Sunday, November 23, 2014

USA Africa Dialogue Series - How will the drop in oil prices affect the Nigerian presidential elections?

It's a question for the pundits.

The sobering news from Iraq is that In Light Of Dropping Oil Revenues, Iraqi Official Calls on Iraqi People to Tighten Belts, Postpone Financial Demands until Crisis Passes....

This evening, in Nigeria world the top headline is that


Not only in Nigeria, before elections in most countries the competing rival candidates are usually upbeat about all the great things that they are going to do for the people, some to the extent of promising a new heaven on a new earth, in the absence of manna falling from the sky,  all of which of course needs financing. Unfortunately, this dramatic drop in oil prices has come at the wrong time.

The people have to be given realistic expectations...

President Goodluck Jonathan is reputed to have Africa's most qualified minister of finance in the person of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and although so far she has not talked about any austerity measures, she has already warned that sky's not the limit for making election promises (The last thing that Goodluck Jonathan wants at this critical juncture in the weeks and days leading up to election day is another major strike in any way connected with petroleum/ fuel/ teachers' salaries etc. or having to talk about austerity days ahead for the nation.)

Since Muhammadu Buhari himself has some background in petroleum matters it's reasonable to be expecting some statements from him about how the Nigerian economy is supposed to deal with the drop in oil prices, oil the major export commodity that lubricates the Naija economy.



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Hello Everyone,


This article and video maybe of interest  to some who are interested in examples of lack of accountability and irresponsibility on the part of some political elites in Nigeria. If you have already read or watched the video, my apology please. You need to scroll down the article to see the video, which is about the governor of Katsina State. He spoke in Hausa language but there is a transcript and translation of what he said as he was saying it. Here is the weblink: 



The Governor of Katsina is surely not the only person involved in this kind of reckless political behavior. Others may be "smarter" in how and where they say what they say. Even if we did not have a system of rule of law in Nigeria, at least constitutionally, what he did is against Islamic social ethics. Basil Davidson discusses the role of check and balances in traditional African political systems using political kingdoms in Nigeria as case studies.

 In one of the episodes, Yusuf Maitama Sule who was Nigeria's former permanent representative at the United Nations explained the system of accountability in Kano emirate system with the emir in charge. Surely, there were aberrations but this kind of reckless behavior on the part of the Governor Katsina would not be tolerated under Islamic social ethics. Maitama used to frequent Kano when I was an undergraduate student at Bayero University. He was always an inspiration. But time is passing.


I am sure that Al Maghili will not approve the governor's behavior. The Governor may be one of the leaders in his mosque and the prayer session may not start until he arrives, but religious practice in Nigeria often does not seem to have impact on public morality. I am sure there are Christian leaders who will go to church and sing choruses and then go and do terrible political things. If prayer will change Nigeria, we will have to see that change begin in changing people first.


USA Africa Dialogue Series - A new story....By Kole Odutola

Broda Tunde & Sista Asata....

Ajẹku is a word I related to dogs and house helps for a long time. Ajẹku simply means remnants. Should I say thanks to America for changing my perception that dogs and remnants should never be in the same sentence. I have a story and I must tell that story in the form of a confession to the Global Secular Gathering that facebook has become (or is becoming). Ok, wait a while, let me quickly tell you about Broda Tunde, the house-help who taught me that old clothes or left over foods are not for boy-boys. He came to the house-hold as a trained goldsmith from upcountry (somewhere in Ijẹbu). He needed money to buy the required tools for his trade so he decided to work as part of my father's domestic staff. Broda Tunde was not just a house help he saw and heard everything. He knew the goings in and going out of our dear father. His knowledge irritated my mother to the extent that she re-named him Tunde ti o n yahọn balabala. To her that act of constantly sticking ones tongue in quick succession (like OBJ does when he is excited) is a sign of wickedness. Well, I doubt if Broda Tunde was wicked, he just saw more than the rest of us and that knowledge gave him an edge over the rest of us. No wonder Kelani says Toluwa nilẹ ati awon to mọ itan rẹ̀.

I recall one day one of my father's relatives presented him with some old clothes and like a prince who had to serve others he declined and later gave us a quick lesson in how house-helps should not be treated as if they were less than human. I still do not agree with him that giving anyone old clothes is treating them as less human. To him he could afford whatever he desired as long as it is sold in the market. It was from him I learned the proverb "oun ti ko si lọja ni ọmọ ẹru ki i jẹ" (It is that which is not sold in the market place that a slave's child cannot consume). As I recall the deeds of Broda Tunde, I can see him in his purple buba and ṣokoto walking around the house doing this and doing that, with a cleaning clothe across his shoulders. I still cannot recall what broda Tunde could not do with his big bare hands. He used the Hover vacuum cleaner effortless just as he held the broom to sweep that large space we called the roof garden. He remains a part of my past just like Sister Asata, the lady I met at Ithaca College, (Upstate New York), many years ago will 
remain attached to my new respect for dogs.

I am not from Ondo State where it is rumored that dogs are delicacies but as a proper ọmọ Eko, dogs are animals that could bite you and these dogs did bite a few of our friends. When you mention the word dog, my mind in those days went straight to ajẹku (remnants). In my mind I had a fixed picture of what a dog's dinner looked like; a combination of all the previous meals of the day al mashed together looking so ugly but maybe tasty. I never knew dogs in Nigeria and dogs in America were not in the same category. How was I to know that you do not announce at a party in America that dog owners could come for left-overs bones, rice, beans and whatever the guests could not consume. As you would suspect I made that error once and I tell you I have been redeemed. Call me reformed dog respecter and you would not be wrong.

Sista Asata was not your usual graduate student; she was not only a mother but was also a grand-mother. A semester before I arrived fresh from the MV JJC Boat, Sista Asata's dog was run over by a reckless hit and vamoose driver and that got her into deep depression. She was unable to attend classes and function as a normal student. So the semester I arrived was when she was starting to recover from the shock of losing one of her dogs. I gained her attention outside of class and we soon hit it off and I was invited to her abode to see her children and the other 4 dogs and 2 cats. Since I was new and had not yet had a feel of what the home of an American could look like and also what food in their homes could taste like. I was so excited to take this long drive with her about 8pm after our classes. Sorry if I have not painted a picture of Sista Asata's beauty, I hope you can infer it as you read along. Think of a tall woman, very well endowed and with a generous supply of smiles and wise cracks. Think of a lady with features like you would see in a plus size model catalogue, and add to this imagination a head full of silver hairs and a woman of sartorial elegance. When she walks, I guess the floor adds a bounce to her steps, when she speaks in that low tone, ones ears sends ripples to the heart. I wanted to listen to her voice much more than the professors who taught me organizational communication.

Well, fast forward to the appointed day. I was so ready, the female bus driver of the City Bus at the Flag Pole could not resist asking where I was headed. Need I tell anyone I was of my best behavior? The ride to her house was uneventful. Something tied my tongue and I could not find the words beyond yes, oh, ha and a few meaningless grunts just to hide my anxiety. I manage a few smiles and I think I talked a bit about my role in Mirror In the Sun and how I was written off the script because I could not remember my lines. She laughed so hard when she heard that I forgot my lines. I guess it triggered a memory in her past too. Anyway, her car pulled gently into the drive way and the first person who showed her face was a skimpily dressed twenty-something lady (who I later learned was her son's girlfriend), behind her were the pets. To those of you with dogs and cats, the scene is just too familiar. Saying I felt out of place would be the world's greatest understatement. I did not know how to play with them, fear was written all over me. Ohhh, thank god that did not last for too long.

She went into the kitchen and made the best dinner I have tasted since I arrived from Lagos Nigeria. After the dinner, I wanted to go wash my dishes when I heard a loud noise from behind me, "Not in this house, no one can do the dishes the way I do them." I left the plates on the table and pretended all way well. At the far end of the room the dogs were having what looked like a feast. I think on her way to the flag Pole, she stopped to buy different kinds of dog's food. Some of the delicacies were in tins, others in big brown bags. I am not sure I have witnessed such care for dogs like I did that night. It was getting late and I was not sure what the tradition of a first visit would entail. I was not left in suspense for too long. Her computer was in her bedroom and she called me in to come read a paper she was writing for one of our classes. Sorry guys, I refuse to disclose the other things that happened or failed to happen that night.

What I will not hide from you happened on the way back to the campus. Please as you read this remember it happened over fifteen years ago!!. It was such a night, the sort a guy prays for all the time. My tongue was now untied and I was the usual chatty self. Saying this and talking about that. All went well for about 45 mins into the ride when she broke down in tears. I think what triggered the flow of tears was because she saw a vehicle that looked like the one that was reported to have run over her dog!! To console her I put my foot in my mouth as they say; "why not find another dog to replace the one you lost" I said calmly and feeling cool with myself.

Do you really want to know what happened after those words? Then let us meet here next time. I learned a big lesson that day……..

(From the Diary of a Lagos Bobo aka Dude)   

Funmi Tofowomo Okelola

-In the absence of greatness, mediocrity thrives.

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