Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What will you be remembered for?

Be a life long or short, its completeness depends on what it was lived for. – David Starr Jordan

Two complete dullards are walking past Isaac Newton's tomb. The first one looks at the tombstone and drawls out the dates (1642 – 1727). The second guy goes like "Hey, who is Newton". The other, quite happy to demonstrate his superior knowledge says "You mean you don't know Newton? He formulated the three laws of motion, proposed the theory of universal gravitation, He..." The second guy cuts him short by saying – "you mean he did all that in the little dash between those dates?"

Probably sounds quite funny and a little dumb, but it really is the truth.

I am not trying to be a prophet of doom, but one day death will come knocking at your door, and somewhere on your tombstone will go the dates, 19xy – 2xyz (someone reading this might just live till the next century). What would you want that little dash between the dates to describe? Have you ever asked yourself how you want to be remembered when your time here is up? Were you the family comedian, or the guy who affected and improved lives?

You don't get to choose how you're going to die, or when. You can only decide how you are going to live. Now!Joan Baez

As Joan Baez argues above, you do not have a choice when or how you will die (except you are contemplating suicide). As far as life and death are concerned, you can only get to choose how you are going to live and where you go after you die here, and you get to make that choice now...

Wale Osideinde proposes that one of the greatest abilities we have as humans is the ability to choose. Sadly, a lot of people go through their lives without taking cognizance of this fact. A lot of people live life as it comes, just going from day to day. Listen to what Philip Larkin thinks.

Life has a practice of living you, if you don't live it.Philip Larkin

Life must be lived, whether you choose to live it or not. As a result of this, life will live you – but that is if you don't live it. Think about that. Look for example at a student who chooses not to do any academic work, he doesn't attend his classes or read his textbooks; it follows that he will fail. One thing that a lot of people fail to take note of is that things naturally tend towards a state of higher disorganization. What I mean is that without any input to the contrary, life tends to make a dash in a downhill direction!

It follows that we have to do positive work to keep our lives on an uphill direction. You cannot just sit by, and allow life to live you. Yes, there will be things that will be beyond your control – like that 3 hour traffic jam and stuff like that. However, you can choose how you respond to 'un-controllable' incidents, because they are to be expected. In fact, it is really sick to think that you can be responsible for all that happens to you – but it is quite healthy to acknowledge that you are responsible for your response to all that happen.

You have to take responsibility for your life, and decide to live the best way you can.

I want to savour every 'today' that comes. I want to soak in every experience, every lesson, every memory...Nike ALADE

Nike ALADE asked me once – "What does it mean to you to 'LIVE LIFE TO THE FULL'?" It got me thinking, and I would like to ask you that same question now – What does it mean to you to live life to the full?

When was the last time you looked at a sunrise, or a sunset? When was the last time you stood in the park and smelled some flowers? When was the last time you helped an old lady across a busy street? When was the last time you stood in the wind, and felt like you were rising and floating on her wings? When was the last time you played in the rain? Think about that. It is quite natural that my definition of living life to the full is different from yours, but have you ever taken the time to think about it and define an answer for yourself? Take some time out to reflect on your life the way it is, and ask – are the past few days of my life worth living for? Let's take that a step further, if you were to die tonight – was today worth it?

Live your life and forget your age.Jean Paul

If we work hard and take responsibility, we will have a chance for a better life.Barack Obama

In closing, I exhort – live your life and forget your age. Take responsibility for your life, no matter how many years you have spent on earth. Take the risk; remember that life itself is a risk. Raise the bar on yourself, and refuse to engage in low-life living or low-risk taking. Do not try to fill some other person's shoes, define your own size. Do not be what 'they' want you to be, become what God wants you to be. Refuse to bother living the life 'they' are expecting of you, live life the best way you can – and do it to the full!

In the words of Helen Keller - Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.

It follows that if you live life to the full; you cannot but be remembered for good. I chose to live my life to the full, what about you???

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What's up with ASUU vs FG!

If you are a student of a Nigerian University, and you would like to read a brief history of ASUU and their repeated clashes with the government, click here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


As we all know, Obama was in Ghana recently, and just today I had the privilege of reading the text of the speech – as provided by the White House.

When I read through the speech, I went like – did I read his mind? I was almost expecting all of what he said, and I actually said stuff similar in my earlier post on the topic. You can read that here.

I am taking some time out to write a commentary on the speech, from my perspective.

You could check back for it in a few hours.


KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa,

Monday, July 13, 2009


I, my dad, and my brother took a drive around Ibadan yesterday. As has become my usual custom, I was observing happenings in my environment, and I noticed quite a few things I would like to relate with you here.

First of all, I did not know there were any working traffic lights in Ibadan until yesterday, funny enough – I counted just 6 of them, and they were as close to the State Secretariat as possible (any closer and they’d be right inside it). Anyway, I had the privilege of seeing my dad stop at a red light (for the first time in my life), and while going towards the Eleyele side of Ibadan – I noticed that every driver (including cyclers and even one biker) on the road obeyed the traffic lights. In some other country, that may not be worthy of mention, but in Ibadan - Oyo State - Nigeria, it really IS a miracle.

Now, this is the interesting part. On our way back from Eleyele, a police van overtook us in the roughest manner possible. As in, this driver was ROUGH! As we approached the traffic lights, my dad was like – “Just watch oh, that policeman will not stop at the red lights, and he is not on assignment or chasing a thief or something”. As sure as you are sitting there reading this, the police driver ran the red light. Well, to say the least - I was not surprised.

You know, I actually wished I had a license and I was the one doing the driving (plus I was alone in the car). I have no doubts what I would have done, even though I am not so sure I would do the same thing now - anyway. Want to hear it? Ok, I’ll tell you. I would have waited till the lights turned green, driven off after the van, caught up with it, and I would have told him in plain Yoruba not to run a red light next time. Lucky me - we eventually passed the van, and the driver was alone in it – which means I would have gotten away with it if I actually did it.

What insanity? Why should a police van (that is neither chasing a thief nor on assignment) run a red light? Why should the police be above ordinary traffic laws? By the way, I believe every primary school student is still taught that red means stop, yellow means proceed with caution, and green means drive (pardon my terms). Is it that the driver did not have basic primary education? Or has he forgotten so soon (at least he is below 65)?

Enough about that, and let’s talk something else.

You know how every road in Nigeria is either a state road or a federal road? Anyway,
all state roads are maintained by State road management agencies (in the case of Oyo State – OYSROMA), and all federal roads are maintained by the Federal road management agency (FERMA). Ok, in case you did not know, the headquarters of OYSROMA is situated somewhere on the way to Eleyele.

We sort of had a smooth ride from the Secretariat area, but then some of the roughest patches of road on that area are right in front of the OYSROMA HQ. It’s funny how the state road management agency cannot maintain a road right under its nose. What happens to roads hidden away in long ‘forgotten’ areas?

So, if you live in Ibadan, and you are wondering when they will finally fix your area’s access road, note that OYSROMA cannot maintain roads right in front of it – so your area might be in for a long wait!

I guess that will be all for today in the memories section, I’ll keep the rest until some other time.

Way forward! It still remains that change starts from me and you. If I get the opportunity to chase down an errant driver and tell him not to run a red light in the future, I will take it. Regardless of how he/she takes it, I will have said something in a respectful way, and I will have planted a seed in their mind. It still remains that if all I do is sit in my car and complain, the other person does not get someone to pinge his conscience, and he might do it another time.

It starts from us, and if you are still not sure whether you want to fight the good fight of change, think about this – my time will pass, and your time will pass; but the collective history of our times will remain.

Still thinking? What are you waiting for? Read more here.

If we work hard and take responsibility, we will have a chance for a better life. Barack Obama.

Friday, July 10, 2009


An old cat was in the habit of catching all the mice in the barn.

One day the mice met to talk about the great harm that she was doing them. Each one told of some plan by which to keep out of her way.

“Do as I say,” said an old gray mouse that was thought to be very wise. “Do as I say. Hang a bell to the cat’s neck. Then, when we hear it ring, we shall know that she is coming, and can scamper out of her way.”

“Good! Good!” said all the other mice and one ran to the get the bell.

“Now which of you will hang this bell on the cat’s neck?” said the old gray mouse.

“Not I! Not I!” said all the mice together. And they scampered away to their holes.


Methinks this story deserves a footnote, and I will not hesitate to add it –

And the old cat continued to catch and eat them, and so they never lived to reach full old age.

It is past 10 at night. The lights are off (as ‘usual’), and everybody is trying to catch some sleep. Fortunately for me, my neighbours still have their generator on and the noise is bouncing around my room – making sleep next to impossible, so I grab my computer - and get to work.

While checking through the ‘Book of Virtues’, by William J. Bennett, I found an ancient oath that was taken by Athenian youths at the age of 17, but before we get to it – let’s look at some background.

Can you remember the last time you actually stopped to listen to the national anthem?

Close your eyes for a moment and block out the sounds in your environment? We are
about to sing the national anthem. Do you actually remember the words, or have you allowed the anthem to become a part of the cacophony of the average Nigerian life? Take a mental stroll back in time to those days in school, and sing along with me...

Arise! O compatriots,
Nigeria’s call obey...

Did you just say the words - arise O compatriots? Have you every stopped to wonder what it means to arise? Never mind if you haven’t, we’ll look at it here and now. The word arise is a call to action. To arise means to become active or vocal... With this in view, could we read the above statement as -

Become active or/and vocal! O compatriots,
Nigeria’s call obey...

You know, kids learn early that the people who talk the most often have the least action. You know - back in the days when I would get together with my friends and plan all sorts of trouble, there were these guys who always seemed to have the craziest ideas. With time, I found out that these guys actually had the least action, and talk was all they could do.

Today, it seems as though that part of my history is becoming relevant again, and we seem to have come to a place where we (me included) find it easier to talk than to act. However, that is about to change... See, I understand that talking about something actually requires one kind of courage, but actually doing a thing requires more courage. According to William J. Bennett, real bravery lies in deeds, not words.

Yes, it is easier to talk, easier to complain, easier to whine and wail, easier to talk about solutions in our rooms and among our friends, and in the words of ‘Deolu Akinyemi – engage in intellectual masturbation. But today, as a people - we stand at a junction in our history where we have to carry the battle to the opponent’s camp.

Yes, we will talk, we will blog, and we will write, we will complain, and we will make plans; but more than that, we will DO. In the words of Neil Eskelin, achievement requires more than a vision – it takes courage, resolve and tenacity. I ask today, are you ready to give the fight for change all it takes?

Talking will not make a better Nigeria, whining will not make our streets clean, wailing will not turn on our lights, grumbling will not give us better roads, and complaining will not put the right leaders in office. As written by William Tyler Page in ‘The American’s Creed’, and adapted to the Nigerian context –

I believe in a Nigeria with a government of the people, by the people, and for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; and a nation established upon the principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity.
According to Deolu Akinyemi, what Nigeria needs now is right political leadership and an enlightened followership. However, if you and I refuse to do something about it, the same old cycle will repeat itself; and we will push the responsibility for crossing this Rubicon to the next generation.

We will try, and we will keep trying. In the event that we fail, we will try again and again, until we win the battle for change – and the future gets the chance to grow up in a better environment with more opportunities than we had.

Back to the Athenian Oath (I have replaced city with nation) –

We will never bring disgrace on this our Nation by an act of dishonesty or cowardice.
We will fight for the ideals and Sacred Things of the Nation both alone and with many.
We will revere and obey the Nation’s laws, and will do our best to incite a like reverence and respect in those above us who are prone to annul them or set them at naught.
We will strive increasingly to quicken the public’s sense of civic duty.
Thus in all these ways, we will transmit this Nation, not only not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.

I took this oath yesterday, and by so doing signed up in the future movement. What are you waiting for?

Read more at Deolu’s blog.

Monday, July 06, 2009


“I’m a big believer that Africans are responsible for Africa”. – Barack Obama.

I came across the text of an interview between and the United States President, Mr. Barack Obama, while surfing the net yesterday. It is quite revealing, and if you read between the lines, you just might get a glimpse into Obama’s mind as concerns Africa.

Is it just me (probably an error in perception), or is our government wondering and asking why Obama is visiting Ghana first of all, when Nigeria is still here?

Let’s look at it together.

According to Obama, part of the reason why he is visiting Ghana first of all is that Ghana has conducted peaceful elections and seen peaceful power transitions in recent times. Remember that their last election generated quite close results, but the transition was still relatively uneventful. He also says that President Mills (the new president of Ghana) has shown himself committed to the rule of law, and to the kinds of democratic commitments that ensure stability in a country. He postulates that there is a strong correlation between governance and prosperity. In other words, countries that are well governed are prosperous! Ghana is well governed, that translates into prosperity.

Did I hear someone say Nigeria IS the giant of Africa?

You know, it follows that Obama, and the industrialized world in general, would love to see a lot more Ghana’s in Africa. Someone might argue that Ghana has a smaller population (23,382,848 people as at 2008) than Nigeria, and that we cannot model our political system after theirs. I contend that principles hold everywhere; the political system is no exception. If you plant beans in Nigeria, and you plant beans in Europe – you still get beans; not apples. Ghana might be smaller, but they are currently following principles that are guaranteed to make them into a developed country quite soon; and at the present rate – way before Nigeria. However, that will only continue if we refuse to take our places, and do our thing.

Did I hear someone say Nigeria IS the trigger of the African gun?

You model after the best, don’t you? You don’t want to dress like a beggar, talk like a bus conductor, or smell like a tramp. On the other hand, you might want to dress like Oprah, talk like Steve (Harris), or smell like Jolie. Obama is travelling to Ghana in a bid to “highlight the effective governance that they have in place” (his own words). Simply put, Ghana is being made a model for effective governance and peaceful transition in the African region.

Did I hear someone say Nigeria IS the heart of Africa?

I don’t know if it is a cliché, but Obama claims not to be interested in just foreign aid, but in strengthening our (Africa’s) internal capacity for development.
You know, it’s funny at times how our government keeps whining that Nigerians in Diaspora do not invest their money back home, or that foreign investors do not even begin to consider the Nigerian market. Did you know that every telecomm mast in Nigeria runs on diesel generators? Did you know that Aso Rock is powered by generators? Do you know how many innovative businesses have folded up because of the sky-high cost of powering their operation? The cost of doing business in Nigeria is prohibitive, and for that single reason – investors will think (well over) twice before putting their money into the Nigerian market. According to a recent report, we have lost trillions in recent times due to power problems alone. Did you know that if we can solve our power problems – 50% of our economic problem is solved (according to reputable economic firms)?

Obama said, and I quote – “'re not going to get investment without good governance... If government officials are asking for 10, 15, 25 percent off the top, businesses don't want to invest there...” That is a bull’s eye, direct hit on Nigeria!

A state where you often cannot get contracts except you are willing to compromise and bribe your way is not about to go very far. We will not over-flog this, but it cannot be kept under the rug.

Did you know that in the early 60’s, the GDP of Kenya was higher than that of South Korea? What has happened between then and now? Korea has played smarter – according to Obama, as they have combined foreign investment, integration with the global economy, and commendable export strategies with a great emphasis on EDUCATION for a skilled workforce. They have insisted that foreign investment in their country be accompanied by technology transferring so that home-grown industries can be built and nurtured. What has Kenya been doing in the same period?

Is it not funny how the regulatory bodies in Nigeria are more concerned with raking money off the few foreign investors than with the actual terms of the deal? Or how the negotiators spend all the time discussing their cut and forget about discussing transfer of technology terms?

In the case where the investors finally get the permit (after months of haggling), they have no choice other than to bring Nigerians from Diaspora, or make use of a foreign workforce. Do you think they like to bring foreigners? Did you not know that it costs them less to employ the indigenous workforce? Anyway, they won’t - because on average the indigenous workforce does not meet their standards. Gosh, the government places little emphasis on education! So how do we build a skilled workforce?

Have you heard someone claim that we were under-developed by them Britons? Has Britain been responsible for us in the past 10 years, for example? In the words of Obama – “has the west been responsible for what has happened to Zimbabwe’s economy over the last 15 or 20 years?” I said earlier (NIGERIA, LET’S DO IT!), and I say it again – “the era of dependence on expatriates/foreigners to solve our problems for us is drawing to an end – and that is if it has not come to an end already”.

You know, its funny how we claim to be pacesetters in Africa. What pace are we setting? I wager we are record holders for the maximum number of ballot boxes stolen in an election! I also wager that we have the maximum difference between votes for elected officials and that of their closest competitors!

In closing, he said and I quote – “I think the people of Africa understand that. The problem is that they just haven’t always had the opportunities to organize and voice their opinions in ways that create better results”.

No matter whatever we look like now, together, we can make a great nation. Together, we can make THE heart of Africa, THE giant of Africa. Together, we can oil THE rusty trigger of the African gun. We can do it!

I am taking a stand against electoral fraud in 2011, what about you?

“...and that a younger person growing up in Johannesburg or Lagos or Nairobi or Djibouti can say to themselves: I can stay here in Africa, I can stay in my country and succeed, and through my success, my country and my people will get stronger.” – Barack Obama.

Friday, July 03, 2009

BRAZIL (3) vs USA (2); you (x) vs 2009 (y)!

A single moment can change all. – Christoph Martin Wieland.

It is the UEFA champions league semi-final, FC Barcelona desperately needs an away goal against Chelsea to get a chance to play Manchester United FC in the final match. It is just seconds to ending the match, and the Barca coach is starting to congratulate the Chelsea coach – having lost all hope of playing in the final. However, somewhere on the field – there is a player who desires to play in the final and with seconds to go – he scores the goal that gets them there. FC Barcelona goes on to win the cup.

Fast-forward a few months, and it is the Confederation Cup final match. It is the United States against Brazil, and everybody expects it to be a walk-over for Brazil. 5 minutes into the match, PHCN cuts the power supply to my area (as ‘usual’), the generator refuses to come on and so I retire to my room quite annoyed. At the end of the first half, I call a friend who tells me USA is leading by 2 goals! Wow, I exclaim – that’s great! My neighbours turn on their generator, and so I join them to finish the match. It amazes me how Brazil scores their first goal seconds into the second half, go on to score two more, and are proclaimed cup winners at the end of the match.

From my understanding of Mathematics (thanks to FAYESE Joseph and Dr. Layeni – if you know what I mean), a turning point is a point in space where a curve changes directions.

In English, a turning point is an important moment of change – a time or incident that marks the beginning of a completely new, and usually better, stage in somebody’s life or in the development of something.
You know, it is funny how so many successful people can trace the beginnings of their success to a particular moment in time; one moment that changed everything for them. Ever heard the story of an apple hitting Isaac NEWTON on the head? The whole thing was over in seconds, but that incident gave rise to a better understanding of the relatively murky concept of gravity. Benjamin CARSON tells the story of a particular class where a Mr. Jaeck (his teacher) compliments him for identifying a rock correctly (obsidian), and relates how that particular moment gave him hope for the future.

Turning points always accompany change, and all changes can be traced to a turning point.

Today, we stand in the 2nd half of this year. Dull your senses to your environment for a minute, and imagine for a moment that life is one big football match - you playing against year 2009. The first half is over, the referee insists that there is no half-time break, and so you just swap sides and keep playing. Take your eyes off the field for a second and take an objective look at the scoreboard. What does it look like now? Who is leading? Is it 2-0(2009 vs. you) or 0-2(2009 vs. you)?

Ok, it’s back to reality time! Take another look at the examples above. History shows us that matches CAN be, and HAVE been won in the 2nd half - times without number. So, no matter what the scores are now, there is hope for the future!

Make today a turning point in this year (and maybe for the rest of your life...). Commit yourself to ‘eating that frog’, learning that musical instrument, building that relationship, writing that book, getting that job, etc. Write it down (don’t leave it in your mind) and make it really plain. Read it daily (according to Bill Fitz Patrick - just 1% of the world’s population does this!). Make yourself accountable to someone higher up, or find mentors if necessary. Finally, don’t just think – DO IT!

In the words of Barack Obama – “If we work hard, and take responsibility – we will have a chance for a better life”. I don’t want a GOOD life; I’ll have a GREAT one! What about you?

To change what you get you must change who you are. - Vernon Howard.