“Goodluck, Nigeria! And matters arising” by Chukwudi Adepoju

These last several days have been nothing if not spectacular in the history of the most populous black nation in the world, Africa’s sleeping giant – Nigeria.

Starting with the long-awaited -and previously postponed- Presidential elections which held on Saturday 28th March 2015, logistics kept several local governments voting till very late in the night on Saturday while the final votes had to wait till Sunday to be cast. Nigerians waited with bated breaths from Sunday 29th March when the results started trickling in, till the late evening of Tuesday 31st March 2015, when it finally appeared that there was a definite winner.

Yes, on the surface, it did not appear that the elections were unusual in any way. After all, Nigeria has held national elections every four years since the military went back to the barracks in 1999. Yet, these are unique elections indeed and Nigeria experienced several firsts in these elections. There was the introduction of a biometric system for one, strongly reducing the chances of vote fraud. But the most impressive part of the elections was not the technology, but the determination to trust the system again, and let it run its course.

It appears that there was a stronger belief among the electorate in Nigeria that the system would work this time around than Nigeria was used to having. Previously, the prevailing feeling was that of apathy, the feeling that the winners were pre-determined and elections were just mere formalities. This time around, the very long queues of (mostly orderly) voters across the length and breadth of Nigeria on election day, was proof that Nigeria and Nigerians were ready to do whatever it took to turn the page, and show to Africa that she was the biggest and the best.

There were indeed some challenges, from the initial glitches experienced by several voters (including President Goodluck Jonathan) in being accredited with the new biometric accreditation devices; to delays in the arrival of some election materials (and electoral officers in some other parts); but that one notable attitude exhibited by practically everybody involved in this process was an unusual fortitude. A calm assurance that the process was going to be carried through, that the votes would be counted, and that the votes would definitely count.

This fortitude, this strength of mind to be strong in the face of huge challenges saw the nation witness an impressive voter turnout, even in the cities that have experienced untold horror from the terrorist group Boko Haram. Several people who were obviously quite advanced in age insisted on being carried to the polling booths so they could participate in the elections. Knowing how the majority of these lives were lived under military rulers where they had no say in who called the shots at the nation’s capital, this was a development that was quite moving to note.

If credit is to be given to anyone, it should start with the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who has shown remarkable sportsmanPresident-Goodluck-Jonathan-360x225ship, first by letting the electoral commission, under the stellar leadership of Professor Attahiru Jega, work with some measure of independence; and Goodluck Jonathan has written his name in gold by quickly conceding defeat, calling to congratulate General Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator who was running for that office as a civilian for the fourth time in a row. This singular act of calling to congratulate Buhari has probably saved Nigeria from what could have been several days of violent protests from his supporters all over the nation, and possibly unnecessary deaths. Credit should be given to the electoral commission chairman, Professor Jega, whose integrity and ingenuity has shown through in two consecutive election cycles. A final credit should be given to all the voters that went through the process with resilience.

 

What’s next, Buhari?

As the news spreads that a new government is going to be sworn in on May 29, 2015, the in-coming President Muhammadu Buhari has a huge task ahead of him, the first being the task of reconciling a nation sharply divided during the long campaigns. Divided, not by what many western media houses lazily refer to as “Muslim North and Christian South”, but divided by what people thought was the direction in which Nigeria needed to head. The voters in the South East and South South must be shown the Nigerian spirit, that even though the first elected President from the Niger Delta has been voted out, the Niger Delta will indeed experience growth and tremendous progress if Nigeria is ably led.

Secondly, Buhari has a smouldering fire in his backyard that m46766808.cmsust be put out immediately. No matter what the ‘experts’ say about how long it takes to root out terrorism in the 21st century, he must not believe that Boko Haram is here to stay, like some did previously, and treated it with kid gloves. Every means possible must be engaged to ensure that Nigeria’s territory is fully regained and the terrorists completely routed. Concerning the Chibok girls, Buhari can know this for certain… there will continue to be protests until they #BringBackOurGirls.

Thirdly, at a time when there is widespread disillusionment with the government and its ability to keep the economy running for the benefit of Nigeria’s teeming millions, it appears there is a huge economic task ahead of Buhari, who must make good on his electoral promises of reigning in profligate spending at the center, cleaning up the massively corrupt oil industry especially at this time when every dollar earned from the nation’s oil exports matters. Matters, not only because there is a massive infrastructure deficit that earnings from oil can fix, but because as the world increasingly finds new ways of providing energy (from renewable means and from shale oil), Nigeria’s days of smiling to the bank (because of the black gold) may be numbered. Linked very closely to this is the massive oil theft in the Niger Delta. Clearly 20% of Nigeria’s oil is stolen in a brazen manner every day. Surely it cannot continue this way.

It will probably take a little more than a four year term to fix, but a sane society where there is utmost respect for the rule of law would be a great thing to leave Nigeria with. Policemen and women that do not harass citizens, contractors that do not get away with shoddy jobs, a civil service that is enabling national progress and is not a clog in the wheel of it, responsible and innovative public office holders that will take the task of moving the nation forward serious enough, and not think they are appointed to drink champagne and fly in private jets all over the world. That would be a good thing indeed. A young President renamed the small African country he was leading, about thirty years ago, from plain Upper Volta to Burkina Faso which means “The Land of Upright People”. It will be good for Nigeria to become Burkina Faso in character, if not in name.

The task ahead for Nigeria’s new President is a heavy one, requiring vision and commitment, resilience and fortitude. But Buhari has been campaigning to be President since 2002. Let us hope he is truly ready.

Chukwudi Adepoju is @adechuks on twitter

“I’m a Port Harcourt Boy!” and the neglect of the Niger Delta

Song ref: Duncan Mighty’s Port Harcourt First Son (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFDFtSfccWM)

If you know someone whose heart doesn’t beat for his own patch of earth, pity him. If you know anyone that can’t sing with pride his own version of this extremely likeable song “I’m a Port Harcourt Boy eh, e ji kelele eh!” by Duncan Mighty, I have a feeling the person has not started living yet.

And this indescribable love for your own city is not a new thing.

The writer of Psalm 87 gushes about his own love for Jerusalem. In another Psalm, David says “If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget how to play musical instruments”, and that is saying a lot. Jay Z and Alicia Keys tell us in “Empire State of Mind”, that in their New York, the streets will make you feel brand new, “the lights will inspire you!” You need to hear MI talk about Jos! Aladuke will tell you about her Ilorin, Elemure will tell you about Ekiti, the Lisabi sisters told us there was nowhere like their Abeokuta, and you don’t even want to get me started about the one and only “Osogbo oroki”.

Continue reading ““I’m a Port Harcourt Boy!” and the neglect of the Niger Delta”

“What’s God got to do with it?” by Chukwudi Adepoju.

“What’s God got to do with it? Everything, my brother. Everything!”

“What’s God got to do with it? Absolutely nothing, my guy. This is business!”

Reuters-Nigeria-Christians-church-service-memorial-photog-Afolabi-Sotunde When the Western press says that Nigeria has a Muslim North, and a Christian South, we vehemently protest it, letting them know that the lines are not that clean-drawn between the North and the South; and that we indeed have huge populations in the North that are definitely Christian and lots of Muslims in the Southern part as well. I even volunteer the info that my own Dad, who lived all his life in the supposedly (only) “Christian South” was himself a Muslim for most of his youth. What we do not contest though, is that Nigerians love to be either one or the other. It is the rule that we belong to either of the two faiths. God lives in Nigeria, you know. It is a very rare Nigerian indeed that does not have God in his conversations on a daily basis.

 Our cars carry the bumper stickers, and our homes have the necessary paraphernalia. Our politicians talk about God at every opportunity. We are not the sort of people that believe our God should be kept at home. By my side, by my side…I have a very big God o.. He’s always by my side… We know the song, don’t we?

 And yet the presence, and at the same time, the unbelievable absence of God in the life of the Nigerian is one of the most impossible dichotomies you could ever encounter anywhere in the world. I explain.

Continue reading ““What’s God got to do with it?” by Chukwudi Adepoju.”

Not racist! Only ‘Tribalist’! In defence of an unusual name.

My Kenyan friend put it quite succinctly a few days ago as we talked about the politics of Africa in general, and of Kenya in particular – “In Kenya, we’re not racist, you know… We’re ‘tribalist’!”

This assertion is certainly true for most of us in Africa, and it is so subtle that you may not even know that you yourself are biased, in a way. We have an interesting way of making up our minds about someone from our own country, once we hear what tribe affiliation his or her ancestors held. Or even worse, when the only thing we see is the person’s name.

Believe me when I tell you… our prejudices run deep. I am Chukwudi Adepoju; I should know. From the unbelievable reactions I have received in all these decades, especially in Nigeria, I should know.
With both of my parents being of the Yoruba ethnic group, bearing the name Chukwudi (and bearing sounds like an appropriate word here, seeing that the name can be a bit ‘heavy’ sometimes) has led to really “interesting” conversations all through my life.

Continue reading “Not racist! Only ‘Tribalist’! In defence of an unusual name.”

How they plan to ‘Islamise’ us all!

The year 2015 draws near, an all-important election year for Nigeria.

I have heard the rumours, that if our brothers from Northern Nigeria win the February 2015 general elections, they will make us all muslims within four years. But if I may say so myself, that is very slow thinking. The real people that plan to islamise us are not waiting till 2015. They want to do it now. They want to islamise us RIGHT NOW.

Contrary to what you would expect, these people are not interested in islamising us exactly; not really. What they plan to do is to terrorise us, destabilise us, decimate us, and somehow, it all got lost in translation. So for the purpose of disambiguation, I will once in a while, call it their original intention, which is to “destabilise us”.

Continue reading “How they plan to ‘Islamise’ us all!”

“Promise kọ, Premise ni!”; How to RUIN a nation with promises!

When H. D. Lasswell wrote his hugely popular book “Politics: Who Gets What, When, and How” as a young academic in 1936, he probably was not thinking about post-colonial Nigeria where it sounds more appropriate to say Nigeria’s politics is about who “promises us what, when, and why!”.

As the year 2015 draws closer, we fully enter into another season when they (the politic-ians) infringe on our personal space again, and start with their many promises. We start to hear:

“Don’t worry, I will make youth unemployment a thing of the past in this country!”

“Before you know what is happening, the Second Niger Bridge (SNB) will be started, completed and commissioned”

“That Expressway will be completed before December 20…. “

“By December, we should start generating 10,000 Megawatts of electricity”

“I will fight corruption forcefully, and ensure there are no sacred cows”

“No, our party is the one that cares for the masses. We will build world-class infrastructure”

Continue reading ““Promise kọ, Premise ni!”; How to RUIN a nation with promises!”

Their Teacher, My Father! by Ayobami Oke.

The roundish woman, with tribal marks, flashing a winning smile during a traditional wedding ceremony I attended last week was the focus of all eyes. Well she ought to be as she was the lively Master of Ceremony.

The guests had already had their full of good food and drinks so the distraction of hunger was already check-mated. If you are not looking at the Master of Ceremony and you are too full to look at the empty plates of food, what then are you looking at?

With a flourish, she raised her hands and opened her mouth letting out sonorous music. And like it was pre arranged, a large number of women and men stood up to dance to the home made anthem:

‘A d’omo re ko ni’
‘A ran’mo re l’oko’
‘Eni ba f’oju di t’isa’
‘A ran’mo re l’oko’

Translated:
He will teach his child all by himself
He will send his child a farming
He who thinks little of a teacher
He will send his child a farming!

Continue reading “Their Teacher, My Father! by Ayobami Oke.”

“Writers Sought!”

“Writers Sought!” the small advert said

For what exactly, was left undeclared

Is it for menus, love letters, or bankable checks?

Or twitter, or tattoos, or good old phone texts

 

“Writers Sought!” was what it did say

And where exactly? Do tell us, I pray

Prison or Facebook, where there are big walls;

Restrooms or park benches, or in dining halls

 

“Writers Sought!” was all it proclaimed

But did not quite say, what drove them away

Is the pay that poor that they must be sought?

Or are your sights so poor? Because I see lots

 

Of hand writing, phone writing, but hardly right things

Song writing, blog-writing, or just commenting

Real ranting, twit-fighting, govern-ment-bashing

Too busy for miserly “Writers Sought!” things

 

© Chukwudi Adepoju 1st May 2014.

 

“Dear Dad,”

                                                                                                                                                                   Chukwudi Adepoju
12th May 2014.

My dear Dad,

I have written this letter in my head a number of times; making mental notes of things I need to tell you when I eventually write, so this is me, writing the first one. I hope you get it though. Wait! What’s the post code of Heaven?

Can you believe it’s been 2,854 days already since you passed away from this earth, and went to be with the Heavenly Father? It means that in a little over 3 months, it will be eight years since I last heard your voice, not counting the numerous times I hear you in my head, of course! How time flies!

A lot has happened since 20 July 2006, the day that my cheeky lil’ sister told me in her own way,

Elder Buraimoh Adepoju and Chukwudi. Aug 1982
Elder Buraimoh Adepoju and Chukwudi. Aug 1982

“Your daughter’s grandfather has passed on o..”,

Continue reading ““Dear Dad,””

Perspective!

Lord Help me, to stop measuring
My worth, my life, by all these things
The money i have, or really don’t have
Or to think i’m cool, cos i fly first class

Lord help mebenz, to stop thinking
‘Oh I’m blessed’, just b’cos of my Benz
Or to hope the guys can actually see
That I have arrived, when i do arrive!

Lord help me, to not judge men
By how they smell, or what they wear,
To know that crooks sometimes smell nice
And Lazarus was wrongly despised

Lord help me, to not despair
Not despair, if things disappear
Help me to look for you and rest
To know it’s in you I’m truly BLESSED!

Lord help me, to think like you
To see like you, and talk like you
To see all men, in heaven’s light
And treat all things, as Jesus might.

(c) Chukwudi Adepoju. 04 April 2014 [Inspired by Pastor GoodHeart Obi Ekwueme’s … “The Heart Series”]

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