Archive for the 'Politics' Category

On the border of two years

By

Noel Ihebuzor

We will soon be bidding goodbye to 2016.
I am in my village in Naze. We tell ourselves in my village that this is the original Nazareth, the place where Christ was born. Nazareth! We lost the “reth” portion of the name when Ireti seceded and moved to the other side of Owerri town. “The loss is their’s”, we tell ourselves, “after all, the traces of the manger where the savior lay are still here by Umuoparaugo compound for all sinless ones to see”. Personally, I cannot remember when last I saw those traces but Naze is still Nazareth for us and will remain so.
You can now understand why we take the celebration of Xmas with a certain level of seriousness in my village — a child is born in my tiny village, and soon, the world will be at his feet and his fame will enlarge to fill the minds of most humans. So it has been celebrations “Ahoy” though rice and stew have been declining in quality and quantity lately. Last time things were this bad was in the 83/85 period.
But back to my story. All the towns around us have their own Christmas days, depending on their market days – Eke, Orie, Afo or Nkwo. On these market days, the spirits of the land come out of tiny ant holes in the ground to become huge masquerades that walk the streets of the town in question in huge beautiful dance steps. Far from us is that spirit of religious intolerance – animists, traditionalists and christians of shades and colors troop out to celebrate. Any AK 47s you see are toys that Rambo looking and aping security officials flash around as they make a mockery of the act of protecting politicians from the same persons who were supposed to have elected them. The whole thing is so childish that I find it best to see it as part of the celebrations, as a well conceived play within a play.
So, it is all celebrations, and in the process, we get up caught up by forgetfulness and the new year creeps in on us, as it is doing as I struggle to rush-write this mail where I wish to do two things – to wish you well and rejoice with you that you survived 2016 and to wish you Health, Wealth, Wisdom, Success, Love of God and neighbor, Peace, Prosperity and Progress in 2017.
2016 has not been an easy year for Nigerians – everything got “Mbuhari” – got thrown out of place and out of skew. Things fell apart, things have fallen apart and there are no indication that they will stop falling apart. Promises made to the electorate were not kept by government, the naira crashed, herdsmen became expert death squads, security forces appeared powerless to stop them, oil prices slumped, and being largely a one product economy the economy also slumped, recession, so ably described as a term in economics, hit us when our supposed experts were looking and padding found its place in our budgeting process. Instead of solutions, we toured other countries, we established dual and triple rates for naira exchange and chose the most inconvenient of moments to remind the world of what we thought of feminism in the now acclaimed and patented “za oda room” prescription. Scapegoatism, diversionary antics and finger pointing which may have been appropriate as electioneering tactics were stepped up by government to the discomfiture of its former supporters and the amusement of the scattered opposition. Surprise and arrest became a typical pattern till it turned out to very boring and repetitive to the public. Devoid of any forward looking economic policy and without a stimulus package that could halt the slide of the economy and the naira, recession dug deeper. Even the government anti-corruption flagship was badly managed and soon came to be perceived as a selective exercise and one targeted at persons with “wrong” political affiliations – those with the right political affiliations have nothing to fear. By thus being seen to be protecting its associates, the government was inadvertently giving a new breath of life to corruption and strangely enough was also crying loudest that corruption was fighting back. It found it convenient to ignore that selective targeting incentivizes corruption. Unemployment continues to rise and the promised social safety nets programmes have been slow in taking off. Government’s area of distinction appears to be in the blaming of its predecessor but the discerning public is beginning to see through this. Ditto for security. Ditto for energy, ditto for our roads where death stalks and steal souls every day and security agents sent out to protect the traveler look for every excuse to extort money from you. Protectors and providers have now turned exploiters and expropriators. Some state governments went one step further to creatively deepen kleptocracy by stealing the pensions of retired teachers. In 2016, Nigeria was not country for old men.
On the foreign scene, human ability to create, watch and report suffering and cruelty continues to outpace our capacity to build peace and be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. Religious and sectarian intolerance rose and intercultural dialogue/harmony appear to be expressions coined by passing martians on a short visit to planet earth. As I write, horrific and horrible images and footages from the wars in Iraq and Syria harass my mind, pictures of cruelty and devastating destructions are all around for us to see. Africans, Arabs, Asians and even Europeans “invaded” portions of Europe – initially, they came by sea, and then they swarmed overland. The “jungles of Calais”, in the end, are merely a visible projection of the inner jungle in the human heart. We have managed to outdo Kurtz, Joseph Conrad’s anti-hero in our propensity for savagery and imbecility. Short-termist economist thinking is being fanned and is desiccating human capacity for empathy. Populists and right wing politicians and demagogues in Europe and America have latched unto people’s fears of an imagined demographic make over to push xenophobia and exaggerated accusations as the best vote catching strategies. The American elections showed indeed that America remains the land of opportunities and that locker room talk does not dent any opportunity. I refuse to tear any green card or to eat my hat but the results shook me up completely. I am still struggling to work out how this magic was worked, how the polls could have been so wrong and how so many women – educated, middle class, non-educated etc could have voted the way they did. Over time, someone will come up with a study that could reveal the effect of those results on the feminist position and feminist consensus – for the moment, all appears allowed – bum pitching, groping and locker room talk for some persons!
Slowly 2016 limps out and 2017 walks in.
Looking forward to meeting you all on the other side of the new year, and soon, insha allah.

Random Tweets on a random day

by

Noel Ihebuzor

 

On my way back from Lagos this morning, I ran into a friend who 20 months ago used to swear by GMB. Today, he was swearing at the man! TIME!

Disillusionment – “when you find yourself now beginning to swear AT the person you used to swear BY a few month’s ago”

Mental liberation – when the scales fall off your eyes and you begin to see clearly again, free from the manipulation of “influencers”

The arrogance of the ignorant is baffling, the ignorance of the arrogant more so, and the arrogance of the ignorant arrogant most so!

The tragedy of Nigeria is that she has always had elected persons who put the pursuit of personal interests ahead of institution building.

Bad leadership is characterized by excessive short-termism in vision and thinking.

Bad leadership is characterized by ignorance, arrogance and an unwillingness to recognize and remedy its fundamental ignorance!

Blaming one’s predecessor for one’s vision & strategic leadership failures is the best admission of & the lamest excuse for incompetence.

Best way a non-performer can hold on to power? Use the instruments of state power to intimidate and scatter potential opponents!

Does he/she seeking elected office possess functional competences in Economics & Public Policy? Does he/she believe in lifelong learning? Question for 2019!

Hazy vision and hazy selection

by

Noel Ihebuzor

 

What you saw

 

You say you saw

patterns heave and dance

you say you saw them

Weave and leave

No one else says they saw

what you say you saw

just you, with your diamond

periwinkle eyes

at the three quarter corner of night

when straggler angels

flee the light of the returning day

Yours was a vision

Filled with emptiness

Where bleached blankness

Empties all other visions

 

New Jungles

 

The jungle always,

half dormant

wakes up and a new day

dawns, slowly

Sounds soon crowd out silence

prophets see dimly

but their rising voices

Soon outdo agberos

 

In this space,

a life is worth

three and one third sparrows

 

In this place,

men combine religion and region

creed with breed in the service

of a contest fuelled need

their sordid deeds

sustained by their greed

 

Locked in their frenzied contest

the wrestlers have locked out sense

decency lies in locks

 

the present overwhelms the past

drowns the future

and yesterday’s smiles stare

stir and startle  in today’s tired sheets

 

Uncertain saints

Self beatify, uncertain of outcomes

as uncertified foul odor

floods the present

 

The stench overwhelms the air

that was pregnant with a hope

nourished by dope

 

stunted elves dance and sway

waving a medley of signs and symbols

crescent, cross and stars

and I sensed I heard the moon howl

 

Predators now prance like Simba

the lion king

the story teller casts

his charmed beads around legs, heads

hips, feet and heels held by hope

but fettered by dope

Avoiding corrupting practices in anti-corruption campaigns

by

Noel Ihebuzor

Anti-corruption rhetoric and dramatics are now very popular in Nigeria. I totally support campaigns to rid this country of corruption but I also insist that such campaigns must carried with the right level of professionalism, detachment, neutrality, integrity and honesty. Anything short of these is plain dishonest. Anything short of these really amounts to the continued enthronement and celebration of corruption in efforts to combat it. where anti-corruption are not neutral, detached and honest, then they are likely to abuse their powers and influences, applying inconsistent rules and procedures in their treatment of persons and agencies. Double standards also represent critical threats to anti-corruption campaigns as they throw up different evaluations and reactions for the same behaviour. Such practices, where they occur, amount to corruption!

Here are a few reflections on this subject matter.

  • Double standards are outcomes of corrupt thinking. A nation of double standards will thus remain corrupt.
  • You cannot have one set of scales for persons in one party & another for persons in the other. Such a habit results from a corrupt mind set.
  • If you practice selective hysteria for allegations of corruption against persons in one party, then your mind is gradually being corrupted.
  • If you practice selective targeting in your campaigns against corruption, then your campaign is already steeped in corruption.
  • Anti-corruption practices must be fair. They must be conducted without any trace of favoritism or fear. Fail to do these and the campaign fails
  • To be credible, anti-corruptions must be consistent, even handed and transparent. They must be devoid of all forms of double standards.

Revealing Unravellings

By

Noel Ihebuzor 

 

 

 Fanciful filas

cover crowns filled with fetid

filth, sleaze, rot and scum

and we watched

and we lauded

and as we wowed

Runts grew big

guzzled funds like pigs 

in hot rut

What is the Measure of Success?, Articles | THISDAY LIVE

What is the Measure of Success?, Articles | THISDAY LIVE.

Drawing Lines in the Sands of Time

By

Noel Ihebuzor

One hears a lot of things these days. But one has learnt never to believe most of them as we are now in a time of easy retractions and of claims of either being misunderstood, being misquoted or being quoted out of context. Shehu Garba and Femi Adesina, both presidential spokespersons, have now become experts in such methods of denial.  But wilI their skills stop speakers from speaking and hearers from hearing what was said at those increasingly frequent moments when the mouth appears to run ahead of and faster the brain?  “Mouth run” is a hazard and the best cure for it is a padlock but such a solution is painful and also violates a fundamental human right.

I hear the General has now decreed, yes, decreed that the probes into corruption in Nigeria will now be limited to the period when President Jonathan was in power. Femi Adesina has come forward to defend and justify this cut-off line that his principal has now drawn in the sands of Nigerian time. Note that this new cut-off line represents a departure from earlier indications that the period of “PDP misrule” (1999-2015) was going to come under serious probe.

The first question then is – what really prompted this departure? Logistics, fear of OBJ, fear of offending northern sensitivities by any focus on the short period of the Yar’Adua presidency? Nigerians are no fools and can read beyond the lines.  And lines that are purposefully drawn to include some and to exclude others represent the worst forms of arbitrariness and dishonesty, both of which have no place in good governance.

The second question is why the narrow focus? There are myriads of corruption allegations all over Nigeria starting from accusations of a $2.8 billion scam, to outright screaming headlines of an alleged heist by Halliburton that are yet to be closed out. Allegations such as these merit the attention of anybody genuinely interested in fighting corruption.

The third question is this – why this exclusive focus on the federal level? Are we suggesting that crooked deals at the state and LGA levels are unworthy of attention and prosecution?

The fight against corruption is not one of “pick and choose”. A selective approach calls into question the ultimate intentions of persons posing as anti-corruption crusaders. It exposes them to legitimate accusations of witch hunting and of attempting to use state powers in the pursuit of personal vendettas. It is worth reminding ourselves that whenever the instruments of state power are hijacked for personal pursuits, we are dealing with a case of abuse of power, and abuse of power is also a form of corruption. Let those who are drawing lines in the sands of time note that line drawings driven by vendetta and spite will eventually turn around and catch the same drawers. Finally, credibility is a requisite attribute of all who must fight corruption. Acts by corruption fighters that undermine this credibility will eventually sink the anti-corruption crusader.


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