Daily Quotes

ThinkExist Dynamic daily quotation

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

FAT CATS, IDPs AND A NIGERIAN TRAGEDY




A few years ago, I attended a lecture at which the lecturer related a story of a director of a big company who, in spite of receiving quite good salary, collected on a monthly basis, 10% from the salaries of lowly-paid workers in the company.

One day, while the director was using the loo, one of the cleaners from whom the director collected 10% every month was around the toilet area and started cursing the director to the effect that he would use the money on some unnamed calamity that would befall his family. The director upon hearing the curse was so scared that he refused to collect the usual 10% from the woman’s salary that month and in fact, every other month that followed.

The director never really got to know whether at the time of issuing the curse upon him and his family, the cleaner was aware that he was in the toilet and could hear her.

Very sadly, what this director was doing, collecting part of money meant for people who had little, to add to the plenty that he already had, has become extremely common place in our country today. From bank directors who outsource jobs from their banks to their private entities, thereby making huge profits from the outsourced jobs, to other company directors who deduct portions of salaries of junior workers under the guise of helping those workers to save (Save As You Earn [S.A.Y.E.] and later refuse to pay these hapless workers their very hard earned money and sweat when these people become entitled to the money purportedly saved for them, to the average Nigerian politician and public office holder who, in spite of already appropriating obscenely high amount of salaries and allowances to themselves, still divert the little money meant for developmental projects and the likes to themselves and their cronies. It is at once a very sad and infuriating story.

The pictures I saw in the newspapers on Friday the 24th of June 2016 of the starving Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and their children are truly heartbreaking. There are also reports of death of several of these IDPs due to starvation and probably some unattended-to diseases. Some of the reports on the killing and starvation of the IDPs put daily deaths at an average of 30. Others reported that over 1200 IDPs across the camps in Borno State, have so far been killed by officials who feel the extra monies they would get from the re-bagging of rice donated to these IDPs, the diversion of medicines, toiletries, beddings and other relief materials is worth the starvation and death of so many people.


The people who divert all the food, medicines and other materials are of course, people who already have more than enough to eat, drink and wear. But like the director mentioned above, what they have just will never be enough for them. To drive bigger cars, and live even larger than they already do, they probably feel it to be their duty to finish off the job that the evil boko haram started and did not finish.

It was reported that Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno directed the police and State Security Service officials to go after the officials responsible for the deaths and starvation of the IDPs. The most tragic thing about this would however be that in spite of the governor’s reported directive, no one is likely to be sanctioned for the murderous acts of the officials in charge of the camps. All the greedy murderers will most likely get away with killing the hapless IDPs. Like almost every crime committed by the Nigerian elites and public officials, these people will get away with their greed-fueled killings of the IDPs.

Even more tragic is the fact that we, as a people seem to have lost all sense of outrage. The numbers of death and killings by boko haram, by Fulani herdsmen or people masquerading as Fulani herdsmen, by deliberate acts or omission to act of people who swore to uphold the provisions of the Constitution and serve the country and its people are just that to us; numbers. We seem to have lost the capacity to connect the numbers to our fellow humans, to know that the number of dead reported in the various electronic and print media represent people who were actually breathing and perhaps had dreams like some of us still living but whose dreams and lives have been brutally killed by people who just have to drive bigger vehicles, wear the most expensive designer clothes, shoes, watches etc.


With no punishment for their crimes, and deafening silence/complacency from the rest of us, these kinds of criminal and murderous acts will continue and even increase. Truly tragic…

Monday, June 6, 2016

NO IDEA







I don’t know what I am writing
I only know I should be typing
What the content should be
What theme I should pursue
I am even now at a loss
Sometimes, one feels lost
Unable to get up
Not unlike a sore thumb
This surely feels like one of those days
In which everything just seem to be too far away
I am sure I ought to be doing something important
Try as I have to locate it, I just can’t!
Maybe I have too much on my mind
Perhaps I have to search deep to find
Oh yes, I am typing
Yet I cannot say I am writing.

- Adenike Oyalowo © 060616.

Friday, November 20, 2015

FEW THOUGHTS ON DASUKI

I have two confessions that I want those who read this post to know before going on to read the rest of the article.

My first confession is that though I am a legal practitioner, this post is not meant to be any deep legal critique of Sambo Dasuki's on-going travails at the hands of the Federal government of Nigeria. It is merely a casual observation of what is going on in the country and what it could possibly portend for the future of this country.

My second confession is perhaps more serious than the first one and it is that I did not really have the time to go through most of the newspaper reports on the Sambo Dasuki case before writing this post. Yeah, I know, I know, but there it is...

Having read my confessions, you are at liberty to stop reading at this point. If however you decide to venture further into this write-up and you have a violent disagreement with my observations, drink a cup of cool water and remind yourself that you were warned.

For those who may not know who Sambo Dasuki is, he was the National Security Adviser under the immediate past administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Sambo Dasuki was recently arraigned by the Federal government of Nigeria for illegal possession of firearms and money laundering. The presiding judge exercised his discretion and granted him bail on self-recognition at the time of the arraignment. However, ruling on Dasuki's application to travel out of the country for three weeks for medical reasons, the judge decided to vary his bail conditions by directing that he get a surety on certain terms and conditions.

The judge went on to rule in favour of granting Dasuki's application to travel out of the country for medical check-up. The Department of State Security (DSS) however seem to disagree with the judge's ruling since on the heels of the judge's directive that Dasuki's passport should be returned to him and he should be allowed to travel as requested, DSS officials relocated part of their office to Dasuki's neighbourhood and effectively put him under some form of house arrest.

The DSS claimed in justification of their seeming disobedience of the Court Order, that Dasuki had been invited to answer some questions before a panel on some other charges and he had refused or failed to honour the invitation. In their opinion, since the charges because of which they decided to set up camp around Dasuki's house did not relate to the ones already in Court, they were not flouting any Court Order.

It would be recalled that before Dasuki was arrested and arraigned on the illegal possession of firearms charge, there was also some sort of siege on his house by the DSS.

One of the complaints some people including yours truly, had against the immediate past government at the centre in Nigeria was the level of impunity and the geometric, if not astronomic rate at which it was growing. It is my opinion then that this government has to be extremely careful about the actions of its agencies and the messages those actions send both to those of us casual(?!) observers and to the global community.

First off, I'm not sure what information Dasuki put before the judge which prompted the judge to exercise his discretion in favour of allowing Dasuki to travel out of the country. For instance, is the medical reason so grave that Dasuki cannot receive adequate attention/treatment in any of the hospitals in the country?

It will also be important to know what information the prosecutors who opposed Dasuki's application to be allowed to travel out of the country put before the Court which the judge apparently did not consider weighty enough to warrant a refusal of Dasuki's prayer/request. It would for instance be pertinent whether the prosecution informed the Court that Dasuki is a flight risk especially considering the fact that he may already be aware of weightier charges coming against him.


The above questions are important because those of us who do not have all the information may make the mistake of condemning the judge while not realising that perhaps the fault in a Court's decision may lie with the prosecution. It is fairly common knowledge that prosecutions of high profile cases in this country are largely compromised at both the investigative level and in their actual prosecution in Court. This is not to completely absolve some judges of misdeeds however.

Assuming that in spite of whatever relevant and important information that the prosecution might have put before the Court, the Court nevertheless wrongly ruled in favour of Dasuki's travel abroad, I believe that the DSS, having conducted their investigations and gathered sufficient evidence against Dasuki should just have gone ahead to arrest him on the new charges. The siege tactic first employed by the NDLEA against Buruji Kashamu and now employed repeatedly by the DSS in which not just Dasuki, but other people in his neighbourhood are terrorised is in my opinion, not the best way to go.

This government has to let its agencies imbibe the culture of doing things the right way. If we make exceptions for particular persons perhaps because of the supposed gravity of the offence committed by those persons, we might in future have the problem of the exceptions being used for the wrong reasons against innocent people.

The DSS should stop the siege tactic and make arrests where they have sufficient information and evidence to prefer charges against those who violate the Law. Where government and its agencies give the impression that they can determine when the rule of law should prevail, we may all have to pay dearly for it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

TERROR ATTACK IN FRANCE AND THE PRAYER FOR HUMANITY



a picture is worth a thousand words

The Friday 13th November 2015 multiple terror strikes in Paris and the resultant shows of solidarity with the French people all over the world on social media and elsewhere ignited a hot debate on social media in Nigeria.

While one group believed those changing their profile pictures on Facebook in Nigeria are hypocrites since terror attacks are a virtual daily affair in Nigeria and people do not change their profile pictures because of the terror attacks, another group felt they did nothing wrong by aligning themselves with the fight against terrorism through the change of their profile pictures.

This is of course not the first time this kind of debate will take place on social media in Nigeria. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack also in France early in the year, a lot of people showed their solidarity by using the #IAmCharlie hashtag on Facebook, twitter and other social media platforms.

Nigerian social media users are not the only ones engaged in the debate about the supposed hypocrisy of people showing their solidarity to the French people in the wake of the Friday the 13th’s terror attacks in France. People in the Middle East are also talking and protesting the apparently skewed coverage of terror attacks by Western media outfits like the CNN and BBC especially because a terror attack in Beirut at around the same time as those in France went unreported.

While it cannot be said that either of the two groups is wrong, it is a fact that the Western media downplays some news items while inundating us with everything that should or should not be known about others even while those they decide to downplay are equally if not even more important than some of those they decide to play to the hilt.

Much as we down here may want to be patriotic and feel for all those killed daily by boko haram (and others who hide under boko haram to carry out dastardly attacks), it may be a bit hard for us and the reasons are simple. Down here in Nigeria, the thousands of people whose lives have been cut brutally short by boko haram are mostly faceless and nameless. Our press, both those in the print and electronic media, perhaps does not know how to engage in investigative journalism. Perhaps they do but the cost is too prohibitive both in terms of finances and the danger to those who may seek to engage in it.

And because all we hear and read about almost daily is numbers of those killed without anybody making any serious attempt to find and interview family members of those killed or even to get pictures of them, a majority of us have, like people who work in the morgue, become “de-sensitised” to the killings carried out daily right in our backyard. I doubt very seriously that in spite of media outcry and global awareness about the Chibok girls and the on-going countdown of how many days the girls have been missing, we can find up to twenty Nigerians (outside of their former teachers and parents) who know the name of just ten of those girls.

If we don’t know the names of the girls, or have any idea how many of them dreamed of being doctors or engineers or astronauts, if we were never made to see what their lives really were before their abductions, how can we really feel a part of the pains their family and close friends have felt over the months they have been in captivity (assuming they are not the ones being used to carry out suicide bombings)?


This is however not the same for any news of terror attacks that the Western media choose to play up. For instance, it is almost certain that in the coming several days at the very least, a lot of people will get acquainted with the families and friends of most, if not all of the people that were killed and injured in the multiple terror attacks in France. We would almost certainly get to know where they grew up and what dreams they had that were cut short by the evil terror strikes. And we would get to see their faces so often that we would be forgiven if we swear we had seen them before.

It is in the light of the exposure given to tragedies like the November 13th one in France by the Western media including Facebook that encourages people to show support by changing their profile pictures that a lot of people changed their profile pictures. Those who did, I believe, would just as willingly change their profile pictures to show solidarity to those experiencing attacks in Nigeria if they are made to see that those killed are more than just numbers and were in fact people like them with dreams and aspirations even if those dreams were no more than just to wake up and go back to sleep at night peacefully every day.

Our journalists in Nigeria and indeed in Africa need to let the world know and keep its attention of the world on what goes on in this country and continent. With social media, this is not quite as difficult as it may seem.

Do we need to pray for France? Most certainly! And just as importantly, ne ween to pray for humanity and we need to pray for Nigeria to see the last of the insurgents and every single sponsor they have.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

…NOT REALLY LIKE THE PIG



When a person is referred to as a pig, it usually would mean such a person is dirty, gluttonous and repulsive. There are quite a number of very uncomplimentary sayings and analogies around a pig. A few of them are listed below:

When you wrestle with a pig, you both get dirty and the pig likes it.

…the place is like a pigsty (meaning the place is very messy and dirty).

The pig remains one of the most maligned animals in the world judging by how people (mostly wrongly) associate many things negative including immorality with the pig. Some religions in fact banned the eating of pork (pig meat) because of its perceived filthiness.

It is said that if something is repeated often enough, even when it is utter falsehood, it becomes the truth (sic), and so it is that I was one of those who believed the popular sayings about pigs being dirty. Indeed I was as surprised as some people might be after reading this when several years ago in my second year at the university I read in the general course textbook we were required to read, that pigs were (I believe still are) generally very clean animals if they are bred in a regulated environment. Articles I have read in recent times also point in this direction. The dirty pigs are said to be those in the wild or the stray pigs (like we have stray dogs) which have nobody rearing them. And even for the supposedly dirty stray pigs which seem to enjoy rolling around in the mud, a very good reason has been suggested for this behavior and it is that since pigs do not sweat, they usually roll in the mud in order to bring down their body temperature.

Humans are the highest of all God’s creatures. We are smart, we possess a very high level of reasoning that we may safely say most animals lack. To a very large extent then, we can say that we are in control of quite a number of things we engage in. For instance, the focus of this article is completely within our control as humans. We are fully in control of whether or not we want to litter our environment.

I visited Calabar twice last year on some land-related study and I was very impressed at how clean the place was. No pure-water sachets littering the streets or other such things that come together to make a place an eye-sore. One would in fact be forgiven if one assumes that the good and neat people of Calabar do not join those of us in the South-West in the consumption of pure-water (by the way, do they actually drink pure water in Calabar?). What is even more impressive is the fact that you don’t really see the city cleaners as they go about their duty like we see them here in Lagos. The cleaners come very early in the mornings to clean the city. It is not an all-day affair like it is here in the not-so-clean Lagos.

The fact that the people of Calabar were able to achieve the level of neatness they have, is a pointer to the fact that at least, that aspect of our lives is completely within our control as humans.

In spite of this however, it is a fairly common sight to see drivers and passengers in both private and commercial vehicles throwing all sorts of things on the road out of their vehicles. The first time I saw someone throw a plastic bag and the back of a watermelon out of a car, I was shell-shocked. I have since then seen very well dressed ladies and men driving very nice and expensive-looking cars calmly wind down their windows and throw all sorts of rubbish ranging from the very small to the biggest thing that one can imagine (and even the ones no rational person can imagine! )can be thrown out of a vehicle onto the road.

Where this sort of thing is done by the commercial bus drivers, one may somehow rationalize it by saying that the Indian hemp and kaikai they indulge in have taken their toll on their reasoning ability. But where you find otherwise respectable members of the society who should serve as beacons engaging in this dirty habit…

Some of the articles on pigs go so far as to say that some pigs sometime make themselves ill by holding their urine because they could not get to an acceptable place in which they could relieve themselves. It is in fact said that if a pig kept in a regulated and clean environment begins to defecate or urinate in its bedding, then that pig has a health problem.

Perhaps, one should by the same token conclude that a human who chooses to litter the environment might have some health challenges that makes him/her incapable of doing the right thing.

And so if you are one of the too many supposedly educated people who still litter the city, and you do not have any health challenge which makes you litter, then you are not really like the pig, it would in fact be an insult to the pig to compare you with it.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

THAT HUGE $5.2 BILLION NCC FINE ON MTN



It was widely reported on Tuesday the 27th of October 2015 that NCC, the regulatory body for the telecommunication companies in Nigeria had slammed MTN with a huge fine of $5.2 Billion! The fine was to serve as punishment to MTN for failing, contrary to the directive of NCC, to disconnect about 5.1 million phone lines which were not registered as directed by NCC after the end of the August 2015 deadline set by the NCC.

While it is appropriate that MTN be sanctioned for violation of NCC’s directive, the fine levied, N200,000 for every line not disconnected by MTN is huge and could result in crippling the network’s operations.

Analysis of the fine according to AP (Associated Press), may provide some guidance. In the AP report, the $5.2 Billion fine imposed on MTN is equivalent to at least 2 years average profit for MTN and nearly three times the $1.83 (this figure might be a mistake as the figure on MTN's website differs) the telecommunications network has invested in Nigeria. Also, when looked at from the fact that MTN in 2001 paid what now seems like a mere $285 Million for the licence that enabled it to start operations in Nigeria, one can only conclude that the regulatory body has dealt a blow which while it may not result in death for the big telecommunications firm, may send a big part of its operations into a coma for quite a while.

Information available on MTN’s website show that MTN invested a total of $12 billion in the country from 2001 to 2013 and planned to invest additional $3 Billion between 2013 and 2015. The amount invested in the country by MTN was said to include what was spent on getting the largest digital (microwave) transmission backbone across the country, the investment in fibre optic service and the largest network switch centre in the country.

The above are mentioned to serve as a guide to what an amount as huge as $5.2 Billion can achieve.

Indeed, the NCC in imposing the fine on MTN must have borne in mind the provision of Section 2 of its Guidelines on Procedure for Granting Approval to Disconnect Telecommunications Operators. Paragraph (3) under Section 2 of the Draft (Not sure whether it’s still draft or now in force) Guidelines provides that one of the criteria which NCC should consider in deciding whether or not to grant approval for a network operator to be disconnected shall include the public interest to observe the rule of Law and the need to entrench good corporate governance practices among operators.

There is absolutely no doubt that the above guide is a very sound one. I am a firm believer in the fact that the major reason why our dear country has turned out the way it has is because no sanction attaches to wrongdoings. Where the wrong doer is particularly a “big” man or woman, not only is there no sanction, what the wrong doer gets is a reward. This will always have the effect of promoting wrongdoings while at the same time discouraging all those who always want to the right things.

Because of this, I believe very strongly that MTN should be sanctioned for disobeying the NCC directive especially in these days when the country is battling with terrorism and kidnappings and all sorts of other criminal activities. However, much as I support that MTN should be sanctioned, the sanction should not be such as would cripple the operations of the company unless that was the intent of the NCC in imposing such a debilitating fine.

A look through the provisions of NCC’s Guide on Interconnectivity earlier mentioned shows the reluctance by the drafters of that guide to approve the disconnection of any network operator mainly because of how this may affect subscribers. In the same vein, I believe NCC should also bear in mind the larger impact crippling a company as big as MTN may have on the economy. There is no doubt MTN should be sanctioned. But while the sanction should have an impact on the sanctioned in order to serve as deterrence to others, it should not be such that it could kill it.

NCC under Sections 55 & 65(1) of the 2003 Nigeria Communication Commission Act that created it has the power to impose fines in such amounts by exercising its discretion. But just like judges, such discretions are not to be exercised arbitrarily.

As an aside, I wonder what NCC does with all the fines collected from licensees. I remember that NCC slammed huge fines a few years ago on the three major telecommunication networks for the bad services they were rendering. Since then however, the services of the network operators have consistently deteriorated. Perhaps, NCC has to think of another way to enforce provision of good services to consumers of telecommunication services.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

SOMEWHERE IN THE LAW… Lagos State Traffic Management Authority Law 2004




Since LASTMA is a hot topic at the moment, it might be appropriate to start off this new segment (which I hope to continue diligently) with the Law which established the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority in 2004. The focus today in that Law is on Section 16 which provides:

Section 16 (1): A person shall, before he is appointed as a member of the Authority, be required to declare his interest, if any, in any transport or other business organization undertaking transportation of passengers, or goods or engaged in the repairs and maintenance of vehicles or manufacturing or sale of any equipment used by the Authority.

Section 16(2): A member of the Authority who acquires any financial interest in any organization undertaking transportation of passengers or goods or engaged in the repairs and maintenance of vehicles in the production or sale of any equipment used by the Authority shall within one month of such acquisition give notice thereof in writing to the Authority specifying the interest so acquired and the Authority may, after taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case, decide whether—

(a) to retain him as a member of the Authority; or
(b) to remove him from such membership; or
(c) attach any condition to his membership.

Section 16 was picked in view of the fact that a good number of the members of LASTMA either have interests or own quite a number of commercial vehicles now operating in the State. I in fact got to know once when I was at one of the LASTMA offices in the State that commercial buses arrested are not booked until LASTMA officials ascertain that such vehicles were not owned by one of them.

It is also not much of a secret that some LASTMA officials (or members as the Law refers to them) either own or have interests in private towing vehicles.

In view of the provision of Section 16, one wonders how many commercial bus-owning LASTMA officials declared their interests and how quite a number of them would be able to explain the acquisition of the buses and towing vehicles. Perhaps the really relevant question to ask is how many of them are aware of this provision of the Law.