Monday, 30 April 2007

Ooops. There goes another N200.

As I am on my way back to Lagos I am just preparing this ready reckoner to help me with my constant battle to keep money in my pocket. This is never successful as I always fall for the following:

Ways people ask for money in Lagos.

- Good morning sah

- Oga how now?

- Welcome sah

- How was the flight?

- How are you today sah?

- How is the family?

- How is madam?

- How are (my) your children?

- How are my friends (referring to the kids)?

- How was your night?

- How was your day?

- How is your health sah?

- Anything for your people sah?

- It is your world sah.

-I hate to bother you sah.

- Park here sah

- Oya reverse

-Standing very close and smiling

-Hugging you like a long lost relative

And of course the very direct - "everyone lie down on the floor and give us your money and GSM handsets" which I have been lucky not to experience so far.

Other suggestions welcome. I will compile a list and maybe we can get it printed and hand it out to people as they come off the plane!

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

My first rant in blogsville. I am so pxxxed off.

I posted this on Funmi Iyanda's blog in response to her posting about the elections. My objection is to the foreign observers and media. I now need to lie down for a while.

Funmi thanks for your observations but I beg to disagree. I am very wary of all these foreign observers and their claims of irregularities etc. We all know, and expected , that there would be shenanigans along the way. If people chose not to exercise their right to vote surely that in itself is part of being in a democracy? The right to choose? Nigeria is on a journey. This is part of the journey.

The expectation was that there would be massive violence and widespread loss of lives. That did not happen. Is this not something to be commended?

The US & UK can cry foul all they like but I am sure their Ambassadors will be in Aso rock the day after the coronation to ensure that their interests are maintained. And who gives them the right to judge us anyway? What is the voter turnout in the UK? Are there no voting irregularities in the US?

I am sick of the meddling. The election is over. A winner declared. Let's move on to building the country. The opposition have four years to gather evidence against the newly elected government and prepare their battle plans. All part of the democratic process.

Despite all my cynicism about him I was very impressed with Yar Adua's calm demeanour at the press conference yesterday. I was especially impressed with the way he handled the questions from the foreign correspondents who were all fixated with allegations of this and that? Is it that Tony Blair and George Bush's administrations have exemplary records? Or is it not true that they would have set new lows in standards for "democratically" elected governments? Puh leeez.

We have a situation where one democratically elected government has handed over to another. That in my view is progress. Onward and upward. For those trying to give Nigeria a complex and want to continue tarring us with the same old brush. Good luck to you. I will not assist you with your objectives.
If you really want to help Nigeria why don't you go back to your countries and get your governments to release all the funds that have illegally transferred there by all the previous military dictators whom you were very happy to support and even assist? How about all those loans you granted Nigeria that got us into a serious financial mess and from which nothing was gained?

Viva Nigeria.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

For my sins.

It is fair to say, dear reader that I spend quite a bit of time at the computer. Most of this is work related for sure but I am also not averse to the odd blog posting here and there. This "dedication" has not gone unnoticed by the powers that be who have finally decided that enough is enough. If you can't beat them, etc.

Let me just say that those who have been here from the start will back me up when I say that I have been nothing but full of praise for Iyawo (besides the little episode in the For better for worse posting). She is a wonderful wife and mother and we could not have asked for anyone better with which to share our lives etc, etc (I have lined up the kids behind me and we are all nodding vigourously).

So without further ado I introduce Iyawo's blog .

p.s - don't believe a word she says about me especially around my sensitivity, cleanliness, maturity, romantic ideas, or all the other shortcomings she might accidentally mention. She knows that she is very lucky to have me and is just going to say things to scare off the competition. And I really do not watch that much football. And I do pay attention when she talks.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

The fireworks that broke the camel's back.

Having tried and failed to despatch my sister to the great beyond (I really like her now sha) I was somewhat perturbed when another bundle of joy arrived in our home five years later and I was introduced to my brother. It was obvious that my parents had lost their minds. Had they not learnt their lessons? What did I have to do to prove to them that there was only going to be one rightful heir to to estate. These people are testing me oh.

Due to my mother running interference and all other adults watching me like a hawk with their beady eyes i did not have further chance to cause any further peril to either of my siblings however being blessed with what the doctors like to call an "overactive imagination" (these oyinbo doctors sef. in naija i was more properly known as a trouble maker) my "energetic" mind soon moved on to other adventures.

In the BQ of our house lived one of my dad's friends. This chap worked for a film distribution company and every couple of weeks he would arrive home with a couple of huge cans under his arm which meant it was cinema time in our household. He would load up the projector and we would all sit through some western film or other which would be projected on a sheet on the outside wall (every mallam in the neighbourhood would drop by to watch) and only served to fire up my imagination even more.

Anyway, one day he was also sent some promotional fireworks as a gift or something and he happened to bring these home. As far as he was concerned he was very meticulous and safety conscious in the storage of said fireworks. For me however I thought he was a bit careless. I mean he only rolled them in a blanket, tied them up with string, cellotaped the package and then stored it away in his bedroom cupboard under lock and key. Can you imagine? How careless. Needless to say I had the fireworks in my hand before he was even half way down BodeThomas. Now what to do with them? I could hardly let them off without attracting the attention of mum who was still looking for any excuse to practice her kung fu on my ass.

It was whilst I was formulating the plan of action that I heard my mother's footsteps coming down the stairs towards the kitchen where I was in deep thought about how to let off fireworks without setting the house on fire or attracting undue attention from the neighbours. I panicked and looked around for somewhere to hide the evidence. Time was running out and so I threw the package into the one place I was sure she would never look. It is funny how God works though isn't it?

After quizzing me vigorously as to what I was doing in the kitchen, establishing that my two siblings were still alive and that all seemed well with the world, she then switched the oven on. In a somewhat high voice (nothing to do with not having reached puberty) I asked her what she thought she was doing. The woman then said she was planning to roast some chicken for my dad. Today of all days? Can the man not eat eba like his mates? When did he become ajebutter to come home and be eating roast chicken?

At this point every fibre in my body was pushing me to run upstairs pack a bag and jump over the fence into the safety of the cold, cruel world or at least Adeniran Ogunsanya but then how could I do this without looking guilty. How is it that of all the days my mother wants to use the oven it is today?

I don't know what gave away my alarm but my mum is sharp and she must have noticed the sweat beads making their way down my face, my furrowed brow and a rather odd smell (let's call it Fear ) emanating from my body. As she was about to question me again as to what I was doing in the kitchen, why I was acting so shifty and nervous etc all hell broke loose. I would say it took at least an hour for her heart palpitations to subside (and my shorts to dry).

This was a very serious matter and so she called a "war council" to sit in judgement. This consisted of my mum, both grandmas and other maternal parts of the family. Reluctantly they had to invite my dad. I say reluctantly only because they knew that he was a softie when it came to criminal matters like this and the dishing out of punishment. The last time I had done something really terrible, my mum had marched me to his room when he returned from work asking for him to "deal" with me. His dealing with me had consisted of him locking the door, whipping his pillow whilst I made the appropriate punishment noises and then both of us stuffing our faces with chocolate and watching a film. I then made the mistake of telling my sister what actually happened. She must have "accidentally" mentioned it to my mum and since then my father was banished to the sidelines on the punishment front.

So there I was stood in the corner whilst the ladies all looked at me with their sorrowful eyes and then looking on at my mum with pity as they quenched their fantas and puff puff. What oh what can we do about this your son? they asked. You know if we are not careful he will only fall in with the wrong crowd and end up as an armed robber forever bringing disgrace to your family (a bit extreme but I guess they had to justify the fanta and puff puff). So after a long conversation it was decided that there were only two options. I could either go and live with my maternal grandma or with my uncle the Policeman.

So in my mind the options were to live with someone with a very strong sense of discipline, a zero tolerance policy, an aversion to any misdeed or misbehaviour and a keenness for punishment of the ass whipping kind. Or alternatively, I could go and live with the Policeman. Naturally it was a simple decision. The Policeman it was and so this is how I ended up at Police Training College Ikeja. But see the committee has forgotten one small detail in their rush to show me what the "real world was like". Now I had access to real guns, handcuffs and other weapons of mass destruction. Oh good people of Ikeja. Here I come.

Friday, 20 April 2007

Honour amongst thieves.

So it appears that Atiku and Buhari cannot come to a meeting of the minds vis a vis boycotting the elections. Hmm. I wonder why ever that could be. Let's listen in on the conversation shall we.

A : So we are gathered here to discuss the matter of boycotting these elections and getting rid of this corrupt, fraudulent government.

B : So Mr VP. Na so? Is it because of your problems in-house?

A : Abeg no. Nothing like that. I am just sick to death of the way they have manipulated these elections.

B : How so? Is it different than 2007?

A ; Of course. In 2003 I was part of the rigging. I was a rigger and now I am getting rigged. Don't you understand. Anyway let's move on. My suggestion is that we all join together, boycott these elections, ask for some time to unify our parties, propose me as the unity Presidential candidate and you as VP and then between our parties we can double up on the rigging thereby planting two ballots for every one of theirs.

B : Sounds like a great idea except for one small detail. Don't want to make a big deal out of it but I think I should be the Presidential candidate.

A : Because wetin?

B : Because people still associate you with the present government what with you being you know Vice President and having been in power for 8 years so there is just the slightest chance that they might still see you as a money grabbing, contract awarding, ballot box stuffing charlatan only out to line his pocket for another four years. Me on the other hand would be a breath of fresh air.

A : Fresh air ko. Look my honourable friend. You are speaking to the Vice President of this great nation so you better mind yourself oh. And after all have you not already enjoyed the fruits of your labour? Have you not chopped from the high table whilst I have been kept at bay. Na only you wan hold the key for Central Bank? And the excess crude account? Please just vote for me and in four years time I will hand it over to you.

B : In four years? You will just hand over like that abi? Like OBJ just handed it over to you? Do you take me for a fool? I have been President of this country before and I know how it works. Once your yansh reach the inner sanctum of Aso Rock na im I no go hear from you again. MTN, Glo, Celtel, Nitel no coverage. I beg please.

A : My friend you know what I don't think I can work with you. Pat Utomi step forward sir. You are an officer and a gentleman so how about I be President and you be VP and then you can implement all your economic ideas that are going to make me, i mean this country, great again?
No? Where is that Chris Okotie?

It was always going to be a long shot to get this collection of egocentrics and power hungry maniacs to agree on anything especially once you fully understand the vast scope of what Nigeria is going to offer in the next 8 years.

Every indication is that once the charade of the elections is over and things have settled down that an economic boom is going to take place in Nigeria. The private sector will actually start to get some teeth and we will get away from the "contract culture" we currently find ourselves in where people are prepared to sell their grandma (and grandpa) for a few million Naira.

My hope springs eternal. I cannot wait.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Let the games begin

Firstly the elections. Due to Iyawo's very severe warnings about carrying handbags, purses, bumbag, or any other piece of arm candy I was therefore sequestered in my room for long periods during my recent stay in Nigeria trying to find ways to amuse myself. The best way I found was to watch the Presidential rallies on local television. Oh how I laughed. Sometimes I wept with laughter. Sometimes I just wept.

I hope that you all already know that the Nigerian Presidential race cannot be compared with any other country's. I mean in most other civilised places you have people that actually want to run and actually have an idea of what they plan to do should they actually , you know win. Not so in Nigeria. Firstly we have Mr Yar Adua, the President in waiting and flagbearer of the ruling PDP. Every picture I have seen of him shows a man in a state of utter disbelief and shock. The poor man was just about to put his feet up after being Governor to return to the civilised world of academia when all of a sudden he gets a call in the middle of the night to tell him that he will be the next President. Imagine the disappointment he must feel at this sudden misfortune. Imagine the call to the wife. "Yes I know. I cannot believe it either. Oh well just eight more years is all. Yes we will have to postpone the holiday in Gambia.I will just have to suffer through this. Please break it to the kids gently. Tell them how sorry I am etc etc"

Having watched at least half a dozen of the rallies I cannot for the life of me recall a single thing that Yar Adua has said. I can recall a lot of OBJ's rantings and postulations but from the Predisent elect nada. This fills me with extreme confidence that we are going to make serious progress in the next eight years. Not.

Please let us not forget the VP elect - Mr Goodluck. Now there is someone who is definitely living up to his name. Firstly he succeeds Alams (who must be counting the cost of the most expensive tummy tuck in history - what with no further access to state funds or nubile university undergraduates) and then whilst watching the cultural dancers at the primaries using the headlights of the gathered police cars (Nepa took light during the primaries. An indictment of failure if ever there was one) you hear your name called out and you think - oh OBJ has spotted me leering at those young girls and has gotten jealous. But no when you regain your composure you realise that you are going to be the next VP of Nigeria. Even better, the P that you are V to is not in the best of health so there is every chance that you will end up as a P in the not too distant future. Incredulous. Two years ago you were not even a Governor but hey this is Nigeria and like I said at the start we do things differently around these parts.

As for the other parties they realise they are fighting a losing battle. I wont bore you with their details because they are a truly unremarkable bunch. Buhari, Please. Kalu. Oh Please. Atiku. I beg come on now (the man who damaged himself whilst on his running machine, was flown abroad for treatment and then had the nerve to say that it was the fault of the present government that there were no world class hospitals that could treat him locally. Hmm Sir. I hate to point this out at this stage but you are the present bloody government). Except for Pat Utomi who is being quite old fashioned by actually detailing his policies. The elections are always won by the party with the most money or access to money and when you have $43bn sitting in reserves that is a hell of a lot of campaign funds. However, all credit to OBJ he is not taking anything for granted. You know there is never honour amongst thieves. He knows just as much as anybody else that if the PDP can rig the elections so can other parties hence his "Do or Die" motto.

I was watching him at the rally in Ajegunle a few days ago and it was hard to distinguish between the area boys on stage and the area boys in the crowd such was the rashness of the presentation. OBJ was a sight to behold. Obviously the gruelling campaign, coupled with running the country and derailing his VP has taken its toll on him as you could tell he was functioning on fumes. He still put on a great show when compared with the dummies surrounding him. He so dominated the stage that I did not even notice the candidates. He then sang a god awful song in the most god awful voice in the most god awful way ( he would not have made it on to Pop Idols Ajegunle with that performance) and then to the surprise of those gathered and his security detail leapth off the stage onto the step below and into his waiting limo. Sir, much respect for the energy you are displaying as a 70 year old when compared to your successor who though decades younger collapsed due to the strain of the campaign midway through. Of course he was also rushed abroad for medical attention because only good governments build hospitals, and schools and roads and provide low cost housing, electricity and water. Oh and security.

I am for sure that he has these things as his top priority once he takes up the position and that by December the whole country is going to be lit up like a frigging XMAS tree. Or maybe not.

Oh well never mind. PDP. PDP.PDP.

Losing my Virginity

So here we are back in blighty. The land of the free and home of the brave. Or am I getting confused? So we get to the airport yesterday in Lagos and it is utter bedlam. The Virgin check in is the most crowded I have ever seen it. For the first time ever I see a crowd of people on stand by who are being told that they stand no chance of getting on the plane as it is chucka. Our unfortunate check in attendant almost had a melt down. He was literally losing his mind trying to check in seven people on three different booking references with a dozen pieces of luggage.

On to the plane and yep, as usual first Class is heaving (I was not there oh, just passing through before you start your wahala and yabbis). If Nigerians are suffering so much and there is so much poverty how come so many can still send their children first class? Even my ajebutter ones are over the moon to get into Premium. I wonder how long before Virgin dispense of the Premium and Economy seats on their Nigeria flights. Surely it would be more profitable for them?

Speaking of which please read through this response from Virgin with regards the query I sent them as to why they do not do special offers to Nigeria as often as to say New York or Vegas. Now this might appear ridiculous based on the last paragraph but humour me.

"I understand your reasons for wishing to question why we have not included Lagos, Nigeria in our recent Flying Club promotion.As you are probably aware, Virgin Atlantic dominates the Nigerian market with only one main competitor - British Airways. However in addition to Virgin Atlantic, many airlines travel to other destinations, i.e. the United States, where extremely competitive fares and mileage levels are offered. Therefore to remain in line with our competitors and to ensure we continue to offer an attractive loyalty programme, we also need to adapt our fares and mileage levels to remain on top of this market. This is why we tend to offer more frequent special offers to other destinations.I hope that I have managed to address your concerns. I would like to assure you that as one of our valued Gold members, your feedback is appreciated and has been taken on board."

Is it me or is that basically saying we do not have to try to win business in Nigeria as we will be getting the business anyway? I don't want to overreact and go charging in like a bull without some consultation but this reads to me to be very condescending and needs challenging. Are we being taken for granted or are we allowing ourselves to be taken for granted?

Either way I am not pleased at this response. It lacks tact. It feels like gloating. I am starting to feel that maybe I need to lose my Virginity but then what are my choices? BA? Mba not me. Virgin Nigeria. Same deal. Different colours. Oh well.

As for the flight itself, I assume these new planes have better engines or something but the plane did not exhibit that straining noise from the engines nor did it pin me back to my seat whilst taxiing. It just sort of meandered down the runway and then gently floated up in the air where it seemed to be just hanging for an inordinate amount of time. At any minute I expected us to come floating back to earth (crashing would have been too severe) and landing on some hapless okada man in Ajegunle or Yaba at which point the following surreal exchange would probably have taken place.

Flattened okada man's cronies (i.e every okada within a 50mile radius) - "Oga na you get road? Wetin you mean you no see Lucky for under ya wing? You call yourself pilot? I beg make we begin go police station or else (grabbing the pilot by the trousers).

Surreal yes but this is the way the mind of geniuses work.

Needless to say we floated back down to earth in London and I floated back into the arms of my broadband connection from which I will now begin to talk the talk. Hang on. It's going to be scary and bumpy and turbulent. Well of course it is. We are talking about Nigeria right?

Friday, 6 April 2007

Nobody knows the troubles I have seen.

My people there is gist yanfu yanfu but now is not the time. Apologies for my lax attitude towards my professional obligations to keep you abreast of Naija life but with the arrival of Iyawo and the four spawns, well my feet have hardly touched the ground. I never knew that 12 minutes of pleasure (Iyawo claims I am exaggerating but she would, wouldn't she? I was particularly focused on the first two but let the side down as time wore on otherwise I would have racked up a massive 14 minutes) would result in a lifetime of responsibility like this oh.

After all the plans that we made Iyawo then proceeded to slip a disc making her bedbound for most of the past five days. If not for sobbing, I would just cry. And then to top it all of I take her to hospital where they routinely check her blood pressure and tell her she is within the normal range and she is yabbering on about it would be better still if only she had managed to work out in the last month. Meanwhile they check mine and ask me if I want to stay the night. Apparently I might be just a tad stressed. In Lagos? Surely not.

So what have been up to for the past month? Well there was the play at the Muson centre. Anatomy of a Woman (as if there was anything I could learn about that!) , the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria contest, the lunch at Charusco (lovely Brazilian restaurant at the Lagoon), the fantastic meal at the restaurant with no name (it is so exclusive there is no sign outside and I cannot for the life of me remember the name) etc etc. So it is fair to say that man mi has been wounding life before this back fiasco happened.

This weekend we are off on my friends boat (not yatch so please don't hate) to a private beach after suffering through Barney at the Palms tomorrow with the younger terrors who are still going through the terrible two though they are now three and four!

Gotta dash. More gist to follow.