Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The good Lord helps those who........

Arrived at MMIA last week with a friend from the UK. He was met in the arrivals hall by a protocol officer to help smooth his way through. As we were waiting for our luggage the chap asked him how many bags he had. "Four", he replied, "will this be a problem with the Customs people?". Without missing a beat the chap said "no, we will just tell them that you are a pastor returning from a crusade". Huh?

Sure enough after collecting the bags they made their way to the exit door where they were met by a stern looking Custom's official. He put his hand on the trolley and told them they had to step to one side for inspection. The protocol office then said to him "Oga, this man is a pastor with the Redeemed Church and he is just returning from a crusade abroad" all the while flashing my friend's Nigerian passport in the man's face. The Customs officer then took one look at my friend and waved them through.

Outside they burst out laughing. Why? Well if he had checked the Custom's man would have seen that my friend's name was Abdul Hammed XXXXXXX. Surely even in Nigeria this would have roused some suspicions? Or maybe not? Is there some law that I have missed that says members of the clergy (regardless of their faith) are immune from Customs checks? What if the bags were filled with guns, drugs, body parts? Na wa o.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

The Enemy Within .....Epilogue

The matter is sorted. Things have been "settled". We hold our breaths that there is no further comeback.

Yesterday my sister reeceives the following text from one of the settled - "Hi Madam, hw is family n work? Suppose wonderful. I want 2 say AM impressed d way u handled that ordeal with maturity n with high sense of understanding. I say well done. Keep it up. If we r having your kinds I don't dere (sic) will be problem in this country. Well done I do appreciate u. Do have a wonderful day." I am assuming that by "your kinds" he means the kind that come come up with half a year's salary at a moment's notice.

We learn that since the superiors have been settled it is now time for them to take action. The original instigator is to investigated about his role in our "ordeal". I assume there will be further "settlement" involved before the matter is fully em...settled. We also learn that the wound to his head was sewn up without benefit of any pain killer or anesthetic. It is hard to feel pity but how can you be human and not?

The mallam meanwhile is now doubly cautious before opening our gate. A lesson we have been trying to teach him for years. Life.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

The Enemy within...

My mum's driver was turning into the house a few days ago. Apparently he has his earpiece in for his phone and might have been on a call. As he was turning in a chap on a motorbike started banging on the side of the car asking "did you not see me?". The driver said "who are you?" and drove into the compound after the mallam had opened the gate assuming that this was another one of those 30 second Lagos dramas.

The mallam closed the gate and was in the process of locking it when there was a loud banging on the gate. He opened to to say "aha what is going on?" only to be met by a slap to the face and several blows followed. In defence he swung still with the padlock for the gate in his hand and hit the slapper on the head. The padlock made contact and drew blood. At no point as far as I am aware were they aware that the slapper was an Army officer.

Roll film forward ten to fifteen minutes and our compound is full of army men physically assaulting the mallam. Numerous attempts by family members to save him are rebuffed. The driver has to make a run for it in order to avoid the same treatment. The mallam is seriously assaulted and dragged off in an army vehicle. All hell breaks loose as my family desperately spend the rest of the day trying to find him. He is later located at a Barracks close to Yaba where he is found with his hands tied and and hanging from the ceiling.

The soldiers who have been recruited to escort my sister to the barracks (no policeman is prepared to take the risk) are given a dressing down and told never to show their faces there again with regards this matter. My family members are told it is too late to discuss the matter as the person in charge has gone for the evening and they are told to return in the morning.

This morning my sister decides to go to the family house early to make sure that our poor mother (father has travelled , thank God) has not faced any further harassment. There had been murmurings from the soldiers of coming back to burn the house down and to find the driver by all means. She is met by a group of Military Police who say they have come to arrest the mallam's employer. She is asked to step into a black maria type vehicle which she refuses as she is not a criminal and declares that she will travel in her own car to the barracks.

At the barracks she is asked to write a statement after which she is asked to pay N60k for the offense. She does not have that kind of money on her in cash and she is asked to bring it tomorrow. On the way out she is accosted by one of the officers "dealing" with the case and told that they would prefer a top of the range mobile phone rather than the money. She says she would rather pay the cash rather than try and choose a "top of the range" phone from the numerous models in the market.

The mallam is released and is sent home with my sister after she signs an undertaking.She is left in no doubt as to what could happen if she does not show up tomorrow morning with the money sharpish. I ask her if the mallam is seriously injured from the assault. She says that one of the Army men told her that we would not find any bruises on his body because they have been trained in a way that they can torture and cause internal damage without leaving any obvious signs. The mallam is on his way to hospital for a check up.

Ths has caused no end of suffering and anguish and distress to my mother. She is over 70 years old and would not hurt a fly. The past three days have taken months if not years off her life. All for a simple driving incident in which no one was hurt or property damaged.

This is not fiction. This is real. This is Lagos, Nigeria. October 15th 2009. 49 years after our independence. 49 years since we have been "free". Good people. Great nation. Indeed.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

And justice for all?

Is it really possible to get any sense of justice from these two? Who is the Attorney General there to protect? Who is the EFCC Chairman there to protect? Is there a citizen of Nigeria who really believes they are on his\her side despite their public posturings? Who believes that any of the sacked managers of the failed banks or their accomplices will ever see the inside of a cell again? Who believes that all the debtors were actually listed? Or that Ibori will be convicted of anything in our lifetime despite all the supporting evidence? Yes. Me neither. Which is a shame. Especially under a President who spouts rule of law as a mantra.

Monday, 14 September 2009

The things I take for granted......but shouldn't

Waking up in the morning
Having food on the table
A roof over my head
A family that loves me
Parents that love me
Parents that are still alive and well
Healthy kids
My health
Access to money
A supportive loving wife
A forgiving God
My many many blessings
My life
My siblings love
My family's understanding
My accomplishments
My friends
The list goes on.

Shame these things are only brought to the forefront of our thoughts only when we think about losing them as I thought today after a health scare. All is well Insha Allah but I will be more careful with all the above in future. So should you.

Thursday, 10 September 2009


So I was standing in the car park outside an office complex in Accra a couple of days ago when I heard someone call my name. I turned to see a familiar face walking towards me. The digital photo library inside my head started shuffling through desperately looking for a match to the face even as the distance between us narrowed and I tried to retain a neutral but still welcoming look on my face.

"Long time no see" he said which helped as I immediately jettisoned all the faces from the last five years off the index and dug further back in time. It took two or three minutes for the penny to drop and I finally placed Charles as a chap I had worked with briefly 20 years ago. 20 years. Now that is what you call long time!!

So Charles. Once I had placed him, all the memories came flooding back. We had worked together for about three months but in those three I had got to know him well. Whist Ghanaians are generally humble compared to Nigerians (but then who isn't?) Charles had set for me new benchmarks in humility. He was one of those guys that really did tiptoe lightly through the tulips. I never saw him stressed, swear, or even shout. You hear people say "he wouldn't hurt a fly" and this was definitely apt for Charles.

We exchanged some quick pleasantries and contact details as he was dashing off and promised to catch up next time I was in Accra. In my taxi minutes later I got a call from a strange number. I answered it and it was Charles. "Toks, so sorry I was wondering if you needed a ride?. I know you are visiting Accra and it was rude of me to have left you there in the car park." I told him I was alright and that I already had a hire car.

The point of this is that despite what we see on Sky, CNN,Fox etc there are still some decent people in the world. People for whom doing good and being good is a big part of their DNA. For some strange reason Charles' actions immediately made me want to perform a random act of kindness for someone else (so I took myself out for an extensive meal. Aha am I not someone?). Between him and Gani it has surely been a great week for good people. It is nice to know they exist. It reminds me of the closing words from Desiderata. It is still a beautiful world. Strive to be happy.

It is important to remember that in these days of banking crises and other nonsense.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Good person. Great Loss.

Gani Fawenhimi was on my mind sometime last year. I just could not shake his image out of my mind. I kept wondering how is it that one can dedicate their life to a cause where there does not seem much return. I mean can you imagine giving your heart and soul to trying to save Nigeria? I was puzzled. Did the man have a complex? Was he insane? How can you outmanoeuvre the so called “Maradonas” that dominate our every breath (I prefer to call them Muppets but to each his own). Could he really make any sort of dent, any impact at all on the rock of Aso?
To be honest, he did and still does make me feel worthless as I sit on the world wide wonder pontificating about this and that and that and this. Not for me the cold cells of kirikiri. No, coward that I am I prefer to “fight the power” from the calm, cool confines of Lekki.

I recall my mother cursing NEPA\PHCN not long ago and I wondered if this was our destiny. Despite all the vigour of the fight the bastards still had\have the upper hand. A whole generation passes away and nothing changes. I write this only through the benefit of a diesel burning, environment polluting, generator. What hope is there for my generation? We who made such loud revolutionary noises in university but who have greedily succumbed to the status quo – Chief, Senator, Minister, MD. We who have mortgaged our principles for the latest beemer, merc, hummer. It is these thoughts that always takes me back to thinking about Mr Fawenhimi.

If a man gives most of his adult life to fighting for the right of the common man up until his very last breath surely this is a life worth celebrating. And emulating. Maybe one day I too will find a cause that gives this life meaning. Till then. Mr Fawenhimi. I never met you but I salute you sir. Good Person. Great Loss. May your soul rest in peace. The bastards may have won the battle but they will not win the war.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Welcome to civilisation?

Since arriving in the Uk on Monday night here are some of the headlines:

1. Man dies of gunshot wounds sustained on bus

2. Names of three people who tortured 17month old to death released

3. Biggest armed robbery jewelry heist in Uk history on New Bond St

4. Man kicked to death just yards from his home

5. Lady who disappeared some months ago could have been "involved" with as many as forty men

6.Drunk lady convicted for killing her equally drunk husband by driving over him

7. Baby's body found in car boot

8. A whole 40 tonne ship (trust me that's big) has disappeared feared captured by pirates

These are just some of the ones I can recall off the top of my head. Oh how I long to be back in the relative safety and (in)sanity of Lagos where one might occasionally be accosted by a tout with those immortal words "bros how far? something for the boys?".

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Can't happen here???

Always being right is a burden. It is one I carry wearily on my shoulders. O how Iyawo has suffered with her numerous attempts over the years to prove me wrong. An exercise in futility if ever there was one. The facts are the facts. I am always right. It is one of my traits. Like humility. Another one of my traits.

So to what does all this relate? Oh how I rolled with glee when reading Next newspaper a couple of weeks ago and the article about housing only designated for expatriates. See I have a bee in my bonnet at the moment. Actually I have had it for about a year. I have this feeling that Nigeria is steadily being colonised. By the Chinese, the Indians, the Lebanese. My friends scoff at my paranoia. They smirk at my naivety.

I tell them that I read a book called “Africa my black arse” in which the author described his travels through Africa. In Liberia he came across a Chinese hotel built exclusively for the use of the Chinese. No Liberians, or other Africans, were allowed entry. The irony being that the doormen and most of the other staff were Liberians!!

Every time I tell this story my friends say “aha Toks but that is Liberia. They are not as advanced as Nigeria. That kind of thing can never happen here in Nigeria”. When I pointed out Jeremy’s blog last year wherein he wrote about Abuja apartments only for rent to expatriates it became aha Toks it can neva happen in Lagos. Eko o ni baje (Lagos will not spoil). And now it has. What next? Aha Toks it can never happen in Lekki, Ikoyi, Yaba, Suru – Lere?” And then finally what? “Aha Toks it can neva happen on my street?” I beg please my friends it is happening here and now.

Look around you – generators you buy from Indians, food from Lebanese, groceries from South Africans ( we recently bought an iron from Shoprite that came with a South Africa plug. A “nice” request to “Customer Services” to change it was met with some difficulty until I switched into loud, noisy and aggressive Toks mode (not a pleasant sight to behold I can tell you), everything else the Chinese have sewn up (pardon the pun).

So what next for our “Good people, Great nation”? Well the way things are going maybe we will end up having to apply to a foreign embassy to get a visa to get into Nigeria. Far fetched and fantastical you might say? Well, ask the Liberians.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Five in one and one in five......

No one gets out alive. - Jim Morrison & The Doors

The flight to London was relatively smooth and we were not even welcomed by the usual unsmiling Immigration officers and their fake-passport sniffing dogs. (Oh please you amateurs. If you really want to make me feel unwelcome you have a lot to learn. Just pop over the pond and you will see what it takes to really make one feel unwelcome and unwanted).

The hotel in the Bans is cheap but is close to our previous home and offers the girls the chance to see their old school friends. Having gathered them up without much ceremony and shipped them off to Naija my paternal guilt always makes me sacrifice comfort for their pleasure. As I sit typing I am using one hand to type whilst the other is busy alternating between swatting those small vicious bugs that accompany greenery and scratching the bumps on my body where they have already succeeded in leaving their mark. You see the hotel is bereft of AC so we have had to resort to open windows and table fans. Did I mention parental sacrifice?

Slaving away on the laptop really late on Thurday night (hint to employers) with Sky News on in the background I see their Breaking News banner come up and look over to see the headline that Micheal Jackson is dead. For some reason which has not fully hit me yet I am neither surprised nor disturbed. Just numb. My only emotion I would hazard to say was disappointment that he had allowed this to happen to him. Like a lot of people of a certain age I was brought up on MJ. We grew up together though he was older than me. Who in my group growing up experience did not want to be him at some stage in our lives? The jerry curls, the white suit, the dance moves (which unfortunately for Iyawo are still the only ones in my repertoire till today), the glove etc etc. Micheal, Micheal how could you let this happen to you? How could you do this to yourself?Cardiac arrest eh? Is that not what killed Elvis? Oh and yes a bucketful of drugs. Do we never learn? Madonna can't stop crying apparently. Yeah right. This is what it boils down to? Almost 45 years of greatness and Madonna can't stop crying?

The hotel informs us that there is a festival in town this weekend and as such they are fully booked and as such we must hit the road. After much internetting and phoning there is no local alternative to be found so we decide to make the most of it and hit Central London. This is how we find ourselves at the Hilton Park Lane. My memories of this hotel based on previous stays is of Nigerians in the lobby and elevators making the sort of noise only Nigerians can.

We duly arrive at the hotel to be met by Nigerians in the lobby making the sort of noises only Nigerians can. That is the good thing about Nigerians. They never disappoint. Except when they do.

Check in is a smooth process and we are soon whisked up to our floor by the most complicated elevator system known to mankind. You have to enter your floor number even before you get in and the computer then assigns you an elevator. Once you are in you cannot change or select a different floor!! Scary really. The view over London is scarier. (As is the news from my daughter that you have to dial 419 to reach reception. 419?? really?? These people really know how to make us feel welcome!!)
A clear blue sky beckons from the other side of the window and we can see it all, Big Ben, Centre Point, the Gherkin, the Eye etc etc. Height always brings a beauty to a city you cannot get at ground level. Check out Lagos from the top floor of the Eko Hotel and you will be gobsmacked. But we are not here to see the sights only. Teenage girls can do sight seeing for only so long before another urge beckons. Shopping.

I suggest we hit Oxford street on which I will allow them very limited access to my billions. They both give me a look. I'm used to it now. They then inform me that Oxford St on a Saturday is not a good idea. I say haba can it be any worse than Shoprite after the churches let out on Sunday? Trust me it is. Peeking inside Primark (a Mecca for teenage girls) we notice that there are more battles going on in there than Afghanistan. Being that shopping in an empty store is torture enough for me, not to talk about a store filled with half the tourists to London we beat a hasty retreat to Selfridges for lunch to calm our nerves and devise a strategy. It is agreed that the best approach for them (minus dad but with his hard earned moolah) is to be outside the store first thing in the morning when it opens.

So it is that at 11.30 this morning we all arrived (my plan to relax back at the hotel having been defeated again by parental guilt) at the doors to find a crowd strecthing down the road. What is wrong with these people? Is today not a day of worship in the Western world. I have an excuse in that I am a Muslim so am allowed to be out galavanting of a Sunday morning buying £5 button fly jeans and 98p sunglasses. What is your excuse? This time there is no turning back as our Central London sojourns ends today. So we brace ourselves and join the fray.

And this is how life is. A musical icon passes away and well..... Life goes on. RIP MJ! I will miss you.

Five in one and one in five

No one gets out alive.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

It's hard to be a saint in DC.ity

After a long, long flight what you want is a warm embrace, a smile, a big hug, an offer of a cold drink, a buxom blonde with shiny white teeth and a cold towel for your furrowed brow. What you get is:

"What brings you here?"

"How long are you staying?"

"Where are you staying?"

"How much luggage are you bringing in?"

""How much cash are you carrying?"

"Why are you frowning?"

It would be easy and tempting to say "yes I understand that there is a need for security because 8 years ago some Saudis who were trained in your country committed an act of terrorism and punched a big hole in your veil of invisibility. Now that was 8 years ago, millions more innocents have died since, some at your hands. so get over it. Dawg."

However these comments are about as welcome as a bible at a bar mitzvah so with a tightening of the sphincter one holds in one's view and maintains the rictus smile whilst the whole charade goes on. I am assured this is much the better option than getting said sphincter being forcibly examined by a brute called bud who grew up on a farm and misses the goold ole days of probing said region of small unsuspecting animals.

A good forty five minutes later we are comfortably settled in our ride and off to the hotel. I am sure gaining entrance to the pearly gates would be far easier , faster and there would be no fingerprinting involved.

The first thing we notice is how green the grass really is. The grass really is greener. And lush. And everywhere there are mammoth tress with even greener leaves. The drive to the hotel is a marvel of Georgian buildings, green grass and clean streets. No wonder they keep trying to keep the riff raff out. The problem being that unfortunately they are already in.

Welcome to Obamaland.

Friday, 29 May 2009

24 out of 100..... A fail mark in any book.

For the past week I have been tortured by the screaming, shouting hysterical wailing of one Jack Bauer. Iyawo in her wisdom picked up the latest series of 24 on DVD and it has been hell. Not only is our friend Jack, for me, the worst secret service agent ever, what with being the magnet for all the world's evils but he surely must be living in some sort of groundhog day nightmare. I think this is series 7 and for me there was no difference between this and Series 2, 3, 4, 5 and er 6. See terrorists plan to destroy America, see Jack come to the rescue, see lots of people that have any connection with Jack whatsoever get killed, see Jack being in almost constant danger but he manages to walk through glass, survive bullets, bombs, chemical poisoning and all the other atrocities these "terrorists" throw his way.

I tell you this stuff was riveting in Series 1, mildly amusing in 2, interesting in 3 or whichever series had the black President (a definite precursor for Obama I feel as the actor carried off the role with such dignity and charisma) but by now I am actually on the terrorist's side. I keep hoping that the next explosion, bullet, radio chemical will put paid to Jack but no, like a bad coin he keeps turning up saying the same things, doing the same things, chasing the same ghosts. From the various snatches of this latest series I caught, between giving Iyawo filthy looks and what not, it seemed at one point that he had one day to live. Imagine my surprise when Iyawo came out of her coma after a marathon watching session to tell me that the prat had survived and not only that but the "terrorists" had also captured his daughter (who had made some of the episodes in the other series watchable, cough) so that there would definitely be another series. No Jack please no. You have failed. Go to the back of the class.

Speaking of losers, my condolences go to the supporters of Man U. Delusional as they are and filled with false pride by the Scotsman. The air was slowly, painfully and embarrassingly let out of their balloon over 90 minutes in Rome. As a former footballer and still avid and passionate follower of the sport I cannot begin to tell you how magical it was watching that game. It was like a film. Several times I muttered to myself - this is like a practice match. The sheer domination of the game by Barca was so absolute after the first ten minutes of Ronaldo that I assumed that there was some sub plot wherein Ferguson would do something and then they would go on and win. However, God, in his infinite wisdom saved me from having to suffer the smug Scots's git after match press conference wherein he would blow smoke up his own bottom (a difficult task but he manages to do it consistently). Be quiet Sir Alex. You too have failed miserably.

For me however, the key thing was, and is, the difference between Messi and Ronaldo. On the one hand we have a perma tanned prima donna (the crooked teeth and greasy spotty face are now a thing of the past) who swans around as if he is owed everything and on the other hand you have a small pale genius who glides about the pitch without much fuss doing serious and maximum damage. The second goal from Messi will be played over and over in sport's highlights for years and demonstrates that one can be just as effective in one's work, believe in one's ability and be confident in one's self without having to always shout it from the rooftops.

Someone please tell Mr Bauer as he prepares Season 8 or is it 80?

Friday, 22 May 2009

Smoking the green shoots of recovery.....

House prices are up. No they are down. The price of land in Lekki has fallen. No it has gone through the roof. The worst is over. No there is still more to come. UK Ministers are claiming 40p chocolate bars on expenses. Nigerian ministers are sharing $60m amongst themselves (we always have to show off don't we?). BA suffers its greatest annual loss (serves them right). BT lays off another 10,000 people. Zain jettisons 300 in Nigeria.

All these headlines and still when I look around in Lagos I do not see a single sign of this so called Cadbury's crunch. Where is it? Or are we exempt from the words "Global credit crisis?". The number of new cars continues to grow. I have seen at least half a dozen of the new and even more ugly BMW X6 in the last week not to talk about new Merc 4x4s and the latest big boys toy - the Tundra - a car bigger than some places I have lived in. So where is it? Where are the signs of cutting back? Planes are still full. Parties a plenty. So what's going on? Are we fooling ourselves or the world? Are we thumbing our noses at them from the privacy of our beach front villas? Credit crunch? Oh please squire. How distasteful. Not a topic for polite company old chap.

My landlord is looking to sell one of his houses for N100m . He has not even finished building and the buyers are already jostling. And this is not a mansion o. Just a small, well built and finished four bed house on a small plot. He looks at me with some pity when I ask if he is not asking too much. He is probably thinking to himself. Look at this JJC. This didirin. N100m is weekend money for some big boys o. These guys have the credit crunch for supper and wash it down with Moet.

So is it me? Or are some people really smoking the green shoots of recovery?

Totally unrelated to the credit crunch (but in line with smoking green shoots ) is this photo of African first ladies. Cameroon must be a much livelier place than I had gleaned from my short visit there last year. As for our own first lady - kudos for decency and decorum.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Good people. Great nation. Lazy sod!

Well its been a long time
sorry I've kept you
without the updates you're used to
without fabu and gisting
I just went awol and missing
I apologise for my absence
too much travel to make sense.

Wow. A day is a long time in blogsville. I can only imagine how long a month must feel like. There has been so much happening that I don't even know where to start. I am discombobulated. disoriented and just dis.

Where to start? Today is the best place I suppose ,and the clearest. At my age things start to disappear from the memory banks sooner rather than later. The birthdays and other important events I have forgotten this month alone!! Anyway.

There are things happening on our estate that give cause for concern. Firstly, earlier this year they fixed the main road by which I mean you can actually drive on it without requiring a new exhaust; shocks; tires or liver. Then out of the blue just yesterday I was informed that all the streetlights had been switched on and were working! All the way from the gate to the bottom end. It was like a promenade apparently. This is fantastic news as two days ago I almost ran over a cow that was lying in the middle of the road chewing it's cud. No seriously. It was just lying there like "bros, how's things?. Yes I know I am lying in the middle of the road, just chilling but besides that what's jumping?. Me? Get run over? In this Lagos? Na lie. I pity the 4X4".

I am concerned about these developments- the street repairs, light fixing, new gate and heightened security because in Nigeria they have a way of building you up to the highest high then just when you think you can see and smell heaven they drop you down without a parachute.

I am holding my breath. The minute clean water starts coming out of our taps and we get more that five to six hours of electricity I am out of here. I won't let these people kill me o.

Tomorrow - I think some people have been smoking the green shoots of recovery.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Hot Chocolate

I sit and stare as your steam rises

I watch your foam trickle down

With fumbling fingers I trace its path

and bring your sweet taste to my mouth

I dip my thumb into your cream

I stir the froth and feel your heat

that bubbles like molten lava

from a volcano, underneath.

I bring your cup up to my lips

I run my tongue around your rim

I ease aside your creamy defenses

and dip my tongue into your warm embrace

I sip your nectar with slow precision

I marvel at your heavy richness

a connoisseur sampling a new found taste

finding it so much to my liking

I end with cream around my face.

Much later as you lay, exhausted,

your taste still lingers in my mouth

my tongue still throbbing from its exertions

tingling from your heated responses

I run it slowly around my lips

all the while wondering how long

I must wait to savour

(for you have now made me a junkie)

your sweet nectar and flavour.

Hot Chocolate.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

I am so underwhelmed.......

Last night when I was sitting there minding my own business jeje jeje and praying for Arsenal to beat Hull so we could meet them at Wembley (prefer Arsenal to Hull o. Those Hull boys are too goal hungry for my own liking) when my phone buzzed and I received the following text message. FGN - Nigeria . Good people, great nation. I immediately scanned my phonebook for any Man u supporter with those initials but to no avail. See I thought that since I had sent condolence texts to every Man U supporter I know over their weekend destruction by Liverpool it could have been one of them sending me a text back as a piss take. No luck there. And then I thought maybe it was one of my work colleagues in the UK who had received another one of those 419 mails they are so very happy to discuss with me in great detail every time I happen to be in our HQ. Again no luck. Oh well. Back to the game.

Call me slow sha but after some time it then occured to me that hold on a minute, you didirin, FGN stands for Federal Government of Nigeria. Of course you can understand my slowness after all I am not in the habit of getting mails from the highest levels of the Executive arm. After all I am only a lowly tax paying, law abiding citizen not seeking government contracts or political office. Why in the hell would they want to acknowledge my existence?

So the Minister of Communications and Information is erm communicating with me. She is announcing the winner of the re branding Nigeria exercise. And this is it. Good people. great nation. Wow. Great. But now to more important things. How many yards does William Gallas have to be offside for the linesman to notice him and disallow his goal? I mean how can you miss a six foot black man standing all by himself in front of goal? It is not obvious that he is offside and the goal should be disallowed?

So it was that I lay awake at night tossing and turning with my stomach churning about this turn of events. I mean can you Adam and Eve it (believe) it? How could this happen in this day and age. Great nation. Good people. This is the best that we could do? I mean is this the right time to be rebranding Nigeria anyway? Do you not rebrand when you have introduced a change of some sort (ideally positive) into the old brand. Lets check the facts:

Have any corrupt Governors been tried and jailed recently. No
Has the GDP of the country changed dramatically? No
Has the Naira gained in value? No
Has the living standard of the man on the street been improved? No
Has health care, education, communication, security improved? No
Has the new Minister really thought this through?. No
Has broadband penetration, which falls under the Ministry of Comms improved enough to allow a majority of Nigeria's citizen be able to join the Global village? No
Is this really the best place for the Ministry to be focused in light of a recent one month strike by Nitel that crippled all International comms services into Nigeria due to non payment of their wages for 8 months? No

Hmmm. So basically what we are saying is that things are still as they are but we will call them a new name? Like changing from NEPA to PHCN? We will slap new paint on a derelict house? We will put new seat covers on an abandoned car? And this rebranding exercise will only cost $150m to execute? Bargain (but there is no money ot pay Nitel workers?). For that sort of price we should do it every month.

As for Arsenal. Maybe we could rebrand them as Arse. Has a certain ring to it don't you think? Actually we could use that term for the Nigeria rebranding as well.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

I'm so tired of fXXXing all morning and afternoon.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am not one to swear as I know my readers are a delicate sort and any sort of profanity will send them rushing for the smelling salts. The less frequent readers who read the title of this post and expected some treatise about my athletic sexual life will also be somewhat disappointed as this post is not about that at all (obviously that would require a book in itself. A small tome. Something along the lines of War and Peace.)

No dear reader this post is about the amount of fxxxing that has been going on on my TV over the past few days. I mean I had first noticed this last year but since I don't spend my time in front of the TV in the daytime it has sort of slipped my attention until now. Over the past few days, working from home and having the box on for background company has been a revelation. Actually too much was revealed.

There has been language that is normally only reserved for after the watershed (9pm) in the Uk and as a matter of fact is not allowed on mainstream commercial channels at all in the US. For good reason. It is called decency. One programme was being broadcast at the exact time as the youngest troublemakers were returning from school and I imagine if, as is their habit , they had settled themselves comfortably in front of the tube to unwind they would have had a few choice things to say to us that evening at story time. And even more awkward questions.

There was frequent use of the F word, the A word, the T word and even more graphic presentations of said words. All this in broad daylight. I mean do we not have a regulator in this country? What does the Minister for Info. & Comms. actually make of this? Should this sort of thing be allowed? What happens during the kids holidays when they are home all day and will probably stumble across these programmes? These are movie channels that one day are showing a children's film and the next an "adult" one. Should DSTV's licence not be reviewed with a view to setting some standards? I am not sure but are they allowed to show these programmes at these times in South Africa?

The most bizarre thing about all this is that whilst all this effing and blinding is going on freely, any mention of the word God is bleeped out! What kind of world are we living in?

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Oh Please Mr Momodu.. Give me a break!!

There are a few key words that immediately set my teeth on edge. Long time readers of my blog will know that these include but are not limited to Madonna, Tom Cruise, Lagos traffic and British Airways. This list is by no means exhaustive and as I get older and more crotchety I continually add to it. Today the honour falls to Mr Momodu – the publisher of Ovation Magazine.
For those not familiar with this glossy it is a celebration of everything shiny and bright in Nigeria (and now several other undeserving countries). Now despite the opening paragraph above I also adopt a live and let live attitude. (Wait now. Stop laughing). Don’t invade my space and I will surely stay out of yours. However over the past two weeks Mr Momodu via his column on the back pages of the This Day newspapers on Sunday has been pontificating about what is wrong with Nigeria and has therefore stepped into my space.

This week’s article was about the large number of VIPs we now have in our midst who go so far as to take their bodyguards everywhere with them. Even into Church where said bodyguard blocks the view of the regular, normal members of the congregation!! Mr Momodu questions why this is necessary when even the US President is often seen delivering speeches without some guard casting a shadow over him. Last week's article was no better.

So what’s my beef? Well, I refer back to said Ovation magazine as published by Mr Momodu which celebrated and continues to celebrate the “achievements” of some of the most dubious and odious characters in this country. As a matter of fact as far back as three years ago I started referring to the “Ovation lifestyle” meaning people who with no discernible means of income would be photographed in their huge mansions displaying the usual gold plated tat or lounging casually against a Rolls Royce or some other material indicator of their “arrival”.

I particularly remember the birthday party for a particular Anambra State godfather’s child whom I believe was turning two. If I recall correctly there was a full edition dedicated to this “celebration” including glitzy photos of the aforementioned mansion, Roller and other candied yams. Now as far as I am aware I have never read a single business journal here or abroad wherein the name of Mr Rivers State was mentioned as a great industrialist being that he invented this, manufactured that or produced the other. The fact that his elder brother was at that time sitting at the kitchen table with our then President speaks volumes.

So how can the publisher of a magazine who is happy to take money from all and sundry to appear in his rag then pontificate about said flotsam and jetsam if they start to believe the hype and act accordingly? Has he not himself legitimised their actions? Is he not sending the message that regardless of where and how you get your money that it does not matter? Is he not celebrating the very vices which he now denounces? Is this not what is called talking out of both sides of your mouth?

And the most galling bit of all is that having helped to create the monsters that regularly appear glossily in his glossy Mr Momodu sensibly decamped to the safety and relative calm of Ghana from whence he pontificates only popping into Nigeria to celebrate another occasion with another "big boy or girl".

Saturday, 17 January 2009


I have a very good sense of humour. People always say to me that I should have been a comedian (as they hand me my letter of termination). Some even call me a joker. I also love football. With a passion. I mean even the title of this blog suggests that. But even with these attributes I was still caught offside (see what I did there?) when my friend rang me to say that he had heard that Manchester City was prepared to pay £100m transfer fee for a player (one player) and on top of this they would make sure that he did not dig too deeply into his overdraft by dropping a cool quarter of a million pounds every week into his bank account. Oh how I laughed at my friend. Being an Arsenal supporter he is used to being laughed at but he is laughing last. And loudest. And longest.

It would appear that in these days of the credit crunch , the cookie crumbling, the cake down to crumbs that somewhere in this global village of ours there are still what can only be described as muppets. One hundred million pounds for a football player or any other athlete for that matter is a ridiculously staggering amount and the fact that it is for a player for Manchester City who not too long ago were looking into the abyss of the exit door of the Premiership (and maybe they still are) just beggars belief. This amount would keep the first division happy for at least two full seasons and yet they are prepared to spend it on one player?

The worst part of it is listening to Mark Hughes, the Manchester City manager, who one would have thought would be the voice of reason based on his background trying to justify it. With a straight face!! I mean how much did he spend on Robinho? £35m? And the impact he has had? Are they challenging the top 4? No. Are they vying to play in Europe? No. Are they playing like the same old Manchester City that we know and love. Oh yes. So let me get this straight. If a £35m player cannot make a difference then of course one should spend an even more ridiculous sum of money on another one. And if that fails then hmmmm let me think.

This bring to mind the story of NIGCOMSAT. The Nigerian Communications Satellite that was launched last year with help from our friends the Chinese for a ridiculous sum of money just over $250m. Said satellite after twisting in orbit for just over a year then gave up the ghost. Lost power. Failed. After much investigation into the cause and much soul searching and technical and financial auditing (not) the MD of NIGCOMSAT then rushed down to the National Assembly to ask for funds to replace the “parked” satellite with two. So instead of $250m could he please just have $500m so that he can have a spare. You know just in case. Maybe Mark Hughes should run for office in Nigeria.?

Having thought long and hard about it I can only surmise that this is some sort of money laundering scam by our friends from the desert. The Arabs of course not the Hausas of Northern Nigeria. I am talking about Kaka the player not the space satellite Kaka of course.

In my mind I see the negotiations thus between the buyer and the agent.:
Hello I am is Abdul from Abu Dhabi. I want Kaka.
Sir the toilet is that way.
Toilet? No toilet. I want Kaka and I want right here, right now.
Sir I am sorry but you cannot Kaka right here, right now.
I give you $50m.
Sir, we will bring the toilet to you for you to Kaka right here, right now. Is there anything else you would like?
No just Kaka and tomorrow he must be in Manchester.
Oh I see. You want Kaka the player, not Kaka the toilet.
Yes Kaka the player to go to Manchester, the toilet. I give you $100m.
Sir for that sort of money you can have Kaka and Kajagoogoo
No kajagoogoo. Just Kaka. I give you $150m. You take cheque? I only have $100m cash.
Sir we have just spoken to Kaka and he says that he is not interested in moving for money.
Not for money! For Manchester City. I give you $200m.
Sir without even speaking to Kaka I can assure you he will be in Manchester City by next season.
Next season? No tomorrow. I want Kaka now. Tell him I pay him $500,000 every week.
Sir Kaka is already on the plane and will be arriving in Manchester shortly. We will inform his family and team mates as soon as we have the chance (or the cheque clears, whichever comes first).

Pardon the flight of fantasy but how else can you explain this type of lunacy? Again I am of course referring to the football one. The Nigeria satellite one is easily explained is it not?

Thursday, 8 January 2009


Bullets speak louder than wordsI know,

I heard and saw it for myself

When the robbers came to the bank

For the first time the street fell silent

No car horns, no okadas buzzing

No shouting, fighting, raucous laughter

All fell silent as the guns blazed

With their own unique molten cadenza

My friends it’s the truth I tell you

Bullets speak louder than words

Just look at our friend Mugabe

A million dead due to poverty and hunger

And a million more to go through disease

Yet he sits there quietly mocking

Planning his Christmas fete for friends and family

Whilst the international community imposes

Their worthless and hypocritical sanctions

Because he knows that he controls the choir

And at the very first sign of real trouble

He will deliver them special Christmas carols

And will watch them fall silent once again

My friends it’s the truth I tell you

Because bullets speak louder than words

And to the terrorists of India

Who came to kill in the dead of night

Who knows how long they had been agitating

Asking for “constructive dialogue”

Where was Sky News, CNN, Al Jazeera

When their words fell on deaf ears

But armed and dangerous and full of swagger

Lost for words no longer “speaking”

They took to the streets to cause their carnage

Left us speechless with their message

My friends it’s the truth I tell you

Bullets speak louder than words

And while the streets of Lagos are littered

With the poor, the sick, the mad, the homeless

A Senator imports a floating hotel to the Marina

Says it will bring much needed tourists

Like what we need is more people in Lagos?

What will it do for us ask the trampled masses?

Will it feed, or clothe, or house or cure us?

But it’s hard to hear the masses crying

Above the sounds of clicking champagne glasses

But the man on the street will soon learn the secret

That if you scream and scream but no one hears you

My friends it’s the truth I tell you

Bullets speak louder than words

Lets not forget our leaders in Abuja

Where the rot is truly set

Where there is no room for true discussion

Where freedom of information is just an act

Where our trusted leader Yardy,

good a man as they say he is

Finds himself surrounded by Judas'

Out to only enrich themselves

Each of them with forty policemen

Not to protect them from the sniper’s bullet

But for the day when the masses open their eyes

And close their mouths

Because suddenly they have discovered that

My friends it’s the truth I tell you

Bullets speak louder than words

And now in Gaza they dance to shrapnel

Fire rains from earth and sky

Isreal says we have the right to

Claim 500 of them for one of ours

Using our shiny new US made armors

Jets, and Tanks, and Guns and rockets

We can pick them off as we wish and will and want

Mouthpieces smirk their way across my telly

Meanwhile the Bush man plans his leaving party

Whilst babies bodies decompose

The world suppresses its revulsion

And prays that soon a truce might come

Oh my friends its the truth I tell you

Bullets speak louder than words