Dear doctors, be kind to each other.

Dharmaraj Karthikesan's Blog

I met a young doctor who used to work under me recently. I had just completed my night rounds in the hospital and I was leaving for home.

And then I saw him. He was unkempt, exhausted and appeared famished. Worst of all, he looked like a man who has totally given up on being a doctor. He appeared hesitant when I asked him what was wrong, but I could not just leave him there.

After much persuasion and insistence on my part he agreed to join me for a late supper. While he ravaged through his first proper meal of the day, he finally opened up. He has started working for the past week in a new speciality. Though the hours are longer, it was not an issue. He was well aware of the sacrifices he was expected to make.

However, the degradation, humiliation and constant harassment have finally taken…

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Morning after polls: My thoughts

My people good morning! March 28 is now part of the historic days in Nigeria, with some similarities with June 12 1993 (hopefully it won’t birth the negative similarities of June 12)
I want to thank those who had genuine concerns in attempting to refrain me from quoting the results from my polling Unit and other agents who shared theirs on social media. We did not declare anyone winner! Results sheets were pasted in polling Units; Nigerians where urged to stay and count their votes. All party agents especially in Lagos were quite happy with the results. The results are our receipts for the election, I am responsible for my actions and won’t chicken out because some others are not happy with what the outcomes are.

I would like to be clear about my take on this election. It is not about us and them but all of us, it is about Nigeria and Nigerians. Regardless of the party or individual I support this election is about my ability as a Nigerian to choose who leads Nigeria and send a non-performing “public servant” out of Public Office if he or she has lost touch with why he was given the opportunity to lead in the first place.
I am a very proud Nigerian, even prouder because this election has shown that we have the collective capacity to decide where we go as a Nation. I was brought close to tears watching people troop out en-mass to vote. For me it doesn’t matter who they voted for, we have sent a loud and clear message “Never again will our leaders take us for granted” “Never again will our leaders despise us in 4 years only to remember us when they want re-election” … Never again will we live in denial of harsh realities in deciding our fate as a Nation.

No matter what happens, wherever the pendulum decides to swing I am very confident of the voices I have heard. Our passion and energy can never be taken away from us, we all have a right to a better society where people are rewarded for their effort and productivity, punished for their crimes, treated as equal persons without fear or favour and have their basic needs met irrespective of your tribe, religion, age and level of educational achievement.
The voices I have heard are yearning to narrow the unimaginable gap between the rich and the poor in Nigeria. We know this gap can’t be brought closer overnight but we have taken a bold step by shunning apathy to cast of votes.

To all the progressive young people I have met you have decided to be alive for your generation. We eschewed greed and supported a cause, we took our chances and we will be better for it. No matter the party you support keep the momentum alive, we will continue to hold our Government to account. This election is the birth of accountability in Nigeria: we the electorate get you on the “hot seat” to work for our National interest and we should be able to throw you out when you reduce Governance to the “kitchen”.

The options set before us in this election were not the best we desired but we have to be prepared for the consequence of our decision and get more people active in politics. You can’t be sitting on the fence and telling me someone is too old, you can’t be sitting on the fence and telling me someone in Government is took weak or docile, you can’t be sitting on the fence and telling me somebody is not a Christian or Muslim, you can’t be sitting on the fence chanting some people think they are born to rule. If you think “born to rule” people exist come out and run.
Young people must aspire to be leaders and also inspire our leaders if they decide to take the back seat. I can go on endlessly with my thoughts, I hope you copy.
Anyway politics is tough, energy sapping, mind-blowing, somewhat fun and a quick elevation to joining the sample of people with high-blood pressure but it is for the brave, large-hearted, the never say die and those with true conviction of a great Nation.

I have made my decision, I am responsible for my decision. Live and let live, I will always say. Please respect decisions and be accommodating of the voices you hear in the majority.

While we wait for the coalition of results and final declaration of the Winners by INEC, we pray for peace beyond the elections so that we can all go about our businesses and continue to exist as a people and Nation.

By the way, we are in holy week preparing for Easter, In your “holiness” remember Nigeria in your prayers and in your reactions. May the Lord, God give us peace and heal our Land. Let us see O Lord your mercy and give us your saving help!

God bless Nigeria!

Rukmini Callimimachi Calls Nigeria the New Syria

….While lying quietly in bed, I decided to peep at twitter to pick news on what is happening around the World with no intent to tweet or respond to any tweet. I stumbled on a tweet from Rukmini Callimachi, foreign correspondent for the New York times Calling Nigeria the New Syria and I decided to take a swipe at her. See the drama tweets below, I will share my thoughts further

Tweet from @rcallimachi
Foreign correspondent for The New York Times, focusing on al-Qaeda and Islamic extremism. Previously West Africa bureau chief for The Associated Press.
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@rcallimachi: Here we go w the painful metaphors: Libya is the new Iraq. Iraq is the old Afghanistan. And without a doubt, Nigeria is the new Syria

Tweet from @kxesca
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@kxesca: @rcallimachi @biyibjorn what a metaphor! Nigeria is not and will never be the new Syria. sounds like u wish things get worse here.

Tweet from @rcallimachi
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@rcallimachi: @kxesca @biyibjorn I am guessing the sarcasm in my Tweet did not translate properly

Tweet from @kxesca
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@kxesca: @rcallimachi @biyibjorn just the way Justin Sacco’s “amusing” tweet about getting Aids in Africa didnt translate properly. Nigeria will be fine!

Tweet from @biyibjorn
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@biyibjorn: @kxesca @rcallimachi comparing any country to Syria even in a lighter mood rings a certain unpleasant note,no one will see your sarcasm

Yesterday I read through Justine Sacco’s interview on how she destroyed her life with a supposedly funny, racist tweet ‘Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!’

This Afternoon it was a dehumanizing post about a man who bought a 51 years old Nigerian man as a toy for his 13 years old son for an annual pay of $1000…

And my evening got better seeing Rukmini’s senseless and insensitive tweet on Nigeria being the new Syria. Though she quickly deleted the tweet before she gets some serious bashing from an angrier Nigerian. Some thoughts came through;

BE WARY OF FOREIGN MEDIA! There are some foreign journalist out there who don’t know jack about Nigeria and Africa and they tell the World stories from their own blurred imagination.
Lately I have seen some friends reference baseless stories from foreign tabloids about Nigeria to drive home their points and I marvel at the senselessness in the posts I read. Please spare me those stories we are here facing the realities. We know things are very bad in Nigeria but it is not enough for some Foreign correspondent to exaggerate things, create make-believe stories about Nigeria, make a joke about it and wish things degenerate so they can have some entertaining-sarcastic news.

NIGERIA IS A COMIC RELIEF? Why should anyone make a joke about a Country faced with terrorist attacks?

Our local media are not even helping matters, they are all extension of political parties, that’s why Rukmini attempted to make a mockery of Nigeria as the New Syria

SO THEY BELIEVE NIGERIA IS AT WAR?
Now I understand why I get messages from my friends in the UK asking if am safe or alive?
It is not like am living in denial, we have huge security issues especially in the North East. We are not feeling it yet because it is not happening at our door step but some Foreign media correspondents seem to have an imagination or premonition of a war-torn Nigeria. We just need to get our Country back!

No News with Goodluck

I grew up listening to News on radio and TV. I made efforts to read newspapers daily, I was once upon a time an unrepentant member of the free readers association. Most newspaper vendors knew me as that girl who will come around read their papers and pay back with a smile. I eventually graduated to online news; the Nigerian master web and other global news portals.

In the last 5 years I have lost interest in local news or making comments publicly about the heart-wrenching stories in the News. We have not had News in the Jonathan era, same recurring events. All we hear about is civil robbery, human abbatoirs and mass slaughtering of human beings in broad daylight. We got so used to stealing, even President Jonathan sees it as a norm, in his own words “stealing is not corruption”. We got so used to people switching off lives they never created and what you see in the tabloids is a customized look of Jonathan expressing facial anger and no movement. Never in the history of my existence as a Nigerian have I seen a caucus of annoying, greedy and daft publicist who make a mockery of Nigeria in response to the plagues, disasters and scandals we have experienced in this Government.

I personally believe Jonathan is a “Good man” who ordinarily shouldn’t have any business in Politics or public service. As an academic he would have still taken the back seat of a naive, reserve lecturer. The demeanor you see is someone who wished he could take action but lacks the solution to the problem, yet he is surrounded by clowns and rogues who are self-serving with no single agenda to serve the interest of the Nation.

Something tells me Jonathan knows he is the wrong man for the Job but he is under duress to seat on a “painless-hot-seat” because he has all the security, pastors and prayer aides to protect him. He has made enough money to live in affluence for the rest of his life at the expense of Nigerians but the caucus of beneficiaries to his failed administration won’t allow him come clean and acknowledge his inability to lead Nigeria, where our richness will be felt by the common man. I tell you, there is definitely enough to cater for every Nigerian to live a decent life. Today many wallow in abject poverty and the only hope stirring at them is a customized, apathetic, angry looking President.

I think PDP should have asked Jonathan to step aside or conducted a fair primary election to choose a flag-bearer if they insist on being the ruling party beyond 2015.
Since PDP stuck to Jonathan and Jonathan stuck to re-running then he should have come up with is score card as Nigerians are blind enough not to see the achievements of his transformation agenda. What we have seen is beneficiaries offering cheap blackmails and insulting the intelligence of Nigerians as their best campaign strategy. They are not even bold enough to take their campaigns to our door steps. Aside donating some percentage of their loots to the 21 billion naira Jonathan campaign funds what other meaningful campaign have you seen? How many ministers, Special assistants, senators,House members, aides and supporters of Jonathan have taken the pain to have a constructive and passionate campaign for Jonathan? They are all depending on the so called power of incumbency, state witch-hunting agents and other unknown machineries other than our votes to win this election. If they truly need our votes, Jonathan and his beneficiaries should be talking to us about what they have done and what they will do more. We should all be shouting out loud, run Goodluck run! We should be flashing our voters card by now, abandoning our lovers on February 14, lovers day to show how much we love Jonathan and re-elect him as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

We can’t not over emphasize the failure of Jonathan’s Government as INEC is a good testimonial of how this Government has failed us. It is very worrisome that a good number of people will be denied their franchise for no fault of theirs. INEC has not demonstrated their preparedness in conducting a free and fair election. So what are we not saying?
Friends, we have not had News in 6 years of this administration. We can not continue like this, we can not continue to live in deceit, running Nigeria on auto-pilot.

I am appalled by the pettiness I see preceding the general election. We are not asking the right questions. I look on my left someone is talking some crap for the opposition, I look on my right and more retards talking crap against the opposition. So far there is no message on why they have failed, they have not justified why we should all give Jonathan a second chance to continue failing or re-write is wrong and provide better leadership.
I have deliberately not given a litany of our world class woes since Jonathan took the mantle of leadership, it is an endless list and timelines of recurring mishaps. Tragedy should not repeat itself if we tackle the problems once and for all but we have taken tragedy as a way of life in Nigeria, since the ruling class have shown us how not to empathize let alone offer sympathy for direct victims of the oppressors.

We have been subdued by weaklings we gave the mandate to lead. Now we can’t even reason and say enough is enough!

The cheapest of excuse I hear is that there is a deliberate attempt to make Jonathan’s Government ungovernable, but we all know that excuse confirms the incompetence of this Government. There is a saying in our local adage “na you get the yam, na you get the knife” if you have all the resources to combat the miscreants sabotaging your Government at your disposal,what then is stopping you from using it? The answers are not far fetched, a right thinking Nigerian knows what I am talking about.

I am not campaigning for anybody, I am simply saying that there are 11 political parties with a candidate for the presidential election. Please let us start asking them “what are we doing” like some girls ask their boyfriends when they don’t understand his agenda. We don’t even need to ask Jonathan. “What are we doing” we already know what he has “done” and we want more. Why go for less when we can be more?
The other political parties are not even helping matters, it appears they exist to make the ballot paper longer. If they are serious contestants let’s have your manifestos.
Elections are not about trading words and calling names. We need more than just “it is us against them”.
Common, tell us Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?
If they can’t tell us what we are doing then let’s re-open nominations or we continue to make failure our National identity.

How could the sunset at dawn for Sylvester Awenlimobor?

How could the sunset at dawn for Sylvester Awenlimobor?.

How could the sunset at dawn for Sylvester Awenlimobor?

To my dear friend Sylvester Bane Barzini who blessed me with so much unquantifiable wealth. Your rich pot of experience has enriched us in so many ways even though you were my peer, I marvelled at your knowledge; you were simply out of this world with your intrinsic intelligence. Death shouldn’t have made away with all the richness embedded inside of you.

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I am still here praying that your bones shall rise again. I have not known hopelessness so I shall persist in my belief that you will wake up laughing at us in your usual “got yah” pranks.

You were the brother I never had, my counselor, confidant and fellow compatriot in the association of angry Nigerians who detest the sham we have in our leaders.

With you I was that crazy girl who would say nonsense to make you laugh and you would retort with a witty comment that got me laugh-crying. I will miss our banter, your memories will linger on but “make you try pull some stunt and wake up” I still prayed today that you would resurrect somehow, that is how much I wanted you alive. For how long will I live in denial? I am living in denial because your greatness should not have gone down Sheol too early.

Image

We took a walk on the 13thof January 2014, little did I know the good guy came to say Good bye. You inquired about my relationship; you were one person who knew about who I was seeing and you kept urging me that no one is perfect. Your very last word to me

“Franca I know you know what you are doing, I am happy you know what you want; I will see you when I am back”. How sad that you won’t be at my wedding after my promise of including you on my bridal train as my “bride’s men” ,“bride’s houseboy or “aso-ebi boys”. What a Weird world! I will miss our catch-up, thanks for looking out for me, I will be good!

Sly you were a legend! I felt the strength that kept you alive from Osogbo to Lagos would have brought you back on your feet, you wrestled with death until you breathed your last, thank you for fighting so hard to live.

We will keep your dreams alive through your family; you will forever be in our heart.

God bless your soul Afaime, may God grant you eternal life…Good bye

 

New Year Eve Fever

It is a week left of year 2013, a day of self-appraisal; I started my day looking back at my goals at the beginning of the year what it has metamorphosed into over the months. It is incredible how thing turned out, a lot to thank God for making my set goals a reality.
While this reflection is not about thanksgiving, I am thinking of the many religious beliefs we have attached to the “New year” which for me is another cycle of 12 calendar months. Nigeria is a very religious country if not the most religious country in world; with proliferation of churches it is clear that religion is part of our DNA.

It is very odd not to be church on the 31st of December, mostly called the “Passover night” that is one day of the year you must pray so that the New Year will be prosperous. We act like our mind, body and thinking will just change in a twinkle on an eye once it is 12 midnight forgetting that it just another day and another cycle of the calendar year. Every new year churches have new themes that describe how the year will turn out for members , “2013 my year of abundant blessing” , “2013 my year of financial breakthrough”, “2013 my year of signs and wonders……” raising the hopes of believers that the year will be blissful. Most church leaders also have a list of prophesies of their premonitions in the new year, some are known as prophets of doom who see the evil ahead while the prosperity preachers pronounce specific prophesies on members who claim the blessings ahead with all their might.
I may be sounding cynical, but I just think there is a lot left in the optimism we project on the 31st of December. We pray and believe that we can achieve the impossible by doing nothing. 2013 will be prosperous because our church theme says so; 2014 will be the best year ever because I claimed Pastor’s prophesies.

Can we be honest and assess the hope we had in the beginning of the year with what we eventually achieved?
Can we be honest and reconcile our level of faith in God and walking the work to reflect the miraculous themes we professed at the beginning of the year?
Did we just let each day come doing nothing because we have faith? Was I clouded by prophecies and prayers and forgot my role in the scheme of things?
Did I attribute my woes to the witches and wizards in my village yet I was a lazy church freak?

We take the path of self-deception in believing that what we couldn’t achieve was because God did not ordain it and console ourselves with our popular church cliché “it is well”.
It will be very well if we match our faith in God with work, setting goals and KPIs to see the signs and wonders we hoped for in the beginning of the year. We need to genuinely appraise ourselves and stop making God look like a liar; Faith without work is dead!

As we end the 12th Month of 2013 we need to reflect and have a sense of responsibility, God has given us the will; the scriptures tells us in Proverb 16:9 that “the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. It is very clear that God expects us to plan and take the necessary steps to actualize our goals.
As we entrust our plans to our creator, he orders our steps to have a purposeful year.

January 1st is the beginning of a New Year; it is also another day in your life, simply get over the New Year eve fever and make each day count.

Happy holiday 🙂

So long Babami…

Image“Dear God give me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, Wisdom to change the ones I can, and knowledge to know the difference”

 So long Babami! It is very difficult bringing myself to put words together, to talk about our journey together and how you have made my life beautiful. I just can’t express all in words but I am left with so much to ponder and treasure in my heart. Your memories will linger on.

 I’m broken, my heart bleeds, my eyes worn out with tears that I can not have you around as much I wanted. I told you I wanted you alive till you are 100 years, you thanked me for those kind words that its too long a time to live, little did I know that the days are drawing near.

 As a child you gave me all I needed, you raised us with so much love and attention; I can not recall anything missing. You gave me your time more than you gave any of your children. You told me I have to be exemplary as the eldest, you scolded me more than you scolded any of my siblings and I grew as fast as you prayed for.

I remember and treasure my formation years when you gave your time to teach me more than I was taught in the classroom; your blessed hands held my hands to write the alphabets, walking me through my homeworks, being there for us at open days and PTA meetings meant so much to me and am grateful.

I looked forward to your returning home from work in the early evenings, how you loved to tell stories, you loved to talk about what happened in the 60’s and 70’s before I was born, the journey of our National Independence, the Biafran war, our past leaders, watching the network news with us and discussing the polity of the times. You encouraged us to be patriotic Nigerians. My friends often wondered how come I know so much history and my passion to be part of the change; it is all thanks to you! You taught us a lot about our culture and insisted we spoke our local dialect at home, you taught us Songs of Praise, many local songs and you cracked us up with your jokes. There was never a dull moment with you, thank you for the quality time you gave to us; You were self-less, you made a lot of sacrifice for us, I remember you playing dual role of father and mother when Mum was on transfer and she remains eternally grateful for being there for her those times.

Every night you took a ‘census’ of your household and waited till we were all complete before you shut the door, I am home now and no one is doing it and that tells me you are really gone. I can’t quantify all that you have done, if I have the option to choose again I’ll always choose you over again.

I had a moralist for a father who taught us to be honest at all times, you were blunt, fearless and had a firm disposition to life yet you were friendly and chatty. You paid attention to all we did; you scrutinized what I read, you didn’t allow me read “mills and booms” and other books you considered not edifying. You told us to be contented with what we have, you often asked “where did you get this from”. You emphasised self-esteem and integrity, I can go on with a long list of your moral instructions but it leaves me with so muh to treasure and I am thankful for the priceless values you have given us which has paid-off in so many ways.

 Babami you were “gender-blind”, you told me a “Child is a Child” that the sex does matter, that kids are gifts from God; you raised me like you raised a man.
                                      
Babami you were my friend, you made me your confidant very early and your stories pushed me to becoming the strong Woman that I am today. You told me your set-backs and how you wanted us to excel and rise above the challenges you faced as a growing man. You always consulted me in decision making, your regard for me beats me and I thank you for the confidence you had in me.

When your mind failed you, I looked beyond your weaknesses, you showed remorse when I talked to you about them. I treasured your listening to me; I was your solicitor, advocate and mediator and it still beats me that you have moved. There just can’t be another you and it really hurts.

Babami you believed so much in me and it kept me going; I told you my aspirations and you told me even though you can’t afford them that they will come to pass, that meant so much to me and I am grateful. One thing I treasured most was your firm belief that I could achieve my dreams, I tell you my dreams and all you did was ask “when are you doing it” for you nothing was impossible for me to achieve, it was really amazing that you never saw my dreams as too tall, you believed I was taller than my dreams. Countless times you encouraged me with those word “ji sike” (continue to work hard, more power to your elbow)“ije awele” (may you go well)You told me I will be honoured and welcomed everywhere I go, blessed are you because your prayers are made manifest in my life. Thank you so much Babami!

You wept and prayed for us each time we left the house, and it really hurts that you won’t weep one more time in Joy for me leaving home, that really hurts but I bless God for His wisdom to have taken you, I admit it is beyond my understanding, Lord, I won’t complain, it is well!

We fought a good fight! Looking back at the times your health failed you, I am happy that phase passed and I thank God for keeping you with us till this time. At your 70th Birthday you told the congregation you did not know you were going to see these blessed years and you testified how the Lord has been good to you. Indeed the Lord has been faithful to Him alone be the glory.

It was difficult coming to terms that you passed on, I was devastated, but the Holyspirit the comforter consoled me with the words of the scriptures “as for the days of our life , they contain seventy years, or even due to strength, eighty yet their pride is but labour and sorrow. For soon it is gone and we fly away”. God bless your soul! Your love for God and commitment in serving God leaves me with the joy that you are in Jerusalem praising God with the saints in heaven.

 We made you happy and I am glad we made you proud, that alone consoles me that we brought so much joy to you. I can’t thank you enough, I rate you excellent in Fatherhood, you are irreplaceable and I thank God for giving you to us, so precious a gift. You’ll always be in our hearts.

I love you Babami, words can not express how much I love and revere you, I love you pieces and I’ll always do. I know you left this world fulfilled, with the peace of mind that your wife and girls will be strong. Continue to intercede for us with the saints in heaven. All will be well.

You have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, you have kept the faith and found peace with the Lord. Rest in peace my dear Father, we shall see again in God’s kingdom and the Lord will wipe every tears from our eyes, and there shall be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever!

Ijeoma! Kachifo! Na nu Udo Nnadim!

 KANAYOCHUKWU F. CHIEDU (DAUGHTER)

ERADICATING POVERTY THROUGH PROFITS

In September 2000 world leaders at the United Nations summit on the millennium development goals adopted a global action plan to achieve the eight (8) anti-poverty goals by 2015. The Millennium development goals (MDGs) is a commitment to work together to build a safer, prosperous and egalitarian society. The first of the eight development goals is the “eradication of extreme poverty and hunger” (UNDP, 2000).

In combating poverty we have to “stop the habit of giving fish to the poor and teach them how to catch fish”, and see the poor as creative entrepreneurs and value-conscious consumers. A whole new world of opportunities has emerged as the trend now is to eradicate poverty through profits and wealth generating schemes. According to prahalad in the book “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Eradicating Poverty through Profits” he proposes that big businesses should put the world’s 5 billion or so poorest people at the heart of their profit-making strategies. Poverty reduction can result from co-creating a market around the need of the poor through profits, we have to explore the different income generating opportunities by implementing various income creation programs in addition to the common development initiatives, and this will yield a synergistic development, poverty relief and sustainable impact.

One major approach for solving world development challenges is through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) however salient discourse arises on how to channel contribution of the industries and private sector into wealth creating opportunities for the masses. As it poses questions of implementation, management and resource allocation; who does it benefit and in what ways? How do we measure success? What is in for the sponsoring organisation? Sustainability plan etc.In eradicating poverty all players must be involved in the solution process- NGOs, Multinational companies, Government agency, private firms, financial institutions and the poor themselves. There are different contributions to be made by the different sector of the economy there are viable evidences that the poor have a huge market potential; take for instance the telecomm boom. By 2011 more than four billion cell phones will be in use, most of this growth is at the bottom of the pyramid market (prahalad, 2009). From sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, India, Latin  America, Europe and other developing countries of the world, there is not a single country where the poor have not taken to cell phones. Many emerging markets have sprung up from this opportunity; for instance the phone booth centres, phone accessories market, call card market, music and entertainment via phone, cell phones for electronic transactions and e-banking, e-books through the cell phones etc.The cell phone revolution has shown that there is a potential market for word-class goods and services if they are made available at affordable prices. Therefore the infrastructure providers like Nokia, Erickson, Samsung, LG and the likes should provide the opportunity for market growths with the poor in mind, so also the telecom service providers should set up a scheme that is cheap and affordable for “mini entrepreneurs” to sell recharge cards and manage their phone-booth at the same time make profit. So far there are many success stories in the Nigerian market, the cell phone market has transformed the lives of many and it has been a “win win” for both the operators and the people.

In rural communities there are several opportunities that are yet to be harnessed into wealth creating ventures; the farmers have little or no idea on how to make their produce wealth spinning

Opportunities. Presently farm produce mainly provide for the immediate consumption needs of the people, in some cases they do not produce enough for consumption. Capacity building programmes on the management of food and agricultural  produce should be set-up so that the they can have a bounty harvest enough to be exported to other parts of the world where this produce are lacking thereby generating income for the farmers;

Opportunities in animal husbandry and poultry farming should also be explored as it has lots of opportunities that can be harnessed into huge wealth and job creation; dairy companies and food processing companies should channel their corporate social responsibility into building capacities for a robust production level in the communities.

Micro-irrigation should also be funded to expand opportunities in areas with poor soil structure and bad topography to yield fertile green land. It allows them to better provide for their families and to sell surplus crops for cash in local markets.

Corporate bodies should also provide the rural dwellers with machines for maximum production and efficiency e.g. Small, low cost foot pumps for drawing water from nearby ponds, reservoirs, wells or rivers through open channels or drip kits onto the land being irrigated, tractors, hoes cutlasses etc. They should also be provided fertilizers and seeds at subsidized rates.

Organisations should set up schemes to benefit their host communities and consumers as a way of giving back to the communities by empowering people and communities with the knowledge and resources to live a better life. For instance service, manufacturing and production companies should provide products for the community dwellers to act as distributors for their products and make profits to cater for their needs;

§         The breweries could provide trolleys for the community people to sell their products as peddlers, wholesalers or retailers.

§         Agricultural institutes should also carry out studies and research on how they can improve the communities and provide them with seedlings.

§         The banks and micro-finance institutions should provide loans for the growth of micro, small and medium scale enterprise so that the informal sector can be as or more rewarding than formal sector

§         Organisations should also give grants for skill acquisition programs to empower youths and women in different skills such as leather works, Batique, weaving, sewing and other money generating ventures and monitor their progress.

Poverty can be expelled completely by providing the people with the knowledge, skills and resources that will foster good business practices in communities in the interest of the poor and marginalised and consequently pave way for global capitalism for poor.

REFERNCES                                                                                                                      

 

UN. (2000). millienum development goal. Available: http://www.undp.org/mdg/progress.shtml. Last accessed 13th October

C.K prahalad (2009 “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Eradicating Poverty Through Profits” . India: The Wharton Press Paperback Series). 

PERFECTING A LITANY OF IMPERFECTIONS AND THE QUEST FOR TRUE DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA: AN ATTANABLE IDEAL?

INTRODUCTION

It all started in Tunisia with protests against poverty and corruption, inspired by pro-democracy activists across the Arab world.  It succeeded and crept on to Egypt then Libya, Bahrain, Syria and Yemen. All the people are asking for is an opportunity for self-determination. Yes! The quest for ‘democracy’ is indeed a deep human desire and not surprising, one riddled with controversies.  Paradoxically what many died and are still dying to have in the Middle East is what already exists in Nigeria and is the reason why many have died recently (see The Guardian UK, 2011).  It would seem that in the Third World  the quest for democracy or ‘democracy’ itself carries with it the death warrant. The Nigerian state has been on a long walk toward achieving a stable democratic Government since she got her independence from the British colony five decades ago.  There has been dramatic and traumatic play-outs in the Nigeria polity that has stalled stability and development in the Nigeria state; however she has managed to transit from one political dispensation to another. All she has been able to garner for herself are accolades of ‘fragile State’, the ‘Giant of Africa on clay legs’ and has even been able to bag an award in corruption.

This brief essay simply aims at pointing out that there exists a litany of problems Nigeria needs to handle to be able to assert herself as a democracy. The objective will not be to provide a ready-made solution to them[1], but rather to point out that unless some of these issues are sorted out, Nigeria’s quest for true democracy will be a mere chimera.  The first part attempts a definition of democracy, the second looks briefly at the problem of ethno-politics, the third looks at the problem of marginalisation and failure of the state to defend its citizens, the fourth presents the general failure to conduct credible elections which is then followed by a conclusion.

Definition of the concept of Democracy:

Like most terminologies used widely in the academic field, the concept of ‘democracy’ is bereft of any single accepted definition. However, the most popular one is by U.S. president Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) who defined it simply as: “Government of the people, by the people, for the people”

As is already evident in most parts of the Third World, democracy can be said to be the most challenging form of government – both for politicians and for the people. The term democracy comes from the Greek words ‘demo’ and ‘cratus’ which can be loosely translated to mean “rule by the people”. The “democracies” of classical antiquity such as Athens and Rome are the precursors of modern democracies. Like modern democracy, they were created as a reaction to a concentration and abuse of power by the rulers- Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The formulation of modern democracy has therefore been hinged on essential elements such as: separation of powers, basic civil rights/human rights, religious liberty and separation of church and state. Strangely enough the absence of all these are the most dominant characteristics of third world democracies, typical examples being India which is branded ‘the world’s largest democracy’ and Nigeria.

Challenges of Democracy in Nigeria;

While the challenges of democracy in Nigeria are many, this paper highlights a few:

The problem of ethnic politics in Nigeria

Nigeria is a pluralistic nation with different ethnic groups, religion, languages and diverse cultural practices. There are 374 identified ethnic groups each competing for power, wealth and relevance; this has resulted to serious ethnic conflicts. Ethnicity is a major factor that has affected the survival of democratic rule in Nigeria. One of the major causes of ethnic differences in Nigeria is “Nationalism”.  Nationalism here defined as the tendency to see one’s self, first and foremost as a member of country (Salawu, 2010). Since there is really no one thing that serves as the melting pot of the diversity of people that form Nigeria, nationalism rather than being a unifying concept has been divisive.

Aluko (2003) identifies the legacy of colonialism and monopoly of power by the major ethnic groups as being the cause of today’s problems. This has given rise to struggles from other minority groups who see themselves as contributing more to the economy yet do not have fair share of the national allocation. In the light of this, it is argued that Ethnicism include the poverty of leadership and lack of political will in terms of promoting national integration among the multiple ethnic nationalities in the country (Babangida, 2002). Babangida further argues that mass poverty and unemployment creates insecurity which in turn encourages Nigerians to experience and prefer accommodation within the social insurance system of ethnic nationalities.

The problems of Marginalisation – Niger Delta

The Niger Delta region of Nigeria consists of several minority ethnic groups in the southern part of the country. It is made up of nine states out of the thirty-six state of the federation. Since the discovery of crude oil in the region, the region has been the largest contributor to the national economy, the Niger delta where this black Gold is produced has become the hub for the oil industry in Nigeria. (Welch, 1995) Ironically it is this natural endowment that has become the major instrument of underdevelopment of the areas. The popular consensus is that it is the ‘natural resource curse’.

Chiedu (2009) describes the region prosaically that “… even in gold she is pale; in purple she is dry; Still a mediocre in royalty, young yet ancient, rich yet wretched sweet, yet unbearable”.  This has stirred up serious grievances which have not been well addressed. The bitterness arises from the fact that the crude oil generated from the region is the main source of the country’s revenue, yet they rank among the most backward, underdeveloped and politically marginalised groups in the country (Quaker-Dokubo, 2009). This has been attributed to their being the minority group. They accuse the majority ethnic groups of using oil wealth to develop their areas at the expense of the areas from which oil is derived.

Oil exploration in Niger Delta is a major cause of environmental degradation in the region; oil spillage and gas flaring contributes to the underdevelopment of the region as it has also affected other sector of the economy in the area. Hence it is an activity that does not only deny present but also future generations the ability to benefit from their resources. For example Ken Saro-Wiwa a man who fought and died for the Ogoni cause wrote that “Over the past thirty years, Ogoni has given Nigeria an estimated US thirty billion dollars and received NOTHING in return, except a blighted countryside, an atmosphere full of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, a land in which wildlife is unknown, a land of polluted streams and creeks, of rivers without fish, a land which was in every sense of the term an ecological disaster.” (1995, p. 74)

The Demands for a more equitable treatment of the oil producing minorities of the Niger Delta and their struggle to redress power imbalances in the federation which makes them internally colonised people, dates back to the 1950’s during the agitation for the separation of power, not much have been achieved to meet their demands for equitable distributive politics and revenue sharing policies of the Nation. Their grievances have degenerated to militancy and continuous crisis in the region. A recent dimension to their agitation is the kidnapping of expatriate worker of the oil multinationals and the demand for ransom and the repeated invasion and blockading of oil facilities, as the region is now known for its volatility. Precisely on the January 11, 2006, hostage taking of oil workers started in Bayelsa State after the declaration of “operation Orido Danger” by MEND (movement for emancipation of the Niger Delta) with kidnapping of four expatriates; about 200 expatriates had been kidnapped since the commencement of the ugly incidence, although most have been released with weeks in exchange of ransom, typically hundreds of thousand of dollars (EPU Research, 2007)

Electoral Malpractices

The major challenge of the Nigerian democratisation process is the electoral process (Jega, 2007) In the Nigerian context electoral malpractices are usually committed by the politicians with the connivance of the National electoral body and the Security Agencies; who manipulate election results for selfish interest.(Iyayi, 2004) These malpractices affect all the stages of the election; poor conduct of the voters registration and accreditation process as most people are disenfranchised, with failures in late delivery of voting materials, late commencement of polls across the federation, ballot box snatching, allocation of votes to non-existent polling centres where voting did not take place, vote falsification and deliberate denial of election materials to perceived strong-holds of the opposition, political thuggery and widespread rigging and at worst annulment of elections. . (see the Nations Newspaper,2009).

Specifically the behaviours and actions that characterize the electoral malpractices include;

  • Impersonation and voting when not qualified.
  • Extending the voting period beyond stipulated time.
  • Over voting and deliberate delay of voting on the day of election is also perceived
  •  The use of force and threats with the intention to influence voting pattern and electoral behaviour are forms of electoral malpractices.
  •  Any political communication on the day of election aiming at influencing the voting pattern could
  • Campaigning in the vicinity of a polling unit or collation centre on the day of election
  • Dereliction of duty by polling officer.
  • False election results when released officially in favour of any candidate.
  •  Voting by unregistered person; multiple-registration of voters, registration of ghost names and prevention of opponents from voters’ registration were offences constituting electoral malpractices under the Electoral Act.
  • Bribery (Report on electoral reform, 2008)

Conclusion

There is a general believe among Nigerians that corruption in Nigerian politics undermines democracy and requires constant vigilance by government and civil society groups. The most assuring approach to stemming political corruption, as seen in many countries, includes regulations on contributions and campaign expenditures by parties and candidates, along with clear rules on conflict of interest. This discourse has pointed to the fact that these basic things are still not being done in Nigeria. Given Nigeria’s diversity, it is obvious that democracy is the sole political choice for its survival, and the best system for managing the nation’s current challenges is by fostering better governance, and ensuring popular welfare. This can be achieved through an efficient electoral system. The fact remains that the current electoral system is faulty and requires reforms. This is something that needs attention as many nations in sub-Saharan Africa look at Nigeria as the anchor on which they can build the future of their development through regional integration. The many-layered question that remains is: IS THIS AN ATTAINABLE IDEAL?

REFERENCES

  1. 1.      Aluko,  MAO.  (2003). Ethnic Nationalism and the Nigerian Democratic Experience in the Fourth Republic. Anthropologist, 253-259
  2. 2.      Babagingida (2002).  Ethnic Nationalities and Nigeria state, Excepts from a Lecture delivered at NIPSS, Kuru, Jos
  3. 3.      Chiedu, FK (2009). Trouble with the Black Gold, available at  http://kcesca.posterous.com/43429456
  4. 4.      EPU Research papers, “Nigeria’ Niger Delta Crisis: Root causes of peacelessness”. Issue 07/07. Available at  http://www.aspr.ac.at/epu/research/rp_0707.pdf
  5. 5.      Iyayi, F (2004). The Conduct of Elections and Electoral practices in Nigeria. Excerpts from a lecture delivered at the NBA conference, Abuja
  6. 6.      Jega, A.M. (Et al) (Ed) Elections and Future of Democracy in Nigeria, Nigerian political Science Association, 2007
  7. 7.      Quaker-dokubo, C (2009). Ethnic Minority problems in the Niger Delta. Negotiation and conflict management group 4(4)
  8. 8.      Report of the Electoral Reform Committee. December 2008 Volume 1
  9. 9.      Salawu, B.  & Hassan, O. 2010.  Ethnic politics and its implication for the survival of democracy in Nigeria, available at http://www.academicjournals.org/jpapr accessed 07/05/2011
  10. 10.  Saro-Wiwa, K.  (1995) A Month and a Day: A Detention Diary; London: Penguin Books Ltd.                                                                                                                             
  11. 11.  The Guardian UK, (2011) Hundreds Killed in Nigerian Post-Election Violence, available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/24/hundreds-killed-nigeria-post-election-violence accessed 10/05/2011

The Nation Newspaper, (2009) Elections and Electoral Malpractices in Nigeria available athttp://thenationonlineng.net/web2/articles/13425/1/Elections-and-Electoral-Malpractices-in-Nigeria  (accessed, 10/05/2011)

Welch, C. (1995) ‘The Ogoni and Self-determination: Increasing Violence in Nigeria’, The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 33, No. 4


[1] That would require much bigger work than the limited scope of this essay can handle