Saturday, 1 August 2020

Mummy Calm Down

I was thinking this morning.... When I watched the viral video of the young boy crying while pleading with his mum to calm down, his plea did not get lost on me. Though my first impression was that of surprise that the mother will even consider recording this little boy and post it on social media, but watching the video left a strong message that is germane for all adults, particularly Nigerians to heed. He had said with tears in his eyes 'Mummy calm down. Mummy you must rest a little.'

But Nigerians sha, our blood too dey hot. I considered the Sahara Reporters headline 'Man Beats Pregnant Wife To Death In Ondo,' and took a deep breath. I imagined what Blessing would have done to her husband, 47 years old Olabode Oluwaseun, to warrant his hitting her on the abdomen, leading to her death and that of her unborn child. Wow! The UN has described the worldwide increase in domestic violence as a "shadow pandemic" alongside Covid-19 as it reports a 20% increase during the lockdown, as many people are trapped at home with their abuser. But why do we get so angry to the point of being violent? It is still a shock how Olabode got to the tipping point but if he had taken a minute to listen, he would've heard the words 'Honey calm down. Honey you must rest a little.'

If you still can't appreciate the importance and urgency of the little boy's message, then read the Daily Trust headline of last Thursday 'Soldier Kills Commander in Borno.' Why would the soldier kill his superior instead of Boko Haram? The soldier was said to have fired eight shots at his commander, a Lieutenant of the 202 Tank Battalion, killing him on the spot. It was reported the soldier was embittered because his allowances were withheld and account blocked. Haba! Is that enough to kill your oga? I may not understand why he took that extreme action, but I know that had he listened carefully, he would have heard that voice saying 'Bros calm down. Bros you must rest a little.'

Every where you turn, tempers are high, people are hungry and justifiably angry and flipping over due to a combination of economic and other factors. The pressure on people is unbearable and I can hear a typical Warri man exclaim 'Head don burn! Everywhere don cast!' But before you do anything you will regret, realise that at the verge of our tipping point to violence, whether verbal or physical, is always that calm little voice saying 'Bros/sist, calm down. Bros, you must rest a little.' The challenge is that we seldom hearken to that plea, a virtue we must all adopt. Having heard all of the above, if your blood still dey hot then listen to the ISV translation of Judges 6:23 that says 'Calm down! Don’t be afraid.'

Happy new month.

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

Saturday, 25 July 2020

The Chairman Has Spoken

Sshh!!! That's okay 

I was thinking this morning.... sshhh!!! Off the mic so I can think of the drama at the NDDC probe last Monday. Having been accused of benefiting from an NDDC contract and therefore bias, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on the Niger Delta, Rep. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo (APC-Ondo) stepped aside as head of the panel investigating alleged corruption at the NDDC and handed over to the deputy chairman Hon Thomas Ereyitomi (PDP -Delta). At the resumed sitting, apart from the bizarre and shocking incident of the NDDC IMC chairman fainting on live TV, it was pure drama watching the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio respond to the panel members. The highlight of the session with the Minister was when he alleged that over 60% of NDDC contracts goes to the National assembly members. The session got rowdy with the panel members and Akpabio talking over themselves. The panel chairman became uncomfortable with the damning revelations and declared continuously 'Hon Minister, that's okay. That's okay! Off your mic! Off your mic!'

As I pondered on the attempt by the panel chairman to shush the Minister I saw the big picture of what Nigeria has become.
Think about it. We all saw the naked dance of the former head of National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Ayodele Oke in 2017 who stashed $43.45 million in a house at Ikoyi. The lid was blown open, questions were asked with everyone believing that the actual people behind it will be brought to book. The news was in the public domain until one chairman somewhere shouted 'Hon Minister, that's okay. That's okay! Off your mic! Off your mic!' The lights went out and that was the end.

Remember the $2.1 billion arms deal popularly called Dasukigate? Ex-national security adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki, along with many others were arrested in 2015 at the onset of the current administration. Sizzling revelations kept rolling out for years and everyone thought convictions will be made. Suddenly at about 9pm on Tuesday December 24th 2019, Sambo Dasuki walked out of prison a free man. Till date, no traction on the case and Nigerians have moved on because the chairman had said 'Hon Minister, that's okay. That's okay! Off your mic! Off your mic!'

Nigeria we hail thee. Ibrahim Magu of Magugate, shortly after his release from detention, had summed up the frequent episodes of corruption scandals in Nigeria as a case of dog eat dog. Every time one unsatisfied dog attacks another, the chairman will intervene. That's why when the Speaker of the lower chamber challenged Akpabio to make open the list of all those in the house that were given contracts within 48 hours, Akpabio denied the accusation. You know why? The chairman has intervened and the mic has been switched off. The good news is that some day the chairman will be overruled, the divine klieg light switched on and the trumpet, not just the mic, will sound to reveal all. Luke 8:17 'For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.'

Stay safe and when in public, you can off the mic but please wear a mask.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Cursing Covid-19

I was thinking this morning..... When I first saw the photo of a keke somewhere in Nigeria with the inscription 'God Punish Covid-19,' I immediately understood where the operator was coming from. He must have been personally affected by the impact of the pandemic. One obvious impact, I believe, is the increasing trend of activities going virtual. How will a keke operator make money when everyone is staying home and working from home (WFH)? If we really want to comply with 2m social distancing, who will enter keke?

To tell you how serious this virtual reality has become, I was on phone with my younger sister during the week, discussing coping strategies during this difficult time. She shocked me when she mentioned that she recently attended a virtual naming ceremony of her neighbour's child where the pastor officiated the ceremony from somewhere in the world. While she was yet musing on this change, she received an invite from a friend to a virtual burial ceremony via zoom. Wow! 'Obito,' like we call it in Warri, has gone virtual. Can you imagine all the opportunities for free food and souvenirs that area boys and non-area girls will lose from 'owanbes' becoming virtual? What about the Caterers cooking the party jollof rice? Bad business mehn!!! I am sure many are angry with the situation and cursing like the keke operator saying 'God Punish Covid-19.'

Then on Tuesday 14th July, the Nigeria Supreme Court struck out two suits by Lagos and Ekiti State governments challenging the validity and constitutionality of the Virtual Court Sittings procedure. While the suits did not reveal the real motive of their grouse, I know that 'charge and bail' lawyers and all the 'Court rats' that earn their living from the 'legal and illegal markets' around the courts will seriously be impacted if the court sittings go virtual. They will, like the Keke operator, be cursing 'God Punish Covid-19.'

It's only 6 weeks to the resumption of schools for the September (Fall) session and thank God the Federal government has announced September 5th as resumption date for schools in Nigeria. I have been waiting patiently to see how the school fees regime will comply with the Covid-19 protocols. I finally received the invoices from the schools of two of my kids. Wow! To my chagrin, the fees did not go virtual, even though classes will be virtual. There was absolutely no negative 'social distancing' between what we paid pre-covid and now. If anything, it was 'masked up.' But why? Don't they understand the impact of Covid-19 on the finances of parents?

Covid-19 has indeed been wicked to mankind with 14 million confirmed cases, over 600,000 dead and economies destroyed. As I remembered those I know that have died from Covid-19, I muttered in the voice of my younger brother 'Wicked! Very wicked!' But knowing very well that Proverbs 3:33 says 'The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,' I can confidently join the keke operator to say that 'God will not only Punish Covid-19 but will kill it from its root.'

Wear a mask and stay safe because this too shall pass.

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

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Karma Na Shege

I was thinking this morning.... When I read the headline 'Dino Melaye debuts new song 'Karma na shege' for suspended EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu,' I didn't know what to think. The reason is because I have become numb, okay, indifferent more like it, to the political happenings in Nigeria. However, what I couldn't shake off my mind quickly enough was the phrase 'Karma na shege,' maybe because of the Warri patois. Before I open my thoughts on the phrase, I wish to establish three facts.

First, it is important to state that I am personally not a fan of Dino Melaye and his style of politics because I believe he is part of the problem of Nigeria. All the wealth he displays while recording his chart breaking singles are pointers that his ways are not pure. Secondly, I don't believe in Karma which in Hinduism and Buddhism, means the sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences. This is because I believe that it is appointed unto man once to die and after that judgement. Thirdly, though 'Shege' in Hausa means 'illegitimate,' it is often used in pidgin English to express a damning surprise. 

Against that backdrop, when I read Dino's single title 'Karma na shege,' my interpretation is that a man shall reap what he sows whether good or evil and that retribution for someone's evil act can sometimes be sudden but saccharine. Imagine in a country where the government gave out peanuts to some citizens as Covid-19 palliative and nothing to most, the acting NDDC MD, Kemebradikumo Pondei telling the Senate committee investigating their financial recklessness that they used N1.5bn to take care of themselves as COVID-19 palliative. Choi! These people shared the monies meant for the masses among themselves, leaving the masses to die. The kind of money our politicians and their acolytes steal is simply slobbering. What I know is that it won't be long for payback because 'Karma na shege.'

In my foul mood, I decided to take a walk early that morning. With my headset on, listening to music, I made this turn along my usual path in my estate. Then I observed about 10 young men with very suggestive looks, leaving an apartment, most clutching a laptop and their phones. I need no Daniel for interpretation of the scene. The house they were coming from was a 'Hushpuppie Academy.' To evade the prying eyes of security agents, it seems the 'Hushpuppie Academies' have relocated to gated estates. They spend all day and night undergoing hands-on training on how to scam the rich, poor, sick, politicians, students and just about anyone. They throw their unfortunate victims into misery and send many to their early grave, while they display their ill-gotten wealth on social media. Some may be lucky to escape the claws of 'Fox Hunt,' but it won't be long before their end came because like Dino said 'Karma na shege.' 

The evil in our world is so pervasive that many people are cavalier about the repercussions. One thing is certain, Galatians 6:7-8 says 'Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.' 

Stay safe and stay true to man and God.
Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Kolobi Na Chokehold

I was thinking this morning...... It is interesting how the first half of 2020 has simply rolled by like a lazy truck on the Lekki-Epe Expressway. The last four months to many has been anything but copacetic, as the feeling was almost like one being strangulated. Many now understand what George Floyd meant when he said 'I can't breathe' and can appreciate all the fuss about banning chokehold. The nationwide outrage that followed George Floyd's death on May 25th has compelled many US States to ban the use of the controversial Chokehold technique by their police officers. But what is this chokehold technique?

I decided to consult Google on what exactly chokehold is. While searching, I also dug into my bag of Warri experience and discovered that chokehold is not a new technique and depending on the purpose, there are three variants from my perspective. The first is what we simply called 'kolobi' in those days in Warri. Kolobi (I have no idea where the word is from) is a friendly fire that follows a disagreement between friends. One friend wraps his arm around the neck of the other purely to immobilize him. The second variant of chokehold, also common in Warri, was known as 'Tie-neck.' Tie-neck, unlike Kolobi, was used by criminals to not only immobilize but also to inflict pain on the victim forcing him to surrender his possession. Since guns were not so easy to come by those days, the weapon of the Area boys (Jaguda and Boma) was 'tie-neck.' 

I never knew there was a third and most deadly form of chokehold until recent events started unfolding in the US. It is called Carotid neck restraint, also known as sleeper hold or a blood choke, which involve putting pressure on the sides of a person’s neck to restrict blood flow. Thank God the criminals in Warri back then had no idea about the Carotid arteries in the neck and their importance, otherwise 'yawa for gas o.'

Reflecting on the chokehold types opened my eyes to how brutal Covid-19 has been. First, through the lockdown, it 'kolobied' so many, keeping them immobilized both physically and financially for months. Then many others were 'tie-necked' when they became sick, struggling to breathe and had to spend their savings to stay alive. For some others, what they got was the 'Sleeper hold' and made worse by underlying medical conditions, they didn't make it. God rest their souls.

All put together the violence inflicted on mankind by Covid-19 is unprecedented. According to Worldometer, at the end of the first half of 2020, about 11 million people has been infected with over 500,000 deaths. Wahoo!! As we march on into the second half of the year, circumstances of life will attempt to kolobi, tie-neck or give you sleeper hold, do not give in because Job 22:29 says 'When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.'

2020 shall end well for us and our homes shall be festooned with balloons and flowers in celebration. 

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 27 June 2020


Dem Never Baff

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 20 June 2020


Pause and Play on the Remote control 

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

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

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

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

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

Just press 'Play,' and stay safe.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 13 June 2020

The Kilishi Advancement


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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Warri to Choba: A Journey of Life in Time

With fellow Corpers at Bonny in 1992

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 30 May 2020

71 Days

Wrongful Imprisonment 

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

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

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

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

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Fruit of the Eyes

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Life is the Teacher

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 9 May 2020

When I See the Scar, I Know It Shall Be Well

I was thinking this morning... in my relaxed moment that Saturday morning, I sat on the bean bag chair with legs crossed, the left over the right. Then I noticed the scar that runs across the inner side of my left foot and boom, I found myself in 1978. 'Why 1978?' You may ask. I was in Primary 3 in Mowoe Primary School Warri. Due to too few schools for the number of children of school age, most public schools had morning and afternoon school. That year I was in afternoon school, meaning we resumed at 1pm and closed at 5.30pm, I think. On this faithful day, I arrived school about 30 mins before morning school closes. I decided to fill up the spare time by going to 'catch abaka' in the bushy area by the school. Catching 'abaka' is a practice where kids swooped on grasshoppers perched on tall grasses, trapping them in their palms. As I followed the grasshoppers deep into the bush with grasses as high as my neck, I was unaware of the unseen dangers beneath. Suddenly I felt a sharp pain on my left foot. When I retreated to the open field to take a look at my foot, I screamed at the sight. Blood was gushing out my foot like water from a fountain. As I fell to the ground, other pupils around called for help and I was rushed to the hospital. After weeks of not being able to walk unaided, what was left of a massive cut to an artery was a scar, about six inches long. I did not bleed to death on that day, but the scar remains to remind me that it shall be well.

Yes, it shall be well, that I am confident of. Today, when I think back on the event of that day, I cringe, because I still can't tell whether it was a piece of broken bottle or metal that gave me the cut. As kids we were fearless, not because we had any local 'Odechi' or were too religious. No. We just lived knowing that it shall be well. How else can you explain an 8 year old walking into tall bushes not knowing what was beneath or ahead. I could have been bitten by a snake or worse, but it never crossed our mind as kids. Fear did not deter us from being adventurous. Today, 42 years later, I am looking at the scar and my conviction is reinforced that it shall be well.

I really do not know why I can still remember the event of that day so vividly, 42 years after, but I believe it is for a purpose. There are so many events in the last 42 years that I can't remember, but I will never forget the event of that day in 1978. In everyone's life, there is always a scar that reminds you that it shall be well. Your scar could be physical, emotional, economic or psychological, but it is left there to remind you that if you can survive that ordeal, then it shall be well. I am grateful not only because I didn't die from the injury but also because the scar remained to remind me that it shall be well.

Sometimes God leaves an old landmark, a scar, not only to remind us of where we are coming from but to reassure us that it shall be well. The impact of this Covid-19 will leave scars in the lives of many. For some, the scar will be in their pockets, for others their mind is deeply scarred by the news of thousands of death across the globe. Please do not despair whenever your physical or mind's eyes see the scar, just know it is God's way of reassuring you that it shall be well. Genesis 9:16 says 'Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.'

When I see the scar, I know that it shall be well.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Zoom in on the Job in You

Life is like the Stock Market

I was thinking this morning...... On the evening of April 20, I was fully locked down in my house when I got a message from my younger brother that the price of a key futures contract of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil for May delivery was already down 28% to $13.07 a barrel. I quickly went online to follow the trend. And then, in a 20-minutes span that ranks among the most extraordinary in the history of financial markets, the price fell to a level no one thought was possible. One of the world’s most important commodity, WTI crude oil, closed the trading day at a price of minus $37.63. That’s what you’d have to pay someone to take a barrel off your hands. 

While I was watching history being made from my corner of Lagos, Bloomberg in their report days later, said that thousands of miles away, in the Chinese metropolis of Shenzhen, a 26-year-old named A’Xiang Chen watched events unfold on her phone in stunned disbelief. A few weeks earlier, she and and her boyfriend had sunk their entire savings of about $10,000 into a product that the state-run Bank of China dubbed Yuan You Bao, or Crude Oil Treasure. When A’Xiang checked her phone one last time before going to bed by 10 p.m. in Shenzhen (10 a.m. in New York), the price was now $11. Half their savings had been wiped out. She awoke the next day to a text at 6 a.m. from Bank of China informing her that with the price below zero, not only had their savings been lost but that she and her boyfriend may actually owe money. Wow! She went to bed an investor and woke up a debtor without moving a finger. Life is like the stock market, it can sometimes be bullish or bearish. 

The whole world is on a bearish run right now because of Covid-19 pandemic which has, in what seems like a blink of the eyes, turned many to 'modern day Job.' Like Job, many are mourning from the loss their loved ones, others have lost their jobs and businesses and a lot more financially drained like A'Xiang Chen of Schenzhen.

Do you know that in the midst of this bearish run, some are on the bullish run? Eric Yuan, founder of the company Zoom Video Communications, specialized in videoconferencing, has since this pandemic, added $200 million to his fortune and raised his net worth to $5.5 billion, thanks to the rapid increase in its number of users. But why is it that while so many are suffering and counting their losses, some are actually smiling to the bank? Did they prepare for this or it was just sheer providence? Life is like the stock market, it can sometimes be bullish or bearish. 

I am not sure how long it took for Job in the bible to turn from being the richest man in the east with a happy family to becoming the diseased poor man with no family, but the bizarre 20 mins on 20th April where crude oil, referred to as black gold, crashed into negative pricing, reinforced the position that life is like the stock market, it can sometimes be bullish or bearish. The good news is that Job did not die in the bearish run, he became super bullish and came out as pure gold after Eliphaz admonished him in Job 22:29 - 'When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.' Stay focused and reinvent yourself because you too shall come forth as pure gold.

Happy Sunday and stay safe.

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

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Covid-19: The Equal Opportunity Heart Breaker

I was thinking this morning..... about discrimination. I have been following the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme embarked upon by the Federal Government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and have had good reason to question the criteria being used. I have also listened carefully to complaints from some governors, North and South of the Niger river about how their States were left out of the palliative rain. CACOL (The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership) had lamented that “Whereas, other states of the federation, especially in the northern part, received significant financial assistance and feeding materials like rice, beans, flour, etc., people in Lagos and many other states of the federation in the south remarkably, were left in the lurch by governments in most instances.” All in all, the dominant smell of the whole exercise to me is one of discrimination, which some may prefer to call bias or favoritism.

I am able to ignore when people discriminate or openly show bias during steady state operation in Nigeria, but wonder if the administrators are human when they do so at a time when Covid-19 is killing people without discrimination. While this thought was brewing within me, I read the pop-up notice by Gayle King about her upcoming programme on BET titled 'Black America's Fight.' She had this catchphrase for the programme that gave me mixed emotions. It says 'Coronavirus is an equal opportunity heartbreaker.' Hmm!!!

Truly, Coronavirus is an equal opportunity heartbreaker. Think about it. More than 150 years after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States, most U.S. adults, according to Pew Research Centre, say the legacy of slavery continues to have an impact on the position of black people in American society today. Hence, most Blacks, Hispanics and Asians in America feel they always get the short end of the stick in almost every opportunity that presents itself. They have prayed and looked forward to that opportunity that will not discriminate based on ethnicity or the colour of their skin. That opportunity came, Coronavirus, but not to bless them but to break their hearts. When it comes to Coronavirus, there is no inequality. It embraces as many that welcomes it by their lifestyles, black or white. Coronavirus is an equal opportunity heartbreaker.

There are many young people that believe the Coronavirus discriminates against the old and therefore tend to be less cautious. Well, while the statistics say one thing, the individual cases say another. 5-year old Skylar Herbert from Michigan loved to dance and dreamed of being a pediatric dentist one day. She contracted Covid-19 and died on Sunday 5th April. She was just a child. And then I remembered the 106 year old Great-grandmother Connie Titchen of Birmingham, UK, who has lived through two world wars. She was diagnosed with Covid-19 but recovered and has since been discharged from the hospital. If you consider both cases, you will agree that truly Coronavirus is an equal opportunity heartbreaker, your age notwithstanding.

The coronavirus deals out death and despair equally, whether male or female, North or South, PDP or APC, Fulani or Igbo, christian or muslim. It is an equal opportunity heartbreaker. The only time it discriminates is in how profoundly those infected are affected, as it seems to kill those with underlying conditions more. But thank God our case is different (Gen 47:15-27). In the next few days the difficult decision will be made on whether the lockdown should be extended. Whatever the decision, never forget that the equal opportunity heartbreaker is real and does not discriminate. Therefore the distribution of the Federal government palliative should have no ethnic, regional or religious colouration, otherwise 'yawa go gas o.' 

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 18 April 2020

They Didn't Die of Covid-19

I was thinking this morning.... As the nation woke up Saturday morning to the sad news of the death of Mallam Abba Kyari, the powerful Chief of Staff to PMB, I could not but spare a thought for those dying from Covid-19. According to Worldometer, from the 210 countries and territories around the world and 2 international conveyances affected by the Covid-19, Nigeria sits uncomfortably at No 98 on the Covid-19 Impact Medal Table. As at midnight Friday 17th April, the USA, like in most competitions, sits atop the medal table with a whooping 37,175 deaths with 710,272 cases. The silver medal goes to Italy with 22,745 deaths and 172,434 confirmed cases and Spain coming third with 20,002 deaths with 190,839 confirmed cases of Covid-19. The UK is 6th with 14,576 deaths and 108,692 confirmed cases. As I pondered on the infamous medal table and Nigeria's position, I knew the organisers were wrong. 'Dem don play ojoro,' I thought. How can they say we have had just 17 death from Covid-19?

Think about it. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) through its Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu disclosed that whereas COVID-19 has led to the death of about 11 patients as at Tuesday 14th April, law enforcement agents have extra-judicially executed 18 persons to enforce the Covid-19 Lockdown regulations. Of the 18 persons killed was one Joseph Pessu that was shot and killed in Warri by a soldier for allegedly flouting the state government’s sit-at-home order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. While NHRC was making the announcement last Wednesday, two youths were allegedly shot dead by the Police at the New Tyre Market Area of Nkpor, Anambra State, while enforcing restriction of movement over the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the authorities say only 17 people had died in Nigeria from Covid-19. Oh I see, Pessu and the 19 others did not die of Covid-19, they died of COVIB-20. COVIB-20 meaning Coronavirus Induced Brutality 2020.

I am challenging the number of death being reported for Nigeria. When the Phase 2 of the lockdown was announced, so many that earn a daily wage and struggled to survive Phase 1 knew it was death staring them in the face. In spite of the very commendable steps taken by many Nigerians, churches and organisations in providing food and succour to the less privileged, we have watched videos of mob attack on vehicles carrying food in certain areas. Area boys are attacking estates and neighbourhood forcefully dispossessing people of food and money. For as many that can't beg or steal, but have no food at home, God save their souls. Should they die, they will not be counted among those that died of Covid-19. Yes, they died of COLIH-20. COLIH-20 meaning Coronavirus Lockdown Induced Hunger 2020.

Lockdowns are being extended in many states and regions, meaning things will remain dire for many. Like a friend said, the government palliative is even more invisible than the virus. If you are following the trend of events in Nigeria, you will agree that while many countries are asking for ventilators, what the vast majority of Nigerians need is 'Foodilators.' Because of the hunger, millions of Nigerians are flouting the lockdown and social distancing regulations, trooping out to street corners, just to scavenge for what to eat. Should they contract the Coronavirus, and God forbid, die, please know that they didn't die of Covid-19, they died of COLIH-20. We all must come together and continue to provide the very vital foodilators that will keep many Nigerians alive. And as you do so, keep hope alive because Ecclesiastes 9:4 says 'For to him that is joined to all the living, there is hope.'

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Easter and the Prisoner in the Fattening Room

I was thinking this morning..... about how people see themselves during this lockdown. A few days ago, my MD, during a staff engagement session told everyone that he had put a call through to a friend to find out how they were doing. His friend had responded, 'All inmates are intact and doing well.' Riding on his metaphor, my MD asked him, 'Who is the chief warder?' His friend replied, 'I can't exactly tell who the chief warder is, but I can assure you that we are complying with the Geneva Convention that says it's the right of all prisoners to be fed.' While we all giggled at his little story, my mind was asking 'what is your perspective?'

Though my MD's friend joked about his lockdown being akin to a prison, it got me thinking about how many people see themselves from a similar prism. Prisoners are locked up to serve time as a form of correction for wrongdoing. They hardly derive value from being locked up unless they change their perspective about why they are there. I therefore surmised that your perspective defines purpose and purpose creates value.

What is your perspective about this lockdown? Many are like the Efiks of Southern Nigeria who view being fat as a symbol of status and power. Therefore, they see this period of lockdown as being in the 'fattening room.' In the Efik tradition, a bride, prior to a wedding, is subjected to seclusion for a long period of time and fed a large quantity of rich native delicacies loaded with calories like Ekpankoko, Edikang-Ikong and Afang generously filled with snail, bush meat and fish, as well as meals consisting yam, rice, beans and garri. She is also allowed lots of sleep so she can gain excess weight and become obese. The isolation of the bride also means she gets no visitors either male or female and is restricted to her immediate family. The reason? They believe 'bigger is better,' without prejudice to the Gino Max seasoning cube advert. That is the state and mindset of many during this lockdown and believe me, they will come out of the 'fattening room' looking like 'orobo' unless they change their mindset and stop eating and sleeping. Your perspective defines purpose and purpose creates value.

Some others see this lockdown as being in the prayer room. Before the lockdown, you hear some say they are going to 'the mountain' (what my yoruba friends call Ori-oke), away from the noise and distraction of the city, for prayers and to seek the face of God. Wow! Congratulations, the noise of the city has been shutdown and the mountain has come to them. Their homes have become their prayer room and after two weeks of being locked in, 'kabashing,' they are literally moving mountains. Remember, your perspective defines purpose and purpose creates value.

Yet for others, this lockdown is a golden opportunity to reinvent themselves like the proverbial eagle. One will usually not go into hibernation willingly, but nature holds the ace card and has conspired with Covid-19 to render one impotent in the things one love to do most. Many have yearned for an opportunity where the world shuts down so they can hear themselves think. Boom! They have it and they are maximizing the opportunity. It's all about perspectives. 

During these weeks when the world has literally shutdown, what is your perspective about your self isolation at home? In prison, fattening room or prayer room? This is an opportunity to do that one thing, you have not had the time to do all these years. Read a book, write a book, woo your spouse all over again, bond with your family or refire your spiritual life. Whatever it is, please don't be the prisoner in the fattening room. This Easter day is a reminder that with the right perspective, Jesus endured isolation on earth that we all might be saved. Hebrews 12:2 says 'Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.' Endure this lockdown knowing that your positive perspective to any situation creates value.

Happy Easter.

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

Saturday, 4 April 2020

No Fooling around with Covid-19

I was thinking this morning..... about last Wednesday. I woke up early that day, 1st April and sat up on the bed, feeling refreshed. I thought of my itinerary for the day, racking my brain and thinking of all the places I will be visiting that day. The long list gave me a sense of urgency to quickly get off the bed. As part of my plan for the day, I will be visiting the bathroom, kitchen, balcony, sitting room, boys room, the food store and the backyard, all within the 450sqm my building is sitting on. For a split second, I shook myself wondering if all was well with me considering my strange list. The day was April 1, so my mind must be playing tricks on me. But it dawned on me that being locked down in my house for weeks like a rogue politician under house arrest, is no April Fool.

I said my prayers and turned on the TV, it was set on CNN. For seconds running into minutes, my eyes were glued to the static highlights and scrollbar showing that close to 900,000 people across the world are infected with Coronavirus, 44,000 dead, economies shutdown and gloom everywhere as a result of the pandemic. I immediately switched channel to Sky News, then to BBC and then Al Jazeera, it was the same story of doom. What is happening? Could this be the apocalypse we have read and heard about? Or are my eyes playing tricks on me? No, it can't be, I encouraged myself. Oh, today is April 1, so it must be the media playing pranks, or so I thought. Alas, I quickly realized that the damage being caused by Covid-19 is the new reality and it is no April Fool.

I was calm all day reflecting on the different conspiracy theories and how the world found itself in this predicament. As the clock ticked and it got to 4pm, my spirit man came alive as I remembered that it was Wednesday. I must get dressed and set out for the midweek communion service. I am always so glad to be with the brethren in fellowship. But no, I cannot go to church today, because we are on lockdown. I must stay indoors and join the service online. I never thought there will ever be a time when we cannot gather in church for public worship. The government must be playing pranks on us. But no, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our social life is no April Fool.

April Fool's Day is an annual custom by some on April 1 consisting of practical jokes and hoaxes. Jokesters often expose their actions by shouting "April fool" at the recipient. I still wonder why any serious person will call another a fool as a joke. The Coronavirus pandemic is no laughing matter and these are certainly no times to fool around. Heed the directives of the authorities and practice personal hygiene to avoid 'stories that touch, like '2nd Samuel 3:33 that says 'And the king lamented over Abner, and said, should Abner die as a fool dies? Please stay home and pray because this too shall pass.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Coronavirus: We can never be the same again

I was thinking this morning.... about the Coronavirus pandemic. Since the reporting of this Novel Coronavirus in December 2019, the media, both mainstream and social, has been awash with different buzzwords referring to the virus and disease. First, everyone had to be familiar with the term Coronavirus. Then a few weeks later, the WHO released the term Covid-19, the short form for Coronavirus Disease 2019. 'Coronavirus' was too big a term for the ordinary Nigerian to pronounce hence some called it 'Colodial drivus' and 'Coronavices' in the voice of our distinguished senator.

Covid-19 on the other hand was too elitist. Which is why I was surprised when Nigerians slammed President Muhammad Buhari for mispronouncing Covid-19 as 'COVIK One-Nine virus' after watching the 23 secs video posted by his Personal Assistant on New Media Bashir Ahmad. Don't blame PMB, he has long said he is not an elite.

When the average Nigerian became uncomfortable with the oyibo words 'Coronavirus' and 'Covid-19,' they came up with a simple buzzword for the disease, 'Coro.' On the streets, it became common to hear of the menace of 'Uncle Coro.' I never knew how deep the translation has gone in the streets until I watched the music video by the Kabusa Oriental Choir titled 'Okoro be careful make you no catch Coro.' It was at this point it dawned on me that the lives of anything, anyone or people that sounds like 'Coro' will never be the same again.

First, I felt for everyone that is planning for a ceremony to be made a king or chief. Print your card and call the event 'Coronation Ceremony' at your peril. No one will show up because of the fear of 'Coro.' You better be ingenious and think of what else to call the event. 

Then I remembered all those called 'Coro.' Are you surprised? Coro is a female spanish name that means 'chorus.' Coro is also a girl's name of Native American origin meaning 'wind'. Consequently, if anyone knows Ferrán Corominas Telechea (born 5 January 1983), commonly known as Coro, a Spanish footballer playing for Indian club FC Goa, please advise him to change his name now, before something do am.

As I pondered on these names, I started feeling sorry for those Igbo, Urhobo, Isoko and Itsekiri folks called Okoro. Chai!!! They are already popular for the wrong reasons. 
What about the Koro group of people found in Plateau, Niger and Kaduna States of Nigeria? People are beginning to suspect them o. My advise? Drop Koro and stick with Jili (for those in Plateau) and Jijili (for others).

Surely, this Coronavirus pandemic is no laughing matter and it is definitely not a time to stigmatize anyone because their names sound like coro. With our koro-koro eyes, we have watched over 25,000 die and 500,000 infected globally in only 3 months. Please, take personal responsibility, stay home and stay safe while you heed to medical advice, so they won't call korofo for you. Above all, pray, because 2nd Chronicles 7:14 says 'If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.'

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Abeg, What is Her Occupation?

I was thinking this morning..... about mothers. I am so doing because today a number of churches are celebrating Mothers Day, though the usual church service is not holding in some states due to the Coronavirus scare. As I got up this morning to get ready for service, I recalled filling an application form recently and was required to enter my occupation and that of my wife and children. While it is always easy to write 'HSE Practitioner' and 'Student' for myself and children respectively, I always struggle with what to write for my wife. Not because she has no occupation but because I am not sure of what is most appropriate. 

While the dictionary meaning for 'Occupation' is 'a job or a profession,' to me it simply means what occupies your time or what takes the most of your time each day. It is this definition that is at the root of my confusion. I reflected 10 years back when we first moved to Lagos, did a mental review of my wife's daily routine and asked myself, 'what really is my wife's occupation?' My wife studied Educational Management and has been deploying the knowledge to helping kids eat right and stay healthy. She visits schools to create awareness and is involved with advocacy with the government, CBOs and NGOs. She sometimes spends weeks planning for an educational outreach, making me conclude that maybe her occupation is 'Educationist.'

But then I recall she wakes up hours before us all and on her knees prays God to protect her family. She spends another hour organizing and facilitating the family devotion and depending on the day of the week, heads to the Women's fellowship where she is the Pastor-in-charge. As I considered how much time she puts into meeting the spiritual needs of the family and other women, I am wondering 'is her occupation a Pastor?'

As I dug in, I remembered that after the prayers each morning, while my only task is to bath myself and get dressed for the office, my wife baths the children, packs their school bags and sees them off to school. While we all are away, she cleans the house, does the laundry and then it's time to go pick the children from school. She helps them with their homework and listen to their every story. As I considered this, I am wondering, is her occupation a 'Homemaker?'

I know what her occupation is, I thought, as my mind drifted to her delicacies. She prepares breakfast ranging from akara and oat to pepper soup and yam. Scrumptious lunch from starch and banga soup to ogbono soup served with wheat. Smokey jollof rice served with dodo and peppered snail brought smiles to the faces of the children. As my mouth began to water, I am tempted to say that her occupation is 'World class Caterer.'

Someone please help me out. What do I write as my wife's occupation? When my children argue, she settles the dispute like a judge. When they play rough and bruise their heels, she applies ointment and treat them like a doctor. When their uniform and pyjamas is torn, she picks up the needle and thread and mend them like a tailor. I am really confused, what is my wife's occupation?. 

What do I write as my wife's occupation in the application form? An educationist, a pastor, caterer, doctor or a tailor? When Hilary Clinton was to write her occupation in her biodata, she wrote 'Wife, Mother, Attorney and Politician.' I know why now. My wife spends so much time doing different things and effortlessly runs the home. Yet, some will say mothers without a paid employment have no occupation. How sad and how wrong. How can one person handle all these tasks and still find time to be the emotional support for us their husbands. I don't know what the most appropriate occupation is, but the next time I am filling a form and faced with the question of occupation for my wife, I am tempted to write 'Superwoman.' It is only a superwoman that can achieve so much in the same 24 hours we all have. No wonder Proverbs 31 calls her a virtuous woman, because her price is far above rubies.

This is a tribute to all wives and mothers who give so much to make their home a happy place. In spite of the Coronavirus scare that has kept many churches closed today, I still wish everyone Happy Mothers Day.

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

Saturday, 14 March 2020

See Levels

I was thinking this morning..... about levels. Penultimate week, I decided to take time off a very frenzied start to 2020, coupled with preparation for my birthday and book unveiling that held early February. While chilling towards the end of the week, my last son called from school saying he had forgotten his pair of leather slippers at home and needed it to complete his dressing for the School Sports dinner the next evening. My wife and I did all we could to convince him to wear whatever he had just to avoid making that tortuous one hour trip to his school. When it became obvious we were not winning the debate, I promised him we would send it the next day. While not being sure of how I would do it without breaking my self-imposed sit at home order, I knew that las las, my young wife would come to my rescue.

As I weighed my options, managing the headache already creeping in by merely thinking of the bad roads I have to traverse to get to his school, I stumbled on the news and video of a student of North West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa, who forgot his books at home and his parents delivered them to him at school in a chopper. Wow! When I considered the physical and mental stress my wife and I have to go through to deliver the slippers to my son at school against 'my mate' using helicopter to run a similar errand, I shook my head and agreed that 'Life na levels.'

As I thought about how far fetched it is at this material time for me to use a chopper to my son's school, I recalled year 2008, during the period of the Niger Delta militancy. The passenger boat of the organisation I work for was attacked by militants. Company decided to suspend further boat movements and leased an helicopter to fly staff and families in and out of Port Harcourt daily. Na so our spouses come begin enter helicopter to buy ponmo for Port Harcourt o. If people outside are told that a spouse was taken in and out of Port Harcourt via helicopter for groceries shopping, they will probably hold their head and say 'Chai!! See levels.' What they don't understand is, it is not enjoyment but survival. 

It is true that 'Life na levels' but don't get it wrong. That one is at the highest level of the ladder doesn't mean he is having the best of life. Driving the best of automobile or having a private jet doesn't translate to the best of life. Not everyone hugging the limelight are truly happy. Many times the best of life is found in the simple things of life. Being at the top of the ladder could give one the best view, but it also imposes some form of phobia that imprisons that person. On the flip side, I am not advocating being at the lowest rung of the ladder, but for one to enjoy life whatever level you are, giving glory to God. Ecclesiastes 6:9 'Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless–like chasing the wind.' Abeg let me stop dreaming about using helicopter to my son's school and focus on enjoying driving to church since the fear of Coronavirus has not stopped us.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 7 March 2020

How do I explain this to my children?

I was thinking this morning..... about foreign education. Having been born in Warri many years ago, one of my dreams as a teenager was to study abroad. With the modest financial state of my parents, I knew the only way I could achieve that dream was for me to study hard and get a full scholarship, but that did not happen. Unaware of any other way, I gladly accepted the closest thing to studying abroad, going to Benin City. For a child, born and bred in Warri and had traveled only as far as Sapele, why won't he regard Benin city as 'abroad?' Afterall, it was called a city like London and New York and had a ring road.

As I became an adult and had children, I taught my children the time-honoured maxim, 'the surest way to be successful in life is to study hard and get a good education.' Since our higher institutions have very little to offer having been serially raped and left for dead by our political leaders, I told my children to study even harder so they can be deserving of a scholarship to study abroad. I had told them categorically that the ONLY way to study abroad is either 'your papa get plenty money,' like we say in Warri or you get a scholarship. They accepted my words like the obedient children they are. Thank God.

Then last week, I was shocked to my core when I read the headline 'Repentant terrorists to enjoy foreign education.... Senate bill.' 'It's a lie!' I exclaimed in anger. I wasn't sure exactly what part of the headline and news made me angry. Was it the fact that the bill being sponsored by Senator representing Yobe East, Ibrahim Geidam, would even scale through the first reading in the Senate, or that the headline used the word 'enjoy?' Chai!!! But how can anyone contemplate taking funds from the Universal Basic Education Commission and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund meant for law abiding Nigerian children and use it to send terrorists abroad to enjoy? Chai Nigeria, how do I explain this to my children?

How do I explain to my children that there are over 13 million Nigerian children of school age roaming our streets, yet the meager resources budgeted for their education is being proposed to be used to send Boko Haram members abroad to enjoy. Chai! How do I explain this to my children?

My greatest worry at this time is what to tell my children when they return home on holidays. I can imagine them ask 'Daddy, but you told us that the only way to getting foreign education is to study hard to get a scholarship, why are repentant terrorists being sent abroad to school?' Our shameless politicians want to make me a liar but they will not succeed. Chai! This thing our politicians is doing is not good o. Even the holy book says in Matthew 15:26 'It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs.' Anyway you look at it, this bill erodes justice and makes a mockery of the suffering of victims, and the unspeakable human tragedy, humanitarian crisis and appalling atrocities committed by the Boko Haram terrorist group. Yet, they want to use our children's money to send them abroad to enjoy. Schools will be going on Easter break soon and I am thinking, how do I explain this to my children?

Happy Sunday.

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