Thursday, January 23, 2014

BenGay... The story of a Homosexual turned Bisexual and Now Straight - My unusual take on the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Law in Nigeria

 The Same Sex Marriage prohibition bill has generated arguments and counter arguments. Even close friends have had cause to spar bitterly on this issue. Family members have also had hot arguments on the topic.

Imagine for the sake of this conversation that you had a brother who was Gay. For the sake of this write up let's call your brother BenGay. Let's face the truth as Africans. I'm sure if your brother BenGay was Gay, you would have prayed and fasted for him, you would have called elders of the family to admonish him, you may have discussed the issue with your priest in church, you wouldve have kept it as a bitter family secret because you will be ashamed to let anyone know your brother is Gay. If you think like me, you may have arranged some girls of lose virtue to seduce him and lure him to bed. All in a bid to make him see the bliss in experiencing the body of the opposite sex as God obviously intended! You would also have engaged the services of a psychologist to counsel your brother that he wasn't born that way. And that his sexual orientation was definitely a psychological response to his being rejected by the opposite sex in his teenage years. If your brother had been lured into sex when he was 12 by the house maid I'm sure he wouldn't be Gay today! If he had been seduced into sex by the raunchy girl next door when he was 11 I'm sure he wouldn't be Gay today! But because he watched all his friends at school get female attention and he never got any, because saw his brothers loved up by women and he never got any love from the fairer sex, because his attempts at even being friends with the girls was violently rebuffed, he gradually developed a resentment for the opposite sex! Even for his own mother. Depending on how deep seated this animosity towards girls was, he may have began to doubt if he had any sexual attraction to them in the first instance. He may have convinced himself that even if the most beautiful woman say Beyonce or Omotola Jalade or Mercy Johnson was to strip before him he wouldn't be moved! He may through a series of mental adjustments, have convinced himself that he was born that way. Was he actually born that way?

You see, what happened to BenGay was that he got into college and his peers realized his total aversion to girls. While they talked about the hips swinging around campus he didn't seem interested. How won't he be interested in such tantalizing mounds of flesh. When they went clubbing and boys used every chance they got to squeeze the bodies of their female friends with permission of course, he was either too scared to be adventurous or he was plainly uninterested! So his friends started the rumor mill, gossiping amongst themselves that BenGay must be Gay. Well trust university boys. To satisfy their curiosity they talked some free thinking ladies into sneaking under the sheets in BenGays off campus apartment,in collusion with his room mate. When BenGay stumbled on a naked lady under his sheets he went ballistic, threw an embolus and put up the most unnatural response. He even slapped her! At that point she shamefully dressed up and heaped insults at him - calling him Gay.

On one of those days in class, a strange face sat by his side during lecture. Let's call him SamGay. As lecture went on SamGay stroked BenGay's leg and rubbed his hands up his crotch. BenGay responded by opening his legs and adjusting to give SamGay more access! He was already experiencing some Brownian motion between his legs. Something he had never experienced in the presence of a woman. He responded in kind stroking SamGay who was also experiencing some Brownian motion in his crotch. They had discovered themselves. They're both Gay! The lecturer was oblivious of the goings on in class. Imagine for a minute that the lecturer found out what was going on...

This is Africa!

... Both young men would've been so ridiculed and embarrased. They would have been called all sorts of names and ostracized. That's the fact about African society. Well SamGay and BenGay would sneak out into the dark night on campus and kiss and touch and do with one another what they wouldn't dare allow their parents know. None of their families knew they were gay! The day SamGay offered to penetrate BenGay it hurt so bad that Ben was admitted at the hospital! Of course he lied to the doctor that he had hemorrhoids! When SamGay attempted to penetrate BenGay again, he violently refused! Then they started fighting. SamGay beat the daylight out of BenGay and flashed a dagger at him threatening that if he told anyone what transpired he would kill him! The two boys were rushed to the campus security but BenGay was so terrified he wouldn't say what happened! SamGay only lied that Ben tried to steal his hand set!

So BenGay was introduced into the dark world of same sex! Contrary to what he thought, that this was just a preference, he now discovered that it was more like a secret society of young men around campus! These men for fear of being exposed threaten and beat and main their young catches into keeping the secret. They were in your university class and mine! They're in your work place and mine...

This is Africa.

...So you will never know! Its a sad world. There is depression in that world and the occasional use of drugs! Not just for recreation but to numb the feeling of emptiness. SamGay had been caught in several inexplicable fights on campus!

Well, the relationship continued till graduation and they heard there is a Gay pastor in Lagos who runs an underground church that secretly weds Gays. So they both start attending the church at Orile! They were scheduled to be wedded in the month of February, when the Federal Government outlawed Same Sex marriage in Nigeria...

This is Africa.

...Because they were directly involved, they studied the Same Sex marriage prohibition act closely. To their dismay they found that they could end up in jail for 10 years for just being Gay! They could be locked up for 14 years for belonging to that pastors church! The pastor himself had caught wind of the crack down and had fled to UK! BenGay slid further into depression wishing he had learnt to get along sexually with females when his friends were arranging hookers to teach him the glories of a heterosexual relationship! Since SamGay was obviously the alpha male, he would have none of the Federal Governments bullshit! So he traveled to South Africa to join Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu's group DRAAMA... A group that advocates Gay rights openly and organizes Gays into a political party sef!

BenGay is alone in Nigeria! His family still doesn't know he is Gay! I know because we worked together and he attempted to initiate me into the act! I nearly punched him to pulp that day but for the fact that he begged and begged like he was actually CONFUSED. I sat him down and he told me his story! I led him to Jesus and took him through a process of psychotherapy using methods I had devised in my 10 years study of this topic! He confessed that seeing me wear pink and yellow shirts made him think I was Gay! I wear tight fitting trousers too! Lol

Today he's picking interest in this lady who I know is a lesbian trying hard through Gods grace to modify her orientation gradually,
into being a bi sexual! I encouraged both of them that its a gradual process! It goes from believing you're homosexual to believing you're bi sexual. For at a point, BenGay thought he was homosexual and could never have sex with a lady! Today he believes he can have sex with both a lady and a guy! Soon he will enjoy Merediths heaven so much he will regret the days he lost being poked by a boy. He's actively dating MeredithGay! They hope to get married later in the year and have somehow escaped a 10 year jail term.

Recently, He called up SamGay to tell him he plans to marry this ex-Gay, MeredithGay! SamGay says that's impossible, that being Gay is genetic! SamGay is obviously brainwashed. I look forward to attending Meredith and Ben's wedding! I shall be his best man!

And I really don't know if its a good thing or a bad thing to have a Same Sex Marriage Prohibition law but I know THIS IS AFRICA!

I challenge all the wannabe pro-Gay activists in Nigeria! Do you have a family member that is Gay? If No then shut the f**k up. You really don't know what you're talking about!

This is Africa

Iroko Obasi ND

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


To say that a female president will be an unusual sight is to state the truth. But the question to ask includes - Is it a brilliant idea? Or Have we run out of options as a nation?

Well, I asked this questions on BBM, taking a cue from the lady that thought me to blog... Kerren Amaechi who by the way runs a lovely blog Kays Fittings which I think you should check out. She got this lovely suggestion for improving a blogs content through the journalistic approach. Well, I got very few significant responses and I will assume that majority of the people on my BBM contacts didn't respond because the possibility of a female president is so remote as to be near impossible. But the unusual happens sometimes doesn't it? And when it happens it challenges all our pre conceived stereo types. Let's consider a few unusuals in history.

1. The American nation: do you realize that nation is unlike any other on earth? Its not my favorite state in the world, the Jewish state is cos I'm kinda Zionist since my people believe we migrated from Jewish communities. To support that we often cite an innumerable number of cultural similarities which by the way is not the focus of this post, so we'll save that for another day. But let's just say that America being a nation of immigrants is an oddity! Which other nation in the world is a nation of immigrants. The closest is Australia but they owe allegiance to their home country Britain and the Queen sort of 'runs' the country. Odd countries I've just cited isn't it? Well they tried so many experiments and found out what works for them. Isn't it the beauty of being human, that we can keep inventing new options? Odd as they may seem?

2. A black American president: that's odd! Forget that we are now used to seeing a black man being addressed as president of the US but I was involved in a lot of arguments and I wrote quite a number of articles stating why I felt America wasn't ready for a black president? I felt America wasn't color blind and may never be. I felt America was a prejudiced society and in many ways it still is. But Obama felt he could and he did!

3. A female American president in the offing?:
Let me not go on and on this isn't a write up about America but ehmmm... I won't be surprised to see Hillary Rodham Clinton as america's next C in C.

Hmmm... You'd say. Remember that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf contested for Liberia's presidency and defeated George Opong Weah? Yes she actually did.

Well here's a brief history of how the unusual happened in liberia.

"...Sirleaf became Assistant Finance Minister in the administration of Liberian President William Tolbert. Her public criticism of administration policy, on occasions such as a commencement address at the College of West Africa, attracted national attention and created friction between Sirleaf and her superiors. In the mid-1970s Sirleaf left the Ministry to work for the World Bank in Washington, D.C., but she returned to Liberia in 1977 to serve as Deputy Finance Minister.

"... President Tolbert would later fire his Finance Minster and appoint Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to take his place; she was the first woman to hold this position in Liberia. As Finance Minister, she attempted a much-needed reform of the country's finances, but long-simmering tensions soon boiled over..."
Its a long story. Sounds similar to the Nigerian story? In a way it does!

Well, President Samuel Doe's government would after all these service to her nation, sentence her to 10 years imprisonment... President Charles Taylor even personally threatened that his administration will kill her for her outspokenness... Talk about not having good will. Some will say Sirleaf had none! But she braved all her critics. Didn't she?

Well only recently, Central African Republic after much turbulence has just now elected Africa's second female C in C ever. If Sirleaf proved to be the stabilizing factor the nation needed from 2005 till date after being traumatized by the Charles Taylor years, who says Catherine Sama Panza won't heal the wounds of a nation smarting from civil unrest and almost sliding into war in Central Africa? And who says Nigeria shouldn't try the option of having a female President?

Here are the responses I got from friends:


2. Royce Amaechi said... Nigeria is due for a white man to take over

3. Douglas Baye Osagie said... But you know how things work in Nigeria, the capitalists will just package their wives for the position

4. Pat just laughed!

5. Akpoghor Oghenevwegba said... Maybe Sarah Jibril #laughing

6. Ogonino Echefu Darlington said... Hahaha

7. And I wrote on facebook...

"Nigeria is due for her first female president. Honestly I'm willing to support any party that can guarantee that we get a female president. Any party which can ensure that, are the true progressives.

And that's because Africa just got another female president - Central African Republic's Catherine Sama Panza. Recall that Liberia had Africas first female president Earl Johnson Sirleaf

That's progressive thinking

Moreover, If there is anything progressive minds should find gratifying, it is women who excel in fields of male dominance because it means the barriers are closing down slowly but surely. Ruth Osime (This Day Style)

It also means that nobody is stopping women from maximizing their potential. They ought to go ahead and maximize their potential full blast. Men will never argue against an obvious trail blazer! Even if they do, trail blazers always record firsts anyway! That's why women need more firsts NOT just campaigns for gender equality.

What is it about Nigeria that makes it impossible for brilliant ideas that work in other countries to work here?

Iroko Obasi ND

A poem to cap this thoughts...

(A poem of apology and appreciation of Afrikan women from Afrikan men)

the time has come
for us
to be men
in the tradition
of our ancestors

the time has come
for us
to forever
speak truth
of Afrikan women

carrying us on your backs
when we
could not
look in your eyes
over a manhood

carrying us on your minds
when we
would not
reaching out to hit
and hurt
the ones we "love"
who love us
we could ever
possibly know
in our confusion

and playin'
to ourselves
for ourselves
and our enemies
romancing you
enticing you
possessing, perversely obsessing
your bodies
with words misinterpreted as love
lies to access
and violate
your sacred gardens
infecting your divine wombs
for the love of a momentary
ejaculated passion
for the love of money
and an animal's reputation

reducing ourselves to
the Mandingoes
of other's imagination
against you
and for them

even worse
blindly lusting
after other's women
some even stooping
and bending
over forward
in their confused lust
of other men

the drunkenness
the drugs
the dead rage
the friends
the things
the excuses
the games of
placing self(ishness) first
family last

we have done wrong.
we know who we are.
we seek forgiveness.

there are no excuses
Afrikan manhood.
only righteous struggle
and correction
absolute respect
Afrikan womanhood.
all else flows
from this

you breathe life into
what we build
keeping us connected.
you extend family.
you create community.
you give life.
you are love.

we know who you are.
you are the ones
who produced
legions of us,
who will bear legions more.
we ask that you
do not rear them in anger
at us
for our ignorance
and fear.
our daughters and sons
must become
warrior priests.
remain nurturers
mothers, sisters, daughters.
no Afrikan deserves
to die
in hate.

there are no bitches
in this Afrikan house
no hoes, no heifers,
no sapphires, no chickenheads;

only queens
queen mothers
and queens in training.
we know who you are.

you are
our first divinities
all comes through the womb
the first human
proven as first fossil
the genes through which
humanity is traced
the Black madonnas
immaculate in conception and grace
the matriarachy
bloodlines through which we claim human rights
the breasts
which feed us, give us life
the economy
our sustaining relations to production
our spirituality
the ties that bind us as family in peace
the Kandaces
everywhere down through the ages
royal warrior defenders of our way
first teacher
patient in retelling ourstory
from blue black to eggshell
turning mere walk into art form
a mystery beyond male comprehension
with every reason to be
every forgiving
humbly righting relationships of worth
soft, gentle, tickled
honorable qualities of any women
without blemish.

the time has come
for us to be men
for you to become queens
in our thoughts, words and deeds.

~ Baba Mwalimu Baruti

Mwalimu K. Bomani Baruti
Battle Plan

Long one yeah? Thanks for your time... *smiles

Friday, January 3, 2014

Workers and Strike Actions

 Let me go straight to the point and outline why strikes will never end in Nigeria

1. That's the only weapon workers have

2. That's the only language government understands

3. That's the only way the public gets to differentiate truth from propaganda

1. In other climes Strike is the weapon of last resort but in Nigeria Strike is the only weapon and the workers are often left with no option. Often times workers are asked to use other means to press home their demands. Such comments smack of hypocrisy because really, what other means are there?

* negotiation: have you ever attended those negotiation meetings? I haven't but those who have say that the officials from the other side come for the meetings with a military approach. It seems they actually come for those negotiations determined to intimidate the workers into submission. When that fails, they opt for their next tactic which is to take a cursory look at the workers demand and then grant what the government considers to be the stalemate breaker. This is often rushed to the media to create an impression that the negotiation was successful and government has made some concessions. This is done to douse whatever momentum has been gained in galvanizing public opinion. It is a means to an end which is to eventually black mail the workers of insensitivity. The public is often told that government has tried to meet the workers demands and they are only being insensitive. Truth is that these negotiators are skilled at these things. They've been negotiating for government for years. So if they can't intimidate the workers, they resort to black mail.

* street protests: very often we've seen groups use this option of carrying placards and going on a peaceful demonstration. I participated in the Save Nigeria Group street protest to the gates of the National Assembly, demanding that President Jonathan be made full president from acting president. That proved to be a tonic which spurred the doctrine of necessity. I have also participated in the street protest for swift passage of the National Health Bill on the day of public hearing for same. However, the possibility is always there for the other side to mobilize their own street activities. For instance, when Dino Melaye called out people to protest the continued stay of Stella Oduah as aviation minister, the police dispelled that movement. But at the same time, another group was protesting the persecution of Stella Oduah asking that she must not be removed!

*Protest Letters: we are all witnesses to what effect letter writing has in our nation. You can write up to four letters and none will be acknowledged. You can decide to 'leak' your letter to the media and then a reply will be 'leaked' to the media as well.

So, my challenge is that all those asking workers to look for other means to press home their demands, should suggest what other means there are. Talk is cheap. It is reasonable talk that matters.

2. When agreements and MOUs are flagrantly disregarded as though they never existed in the first instance it becomes obvious that all dialogues of workers with their employers is only a dialogue of the deaf and dumb. The workers struggle is an aluta that didn't start today. From the dawn of this age, employers and employees have always been in a sort of class struggle. The government most times has its set aims and objectives none of which is better life for its workers. Yes. The wage bill is already high, as 72 percent of our nations budget is already being spent on salaries, allowances and emoluments. So at those negotiations, government is bound to explain that there is paucity of funds for any significant increment in the welfare package. The only language government understands other than strike is the language of politicians. Most governments exist for the sake of those in government! Salaries can be fixed arbitrarily for those in government. Allowances can be stupendous for those in government. Then contracts can be awarded to friends of those in government. This is how it has been through the ages and my guess is that it will be so today and forever. The little development government forces us to see is often as a result of business, investments and opportunities created by those close to government. It is the exact philosophy of the Republican party of America. It is called 'trickle down economics'. Neo Socialists call it 'voodoo economics'. Or better suited to our nation, I will say we practice 'juju economics'. That is the only language government understands.

I have argued and will always argue for a 'diffuse up' economic model. If government will listen, then the only way the ghost of incessant strikes can be busted is for the worker to be king! When the worker gets commensurate pay for a days work... Then strike will become unattractive. When the worker can afford a decent health insurance without having to spend his entire meager life savings on health, then strike actions will be unattractive. When the worker sees the Governor in the same hospital with him, on the same waiting line, then strike actions will become unattractive. When the worker knows that his counterparts in developed countries are not having the sort of life that gives him a slave complex... Then and only then will strike actions become unattractive. But for as long as government refuses to pay workers per hour in this country, so long will there be strikes. How can a worker work for 24 hours and get 8 hours pay? Then another worker work for 8 hours and get 24 hours pay? Our reward system in this nation reeks of 'juju economics'. That is pure 'voodoo economics' for it can never be explained.

Since government so blatantly refuses to understand the simple English language outlined above. Then we shall all continue to go on strike.

3. The truth remains that the workers work is for the public good and so is his agitation too. Governments will come and go. One party will rule today and another will rule tomorrow but the public will remain. The public is the great constant in all labor disputes. The public is the pretty bride that employers and employees alike try to woo. Unfortunately, the public tends to see workers agitation as selfish and wicked. The public sees it this way because employers make them see workers as ingrates and self serving. Please let me ask, who is actually self serving? The government or the workers? Who is the selfish one? The government officials whose children attend the best schools in the world or the worker whose take home pay can't take his child to a decent high school or college? Who is the selfish one? The government official who uses the best hospitals in the world or the workers child who has to manage the public hospital next door. Have you checked a public hospital lately? They look like a cottage clinic. Yet the doctor works day and night even without power to rake in results. Maternal mortality rates are a doctors concern and they keep dropping even under horrendous working conditions. Infant mortality are a doctors nightmare and they keep reducing those figures even when no one cares about their welfare. I won't even talk about the other health professionals here because the truth, the hard truth is that we must all learn to live and work together. Having said that I must say that these other health professionals are most unfair to doctors. When they blame the poor health indices of the nation on doctors they are being unfair. When they say doctors are selfish for asking that the health sector receive better funding they're being unfair. When they oppose a salary structure in which health workers will be paid per hour they're being most unfair. They of all people see the awesome hours doctors spend at work. They of all people should applaud doctors for their sacrifices and martyrdom. But No. They are at the fore front of galvanizing public opinion against the doctor. On the other hand, the industrial disharmony in the health sector is perpetrated by government in a kill and divide colonial style of leadership! I appeal to the government to set out clear job descriptions in the health sector. Let me put this out in the public domain that whatever lives that are lost in a nation should be blamed on the government of the day. The government is responsible for the welfare, security, life and health of its citizens! and these truths apply to all governments of the world.

Thanks for your time.

Iroko Obasi ND

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


 Jan 1st 2014
6.45 pm Nigerian time

'Pope Francis call for Global Peace is the most relevant message for the year 2014'

Pope Francis was TIMEs person of the year for 2013. And if TIME magazine doesn't find a worthy winner for 2014, the first latin american to become pope may be named TIMEs person of the year again for 2014.

Happy New Year.

Its still too early to say if the pope's charm will overwhelm the world till the end of the year 2014. But the following have set him miles apart from his predecessors.

1. His choice of the Moniker Francis

Every great leader starts out by associating himself with an ideology or guiding principle. Political leaders like Obama chose Change... Mandela chose non - violence... Ghandi chose non - violence... Martin luther chose civil liberties... Jonathan chose Humility... Pope Francis chose to associate with St. Francis of Asisi. Francis was the 13 th century saint who condescended to be associated with the poor and down trodden in society rather than the high and mighty. By choosing that Moniker, the pope has decided to shun the fortune and status of his office to live humbly among the poor. By so doing he has effectively over a one year period changed the way the world sees Christianity. Now every one is asking ... Is this Pope a socialist?

The lesson to learn is that you will secure a surer place in history if you insist on identifying with he downtrodden. My favorite moment of 2013 for instance was when my Uniben Demonstration Secondary School set of 2000 decided to tone down the hard partying that accompanies our yearly re-union. We visited an orphanage/motherless babies home instead, giving back so much to society in the process. If all Alumni Associations give back to society this way wouldn't life be a better place?

2. His choice of apartment

He chose to live in a modest guest house adjoining the Apostolic Palace rather than in sumptuous papal apartments which other popes before him had lived in.

There is nothing wrong with living like a glorious leader of over 1 billion faithful but that doesn't cause any radical change in the way people see leadership. What moves people to their foundations is a man who has the opportunity to live flamboyantly but chooses to live simply. Those are the sort of leaders who move humanity in new directions

3. His choice of transportation

Most times, he ditches the papal convoy refusing to be chauffeured in that flamboyant motorcade. He can be seen carrying his own brief cases when he steps down from his vehicle. He lives such a simple life you would think he's a regular bishop of some obscure diocese.

Furthermore, he sneaks out at night to feed the poor and phones ordinary people who need his help. These are all traits of a neo -Socialist.

As expected, much of the world especially American conservatives, who are quick to write off anything communal or anything that tends towards socialism are yet to embrace the pope and endorse his choices. This is because some people see the simple life as a life meant for the wretched of the earth. Some people see a life of condescension as one in total contrast with wealth and privilege. But how wrong they are.

 Isnt it beautiful to be stupendously wealthy and yet to associate with the poor, less privileged and down trodden? Isn't it a more glorious life to be born into fortune and fame and yet choose to live in a simple apartment or drive simple cars? Isn't it a better approach to be a leader of millions or even billions of people and yet to set a day aside to at least pick up your phone and speak with those that need reassurance from you, telling them that their lives will be fine? Or setting a day aside to reply your mails personally and append your signature showing that the reply wasn't done by an aide but with your own hands?

I should issue a disclaimer at this point and say that the pope isn't a socialist in the true sense of the word. I may even argue that he isn't even a socialist at all going by the understanding of what it means to be a socialist. But if you listen to him closely and look at his actions critically, you will see how he deftly shows us that we must learn to be more critical of the sort of materialism that led to the global economic meltdown a few years ago in the first place. We must reject the crass Capitalism and total disregard for Community that drives Western investment and businesses. We must be more compassionate and humane. We ought to give our policies a human face and establish safety nets that would catch those brow beaten by harsh economic realities.

I remain a conservative at heart and wouldn't suggest any radical shift towards state control. Neither is the pope a dangerous radical who harbors socialist thought. However, we are not afraid of Change and that's one ideology we share!

A neo-socialist is one who isn't afraid of changing the way a materialistic world views power, property and people. We believe that one exists because of the other and none can exist without the other. So power, property and people must be treated with utmost and equal respect.

Happy New Year

Iroko Obasi ND

Friday, December 27, 2013

HAPPY HOLIDAYS - Why True Leadership Hasn't Come Yet 4

 Its Holiday Season again and I wish to thank all who have been encouraging what I set out to do when I started this blog. I felt there was a need in our nation and indeed in all nations of the world for political parties to have a clear cut ideology. Many decent Nigerians shy away from the political process because it seems the parties haven't yet articulated clear cut ideals which they stand for. The voters are therefore confused! I still wonder if I will cast my vote in the next election? Should I vote for the party or the individual? Most likely I will vote for the individual because all the parties look alike to me! In fact all the parties look like Siamese twins. Not only are they identical but they're joined to each other at some vital point! That's how serious it is. I would have decided not to cast my vote at all but then I wouldn't have a moral justification to complain when things go wrong.

Well, that's as far as I can go on why I started this blog in the first instance. I hope that as it garners more readers round the world we can stimulate a critical mass of Nigerians who will get very angry when their leaders just flip flop from one political platform to another. It only shows that our leaders may just be there for other reasons apart from your welfare and mine. Or it may just be that they do these things because you and I act like we don't care. We act as if everything is ok.

In continuation of a previous write up in which we talked about why True Leadership Tarries by taking

1. A fresh look at our value system

2. A fresh look at our oneness as a people

Today let's consider

3. The conquistador mentality

Where did Nigerians get the idea that once you're in leadership the perks of office can be used how you please? Where did we learn that official properties can be converted for personal use, or that money that doesn't belong to us can be 'borrowed' to meet our own needs without ever paying back? Who told us that official letter headed papers can be used to pursue personal contracts. Who told us that we can act as though being a leader means being an owner of the official property? Leadership is transient but values are permanent

A friend in one of our arguments once said - what our political parties lack in ideology, Nigerians in general lack in values! And that lacking ingredient is consistency.

Doesn't it irk you at times that a very sound principled man suddenly enters a position of leadership and then he throws all his principles away? I asked one leader once, why he is different now that he is in government from when he was a union leader. He said 'my brother, now my hands are tied'... Really? What tied the hands? A ghost or the winds? How come when as a union leader you led protests against the way things are done you never agreed that anyone's hands could be tied? And now suddenly you've done a somersault and claim like a child that you stole the meat from the cooking pot because of the devil! That's what I asked him and he said I wouldn't understand.

Its only in Nigeria that leadership is hard to understand. Yes. A lot goes on in positions of authority that defies all logic and throws all common sense on its head. The led never have any clue as to why the leader does what he is doing. The led never even see how the actions of the leader benefits him or advances his cause, left to his own speculations, the led spins rumors and allegations. That's because the led is alone, in the dark and confused as the leader mystifies and shrouds leadership in dark clouds. For instance, when the medical doctors ask government a simple question like why 'would you not abide by international best practices in running the health sector?' Government officials respond by sounding as if international best practices isn't made for Nigerians. (In my next post I shall write on Why Strikes Will Continue In Nigeria - The Medical Doctors Volte Face)

All this is symptomatic of the Conquistador Mentality. Very often we see positions of leadership as a victory won by our own exceptional abilities. We forget so easily that a Leader isn't the most exceptional human being around. He is only a fortunate one who has values and ideologies that he consistently propagates either through his work ethic or relationship with clients. Once this resonates with a majority of people, he may then qualify for leadership of the people that is after all other extraneous factors like cronyism, tribalism (which is actually RACISM by another name) have been sorted out. Once in office, He ought to look in the mirror and see himself as a servant not a Lord. Infact everyday a leader wakes up he should say to his image in the mirror 'you're there to make peoples lives better not to make your own life better'. For it is as you help enough people achieve their dreams that you definitely achieve yours. However, too often we see people transform once they're in leadership. They transmogrify into emperors, building an empire for themselves and their family. The logical out working of this is that the led are now seen as subjects and not partners, as vassals and not as citizens, as opponents eyeing his office and not as partners in building a better tomorrow.

The followers are fellows and not fiends.

The true leader makes himself one with the people. He earns their trust by leading them from behind not by standing at the front as some sort of know it all. He leads from behind allowing the led to take initiative, suggest solutions and participate in the leadership process. He respects himself and respects his office, knowing that he will leave there someday and he respects every official property including all monies belonging to the people. The peoples money isn't the leaders money. Government money should be in the bank not in Government house. The organizations money should be in the organizations account not in the head's house or personal bank account! The leaders victory isn't a conquest it is a trust.

Enjoy a happy and prosperous new year. And may true leadership come!

To be continued

Iroko Obasi Nd

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Why True Leadership Hasn't Come Yet 3

 In continuation of a previous write up, let us examine why True Leadership Tarries by taking

1. A fresh look at our value system

2. A fresh look at our oneness as a people

The only thing that seems to make us one with our brothers and sisters from other parts of our nation is sports! When Blessing Okagbare brought glory to Nigeria in athletics very few people knew that she was from Delta State. And it really didn't matter what state she's from. What counts is that she's first and foremost, a Nigerian.

When the Super Eagles fixed their broken wings and flew once more, winning the Nations cup for the first time in 19 years, no one cared that the top goal scorer at that competition was of Ibo extraction BECAUSE IT REALLY DIDN'T MATTER. Neither could I find anyone who could tell me for sure what part of Nigeria Victor Moses was from - my guess is that he's from Kaduna State! Not that it changes anything for deep down in my heart, I really don't want to know. What matters is that He's a great Nigerian athlete and we are glad that he chose to play for Nigeria when he could have played for England.

The day I saw John Akinyemi compete at the Olympics in 2012 as the first ever Nigerian canoeist in all of our history, I was filled with a renewed sense of hope for our nation. He's a British - Nigerian who was to represent Great Britain but He chose Nigeria! To the thousands of Nigerian Sports men and women who opt to compete for the nations of their birth rather than the nation of their origin we say its a new day in Nigeria. Your sacrifices will be appreciated and your career will be protected. Put your nation ahead of everything else. Choose Nigeria first.

Another emerging point of convergence amongst all our people is in the literary arts. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has emerged as a true protege of her mentor Chinua Achebe. Indeed she has continued from where he stopped. At this rate and with the smile of the gods upon her, she may qualify as a Nobel Prize nominee for literature someday. However, even if she doesn't make it to that point, she has done so much already to give Nigerians something to smile about. It is such a pleasure for fellow writers who read ones works across the globe to remark 'O! You're Nigerian... That's the country of the lady who wrote Half Of a Yellow Sun. And what's her name again? Adichi?'... At that point, the foreigner doesn't know if she's Hausa, Ibo or Yoruba. He doesn't even pronounce her name right. But does that matter? What matters is that Nigerian blood flows in her veins and she has the resilient can - do spirit that we all share. That spirit that sees through tears and smiles through suffering. That Spirit that bends but never breaks, twists but never turns around. That Spirit that is darkened by the sun but never scorched. That is the Spirit we share

Our leaders may have broken our wills till we are all willing accomplices of corruption but they can never break our Spirit. The Spirit is a gift from God. It may be buried but not for long... Nigeria's bloom shall emanate from beneath the dirt heaps. Our spirit isn't an egg that is smashed when hit against a brick wall, rather it is made of a tougher material that will bounce back in your face.

Why then has true leadership not come yet? Its because our oneness is still negotiable. We often speak as though we are better off divided. We listen to the foreign media and pundits who claim we will cease to exist as a nation. Such predictions are for the good of the Imperial powers. They MADE THE SAME PREDICTIONS ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA IN THE 60's and early 70's. The sad part is that these foreign profiteers have willing tools in Nigeria who threaten us with dismemberment. I have news for the prophets of doom - its not the apocalypse yet!

We Nigerians are at a point in our history when we shall say with one voice that the indisolubility of our nation is a principle we are willing to fight for. And that's not an empty boast - millions have died already in the fight to keep us as one and their labor shall not be in vain. We are at that point when all men of good will must accept that we are brothers and sisters. Our oneness shouldn't be virtual, coming only when we triumph at Sports. Our passion to be the greatest black nation on the earth must be greater than our religious differences. Our hunger for the lofty heights of National pride should stimulate us to oneness.

As I look forward to the day when I will introduce myself as being from Nigeria - that land of inventors and literary giants, the land of scientific genius and unparalleled architecture, the land of military might and visionary leadership, the land of the largest black population n earth. I look forward to a future when blacks all over the world will look on us with admiration and awe. Admiration that we forged a nation state out of the crucible of nothingness and Awe that we've emerged as a truly a great nation on the earth to the surprise of even Nigerians themselves. I look forward to the day when unborn generations will be welcomed with open arms around the world simply because they're from Nigeria and they hold the green passport. I look forward to the day when Nigeria will be associated with all things good and great, high and lofty, bright and beautiful.

In the mean time I call on all nations within this nation state to donate your best minds to the Nigerian project. You can gain prominence both for your ethnic nationality and at the same time for your nation. And even when you're asked to chose between tribal affiliation and National good! Choose your country first.

Remember Mandela... He wrote in a Long Walk to Freedom that he was first a proud Xhosa before being South African. But he chose South Africa time and time again. He chose to dream of the day when South africans wouldn't see themselves as Xhosa or Zulu or Swazi or Ndebele or Swana or Basotho or Lemba. He dreamt of a day when there wouldn't be deep divisions between whites or coloreds or indians or blacks but there would be one nation state out of several ethnic nations... One rainbow nation. In so doing he brought honor to the whole and also to the part of the whole to which he belonged - the Xhosa tribe of Qunu village in the Transkei province.

I have tried to learn from Mandela that you don't need money, you don't need things, you don't need position or power to be content or to be happy or to lead. Perhaps the one thing that is needful is to be one with the people.

(To be continued)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

TRIBUTE TO MANDELA SERIES - Why True Leadership Hasn't Come Yet 2

 If you aren't a leader in your professional body, you will be a leader at your place of work - at least a leader over a team. If you aren't a leader at that level YET, you're definitely a leader in your family - at least over your wife and kids. And If you aren't a leader at that level still, I'm sure you're a leader in some sort of social club or religious organization. And finally if you're not a leader in any of these places yet, just be patient you will be a LEADER soon.

When we speak of LEADERSHIP, we all tend to think about the man occupying some lofty position. But is Leadership all about being the man in the arena? Aren't we all Leaders in some way and at some point in our lives? If you're a first son or first grandson, a first daughter or first grand daughter in an immediate or extended family aren't you a leader already? Are your siblings not supposed to look up to you for guidance and exemplary living?

A failure in LEADERSHIP at the level of the nuclear family will result in a failure in LEADERSHIP at the national level or wouldn't it? Well, I think that through a 'diffuse up' principle, a failure of leadership at any level will definitely affect leadership at all levels. Hence I advocate that we should all be prepared for leadership in such a way that we could give our best if only we could be given the opportunity. Furthermore I suggest we refrain from speaking of 'the corruption of those in power' rather I advocate that we see it in terms of 'the corruption in us all'. May I also propose that we should consider how in one way or another we have all contributed to the leadership deficit. Our success as a people is a shared honor and the failure of leadership is also a SHARED RESPONSIBILITY. In this write up my aim is to locate the relationship between all LEADERSHIP at all levels... To figure out why true LEADERSHIP hasn't come yet.

1. A fresh look at our Value System

What Values do we all share as a people? What Values do we actually hold dear?

A. Freedom: we are a people that love freedom and would willingly cast of restraint. We toiled relentlessly to rid ourselves of colonialism. Shall we then subject ourselves to neo colonialism - a situation in which we would rather be second rate citizens in another mans country instead of being first class citizens in our own nation? We who were one of the loudest voices in the world against apartheid in South Africa and the acceptance of supression and segregation as state policy. How shall we then accept to be treated as Second rate citizens in our own nation?

B. Peace: we are a peace loving people. When we cover up people in our communities who foment trouble and disturb the peace, aren't we betraying our own ideals and what exactly do we hope to gain? After turbulence has destroyed our communities and we have placed the blame at the door step of 'leadership' how shall the emotional scars caused by violence and destruction be healed? Shouldn't our community leaders sue for peace and expose all enemies of peace? Are all the religions we espouse not religions of peace? When the muslim says Asallah mu alay kum - doesn't he mean PEACE BE UNTO YOU ALL. He does. He is actually preaching peace.

C. Unity: our true LEADERS are those who are committed to unity at all costs. Those who warn us of an imminent dismemberment and who preach a disolution of the unity our fathers paid for with sweat and blood are pretenders at Leadership. Unity is one of our values as a nation - for we recite it in our national anthem. We shall not all speak the same language, wear the same outfit, think from the same perspectives for that is uniformity. Neither shall we accept one central Police Force or one central Civil Service for that is Unitary. But we shall sue for Unity or shall not we? The misdeeds of our past leaders are best forgotten. We choose forgiveness. Or shall we not forgive those who propped up one section of the nation up and against the others? We must agree that we are a multi tribal and multi lingual nation. We must resolve to co-operate with our brothers and sisters. Our tribes and tongues differ but you are my brother and sister still.

True Leadership hasn't come because we haven't embraced these values yet.

(To Be Continued)