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.