Relationship with Governance: 2015 Elections (Nigeria)

Voters and Ballot Box

Another opportunity for Nigerians to determine the individuals that would be representing us at the state and federal levels of government is around the corner: 2015 is another election year.  General elections will be conducted to determine who will be our President & Commander-in-Chief (the Vice President is part of the “package” :-)), state governors (for most of the states), and legislative representatives (i.e. members of the Senate and the national and state houses of assembly).

The months preceding the elections have historically been fraught with expectation and uncertainty, with last-minute announcements and pronouncements, and a seemingly fire-brigade approach to an extremely important and sensitive series of events in our national polity.  Hence, my pleasant surprise when I saw the timetable for the 2015 General Elections published in the papers late last month by our national electoral body — about 12 months ahead of the proposed election dates, and 8 months ahead of the first event in the schedule of activities!  A lot of detail has also been provided on the relevant provisions of the 2010 electoral act and its subsequent amendment.

The relevant dates for most of us are:

13 January 2015: Publication of Official Register of Voters for the elections
13 January 2015: Publication of list of nominated candidates (federal level)
27 January 2015: Publication of list of nominated candidates (state level)
14 February 2015: Presidential and National Assembly Elections
28 February 2015: Gubernatorial and State Assembly Elections

I consider this a significant positive development: it appears that the required forethought and planning required for these significant events have been given the relevant priority.  As with all plans, there may be revisions as realities become more accurately predictable, but it’s better to have this scenario than to be walking blind without a plan or direction.

Since we have been given the blueprint for this decision-making process(es), we the governed have no excuses!  It is now up to us to:

  • save these key dates in our respective calendars,
  • educate ourselves on the various aspects of the process,
  • educate those around us on the same,
  • prepare to actively participate,
  • objectively scrutinise the various candidates: ask bold questions and hold them accountable to provide quality answers, and
  • encourage others to do all of the above.

Some of us “regular folk” might even be bitten by the social service bug (not the I-want-to-become-a-billionaire-in-twelve-months-at-the-expense-of-the-people bug o), or may know a person or two who have been bitten.  As long as you have the requisite skills: godliness, street smarts, tenacity, vision and strong sense of purpose, and all those other nice positive attributes, by all means go for it!  However, if you no get liver (are not emotionally strong and psychologically sound), it may be advisable to wait a couple of turns as leadership and governance is no walk in the park.

So, how are you going to take advantage of all this information :-)?  Will you digest the electoral act?  Will you become a card-carrying member of a political party?  Will you be campaigning on behalf of one or some of the aspirants?  Whatever you do, ensure you do not give up your right to make your vote count!

Voters and Ballot Box
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Relationship with History: Lagos Island

Juju Films

Lagos Island

On Lagos Island is the Lagos Lagoon a large protected harbour on the coast of West Africa. The island was home to the Yoruba fishing village of Eko, which grew into the modern city of Lagos. The city has now spread out to cover the neighbouring islands as well as the adjoining mainland.

Historically, Lagos Island “Isale eko” was home to the Brazilian Quarter of Lagos where the majority of the slave trade returnees from Brazil settled. Many families lived on Broad Street in the Marina.

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Relationship with History: Idumota

Juju Films


Olofin and his followers left the palace of King Oduduwa in Ile-Ife and migrated southward along a river. Oduduwa had given Olofin a mud plate with instructions to place it on the water and follow it until it sank into the river. They were to settle wherever it sank

The plate is said to have stopped at various locations and finally sank at Idumota in the present day Lagos State Nigeria. The name Awori, translation “The plate sank”, became the name by which the clan is known.

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Relationship with Strangers: Chivalry is not Dead

It’s Valentine’s Day!  Well, it still is on the west coast of the United States and in Hawaii :-).  That special day when some parts of the world go ga-ga with romance and splashes of red :-).  When people go out of their way to be kind and generous towards the one that makes their heart sing, hopefully not just for that one day… and hopefully a kind thought and gesture for all who cross their paths.

Speaking of kind gestures, we were beneficiaries recently.  A few weeks ago, we were at the 1004 Estates to visit family friends.  For those familiar with the 1004 Estates, parking spots for visitors are scarce commodities, especially on a Sunday evening.  We crawled the car slowly searching for a free spot to squeeze ourselves in without being a nuisance to anyone else.  After about ten minutes, we found an available, but tight, spot.  As I proceeded to maneuver the car, Mr. B alighted from the vehicle to provide guidance so I wouldn’t destroy any property — ours or the estates’ :-).

1004 Estates

Maneuvering into this spot required me to move the car at a right angle (anyone remember their mathematics trigonometry :-)) to the row of parking spots allocated to the residents; one of those parking spots was vacant at the time.  The owner of this vacant spot (Vacant-Spot Owner) returned before I could successfully get our car in proper position, so I drove away to make room for him get into his spot, and then resume my gymnastics.  Through the rear view mirror, I could see a conversation had ensued between Vacant-Spot Owner and Mr. B; I muttered to myself “abi this guy dey vex ni (could he be upset)?  He should hurry up and park his car jo.”

A few moments later, I saw Mr. B walking up to us and Vacant-Spot Owner driving away. I expected to hear Mr. B tell us how Vacant-Spot Owner had complained about us potentially blocking his spot and how Mr. B had convinced him his wife would do a good job of ensuring that wouldn’t happen (Mr. B’s wife is a very decent driver :-D).

Me: “Ki l’o sele (what happened)?”

Mr. B: “He said we can park in his spot.”

Me: “Ehn?”

Mr. B: “He said he can find somewhere else to park, so we can park in his spot.”

Me: “Wow!  Interesting…  So, chivalry is not dead after all.”

I was amazed!  I really cannot remember the last time I was the recipient of such an effortless but extremely touching gesture.  I swiftly fitted our car into the spot, before Vacant-Spot Owner could change his mind, hee hee.  We relayed the story to our hosts and we all concurred that was a really nice gesture.  The amazement quotient inched up a few notches when they saw the actual spot we had been allowed to park in, because, according to them, it is one of the prime spots!

It felt good to know there’s still zero-agenda good in the world (right here in Lasgidi!), and the experience gingered me up to make more of an effort to make life a tad bit easier for others whenever I can afford to.

So, what amazing kind gesture have you done for a complete stranger lately?  What amazing gesture has a complete stranger done for you lately?

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” —Steve MaraboliLife, the Truth, and Being Free

Rant: Pray for Nigeria

Every Nigerian knows, or at least has a very good idea, about the basic challenges the country and the generality of her citizens face: from quality education and health care to pipe borne water and good road infrastructure…  and let’s not even start to talk about public electricity supply (groan).  Individuals have been elected / selected at various levels to tackle these challenges and ultimately improve the quality of life of Nigerians.  However, instead of fully taking on the responsibilities before them, creatively coming up with workable solutions, and being accountable and taking ownership for omissions — whether intentional or not, a number of these leaders have taken to asking their “fellow citizens to pray for Nigeria!”

Now, I have no problem with faith and spirituality, in fact I am a strong believer.  I do have a problem with individuals not optimally utilising the resources they have been blessed with (most important of which is a highly functional brain) to create solutions. The holy books require us as human beings to work hard and make the most use of our natural gifts and resources.  Yet, some of our leaders have perfected the art of throwing their hands up and resorting to praying for Nigeria, giving the impression that Nigeria’s problems are caused by invisible spirits and not by human beings. Precious units of time are spent by these individuals organising and participating in prayer sessions and programs for God to come down and save Nigeria; time that could have been well spent brainstorming, planning, coming up with action schedules, and following up on previous plans and agreements.

There is definitely a place for prayers: to ask the Most High to bless the works of one’s hands, not as an excuse for shirking one’s responsibilities; to do the latter is to “give God too much work and the devil too much credit,”  according to Bankole Wellington on a radio talk show program recently.  Tunji Lardner says we have outsourced the leadership and operations of the Nigerian enterprise to God, and tersely responds “leave God out of this willful self-created mess” whenever he hears someone say “only God can save Nigeria.”

So, I implore my fellow citizens to recognise that every leadership position — be it as a parent, school teacher, foreman, head of unit / department, head of organisation, local council chairman, team leader, state governor, head of ministry / parastatal, etc. — comes with some inherent authority, but a whole lot more responsibilities and accountability, and requires a high level of visionary perception as well as planning and follow-through capacity (anyone who considers these concepts too complicated has no business being a leader).  We should all take extremely seriously whatever leadership position we find ourselves in (there is no insignificant leader), be godly (i.e. do on to others we would like done to ourselves, at the minimum), and leave prayer to play its appropriate role.

Relationship with Self: Regular Health Checks

Starting in 2010, Mr. B and I have visited Me Cure once a year to go through our health fitness tests.  Based on our physical appearances, we are the epitome of tip-top physical health.  However, each year, our test results have consistently indicated that our LDL (bad cholesterol) levels are high.  What is the importance of this reading you may ask?  Well, an individual with a high LDL level is well on the path towards potentially having a heart attack!  Unfortunately, high LDL levels do not exhibit any obvious symptoms, unless a stroke or heart attack are considered symptoms.  The only sustainable way to reverse these numbers is to equip oneself with knowledge about and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Regular health checks are extremely important; just as we send our machinery and equipment to the specialists (or get the specialists to come to them) every so often to have them checked out and tuned up and pimped and primed as necessary, we also need to the same thing for our bodies — our most important “piece of machinery.” From our eyes, to our teeth, skin, lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, and all those other internal organs and systems that we don’t get to see, it’s important that we make time for a specialist(s) to carry out maintenance checks to confirm that all is in tip-top shape, or alert when things no longer seem quite right.

“To be forewarned is to be forearmed” the English man says; it is also said that “a stitch in time saves nine.”  The earlier one becomes aware of a problem, the higher the likelihood that problem would be prevented / fixed.  A lot of significant health problems like heart issues, major organ failure, cancer, do not exhibit obvious symptoms until it is too late.  Some say it’s too expensive; while I agree that quality basic health care is out of the reach of many in our society, the cost of the alternative is way higher than can be imagined.

In case you’re wondering why I appear to be a health care industry advocate all of a sudden, it’s because, apart from being aware of our own risk factor and our conscious and continuous efforts to reverse it:

  • there appear to be increasing cases of seemingly healthy people who just “slumped and died.”
  • the ages of people I know who are succumbing to / surviving cancer seems to be getting younger and younger (or am I the one who’s getting older… hmmm).
  • the fourth of February each year has been designated World Cancer Day, and this year’s edition was marked three days ago, hence there’s been a lot of talk in the media about cancer myths (this year’s World Cancer Day theme), as well as how early detection is the best chance at being cured.

I hope that after reading this, you my dear reader will — if you haven’t already done so — go make an appointment to have yourself checked out from head to toe, and make it a regularly occurring event so that any potential issues are nipped before they mature into problems.

So, have you got any stories of how a health check saved you, a loved one, or some random person you happen to know?

Ps: Neither me nor any member of my family has any stake in Me Cure Healthcare Limited, apart from some of us being happy customers :-).

Relationship with Strangers: Use of Endearments

I was in a banking hall a few weeks ago getting some items off my to-do list.  I had made my way along the queue and was finally being attended to by one of the bank’s tellers.  Along comes this tall (at least 6 feet), big-boned (not fat), light-skinned, well-spoken (foné and all) lady who proceeded to start a conversation with the teller attending to me:

Teller: “Good afternoon ma.”

Lady: “Ah, I’m surprised you even recognized me.”

Teller: “Of course ma.” (smiling)

Lady: (handing him her cheque book) “Please copy the number.  That is what you will use for the transfer.”

Teller: “Ok ma.”

Lady: “Thanks hun.”

Teller: (smiles)

After copying the number as the lady had requested,

Teller: “Excuse me ma, you will need to fill this form.”

Lady: “Ok.”

At this point, another male staff member of the bank happens to walk by.

Lady: “Excuse me, may I borrow your pen?”

Other Bank Staff: “Sure.”

Lady: “Thanks darling.”

Other Bank Staff: (looks at her quizzically, then smiles)

In case you’re wondering, I wasn’t being kept waiting unduly, as my transactions’ processes required a bit of a wait, so I didn’t need to tell the sister off for attempting to jump the queue, hee hee.

I felt a bit uncomfortable on behalf of Teller and Other Bank Staff though – here were grown men, being referred to as “hun” and “darling” by a woman who it seemed like Other Bank Staff didn’t know and had never met before and Teller probably only knew professionally.  I personally think such endearments should be reserved for those who are close and in the same age group, and maybe younger people; it seemed so out-of-place in a professional setting.

So, are there inappropriate times / ways to use endearments?  Or is it just me?