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

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Next of Skin but not Next of Kin

I was thinking this morning..... about Next of Skin sorry Next of Kin. A couple of days ago, there was a Knowledge Sharing session where I work, on Wills and Estate Planning and it elicited discussions amongst us in our work space. We all agreed that while most male staff will include their wives and children in their wills, the career females will hardly put their husbands as the main beneficiary of their will. When I got home that evening I pondered a bit more on the reason why and stumbled on the comment of one Gorcas Sarkozy on social media where she said, 'I once worked in an organisation where I had access to people's files. One of the things I noticed that disturbs me to date is that 99% of married women wrote their children, parents and siblings as NEXT OF KIN. But 100% of married men wrote their wives as NEXT OF KIN.' She concluded by asking 'Why does this happen? What am I missing? Is it that women don't trust their husbands or they are just being mean?' Hmm!!!

While the submission of Gorcas cannot be substantiated, it may not be far from the truth. As I reflected on both the Will and Next of Kin scenarios, I asked, what is really driving this behaviour? I can understand husbands not being the main beneficiary of the will of their wives, but don't understand why he will not be her next of kin. In my confusion, I consulted Google and found out that Next of Kin (NOK) has no legal definition in the United Kingdom meaning an individual can nominate any other individual as their NOK.

If you think about it, 'next of kin' sounds like 'next of skin' to me. If a couple could spend the better part of their lives lying skin to skin in bed, I really do not understand why they won't be each other's next of kin. Moreso, because the status of next-of-kin does not in any way imply that they stand to inherit any of the individual's estate in the event of their death. 

So, if a woman can't nominate her husband as NOK, what do you expect when it comes to her will that outlines who to inherit her hard earned money and properties? In the words of Omawumi 'if you ask me, na who I go ask.' I think it borders on trust deficit. Most men will trust their wives to give utmost care to their children in the event of an untimely death and will therefore will his asset to her and the children. But most working and successful women believe that should she die untimely, their husbands will in a short time marry another woman and enjoy her wealth, sometimes abandoning their children if the new wife is of the mould we see in Nollywood movies. 

I may not know the real reasons why a woman will decide not to put her husband as NOK and exclude him from her will, because it varies from one person to another, but what I know is that any man in this position should be worried and should do everything possible to earn the trust of his wife. My final take is that if you can trust a man or woman enough to be your next of skin, why won't that person be your next of kin? Ecclesiastes 4:9 says 'Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.'

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Marriage Election

I was thinking this morning..... about election. This past week I read an interesting news from Giade, Bauchi State of one Khadija that fell in love with two young men named Inusa and Ibrahim. She found it difficult to choose who between them to marry and neither of the young men was ready to accept defeat without a contest. The elders of the town, at Khadija's request, then decided to conduct an election, which Inusa won having scored the highest number of votes. He was therefore declared 'Husband-Elect.' Interesting, right?

As I pondered on the news story, I wondered why Khadija and the elders of Giade decided on an election in this season when the Nigeria Supreme Court is overturning the outcomes of elections like elections are accursed. Why didn't they consider other traditional methods of deciding between two options like tossing a coin or clutching the two options in both hands and singing 'Tubu tubu baskelebe iya amala pun, amala amala pun pun.....' But in my area of Warri in those days, our version is 'Tubu tubu mess am, akarakara mess am, Ubaloshe banuwe....' Hmm!!! If you know, you know.

For many Nigerians, elections have become a conundrum because all our elections are marred with ballot box snatching, vote buying, over-voting, violence and outright manipulation of results. For Khadija, in spite of all, she believed in election in the truest form and it worked for her.

Khadija, having seen the sham election has become in Nigeria, could've opted for a more scientific approach of selecting her husband. She could have engaged a consultant to research both Inusa and Ibrahim and request a water-tight recommendation be made on who she should marry or she could have applied the US Iowa Democratic Caucus approach backed up by technology. But no, she opted for the less complicated Option A4. Unlike in Iowa where technology failed and it took days to announce the results, Khadija got her 'Husband-elect' in minutes.

I am thinking, why can't we all make election in Nigeria as simple and workable as that which produced the 'Husband-elect' for Khadija? We can even learn from Khadija and use the election approach to resolve some other dilemmas we face. For example, your child is due for college and you had narrowed your choice to two schools. How do you choose? Gather your family together and do an election. You got into a shop to buy a pair of shoes. Two pairs caught your fancy. What do you do if you can't afford both pairs? Gather everyone in the shop and do an election. Khadija used an election to overcome her dilemma and she got her 'Husband-elect.'

We need more Khadijas in Nigeria that still believe election should be simple and it should work. Election was designed to work and we must play our part to make it work. Romans 9:11 (ESV) says 'Though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls.' There is always a purpose for election, whether by man or by God and like Khadija if we make it work, Nigeria will be a better place. Remember, you may not be a Husband-elect or Governor-elect but you can be God's elect.

Happy Sunday. 

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

Saturday, 15 February 2020

An Appeal to Coronavirus

I was thinking this morning....about Coronavirus. Should it visit us in Nigeria or not? During this past week, I was drafted into a workstream to put together a preparedness plan in response to the threat of the Novel Coronavirus. As we deliberated, I wondered why we are bothering ourselves because the Nigeria Minister of Health had announced that Nigeria is ready for the virus. Choi!

As a typical Warri boy, I am surprised that there is so much noise about this Corona virus. Why is the Corona virus behaving like an 'ogbologbo?' Afterall Corona is not new in Nigeria. We already have Corona Schools in Lagos and Toyota Corona cars in Nigeria. Is it because it is from China that it is raising shoulders? Bursted! We already know say China products no dey last. 

But seriously, the World Health Organization (WHO) is contributing to the scaremongering, by declaring the outbreak of the novel coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. Haba!!! If they are worried about other countries, they shouldn't lose sleep about Nigeria because our Health Minister has declared that we are ready for the virus.

It has been reported that the number of confirmed cases in mainland China has more than quadrupled to close to 60,000. As at yesterday morning, more than 1,523 people had died from the virus. And the media will not let us hear word. Can you imagine? Only 2.5% death and they are panicking. Our Minister says we are ready to receive the virus and he is right. Didn't you see how we dealt with the Lassa fever virus? According to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), in this new wave of Lassa fever outbreak, we have recorded 472 confirmed cases with only 70 deaths. A mere 15% mortality rate. Corona virus, please come, our Health Minister says we are ready for you.

People are worried that we do not have the infrastructure to manage the virus should it visit. Yes, China built two new 1000 beds hospitals in 8 days. Is that an achievement? We can build a 10 bed hospital in only 8 years, just two terms. Afterall, according to Chartered Institute of Project Management, the total value of abandoned projects in Nigeria stands at a mere N12 trillion. Our Health Minister says a whooping N680 million has been voted to fight the Coronavirus. The sum is so big that even though we know that N650 million will be stolen from it, the balance N30 million will still be enough to protect 200 million Nigerians. If the N30m is not enough to build hospitals, it can buy face masks. Abi? Please, Corona virus come, our Health Minister says we are ready for you.

Coronavirus, in this season of love, our Health Minister may love you enough to say he is ready for you. For the rest of us, there is no love lost. My appeal is that when you come, please go straight to those government officials that have stolen the funds meant for healthcare and other infrastructure and not the common man. As for me and my family, we are holding unto the words of Exodus 15:26 "I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians (or Chinese): for I am the LORD that healeth thee." After visiting these special Nigerians inviting you, please find your way back because the rest of Nigeria is not ready for you.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Little Beginning to Great Ending

I was thinking this morning.... about little beginnings. I remember clearly that Sunday morning 11th January 2015. In one 'AHA!' moment while in church, a thought crossed my mind which I decided to pen down later on, not to anyone in particular but on Facebook. I had written after the service 'While in church this morning, two seemingly similar words came to my mind, INVISIBLE and INVINCIBLE.' I poured out my thought and went quiet on Facebook until the next Sunday, 18th January 2015, when I penned another thought, this time beginning with 'I was thinking today.' That was the birth of the 'I was thinking this morning...' series. 

I continued my musing every Sunday morning with more of my Facebook friends liking and commenting on my posts. Then the Nostradamus' amongst them woke up. One of them commented, 'You should consider writing a book (with a possibility of series) from your weekly thoughts.' In my typical Warri response, I was like 'Shuoo! To write book no be beans o. Who una think say I be na? Wole Soyinka?' I didn't give it a second thought but decided to let time tell. Somehow, I found this grace to keep thinking and posting on Sunday mornings even when I was in far away nations with a huge time difference with Nigeria. 

I started with one article, continued thinking and writing every Sunday and have not missed a Sunday in the last 5 years. Wow! Next Saturday 8th February 2020, BTGOG, I will be unveiling the first in the 'Thoughts of a Certain Wey Mey' book series. This volume being a compilation of a selection of 75 articles written between 2016 and 2018. As I looked back, I discovered this journey gave me an unscripted commitment to a cause that I love. I have not been as consistent in anything I have done in all my life like I have been in penning down my thoughts on Sunday mornings in the last 5 years. If I have learnt anything during this period, it is to respect humble beginnings and stay consistent because you never know what the future holds.

Someone had told me that Solomon in all his splendour, riches and exploits is best remembered by the three books he wrote; Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Songs of Solomon. I am sure he did not wake up and decided to just write these books, he probably started by writing down the wisdom nuggets God has blessed him with. Similarly, if you take that first step and keep on with it, you will be amazed how great it might turn out in future. Zechariah 4:10 (NLT) says 'Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin' Take that little step today and stay committed because only the disciplined ones achieve result. Let the work begin!

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Everyone Deserves an HD Colour Moment

I was thinking this morning.... I was invited to the traditional wedding of a friend and colleague during this past week. For the over 10 years I have known this young lady, she has not invited me to any celebration, not because she has not had reasons to celebrate but because she has chosen to live a simple and quiet life. As I walked into the venue of the traditional wedding somewhere in Lagos, it's like walking into a colour splashed canvas. There was the draped tables with lush green palm trees on each table. The rich pink napkins stood out like an oyibo man would in my mother's village of Gbokoda. The ushers smartly dressed in sky blue on navy blue 'oleku' was a pleasant addition to the picturesque scenery. Well dressed men and women adorned with dirty pink (I wonder why a colour should be referred to as dirty pink) and navy blue outfit walked around brimming with smiles. Then the big one, my friend, whose life in summary could be described as 'black and white' walked in dressed in coffee brown (splashed with red) satin buba and iro, smiling and dancing to the beat. Observing all, I smiled and concluded that everyone deserves a high definition (HD) colour moment.

When you walk into an electronic showroom that sells HD TV, you cannot but be wowed by the bright and lovely colours from the TVs on display. That was how I felt in that hall that day. I thought about it and realized that for most people, the only time in their entire life they splash the colours and celebrate is their wedding day. Great, but there is life before and after wedding. We work so hard from January to December each year. Sometimes going on for years without celebrating anything. We see no reason to celebrate making life seem like it comes only in black and white. Having attended my friend's wedding, I agreed that everyone deserves a HD colour moment.

After getting married and having children, our focus shifts to caring for our children and planning to pay the 'armed robber school fees' the private schools in Nigeria are asking for. We are careful not to celebrate and splash the colours because we want to conserve funds. But after last Tuesday, I am convinced that everyone deserves a HD colour moment once in a while.

For many, the only other time they splash the colours aside their wedding will be during the burial of their parents. It need not be so. I am not advocating for one to engage in frivolous celebration, but for a deliberate effort to add colour to one's life. Adding colour also don't have to be throwing a party but for friends and family to celebrate your life. If you look closely, life does not have to be in black and white. It comes in HD colour. Ecclesiastes 5:19 says 'Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.'

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Who Drank all the Alcohol?

I was thinking this morning.... about alcohol. No, I am not thinking of taking alcohol this morning. Shortly after leaving University many years ago, I was invited for several tests for Management Trainee positions at a number of multinational companies, including Nigeria Breweries Limited (NBL). I did the tests for NBL, passed and was invited for interview. During the interview, I was asked a strange question by one of the panelists. 'Do you drink alcohol?' he asked. 'I don't sir' was my reply.' 'Then how do you intend to promote the products of the company you want to work for?' He followed up. I tried providing a response, but deep down in me, I knew I will not get the job and I didn't. Since then I never gave NBL and alcohol a thought until last week.

'So what happened last week?' you may ask. This past Thursday, I read the news story that Nigerian Breweries Limited (NBL) recorded sales of almost N300 billion in 2019 while Guinness is expected to record sales of N275 billion totaling almost N600 Billion (about $2billion) which is about 3% of Nigeria GDP. Wow! Note that Nigeria Breweries has 26 products and only eight are non-alcoholic. So I was thinking, where did all the alcohol go? Who are those drinking N500+ billion of alcoholic beverages in one year, when the majority of Nigerians are either Christians or muslims?

I kept thinking about where all the alcohol went. Could it be that some people used it as fuel for their generators or we use am wash plates? As I was digging in, I read the report by the Forensic team investigating the NDDC that almost half a trillion naira worth of emergency contracts were given out in 2019 without due process. I shuddered. Even worse is the confirmation that there was little or no evidence of what the money was used for. Wondering how a few will loot the people's commonwealth in the midst of abject poverty, I couldn't understand why. Then it occurred to me, 'it must have been the alcohol.' It is only alcohol that can reduce a man to this level of insensitivity. No wonder NBL made N300 billion sales in one year.

I remembered the violent elections of 2019, the kidnappings, ritual killings, armed robbery and wondered 'How have we become so savage as a people?' Then the answer was whispered to me 'it must be the alcohol.' N600 billion sales in one year by two companies with alcoholic beverages as their major products? Wow! Are you saying nothing spoil? Then think about the unaccounted sales of other assorted foreign and local alcoholic drinks like paraga, skian, ogogoro, ogidiga, regal, orimalu, jedi, monkeytail, dongoyaro, alomo, agbara, babyoku, laliga, kerewa, striker, bajinotu, shine, kick and start etc. If you add it all up, then you should worry whether everyone around you was not under the influence in 2019. 

Well, I don't know how much you contributed to NBL N300 billion sales in 2019, just make sure you keep a clear head this year to achieve your dreams because Proverbs 20:1 says 'Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.'

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Panty Liner Drink, Panadol Pepper Soup and the Dangers in Shortcuts

Fruit-infusionWater Bottle 

I was thinking this morning.... about the dangers and futility of shortcuts. A few weeks back, I resumed at my desk focused on clearing the pile of work as 2019 wound down. My colleague arrived soon after and set out on her routine of filling her fruit-infusion water bottle before logging into her computer. On her return from the pantry she said, 'Mr Weyimi, you won't believe what I just heard.' 'What?' I asked looking away from my computer. Looking stunned, she said 'A lady saw me filling my water bottle, stared at the bottle and asked if it was panty liner that was inside.' 'Whoa!!! Where was that from? Was that a sick joke?' I followed up in quick succession. She told me that the lady revealed that some people use panty liners in place of fruits for infused water recipe. The reason is not for flavour but as a weight loss therapy. She concluded by saying 'You have to think about this bizarre act on Sunday.' Panty liner drink? Wonders shall never end!

As I thought about it, my confusion deepened. There are established weight loss measures including dieting and exercise. And if you want to enjoy while losing weight, then you can join the keto diet program. But that someone will believe that putting panty liner in drinking water is a shortcut to losing weight is rather disgusting and sheer madness to me. Why are people so ignorant?

Yes, it is an ignoramus that will drink a panty liner-infused water because it is self-inflicted, but it is only a demon that will serve customers 'panadol pepper soup.' 'Kilon je be?' My yoruba friends will ask. I read the report of the new craze in Uyo, now also happening in many other cities, where caterers use panadol (paracetamol) to cook goat meat to tenderise it. Nephrologists have reported that this practice has led to an increase in kidney failure. I will never get over the idea of 'panadol pepper soup.' Chai!!! That someone will even imagine to add panadol to cooking goat meat because they want the preparation time from killing of the goat to serving the pepper soup to be less than 30 minutes, is satanically ingenious. A killer shortcut indeed. 

It is amazing how much time people waste, putting themselves in danger in the process, looking for magic shortcuts to success. The year is just beginning and the wise are already working towards a successful year. Many with spiritual mindset are fasting and praying while others are developing their detailed annual plan with specific details of what to do to succeed this year. But the slothful and foolish will be looking for shortcuts to becoming rich, or like they say 'dem wan hammer or blow overnight.' It is this shortcut mentality that will make a young man kill his girlfriend and together with his mum eat her heart for money ritual. 

I beg you, in this 2020, avoid shortcuts, whether it is for weight loss, preparing goat meat pepper soup or making money. Proverbs 21:5, NLT says 'Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.'

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Vision 2020 or 20/20 Vision

I was thinking this morning..... about 2020. I went visiting the eye clinic on Saturday 28th December 2019 for routine check of my prescription glasses. As usual, I was asked to read some letters on the screen with decreasing font sizes, while the optometrist checks out the best lens. Having selected what he thought was the perfect lens, he handed me a laminated sheet and asked that I read the smallest print at the bottom of the page. With some ease, I read out the following words aloud 'If you can read this print, then you have 20/20 vision...' As I walked out of the office of the optometrist, I could not but spare a thought about 20/20 vision, moreso because it was a few days to Year 2020.

I checked out the meaning of 20/20 vision and found out it means normal vision, while some say it is perfect vision. Hmm!! Fast forward 3 days and we were all shouting Happy New Year, clinking charged glasses as we celebrated the dawn of not just a new year but a new decade, 2020. The 2020 we talked and dreamt about yesteryears is finally here with us. As the celebration died down, I started thinking of the many faces of 2020.

First was the Nigeria Vision 2020, where the previous and current administrations had declared their intention to pursue the vision of placing Nigeria among the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020. When the declaration was made then, I looked forward to 2020 with high expectations believing that year will be when Nigeria finally becomes our Eldorado. I still can't believe this is Year 2020 and we are still the way we were. 

Then was the WHO Vision 2020, a global initiative that aims to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020. It was launched on 18 February 1999 by the World Health Organization together with more than 20 international non-governmental organisations. Twenty one years after, we are in 2020, and we are still recording incidents of avoidable blindness.

But why have we failed to achieve our vision 2020 both individually and collectively? If it is true that 20/20 is perfect vision, then why are we still short sighted in year 2020? The answer is in the proverb 'Hindsight is 20/20 vision.'

I discovered that reading the optometrist sheet with ease, Nigeria Vision 2020 and WHO Vision 2020 are all 'now sight.' Now sight can never by perfect vision, only hindsight is. I had asked before, that if hindsight is 20/20 vision, then what is foresight? As 2020 progresses, if you rely on your 'now' ability, you surely will need to be changing your lenses yearly, like I literally do with my prescription glasses. If you need perfect vision to achieve your dreams this year, then you will need both hindsight to know where you had failed and foresight to know what to do. The foresight I mean is that only God can give. Jeremiah 29:11 says 'For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' 

With the benefit of grace to look back (hindsight) at 2019, draw from the foresight of God and you will enjoy 20/20 vision (perfect vision) even as we progress with 2020. Wishing you a success filled 2020.

Happy Sunday.

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