Tuesday, May 30, 2017

BIAFRA: FIFTY YEARS AFTER

I think it's disrespectful not only to the memory of the dead, but also an insult to the living, when the Igbo are asked to simply forget about Biafra, especially because those talking about it, moreso agitating for a sovereign state of Biafra weren't born fifty years ago when more than a million Igbo died from the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War (1967 - 1970). Was it not our literary hero, the late Professor Chinua Achebe (of THINGS FALL APART fame) who admonished that those who do not know where the rain started beating them, won't know where it stopped, which was reechoed by the late Reggae icon, Robert Nester Marley who sang that if one must know his destination, he must know where he's coming from in BUFFALO SOLDIER. How far has the denigration of history taken Nigeria as a nation? Jews worldwide never forget the holocaust, even though the number of those who actually witnessed those sad days continue to dwindle exponentially. No Armenian alive saw what their forebears experienced at the hands of Ottoman Turks, yet they continue to relive the events in literature, arts, music and so on, but in Nigeria, the Igbo must forget Biafra to move on, just fifty years after it was declared, and forty-seven after it became defunct? Just like that? Even if it's for peace to reign in Nigeria, can there really be peace without justice?


Rather than berate the Igbo for not forgetting the horrors of their past, other Nigerians must encourage them, and take a cue from us. I received with joy the news that the Shehu Musa Yar'Adua foundation deemed it fit to hold a Biafra themed forum days back, seeing that years back it was unfathomable that a Northern Nigerian group could mention Biafra, for all it connotes, much less organize a symposium seeking a way forward from that ugly past, when in fact a son of theirs totally unimpressed with anything Biafra is in power. Even if that program wasn't meant to coincide with the anniversary of the declaration of Biafra, as an independent state, the coincidence a few days to the day cannot be overlooked. In a Nigeria where justice is not only delayed, but denied the best victims of state orchestrated violence and impunity, including inactions (and the list is exhaustive) can do is remember, and never forget peradventure a Pharaoh "which knew not Joseph" will come in future and right the wrongs of the past, even if by making a symbolic apology, or something in the likes, far beyond any form of physical rehabilitation of and for the Southeast for instance. Therefore, for me anything that's done to keep memories of Biafra alive works for me, from sitting at home, to organizing symposia and talk shops, to peaceful demonstrations, amongst many other avenues that can be explored to bring the issue to the fore, not just locally but internationally.


When a friend called me some minutes ago, from Obigbo area of Rivers State in the Niger Delta, that she couldn't go to work today because of the sit-at-home instruction by pro-Biafra groups, I was not in the least surprised, because I hadn't figured that there'd be solidarity beyond the core Igbo states, though during several visits to Rivers State in recent times, I'd found that RADIO BIAFRA signals were clearer with more faithful listeners there than even in the heart of Igbo land, regardless of the fact that a few of the listeners aren't Igbo but of any of the tribes in Nigeria's South-Southern region. Prior to today, most Niger Deltans have gone on social media to denounce Biafra, and dissociating themselves from the planned "strike", if I may borrow that word. Pictures that have been streaming in online, as well as from some news outlets, show compliance especially in the Southeastern states, with scant to no traffic on major federal as well as state roads in the region, including of the ever busy Head Bridge connecting the
EMPTY HEAD BRIDGE INTO ONITSHA FROM ASABA, AS A RESULT OF "SIT-AT-HOME" COMPLIED WITH BY IGBOS IN THE SOUTH EAST.

heartland of the Igbo nation with the rest of Nigeria, between Asaba and Onitsha. Even banks, schools and businesses were closed down in those states, while outside of the
OTHER PARTS OF NIGERIA'S SOUTHEAST WHERE COMPLIANCE RECORDED ALMOST A HUNDRED PERCENT TODAY.

states, markets where Igbo traders form the majority were deserted by Igbo traders. That for me is enough, including the fact that despite all of the flexing of muscles, and show of strength exhibited by the security agencies, notorious for mowing down pro-Biafran activists and peaceful demonstrators in the past with impunity, there hasn't been any record yet of any casualty.


As an advocate of a BIAFRA OF THE MIND, I'd made my views clear in https://madukovich.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/biafra/ two years ago, and I do not hold a contrary opinion to those yet, despite all the noise and clamour surrounding Nnamdi Kanu whose incarceration by the Muhammadu Buhari government, against court decisions granting him bail severally, made him a cult hero amongst many a Igbo people, even though much of his views aren't exactly supported by mainstream Igbo. Since his release on bail on health grounds, no day has passed without the social media especially, and other mass media outlets highlighting one activity or the other he'd gotten himself engaged in, some flagrantly flouting his bail conditions, which I think was intentionally set to trap him in the first place, though it seems his prosecutors and government of the day don't seem keen to pursue that matter for now, for obvious reasons that might pertain to unnecessarily heating up of the polity.


What I think the Igbo should do right now is an introspection. It's true that the conditions that led to the civil war hasn't until recently changed so much, maybe there'd have even been no war had some voices been heard in the first place, and people not headily gone into an unwinnable war sake of an injustice they felt couldn't be righted by meaningful dialogue. In recent days, some have even mentioned the fact that there was more pride than commonsense at play in the decision to secede from Nigeria, and by extension go to war, but really who am I to judge, and what do I know. The mistake of taking one man's view only, as sacred should be discountenanced this time around. We are Igbo. We are consensus builders. Today we made a point, that the Biafran issue cannot continue to be ignored, but we must move ahead from there, and if truly the majority of Igbo people want out of this contraption called Nigeria, there are peaceful means of going about it (even the case for a referendum can be politically driven by representatives of the Igbo at Nigeria's National Assembly), as confrontation will only earn us the ire and  non cooperation of our neighbors, whose understanding we need to drive that agenda. However, if the opposite is the case, then we should also be willing to pursue agendas, politically, diplomatically and otherwise, to ensure a better deal for the Igbo, as with other ethnic nationalities in the Nigerian project, but all voices must be heard while we are at it.


'kovich

Saturday, May 13, 2017

LAGOS' "AREA BOYS" MENACE

Just about everywhere you go in Lagos these days, excluding the very posh areas, you will find social miscreants, popularly called AREA BOYS. I have wanted to write about this for sometime now, but somehow I just let it pass, because something I may consider more important happens and then I'll write about that. Even when some weeks back when the Okada rider conveying me through a very busy market was stopped by them, just to ask of me some money, I still didn't feel the urge to write, despite the fact that one of the duo who had stopped my bike man, had said something to the effect that, "we are doing this because you people said we should stop stealing", but I didn't let the shock that these could be robbers (sometime in the past, if not till date) perturb me, or register in my face, while his mate had his eyes glued to my backpack. I sternly but respectfully told him that I was struggling just like them, and as such didn't have extra change besides what I had on me to pay my rider, to give them, and they let us go.


This incident happened right beside a police traffic warden, who stood by watching, and this wasn't the first time it was happening to me. In fact, I could say I've become a veteran in dealing with social miscreants, though my response on each occasion to their antics belly the fact that I can read them like the palm of my hands. About a decade ago, when I returned to Lagos from a year in the north, and another in the Niger Delta, for work, I had this barber on the street where I used to live, always accost me for "change", just because we got to say "hi" to each other having known a mutual friend together. I'd give him something if I had, till someday I told him that he was better than me, seeing he had his business, even a family and I was unmarried and salaried at the time, and in fact I should be the one asking him for some dough, and not the other way round. I went ahead to rummage through his pocket for some money, came up short, and left. He never again bothered me.


I decided to write about this today because of what I witnessed last week. A sewage disposal vehicle had come to do their business in a house adjacent to where I'd gone to rendezvous with a client for some business, and some boys were there haranguing the driver and his mate for money. I know that there are some areas in Lagos, where you can't bring a container into the street, without "boys" been "settled", truck drivers conveying perishable and non-perishable goods are routinely "obtained" by these AREA BOYS, as they enter Lagos, even on their route to, and as they reach their destination markets or warehouses in town, leading to the extra costs of these goods at retail. What I was seeing for the first time, was the collection of "shit" fees by these boys, and I was left mouth agape while the brouhaha lasted, with the driver threatening to kill the boys should any of them stand in his way, after their job is done. If one hadn't heard the Yoruba language before, coming to Lagos for the first time, and not shielded from the common parts of the city, where these boys operate, almost everywhere in their every increasing numbers, you'd think "Owó Dà?" (where's the money?) is some form of greeting. It is the "rent-seeking" madness that is the true face of Lagos, especially amongst the so called indigenes, many of whom have sold their father's houses and estates, and frittered the proceeds away with their excesses, and now live by extortion, especially of those involved in the daily grind to make ends meet legally.  In recent times many of these have joined different cults and put the lives, limbs and property of innocent Lagosians at risk when they make war against each other during STREET FIGHTS in areas like Mushin, Bariga, Oshodi, Ikorodu and the likes.


Unfortunately, the Lagos State Government seem not to have woken up to the nuisance these Area Boys constitute. Their efforts have largely been restricted to the motor park touts (Agbèrò), who have now even
AGBÈRÒ LOOKING TO "OBTAIN" A BUS CONDUCTOR AT OSHODI, LAGOS, NIGERIA. 

resorted to plying their trades on the main roads, contributing to traffic headaches that bedevil motorists as well as pedestrians, in spite of efforts to curb their excesses. Even the law to criminalize the activities of Land Speculators and Grabbers (Omo Onílè) recently signed by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, remains just where it is on the paper where it is signed, while Omo Onílè continue to run things, so much so that a market was pulled down overnight, in the Sabo area of Ikorodu recently, with the Lagos State Government denying any knowledge or giving approval for the demolition, days after it had forcibly evicted residents of Otodo Gbame into the Atlantic.


The menace of these Area Boys haven't spared Nigeria's booming Nollywood industry too, so much so that there's been recent cases of disruptions of filming in several areas of Lagos by Area Boys, asking to be settled before filming can continue.

One of the actresses even lost her pregnancy after she was manhandled on set by these rent-seeking societal wretches. Till date, it's not a case the police is looking at. Now, Nigerian musicians go to Ghana if they can't afford South Africa to do their videos because unless you're from Ìsàlè Èkó, or streetwise, or willing to part with a substantial amount to these Area Boys, you can't shoot scenic Lagos, especially if you're doing a song that doesn't require the posh areas in the video. One can only imagine what the present situation will metamorphose to should this trend continue without intervention from authorities that ought to be concerned. Maybe, when the posh areas become invaded by these boys, we will begin to see action in that line. For now, as the  government and the elite of Lagos mark 50 years since Lagos became a state officially, I cannot but notice how the Area Boys have become a law to themselves, and a very visible but unpalatable part of the Lagos story.


'kovich 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

LEG OVER (REMIX) BY MR. EAZI

If anyone told me that I'd have playing 'pon deh replay, a song that starts with "Zagadat, Gbim Gbam Gbadi Ten Teh!", I'd laugh the person off like you'd do a stupid fellow, but I guess you wouldn't if it's the LEG OVER remix by Mr. Eazi featuring Wizkid, Eddie Kadi and Maleek Berry you're listening to. I haven't had the best of the last few days, and as is norm when I'm depressed, I turn to music, many times to the Hard Metal Rock, slow Rock, sometimes Rap music for the intensity, and lyrics that I can relate to. African  traditional music also, including those done in languages I don't understand helps take my mind of things a great deal. Nigerian music, especially by the young acts don't feature here because of their shallowness mostly in terms of lyrics, they find space when I'm in celebratory mode.


I'd heard LEG OVER the remix before, but really never paid it any attention, beyond believing that at some point, I would download it for my listening pleasure. It will interest you to know that I haven't heard the original, despite my madness for the remix, and that's for fear of getting disappointed, as it's been with other songs of his that followed immediately after this remix, the day I watched it on YouTube and fell in love with it, as I'm sure many others did going by the volume of covers it has already birthed, as well as videos of imitators of the dance steps on YouTube, with close to a million viewers of the remix video in such a short time since the release of the video online. I'm just content with the fact that the song did for me what I needed it to do for me, which is to distract me from issues bugging me, helping me clear my mind to channel thoughts to more productive things, even when I may not readily act on them.


Now don't look at me like I fell for the lyrics, because that didn't even happen. Though I know what's been talked about in the song, the lyrics formed part of the beats for me, as nothing in it could've helped assuage my situation in the first place. It's slow rhythm must be what drew me to it, and the simple ways the beats waltzes into one another. The intermittent percussion and the ever present string work, as well as the cymbal or shèkèrè-like accompaniments, not forgetting the "ekwe" (dunno what it's called in the English) somewhere in the mix.

You could also feel the influence of the Ghanaian HIP-LIFE sounds within it, with what sounded like Sarkodie's "Whi" chant spotting key junctions in the song. It wasn't difficult hearing Wizkid's voice on autotune during the hook with Mr. Eazi, a surprise for me in finding other listeners online insisting he wasn't in the song at all. Interestingly, not only was he in the audio, he also did a cameo in the video, which in itself wasn't bad. The girls looking to show everything in their dance style, showed very little, such that if you were apprehensive about having kids around while watching it, you might just end up being thankful that you hadn't rushed to jump to conclusion in changing the music channel because of the kids around you.


That was how I managed to distract myself from an awful week, by making this song my soundtrack. I just bopped my head to it, and all the weight simply dropped off, so I simply played it over and over again, until the weight didn't seem too heavy to carry anymore. That's usually what music does to and for me, the unusual thing about this one though, was that I didn't need the lyrics to minister to my soul, as the sound did just quite enough to levitate me from the depth of the sea, till I could float.


'kovich

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

BORN TO RULE

I'm no atheist, and I've lived this far humbled at several points of my life by the Almighty, each time I forget my place. Hence you'd find me hardly ever speaking in absolutes not just because of my experiences, but because of the things I've learnt in the lives and experiences of others. I acknowledge the fact that people see Bible Stories as fables these days, and it's a hard sell telling them about events in the Bible or other scripture to drive home a point, even while preaching inside a church with a congregation of devout believers, which is why I make mention of things we are all witnesses to, or the history we agree upon.


Till date, I wonder if the explosion mid air of the Space Shuttle CHALLENGER had nothing to do with it's name. Or the fact that the crack and eventual downfall of the People's Democratic Party, PDP in Nigeria following the pronouncement by a prominent member of the party (who himself was booted out soon after) that it will rule for sixty more years, wasn't divinely instigated. Reminiscent of Babylon's famous King Nebuchadnezzar, whose madness drove him into the bush to live like animals, the very same day he realized his greatness and power, but again that will be drawing a Bible Story into this, something I'd rather wouldn't because of the afore stated.


I remember pleading with those deifying President Muhammadu Buhari during the campaigns to desist, because they weren't doing him a favour, drawing their attention to yet another Bible story, regarding Herod of the times of the apostles, who succeeded in killing James, then went ahead to arrest Peter for execution after a Jewish feast, but found himself worm-eaten alive, just after sycophants from Tyre and Sidon proclaimed him a "God", while Peter simply walked out of jail before that, but again you'd scold me for quoting Bible again.


So, I'll refer you to President George W. Bush, who after that 9/11 attack, was advised to tone down the initial theme of his war on terror, from INFINITE JUSTICE, seeing as he was man and even as a nation, none could be assured of infinite presence, enough to undertake any form of infinite justice, even for a just cause. So when religious, political and traditional elite from Northern Nigeria ascribe to themselves the title BORN TO RULE, and then act in ways to ensure that same subsists, by applying tact to maintain same by all means possible, I sit back and observe how the divine responds to this. Interestingly, in the case of Nigeria, the response has been quite loud, unfortunately not many a northerner, especially the so called "core" northerners, elite and "talakawa" seem to hear or acknowledge it.


Even when the Born To Rule mentality was imposed by coercion, beneficiaries were limited to a few elite from the regions were the mantra holds more than mere words, worse still now that it is via democratic trickery. The marginalized regions self developed, and today the part that was devastated by war has recovered so much so that besides lack of federal infrastructure, you'd probably think that is the side that in actual fact, is born to rule. The opposite is the case for the other which continues to be plagued by the poorest of human indices, interestingly only of the indigenes most times (as it was with the Hebrews in Goshen, spared of the plagues ravaging Egypt of the Exodus lore), while settlers from other parts of Nigeria go there to excel, amongst natives who become to them hewers of wood and fetchers of water, when they are not begging.


Unfortunately, when a member of the northern elite, a highly revered royal one at

that, sought to draw the attention of his peers to the sad picture and reality of their time, they ignored the message and pounced on the messenger, reminding him that whoever must come to equity, must come with clean hands. So, once again, the north has drawn Nigeria back again to her past, because they and their acolytes from the south (without whom, most times they cannot carry through with their Born To Rule agenda), failed to learn from history. Hence in just a few years from the Yar'Adua debacle we have found ourselves saddled with a president who should think more about taking care of himself, over and above a country whose hydra-headed problems he apparently can't fully fathom and comprehend, talk more even begin to scratch at the surface.


Sadly, this man must be propped up by so called Born To Rule cabals, who fear not just a repeat of what happened during the Yar'Adua era, but also anything capable of whittling their power, just about two years since acquiring it. A reason why, in what may seem against sound medical advice, they returned a convalescing President Buhari to Nigeria, and after a few public appearances where he admitted to have been very ill

(against government position of him been hale, hearty and even chatty, a la Vice President Yemi Osinbajo), to the present situation where he hasn't been seen nor heard from directly in days. It hasn't gone unnoticed though, how directives purportedly emanating from him have assumed a rampancy and frequency now that he's incommunicado, compared to when he was available, again reminiscent of those days with the late Yar'Adua, when personalities other than the president were pushing the buttons of state.


Unfortunately, the rest of Nigeria is watching these things with bated breath, and the voices (including that of the incumbent) that shouted their voices hoarse for Yar'Adua to relinquish power less than eight years ago, have today gone quiet, either because they are now in power, and it seems karma has caught up with them, or are afraid of how the Born To Rule propagators will react. Those who subscribe to the latter might not be totally wrong in their assertions, as rather than rationalize the situation, sentiments in the North and amongst many Buhari supporters, is that his illness, as yet undisclosed, is as a result of corruption (which he claims to be fighting) fighting back, and with the Facebook posts of a member of one of Nigeria's security agencies coming to light, where he warned he'd kill two hundred Nigerians of Christian faith and southern origin, should anything happen to his beloved president, one may guage the temperature of the north even if it is in the minority.


This state of affairs hasn't been helped by a president, who can be described as Nigeria's most divisive, who after a very divisive election did nothing to engender unity post elections, starting from the 97%/5%

comment abroad before the foreign press, to actualizing same in his appointments, to turning a blind eye to killings of innocent Nigerians, many in their sleep by his Fulani kinsmen, and while ailing abroad, called only Muslim clerics, as well as governors of core northern states who'd organized prayer sessions for his speedy recovery, while ignoring sections of the Nigerian public who do not fit the same ethnic and religious colouration, regardless of the fact that some of them also organized prayers, fast and vigils on his behalf. Now, we wait as usual for the divine to intervene as it is wont to, in the case of Nigeria, as it had always done when men arrogated to themselves attributes exclusive to the divine.


'kovich