My Guardian Angel

Bukola Bayo-Philip

My eyes were filled with disgust as I stared at the dirty plates scattered in the veranda and gave my Step-Mother a cursory gaze. As much I as I felt like crying, I didn’t want her to see me as a weak person, so I decided to make her regret calling on me for such a dirty task again. “Make every plate shine like a mirror and no soaking of pots this time, I have had enough of your laziness!” my Step-Mother screamed at me and it felt so demeaning. I looked straight into her eyes and down again as I struggled with tears disgracing at a time like this.

All I could do was mumble and fume, swallowing the words trying to escape from my mouth like a bitter pill. My face was burning and twice its actual size, yet she was pointing at the plates while she held out the sponge to me. “I am not going to wash those dishes; Mama would never treat her precious daughter like this and I won’t take such because she is dead.” I didn’t say it out, just some of the words I chewed in my mouth. I looked at her again with so much contempt.Before I could realize, I hissed unconsciously, never thought it would sound so loud but she heard and then I felt a sharp pain on my face, she slapped me! What insolence! I held my face in my hand and my stomach turned as I groaned.

Step-Mother and I are two worlds apart and I will play the part of clearing an exit route for her. Staggering towards the plates, I kicked some out of my way and started throwing the others into the bowl of soapy water she had already arranged. As I angrily threw the plates in, I heard the sound of a broken dish. I dipped my hand into the bowl to see if it was truly broken, and my hand was covered with blood as I brought it out.

I felt so happy that I could not feel the pain. I dashed inside to my father’s door and I started crying loudly. I knew he was sleeping and that was a point that will make him angrily scold his wife for making me disturb him. “This is it!” I said to myself as father checked out the deep cut and poured dry gin on it. Papa did not say a word, and to my surprise, he did not call her for making me handle breakable dishes. He came out of his room thirty minutes later, took me back to the veranda and said “ Stella, you will have to wash those plates with your left hand until they are clean, even if it will take you the whole day.”

That moment I lost the battle and it felt like the whole world was against me. She has bewitched him now and I am going to die like a miserable person. I lied against her a week after and it almost cost her marriage but nobody said anything about it. All she did was wake me up the following night with a ‘message of repentance’, a boring midnight talk I so much hate. I prayed to God each night to send her away but I don’t know why he didn’t grant my wish.

All these happened fifteen years ago, and looking at that episode again, I realized how much an ingrate I have been. I was young, stupid and wrong. I played a lot of unsuccessful pranks on her and yet she loved me like her blood. I was just too foolish to realize that all those years we lived on her sweat and she never mentioned it. Looking at her today again as she smiled when she saw me in my graduation gown, for the first time in a long time I felt the urge to hug and tell her how proud I am to have her in my life, even when I lost my mother. Tears of joy rolled down her cheek when I hugged her so tight and said“I am indeed grateful to God for sending me a guardian angel”.

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HERE [Muse at a Crossroads]

here:

when

the sky was dark

and

the road led no where

at each bend we kept fate

you were here

through the dream’s ray

here:

through the dark moon

through the tiny star

that betrayed tomorrow

tired

yet not deterred

battered by tiny star

that heralded the rain

we kept fate

here:

we followed

like fanatic astronomers

hallowed by divine quest

robed by

freedom

peace

and unity

you were here

Awolowo

           Azikwe

                    Balewa

                            Okpara

                                   Enahoro

even M.K.O.

perhaps Banjo

both defied golgotha

you were here

as ebora owu

the recalcitrant spirit

mounted the third road block

to reap our dreams

here:

when the evil in genius

commandeered ghana-must-go

to plunder the harvest

we kept fate

we crossed fingers

as pro-fes-sor of perdition

iwu

marched us to electoral infernal

you were here

when

umaru bloated at the global altar

“my election was rigged!”

yet the supreme cult

defiled our dreams

a nah-ion-al funeral

here:

when

the assembly of rogues

roger Henry de Bracton

to enthrone our shoeless lad

our badluck

our albatross

                    Adeolu C. Alupogun-Iran
@deolu_369

Sanusi’s Cashless Encumbrance

Adeolu C. Alupogun-Iran

Euphoria is part of every process especially those that advent a new era, it spurs the people, however, it could as well be delusive if caution is not applied. Vision 20-2020 was adopted by the federal government of Nigeria, a fanciful economic programme for rapid national development; its approval signaled an ambience, a new dawn! Crucial in the scheme of things is the implementation of the cashless policy of the government, if Nigeria’s dream of joining 20 most industrialized nations is to be achieved. Apparently, many questions beg for answers. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is quite vehement to ensure Nigeria transits to a cashless society.

As practiced in other countries where cashless systems have succeeded, Nigeria built a unique positive penalty clause into its cashless project to ensure full compliance. A feature which penalizes individual and corporate bodies account holders for deposit or withdrawal beyond Central Bank of Nigeria set limit. We live in a society so devoid of tracking system, where there is little or no sense of accountability. How are we sure the penalty clause is not another ruse to enrich financial institutions like it was with previous policies. The time is past when Nigerian government could bamboozle people with new policies without securing all loose ends to forestall people from taking undue advantage of the system.

How the nation’s Automated Teller Machines fare? You asked! Oh it jumps at you; “sorry this machine is currently unable to dispense cash, please visit our nearest branch,” no one can imagine the depth of frustration at this point. Most often users’ cards are stuck in the machine this is worse than not being able to withdraw cash. Nigeria banks grapple with service delivery, with no end in sight. This initiative, which is a pilot programme for cashless system, it is far from perfect. Yet the optimist in Nigerians, hope it will get better someday.

Point of sale service PoS is the nexus of cashless system. The absence of this essential service in most shopping malls and other business outlets in Lagos State, the nursery bed for cashless Nigeria is an indication of the level of unpreparedness on our part as a nation. The CBN is garnering all efforts to ensure a cashless system while ancillary agencies like Nigerian Custom Service through its high import tariff on the importation of PoS Terminal into the country obviously slowdown the effort of the CBN. This evidently brings to bear the lack of unity of purpose in the system- one reason Nigeria remains backward.

Cashless Nigeria signaled a society where all homes are well connected to internet facility; therefore you can place order and pay for services online without involving physical cash, but where is the power supply or the internet facilities that would provide the service? Access to this service is expensive in a country like Nigeria where the minimum wage is a stipend for a school boy. A society where an average salary earner cannot afford a set of computer, additional internet bill would simply be considered a burden. Is the pessimist out for hang, no! But he wants to know why Nigerian economy is continually used as a laboratory rat in the hand of known geniuses, who are in dire need of experiment.

If you are a good observer of government’s magic policy as regard transforming the economy, you would recall that propagation of “education for all by the year 2000” was once a slogan during Babangida’s Military government. As a matter of fact, it was a burning issue on government’s agenda that by year 2000, every Nigeria youth would have basic access to quality education. If this policy has been achieved, illiteracy wouldn’t have been a challenge to Lamido’s cashless policy. How would 67% of Nigerian illiterate population transact business without carrying cash? Where do they belong in this cashless arrangement? If our ATM has ceased to dispense low denominations [#50, #100, #200, #500] and customers cannot pay for goods less than #1000 using PoS at some shopping malls, has the cashless policy not limit itself and out rightly displaced the poor!

The question is can Nigeria transit to a cashless society without those essential features contained in the 20-2020 blueprints? No! There are many indices that signal the actualization of Nigeria Cashless society as a tall dream built on sand which of course, will not stand the test of time. Our problem as a nation is not the absence of brilliant ideas or lack of aspiration to replicate good model from other land but lack of courage to build structures that will serve as foundation for policies that ultimately will drive social, economic, and national growth. The absence of these institutions cast every good policy in bad light.

This article is being published by Nigeria SPUR Magazine

Lagos

@deolu_369

Mummy’s Wishes


Adeolu C. Alupogun-Iran

He quietly opened my door and snuggled up to me in bed; my eyes remained closed but I knew it could only be one person, Olubunmi, my favourite nephew. He pretended as if he wanted to catch up with sleep, but it wasn’t long before his cover was blown up. He tapped me and never waited for my response. He hit the nail on the head, Uncle, I just can’t sleep, I have my mind preoccupied. Still sleeping but I heard him well, so I asked him what the problem was.

He opened up: “Hmm, Mum said I must study law but I have a strong passion for journalism. She said we need a lawyer in the family. She pointed out, how Omowunmi made the family proud when she concluded her medicine study two years ago and now is my turn. Uncle, I am confused.” By this time he had succeeded in wrestling sleep away from me.

I became stiff, perhaps, startled can best describe my reaction to what Olubunmi just told me. I managed to keep my shock away from him. I drew him closer, thinking frantically about the best approach in communicating to him. I understood perfectly what he was passing through, because I was once a victim of career imposition but due to my stubbornness I got the career of my choice, not without a price though. Apparently, I wouldn’t want him to pass through what I went through.

Very early in life, I felt the pangs of parents’ vendetta against their own children because I dared disobey them on their choice of career for me. To me, I had learnt from experience and preventing my little nephew from such a traumatic experience was of utmost importance to me. I sat him down to really ascertain where his interest really lay.

“Why do you want to study journalism,” I asked him.

“I want to keep my society informed, and knowing I’m doing something for them will make me happy.” That’s his view of the profession. Though, I knew he would do well in any of the professions, yet a reassurance from him wasn’t a bad idea. “This is a difficult issue,’ I thought. A terrain I never imagined I would tread ever again!

I knew my sister; Olubunmi’s Mum was never in my support throughout those periods; in fact, she made sure all persuasions from well meaning people to my parents were fruitless because she was indeed very close to them. These memories came back fresh as I was trying to persuade Olubunmi that things will fall into place, but deep inside I didn’t know how. One thing was clear; his mother won’t ever listen to me. In order to make him happy I proposed he would go out with me later in the day, though I never intended to as I planned to stay in-doors and close out some official tasks during the weekend, I simply had to accommodate him.

As he stepped out of my room, my mobile phone rang; on the other end of the line was a good buddy of mine. Johnson was God-sent to me during my trying times; he called to invite me for their family reunion activities. He said I could bring my family members and the line went dead. My girlfriend was not in town so I thought of who to invite. Reluctantly, I sold the idea to my sister on phone and she bought it surprisingly.

Johnson’s family reunion was a three-day event, but we couldn’t get to attend until the last day. The family was quite warm and accommodating; we were shown the table and we sat among them. While we were settling down, a young man came on the small platform that had been neatly arranged to signal the commencement of the programme. He gave a short but concise history of the family: “In line with the tradition of the family, which strongly believes that the best way to learn and get more wisdom in life is by learning through other people’s experiences, he said.

“Today, our special guest will inspire you; his life experience will drill the depth of emotion from you. I know for sure most of us will leave this year’s reunion with changed perception on the issues his story would evolve round.” I was looking around to see who the speaker would be, when out of the blues I was introduced as one.

I was startled and visibly shaken, I didn’t know whether to stand or remain seated, before I could decide on what to do, two beautiful young ladies appeared beside me, obviously to usher me to the stage. By the time I stepped on stage, I had regained my composure.

I narrated my ordeal as a 14-year-old boy, how my parents disowned me because I refused against their wish to study medicine, how I enrolled to take West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for accounting and commerce to qualify me for a degree in accountancy. The frustrating role my sister seated in their midst played to ensure I never achieved my dream of becoming a chartered accountant at age 19. But all weapons mounted against me failed because of two persons: GOD and Johnson, my dear friend.

Today, I did not only achieve my dream of becoming a chartered accountant at 19, I also became a doctor of accounting with specialization in statistics and data analysis at 25. My parents never thought I could survive those dark hours and eventually rescind their stand and took me back after my first degree.”

As I rounded off every soul at that gathering was on their feet, heavily laden with emotions. I couldn’t move from the very spot I stood, I was equally overwhelmed. My sister obviously could not control her emotion, she was drenched in tears as she walked through the people to usher me back to my seat. All through the reunion programme she was visibly quiet despite various hilarious activities that formed part of the event.

Two weeks later I got a mail from Olubunmi, that journalism, his choice of career, had been approved by his parents. Evidently, Johnson’s family reunion event had performed the magic.

 

e-WALLET, ANOTHER INITIATIVE MEANT FOR SHREDDING!

ADEOLU C. ALUPOGUN-IRAN

Tales of thrilling moments of the Nigerian nation are hardly a scarce commodity to come by, if you ever had the opportunity to share time with the older men. I can say without fear of contradiction you will be rooted to your seat and perhaps, later left with a headache. This is inevitable because the extent of decadence in the country is beyond comprehension. What you see and are told were two extreme contradictions, though hard to believe, are very true. The foresight of Lugard and the early nationalists were dragged into the mud by unbridled spending and lack of strategic planning by the nation’s succeeding leaders after the discovery of oil at Oloibiri in 1956. Nigeria before the discovery of oil was a state sustained primarily by agriculture, interestingly a major agricultural produce exporter; today agriculture as we have been bullied to believe is a cardinal priority of government but the disparity in output cannot be justified with the government’s blueprint. If agricultural development is as important to the Jonathan government as he claims, how then would he justify the over one trillion naira spent on food importation annually?

The Federal Government on the track of reviving agriculture has introduced e-wallet system, which is an electronic platform introduced by the government to facilitate the distribution of fertilizer and seedlings to farmers and also eradicate the bureaucratic bottleneck to ensure that farmers access these products. From intent e-wallet seems a beautiful system but has the government forgotten that most of the farmers are basically illiterate persons, who can neither read nor write. How does Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina expect a rural farmer to read a text message notifying him of fertilizer allocation, where there are no communication networks?

In adopting the policy, the government failed to give consideration to the fact that most of the farmers who live in rural areas are illiterate and as such could not operate mobile phones. Seventy-five per cent of farmers in Nigeria are rural people and a good number of these people reside in communities that have no communication network. Also, epileptic power supply in the country is another challenge that might impede the use of mobile phones to access farm input. Farmers won’t be able to charge their phones due to lack of electricity. To adopt the use of mobile phones to access farm input means that farmers’ mobile phones must be very effective but in circumstances where there is a prolonged power outage, charging phones for readily receiving the alerts, becomes impossible. This could create a tendency for government officials to take advantage of the farmers and the farm input may not get to the intended destinations.

It is obvious our challenge has never been the lack of brilliant ideas but of what use are they when there are poor mechanisms for implementation. Nigeria has a poor history of successful executions of policies in agriculture; as a matter of fact, many government policies turned out colossal failures. No government in the post-Nigerian civil war ever gave agriculture a prime place in term of annual budgetary allocation, how shameful! Agriculture has suffered from years of mismanagement, inconsistent and poorly conceived government policies, neglect and the lack of basic infrastructure. Governments over the years have been paying lip-service to agricultural development; to them results have been achieved because they have given Nigerians something (or jingle) to talk about; we all know, without any sign of disrespect that Nigerians are also talk-shops.

Overtime, fertilizer distributions by government has been superfluously hyped as if that was everything a Nigerian farmer or agricultural sustainability in the country needs.

In 1976 the whole nation was bamboozled by the military government under Gen. Obasanjo (rtd) to believe Operation Feed the Nation will bring back agriculture to its feet in this country. However, pundits have observed that our leaders initiate brilliant policies but often fail to plant those visions into the minds of people who could ensure that such visions or policies succeed beyond their terms. Sustainability entails persistence and consistence of our focus, energy, resources and most essentially our intellectual prowess towards growth.

At every four years there must be a major policy summersault, partly because the initiator had left and the new man on board must inject something to show he is working. There has not been a government that felt the need to continue the programme of his predecessor for sustainability sake. How can we ever attain sustainable growth and development? Did we at any point ask ourselves why past policies fail? Why is it impossible for Nigerian government to learn from history? Why do we always put the cart before the horse? The best form of learning is the one that has other people’s experiences as its source, but there has been flagrant disregard for precedents by our leaders. Every government policy on agriculture has just one denominator common to them all -failure. The prevailing factors responsible for them all are lack of proper research, utter disregard for genuine advice, perhaps, cancer of vision and deep-seated corruption. Like Prof. Oyewusi Ibidapo Obe once said: “…Corruption is just too real! Before you could only read about it in the dailies, but now you can touch it like a person.”

The claim of the Hon. Minister that this system will tame corrupt practices that encumber distribution of fertilizer does not hold water; technology has not been proven free of manipulation by unscrupulous elements in the society. This initiative is elitist in all ramifications; perhaps, only time will tell. Of course, I do know this is 21st Century where technology calls the shot, but how many workshops or seminars did the Federal Ministry of Agriculture organize to sensitize and gather informed opinions before e-Wallet system was introduced to the farmers?

In a society where the government is sane and responsible, no government policy with the direct participation of the people will be introduced without the people actively involved. Unfortunately, we live in a country where masses’ opinions are inconsequential; where people’s hair could be cut without their expressed permissions. A government that could allocate a meager two per cent of the national annual budget as against 10-15 per cent of African Union recommended standard cannot be said to have agriculture as a cardinal point. The e-Wallet contract is nothing but the sheer confirmation of the largesse of the present administration in awarding contracts.

Transportation is very critical to agriculture without which produce from the farm remains at the farm. It is not surprising the paths to most farms are not accessible by vehicles; by implication getting fertilizer and other farm supplements to them should be a near impossibility. Nigerians think it is only refineries that need revamping for optimal productivity. Those feeder roads too beg for attention.

In the past two decades, agricultural production and productivity remain on the decline despite government acclaimed distribution of fertilizer annually. Isn’t it mediocre to celebrate any success the initiative might have recorded in the space of four months? Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, an erudite scholar with his reservoir of knowledge, came to the market place armed with a gong to say e-Wallet is 70 per cent successful, an act appalling in itself. The Hon. Minister should make public the data upon which his submission was predicated.

Apparently, Nigerian government’s lack of probity has given rise to more impunity in the agro-chemical distribution in the country. Agricultural sector is a silent bedrock of deep-seated corruption in this nation. For e-Wallet to be successful there must be a mechanism to ensure the people who subscribe to it are genuine farmers and not profiteering middlemen as it was the case with previous exercises. Contemporary ideas like the e-Wallet must be test run and developed in few states to assess its viability. Adequate awareness and vigorous education of the rural farmers must be ensured with the process devoid of bottlenecks as much as possible. Operation Feed the Nation, Shagari’s Green Revolution had come and gone, probably e-Wallet system is just another agro-chemical initiative soon to be confined to the dustbin of history.

Nigeria’s rising unemployment rate -world’s worst impending implosion

By Adeolu C. Alupogun-Iran

Rising from my daily task which has proven more strenuous than I earlier thought, I picked my mobile phone to chat up a buddy. I said to him, what’s on your mind now? He responded, “I need a job, in other words unemployment is tormenting me.” Apparently, there was a sudden detour for me; I spent the entire break ruminating over the bleak report in that short conversation.

Unemployment is just too real in Nigeria; it’s no longer a phenomenon. It’s not limited to Nigeria alone and no country can boast of its absence within its domain; but its pervasive and ever worsening trend in Nigeria makes it more worrisome. In a country where graduates once breasted the tape of their academic finish-line with automatic employments and many enticing emoluments, today the story is tragically different. One is forced to ask, what went wrong?

Job creation in Nigeria remains politicised as it is always ‘created’ in the pipe-line or eventually on the pages of national dailies. No one is even tasking the government to provide statistics of their job creation programme. At the end of the day, everybody -both the deceived and the deceiver- loses, as our country gets more into the pit of despair, even terrorism amidst eternal mirage of employments for our youth.

Recent survey from the National Bureau on Statistics [NBS] revealed that unemployment rate in Nigeria hit 23.9 per cent in 2011; this was a huge increase compared to 19.7 per cent and 21.1 per cent in 2009 and 2010 respectively. This survey further revealed that the rate is higher in rural setting [25.6 per cent] than urban [17.1] area. The statistics on unemployment in the eyes of many analysts is far below the reality. “Fifty per cent of Nigerian graduates every year are unemployed. The rate is above 50 per cent as far as I’m concerned,” John Okezie, told SPUR magazine. The National Gross Domestic Product [GDP] was rated 7.8 per cent last year. This situation is unacceptable, not from a country with abundant resources! Not from a nation that aspires to join the league of 20 most industrialised countries come 2020!

Facts from the Institute of Chartered of Accountants of Nigeria recently suggested 15 per cent GDP growth annually as a major prerequisite to attain the 20-2020 targets. With so much unemployment and poverty in the land, where are we? Despite the economic retrogression, some individuals and corporate bodies still have the audacity to stash billions of dollars and trillions of naira in foreign bank accounts from our common purse. Nigeria remains an incurable jester in the comity of nations as government’s response to monumental fraud abets, rather than deters corruption, which is the fundamental bane of our national development.

A country whose teeming population of youth remains unemployed is gravitating closer to doom. The danger is well spelt out on our national psyche. Every year graduates are being churned out from various higher institutions in the country without corresponding jobs. You find competent graduates armed with good grades roaming the streets of Lagos and major Nigeria cities in near absolute hopelessness. You find graduates earning N10,000 monthly; no thanks to O’YES and Graduate Volunteer programmes of Osun and Ondo state governments. Nigerian graduates sell airtime by the roadsides; sometimes, I wonder if our leaders have an inkling of what it takes to acquire a degree in this country? You toil your way through school only to be embraced by a more devastating peril. A handful of youth that take to varying forms of crime, robbery, cyber scam, kidnapping, frauds even terrorism today do so not because they are bad, but because they are idle, frustrated and must survive. The millions of graduates roaming the streets for jobs that do not exist pose a dark spot on national economic landscape; if this ugly trend is allowed to continue, the dark spot might expand to eclipse the light at the end of the tunnel. That is an absolute state of hopelessness and something unprecedented may spring here – something more than the Arab Spring. May be the Black (or African) Spring. At this time, Boko Haram may have brothers all over the country against mainly the corrupt ruling class.

It is no longer a secret that Nigeria has the highest rate of human capital redundancy. If the kind of human capital wastage in this country is available to countries like Ghana and South Africa, they will be competing in a more forceful manner economically compared to their present status. The implication of this impudent waste is that it adds up to lower economic output which apparently increases poverty and hunger in the country.

Potential is no wealth until it is prudently tapped. Our endowment as a nation amounts to partially nothing because of our leaders’ inability to exploit them for optimal use and national development. We cannot begin to list our endowments here. Take, for instance, tourism, in Nigeria, it is a gold mine if truly invested on by the government. With varying forms of tourist destinations across the country, graduates and non-graduates with requisite skills and knowledge in this regard, can be gainfully engaged. Dubai is an amazing tourism destination and is now probably the most coveted choice for holiday makers around the world. From a report sometimes ago, Dubai is said to have attracted 2.7 million visitors spending $2 billion as vacationers. This is what tourism brought the way of United Arab Emirate kingdom via tourism. Nigeria can take a cue from that. You can imagine how the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will fare with $2 billion just from a sector of the economy!

I know some of our leaders would rather hide under the word of JF Kennedy,  “think of what you can do for your country and not what your country can do for you,” but I usually ask what has my country done for us? We provide our water and generate our power, among other things, which are the basic necessities a responsible government should provide for its citizens. So tell me what moral right has the government to demand a sacrifice when it had not conceded any. I am not ignorant of the fact Small Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) contribute about 75 per cent of a country’s GDP and are the ones who provide more jobs for people. Apparently, SMEs have been crippled in this country by epileptic power supply which has been responsible for the mass exodus of high profile organizations with small ones folding up, thereby littering the street with staff formerly on their pay roll, leaving the nation more stunted economically. Government’s disposition towards SMEs must be that of providing enabling environment for them to thrive. No government can single-handedly provide enough jobs for it citizens; governments these days have no business creating jobs in the world, but they create enabling environments through right policies and budgetary allocations. In many places around the world, SMEs thrive because of good tax regimes, adequate power supply, internal security, good road network, efficient rail system, among others.

A while ago I called the attention of the public and government [in one of the recent SPUR magazines] to the need for an effective rail service and how it could help in creating more jobs in the country. It is on record that Nigerian Railway Corporation [NRC] between 1954 up till 1975 employed about 45,000 staff but currently have 6,516 personnel are on its payroll. The question on my mind is, why didn’t Obasanjo’s administration privatize Nigerian Railway Corporation the same way he did to some government parastatals to create more for jobs for the Nigerian people? Efficient rail system is not only a job creating venture; it is also a veritable infrastructure for enhancing job creation in many other productive sectors, thereby rubbing off on national economy immensely. It is therefore a cogent area any government of the day, poised at making genuine impact, should consider urgently. And this will also make Nigeria a place for foreign investors to put their money. Europe and America grew their economies fundamentally out indispensable and reliable rail systems, even China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and other Asian countries are maximizing the benefits of rail systems to their national economies.

Things had never been this bad for Nigeria. Unemployment had not been bad; it is now headed towards world’s worst explosion. Economic activities in the country were faring well during the post-independence period, perhaps, up till Obasanjo’s first coming when he introduced belt-tightening because, the nascent oil boom was beginning to destroy our potential in other economic activities while tastes for foreign goods (imports) were depleting our foreign reserve. Government of Gowon has its own share of the blame too. Gowon did not lay a foundation for a strong industrial nation; he simply focused on spending or wasting cheap oil revenue generated by foreign labour of transnational oil companies. Spending on imports does not create job and that is still our problem till this moment.

Second Republic also tried to reduce spending with austerity measure. Spending on food imports was getting astronomical and lip-service was merely paid on ‘Green Revolution’ which was another name for Obasanjo’s ‘Operation Feed the Nation.’ Prior to this time textile industries were producing at about 100 per cent with staff capacity of 150,000 which made the sector second largest employer of labour after government. But the government appeared too busy to have noticed that the textile industry was already in a quagmire. The government seemingly looked the other way while a lot of factors against the industry were left unchecked. The closure of some of these textile companies aggravated unemployment crisis in the country. Government needs be sincere about the implementation of the numerous policies targeted at revamping textile industry in the country. Revamping the economy should be done the right way. Do you give a house whose foundation is shaky a face lift and expect it to stand firm? No, until the root cause of the problem is addressed all energies dissipated at face lifting amount to wastage.

Most textile companies depended on cotton production and cotton is needed worldwide; what has government done to revamp cotton production? Before the textile industry can be fully revamped, government must also address the energy issue; high cost of production occasioned by inefficient and inadequate power supply is the bane of Nigeria’s industrialization. Every government seems unprepared or unable to address the problem; corruption, a cankerworm, also remains the root of all evils afflicting our economy and lack of patriotism still stares us in the face.

The problem of unemployment is caused by omissions or commissions of the government, but to start aright in tackling the problem, fighting corruption and eliminating it remains number one. The second problem militating against our industrial development is the one Ghana solved more than 10 years ago –uninterrupted electricity supply. I do not want to go indefinitely to 7-point agenda or even more, but please, permit me to mention the third one: Security! Without it no investor within or without Nigeria, can think of heavy investment. The investor is already scared stiff!

No country of the world can boast of attaining a particular height without the support of its citizenry; the people must be mobilized or re-orientated –not mere jingles or adverts in papers and on billboards, but Nigerians should be carried along by sincere, selfless and patriotic leaders.  I only wish Nigerian government realizes this before it is too late to detonate the impending implosion.

Perhaps, only responsible government steered by patriotic leaders with humane character find that convenient. The only thing that comes to mind now is the word of the Nobel laureate, our own Wole Soyinka, who strongly opined that all Nigerian leaders be taken for psychiatric test before assumption of office. The reason for our current under-development in the mist of plenty is now clearer.  Anything shameful in itself is bad, but it is better than shamelessness, a shameless person makes a show of shame and our leaders relish ceaselessly in show of shame

OTODO

Under the sun in the rain

She humbly await your service

The khaki coercively initiate

Your otodo mind as

She sit graciously proud of you

Behold her humble nature

And conform oh otodo

Double up for the task ahead

This phase is the cradle to greatness

Piously take your bow

At her sacred altar

                         -Adeolu C. Alupogun-Iran

ALUTA CONTINUA

We are not crushed

Like a phoenix we rise

Matching with all resonance

Unto this cause we lay breathe

Until we swim in champaign

The odds: our strength

The truth: our source

Though, the trench our haven

In edifice you abode

But we live ahead of time

Right in the palace of posterity

Now we sail in galloping sea

Then shall there be asphalt

For our beasts

Even if we sleep

Our seeds will engender

Soaring like an eagle

So will the cause be rudder

Then shall our learning be rapid

So we shall beam even at sleep

                                    -Adeolu C. Alupogun-Iran

TEMINIKAN

It wasn’t easy turning away from you

Sure like the sun rise

Is your love

Upon my bed I groaned

Sacred vow I made

A budding pal we appeared

Until nature verdict played

Like Haiti earthquake

My guards shattered

A glowing dream muffled

Upon my bed I groaned

Sacred vow I made

A wave of pain I bore

Sighting you in anguish

Another traumatic jilt

Repose far from my being

Your sonorous voice I heard

Why did you leave?

                           -Adeolu C Alupogun-Iran

ZERO TOLERANCE FOR CORRUPTION, A CHANGE NO ONE CAN STOP!

By Adeolu C. Alupogun-Iran

I observed with utter amazement how values or moral code were being thrown to the trash bin in the society; sometime this writer is culpable, though only in his unconscious state but he quickly checks himself while expunging every potential seed that erupts in the process. Value system is that which all decent people live by; it is that which is acceptable by the society as the standard by which individual behaviour is considered acceptable or bad. Value is as important to the sanity of human society as air is to mankind. Societies with sound value system over the years have blossomed because of it.

A Chinese Emperor renowned for his enviable stand for societal value once said, “in making judgments, the early kings were perfect, because they made moral principles the starting point of all their undertakings and the root of everything that was beneficial.” This principle, however, is something that persons of mediocre intellect never grasp. Not grasping it, they lack awareness, and lacking awareness, they pursue profit. But while they pursue profit, it is absolutely impossible for them to be certain of attaining it.

It is a common knowledge in this stead that providence bequeaths us all things marvellous except forthright leadership. However, bad leadership has brought us unquantifiable retrogression as a nation since independence. It is so because the crop of leaders that has traversed this terrain since independence was not wholly given to values the society was built on. I was petrified sometimes ago, when I read one of the statements credited to two avowed leaders of Nigeria in ‘The Image of Africa’ by Chinua Achebe, as I research the subject at hand. I couldn’t but ask myself, where then is the place of value in our society? No wonder they were encumbered with such a mountain they didn’t have a clue to unravel them. Corruption is pervasive and increasingly intractable because the dignity of labour has been terribly slapped in the face.

Hard work used to be a virtue when corresponding benefit was merit based. During this time Nigeria
was the darling of nations; this was so because a set of principles were given the utmost precedence; the nation cruised on height only visionary leaders whose supreme focus on values could not be compromised for frivolities, apparently that is not the case among the current league of leaders. It is appalling how societal value has been kicked in the butt all for unruly zeal to amass wealth. It is not unusual to see individual who ordinarily ought to be incarcerated walk the streets free and their praises interrupt our irenic atmosphere. The many evil this has succeeded in achieving is that it brings into disrepute virtue of hard work. The younger generation no longer see hard work as virtue to possess


Apparently, we all know something is wrong with this society; many tongues had wagged in condemnation of the copious vices but how many of those persons have taken determined stand to stem off the presumed evil? Rather, you hear them make a cowardly pass: ‘if you can’t beat them you join them.’ We have lost the chaste sense of social justice. Now I remembered Vaclav Havel, an ardent right activist and former president of Czech Republic, he once wrote, “…without commonly shared and entrenched moral values and obligations, neither law, nor democratic government, not even the market economy will function properly…” But I cannot agree more. Nothing seems to work in this country; it is not because we lack brilliant ideas but because we have muffled up priority in the scheme of things. I was with a friend few days ago brooding on critical issues affecting our society, she told me, ‘intellectual poverty renders all the potentials of our society useless,’ her argument was that, ‘those potentials cannot be put to effective utilization until we mature mentally, until our knowledge vindicates us of musty behaviours; until then we won’t get anything right.’ However, much as I wanted to disagree, Vaclav Havel’s words prevailed on me. No matter how priceless your knowledge could be, it amount to nothing when core values are alienated from your endeavour.

As part of the reconstruction modules for a better Nigeria, we must as a matter of urgency go back to our core values. Did you ask how? The family is the smallest unit of every society; if any meaningful value reorientation must succeed in this nation, it must begin from the home front. Parents must gird their loins to instil core values into their wards. Parents were heavily indicted for the erosion in value system in this society; an elderly man who opted for anonymity held them culpable for most of the maladies experienced today; ‘…I remembered when we were growing up in the late ‘40s, if anyone of us mistakenly brought home materials that were not ours, the penalty for that was grave. Apart from that, my mother would sit us down to explain why it was bad to bring other children’s materials home without permission; that’s if it was essentially important. However, she would emphasise contentment as a great virtue for all. From childhood, children should be taught that alliance and adherence to values and ethics that define us are the ultimate keys to a successful life.

You cannot give what you don’t have, likewise you cannot teach what you don’t know or do not believe to be right. School curriculum should be upgraded and regularly appraised to make sure it meets the dynamic nature of our society and the world at large. Furthermore, our teachers have more work to do. They are the second role models of the younger ones aside their parents; they must inspire, uphold values in high esteem and most important walk the talk.

How opprobrious could it have been, to see debilitating corruption in full thrust of our national policy? What message is the government passing to its citizenry? The smallest child in the society, no longer sees corruption as abnormal, because they could read from the news, Internet and social media how their leaders loot the government treasury, yet they are at large without swimming in the cob web of law. Corruption and corrupt tendencies must be stamped out of our national psyche. We must enthrone zero tolerance for corruption. ‘It is a change no one can stop,’ according to another friend of mine. This will restore masses’ confidence and reduce the endemic virus to the barest minimum. Once this is done, people will automatically and subconsciously return to the values we hold dear. Our reward process must be reappraised, excellence should be well rewarded; merit in place of mediocrity, appreciating good deeds. We must be aware that performance-based society will engender the spirit of patriotism among Nigerians.

Dear readers, have you for once queried yourself about what is wrong with Nigeria? Perhaps, you even took some steps further by asking your contemporaries and a brainstorming section was soon convened, I recommend you stand for your resolve for change to see a better Nigeria. “For changes to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting and consistent,” says Tony Robbin