First, it was the controversial N8.64 billion wardrobe allowance for the then newly sworn in legislators. Then the most incredulous and shocking one so far…in what was described by the Senate President, as “a watershed moment in our vision to take lawmaking back to the people,” the Senate President’s Suggestion box was launched. Just in case you haven’t been in tune with happenings in Nigeria’s political space; Yes, you read right. Suggestion boxes were launched in the chambers of the nation’s highest law making body. In the 21st century. In this digital/technological age. Ribbons were used for decoration and a tape was cut (you get the drift…all the works were in place) to launch suggestion boxes by our senators. Then, the latest may just be the final straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back- the proposed clampdown on social media critics who “falsely” criticize public officials or institutions.
Last Friday was “Black Friday.” It was hard to miss, what with the hype from retail stores about the massive discounts and promo sales that would be enjoyed on various household items, cloths and electronics which had been on for a while. I wondered what all the euphoria was all about until I googled it and discovered that it was yet another “American imported idea.” Black Friday is the day after thanksgiving, which is marked on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. The Friday following that highly significant day is seen as the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season, hence, the day is sort of set aside to mark the beginning of the shopping season towards Christmas. And so, I wondered – since we don’t celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday over here, why were we identifying with Black Friday? I couldn’t really think of any answer, save for our usual penchant for copying the Western world in almost everything regardless of its practicality over here or not.
Monday saw me at one of the new generation banks to perform some transactions. While being attended to, I observed the teller who was attending to the lady next to me asking her why she had not done her Bank Verification Number (BVN) registration, and subsequently informing her that she was not allowed to withdraw from her account as a restriction had been placed on it following the directive from the CBN. I was waiting for the lady whose account had been restricted to offer some form of explanation as to why she was yet to get the registration done up till that moment, but she offered none. She just stood there, staring at the teller with that guilty-as-charged look. Then I thought…why are we like this? Why do Nigerians always take things for granted?
The news of the death of the “Governor-General of the Ijaw Nation,” Diepreye Alamieyeseigha came out of the blue considering the fact that there was no fore knowledge or prior information of his illness from the media. The 62-year old former governor of Bayelsa State reportedly died after a protracted battle with kidney disease, diabetes and high blood pressure at the University of Port-Harcourt Teaching Hospital after slipping into a coma two days before. Like almost every other subject in Nigeria, the news of his death has resulted in controversy as Nigerians have continued to elicit varying reactions to it. The revelation that the British Government had requested to have the ex-governor extradited to the UK in a bid to resurrect the inconclusive case of money laundering against him certainly added fuel to the ongoing debate.
By now the story of Ahmed Mohamed, the teenage ninth grader who was arrested and interrogated on suspicion of bringing a “hoax bomb” to school is stale gist that has blown over as many of us would say. However, Ahmed’s ordeal in the hands of his teachers and police officers in Irving, Texas USA has once again brought the bigger problem of stereotypes and its effect on individuals, groups of people, and the society in general to the fore. Many times, people are stereotyped because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sex, skin colour, nationality or anything else the human mind can conjure up. The reality is that virtually all of us are guilty of prejudice against another person or group of people because we have a preconceived notion about who we think they are or how we feel they should be.
Stage invasions, confounding statements, outlandish comments and unabashed braggadocio are only a few phrases that can be used to describe the persona of Kanye Omari West, the American rap star and recording producer. Just when the world thought the self-professed god could do nothing to surprise them anymore, the highly controversial maverick pulled yet another stunner by announcing that he will be running for president in the 2020 American presidential elections during his acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award at the 2015 Video Music Awards on Sunday. Kanye did what he knows how to do best. Get the world talking.
I received the news about the decision of the Joint Admission And Matriculation Board (JAMB) to reduce the cut-off mark for candidates seeking admission into Nigerian Universities for degree programmes in the 2015/2016 academic session from 200 to 180 out of a possible 400 marks with some measure of puzzlement and amazement. I tried to find out what could have informed such a decision but could not really get any plausible explanation from all the news I read or heard. What is certain is that from October this year or thereabout when the next academic session would commence, schools are required to implement the new rule with regard to the admission of students. One can only assume that the officials of JAMB were convinced that they were taking the right step to help majority of University hopefuls whose hopes are dashed perennially having failed to make the previous pass mark of 200. I unequivocally disagree with this point of view. In fact I believe the education sector has just suffered a setback.
“Always put your best foot forward, you don’t know who’s watching” – Ololade Ajekigbe
If there was one minister who stood out for excellence in carrying out his duties during the much criticized Goodluck Jonathan administration, it is Akinwunmi Adesina, the immediate past Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. The 55 year old first class graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife was one of the few shining lights in an arguably forgettable era. As if to appreciate his giant strides in the Nigerian agricultural sector, just a day before the democracy day handing over ceremony of the previous government to the new one, the news filtered in that Adesina had just been elected as the next President of the African Development Bank (AFDB). A position he is due to assume in September,2015. Dr Adesina will be the eight president and first Nigerian to hold the post in the organization’s history.
If you are oblivious of the latest reality show going on in Nigeria, then you must have been hibernating under a rock or something. What started as the “ambition” of a young man to according to him “fulfill a promise” he made two years ago to trek from Lagos to Abuja to celebrate in solidarity with General Muhammadu Buhari should he emerge winner of the 2015 presidential elections in Nigeria has quickly escalated into a competition of sorts resulting in not less than eight other young Nigerians trekking from one part of the country to the other in order to show support for their political candidate. Like almost every other venture in Nigeria, the bandwagon effect has taken its full course on this trekking madness.
There has been an on going debate since the news broke that the president-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari barred the reporters of African Independent Television (AIT), a privately owned tv station from covering his activities citing security concerns over his family and ethical issues as reasons for the decision. Nigerians are divided over the expedience of this decision, with a section of the populace insisting that it doesn’t bode well for our democracy especially in the light of the fear among certain quarters that General Buhari who was a former military dictator cannot totally shed his military toga and embrace the ideals of democracy altogether. With a history of fiercely clamping down on the media and free speech through the enactment of the Decree 4 which forbade any journalist from reporting any information considered embarrassing to any government official during his first stint at the helm of affairs, some people are justifiably worried by the news of Buhari barring AIT.