Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Be Bold and Be Strong"

Hello my good people! It’s been a while since I have written something here. This has been due to recent load of work activities as well as unavailability of help on the homefront. Hopefully these are being overcome and here comes my new post.

"Be bold, be strong, for the Lord thy God is with you” This is a bible verse written to Joshua to encourage him to go to war against his enemies as he went over Jordan. It wasn’t an encouragement for him to “pray” whether in his house or within the congregation. Of course, it is assumed that he must have had times when he prayed. This is coming on account of some statements made recently by Pastor Adeboye of RCCG in an interview by Christian Purefoy of CNN (or if you would prefer I use the Nigerian way of reporting which will read “a popular pastor with a large congregation which holds meetings along the Lagos Ibadan Expressway”… oh,  come off it). I didn’t watch the programme live but I got so many reactions on peoples facebook profiles to reflect how they felt/perceived those statements. This made me download the interview and listened to it myself. I must confess I am a follower of this great man but I must also quickly admit that I was disappointed with some of the statements as most people were. Of note is this statement


This is a fear based statement rather than faith. He admitted during the interview that the church could do more in terms of participating in the political process stating that RCCG members have been so focused on making it to heaven that they didn’t want to get involved with the earthly politics.My introductory part of this write-up is a bible verse which encouraged courage in the face of adversity/war and enemies, numerous and powerful. It was also to charge him up so he doesn’t get discouraged at anything in himself, any unfitness for such service, as he might think, or at any difficulties he might fear from the people he had the government of, and was to lead on; it was enough that the divine Presence was promised him. In Nigeria, this is equivalent to be a charge to be courageous in the face of bad leadership, in the face of corruption sweeping over the entire nation, in the face of unnecessary deaths (Jos killings, road accidents (usually caused by bad roads with potholes here and there and not some “spirits” as many are made to believe), kidnapping, ritual killings), in the face of high cost of living, in the face of “do or die” politics, in the face of outright lawlessness, in the face of injustice and reckless embezzlement of resources meant for the general populace.

Nigerians have allowed much sentiments (particularly religious) to becloud their reasonings and so I expect many to make comments, call me, email and say to me “ do not to touch his anointed, neither do his prophet harm”. I mean no harm but as a young person aspiring to also do exploits in the vineyard of the Lord, I honestly think young people should be able to assert their stance on what is right, true, honest and virtuous under any circumstance if we hope to get the desired change. We must also resolve that no one must be allowed to scuttle this change, whether young or old, rich or poor, short or tall, dark or fair, literate or illiterate. Much of the poverty in the land is a direct result of all the aforementioned national issues which are also responsible for many of the sicknesses and diseases and deaths which plague our people who run from pillar to post all in a bid to find a cheap way to resolve an ailment which can be treated in a hospital which is equipped with the appropriate equipment and qualified personnels. If we are able to resolve these issues, then we can narrow down on issues which might require “prayer and fasting” and act on them appropriately.

As leaders (whether religious, social, national, group), there is an onus on us all to “watch” what we say and do as many are “watching” us. Our communication/behaviour should not exude negative connotations contrary to what we proclaim as it rubs off on the minds of the people who follow us. One of the reasons why people can’t be mobilized for the desired change is because their hearts have been guarded by fear instead of being charged with such words as have been spoken to Joshua in the days of the Israelites who sought a land flowing with milk and honey right here on this earth. Even olden days people desired a better life. Indeed, the church needs to do more in the "reawakening" process.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist Minister who was involved in a struggle to end racial segregation and discrimination in America. His “I have a dream” speech have paved way today for change in America like it has never been and has birthed many young crusaders for change and progress all over the world. My dream for this nation and continent is that we will rise above the lowest rung on the hierarchy of needs as stipulated by Maslow (need for clean air, water, food, shelter, safety and security) which will cause us to begin to act unselfishly and begin to pursue higher needs and contribute to the betterment of our world. I rest my case and expect to be crucified.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Defining Success

I work in a training centre which trains some groups of young people for some vocational qualifications. As a trainer/assessor, you learn that  it is more useful to evaluate the learner against a standard than against the performance of other learners. This means measuring each candidate’s performance against a set of standards which the discipline requires as a proof of capability/competence to do a particular task or set of activities is a true measure of how successful they complete the requirements of the training.

A discussion I had with some acquaintances recently made me ponder more on what true success really is. One person said the dad could have achieved more in comparison to one of his friends (the dad’s). He wondered why even though the dad worked very hard, he still wasn’t as “successful” as a particular friend of his (the dad’s). He however admitted that growing up was not so bad as he had friends who thought he was the richest, most opportune and luckiest among his peer group. It clearly shows that there are different levels of achievement for different individuals.

The thought struck me afterwards that our definition of success is plainly in terms of how much money is made. But I dare say it is the wrong concept. Years of impoverishment, corruption and dictatorial rule in the country has done this to the psyche of the people. It is as though success now means the “naira” sign on the eyes of the average Nigerian. Everything is seen and grasped from this definition. I am not about to go into the Nigerian’s definition of success by embezzlement, yahoo yahoo, scams, fraud and the likes. My write-up focuses on true success.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, success is defined as a favourable/desirable outcome; the attainment of wealth, fame, eminence. It is the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted. As the example I made above, there is a standard which every candidate is measured against. In real life, this standard is not same for all as we differ in talents, abilities, perseverance levels, tenacity, knowledge, e.t.c.
Supposing A and B are sisters. A could achieve “success” in music while B fail to do likewise in the same career. I would explain it this way: A was born to do music while B looked to A to do music. A demonstrated the natural ability which lacked in B. If B searched deep in herself, probably she could have been born to write or act or something other than music and become very great.

I think true success really come from identifying what one’s natural abilities are and passionately pursuing the dream. The height of the standard depends then on the individual; you can go higher each time like in the game of high jump. Each time you achieve a predetermined height, you up the horizontal bar or you could get accustomed to being a champion on a particular level on the scale not advancing past it. But we all know that true champions of this game raise the bar each time, they never stop trying to beat their own records. A height of 2.00m which won gold in the early 80’s was not sufficient to win against a new record set as 2.09m in the late 80’s. The bar has been raised in this game. This is what I have personally understood success to be. Being able to identify (firstly) the standard in your own ability, field of expertise, and then meet this identified standard and subsequently raise the bar by oneself.

Comparing oneself to a friend, sibling or colleague would only put one at a disadvantaged position. If the person you use as the standard (comparison) for your success is not up to what you deem successful, you may tend to gloat over your little measure of success and retain the “local championship cup” for a long time if the person remains in the position for that length of time. On the other hand, if the person is more “successful”, you may feel as though you are underachieving, unsuccessful, like a failure around such individual (s). You thereby shortchange your own life. Each one of us is unique, talented, gifted, and endowed with takes discovery of self to reveal what this is. Successful (true) beings are those who having identified their uniqueness, pursued vigorously, passionately, fearlessly, uninhibitedly, religiously, abandonedly until they got to some certain level in the performance of it that the whole world now recognized it with them (fame) although the criteria for fame in our present world may not apply to everyone but that does not remove from one's success.  Although it is natural human tendency to evaluate ourselves against others, we ought to endeavour to remind ourselves of what is important to us, learn from others and take cues from people who have had more experience in the field or who have achieved some level of success in our chosen careers or life paths.

Oh yes, there is always an element of luck in life but I prefer to call it “opportunity” rather than the 1 in 6 chance of the dice in a ludo game. A popular saying which I like so much says “opportunity comes to the most prepared” and when it knocks, it doesn’t wait for you to brush your teeth, apply make-up or get a degree but be grabbed by the throat.  Some say “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

The world is replete with people who have made success of what they do. From musicians, sportsmen/women, actors, speakers, broadcasters, comedians, leaders, teachers, engineers, lawyers, doctors e.t.c. Many who have followed the inner compass and arrived at a destination which feels like home or second nature.

Let’s not forget that success does not come cheap and just because someone has a natural ability does not guarantee success. Some elements are required to make it happen namely: hard work, diligence, patience, consistency, devotion, commitment and never forgetting to tune in to the creator’s frequency for divine wisdom, inspiration, and guidance whatever the path. 

Caveat: there is no shortcut on this path. 

I wrap this up with quotes from some great people

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Itinerary (Part 2)

I didn't complete the narration of the events of the 27th of January (oops, I just realized I wrote 26th in my other post), here is the remaining bit.

On getting home at about 2.30pm that day, I headed to an INEC registration center close to my house (I had been there before but couldn’t register then). I met quite a crowd. I observed while I waited. The INEC Registration Officer (RO1) was not around, but her assistant, RO2 was there. She told me the RO1 had gone for lunch and would soon come. I then asked why she wasn’t continuing the registration (she just sat there). She replied that she didn’t want the RO1’s trouble in the sense that she might claim she has mismanaged the laptop or fingerprint reader. They obviously were having the female petty squabbles. I was mad. They obviously don’t know what is at stake. I began talking to her and explaining the importance and urgency of the registration. She later picked up some courage to register one Hajia who was next but the system hung and she had to restart it again. There were two women who were “coordinating” the affairs of registration at that centre as I observed. They obviously were the ruling party agents (one of them later admitted that to me) as they tried to push their candidates forward to be given “numbers” for later registration. What they do is come early enough (diligence) and rally their party supporters to come and register. From what I observed, many of their supporters register before any other. The other woman and a young guy picked up a fight. The two know each other (I gathered from the way they exchanged words) and they were on opposing teams. The guy was a party agent for ACN. They almost resorted to blows. I and some others around managed to quell the duel. The time was about 4.00pm, yet the RO1 was yet to be back from lunch. I asked the two women, what their positions were, INEC officers or what? One answered ehn ehn, em, em yes. I knew I had got to her. She obviously had taken some money and is really doing the money’s worth of the job. The young guy (and 2 others) and myself later got into a discussion about national issues. They clamoured that change was required in the state and the whole nation. (I was excited to hear young people speak like this). They seemed informed of events. One of them is a student of TASUED (Tai Solarin University of Education). He told me that the school fees was N103,000. He seemed to be able to equate this to the performance of the government of the day. We all agreed that the government was not doing the citizens good and a change was urgently required.

At about 4.30pm, the RO1 came. I scolded her for taking so long (I know her) and told her that the task at hand is an urgent and very important one that requires sacrifice from them (the youth corpers). I also tried to explain the impact of her absence to the progress of the registration process. Many willing persons will not be able to register even after the one week extension. After she settled in, she began the registration of the Hajiya who the RO2 could not complete for. The Hajiya had Laali (local tattoo) on her fingers and the palms. It took almost10minutes just to finish with her. The next person started and before long the laptop began to freeze. The RO1 complained to me that whenever it gets hot, it does that. She claimed that if not for the slowness and freezing of the laptop, she would have done more than the number (about 30) for that day. I advised that she raise the laptop a little to allow for air to blow through to the processor which she did with the stamp pack. She told me about a centre where the people had to get an ice pack under the table so that cool air can go up to the machine, I shook my head in disbelief. With the kind of budget INEC had, these were eyesores. Anyway, the deed is done, (for now) we have to do what we can with what we have. Each person took an average of 6mins to complete the process. I got registered at about 5.20pm. Afterwards, I told the people present that I needed to inform them before I took my leave. I first of all told them that I did not belong to any political party and haven’t come to campaign for any but rather to challenge them to nation building. I asked a simple question; “does poverty know a particular race, religion, tribe, culture, state?” to which they responded in the negative. I challenged them to ask questions from informed people before making a choice of who to vote for. I challenged them to look at the current leadership in the state and the nation and decide that they would love for the situation to continue or rather look to change. I made the example of the TASUED student who has to pay that much for just one session. I asked if there were many parents who could afford that. Many shook their heads in response. The young guys were quite happy (I could see their faces) that someone was “giving it” to them. I asked them what the Ankara, bags of rice and money will do to alleviate their conditions on the long run. I tried to explain to them that any politician who seeks to give money or materials is not worthy of their votes and they should take note of it. I told them that they do this for their children and children’s children. I warned them that the effects of collapse of society as a result of bad leadership will be traced to them if they know to do and refuse to make the required sacrifice. I urged them to avoid greed which can only fill their tummy “for a short while” while the long term consequence will bit real hard. I enjoined them to desist from being used as politicians’ tools when indeed the politicians’ children are not available for the violence which we usually witness before, during and after elections. I told them that most of their kids have been placed in safe havens as UK, US, Germany and the much saner societies either for schooling or work. A man suddenly rebutted that we have been struggling with all of these for a long time. I responded quickly that we are the ones who will make the change and until we know this for sure, it won’t happen. I told them that the corrupt politicians will try to preach “impossible” to us so they can continue to repress the common man. I urged them to dare to believe in possibility making example of Lagos. Many nodded their heads in agreement and mumbled some words to support their agreement. I asked them if they had imagined that the transformation in Lagos was possible, many said no. I then explained to them that the issues which seem so complex in Nigeria are because the corrupt leaders want them to remain so. I cited Ghana as an example of an African country which enjoys 24hrs power and told them that it’s not as difficult for PHCN to replicate if only sincere people are in the positions of power. Looking at the category of people who I spoke to, I broke things down to simple things they could relate to and I spoke in Yoruba Language (I speak it well mind you). The two women looked guilty (I could sense their silence and look of guilt as I looked in their directions to emphasize a point). I ended with the words “Olorun a fun wa se” meaning “May God grant us ability” and many said “Amen”. As I made to leave, one of the women called me aside to ask how I can be contacted. I told her I would come around some other time. She would have reasoned to herself that I would make a good instrument for her party, I thought to myself. If only she knew…… I went away feeling justified that I have done something (albeit small) about what I know is the way forward i.e. educate misinformed electorates, encourage, challenge and urge people for a better society, a better nation. I know that the only reason we are still where we currently are is because many still look to doing this kind of thing as shameful, not necessary, taking it too far, not minding one’s own business. I tell you if this nation will become what we wish it would, we won’t mind our own business when it comes to these sort of issues but rather join hands together to mind the business of the nation and put our monies where our mouths are (I’m tired of just talking about the problems) and stop lamenting and repeating the tales of woes which have become everyday occurrence in our society. If the ones who know to do keep quiet, then we have our conscience to bother with in the end.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Itinerary

Hello people, thanks for coming by again. I wish to intimate you of my recent itinerary.

On Thursday, the 26th of January 2011, I got into Lagos. It was my official day off. I made some bank transactions and then went to check a bookstore at Ogba where I had hoped to get my hands on some Wole Soyinka’s hard cover collections. This particular store usually stock literature books and novels as I per chance learnt. I noted the location and came back on this date. Unfortunately, the bookstore had moved. Nobody knew the new location. The other bookstores around there sold only writing materials, textbooks and short story books for schools. I thought to myself “I will manage to get someone who lives close to Yaba or Unilag to help  get some of the books I wanted”. So, I left Ogba and headed towards Berger, my stop being the Federal Road Safety Corp office. The purpose was to renew my driver’s license which had expired last year. I went to the office where I was issued the first one (sometimes in 2007) and met with the receptionist. There were lots of people waiting at the reception area. I told her my intentions. She started to make to go outside for another assignment so she called on a guy outside (he wasn’t dressed in uniform, not sure if he is a road marshal). He said I had to confirm the authenticity of the old license before I can proceed on getting a re-issue. He dashed into the office (past the reception) and came back in less than 3minutes to tell me he has confirmed it. I asked about the procedure for the re-issue. He told me it will cost about N3500 if I did it by myself but N4500 if he did it for me and quickly added that I might be spending about 2hours if I had to do it myself. I am of the new school of thought, a convert of change with a mindset to ‘do’ it myself. I thanked him and told him I would rather do it myself. I went to the office where he directed me to, the payment office. The man requested I bring the fee of N3300. My first reaction was that some Government institutions still receive cash payment at offices and not deposit slips? I saw others who had just paid before me and I knew it was the procedure, so I paid the money and he handed me the receipt as well as the form for re-issue. I later discovered that the receipt had N3040 on it. (The FRSC website states that I only need to pay a prescribed fee of N300, Oh yea!). I wondered where the balance had gone and why it was not reflected on the receipt. One of the men who also came for license (fresh) told me he had asked and was told the paltry sum was for the training. Yeah, we had training. We were made to sit just outside (sheltered) where there were lots of benches and about 35 participants. A young road Marshall gave the lecture about road safety. There was a TV set and a DVD for the training. Impressive, I hear you say; yes I was impressed and curious. I listened attentively. He showed us some Regulatory, Mandatory, Warning and Informative signs and explained what each meant. He also showed some videoed examples to explain further where necessary. There were questions, one of which asked the basis for the absurd fines when some mandatory signs were flouted. He explained that there was no ignorance in law and that the way to deter people from disobeying the regulations was to place fines. Some one else asked about the fines for the warning signs. The road Marshall tried to explain that those signs are very much concerned about the safety of the driver and passengers where possible. The man was insistent as to a fine being placed on these warning signs. I responded (when I saw that the young Marshall was getting exasperated) that the fine was his life. Everyone laughed and that kinda explained it. Or how else will one caution such driver who sees the double  (sharp) bend sign ahead and still speed into it just because there are no Road Marshals to obtain fine from him for not following the sign. If he had an accident, it could be a worse case scenario where he loses his life.

Quite interesting and interactive the class was. After like 40mins, he rounded up and told us we will be doing the eye test next. He had this eye test machine on his table just beside the TV/DVD. He told us we needed to get the eye test form from a lady who makes photocopy just beside the training shed. She sold a photocopy of the form for N10 each. He collected our filled-in license forms and called 5 names at a time for the test. He said the test will cost us N200 each. I presuppose this was a government establishment and all charges would have been billed into the cost of obtaining the license. Each person looked into the equipment with both eyes wide open and read out some numbers aloud. The Road Marshall will then confirm the numbers and mark “passed” on the eye test and license form. On getting to my turn (I was the last on the queue), I read out the numbers and as I paid him the money, I enquired again what the payment was for. He looked at me quizzically and repeated that it was for the eye test and asked me why I asked. I told him I needed to know what I was paying for particularly when in this case I wasn’t issued any receipt. He looked warily at me but I just looked back casually. I didn’t want to create a scene as I knew I was going to write about it and possibly put the write-up on the FRSC site. This is my sword for change and I sure know how to use it. Government has made a procedure for a particular establishment, employed some certain people who are being paid salaries to ensure the procedure works but most of these people aren’t satisfied with the salaries, they go ahead and put charges to services (to make extra money) which would have been  covered in the payment. This is one reason why most government establishments now require you to pay in a designated bank and bring the payment slip to their office.

After we finished with the eye test, we were directed to another office where the part of the form which read “for official use” was completed. I submitted the form in the office and waited (stood) along with the others outside a workshop shed beside the office for about 30mins. The man in the office later came out and called out our names one after the other, signed and stamped. He directed us to another office (bureaucracy of the highest order!). From there, we headed to the final office where our data was registered and a date/time was given to appear for photo capture. I was given a date in March. I spent roughly 2hrs for the whole process. I later saw the guy who wanted to “help” me do the processing. He asked me ‘how far?” and I told him I was through. He nodded and smiled. I smiled back... I felt justified that I as a change agent, I needed to practice what I preached no matter how small/insignificant it might appear to be. I felt good that I did not subscribe to the tout, not because I couldn’t afford to cash-wise but because I deem it as a continuance of the old ways which I rebel against strongly. I realized that most of the issues with touting in this case (and so many other cases) has to do with the average Nigerians accepting “status quo” and just going with the flow. Excuses such as “I don’t have time”, “why bother?”, “That’s how we do it”, “You can’t change things’ are usually given for buying into these old schemes. I met someone who complained about how he had given some money to a female Road Marshall for a driver’s license only to be fined later for being in custody of a fake license. He claimed that when he called the woman on phone, she told him not to worry and that she would come and “help” settle the case. Help again? Jeez, please, freeze (lol). He decided that he would go through the proper channel and get himself the real thing. So, the N7500 which he gave the woman was gone with the winds. He only had to pay N6500 total for a new license and would not have to dodge road marshals for the next 3 yrs. Most people will complain of not having the time to “do the right thing” but will find time for much trivial things which have no direct correlation to society development one bit.

I wish to urge us (particularly the young breed) to desist from patronizing touts and follow the right procedure though it takes us a little more time than we can spare, that way, the touts will also look to do something else when they realize that there is no “market’ for their wares.