Monday, 25 February 2008

Putting out the pyre with Gasoline?

In less than 48 hours we will reach a tipping point in the history of Nigeria. It is on Tuesday when a decision will be made as to whether our President was indeed Duly elected or unduly selected. My mole tells me they are sleepless not only in Seattle but in Abuja and throughout the nation where the convoys of five serving Governors are going to be asked to pull over to the kerb in the near future.

In the meantime the Senate President has been asked to vacate his seat due to the questions raised with regards his election. He has promised to appeal which should be interesting because I cannot recall any of the previous reversals having been reversed, if you get my meaning. My mole tells me that we are now at a stage where even Ghana must go has refused to go. Left, right and centre people (the Judiciary) are suddenly saying that they are no longer for sale to the highest bidder. Now when people say see you in court it is the second sign of the beginning of wisdom. Fear of the EFCC being the first. On the subject of the EFCC apparently all of us that were crying in our tea at the removal of Ribadu and those celebrating ain't seen nothing yet. It would appear his replacement is even more committed to the cause. So again no place to hide. I mean what fun is there left in being a Governor these days?

Apparently Baba himself is not going to escape, like scott and free. His cross is being put together in the background waiting to make its own appearance. Na wa oh.

What is one to make of all this? Is it really a sign that democracy is starting to gain traction? Are the area boys really going to start to see that there is only so far that thuggery and theft will get you? Does this mean that the right people (qualified candidates, with real ideas, programmes and policies) for the job will actually start to materialise safe in the knowledge that when the votes are counted they actually stand a fair chance? Of course this is Nigeria and it is far too early to get carried away but all the signs are good.

So on Tuesday the President of Nigeria will learn whether his position is valid or not. He could be asked to vacate the office and knowing him and his love of due process as well as his reluctance to take on the job in the first place I would not be surprised if he has already packed and booked a charter holiday to the Gambia. Seriously, does it make sense for the President to be asked to leave now? What does this mean for democracy? For Nigeria? For you and me? What happens next? Another election? What if someone else wins? Would he reverse all the decisions MYA has made since coming into office? How can Iwu continue in office if all these electoral irregularities keep surfacing and getting reversed?

Meanwhile, the pyre is already lit. In the coming hours we will find out if the flames will be doused with water safely or will it be further doused in gasoline (imported of course. Sorry I could not resist).

Friday, 22 February 2008

The Chinese takeway

So it was on to London last week as the kids celebrated their school half term with their long missed friends and I carried on with the arduous task of earning a living. I normally do not get Sundays in London but this time I was lucky enough to be able to so. One of the great joys of Sundays in England for me has always been the opportunity to wake up, roll out of bed, pick up the Sunday Times and then dwell on it for the rest of day. Over breakfast, lunch,dinner, Monday, get the drift.

Actually I remember back in the day when I would stop off at the corner of Marble Arch in front of the Cumberland Hotel at 3 or 4am, depending on how great the nightclub had been, to pick up the Times and the News of the World. Does anyone remember Gullivers, ThePark in Kensington, Roxys diner off Regent's Street where a group of us would pile into after a night on the tiles? I would get home just as dawn was breaking and would firstly delve into all the sleaze of the NOTW before finally drifitng off into a peaceful slumber from which I would wake and then take my time over the Times.

Anyway last week I bought the paper and the girls and I then headed over to Starbucks which is where I choked on my Chai Tea Latte. I usually read the Times magazine first and it was there that I saw a picture that troubled me to my very core. In an article about the Chinese invasion of Africa was a picture of a Chinaman who apparently owns the big Chinese restaurant in Ikoyi. He is shown standing in a sand filled area which looks like it is being prepared for new houses to be built. But this was not the cause of my high BP. Standing next to him was a member of the Nigerian Police Force in full uniform and carrying a rifle. He is also at the same time carrying an umbrella which he is holding over the head of the Chinaman protecting him from the sun. (Iyawo has just walked in and seen the magazine lying open next to me. WTF is he doing holding an umbrella over his head? she asks. So I am not the only one that feels offended by the picture.

On the opposite page is another photograph which depicts his wife entertaining members of the Senate in their restaurant. From the look on some of their faces they have never eaten Chinese food before. Wonder if they had to pay for their meal or did they just grant our friends from the East a few concessions? Wonder if a Chinese Police officer will hold an umbrella over their heads when they pay their next "diplomatic or fact finding mission" to China, via Dubai of course.

On the Lekki Expressway the Chinese Hotel is nearing completion. Apparently Nigeria is not the only country in Africa to benefit from the generosity of the Chinese. It seems that Africa as a whole has been targeted. Various Chinese dignitaries have done roadshows \campaigns where they have left behind billions of Yen in investments. Some say that this is a good thing for the continent. I am not so sure. In my admitedly limited experience the Chinese are one of the most racist people I have ever come across so I find it more than slightly uncomfortable with their "generosity" bearing in mind their growing population and need for Energy and other resources that are naturally found in "dark continent".

What do you think?

Friday, 1 February 2008

I'm for the high jump

We lived on Adeniran Ogunsanya at the time. We lived directly across frpm the street that leads to Jalupon close which is where I used to go for my lessons every afternoon after school. As Jalupon of those days also had a huge grass island in the middle it also afforeded the opportunity for a quick kickabout before heading home.

On this streeet leading to Jalupon I would pass a house with a vicious dog (bear in mind that as a Yoruba man all dogs are vicious in my dictionary) which would snarl and bark and growl at everyone whether you were passing in front of the gate or on the other side of the street. As I knew that the gate of the house was locked I would sometimes have a little fun with the "nice doggie". I would saunter up to the gate (or as close to it as my nerves could stand ) and torment it by dragging my shoes on the street which would make it go insane. I could not see the dog but I could hear it clawing at the gate. I just imagined that it's eyes would be red and it would be foaming at the mouth. . Having exhasuted myself and alsomt wet myself with laughter at the dog's frustration I would then be on my way.

The day in question -"let's call it the day Toks would have qualified to do the high jump for any country in the world and also set a new world record"- I had played football to my heart's content as the lesson teacher had left early. There was no reason to rush home after all what my mum did not know would never hurt her (see I am considerate like that). I had washed the football down with a Gala and a nice slice of Walls Vanilla ice cream and was dragging my happy self home when I deicded that the perfect way to cap the day would be to visit my old friend.

So I crossed the road (see I actually had to make an effort) to reach the house and then started my foot dragging routine. This time, high on pork and whatever chemicals go into Walls Ice cream I even started to make growling noises to mimic the dog. I could hear it racing out from wherever it was kept and charging towards the gate. As it started barking people started to cross the street as it sounded so ferpcious. By this time I had my head in the air pretending to be a wolf and howling an echo to the dog's every bark. The dog ran upto the gate and slammed into it as it was running with such force. I could hear it clawing at the chain holding the gates together.

Shorlty thereafter, out of the corner of my left eye I saw the expression on people's faces start to change and then out of the corner of my right eye I saw the gates of the house seem to be opening a lot more than I remembered from previous occassions. As it opened fraction by fraction a switch somewhere in my brain clicked on and sent a message to my feet that "hey guys we need to get this idiot outof here and quick". And so it was like the cartoon as my feet took off whilst therest ofmy body was still registering what was happening. By now the gate was wide open enough for even my ice cream filled belly to register that the dog could get out. More importantly it would appear that the dog had come to the same conclusion.

As with all potential tragedies this was all happening in slow motion. Toks sees dog coming towards him. Tok's feet take off. Rest of Tok's body including his brain soon follow. See Toks fly down street. See Toks lose slippers. See Toks overtake cars. See Toks navigate Adeniran Ogunsanya - a busy road- even back then- without even stopping to look. See Toks place left foot on botton rung of bars on his gate. See Toks swing himself over top bar of gate narrowly avoiding injury which would have put end to the family line. See Toks land on other side of gate still with school bag over his shoulder but minus slippers or breath. See dog stand outside Toks gate growling for few minutes before returning to devour Toks slippers. See Toks armpits not only part of his outfit stained.

Five minutes later Tok's long suffering mother opens the door for her precious son:

Mums -Toks how was lesson today?

Toks: Just fine.

Mums- Why are you sweating so?

Toks: Oh no reason.

Mums- Where are your slippers?

Toks: A dog chased me and I lost them?

Mums- A dog chased you? What did you do?

Toks: (Looking innoicent as the day is long) Me? Do? Nothing oh, I was just walking home minding my own business. The dog must have been mental.

Mums - Pele oh my son. Come let me give you cake and fanta.

See how I protect that woman from worry and the harsh relaities of life?