Friday, November 26, 2010

Theatre of the Absurd II

Only a few minutes ago, the Federal High Court of Appeal sitting in Oyo State overturned the election of Olagunsoye Oyinlola as the Governor of Osun State, appointing Rauf Aregbesola of the ACN instead.

Well, it is sad that this sort of decision is being made this late - almost at the end of Oyinlola's stolen second tenure as Governor. Seeing as this seems to have become the order of the day, urgent steps must be taken to prevent people from serving up to three years of a term without having being legally elected.

I am of the opinion that justice is still justice, no matter how delayed it might be - but the time has come to adjust the terms under which this particular justice is served. It is outright unfair to only send these imposters out of office, punishments must be meted out to those deserving of it.

INEC officials who went on to make wrong declarations in the face of contrary evidence and people found guilty of complicity in these ignominious happenings must all be made to face the wrath of the law - at least as a means of deterrence.

This spells another good one for the courts, at least. It further shows that the Nigerian Legal System is taking bolder steps to assert its independence of the ruling party - and that is a good one for the populace at large.

Here comes the curtain on the reign of the PDP in Osun State, and it furthermore spells an end to the ambition of Omisore to govern the state - at least he now has to wait four more years. Given that it is almost certain that Aregbesola will do a better job at governing the state than Oyinlola did, and that the PDP will not be as strong in 2014 as it is now - then he just might have to wait longer than that.

Taken together, these court judgments across states in Nigeria spell the end of the second act - in the theatre of the absurd. It is time for Nigeria to move on!

Let's do this, shall we?

Sent via Nokia Email

Thursday, November 11, 2010

How I became afraid of the Nigerian Police Force (Part 2)

This post is continued from here.

"Wake up, my friend, and lock the door!"

By this time, both my friends who were originally in the room were outside - looking morose. I was scared, and confused, because I did not know who those men were or where they were taking my friends. Worse, I could not even muster the courage to ask.

One of the men who 'invaded' my room announced that he felt they should take me too, but the 'boss' had other intentions. I later gathered it was their usual practice to leave someone behind, to ensure that someone on the outside was making informed moves to secure the release of the arrested ones. He made sure I locked the door and detailed one of the other men to ensure that I stayed indoors. I was undecided on whether they were policemen or thieves, but I was starting to tilt towards deciding on the latter.

The instant they left, I made for my laptop and shoved it firmly under a pile of dirty clothes (I felt they were thieves), and then grabbed my Bible and tried to re-assure myself. By now, I felt sure they were thieves and I felt they had taken my roommates for sinister reasons, so I sent text messages to a few friends asking them to pray along. At about 5.30am, I mustered enough courage to venture out of my room and make enquiries. It was then that I found out they were policemen from More (Ife's major police station).

Calls were made, to the Student Union Government, my Aunt in Lagos, girlfriends and parents of the 'arrested' duo from my room - and others from other rooms (funny how no girls were arrested, isn't it?). Moves were made, ensuing in a short trip to More Police Station, where the official at the counter rudely told us she knew nothing about any arrests. This led to a trip to Osogbo, where we met with the Commissioner of Police for Osun State - and were directed to Lagos. The show wrapped up with a trip to Force CID Headquarters, at Alagbon, Lagos.

We found that the 'poor' boys had been charged with *wait for this* - Economic Sabotage with intentions to undermine National Interests!!! I gathered that everyone who had a laptop AND a modem (and had the misfortune to be working on them at that time) were arrested that morning. So, thanks to a few 'Yahoo boyz' - owning a laptop and a modem had suddenly become crimes 'punishable' by 'arrest'. Of course, the arrested fellows were put behind bars - same as other suspected murderers, robbers, etc.

Some parents had already bailed their children, with the least amount paid being N50, 000. The leaders of the Student Union registered their displeasure at the mode of arrest, and ensured that all the arrested students were accounted for.

The most interesting part as far as I was concerned was that I was supposed to be awake, making a blog post (which would have put me in the laptop AND modem category) - so I would have been arrested too, if I wasn't so tired from my earlier physical exertions.

I look back now and I can smile, but I remember that morning - and it was pure terror. I was scared silly, and I remember expecting one of those guys to stick a gun into the room any moment and blow my brains out. I remember writing up a note, telling my parents I loved them and asking that my laptop go to my younger brother. May sound funny, but really - it was THAT bad!

I don't know what you think, but I don't think I was being paranoid. By my standards, how I behaved was perfectly normal - expecting as I was woken from deep sleep by a jab from an assault rifle.

Tonight, I will sleep in a car, or maybe on a table. The reason is simple. From that day, till date, I have not had a good night's sleep in that room. No night spent there is complete without a nightmare where someone comes in and points a rifle at my temple. I would rather sleep on a table or a chair, because I would rather have discomfort than fear.

That brings questions to mind, a lot of them. If I was this affected by being woken by a rifle that probably had no bullets in it, then what happens to children around the world who grow up in war-torn areas? What happens to the minds of kid soldiers, who have managed to kill up to fifteen other humans before they attain the age of fifteen?

I have read that talking about a fear openly can help to overcome it. I will try to sleep in Finetouch again tomorrow. I will try not to be afraid, and I hope that the nightmares will not come back.

Let's heal the world, and make it a better place. Peace.

Its funny how I still have 'block', but I know that if I don't manage to post this article now - I may never get down to posting it. My mind has moved on, and something else is in the works. I'm sorry if the style is inconsistent - but hey, this is pure me!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How I became afraid of the Nigerian Police Force (Part 1)

I have a pathological and oftentimes debilitating fear of the Nigerian Police Force. (Please note that 'Force' has been officially removed from their name, but almost all the badges on the policemen I encounter still bear it). Every time I happen on one of the 'men in black' who are charged with 'protecting the nation' - particularly when they are armed - I go weak at the knees!
I have my fair share of fears, some of which are that: I dislike dogs (with a passion); I get really dizzy in elevators, and I HATE heights. However, in the past three months – the fear of the police has gone from being virtually non-existent to becoming the dominant fear on my horizon.
I do not have to look far to identify the reason for this new fear, and here I will tell you the story of how I became afraid of the Nigerian Police.
A few months back I led prayers at the weekly prayer meeting of the Student Christian Movement – and in my usual style – every fibre of my being was involved. I spent about five hours preparing to speak for forty-five minutes, and at the end of it all I was exhausted. On getting back to Finetouch (where I stay in town) I promptly went to sleep (about 10.30pm) with my shoes on! Yes and there were two other people in the room with me who stayed awake to get some work done on their laptops.
The sleep was peaceful, and uneventful (except for that one fine girl was chasing me in one of my dreams), until about 2.00am when I was woken by a sharp jab to my right leg. I shifted in my sleep – without opening my eyes – in the hope that whoever was responsible for the pain would let off. However, the pain came back, sharper and was accompanied by a gruff voice saying "wake up young man".
I opened my eyes, and almost immediately collapsed in fright – there was a man in mufti with an AK-47 rifle! (Trust me, I know an AK when I see one – I have played enough first-person shooter games!) The jabbing pain on my leg was from him trying to wake me up by MILDLY hitting me with the gun!!!
"You sleep too much; wake up wake up wake up"!!!
Needless to say, I jumped off the bed in one motion – and made for the entrance to the room – (a reflexive but stupid action that I now think was directed at escape).
The man restrained me, forcibly, and asked calmly "where are you going"?

This is real life o, not in any way fictional! I have decided to break it into two parts because I'm getting 'block' and editing the latter part is becoming burdensome... Check back, will ya?)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Musings of an Afraid-To-Graduate Student

For some time now I have been in serious, albeit uncoordinated thought. I have turned to the compass of my word processor in a bid to find direction in the stormy mess that my thoughts have become - and this post is born out of that rush for direction. Forgive me if I come across as disjointed, but feelings like this grab hold of me once in a blue moon.

Service today was a Thanksgiving Service for the Graduating Class of 2010 from my campus fellowship, the Student Christian Movement, and as usual of such services was packed full of songs, celebration and testimonies. It came with mixed feelings for me, for a number of reasons (none of which was that I thought ill of any graduating student o!)

Ok, one of my best friends ever (who did a four year course) is graduating - seemingly leaving me behind. Also, a few other great friends I have made over the past four years are moving on. Yes, it is good to know that everybody is growing up and moving on with their lives, but I still cannot shake the feeling that I am going to miss them really bad!

Yes, and did I mention that (by God's grace) I belong to the Class of 2011 - the next set to graduate from the greatest of Nigerian Universities? Well, I do belong!!!

Well, at the moment the thought that I will (by God's grace) graduate next year does not particularly bring me plenty joy. Rather, it brings a heightened awareness of the amount of work that needs be done in that one year. See, the celebrations and testimonies today only served to drive home one reality - my time here will be up soon!

The largely peaceful and idyllic environment of the Obafemi Awolowo University campus has been a home of sorts to me over the past four years. Here I have made friends, learnt to give and serve, learnt to respect other peoples' opinions and perspectives, learnt to lead, the list could go on forever...

I consider who I have become over these past four years, then look back at the boy that walked haltingly into the Amphitheatre for the Matriculation Ceremony sometimes in November 2006 - and I can only wonder at how far I have come. Indeed, God has been faithful to me.

Yes, I have short-changed myself - and at times I have lived below my full potential. I have gotten great grades and bad ones. I have made money and lost even more. I have lent money out and I have lived in debt. I am not who I want to be - but I have come a long way from what I was.

Now, I am grateful that I chose to study a five year course. I am grateful that I have two semesters to right my wrongs, maximize my potential and raise the bar on myself. Beyond that, I am grateful that I have come to the awareness of how little time I have left at this time. I shudder to think what would happen if I became aware on the day of my own Thanksgiving Service - that simply would be disastrous!

Today, I will take the advice of Paul and I will seek to make the most of every opportunity that comes my way. Yes, I can be and do anything! I can leap over any wall, and run through a troop. Nothing is impossible for me - because I believe!

I believe I can fly... you can fly... WE CAN FLY!!!

I'll see you at the top; just make sure you fly as high as you can!