Hastening Prosecutions, Restricting Stay of Proceedings

Noel A. Ihebuzor

I was very enthused this morning as I read this article. To learn that the House of Representatives was doing something to hasten prosecution of cases was sweet music to my ears.  I recalled some jottings I made earlier this year in April on this same subject (see here) and decided to share it once again with my readers.

Too many innocent Nigerians suffer the pain and agony of protracted trials. Hastened prosecutions would lessen that suffering.  Also many Nigerians who are walking about free today should be behind bars. The sooner such persons are brought to justice, the better for everyone. Timing is of essence here as a number of these persons who have looted public assets and appropriated public lands are now seeking shelters behind political parties and feverishly parading themselves as saints. As they photo-shop their pasts, they are also perfecting a narrative of victimhood even as evidences of their misdeeds and knavery are there for all to see. The closer the trials and incarcerations of such people are to 2015, the easier it will be for these fast talking persons to sell the public tall tales whose intentions  would be to try to present plain professional prosecutions as politically driven persecutions.

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Identifying corrupting arguments on corruption

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

I shared these thoughts on corruption about a year ago. Recent events in Nigeria and reactions to them on social media prompt me to share them again.

Bad is Bad.  But to selectively focus on the “bad” committed by persons you do not like, hyping it and creating a mass hysteria around it whilst turning a convenient blind eye to the “bad” of other people you like is bad.  Blanketing out news on the “bad” glaringly perpetrated by persons whose causes you champion is bad. Bad is Bad.

Impunity is bad. But to selectively focus on impunity at one level and to remain silent when impunity is generously dished out by other levels of government is bad. It is to allow economics, religion and politics to either condition our perception or to dampen our capacity for impartial judgments and consistent demonstrations of moral outrage. It is to practice a morality based on expediency. Such expediency-driven morality eventually imposes a huge burden of dysfunction in our judgements, a dysfunction with unimaginable opportunity costs and which dysfunction indeed could then have untold deletrious effects on a polity that looks up to us as impartial watchdogs.

The Narratives of Nigeria’s Politico-Twitterati

Unpacking and unravelling narratives

FEATHERS PROJECT

By Nwachukwu Egbunike

hashtag_twitter-380x271

The streets of Nigeria’s Twitter are hot and harsh these days. The clash of the politico-twitterati on each side of the divide – opposition and the establishment – has been characterized with vile tweet-blood. Politico-Twitterati means those influential tweeps or overlords who are active partisan politicians. They differ from “political tweeps” (or political activists) who though they tweet on politics, owe no allegiance to any political party.

The narrative as expounded by each side of the divide can be grouped into two: disruptive narration (by the opposition) and confutative narration (by the establishment).

The Disruptive Narrative of the Opposition Politico-Twitterati

A casual observation of the handles of some opposition overlords shows that they thrive on rumours. It looks as though they patiently wait for any gaffe from government officials and then precipitate a twitterstorm. For instance take the “news” on the 53 gold plated…

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#Introducing the OdenIgbo Newsletter

Odenigbo!

FEATHERS PROJECT

Biko Agozinopoet and professor of African Studies and Criminology, is spearheading a newsletter “OdenIgbo” – which will offer analysis solely in Igbo language.

I must say that this is a bold and ambitious project. For to speak Igbo is one thing, to understand and maintain a conversation in the language – for many, this is a competence that is gradually ebbing – is uncommon. But to launch a publication which will be feature essays exclusively in Igbo is mind blowing! Click on the link below to download a pdf copy of OdenIgbo.

ODENIGBO

Note, it’s not for the faint hearted, let’s see those who can still read and comprehend undiluted Igbo!

Dalu nu!

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Loving You

worthy prayer!

The Z Channel

Open my heart
Like the flower to the sun
Rejoicing in its rays
Basking in its brightness

Open my heart
Like the petals of the hibiscus
Beckoning the butterfly
Seeking the dispersion of its pollen

Open my heart
To receive Your loving kindness
To embrace Your tender mercies
Like a sailor hard pressed at sea
at the sight of shore

Open my heart
to see into Your heart
to know the depth of Your love
Like a child gazing upwards at the
One that gives it suck

Open my heart
To warm to You
Like the child breaking into a smile
At the sound of it’s mother’s voice

Open my heart
To see You
To know You
To love You

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Review of Kemi Ogunniyi’s “My Wife’s Husband”

By Noel A. Ihebuzor

Flash fiction as a genre is enjoying an amazing lease of life and burst of energy in Nigeria’s literary space. Kemi Ogunniyi’s “My wife’s husband” is one more manifestation of the blossoming creativity in this genre. A tale that probes relationships and loyalty, it packs a punch which is starkly at variance with its brevity.

The first striking thing about this work of art is its title, a title that sets the mind wondering whether one is engaging a work that deals with polyandry or one that suffers from some deliberate aberration in its title. When the reader emerges from the jolt caused by this provocative title, he/she then encounters a tightly told story of love where the lives of the living are tied up closely with the dead. The story of woman still in love with a dead man and the struggles of the man who loves her in the present to relate to her crisis and support her in the process is heart wrenching.

The story is compact and packed with “virtual” detail which the mind of the reader unpacks as he/she reads along. By exercising very controlled parsimony and brevity, Kemi provides space for her reader to fill out the unsaid and the unspoken – the death of a husband, the remarriage of the widow, the unhealthy love of the dead, the hallucination that comes with such obsessive attachment to the past, the long suffering of the present husband and the tragedy of dreams and lives shattered by sudden death. Kemi’s skill in this micro fiction lies partly in the space she allows us for these legitimate inferences. But beyond this, Kemi serves us a micro fiction at its very best –  a story with single focus but with multiple subterranean subthemes and streams all ambling along and supporting that single focus. The story’s denouement is startling, plausible and touching. The denouement I have referred to is not one of closure since it leaves the reader still asking more questions and wondering why! All of this is achieved in a prose passage of 309 words using a first person narrative voice where the narrator, despite his pains, manages to remain composed and dignified, thereby revealing his own capacity for empathy and love.

This micro fiction is a must read! May our land continue to witness the flourishing of creative skills of the type we have seen displayed by Kemi and ladies of her generation.

Noel Ihebuzor

Review of Dressed Like A Prince – DLAP

By Noel A. Ihebuzor

 

The word count is 295, that is when you include the title;  less than a page of typed text but “Dressed like a Prince” (DLAP) is a great story. Brevity does not deny it depth and breadth.  Rather, brevity is used cleverly to accentuate depth and to increase the poignancy of the tragedy it narrates. DLAP is a story that stirs, that sears your body and soul and one which overwhelms you in the end by its delicately handled pathos, a pathos that has none of the antics of pity porn that tear streamer tales usually resort to. The start of the story is abrupt but innocuous enough, children desiring new clothes on the occasion of  Nigeria’s Independence day celebration. Narration is through a third person. We meet the vocally talented and light-hearted Godspower and his aspirations to a career in music, ambition in sharp contrast to the reality of the extreme poverty he lives in with his sister. Their poverty is aptly and economically conveyed through their tattered clothes. Close by to them in a neighbourhood called “America”, are signs of opulence. Living in such close proximity to affluence only accentuates their and the reader’s senses of social inequities in our society. Two sub-themes flow like quiet streams shaping the story and increasing our empathy for these two children trapped in an exceptionally difficult situation. These themes are the possible deaths of their parents in Yobe (victims of religious violence?) and the failure of our child protection systems to pick up these children and provide them some protective care. (Grandma headed households in urban settings are usually very deprived, so we can imagine the daily existence of Godspwer and his sister).

We learn that urban demolition is on-going in “America”. The two children are drawn to the scene where they rummage in the rubble and find a bag half-filled with clothes. They grab this and run. And the noose of tragedy suddenly tightens around the necks of these already traumatised lives. Urban jungle justice is swift and savage.  And it is only in death that Godspower eventually gets the decent dressing he had so longed for in life but never got. Where were these kind neighbours who contributed to buy the suit in these children’s moments of need, we ask silently as we read? The story prompts other questions too – questions on indifference, the collapse of our social safety nets and human savagery!

DLAP is a slap on our faces and our consciences. It is many things – an indictment of the failure of our child protection systems and a sad commentary on the inadequacy of social provisions in our societies. It is also a reminder of the savage that lurks in each one of us, the savage that accounted for the tragedy in #Aluu 4. StNaija has written a very moving story, a story of poverty and death, the death of a child and by implication of the underlying progressive death of social institutions that should ensure that the deprived and underprivileged have life. By locating the death on the day that our country was born, St Naija also sends a very strong message to us all. Should a child die in the midst of plenty on the day of birth of our country? We can only wonder why. We can also wonder on the anonymity of the location and with that the anonymity, the implied message that sad events similar to those in DLAP could be repeating right next door to us, in our very town, in our own very neighbourhood. What are we doing? St Naija has written a troubling story about our troubled land. Her skills in micro fiction come out very beautifully as she effectively exploits a number of literary techniques to tell her story and jolt us. The mastery of the skills in writing flash fiction displayed by the author, the theme as well as the handling of theme commend this piece of art that says so much with so few words.

Good things are happening in our land and one of them is this flowering of fresh talents in literary creativity as evidenced in the works of ladies like Kemi Ogunniyi, Ego Okoro and N. Bassey

Noel Ihebuzor

Discouraging Deserters and Defectors

By Noel A. Ihebuzor

 

Twitter abounds in twitfights – fights between foes as well fights between former friends who have now parted ways for one reason or the other. When fights are between former friends who now find themselves on different sides of the political divide, the clashes tend to be very mean and vicious. The acrimony betrays the persisting bitterness and hurt that one party or both feel over the parting of ways. It is as if the fighters ignore one basic fact of life which is that some good friends must part someday, and that associations do not all always last forever. In life, friends do often fall out and part ways. This basic truth appears to be lost on quite a number of persons. Such persons hold on to a position which I call the permanence of associations and immutability of views position. Parting of ways or rethinking of positions by the other party are often very strongly resisted to the point where the person who decamps or changes his/her view is often treated as a deserter, a defector and a sell-out.

Positions of the type described above abound in the thriving twitter political party activist community. (I use this term to describe a community of persons who use Twitter mostly to actively promote the cause of a particular party. Members of this group, the political party activist group, must be distinguished from political activists. The former tweet and blog more like political party agents. The latter maintain more objective positions and tweet on governance, political, and accountability issues without favouring any political party. This distinction is important as a lot of unnecessary misunderstanding is caused by a conflation of the two terms).

In this political party activist community, change of positions and perceptions is viewed as a clear indicator of defection and desertion, offenses that are seriously viewed. Such changes are viewed as some form of social “apostasy”. And apostasy is perceived as a grievous sin, a perception that is most accentuated in communities with tendencies to self-ascribed moral righteousness. “Apostates” must be condemned to “social” disgrace and demise. Apostates must be treated as social lepers. They are to be ridiculed and subjected to all forms of social pressures. And all of this because apostates are a danger to the group they left. They possess a Snowden-type risk potential and precisely because of this, their credibility must be seriously eroded and progressively destroyed.

Matters are also not helped by the attitudes of the deserters/defectors, these modern day social apostates, themselves. Like most fresh converts to new faiths and belief systems, these social apostates consistently betray excessive zeal typical of neophytes as they try to settle in to their new camp. Most exhibit a tendency to dwell on and detail the evils of the groups they have left, a tendency that irks that group and one which then further exacerbates the already seething acrimony between the deserter and his/her former associates. Soon, the leaders, gate keepers, enforcers, whips and foot soldiers of that group are up in arms, defending the honour of their group and attacking the deserter. They have recourse to a variety of strategies in doing this.

These strategies include naming, recalling of previous tweets which the attacking group believes are diametrically opposed to the deserter’s current position and shaming the deserter. The deserter’s reasons for leaving are trivialised, ridiculed and made to look pecuniary and materialistic. The tweets and comments of the “apostate” are unearthed and hurled in his/her face just to show how inconsistent and unreliable he/she is. The strategic goal here is to call attention to glaring inconsistencies between present position and previous tweets – the end game is to undermine the credibility of the defector. Taunts abound. Wicked jibes and hurting jabs fly around. A campaign of name calling is unleashed on the deserter, a campaign where no punches are pulled and which may even go as far as in one case to saying that a deserter was so poor that he “used to drink garri” in his undergraduate days. People watch from the sides, either amused or too frightened to wade in as the gladiators engage in bloody, vicious but mutually demeaning bouts and jousts.

The attack on the defector is an eye opener and dampener to those within the circle who may have been contemplating either changing camps or moving to more neutral positions. The message to such persons is clear. This is what you are likely going to get should you ever desert us. The attacks are thus not fortuitous but have a functional intent – to discourage and deter other potential deserters. Successful defection deterring strategies keep members in – once you are in, you cannot leave – a bit akin to what I call the Hotel California syndrome – you can check out anytime you want but you cannot leave!

Most deserters/defectors act as if they cannot understand the flurry and fury of the attacks on them. A little reflection should make any deserter/defector understand why those attacks are necessary and likely to come.

  • First, a defector must realise that his/her defection is a threat to his/her former associates. You know too much. Your former associates are not sure how much you will give away. They will want to put you away socially for good before you can do their group any harm. Basic survival principle, not ideology or any higher order principle, I believe, is what drives the chief whips of your former group as they come after you.
  • Secondly, a defector must also realise that he/she is also a threat to the his/her former associates in the sense that he/she is a reminder to those inside that they too could defect one day.  Now, that must be an uncomfortable feeling because it introduces some gnawing doubts in the minds of persons who cannot afford to have their present beliefs or rightness of their present positions tested/questioned. Remember what George Santanaya said about some group of persons re-doubling their efforts in situations of doubt – well a defection creates one of such a situation.
  • Thirdly, a defector should realise that his/her defection hurts the pride of his/her former associates. And when people are hurt, they hit out, and hitting out on impulse does not subject itself to the controls and norms of rational conduct.

The foregoing should enable the deserter to understand the onslaughts against his person. Desertion is not cost-free. You should expect them to come after you. But you must not fight them each time they come after you. Choose your battles! Don’t go galloping into every battle! One key aspect of successful military strategy is knowing which battles to fight and which ones to walk away from. Walk away, avoid the fight – even if they call you “Coward of the County”. Walk away, “walk on by”. If you do not respond, they are likely to get tired and find other things to spend their energies on.

This write-up would not be complete without a brief mention of what happens in the camp that receives the “decampee”. It is simple. The strategy of attack and damage is reversed:

The new “decampee” is presented as someone who has seen the truth, who has suddenly become aware of the folly and evil in his/her previous ways, one who has seen the sinfulness and greed of former associates and as one who now regrets ever associating with such evil people in such an evil party. The devil, who is a convenient scapegoat, takes a good bashing in this new dance of the converted and the redeemed.

  • The decampee’s conversion narrative is cleverly spun and elevated to achieve about the same dramatic intensity as Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. A blind eye is suddenly developed to everything that the new convert and prized acquisition ever said whilst a member of the opposite side.
  • New spins are put on any comments such a convert may have made on persons, character flaws, fat bank accounts, crimes and indiscretions of members of the group he/she is now joining. Damaging comments on how non-electable some members of the receiving group are get blacked out! An unwritten rule which places an embargo among the “faithful” on ever remembering or writing on these telling social comments, except to excuse them as either slippages or works of the devil immediately comes into effect.
  • A package of rewards and incentives, including mentions and praise, is made available to the new convert to encourage continued membership…and all is rosy and honky-dory until there is a falling out. And then the dogs of war are unleashed and we are back full cycle.

There are some lessons in all of this. And I will summarise these as bullet points

  • Be careful who you associate with on Twitter.
  • Be careful who you dine with
  • If you must dine with the devil, go with a long spoon.
  • You do not have to belong to the “in-crowd” to be relevant.
  • Do not let others be the ones to determine your relevance
  • All that glitters is not gold.
  • Shine your eyes
  • Free your mind
  • Use your mind.

It is good to belong on social media but please do not sell yourself or your soul to belong. You can use social media to grow, to learn, to engage and to share but that same social media can kill your mind and stunt your thinking if you allow yourself to be sucked into unhealthy associations. Engage wisely!

25 September – the world wonders if Aid is working

Dochasnetwork's Blog

On 25 September, world leaders gather in New York to take stock of the progress made in global development.

We’ve produced a short fact-sheet to summarise what the Millennium Development Goals have so far achieved.

But however powerful these statistics are, they are still numbers. And numbers are boring.  It is much better to find new, more engaging ways to get the message across. Like this Monty Python inspired video:

And that’s why we wrote this article in the Irish Examiner:

examiner

And we published these real-life stories in the Metro Herald, as part of our “World’s Best News” initiative.

The World's Best News

And here’s a few more:

130830- wbn 3

 

metro

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