Month: January 2014
The Anti-Gay Marriage Bill: The Unpleasant Answers
President Goodluck Jonathan recently gave his assent to the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013 [SSMPA] – which had been passed by the legislature as far back as November 2011. The bill has been met with either overwhelming praise or disappointment depending on where you stand. Nonetheless, as both sides have been advancing apologies to protect their stand, I have observed a number fallacies that I wish to refute here.
Going by the conversations, comments, blog posts and editorials in the past week, since the law was passed, I noticed that the critiques of the SSMPA hinge their opposition to this law on certain fundamental assumptions. In many cases, their defence was presented with a “take it or leave it” attitude. This unfortunately, portrays anyone with a contrary view as a hypocrite, bigot, illiterate or lunatic. On the side of the divide, some supporters of the SSMPA hinge their praise…
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Okey Ndibe’s Foreign Gods, Inc.: Of moral absolutism and fallen gods
If I had words, I would tell you stories that would make the wind weep.
– Foreign Gods, Inc. Okey Ndibe
There is a particularly farcical, definitely quixotic misadventure that Professor Wole Soyinka narrates in his memoir, You Must Set Forth at Dawn. In the late seventies, convinced that the Ori Olokun, a bronze artifact needed to be rescued from Brazil and returned home to Nigeria, Soyinka set about the “rescue” with hilarious results. He goes to Brazil and manages to bring home what turns out to be a fake, clay replica of the real deal. The real Ori Olokun was cooling its heels, under lock and key, in an air-conditioned museum in London. The farce is entertainingly re-narrated by Matt Steinglass in this brutal but entertaining review of Soyinka’s memoir.
Foreign Gods, Inc., Okey Ndibe’s new thriller of a fiction relives the farce in reverse. This…
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The SLS’ TEDx Lecture
Noel A. Ihebuzor
SLS’ TEDx youth platform lecture which he gave in August 2013 showed up on Twitter last week and was roundly shared. The timing of the appearance might not be accidental. SLS’s sympathizers may have deliberately chosen to put it up to present their principal as a good outspoken technocrat who could be trusted to convey hard and inconvenient truths as a counter to the view of him as someone who could leak an official letter which was gaining ground. The technocrat who speaks hard truth view is positive. The government official who leaks a letter view is negative and damning.
I listened to the man. He is a good communicator, he spoke well and clear. His NVC was perfect. He got and retained the attention of his audience. The use of stories with his children showed him as a man who tries to connect with his children and young people but he goofed in not knowing the precise age of one of his children
He found a connection to his audience and maintained it – coming back to the gap between actual and potential, between aspiration to greatness and refusal to do things that lead to greatness was a good one. He told the youths what they wanted to hear. He then challenged them. But he also blew his own trumpet – how under him, the CBN took on and brought defaulting bankers to book. He stressed what they did in the area of asset recovery.
Was he marketing himself as a good presidential candidate in this lecture? Was this speech brought up at this strategic point in time so that the APC would notice and approach him as a possible presidential candidate now that Tambuwal has almost blown his chances by his “body language” talk and reports of his displaying fawning obsequiousness immediately to the president? I am sure that the APC is also “clueful” enough to know that El-Rufai is a “no-touch/ba takpa” on this one. Sule Lamido wavers in his defection aspirations. The former EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu, is poorly perceived since he is seen as having virtually sold himself down the river when he succumbed and fraternized with a GEJ led administration! Aliyu Babaginda has so far acted as a man who is unsure on which side his bread is best buttered. The hunt for a northern presidential candidate for the APC is still on. And this is a season defections! Is the airing of this TEDx then a well timed publicity piece for someone seen as a good candidate? Or were SLS and his handlers/sympathizers using the speech to try to redeem his image after the gaffe of his politically motivated but poorly packaged missing funds accusation where he had played to a certain political gallery and to the tune of its vested interests? Recall that after the confutation by the NNPC, SLS had come across as a loose cannon who could speak at times without either bothering to consult or verifying his facts? Was the timing of the replay of this TEDx part of efforts then at damage control and image redemption? I am still struggling to unravel this one.
Now back to the TEDx lecture and its content. SLS was spot on in lambasting us for our grab-grab mentality and the immorality of our leadership class, be they in the private, public or political sectors. Kleptomania “rules OK” and we are proof that the law of diminishing returns does not apply to the hunger and consumption of the proceeds of graft and corruption. He blasted our rentier state mind set and showed that it applied even in the private sector. Here again, he was spot on.
He was also subtly critical of GEJ’s approach to corruption – but in pointing out his (SLS’s) successes against corrupt bankers, he was indirectly agreeing that GEJ’s administration was also acting against corruption. The success of the CBN boss is the success of his boss!
I had hoped he would say something on cronyism and nepotism and the extent to which he had worked and succeeded to bring these two manifestations of corruption under control during his headship of the CBN – but he did not! People are usually taciturn when it comes to talking on areas where they have not succeeded! Did his listeners fail to pick up this gap in his speech?
He also indirectly criticized previous CBN governors for failures in regulatory and oversight functions and for being slack. He made reference to 2009 as the watershed year – year when he came to power and began to change things. I expect a reply from his predecessors in office to show that they too were not sleeping on duty.
He scored major points on the fuel subsidy saga and sham. He was scathing in his comments on oil theft and bunkering, placing the blame squarely on the Navy and agencies charged to protect our pipelines. But he was silent on the correctness of the decision to remove the subsidy, the non-removal which fuels and sustains much of the corruption in the oil industry. The technocrat stepped down here and the political animal knew that it is politically incorrect to be seen as recognizing/admitting the merits in oil subsidy removal in public. His silence on this touchy issue was “politically correct speek” taken to perfection.
He challenged the youth to come out and challenge “vested interest”, this very elusive beast which always acts with “circumstances beyond our control” and the devil to frustrate all our best plans and intentions in this country. Clearly, he must believe very strongly in the young generation to ask them to take on such a formidable foe. He must have a lot of confidence in them.
Have they lived up to this confidence? Have they shown that they are different from their fathers and mothers? The fuel subsidy protests presented this young generation with an opportunity and a structure upon which they could truly organize and become a credible political platform and vanguard for real change. But did they pick up this opportunity? I am not sure that they did. Rather than build/consolidate this platform, rather than form a viable and third political force in politics in Nigeria, rather than seek to reach out and extend beyond Lagos, their leaders chose self aggrandizement on social media and to align themselves with differently garbed members of the same political class whose excesses have kept this country on her knees and made her unable to rise to claim her destiny and a place in the sun. I am not sure that these leaders got more than measly bowls of porridge for this unfortunate affiliation. I hope they decode SLS’s message, return the bowls and redeem themselves. They were severe, and correctly too, in their judgment of the failures of their parents. History will judge them even more harshly for betrayed hopes unless they act now to redeem themselves.
By the way, is this TEDx speaker not the same controversial SLS who, gossip has it, promoted a lady ahead of her time to protect a personal and vested interest? After listening to him, I concluded that all those tongues that tried to rise in judgment against this fine son of Nigeria for promoting a lady at his own will, whim and speed, were doing so out of envy and “pepper eye”. A good man like SLS has a right to certain interesting vested interests which he can then divest or unvest at his want and will. Anyway, having being held spell bound in his lecture by the fire in his voice and the flawlessness in his English, I now believe that those accusations were baseless envy-driven gossip.
Oh, I forget – I liked his dressing and his build – I wish I was that well dressed and good looking. Nature can be unfair!
Is the Nigerian Blogosphere a Change Vessel or an Echo Chamber?
Strongly Recommended Read
By Nwachukwu Egbunike
The internet is a neutral tool but the users are not: they might be fair and balanced or obnoxiously biased. And the Nigerian blogosphere is no exception to this rule. Consequently, it is given that there exists – in some cases – a Janus-like existence between online and offline media.
It takes neither rocket science nor a diviner’s globe to state that the netizen is first and foremost human. As such the identity, bias or both that a netizen expresses on issues in the blogosphere was formed apriori offline. This does not mean that new habits cannot be acquired online, nonetheless, the greater part of our digital footprints are forged not online but entrenched in reality.
In simple terms, it may have been easier to investigate this parallelism between new and old media. But the truth is that it is not that simplistic. For the new media…
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The Political Economy of Georgia’s Transformation: Before and After the Rose Revolution
The Power of Vulnerability
simple yet deep!
This is an incredible TED video. The beginning is a little slow, but you need all of the information she tells you to start with in order to appreciate the end the way you will if you promise to watch the entire video. If you don’t have time for the entire video, I at least want you to take from it the main message which is exposed in the last couple minutes and I have written below.
Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability
Starting at 14: 27 — “Why do we struggle with [vulnerability] so much? Am I alone in struggling with vulnerability? No. So this is what I learned…We live in a vulnerable world. And one of the ways we deal with it is we numb vulnerability.
And I think there’s evidence — and it’s not the only reason this evidence exists, but I think it’s a huge cause…
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Bias and its hazards
Noel A. Ihebuzor
Most people will swear on their mother’s left breast, the breast closest to her heart, that they are objective, even when the evidence that they are not stares them starkly in the face. Some journalists are bolder and are even willing to swear on their mother’s two breasts that they are objective. And it is not that such journalists hate or disrespect their mums by swearing falsely and invoking the name of such a significant person in their lives who deserves undying respect and veneration – it is just they have become so blind to their biases that they have ended up losing every sense of balance and self awareness – the usual endpoint for persons who allow themselves to journey and mingle with bias and who then becomes its prisoners – their minds shackled, their visions dimmed and judgments vitiated. Persons who were supposed to be the voices and the eyes of the people are now locked up in dungeons with very opaque windows and where deformed self-made panes, the only windows to the world out there, deflect and refract light and create the worst forms of illusions of vision. How did these fellows get into these dungeons? They got pulled into them by the lure of money and incentives, by unreflecting loyalty to faction, section or class and by the seduction of hatred and envy which end up dulling the senses – visual acuity, discriminatory powers and judgment – of persons whose hearts and hearths they have entered and found quick and easy welcome. Henceforth cocooned in islands of subjectivity and irrationality, so sadly and blissfully unaware of their present afflictions, these persons who should be the fourth estate of the realm become purveyors of inaccuracies and writers of commentaries and editorials which have neither breadth nor depth but are characterized by flatness, incompleteness and cant. And the belief of these persons in their objectivity persists, fuelled by comments and adulations from a captive readership. These delusions of objectivity are so powerful that these prisoners of bias would willing take on any mortal bold enough to point out to them what are clear inadequacies, profound shallowness and shameful aberrations in their writings and in their campaigns of misinformation and disinformation of the masses they are supposed to inform, educate and defend. To get a sense of what I am talking about, just read the new Sam Nda Isaiah, the Punch Newspaper and Leadership Newspaper and then weep for the sorry state of journalism in our dear country.
A Nigerian Book Review by Sylva Nze Ifedigbo
They shed their Khakis for Agbadas. They still toy with our fortunes and our future!
An author’s peep into Nigeria’s military years
HISTORY matters and history well told, in an engaging manner devoid of academic encumbrance, matters even more, especially when it is about Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, which is set to celebrate the centenary of its existence next year, 2014. At this point when the younger generation of her over 160 million large population is contemplating the future of their country, a proper knowledge of the past, where the rain began to beat, as a popular Igbo adage will say, is imperative to ensure that the future is a different story, for as George Santayana once noted, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Brilliant historian, Max Siollun, satisfies the yearning of many, Nigerians and non Nigerians alike, who have long sought an insight into…
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