, life had assigned them strange portfolios like Joe Igbokwe. He is the most prominent APC stalwart of Igbo extraction in Lagos State. As the APC spokesman for the State, he disparaged everyone including 'his country people' in defence of the policies of APC. At the end, he was compensated with a position in the Jide Sanwo-Olu government. Unlike Lai Mohammed, he wasn't given Commissioner for Information but was made Special Advisor for Drainage Matters. Wow! Many didn't see that coming but felt it was apt. You know how you sometimes think you have worked hard enough to deserve a great position, but what eventually comes to you seems like gutter management? That is life for you.

You know life can sometimes alter the portfolio given to you. You believe you have the capacity to do something, you boast to everyone about how you will turn things around if given the opportunity. God heard you and gave you the opportunity and you did not turn up. As I thought about this scenario, I remembered Babatunde Fashola and how he was assigned the portfolio of Ministry of Works and Housing. What happened to his signature Ministry of Power he was superintending before now? He has been stripped of it. His super sized jacket has been cut to size. That is life for you.

Truly, many are like Godswill Akpabio, Rotimi Amaechi and Timipre Sylva. It doesn't matter the amount of corruption allegations levelled against them or how hard the opposition fights to discredit them, life still assigns them choice portfolios. In all, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the newly appointed Minister of Interior, encapsulates my point when he said 'Buhari has put me in a strange Ministry.' For many of us, life has put us in strange positions, but we have chosen to accept it and make the best of it. Like we say in Warri, last, last, it doesn't matter whether life made you a senior or junior Minister or put you in charge of gutter management, Ecclesiastes 9:10 says 'Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.'

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday 18 August 2019

Marriage is like Rice

Ofada Rice

I was thinking this morning..... about the many sides of marriage and Nigerian rice. I recently watched a Netflix movie titled 'Otherhood.' It was about three mothers who felt bad that their sons had not remembered them on Mothers Day. They decided to pay them a surprise visit in the city. While in New York, they found out that their husbands had in the past cheated on them. One had found out soon after and divorced her husband pronto, while another discovered but forgave her husband. The third lost her husband many years ago and had only just found out about his infidelity. Ignorance was bliss. It happened that the three men committed the same sin, infidelity, but their wives responded differently. As I reflected on the trajectories of the three marriages, I remembered the statement I read recently that 'Marriage is like Abakiliki rice, no matter how well you wash it, there will be stone. But your ability to navigate between the rice and the stones will determine how far and well your marriage will go.' True talk!

As I taught the subject 'Success Concepts in Marriage' at the Bible School during the week, my mind began inditing this matter. While growing up, the only options of rice available to us were the local Ekpoma rice and imported Uncle Ben's rice. While about 20% of a bag of Ekpoma rice was stones, the Uncle Ben's was simply great. For that reason, Ekpoma rice was never our first choice, but we recognised that it was the smart option, going by our financial state. Therefore, for those in the valley of decision about marriage, know that marriage is like Ekpoma rice, it may some times not be desirable but it is necessary and expedient. One may say, I am broke and short of cash. Yes, cash may be short, that's why I said marriage is like Ekpoma rice, though the grain in short, it doesn't affect the quality of the rice.

My mind will not let the matter be. I thought again and remembered a lady, management staff in her organisation, holder of Masters degree that decided to marry a jobless school certificate holder. Every of her friend said she was bewitched but she went ahead. Years later, her marriage was one of the happiest amongst her circle. From that I learnt that Marriage is like Ofada rice, that it is unpolished does not mean it will not taste good. Ehnn, how can you say that? Do you mean education is not important in marriage? Someone may be thinking. To me, what is important is a polished character. I found out that respect and love are key ingredients in marriage, and agreed fully that Marriage is like Ofada rice, it is not the same if served without the Uma leaf (Thaumatococcus daniellii) and the 'Atarodo' (spicy) and 'Tatase' (sweet) pepper made sauce.

Abakaliki rice, Ekpoma rice and Ofada rice are great and nutritious, but I will never forget the pure joy we had eating Uncle Ben's rice as children. It was white, clean and smooth in the mouth, particularly when buttered. I therefore surmised that Marriage can be like Uncle Ben's rice, it can be long, polished and nice only if you make the necessary sacrifice in preparation. I would have ended my thought on a happy note, but just recalled the sad passing of a friend on Thursday. She had recently picked herself from an abusive and destructive marriage, but died leaving a 12 year old son. When I considered the contribution of the abusive marriage to her eventual death, I concluded that marriage can be like spoilt jollof rice. It doesn't matter whether the jollof was made from Abakaliki, Ofada or Uncle Ben's rice, if it is soured, you can never enjoy eating it. In all, I believe Hebrews 13:4 that says 'Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.'

Happy Sunday.

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