Daylight Robbery!!!

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Before I go on, I must state that my views have changed from those expressed in my earlier post. I no longer support deregulation, removal of fuel subsidy or whatever name government wishes to call it. The government have brought forward their arguments (which they were able to use to bamboozle me for a few hours) but in the space of a day or so, I have come across superior arguments which have cast doubt on the governments logic. Thanks to enlightening interviews like Professor Tam David-West, we now understand that what government is doing is more like daylight robbery.

Thanks to people who have shed more light on the whole fuel subsidy or no fuel subsidy argument, we now understand the government is actually taxing our fuel consumption and that the whole story of importing refined petroleum products is nothing but a barefaced lie. The government says that with the removal of the subsidy, more money would be freed up for capital projects that will benefit the majority of Nigerians. Even when there was not enough money, a former governor from the Presidents party made off with over 50 billion Naira from the state coffers. This is state that can barely generate 10 billion Naira monthly and has to wait for its monthly allocation from the Federal Government to be able to do anything meaningful. All the whole thing means is that there will be more money for government at all levels to steal.

What the President and his cohorts are trying to do reminds me of a Bushism credited to George W. Bush. While trying to get across the great desire of the American government of which he was head to hurt Al-Quaeda, he fumbled the grammar and made it sound as if it was the American people he wanted to hurt (they must have thought so to by the end of his presidency). He is reputed to have said: “Al-Quaeda is always looking for new ways to hurt the American people, so are we.” That seems to be the problem in Nigeria. An average (incompetent, eneducated, unenlightened and inept) Senator earns more than Barack Obama, the President of the most prosperous nation on earth. As some sort of sacrifice, the President announced a 25% cut in the salaries of members of the executive branch. Which is nothing since we know the greater proportion of their money is in their allowances. They all travel first class and go about with massive entourages (which I talked about in my book, The African Prince). The Nigerian political office holder is the most subsidised in the world, yet they’re always looking for new ways to hurt the Nigerian people.

The President is talking tough and saying their is no backing down. This is quite a far cry from the stance of consultation and dialogue he started with. It is therefore clear that the days of election promises are far gone and can no longer be remembered.

(Ayoade Oluwasanmi is a lawyer and the author of The African Prince, a satire about governance in Africa. The African Prince is published by Trafford Publishing www.trafford.com)

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THE NIGERIA WE HAVE MADE

Yesterday, I witnessed something obscene and wicked and on national television. I must confess that I normally do not watch Nigerian news. Apart from reading the newspaper at my workplace during the week or at home at the weekends, I no longer sit down to follow the news on television. However when I put on the generator and the television came, it was tuned to Channels Television. While reading the headlines, the story about the proposed interview with an Executive Director of the Association Electricity Distribution Companies caught my attention. (We have associations for everything in Nigeria. Even mobile phone recharge card sellers have an association.) Even after the interview had come and gone, I still waited in front of the television for one reason or another. That was when I saw it.

 

The story was about homeless men and women taking shelter in a school. But they were not always homeless. At a time, these men and women had a place to call home. But these places are home no longer. Why? They have been thrown out of the places they called home because of their inability to pay their rent. They were unable to pay rent not out of choice, not because they wish to stay in a house that does not belong to them to free like others. They were unable to pay rent because when they retired from the Federal Civil Service, the Nigerian state represented by the Federal Government, whom they served possibly diligently for the better part of their productive lives refuses to pay their terminal benefits. These were men and women who have been failed by their country. They have been failed by you and I.

 

There were varying stories among these homeless people. Particularly harrowing was the case of three men who not only have developed diabetes but are now blind as well. Not only do they have to contend with the loss of their sight, they also have to contend with a chronic and debilitating illness they have no money to manage. A chronic illness that will most surely kill them. One of the blind men said he was retired from the Federal Ministry of Works in 1999 and the Federal Government has till date not paid his terminal benefits. He was thrown out of his rented apartment by his landlord for his inability to pay his rent and has since been abandoned by his wife and children. I watched as he burst into tears, pleading with the government to pay his benefits. Watching a grown man cry is a terrible thing. Another of the blind men was fortunate enough to still have his wife with him. She was still trying her best to take care of him. However, her stall in the market from which she sold goods from which she earned a meagre amount to take care of both of them was recently demolished. These are men and women, left without hope.

 

A few years ago I remember going to the premises of the Lagos State Civil Service at Alausa. I was appalled to see aged men and women, some in their seventies, others probably in their eighties left out in the dry in the noonday sun. With no chairs provided, some stood while others sat under trees, hoping for shade. They were bent and some carry bodily infirmities. They were there for the regular “I Am Alive” exercise. This where the pensioners who retired from the Civil Service gather together to fill all sorts of forms to prove to the government they’re still alive and entitled to the meagre amount the government doles out to them. Every time they come, they come carrying the same documents. I have heard my mother say it so many times, I know most of the documents myself. Letter of appointment, letter of last promotion, letter of retirement. As I watched them, it cut me to the heart to think this was what my mother and my late father had to go through to get their entitlements.

 

But that is what we have caused as a people. We have watched as a people while those who worked and gave their all are side-lined by politicians who control everything. We have watched as in the midst of plenty, with oil selling at over a $100 per barrel as our leaders have wasted our commonwealth on themselves, their wives, children and concubines and cronies. We have watched as they have bestowed largesse in the form of spurious contracts, allowing them to do so because we hope that one day we will know someone in power who will bestow such largesse on us. We have refused to make government accountable out of fear on one hand and out of greed in the hope we will benefit from the lack of accountability. We no longer want to work, we want to “hammer” mostly through dubious means. We have become ethnic and cultural warriors, held bound by the smallness of our minds, defending politicians who have committed economic malfeasance simply they come from our tribe or we share a religion. They say a man is corrupt and we say “Is he the only one?” In the process, we have condemned those three blind men to their fate. Simply because we think it could never be us. It could never be someone we know or love. And so we don’t care. And we say nothing. Nigeria may not be the way we want it. But it is definitely the way we have made it.

 

 

Ayoade Oluwasanmi is the author of the novel, The African Prince, a satire about governance and politics in Africa. He is also the author of the short stories, It’s My Body, a satire about feminism in the West, Let Me Love You, a story about peadophilia and courage in the face of abuse, and Letters To America  a perspective on certain social issues seen through the eyes of an African. He is a lawyer and lives in Lagos, Nigeria. You can follow him on Twitter at @authorayoade.

 

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SKYE BANK, CORPORATE RAIDERS AND THEIVES, IMPUNITY AND THE ILLUSION OF AFRICA’S BIGGEST ECONOMY

Last year, just before Nigeria’s general election which was conducted on May 29 in which the incumbent president was soundly defeated by the opposition, there were reports in the papers that several businessmen and captains of industry had allegedly banded together to donate to a war chest that would guaranty the re-election of Goodluck Jonathan. One of the names that stood out was that of a Tunde Ayeni, the then chairman of Skye Bank. According to reports, Mr. Ayeni allegedly donated N2 billion to the war chest. From the reports, I was unable to ascertain if the N2 billion was a personal donation from himself alone or whether there were others who had contributed. However when one dug deeper, one would find out the donation from Mr. Ayeni was not altruistic. Around the same time, there were also allegations that Mr. Ayeni was a close friend to the president who allowed Goodluck Jonathan to launder money through the bank. Fast forward a year later and the Central Bank of Nigeria has forced out several members of the board of Skye Bank and has taken over the bank because it is facing a liquidity crisis. There are fears that after the holidays, the bank may face a run on its deposits by depositors who are scared of losing their money.

 

In today’s divisive political climate, there are those who will seek to put the blame of demise of Skye Bank on the president and the present administration. The ethnic and religious bigots who now inhabit cyberspace and can be found on every social media will point out that the imminent collapse of the bank is evidence of the failed policies of the present administration. They will moan and wail that the erstwhile president handed over “the biggest economy in Africa” which the present administration had brought to its knees. However none of these people can point out what Nigeria actually produces to merit the title of largest economy in Africa. The illusion of growth which was actually bloating is perpetuated by Nigerian banks who have zero ideas on how to grow the economy or create wealth. All Nigerian banks are adept at doing is fleecing depositors through all sorts of ingenious levies. From alert fees to ATM withdrawal fees, from card maintenance fees (how does a bank maintain a card in my possession?) to levies on transactions and transfers between accounts, in my opinion Nigeria’s banks main source of income does not come from supporting businesses but from daily fleecing their impoverished customers. Even banks like UBA charge a levy for withdrawing certain amounts over the counter.

 

However the fall of Skye Bank is not only due to the general paucity of ideas by bankers on how to create wealth. It would seem that the present traumatised state of the bank is as a result of a co-ordinated and persistent rape by those entrusted with its care. I only just found out yesterday that the bank was in trouble. Waking up this morning and googling the words “chairman of skye bank Nigeria”, I see a story that not only nauseates at the extent of the gross betrayal of trust, it leaves me wondering, “How many other businesses in this so-called largest economy are in the same position?” According an article by Sahara Reporters titled “Inside Story of Skye Bank Management Takedown By Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Tunde Ayeni is owing the bank “at least N102 billion that had remained unpaid for several years”. How is a business supposed to survive when one man who has a fiduciary relationship with the bank owes over a N100 billion? According to the article, he bought Mainstreet Bank from the Goodluck Jonathan administration for N135 billion. He also allegedly used funds from the bank to buy several electricity Discos, the moribund Nigerian telecommunication’s carrier NITEL and owns a private jet. I doubt any of these assets are in the name of the bank. I’m sure they’re in his name or his wife and children’s names.

 

The article then goes on to name several businesses and persons owing the bank huge amounts of money. Some of the names listed are now part of the infamous rogues’ gallery in Nigeria. The names Atlantic Energy, Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko features on the list of debtors with an alleged indebtedness of over N70 billion. On the other hand, it was probably not surprising to see the name of Jason Fadeyi, the chairman of Pan Ocean Oil Company who is allegedly indebted to the bank to the tune of N90 billion. From personal experience, the law firm I work for has a client, a major player in the oil and gas services industry to whom Pan Ocean was indebted to the tune of several hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not over a million. It took us filling a petition seeking the winding up of the company for us to recover the amount owed. Presently, Pan Ocean owes an affiliate of the same company several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

 

I have never been a fan of the local content policy pushed by the previous administration. While it was nice in principle, in practice it was a disaster. All it did was create opportunities for friends of the administration to make a killing doing nothing. There was the stipulation that players in the industry must have majority indigenous participation while indigenous firms were favoured in the award of contracts. It however created a problem as several indigenous firms did not (and some still do not) have the technical know-how to execute the contracts tendered and won on the basis of indigenous presence. They would then bring in a foreign firm with know-how to execute the contract while they collect the money and take a lion share. From my attending seminars and speaking to several clients in the oil and gas industry, I am aware that several indigenous players are up to their neck in debt. Our oil and gas industry is built on a massive and unsustainable lie.

 

If that then is the case, what else do we actually produce in Nigeria to warrant being the largest economy in Africa? The textiles we wear, especially the ankara, is produced in Holland, our drugs are produced in India, our electronics and phones are from America and Asia, our household appliances are from Europe. We are busy spending our money consuming telecommunication services and yet the largest telecommunication company in Nigeria is South African and we can’t see the irony. The present administration is blamed for the lack of power yet the supporters of Saint Jonathan conveniently forget to avert their minds to the fact that we are partly in this position because the last administration divvied up the power assets among their friends, family members and acolytes who had no knowledge whatsoever of managing those assets and getting them to produce.

 

The story of Skye Bank I believe is the story of several Nigerian businesses. Shortly after the death of the well-known CEO of a prominent Nigerian bank, a friend of the deceased gave what was to me a thought provoking and illuminating interview. According to the friend, who along with the dead executive started the bank, what motivated his friend was the desire to be rich. Not to create wealth or grow Nigeria’s economy. Simply to be rich. Which is why when you go round the various highbrow parts of Lagos today, the bank CEO’s and former CEO’s own some of the best houses in Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Parkview, Lekki and Banana Island. They are Nigeria’s version of the nouveau riche. When one man takes depositors funds to buy a private jet, leaving the depositors in penury because of his inability to grow their money, while giving them a paltry 3% rate on their money while the inflation rate is over 10%, I consider such an act to be criminal. I wonder how many other CEO’s are living the high life while impoverishing the company they have been entrusted with (even if they founded the company) and paying their workers the barest minimum. How many of the so-called successful businessmen we admire and seek to emulate run this model of “success”? Living the high life while being indebted to banks as a result of loans they have no interest repaying? Loans they obtained simply because they knew someone on the board and not because they had a viable business idea and plan.

 

Yesterday I went to Abeokuta and I came back through Epe. Just after Ajah, I noticed Shoprite is busy constructing another shopping centre. Their expansion in Lagos is aggressive. If my memory serves me right, this will be their fifth in Lagos alone. That tells me they’re successful and making money in Nigeria. But it’s not owned by Nigerians and the profits made would be repatriated after paying their staff the barest minimum. It seems to me that the people who are really making a success of businesses in Nigeria are the South Africans, Indians, Pakistani’s, Chinese and the Lebanese. And the Europeans and the Americans. Practically everyone but Nigerians. How are we going to “buy Nigerian to grow Nigeria” when Nigerians produce nothing but consume everything? That is the conundrum this administration in collaboration with those who mean well for the country have to solve. And fast.  Also, those who have put Skye Bank must not be allowed to go scot free. They must be made to suffer the natural consequences of their betrayal of trust regardless of whether or not people will wail about a witch hunt.

 

 

 

 

 

Ayoade Oluwasanmi is the author of the novel, The African Prince, a satire about governance and politics in Africa. He is also the author of the short stories, It’s My Body, a satire about feminism in the West, Let Me Love You, a story about peadophilia and courage in the face of abuse, and Letters To America  a perspective on certain social issues seen through the eyes of an African. He is a lawyer and lives in Lagos, Nigeria. You can follow him on Twitter at @authorayoade.

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Toilets and Hypocrisy

His Autocratic Majesty (HAM)

Barack Hussein Obama,

Absolute Ruler of the Great United Divided States,

Great High Priest of Militant Liberal Causes,

 

Hail O King. I salute you.

 

How great it must be O great majesty to be the Supreme Fountain of all Law in your country. To think that the power to make laws, enforce them and even interpret them (including those you did not make) rests in you only boggles the mind. Also it paints a picture of how important and powerful you are O great king.

 

I understand that recently O great liege, that you did make an order and a decree, that henceforth in all educational facilities provided for young minds throughout the realm of the Great United Divided States, all boys must be permitted to use all storage conveniences and sundry hygiene facilities hitherto used by girls alone without let. I also understand that you did proclaim and decree that henceforth throughout the realm in those same educational facilities, all girls must be allowed to use storage conveniences and sundry hygiene facilities hitherto used by boys again without let. To cap it off, I understand that you did further decree that henceforth that no restriction be placed on either girls or boys as to which sport to participate in or which team to join to participate in the sport. According to the Autocratic Decree, the only requirement for boy to use the girl’s storage facilities and sundry hygiene facilities and be in a girls team is that he considers himself a girl in his mind though he bodily be a boy. Conversely all that girls need to do to use the boy’s storage facilities and sundry hygiene facilities and be in the boy’s team is that she also considers herself in mind a boy in her mind though she bodily be a girl. Wonderful isn’t it?

 

Let’s stop with the old English thing for a while. As a lawyer, I have long believed that no one has absolute rights. I have long held the view that when one person’s right is in dissonance with another person’s right, there must be some sort of arrangement where the competing rights are balanced. However, I have recently come to the sad understanding that under your administration, the only two categories of people who have absolute rights in America are radical feminists and anyone who by any tenuous means considers himself a member of the LBGTQ community. Their rights trump everyone else’s rights. And that was not a pun. By now you’re probably of the opinion that the only people who are not in support of what I consider your recent blackmail efforts targeted at schools are bigoted Christians and obstructionist Republicans. That is extremely shallow thinking. I wonder how many people want to speak up and say something but are afraid of being labelled due to the toxic atmosphere and division your policies have created.

 

Every parent has a right to protect their children. They also have a reasonable expectation that when their children go to school, they will not be put in harm’s way. Your directive that students who say they are transgender must be allowed to use the bathrooms, toilets and locker rooms of the gender they identify with instead of the gender they are born with and which is on their birth certificate does just that. But I guess you don’t see it that way. You and your fellow worshippers have probably told yourself that the likelihood of a boy entering a toilet or bathroom meant for girls and raping or sexually assaulting a girl is low, therefore the policy is good. I disagree. Even if there is the slightest possibility that such a thing could happen, even if the probability is negligible, then people’s daughters should not deliberately be put at risk because of your crusading zeal and the need to pander and appease.

 

I understand you have two daughters yourself. I recently read that your elder daughter Malia is going to Harvard after a taking a year off. (Knowing how the world works, did she get into Harvard because she met the educational qualifications for getting into Harvard or is she going to Harvard because her father is an alumni and the current Absolute Ruler of the United Divided States?) However considering the fact that she’s leaving high school, maybe I shouldn’t use her as an example. But you do have another Natasha usually called Sasha who is 14. I just checked Wikipedia and found out that your children attend a school described as “a highly selective Quaker private school”. That got me thinking. Do they collect government funding like the other schools you threatened to sue for discrimination or are they privately funded and therefore have no need to comply? Or perhaps, seeing as they are a Quaker school, they have religious objections protections? When I thought about what to write, I had wanted to ask whether your own children participated in sports or used those locker rooms, toilets and bathrooms you want to make unisex or whether they get whisked off to the grandeur of the White House immediately school is over. I guess those questions are moot now.

 

Riddle me this. Are you saying you have no problem with a boy who is bigger and heavier than girls, playing a contact sport with girls simply because his mind tells him that he’s female? Are you saying you have no problem with the potential for injury when a boy wipes out a girl when a tackle is made? Are you saying that you have no problem with sexual predators posing as transgender persons and entering female locker rooms, bathrooms and toilets to ogle girls your younger daughter’s age and younger and possibly assault and molest them? The answer to those questions is probably “No” seeing that you’ve made the decree in furtherance of your militant LBGTQ world-view. I would have said that makes you a bad parent considering those children could be your daughters. However, I just think you’re a hypocrite considering your own daughters are not at risk.

 

 

 

 

Ayoade Oluwasanmi is the author of the novel, The African Prince, a satire about governance and politics in Africa. He is also the author of the short stories, It’s My Body, a satire about feminism in the West and Let Me Love You, a story about peadophilia and courage in the face of abuse. He is a lawyer and lives in Lagos, Nigeria. You can follow him on Twitter at @authorayoade.

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ANGST, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AND THE DESTRUCTION OF THE OSCARS

So, barring a monumental disaster of epic proportions (either natural or man-made) or the end of the world, when the Academy Awards are held later this year, Leonardo DiCaprio will win his first Oscar for Best Actor. He’s probably going to be glad he’s winning it this year since as from next year winning an Oscar is going to mean nothing. No thanks to diversity and inclusiveness.

 

African-Americans are outraged that for the second year in a row, no African-American was nominated for any of the best acting awards in both the male and female categories. Some prominent African-American actors and actresses have decided to boycott the event while several white celebrities like Piers Morgan have written copius column inches accusing the members of the Academy of racism.

 

In all the outraged arguments in favour of “diversity” and “inclusiveness” one thing that struck me, especially in comments by African-Americans was the sense of entitlement on their part. It was quite striking to me that African-Americans expect and demand to be included in the best of anything category when it comes to acting in spite of the fact that African-Americans make up less than 15% of the total American population. From the comments made in the media and on social media by aggrieved African-Americans and their supporters, African-Americans naturally should have nominations no matter what unless of course it’s due to racism. Even though they’re official a minority.

 

In the aftermath of the whole episode, all the right words are being said to soothe the nerves of African-American actors and actresses who are talking about a boycott of the party being thrown in their honour. Because they’re not the ones being honoured. ‎And they’re unhappy about this and so they want to throw a collective temper tantrum. Which of course is their right. But they don’t have to ruin the Oscars for the rest of us.

 

In all the talk about diversity and inclusiveness, no one has mentioned the word “tokenism”. African-Americans are so peeved that they didn’t get nominated, they don’t mind being nominated as a sop to the feelings. They just want to be nominated for the fun of it so that people will remember that black people too can act. So they want the Academy of Motion  Picture Arts and Sciences to embark on some form of affirmative action to include more African-Americans in its membership and it’s film nominations. Now, this might be a good idea for fostering inclusiveness in education and maybe in the workforce, but in a voluntary association and an awards show? All this will do is breed mediocrity and further the sense of entitlement African-Americans feel. And this will affect the craft of movie production and acting. Because African-Americans will know they can continue to churn out rubbish films and turn in crap performances in movies because they know they’ll still get nominated no matter what. And who suffers? The people who spend their hard earned money to go and watch films and who watch award shows hoping only the best films and actors are rewarded.

 

As from ‎next year, that will no longer happen. As from next year, actors and actresses can expect to be nominated for an Oscar based not in the performance they put in in a movie but based on who they are. I was waiting for the LGBTQ crowd to weigh in with their own perspective and I wasn’t disappointed. Ian McKellen practically accused the Academy of homophobia because no openly gay man has won the best actor award. Although the Oscars are almost here, I’m still waiting for comments from the Hispanics, the transgendedred, the physically disabled, the Muslim community and the atheists  as to why they think one of them has never won a best actor Oscar (bigotry of course) and what they can do to change that. At least the Buddhists have Richard Gere.

 

Even more illuminating, I have learnt that Will Smith’s pain for the alleged insult dealt to the African-American is really for the fact he wasn’t nominated. When the cast of the now defunct sit-com Friends decided to band together for contract negotiations and ended up being paid $1m per episode, it sent shockwaves through Hollywood and showed what could be achieved if the cast were united and there was no perceived “star” who made most of the money because the show somehow relied on him or her to be a success. Janet Hubert’s stinging rebuke and revelation about how Will Smith refused to band together with other cast members to get a better deal for others tells me his angst over the Academy not nominating a person of colour has more to do with him personally missing out than the fact it hurt other actors.

 

Thankfully the election season has begun in America with the Iowa caucuses. Maybe President Barack Obama can declare that being nominated for an award is an alienable right of all African-Americans and Hillary Clinton can campaign to make it a reality.

 

 

 

Ayoade Oluwasanmi is the author of the novel, The African Prince, a satire about governance and politics in Africa. He is also the author of the short stories, It’s My Body,  a satire about feminism in the West, Let Me Love You, a story about peadophilia and courage in the face of abuse, and Letters To America  a perspective on certain social issues seen through the eyes of an African. He is a lawyer and lives in Lagos, Nigeria. You can follow him on Twitter at @authorayoade.

 

 

 

 

 

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The African Prince

The expression on the senate president’s face changed to one of longsuffering. ‘It hasn’t been easy. As you know our own democracy is new too we’ve had democracy on and off but this present dispensation has just been on for like 15 or more years and we are still on a learning curve. We’ve made mistakes but that’s not to say we’ve done badly. In my opinion, we’ve really tried in spite of the constraints we face.’

 

‘Our greatest problem is that of remuneration. What we get as remuneration is a mere pittance. We have asked the president many times to look into it with a view to increasing our benefits but he has refused.’

 

Chief Chukwuma looked bored. ‘I’ve said it over and over again, there’s no money to increase anyone’s salary. If I increased everyone’s salary, there’d be no money for anything else and we’d be back in debt.’

 

‘So you see,’ the senate president continued mournfully ‘we try to manage what we have as deeply patriotic Nigerians. We understand that it is part of the sacrifice we have to make in order to ensure that the country moves forward.’

 

‘Take for instance the number of days we were mandated by law to sit in a year. 300 days in a year! Can you imagine? What would we be doing? Sleeping in the Senate chambers? So we shortened it to 150 days while retaining the sitting allowance as it was. Also we reduced the sitting hours from 9 o’clock in the morning to 4 o’clock in the evening to 10 o’clock in the morning to 3 o’clock in the afternoon with a one hour break in between. This is to serve two purposes. One, to enable all the Senators who had a late and hectic night to wake up properly and attend sittings and two, to allow everyone close early to attend to other pressing matters, if you know what I mean.’

 

Oti couldn’t exactly say he knew and he didn’t want to guess.

 

‘Out of the money given to us for capital projects, we saw a need to provide shelter and transportation for our members. A house in the federal capital and 3 cars was not exactly befitting a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So we decided to purchase a house for each senator in the state he’s representing and an additional car for contingencies. This is what we intend to do for all the members of the Senate after every general election regardless of whether they are new or returning members.’

 

‘But is it necessary to buy for all the senators? After all, some that already have will be returned after they win their elections. Shouldn’t it be only those who are coming in newly that should enjoy that benefit?’ Oti asked, flabbergasted by the sheer expense.

 

‘No, no, no. We don’t want anyone to feel left out or excluded. If you keep getting re-elected, it’s to your own benefit. It should serve as a spur for all senators to do well, so that they can be returned by their constituency. And after all, the money is there. We are not the 6th largest producer of oil for nothing.’

 

‘How many times have you been elected to the Senate?’ Oti asked.

 

‘Well, this is my third term as a senator and the first as senate president. By the grace of God, I hope to have many more terms.’

 

Of course you do. And many more cars and houses too I would imagine. ‘Are there any special benefits for the leaders of the Senate?’

 

‘Of course, of course,’ he said laughing nervously. ‘How else can you differentiate between the leader and led unless the leaders benefits are more. Well, officially everybody gets one house in the federal capital city because after all, you can only live in one house at time. Officially, I get two extra houses while the other leaders and the powerbrokers have one extra.’

 

‘Is that right?’ Oti said staggered at the sheer waste. ‘Shouldn’t you make the sacrifice of having less?’

 

The senate president looked at him in amazement. ‘To my own detriment? My friend, you must be joking. I need to get all I can. I’m not going to be there forever. But the fact is that those close to me also got something extra. I need to take care of those who supported me you know. That’s what my predecessor didn’t realise.’

 

‘Your predecessor? In the last term?’

 

‘No, this present term. He lasted only a few months. He was just too greedy. He wanted to eat everything all by himself. He was buying houses and cars for himself and his family members alone. He didn’t understand that it’s better to spread the money around. In the end, his removal was inevitable. We were able to rally most of our colleagues in support of his removal. Everyone was tired of his stinginess.’

 

‘And it’s not as if there’s no money in Nigeria,’ the senate president continued. ‘After all, we are the 6th largest producer of crude oil in the world. The money is there. If only he had shared the money, he would still be senate president today. I don’t see why we shouldn’t get to spend the money. It’s just that the miserable Nigerian public gets all sanctimonious and there’s always a hue and cry when they hear that the Senate needs money. We have had to grow more creative when it comes to appropriating funds.’

 

‘How is that?’

 

‘Oh, we have developed a creative method of augmenting our allowances. If you can’t beat them, you join them you know. Every Senator is given a certain amount of money to execute projects in his area. We even have a creative name for it, we call it constituency allowance. One would think that we had abandoned our primary responsibility of making laws and we were busy executing projects like common contractors. But that is not the case. We are just trying to help the executive in bringing developmental projects close to the people. A senator is allowed to decide what project he wants to do. If he decides to spend a fraction of the money allocated to him and pocket the rest, that’s his luck. After the project has been completed, he gets to call the media to come and witness the commissioning.’

 

‘What’s commissioning?’

 

‘Ah, that is a typical Nigerian phenomenon. That’s when after you’ve executed a project; you invite a large crowd of dignitaries, both local and foreign, including the people from the area in which the project is situated to witness the process of the project being put into use. This entails ribbon cutting, plenty of media presence both radio and television and a lot of photo opportunities. If you can get the president to come for the commissioning, all the better.’

 

‘Does the size or importance of the project matter?’

‘Goodness me, no. It could be that you just graded a sandy, two kilometre road or you just tarred a one kilometre road that leads nowhere. It doesn’t matter. Every project you do deserves to be commissioned.’

 

 

 

Ayoade Oluwasanmi is the author of the novel, The African Prince, published by Trafford Publishing in the US. He is also the author of the short stories, It’s My Body a satire about feminism in the West, Let Me Love You, about peadophilia and courage in the face of abuse, and Letters To America http://www.amazon.com/B00JVW9PAY  a perspective on certain social issues seen through the eyes of an African.

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Is There Not A Cause?

Dear Ms. Sola Salako, I must commend your efforts to mobilise support for the APC candidate in the just concluded Presidential elections, President-elect General Muhammadu Buhari. I also must commend the zeal you’ve shown in further mobilizing and energising support for Akinwunmi Ambode, the APC candidate in the forth-coming gubernatorial elections in Lagos. However I must confess that I am disturbed and alarmed by some of the reasons you have adduced in comments on your Facebook page as to why we should vote for Ambode and not for Jimi Agbaje.

According to you, we need to vote in an APC government in Lagos State so as to be in sync with the government at the Federal level so as to enjoy the benefits that accrue from being part of the “mainstream politics” as the saying goes. This has several implications and connotations, none of which are good. Personally while I do not have a high regard for the PDP, I do believe that there are a few competent and capable men of integrity within its ranks. I also believe that people should be allowed to choose and vote for the leaders and political representatives of their choice based upon their perception of that person. However in your statement about enjoying benefits that accrue from the Federal level, I not only sense an attempt at coercion of the will of people and an implicit blackmail. And what this means is that any state where the citizens are “stupid” or “wilful” enough to want to choose political representatives of their choice as governors should expect to receive nothing from the Federal level if those governors are not APC governors. Which then begs the question: Is that the way the APC at the Federal level wishes to proceed? By developmentally stalling the growth of non-APC states because the people dared choose their leaders freely? How then would the APC be any different from the PDP? Is that the change we voted for?

If that is the method by which the APC seeks to operate, then non-APC states would suffer some sort of double jeopardy. In 16 years or so of democracy in Nigeria, I have noticed a trend. What you could call a rule. And the rule is this: While APC governments are basically corrupt; they do manage to do some modicum of work in the state where they govern. They get some things done. On the other hand, PDP governments are not only corrupt, they are inept. If there is any PDP governor that can be said to have achieved anything while in power, I’m sure I could name 5 or 10 APC governors (from any of its iterations e.g. AD, ACN, CPC) who have done more. For instance, I want to university in Edo State and I remember Edo people complaining after Governor Lucky Igbenedion’s first term that he had failed. And this was in spite of the fact that Edo State gets the 3rd highest allocation from the Federal Government as derivation revenue. One of my enduring memories of his government was his inability to fix the drains in front of Okada House, a property that belonged to his father and which during his tenure was the PDP secretariat in Edo State. As the story goes, his father then pointed out that if you send your child to school and they say he has failed, won’t you tell him to repeat? Therefore since the people of Edo State were saying that his son had failed, he obviously had to repeat. And repeat he did. Unless a person is being extremely partisan and unreasonable, no one can deny that Governor Adams Oshiomole is a significant improvement on Igbinedion.

I must mention that the exception to the rule of non-performing PDP governors is Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State. However everyone was knows he won two consecutive elections on the platform of the Labour Party before decamping to the PDP. So he had performed before jumping ship to be part of mainstream politics. Now the fact that his Deputy Governor jumped ship to the APC (allegedly with a few commissioners) a few days before the Presidential elections, aggrieved that he had not received his own “share” of the over N1 billion President Jonathan allegedly gave the governor for election campaigns gives an indication as to why he went back to the PDP.

In light of this, states in the South-South and South-East, who to borrow the words of Marc Wilmot, have human disasters as governors are going to be further impoverished if the only states the Federal government will help are those with APC governors. I have friends from the South-East who have PDP governors in their home states. They complain bitterly about the lack of development and corruption. All the governors seem to be concerned about is emptying government coffers and buying up property in their states, Lagos, Abuja and overseas. Considering that all the able bodied men of Eastern extraction have seemingly migrated to the Western and Northern parts of Nigeria, it’s obvious that the governors are doing a lot wrong. However I believe political affiliations should be by choice. The threat (or promise) of withholding or giving of Federal help should not be a carrot to get people to switch political allegiances. This should not be. While the PDP was the dominant party in government, I never could understand the boast by President Jonathan and members of the party about how many governors they had when all Nigerians knew most of them (if not all) were incompetent, inept and corrupt.

Now considering that the governors in the East and South-South are non-performing which is why their kinsmen have all run to Lagos and Kano, there will be those who will ask why they are coming to Lagos to flex their political muscles when they can’t seem to get the governors in the East to be responsible to the needs of the people. However the fact is that as long as they are law abiding and contributing their quota to the development of Lagos, especially by paying their taxes, they have right for their voices to be heard especially in the way they vote. I therefore wonder why some see it as a “gang-up”. If the government was responsive to the needs of the people, there would be no need for a
gang-up. If you want more people in the East to vote for APC then the proper thing is for pressure to be exerted on people like Governor Rochas Okorocha to work and show that there is an alternative to the PDP in the East. Also, government should in my opinion do more for those states to show that the APC cares rather than trying to spite them for their choices. Psychologists tell us that people respond better to encouragement rather than force. On the other hand it’s not as if the APC has shown that it’s a great a party of noble men and women who are full of integrity and honesty. As a lawyer if I lived in Rivers State, I would not vote the APC candidate because of the way Governor Rotimi Amaechi has decimated the judiciary and the legal profession in the state, denying many lawyers most of whom earn their living through the courts the ability to do so because of his inordinate ambition to appoint a yes man as Chief Judge. And like I pointed out above, the APC is also full of corrupt men and women.

I remember listening to the news and hearing that the “footbridge” added to the pre-existing Falomo Bridge was constructed at the cost of N2.7billion. I can still remember laughing hysterically and manically. Nowhere else in the world (except in Lagos, Nigeria) can 30 metres of water, sand, cement plus labour cost N2.7 billion. While I am not a contractor, I am not a fool. I’m sure if I gathered a few civil engineers and used a few unemployed Nigerians for labour, we could have built that “footbridge” for less than N700 million and this brings me conveniently to my second point. According to you, people only want to vote for the PDP because of an “unreasonable hatred” for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Instead of answering the criticisms, you have danced around the issue and made light of people’s concerns as if they don’t matter. Actually they do.

I pass through the Lawanson area fairly frequently and whenever I pass along the main road, I remember Tinubu. The road was one of those done during his tenure. Sadly the drains have been blocked by passers-by and the dirty habits of those with shops along the road. If you were to ask me, I would say that Tinubu for me is the best governor Lagos has ever had, even better than Fashola. Frankly, to be honest I really don’t see what all the hype about Governor Fashola is all about. A friend recounted a tale of a meeting with a Director in the Land Use Charge
office who was gloating about how poor house owners in Lagos were rushing to come and pay the Land Use Charge fees so as to avoid prosecution by the government. The picture he painted got me thinking. I thought that had begun as a tiny spark that niggled and disturbed me crystallised and I came to conclusion that the great Action Governor of Lagos wasn’t as great as people were making him out to be. Under him, success has become a curse in Lagos and I’m sure Lagosians must be the most taxed people in Nigeria, yet because there is no accountability or transparency, there is no commensurate development. All we have is inflation of contracts and a lot of noise. A lot of people have pointed out that the cost of the Lagos Light Rail Project is significantly higher than
the cost of another light rail project approved in Abuja yet no one understands why. Fashola introduced a new Sales Tax and yet we can’t see the effect of the heavy tax burden that we bear. And yet he’s supposed to be the best governor in Nigeria. That is a scary thought. If that is true then the country is in trouble. My view is that internally generated revenue is greater under Fashola than it was under Tinubu yet there was greater development under Tinubu.

With regards to the allegations against Tinubu, we’ve all heard them before. If the reports are to be believed, he owns an airline, a TV station, a radio station, a hotel, collects a certain percentage of the money collected as tax or internally generated revenue in Lagos, owns a transportation company, owns the company responsible for tolling roads in a part of Lagos, owns part of a medical diagnostic company, owns houses and land in the choicest part of Lagos and much more. And all these are believed to have been obtained as a result of being the former governor of the state. Even if half of the allegations are true, then there is good reason for people to be angry. Yet you describe their anger as “unreasonable” hatred. In the immortal words of David before he killed Goliath, “Is there not a cause?” As a Christian, I believe that when a person works, he is practically exchanging his life for the salary he is being paid. Government then forcefully collects a certain percentage of the money that you have exchanged your life for in the form of tax under the guise that they want to develop the country or state. You then hear that the same money you’ve exchanged your life for is being poured into someone’s pockets. Do you expect people to be happy?

Presently car owners in the Victoria Island-Lekki-Ajah axis, while going through a 20 or so kilometre stretch of road have to pass through two different toll gates (soon to become 3) between their homes and their places of work. Now, if a person has the double misfortune of living in Badore while working in Victoria Island and owning a personal vehicle, in a 22-day working month, to go to and from his house to his office and back, he’s going to spend over N10, 000 to pass through the toll gates. Then you think of the hundreds of thousands of people who pass through the toll gates daily. And then you think of the fact that the toll gates are going to be there for the next 30 or so years. And then they tell you that everything is going into one man’s pocket. And you think people do not want to be free from that?  It’s also quite interesting that the toll starts just after the hotel that allegedly belongs to him so his guests from Victoria Island and Ikoyi don’t have to suffer the inconvenience of paying toll. While I am not against PPP’s, there must be transparency. Do you think that those who live in that axis or pas through the toll are happy? Do you think they won’t vote for a person who will promise to take away the toll and the financial burden it imposes while making someone rich? Is there not a cause?

While governor, Tinubu created 37 Local Government Areas in addition to the existing 20 at the time. I stand to be corrected but I can say categorically that none of the chairmen are doing anything of note. All they do is share the monthly allocations that accrue to them and then siphon the money into their personal accounts in conjunction with other council officers. They do not see themselves as accountable to the people or the governor as they believe they owe their allegiance to Tinubu alone and cannot be told what to do. Hence the ineptitude. I was in a bus recently and I heard the story of the APC House of Representative candidate for the Oshodi-Isolo Federal Constituency who fainted and ended up in hospital when he heard the results of the election. Why did he end up in hospital? Because he expected to win since he had the backing of Tinubu. According to those in the bus, he had done absolutely nothing for the community. He took the people for granted and ended up in hospital. According to rumours, even the chairman of my own council in Oshodi-Isolo lives in Lekki. In my area in Isolo, Okota is populated by a lot of people from the East. Even I think that the state of the area is deplorable and the government, both local and state have not been good to the area. The main road through the area that state government has been constructing for the last 5-6 years remains uncompleted. They voted massively for the PDP in the last election. I expect more of the same come Saturday. Do you think Lagosians are happy with unresponsive and unaccountable representatives? Is there not a cause?

Thirdly, no matter how much you or the APC leadership try to demonise Jimi Agbaje, it won’t work, just like the demonization of General Muhammadu Buhari by the PDP did not work. Personally, if people voted for candidates and not parties, I would vote for him in a heartbeat. I wouldn’t even consider Ambode for a second. I have heard only good things about Jimi Agbaje from those who know him and have interacted with him. The only problem he has is the party he belongs to and the perception people have of the leaders of the party both at the national level and in Lagos. As much as I want Lagos to be free from Tinubu’s grip, the thought of people like Bode George and Musiliu Obanikoro as party leaders in Lagos gives me great pause. For a long time before the news was official and rumours were still swirling, I had asked myself if I could vote for Jimi Agbaje if he joined the PDP. His comments about the Niger Delta perpetrating violence if President Jonathan lost and his silence in the face of the rampage in Lagos by thugs and miscreants of the O’odua People’s Congress have hurt him in my estimation. Like I said, given a straight choice between him and Ambode, I would vote him. All that is left is for me to decide who I dislike the more, Tinubu or Bode George. Of course Bode George wins hands down.

I would have preferred if Olasupo Sasore was the gubernatorial candidate of the APC. Apart from the fact that he’s a fellow lawyer, he’s cultured and well spoken. These things would have made the fact that he would be a Tinubu stooge personally easier to bear. For me, whenever I see Ambode, with his chubby cheeks and round head, he reminds me of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Ikuforiji and that is not a pleasant association. Whenever I see Ikuforiji, the things that come to mind are the 3 T’s. Thug. Tout. Thief. And because of this association, I ask myself why I should vote for Ambode. So I have decided that I will most likely not vote come Saturday unless of course a third popular choice presents itself. As much as I want to vote Jimi Agbaje, I can’t stomach the people behind him. However I know a lot of people who voted APC in the Presidential Elections who have vowed to vote PDP in the gubernatorial elections. Whoever wins, I will accept the outcome of the elections. The question therefore is, if the APC loses the election, will it accept the result? President Jonathan has set the bar high by conceding defeat and all eyes are now on the APC in Lagos. Just like the Presidential Elections was some sort of referendum on President Jonathan’s performance, some see the election in Lagos as something of a referendum on Tinubu’s popularity and influence. If the APC loses, will it accept the result and wait for the next for years to win back the state? Or will it unleash violence on the land in the hope of achieving by violence what it could not achieve through the ballot box? I understand from a relative that both parties are busy mobilising thugs in states like Ondo, Lagos and Edo as they see these states as must win states. Acting with impunity will get the nation nowhere. President Jonathan declared that his political ambition was worth no person’s death. I wonder if the leadership of the APC believe that. Judging from the comments attributed to the Oba of Lagos, it seems not.

 

 

 

Ayoade Oluwasanmi is the author of the novel, The African Prince, a satire about governance and politics in Africa. He is also the author of the short stories, It’s My Body,  a satire about feminism in the West, Let Me Love You, a story about peadophilia and courage in the face of abuse, and Letters To America  a perspective on certain social issues seen through the eyes of an African. He is a lawyer and lives in Lagos, Nigeria. You can follow him on Twitter at @authorayoade.

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THE PRESIDENT MUST REPEAT THE CLASS PART 1

He stared malevolently at the offending newspaper, the words roiling about in his mind. Incompetent. Squandered. Failed president. Little enthusiasm for tackling insecurity. It seemed as if the words would burn a hole in his brain. How had these stupid oyinbo people arrived at their conclusions? Were they living in Nigeria that they knew what the people were experiencing? How could they just dismiss his achievements while supporting his opponent, especially after they had labelled the man a dictator? So he was worse than a dictator?

Just then there was a light knock on the door. “Come in,” he said, not bothering to look up from the offending newsprint. The door opened and closed without him bothering to see who it was that had entered.

“Youasked to see me sir.”

Lookingup, the president stared angrily at the person who had interrupted his pityparty. He threw the newspaper in the direction of his press secretary who stood in front of his capacious desk. “Reuben, have you seen the nonsense this oyinbo people are writing? This nonsense Economist magazine. They say I’m incompetent and that people should support Buhari. What do they mean by that?”

Unruffled by his boss’s usual outburst, the man called Reuben sat down in a chair in front of the desk. “Yes, I’ve seen the article sir. I have already drafted a response to it sir.”

“They say I’m incompetent. Is it by competent that you rule a country, ehn Reuben? Is being competent one of the criteria for contesting for president in the constitution?”

“No sir.”

“Ehn. Ehn. These oyinbo people want to put sand in my garri. Can you imagine the nonsense? What did that great entrepreneur in our party say? That when people say your son has failed, you ask him to repeat? If the Economist is saying that
I’ve failed, then I should be allowed to repeat. Is that not so, Reuben?”

“Yes sir, it is. If they say a person has failed, he must repeat.”

“Yes now. Of course he must repeat. That is why I want to repeat. Even my own people, the Ijaw and the Ibo say that even if I failed, I must repeat. Why must I be the only person who won’t repeat? Obasanjo repeated. Most of the PDP governors have repeated. Even after they impeached him the first time for non-performance and misconduct, Fayose has come back to repeat. So why should I not repeat?”

“You have a right to repeat sir.”

“All these yeye oyinbo people talking about competence and incompetence and sounding like Lai Mohammed. Even that yeye Amaechi. It is because they are competent that they are in the opposition. Me, I am incompetent, that’s why I’m president.”

“Of course sir. You’re very incompetent sir. That’s why you’re president sir.”

“With all of my achievements, they still say I haven’t done anything. Look at my achievements in agriculture. They are too numerous to mention. Because of my transformation, farmers are now producing more. Even the things like wheat that we used to import, we now produce in Nigeria. Is it my fault that farmers have decided to increase the price of their produce and things have gotten more expensive? Are they not happy that farmers are now enjoying the fruit of their labour?”

“No sir. They should be sir. It’s just bad belle sir.”

“I must repeat o, Reuben!”

“You will repeat sir.”

‘If I was not doing well, would all those pastors be telling their congregations to vote for me? The fact that they don’t want Buhari to be president is evidence that I’m doing well. Are they not men of God?”

“Of course you’re doing well sir.”

“Do you know how many 450MW plants I have built? Even though they say Nigeria needs about 30 – 40, 000MW, have I not tried by building something that will generate something no matter how small. By the time I build over a thousand power plants the situation will be resolved. How many power plants did Buhari build?”

“Of course you’ve tried sir. None sir.”

“I know that I am the best president Nigeria has ever had or will ever have. People are complaining that $1 is 210. Why are they complaining? Is it not £1 to 290 or more? And people are complaining? Do you have a Domiciliary Account Reuben?”

“Em…”

“Reuben, confess. You have a dollar account don’t you? I’m not asking if you have an account outside Nigeria. I asked if you have a Domiciliary Account in a bank here in Nigeria.”

“Em,…Yes, I do sir.”

“When you want to change the dollars to naira, do you not get more naira than before?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Ehen,” the president crowed. “Is that not an achievement? You now have more naira for your dollars. By the time I repeat, it will be $1 to 1,000 Naira.”

“Of course sir. That’s good sir.”

“At least the stupid article did not mention the whole Chibok girls’ wahala.
Nigerians want their leaders to be Superman and do everything. Am I the army? People are so ignorant. They talk as if I should be the one to carry a gun and go and look for the girls myself. When my uncle was kidnapped, was it not the Airforce, Navy, Army and Nigerian Police that I sent to recover him from the kidnappers. Of course, that’s even if anyone was kidnapped. My enemies, those that don’t want me to repeat can spread all sorts of stories just to make me look bad. But the real Nigerians know better than. Those are the ones who will vote for me. They know all my achievements. Whether the devil, APC or The
Economist like it or not, I will repeat.”

“Of course sir. You will repeat.”

 

 

 

 

Ayoade Oluwasanmi is the author of the novel, The African Prince, a satire about governance in Africa He is also the author of the short stories, It’s My Body,  a satire about feminism in the West, Let Me Love You, a story about peadophilia and courage in the face of abuse, and Letters To America  a perspective on certain social issues seen through the eyes of an African.

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Arsenal Are An Average Team

Dear Mr. Wenger,

There is a philosophy in the world of sport especially in relation to the Olympic movement which says that winning is not really as important as participating. Which of course we all know is nonsense. Qualifying for the Olympics is based on a system where athletes are classified based on how high they can jump, how fast they can run or swim or how far they can throw. At the end of the day, based on how well they do these things, a few of them are awarded coloured metals for their efforts based on how much better they do it than others. Now if the joy is only in participating, there should be no need for medals. The fact is there are those who are assured about how well they do these things and expect to win a coloured metal and a failure to do so would elicit disappointment. For instance, Usain Bolt knows that he’s a great short distance runner. Whenever he takes part in a competition, he expects to win gold. Anything other than that would be regarded as something of a disappointment. He doesn’t take part in competitions just for the joy of participation alone because he knows he’s good enough to win.

In the last few years, Arsenal Football Club has gone from one that expects to win the competitions it participates in to one that qualifies for and takes part in competitions supposedly just for the joy of qualifying and taking part. Every year before a new season starts, all the pundits look at the Arsenal team and they write us off as not being capable of challenging for any major honour and for the past or nine years, they have mostly been right. Every year come March, April and May, Arsenal is slogging it out with less accomplished clubs just to come fourth. Not winning the Premiership but struggling for fourth. For a club that has never been relegated since entering the top flight and has 13 domestic league titles, 11 FA Cup wins, 1 UEFA Cup Winners Cup win, 1 UEFA Champions League runner up medal just to mention a few, aiming to come fourth every year is just not good enough.

For a club that had once had pace, power, height and technical ability with the likes of Henry, Viera, Gilberto, Pires, Wiltord to become one that is technically inept, aerially challenged, lightweight and full of vertically challenged players is just so baffling. I understand that you are presently under a lot of pressure from fellow Arsenal fans as a result of our disastrous start to the season and woeful performances. The present winter of discontent has seemingly been exacerbated by our recent losses to Swansea and Manchester United. While I understand that they are unhappy at our current form, I understand that none of them are willing to tell the truth of why we are where we are. The answer is actually quite simple.

I recently read a comment on Twitter by Gary Lineker where he used the word “great” to describe Wayne Rooney. I must confess that I was alarmed when I first of all saw the words “great” and “Wayne Rooney” in a sentence together. I had to read the comment well to make sure he was talking about Wayne being an England great and not a world great. When I had assured myself that it was in reference to England, I allowed myself a sigh of relief. It occurred to me that it doesn’t take much to be an England great seeing as they are a second tier footballing nation still hung up on their success in 1966 and desperate to achieve success again but without the technically gifted players to accomplish the feat. Hence to them, anybody can be “a great”.

I just finished looking at the list of the highest goal scorers per season for the Barclays Premier League. Do you know what I had always suspected but just confirmed? Wayne Rooney has never ended up a season as the highest goal scorer in the Premiership. The two seasons he ended up with more than 20 goals in a season, he ended up second on the list for the season. On average, Rooney’s goal tally per season is between 14 to 16 goals. Yet according to some people, Rooney is “world class”, a word the English misuse so often, it’s laughable. A pundit on a Sky Radio football programme actually said Rooney is one of the “best 10 footballers in the world”. When people point out that the statistics don’t support the assertion that Rooney is in no way world class, his supporters like Phil Neville act surprised by this and tell us to look at what “he has achieved”. By this, they mean we should look at all the shiny medals and trophies he has won with Manchester United and based on those we should inevitably conclude that Wayne Rooney is world class.

I recently discovered an amazing fact Mr. Wenger. It was a great surprise to me to find out that Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, the retired Brazilian footballer known as Ronaldo or the Phenomenon, never won the UEFA Champions League. In spite of his goal scoring feats in Brazil, Netherlands, Italy and Spain, he never had the privilege of winning the trophy. At crucial times, he suffered injuries that destroyed his team’s chances of winning the competition especially with Real Madrid. Yet on his individual performances, he is still regarded as one of the best players ever. Yet based on the logic of people like Phil Neville, the fact that Wayne Rooney has a Champions League medal probably means he is a better player than Ronaldo. The fact is that Wayne Rooney has been lucky enough to be in a Manchester United team with players like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Robin van Persie who have carried the team and ensured Wayne Rooney has won all those shiny medals he has at home.

I have always told friends that the last time Wayne Rooney showed any technical ability was when he played for Everton. If most people are honest, Wayne Rooney’s most memorable goal ever is the goal scored against Arsenal when he was 16 or so. Now even Paul Scholes has had to come out and admit the fact that he does not believe Wayne Rooney has fulfilled the potential everyone felt he had. I had earlier written an article about the fact that all Wayne Rooney has going for him is plenty of hard work but little technical talent but I guess you didn’t get to read it. You can find it here (http://theafricanprince.authorsxpress.com/2014/10/20/letter-to-arsene-wenger/). I think the main bias for all of his supporters is that they look at all the trophies he has won with his team and it blinds them to the little he has contributed to the winning of those trophies. Robin van Persie joined Manchester United and showed his class by carrying the team over the line to win the Premiership. Wayne Rooney has never done that. Yet he is supposed to be world class.

You might wonder why I have written you to talk about Wayne Rooney. While he certainly is central to my argument, he is not the reason for the letter. If I were to grade English players regardless of whether or not they play for the English national team, I would rate them in this order: John Terry, Joe Hart (should be number 1 but a number of high profile blunders has seen him fall in my estimation), Gary Cahill, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard (a player who people do not use the appellation world class for yet still scores the same number of goals or more than Wayne Rooney. If he spends the entire season with Manchester City, I can bet he will score more goals than Rooney). After this we have Wayne Rooney. After Wayne Rooney there is a sharp drop in quality (what little there is) with regards to the English players. After this, we then have players like Walcott, Dawson and other run of the mill players.

As you will have noticed, in my view the best English players play for clubs like Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City. None play for Arsenal. That is the real reason we have been average this season. There were around five English players in the game with Manchester United, to me that was the main reason we lost. A team cannot have that many average players and expect to win games or trophies. He seems to be able to score spectacular team goals yet Jack Wilshere finds it extremely hard (even impossible) to score simple goals when one-on-one with a goal keeper. It was not so long ago that English pundits were falling all over themselves to call him world class. Now they’ve all stopped using the appellation for him. Especially when there are players like Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkely and John Stones (who have done absolutely nothing) who can be referred to as world class. I couldn’t stop laughing at the number of times Garth Crooks used the word “outstanding” to describe Sterling for doing nothing on the BBC Live Text during Liverpool’s match against Stoke City. Even his manager has bought into the hype, describing him as “outstanding” after the match against Bournemouth. I didn’t see any of that “outstanding” ability against Manchester United when he was busy missing clear goals. Now every English player (especially those under 20 who have no personal achievements are world class. To think that Sterling is being compared to Cristiano Ronaldo is just outrageous and insulting to Ronaldo.

I read that the club is in discussions for a new deal with Theo Walcott. Every time I remember that Theo Walcott has spent 8 years at Arsenal and earns a £100, 000 a week when he has hardly set the world alight feels me with pain. To think that he is just a year or so younger than Messi yet their personal achievements are so far apart is just mind boggling. The thought that he is going to be earning more for doing nothing is just appalling. To my mind, he should have been allowed to leave when he was allegedly demanding to be a central striker. There are plenty of stories in the media and from pundits about how Arsenal is always letting its best players go. To my mind, the last English player that fitted that description was Ashley Cole. However, if people are of the opinion that Theo Walcott is one of Arsenal’s best players, then we seriously have a problem. The gulf in talent between him and Alexis Sanchez is just so scary. While I wish him all the best, Theo’s recovery from injury and return to the team does not fill me with any great joy or anticipation.

While Tom Cleverly played for Manchester United he was supposedly world class. He even made the England team on a regular basis in spite of complaints from fans who thought he was rubbish. Yet since he moved to Aston Villa, everyone seems to have forgotten him. Even Roy Hodgson who kept playing him in spite of fans protests and petitions has not played him since he left Manchester United. What happened? Did his supposed talent suddenly fizzle out? In my estimation, apart from Kieran Gibbs, there is no English player presently on that team who is good enough to play for us. That is of course if we are of the opinion that Arsenal Football Club is one of the best clubs in England and in the world. However if we believe that Arsenal is just another run of the mill mid table club punching above its weight and fighting for 4th place is normal then most of the players we have can be said to be good enough to help achieve 4th place.

I loved Robin van Persie and I understand why he left Arsenal. He was a world class talent who probably felt he was carrying a team of average talents. He knew he was good and he felt he could not achieve the glory his talents deserved with Arsenal. I do not begrudge him his Premiership title. His move had less to do with money than that of people like Gael Clichy and Ashley Cole. I remember reading on the BBC Live Text that after the Anderlecht vs. Arsenal match which we won 2 – 1, Alexis Sanchez kept shaking his head at the end of the game. I shudder to think where we would be on the Premiership table without his goals. I don’t know what the rumour is over there in England but here in Nigeria, people are already saying that come next season, Sanchez will be a Manchester City or Chelsea player. That he would leave Arsenal to play for a club that would help him achieve his aspiration of winning medals that his considerable talent deserves which Arsenal is of course unable to help actualise. If he left, I wouldn’t blame him. Alan Hansen said you can’t win anything with children. I say you can’t win anything with mainly English players.

Like I said in my first letter, one day these players will probably leave Arsenal one day claiming they can’t win anything with the club, not wanting to admit that they are the ones who are just not good enough. Like I said previously also, while I respect the fact that you’re a great coach, you’re not an alchemist. Do you honestly believe that Theo Walcott can improve? If you honestly believe that, then I don’t know what to say. Sadly that is why I know and believe the club will not win the Premier League or Champions League as long as you’re in charge. I might be wrong but that’s what I believe. In my mind, I’m already looking forward to the next coach who hopefully will clear out all the English players. After the loss to Chelsea, your comments seemed to allude to the fact that we lost the game because Chelsea spent more money. I disagree. We lost because Chelsea has players with greater quality in practically every department. I do not believe that the amount of money spent on a player is indicative of his quality. Eliaquim Mangala cost a lot of money yet his defending for the first few weeks after his arrival left a lot to be desired. However, at times there is something to be said about buying players who have proven themselves instead of buying 16 and 17 year olds with “potential” on the cheap and then being disappointed, especially when they are English players. Nemanja Matic was sold by Chelsea and later brought back to the club. Apart from Cesc, he’s probably the best signing they made in the summer. Also, apart from maybe Alexis Sanchez, Lukas Podolski and Tomas Rosicky, even Branislav Ivanovic is better than most of our players. The only player on the Chelsea team that I can think of that any English player is better than is probably John Mikel Obi.

Have you by any chance watched Barcelona this season? Munir El Haddadi is obviously a world class talent. To me, he is obviously technically better than any English player. The fact that Suarez has sat out his ban and El Haddadi is not getting the playing time he was getting at first does not detract from the fact that he will be a great player in the future. You recently said you once wanted to get Messi at the same time you got Cesc. If you have such a relationship with Barcelona why don’t we try getting him on loan or something? I bet he will be a great catch for whoever he ends up playing with. Instead of El Haddadi, we are stuck with Wilshere, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain. There was a time when the accusation from pundits was that while Arsenal beat the smaller teams, we just could not beat the bigger teams. Now we can’t even beat the mid table teams like Swansea or Stoke City. Since Swansea beat us, logic dictates that West Ham will hammer us.

I was watching an episode of the Premiership Fan Zone the Sunday after our loss to Stoke City and Phil Neville and another former English player (whose name I did not catch) were on the programme to talk about the weekend’s games. According to the guest (not Phil Neville) the aim of buying new players is to strengthen a club. According to him, he couldn’t understand why you passed up on the opportunity of signing Cesc Fabregas. According to him, the reason you didn’t sign Cesc was because of Jack Wilshire. Jack Wilshire! Now I had always thought it was because of Mesut Ozil (which doesn’t make not signing him acceptable of course) but if it is true that you passed up on signing Cesc because of Jack Wilshire, the only conclusion I can come to is that the Emirates is presently occupying some sort of alternate universe. As it can only be in an alternate universe where Jack Wilshere is as good as Cesc because in the real world where I live, Jack Wilshire is not as good as (and will never be as good as) Cesc Fabregas. It can only be an alternate universe in which Oxlade-Chamberlain is deemed to be better than Podolski or Rosicky. Podolski scored more goals than any other player in the run to our FA Cup win and suddenly he’s no longer good enough? The other day, you were saying that Ramsey needed only to play well and the goals would come later. Are you implying Podolski isn’t scoring goals or playing well? Also, I can’t understand how Rosicky is not playing. He might be 34 but his technical ability cannot be matched by any of the English players.

I understand that the FA Chairman Greg Dyke wants England to win a major competition by the year 2022. I’m sure the Germans, Spanish, Dutch, Brazilians, Italians (all of whom I consider better than the English) will have something to say about that. That idea is almost as funny as Rooney being considered one of the best 10 players in the world. To achieve this, Mr. Dyke wants to change the Barclays Premier League into the British Premier League by limiting the numbers of non-European Union players. Someone should enlighten him that when people pay their pay TV subscriptions to watch the Premier League, we don’t do it because of Andy Carroll, Jonjo Shelvey, Wayne Rooney, Stewart Downing or Danny Rose. We do it because of Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa, Robin van Persie, Wilfred Bony, Enner Valencia and others. Also you should probably point him in the direction of Robbie Savage’s excellent article on the BBC website (bbc.com/sport/0/football/29995556)about quotas not being the answer.

Of course, the fact that British players are prohibitively expensive doesn’t help matters. To think that Adam Lallana, Darren Bent, Andy Carroll are more expensive than Tony Kroos of Real Madrid is just so laughable. As I type this, it occurs to me that is probably why you buy teenage English players with “potential” in the hope that they repay the faith in them and become something big. I quite understand that you don’t want to buy a player in the hope that you’re buying another Thierry Henry and then end up with another Francis Jeffers. However, just because you bought a player at a young age doesn’t mean you have to stick with him when he’s not good enough when he’s older. A few years ago, people asked why you were playing Nicklas Bendtner and you replied that if he was good enough to play for his national team then he was good enough to play for you. When I heard you make that comment then, it seemed to make sense. Now I disagree. What if the national team is rubbish? Your comment then would make me assume that you believe that players that make the national team for Gibraltar or San Marino for instance are good enough to play for Arsenal. I think not.

Having said that, I really wonder why you’ve stuck with Wojciech Szczesny. He’s obviously not one of the best 20 goalkeepers in the world. He’s definitely light years behind De Gea, Joe Hart, Hugo Lloris, Asmir Begovic and even Simon Mignolet. Just before he signed his senior contract, I hoped that maybe you’d get someone better. There were even rumours involving his father that you were going to sign a better keeper. But you didn’t. How did we get from David Seaman and Jens Lehmann of the famed Invincibles to Szczesny? It boggles the mind just trying to comprehend. In all departments of the game we are just not good enough. Did you by any chance read the article in the Independent that said Szczesny is one of the worst keepers in the Premier League? Why do we keep buying players who are just not good enough in the hope that they’ll get better? I read your comments about how you won’t be seeking to bring Peter Cech to the Emirates. How can we hope to win anything when you keep placing your faith in players who are not good enough individually and really add nothing to the team. While glad at the fact that we are playing Monaco in the next round of the UEFA Champions League, I was a little embarrassed and saddened by the collective sigh of relief from the fans and the club at the fact that we were not going to play the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona. It was simply admitting that we are not good enough to play with the big boys.

I could go on and on about how poor we are and why but I’ll stop here. I could go on and on about how inconsistent Ramsey seems to be regardless of his midweek goal in the Champions League. I could write on and on about how your misplaced faith in English players and others like Szczesny is hurting the reputation of the club. I could go on and on about how the fact we are not winning anything or challenging for titles is not good enough for a club of the stature of Arsenal Football Club. I could go on and about how your sticking with average players (or not playing the good ones we have) instead of buying world class ones is destroying your legacy and leaving you open to criticism from people like Stewart Robson. I could go on and on about how your insistence on buying English players who I believe are only good enough to play for Southampton or Swansea and then hoping they win the Champions League would be funny if it wasn’t sad. Your refusal to change and spend money on good players in the hope of winning something is extremely detrimental to the club. That’s why at this moment most fans want you to go because there just seems to be no hope of winning anything as long as you remain in charge. I guess you believe you won’t get sacked by the board and so were stuck with you and people like Theo for the next two and a half years. However I am looking past those years and looking forward to see who the next manager will be. I know Arsenal will get past these present days of mediocrity and be great once again. I can’t wait for us to be Premier League Champions once again or even Champions League winners. When you’re gone.

I would like to thank you for all you’ve done for Arsenal Football Club. Thanks to you we have the Invicibles and other records that will never be taken away from us. I would also like to wish you all the best for the future, the last few years of your contract and for when you finally leave the club we all love. Thank you.

Best regards,

Ayoade Oluwasanmi

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Perceptions on Governance

Perceptionis a powerful thing. In the Oxford Advanced Learners  Dictionary, one of the definitions of perception is “an idea, a belief or an image you have as a result of how you see or understand something.” Therefore perception is about how we look at things and the conclusions we come to based on what we see. Therefore perception is subjective. Perception is based on an individual’s reading of certain situations and circumstances and the conclusions he draws from them. People make judgements and take decisions based on their perceptions about people and situations. In the end, certain perceptions about people or situations might be wrong, but they are based on certain facts and a person’s analysis of those facts.

 

For instance, I have certain perceptions about the present government. First of all, I have the perception that the government is incompetent. Apologists of the present government will tell you that Nigeria had been on a steady course downhill long before the present government came to power. They say the government inherited a myriad of problems which cannot be solved in a day. However the present government has spent more than a day in office. In fact it has spent about eight years in power, yet nothing seems to be getting better. Even if nothing was getting better, at the very least, one would expect that the government would put a stop to the rot. This has not been the case. In fact, things have gotten a lot worse.

 

Secondly, there is the perception that the government is one of the most corrupt governments Nigeria has ever had the misfortune to have. The government initiated a bogus amnesty programme where so called militants from the president’s part of the country who claimed to be agitating for a fairer division of the country’s oil wealth but who were in fact thugs and murderers sponsored by self-serving politicians who committed acts of treason against the state and murdered innocent people were pardoned. As if that was not enough, they were being paid monthly salaries that were many times more than the salaries of law abiding citizens. Some were even sent on courses abroad at the
expense of the state. Now others have been given extremely lucrative contracts to guard government installations like oil pipelines and our maritime borders.

 

Thirdly, I have the perception that not only is the government incompetent and corrupt, the government in uncaring and unfeeling. The northern part of the country is in the throes of a religious insurgency spear headed by the murderous terrorist group known as Boko Haram. The group has carved out certain parts of some northern states for itself where it has declared the existence of an Islamic Caliphate. The government not only seems clueless as to what to do to bring an end to the activities of the terrorist organisation, it seems to be uncaring as
to the plight of those suffering under the threat of their lives at the hand of
these murderers and cowards. Not only is the group waging an infantry war against the state, it has also engaged in the bombing of mosques, churches, markets and schools. However the most chilling of these is the way they have habitually masterminded the slaughter of school children either by gunning them down in cold blood, setting them ablaze or slitting their throats. Interestingly, these attacks have sometimes been conducted on the eve of political rallies or national events where drinking, merriment and laughter are the order. Rather than scale back these events or cancel them or even refraining from attending, the president has done neither. This gives me the impression the president is really not concerned about what happens in the north. After all, they are not his people and they didn’t elect him into office. I get the impression that all
the president is concerned about is getting “re-elected”, with or without the votes of those affected by the terrorist scourge.

 

There is the perception that the government is gradually but inexorably pushing the country to the brink of anarchy and lawlessness. Recently, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal defected from the ruling PDP to the opposition APC. At the time of his defection, the House was on recess. There were rumours that when sitting resumed, he would be impeached. On the day when the legislators wanted to resume, the gates leading to the legislative chambers were blocked by armed policemen acting on the orders of the Inspector-General of Police. In order to access the chamber, legislators had to climb over the gates. This was after the Senate President, Speaker and other legislators had been tear-gassed by the police. The president’s handlers and apologists have denied that the president had a hand in the fiasco. The Inspector-General of Police is a member of the executive whose office is recognised by the constitution. While he has a constitutional duty to ensure security throughout the country, he basically takes orders from the president. To tell me that the Inspector-General
of Police went ahead and sealed the legislative chambers of an independent arm of government without the president’s knowledge beggars belief. The fact that the Inspector-General allegedly acted without the knowledge or support of the president and still has a job is extremely incredulous.

 

It is because of these perceptions I have about the president and the government that I cannot in good conscience vote for the present government come next year’s general election. I believe it would be a missed opportunity and a mistake of gargantuan proportions if this government were to have another four years to inflict more damage on this country. While they might think they do not need my vote to win because they have “plans” in place to “capture” the country, I will not keep silent or adopt a posture of resignation. From now till the election,
I will continue to speak, in the hope that we can actually look past our
religious and ethnic biases and affiliations and actually do what is best for
Nigeria. At this moment, ensuring that Goodluck Jonathan does not get a second term is a step in that direction.

 

 

 

Ayoade Oluwasanmi is the author of the novel, The African Prince, a satire about governance in Africa He is also the author of the short stories, It’s My Body,  a satire about feminism in the West, Let Me Love You, a story about peadophilia and courage in the face of abuse, and Letters To America  a perspective on certain social issues seen through the eyes of an African.

 

 

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Kim Kardashian Is a Feminist/Porn Icon

I think we should all be thankful that the internet did not break. By now, there are very few people in the world (those who live in the rain forests and desert regions of the world who really can’t be that much, can they? and besides do they even care?) who have escaped from the images of Kim Kardashian’s naked body and her attempts to break the internet from with pictures of her enhanced rear end. While the various news and social media have been awash with stories about her return to the world of porn, I have been vaguely disturbed by the lack of feminist approval
of her actions.

 

In recent times, porn has become quite mainstream. Nowadays, the world of film and fashion now regularly feature porn masquerading as “art”. It is therefore not uncommon to watch a programme like Girls or pick up a magazine like Elle, Vanity Fair or some other “fashion” magazine and see the latest naked picture of a musician or an actress. These pictures are to my mind no different to the pictures taken of females in the adult entertainment industry. Nowadays Hugh Hefner must be seen as something of a trailblazer. He saw a need for a magazine
with pictures of naked females to titillate his readers. Now magazines like
Sport Illustrated have joined the porn train and regularly display pictures of naked people under the guise of telling us how the human body works. These difference however is that while Vanity Fair and its ilk tell us they’re promoting fashion and those who pose naked for the glossy pictures shown between its covers are “feminist”, those who pose for participate in the adult entertainment industry are not seen as such. Which is quite interesting. I’m sure magazines like Playboy are considered a part of the adult entertainment industry yet I’m sure there are quite a number of people who have probably posed naked for both Playboy and a magazine like Elle. Another example of how porn and fashion have segued into each other. Enter Kim Kardashian and the
feminists.

 

Feminists tell us there is a patriarchy (a group to which all men belong to by default) who want to control what women do with their bodies, especially their reproductive capabilities. Hence whenever Lena Dunham goes strutting about naked on her show, it is seen as the highest form of expressing feminism, thumping her nose at the patriarchy. Which is why I expected that Kim Kardashian would be celebrated as the next Lena Dunham. After all, all Sandra Fluke and Wendy Davies did was to speak out in support of abortion was to be feted as feminist darlings. Yet here was Kim Kardashian assaulting our eyes with a full frontal picture of her feminine assets and yet the response of feminists like Dana Milbank of the Washington Post has been totally underwhelming. I understand
that the midterms are over and the Democrats got ass whooped but I’m surprised that no one is tapping her to run for office. Future candidate for governor of California, anybody?  Okay, Senator?

 

After Beyonce’s performance earlier this year in a skimpy, barely there costume at the 2014 VMA’s, she was hailed as a feminist. This might be as a result of the fact that there were large letters behind her bearing this message. However, I don’t believe a person needs a sign proclaiming what he or she is before being regarded as such. Did Beyonce deserve to be hailed as a feminist because of the sign she had behind her? I think note. There must have been something in her dancing that commentators saw that made them label her as such. In the same vein I do not believe Kim Kardashian needed to have a sign behind her in her
porn shot with Paper Magazine for her to be considered a feminist. To my mind, her act of disregarding what a disapproving patriarchy would say or think and going ahead and stripping nude to take those pictures (the same as any actress would do) makes her a feminist icon in my mind. After all, disregarding the patriarchy is after all what feminism is all about isn’t it? Sign her up Hilary. Kim is really what you need if you want to win the Democratic nomination for president. All the feminists should love her.

 

Ayoade Oluwasanmi is the author of the novel, The African Prince, a satire about governance in Africa He is also the author of the short stories, It’s My Body,  a satire about feminism in the West, Let Me Love You, a story about peadophilia and courage in the face of abuse, and Letters To America  a perspective on certain social issues seen
through the eyes of an African.

 

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