…And The Next Level Brouhaha

 

Let’s admit it, election in Nigeria is war. I have known this since. I witnessed it in 1993. After the Moshood Abiola of Social Democractic Party (SDP) defeated Bashir Tofa’s National Republican Convention (NRC), the elections were annulled by Ibrahim Babanginda. People took to the streets fighting, protesting and fighting over the annulment. It was a glimpse into structure of how elections are weapons of selection. What would have happened if Moshood Abiola ruled? (I digress)

J. Shola Omotola reminds us that elections “are not in themselves a guarantee for sustainable democratic transition and consolidation” and they can be used to disguise authoritarian rule. Omotola opens up a can of disgusting worms by saying democracy can be used as a ruse. But, truly, that’s what it is. We are clamouring for a process without really believing in the tenets and without really paying attention to the process. Elections in Nigeria or Africa is simply a show at the feet of the West and a bloody drama within the shores of the land.

It was reinstated again by the recent election. It’s a dog-eat-dog scenario where winners walk around with the blood of the losers dripping from the side of their mouth. Over 30 lives were lost in the just concluded elections in Nigeria. If the just concluded Nigerian elections were to be a movie, it would be called There Will Be Blood.

Why do I feel bad that election in Nigeria is a war? Because, it is. The answers are loud enough. A friend asked: “Why bother?” It is a legitimate question. Why bother about a place you have not lived in for close to a decade? Can’t you watch from a distance and thank God for leaving, what Donald Trump describes as, “a shit hole”? When I visited last year for a family member’s wedding, a friend reminded me that I am a guest in a town where I was born. For me to only visit, for me to only spend some days, for me to sweat too much on my forehead while eating Asun, means I am a guest. These are next level things I can’t handle. I must leave Nigerian things to Nigerians living in Nigeria. Therefore, when it comes to Nigerian politics, I must behave like a guest.

After all, some of my critics on social media have boxed me into the diasporan corner. A corner that is mostly for the arm chair critics. A corner where I can wail and never be heard. A corner where my wailing ends up on twitter, a blog or serves as a Facebook rant. And, to be honest, it seems they might be right.  I am always reminded when making logical sense in this space to come home and fix the problems. I never understand the diasporan labelling and I will never understand it. There are reasons for this digression. One, the just concluded election ended relationships with some friends. Discussing Nigerian politics with some Nigerians is like juggling a lazy dog in the air waiting for it to explode. These friends can’t comprehend why I would never support President Muhammadu Buhari (aka Sai Baba) or Abubakar Atiku or any of the other representatives of the party(I have talked about that here) and blamed my stance on existing  “in the diaspora.” Second, and most important, a diasporic element like me talking about Nigerian politics is tantamount to a child born in London talking about his ancestors in Lagos and Edo state, Nigeria. It doesn’t add up. But, back to the point.

Yes, the main election is over. The winner? I don’t care. I lie. I care. I actually do care when I think of the affiliations I still have in that country. I want them to be safe. I want them to exist in a sane society. However,  this time, they will be in the hands of the same culprit.The same actors that will act out the script of their godfathers. The truth remains the same– a continuum in the geriatrics of chasing after corrupt heads, chasing after offenders and forgetting the main mission of good governance.

The next level will be shrouded in massaging of egos and extermination of enemies. There will be nothing new. The next four years will be a reminder of the past four years. And, of course, in the dialectics of politics in Nigeria, there is always the one who plays the pipe and the one who dances to the tune. The figure head that Nigerians rush out to vote for does not even know the colour of the pipe, how many holes in the pipe and will never touch the pipe. He will only dance to the rhythm.

Our brand of democracy is stained with a tinge of kowtowing and ball-licking on a grand scale. Our brand of democracy means the victor have to call on God for handing him the power of powers. It’s not driven by a sense of purpose. It is driven by a selfish mission, a macabre vision and a forceful move to fatten stomachs.

In the move to the next level, there will gnashing of teeth by the losing party. There will be orchestration to undermine the ruling party. Different type of games will be played to dirty the name of the winner. Again, there will be blood.

I am reminded that the next level might mean victory for some and might mean a return to the backward existence that already exists in Nigeria. I am reminded to maintain an optimistic outlook in the face of a misplaced democracy. I am reminded that the likes of Sowore, Moghalu, Oby and co. who made an attempt at presidency,  wouldn’t continue to work hard to maintain a momentum to keep their fires burning till next election. I am reminded that the next level is just another phrase in the mouths of those who chastise humans and display a stylish demonstration-of-crase.

 

Twitter: @moshoke

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SMARTPHONES SMARTLY SEEPING LIVES

Content

Introduction.

Why Check Your Screen Time?

Enter Digital Minimalism

The Hard Truth

What Are Our Children Learning

Conclusion

 

Introduction

How much time do you spend on your smartphone weekly? It’s important you do this. As there is an increase in smartphones smartly seeping lives like a straw dipped into a cold drink. In other words, the smartphone sucks out our senses, our brains, and our existence.

Why Check Your Screen Time?

 Studies have revealed that an average adult can’t go a day without their smartphone. Therefore, it’s important for one to check one’s use of the smartphone. In my case, I’m off and on. In a good week, I spend more time on Kindle, reading. And sometimes, more on WhatsApp, chatting away. By measuring my screen time, I found out where my time flows to and that has helped me plan better.

On a grand scale of things, we use our phones quite often and maybe notoriously to our personal detriment. It is important, therefore, that we check how much time we spend swiping, clicking likes and leaving comments. See below, my daily and weekly screen time:

 

 Enter Digital Minimalism.

Cal Newport in his new book argues that while using these devices could be meaningful, we need to ask ourselves a tough question: what value is this app adding to my overall career or life’s goal? He argues that we should use our phone less. Clicking like on your friend’s baby pictures on Instagram is different than buying a gift and visiting your friend.

The Hard Truth

It is hard. These days one is expected to answers calls, reply to Facebook or WhatsApp messages and emails immediately. It shouldn’t be. One must learn to play it fairly by scheduling how and when to ping back a message. This act opens time for one to get other things and engage in what Newport defines as Deep Work

 What Are Our Children Learning?

I was at a friend’s house the other day. His daughters–aged four and seven– were glued to their i-pads. When asked how many hours they spend on their screens, the father gives a defensive reply, “I try to control their screen time but it’s hard.”

And when we checked his screen time on his mobile phone, we found out that he spends forty hours on Instagram weekly.

Is this the case of the apple not falling far from the tree? Children learn by what they see adults do.

If the iPhone or Samsung is a limb to the adult, then the child would think he/she needs that support too. Are we teaching our children that life revolves around dependency on these devices?

We are attaching our children’s to these devices.

What would this do?

It will make them anti-social and depressed when they don’t get their screen-fix. Parents need to schedule how much time children spend on these devices and on what application.

Conclusion

It is important to measure how we use these devices and reduce our slavish dependency on them. Ask the tough question: how is this one hour I spend on this app going to add value or draw me nearer to my goal?

 

 

Twitter: @moshoke

 

Of 2019 Nigerian Elections

Content

  1. Introduction
  2. What Do Nigerians Desire?
  3. Who Are The Contenders?
  4. What Nigerians Will Get?
  5. Conclusions/ Future Suggestion.

**

  1. Introduction

The 2019 Nigerian election is here. Politicians, as they are wont to do, are campaigning and the Nigerian electorate, as always, react to their feverish tales with a heightened sense of expectation.

Most Nigerians know elections in Nigeria are selection processes orchestrated by party godfathers and thugs. Yet, they expect change from such systems. Juxtaposing these thoughts present a complex Nigerian reality.

History shows that the Nigerian political elites never deliver their promises after been elected. It is a case of campaigning in poetry and delivering in prose. The typical scenario is where the elected individual forgets about governance and dances to the tunes of party puppeteers.

This piece argues that Nigeria needs more than an election, it enumerates the Nigerian desire, briefly examines the contenders and concludes that a re-orientation is required for that desired change to come.

  1. What Do Nigerians Desire?

Citizens of any nation yearn for basic amenities— security, jobs and working institutions. Democracy, it is argued by scholars, is the only way to provide this existence. At the twenty-sixth OAU summit, OAU Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim reminds us that democracy in Africa should aim to please Africans and treat their needs with utmost importance.

Today, however, African democracy presents numerous disadvantages. Respect for human rights, official accountability and popular participation which are the corner stones of a democratic state are missing.

A Nigerian citizen expects to be treated as a human and more importantly, to enjoy the benefits from a democratic state. However, to desire something as citizens is different from getting the ruling elite to meet those demands.

Furthermore, there is an argument that Nigerians get the leaders they deserve, an echo of Joseph De Maistre’s statement. In that, a corrupt bank manager shouldn’t complain about a corrupt commissioner or a lazy airport official shouldn’t complain about a lazy senator. There’s an element of truth in that argument. But the point remains that leaders ought to set examples for their followers . After all, the fish rots from the head.

As 2019 draws nearer, the hopes of Nigerians are raised which will be deflated after the elections.

 

  1. Who Are The Contenders?

Focus here is just on the presidential aspirants.

For long, the mantle of leadership has exchanged hands among a circle of friends. They’ve held it from the early 1970s to present. In this circle, you’d find Babangida, Tinubu, Atiku, Obasanjo and Buhari. These are the cream on top of Nigeria’s political coffee. There’s no chance to win any political race without adding any of this cream to the coffee.

Nigeria is not a country and there are those who own it.

In 2019, the owners will—drum roll please!—present Buhari and Atiku who represent All Progressive Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) or which Oby Ezekwesili describes as Butiku. Two parties cut from the same fabric. In summary, there is APC, PDP and others.

The others represent the minority parties which includes Oby Ezekwesili for the Allied Congress Party; Donald Duke for the Social Democratic Party; and Kingsley Moghalu for the Young Progressives Party (YPP) and many unknown others.

The “minority” label is for the party with lesser people power and individuals with credible resumes. The heated debates about how these individuals will change Nigeria misses the point. Character doesn’t win elections in Nigeria. Religion, tribe and party affiliation does. But, there is a way out.

First, to uproot the existing powers of APC and PDP requires a deeper understanding of the power structure in Nigeria. There is something regional about playing politics in Nigeria and you can’t have a major vote if you don’t know how to play the grassroots game. Second, someone like kingsley Moghalu and Oby Ekwezeli have not caught minds of the real voters who exist in the corners of various regions. They have not caught the eyes of voters who lack internet.

To undo PDP and APC’s powers require a strong force, a coalition of sorts and a revolutionary mindset. This can only work when individuals with a singular goal come together and map out concrete plans to achieve this singular mission.

Nigerians know the winners before the game starts and they know what they will get.

 

  1. What Nigerians Will Get?

Nigerians, in 2019, would get what they’ve always got. A president from the existing cream—Buhari or Atiku. It has always been the case of who is the lesser evil. Nigerians will pick the person who would deliver a lesser blow of woes on their daily existence.

For now, the other minority parties don’t have what it takes to snatch power away from the elites. They have, through their various actions, put their personal needs and desires above a more lasting solution. They want power without understanding the construct of the evils they must fight. They want the presidential seat without been pragmatic about how it can be done. It’s easy for anyone to whip sentimental claims and grammatical geriatrics but the work to get to the seat deserves deep work and systemic approach.

To put it in another form, there is the need for a lot of Davids to fight against the Goliaths present in Nigeria. There is no need for the Davids to carry different weapons. They must shoot from a single string in other to fall the existing power.

 

  1. Conclusions and plans for future.

Nigerians should never trust the least evil president that would come in 2019. Again, this individual will use power as a weapon for self-gratification and pleasing godfathers and their political party.

There is a need for a re-orientation and this re-orientation borders on furthering the betterment of a truly democratic Nigeria. Sensible figures who want to cut out the old leaders must agree and should agree to work together. These ones must come together to build a weapon that is characterised by reputational essence which will in turn give them the competitive edge to win the minds of millions. They must not turn against each other. Their arrows must be shot from one bow.

The naïve presumption that power will shift because of moral integrity is preposterous. There is a need to now remove the veneer of morality and understand the underpinnings of these existing power then put into motion a mission that would disrupt the so-called status quo. That should be the plan in the future. For now, Nigeria is stuck with Butiku.

 

I’m here on twitter.

 

 

We Have fuel and We Have Scarcity.

IMG_6258
Picture by Ayo Akinwande

Last Wednesday, I called my sister based in Lagos, Nigeria. The conversation was short and unusual. On any given day, our gist rides into thirty to forty minutes. Not today. She reminded me ominously that “fuel scarcity dey; I need enter petrol station”. Those were the words that ended the call. A reminder, a sad one; that, again, fuel is scarce.

That fuel is scarce on a land that produces one of earth’s best crude oils is a known paradox(another telling will not do). However, there’s something metaphoric and symbolic about the consistent scarcity. These elements are what I’d try to unpack in this piece.

Let’s make something clear before we journey into these search of symbols and metaphors.  I think a basic equation will help us comprehend these complex paradoxes that plague not only Nigeria but the continent as a whole.

Equation:

Think fuel; think riches. Think scarcity; think poor.

So,

Fuel-scarcity = rich-poor.

To think on this level is to acknowledge the following truths: Africa is the richest continent and yet, is the poorest continent in the world. Africa houses more than eighty percent of the world’s resources and yet, imports all its finished products.

Let’s add another twist to the words “fuel scarcity”. Place the conjunction “and” in between these words to create the finished phrase: “fuel” “and” “scarcity”. Separating them would allow anyone assimilate the equation well.

We have fuel.

We have scarcity.

One can extract various images from the above truths. If Franz Kafka’s Gregor Samsa in Metamorphosis  wakes up to find himself as a giant bug, Africa sleeps and wakes up as a bug. She knows she’s a bug. Unlike Sartre’s assertion that we are condemned to freedom, Africa is condemned to something sinister, a bug-life and suffers consistent swipes.

But, what’s safe? To love scarcity more than fuel or to love fuel more than scarcity? Edward Said in Reflections on Exile: And Other Literary and Cultural Essays  argues that “it is what one remembers of the past and how one remembers it that determine how one sees the future.” Following Said’s argument, one can raise these potent questions: what do Nigerians’ remember about fuel? What memories are abound about scarcity? And, more importantly, where are we now?

I remember the lashes of scarcity. I trekked from Orile to Ijesha. Water left my body. Scarcity meant suffering.  One hour and some minutes, I walked under Lagos’ sun which squeezed me. What I remember here is that long, tortuous, and painful work caused by scarcity of riches(word replaced as per equation). Every step tore my soul. The land’s abundance blurred in my mind. Scarcity weakens. It kills ambition. It, as Chuma Nwokolo puts it, makes one meek. If anyone had invited me for a question session or any other national activity after that walk, I would have declined respectfully.

However one tries to remember or to borrow Said’s words “determine the future” by remembering, it solves nothing. These paradoxical truths watches one and another reality never comes to the fore in between these blinking realities. Tides will ebb, the rivers in River Niger will produce fish, another black gold will erupt from another part of the continent but there will be scarcity in the land. That’s where we are now. There’s fuel and there’s scarcity.

Scarcity was constructed for Africa by Africans and non-Africans and abundance is an  illusionary destination.  It’s a bad dream with no end but sprinkled with good tales in the middle. Riches keep slipping away. Africa is that thirsty bug floating on water. To weave another narrative fabric for the continent becomes harder. Nigeria, as a giant of Africa,  wears that synecdochal hat for the contient.

Scarcity spreads its tentacles wildly and widely. Moyo Dambisa in Dead Aid: Why aid is not working narrates another level of scarcity when she reminds us about lack of strong leaders and goes further to propose that poor countries acquire “benevolent dictators to push through the reforms required to get the economy moving”. What Dambisa forgets is that the continent has been blessed with “benevolent dictators” like Mugabe, Gaddafi, just to mention those two, who later pocketed their benevolence. It’s not hard to have tyranny and benevolence in one body as explained by Dambisa, Americans, the French, and the Brits have mastered the act, africans haven’t. I think Dambisa thinks Rwanda’s Paul Kagame is the “benevolent dictator” Africans must emulate. I mean, why not? Rwanda’s economy grew 1.7 percent in the first Quarter 2017. Let’s not forget, however, that Kagame, too, is described in other chimes as a dictator but not a benevolent one.

How hard it is to avoid the paradoxical discourse of the continent. Yes, I warned that it was another tale that needs no retelling but, what I have done is to give a holistic reminder. That feature of riches and poverty existing side by side sprang like a dubious masquerade in the 1914s and it is there, always been there and will always be there.  This is a known fact. But, there’s nothing, I repeat, nothing that can be done to drive the masquerade away from town. Even if our eyes are watching God, the cycle repeats itself.

Or maybe there’s another level of scarcity—the scarcity of reasoning. Greg Mills was bold to make a dangerous, yet truthful summation that “Sub-Saharan African countries have not fulfilled their potential since independence.” Ouch! I don’t know any African country that’s independent. There’s none. That’s Mills first display of simplistic thinking. Again, Mill spreads naivety in this essay like an amateur artist spreading and mixing colour on canvas. At one point, Mills is telling Africans to ignore what Said describes in Culture And Imperialism as the “imperial context” in our contemporary existence and to solely focus on liberalising some industries to beat scarcity on the land. That’s like asking an adult to murder what Sigmund Freud describes as “infantile wish” in Interpretation of Dreams.

But, for some seconds, let’s focus on this potential described by Mills. Let’s give him a third ear. There’s potential but I think reasoning is missing. By reasoning, I mean that power to think critically, forge new missions and create a new existence. That’s what Nigeria and many post-independent(a useless term used here for lack of another descriptive word) nations need.  Many Nigerians grew with scarcity and they’ve become comfortable with it. To not have, is normal. To know that things are in existence but can’t be had is a daily truth.

How did this scarcity come in 2017? I mean, to borrow Dambisa’s phrase, we have a benevolent dictator. He’s not only benevolent but has has three heads in one: minister of petroleum, the president and former dictator. Even with many eyes and heads, he can’t fix scarcity. He can’t change it.

The president means well or so he says but his actions depeens the meaning of well. His expedition can be compared with that man in search of water in a desert with no concrete plan. But, if we give room to his staunch supporters, they would innaudate the world with his great achievements, they would bring numbers of moneys collected back from thieves and they would tell you about the death of Boko Haram. However, there’s scarcity which his non-supporters will narrate: economic recession, increased tribal jingoisms and bipartisan politics. But, to be fair, all blame can be laid at his feet. He, with his cartel of old heads, have been steering this Nigerian ship for over thirty decades and have no destination.

Again, there’s fuel and there’s scarcity.

Scarcity altered the normal conversation I’d have had with my loved ones. When, one must ask, would we focus on the fuel on our land? When would individuals in Nigeria not worry about scarcity? When? I don’t know and I can’t predict. It’s Christmas, I’d call again, and hopefully, scarcity won’t direct our gist.

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If you love her, kill her and vice versa

The issue of love is complicated. It’s not a one-fit-all type situation. One person’s way of expressing love might be different from another person. The destinies of many individuals have been reshaped–good or bad– because they fell in love. That said, love shouldn’t spark devilish acts. If it doesn’t meet humanistic standards, walk away.  Society taught males to be in “devilishly” in love. 
 
As a boy growing up  in Ijesha, Surulere,  alpha males existed on the scene. Men who displayed their manliness on their hands, swag and voice. They were easy to spot.
There was Baba carpenter. Whenever his wife offended him, he told her to  “put her hands up and close her eyes” while he lashed her with copper wire. Neighbours begged but he reminded them that he had the right to punish her for not cooking and obeying his orders.  We only pitied her as she swallowed phlegm and dried streams of tears from her face. There was nothing anyone could do. 
 
There was Baba Uyi–the most violent of all. He once smashed a bottle on his wife’s forehead leaving her almost blind in the left eye. He beat her, at least, twice a week. And, they still managed to ride on the illusion of love. When there was no love, there was fighting. They pushed the line of love and hate willy-nilly. It was hard to tell if she was committed to receiving the beatings or was simply in love. 
 
Daily, we heard one women crying under the blows of their husbands . It was the normal thing in Ijesha. It was rampant. And, Paul, one big bros at that time, who was good with putting pictures on paper with pencils recorded numerous cases. Brother Paul always said, “if you love her, beat her.” Well, that was his only way to measure love and tame the wild beasts who lead men out of Eden. 
 
Then one brother Femi once beat his girl friend  for exposing her boobs to another man under the powerline near Ijesha market. We looked at her as an ashawo because: (a) women are born to be faithful to their bobos (b) only a man has the right to many girlfriends (c) since, he’s the man, he’s always correct. Brother Femi’s friend hailed him for his folly. That’s how it was.
 
In the corner of the street, men were hailed for their insatibale appetite for sex and were highly exalted for the way they brandished their despotic natures in their homes. Women and children were boxed into a spot of obeisance. 
 
Of course, some women fought back at Ijesha. Once, one woman pounded her husband’s face with a pestle and when the in-laws came around to ask why she did it, she replicated the same action on them. They tumbled over chairs and stools as she swung her pestle. She was fierce and stirred negative rumours on the street but she didn’t care. Men feared her and women respected her. Brother Paul made a comic about her, she had two secret balls in his comic book . 
 
To kill her, we realised only too late in life, was not the only way to love. We discovered that there was a way to command her respect and to judge her not by physical features but by her actions. 
 
Many men have the idea that the best form of showing their love powerfully is by acting irrationally which is wrong. No one needs to die while in love. 
 
How do we correct this? Like I told a colleague, there needs to be another orientation. What do we tell our kids? Do we want to raise another generation of children with the ideology of a Brother Paul? Or, Brother Femi? No. For years, children have been taught the same thing: “it’s a man’s world”, “you’re a woman and women don’t do this” etc. It’s high time we redefined these labels we grew up with.
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When They Gather

I don’t know if you know this. Authors from a particular tribe are often proud of their culture when they gather. They often sing only of their own existence, as if every other tribe in the gathering matter less. I was at the recent African Writes, and that’s what really happened. A group of “African” authors gathered in a space to measure their dicks and boobs to see who has the biggest organ. I don’t understand the groupie behaviour though. Is it to promote African literature or to promote personal egos? Really, the whole gathering sucked and reeked of something strange. Why waste time on such?

 

 

Where is literature?

Strip literature of its “seriousness”, its pomposity and snobbery and you would almost find it everywhere. There’s poetry in the way a woman breastfeeds her man and nurture her child; there’s a story in the way a woman protects, provides and perfect her home; there’s a play in the way children seek meaning in life. However, these experiences, as we were taught, are located in books, on stage, on-screen and they must be administered by trained heads.

J P Sartre talks about the artist who uses different materials to make his painting relevant. In contemporary sense, can we say the relevant literatures are only the read by scholars, published by a known  publishing house and read by an international audience? What does it mean for a painter to put his story on canvas these days? Let’s digress for a bit.

Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat carry contents daily. Volumes of literary content. But, they don’t follow the canons of literature and therefore, …  But, again, poetry, play and prose exists in statuses, snapchat stories, Youtube videos, and facebook live. Scholars of literature must embrace these platforms.  The Conversaton argues that “It takes time to write literature, and it takes time to read it.” True. It’s both forms of engagement are hard, “but without that social and individual investment in literary work, no collective has any chance of discovering its own most powerful resources.”

snapchat-dots

 

There are new canvases. New ways to digest literature. Literature, (un)fortunately, lives on Kindle , phones and the internet. Not everything makes literary sense, therefore, there’s the need to seperate the wheat from the chaff.

Literature is the photosynthesis of the media ecology. 

-The Conversation

 

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