Sai Ribadu

“Just because everything is different doesn’t mean anything has changed” – Irene Peter

 

You will almost never find an Apple iPod, iPad, Mac or iPhone on sale anywhere at 50% off. The company itself has one or two one day sales every year and if you get anywhere near a 10% discount on their products, consider yourself very fortunate indeed. To the point where retailers are not allowed to discount Apple products the way they would discount other similar products.

Apple as a company says a lot about itself with the way it prices its products. By never discounting its products beyond a certain level, it has over the years not only managed to set its pricing pretty much as it likes but has slowly but surely convinced the consumer that the reason you are paying a premium for its products is because they are in fact superior to everything else out there in the market. It also presents a problem for their competitors because if you make a superior product and price it cheaper than Apple’s, the consumer might view it as inferior. And most annoyingly perhaps, Apple wont reduce its price just because some competitor is threatening to take some of its market share.

There’s a whole area of Strategic Economics dedicated to pricing signals and how a certain company can be labelled as a ‘type’ based on the ‘signals’ it conveys through its pricing.

 

Nigerian politics is not yet at the point where democratic institutions have taken deep root so the ‘type’ of leader we have sends a lot of ‘signals’ down the food chain which in turn gives the government whatever character it is seen to have.

So Shagari was seen to be incompetent and spineless, this was a signal to men like Umaru Dikko and many others in that government that you could pretty much take whatever you wanted from the commonwealth with impunity. Likewise when  a few days to the 2007 elections, President Obasanjo described it as a do or die affair, this was a powerful signal to every politician, especially those in the PDP, that whatever barriers to rigging that were in place previously had now been removed. The result was that we had a shame of an exercise that must never be referred to as an election. 

The examples are endless. After Murtala Mohammed became Head of State, civil servants were said to be reporting at their desks by 7am. Fast forward a few years and our civil servants are more likely to be found watching Africa Magic or hawking all sorts of wares in the office.

The President does not need to patrol every ministry unannounced to make our civil servants sit up at their desks. He only needs to send a strong enough signal, in word and in deed, that things will no longer be as they have and people will sit up.

Similarly, we need leadership that will send a strong signal to the rest of the world, that things are different now so we can attract the quality foreign investment we need along with the skills transfer this would bring. 

But most of all, we need leadership that sends a strong signal to every Nigerian that things have well and truly changed and after so many false starts, our country can finally get going. One man cannot unwind our totally corrupt system but he can at least introduce punishment into the system so that people know that there will consequences for robbing the nation. A system whereby people facing trial for corruption are awarded multi million naira contracts sends out all the wrong signals to the clerk in the ministry. 

Nuhu Ribadu’s candidacy excites me. For one, I know that the ONLY way he can be President is if Nigerians come out in their numbers to vote for him. Perhaps in my lifetime, this will be the first real transfer of power from the people, via a mandate, to a man they have deemed worthy of presiding over the affairs of the nation. He cannot rig his way into office neither can he buy his way to the Presidency.

I am also excited by the fact that this candidacy is getting a lot of its power from those who will own this country tomorrow. Those who will be called next. I need not bore you with the man’s biography or achievements. His Wikipedia page has all the information you need. 

A foolish consistency they say, is the hobgoblin of small minds; the time for doing the same thing ‘one more time’ hoping for a different result is gone now. It is getting boring even. I watched the PDP primaries in 2003 that handed Obasanjo the party’s presidential ticket to contest that year’s elections. It promised so many surprises to the point where I stayed up till very late in the night listening to Tom Ikimi repeat ‘Oba-sanjo’ again and again till I was nearly in a trance. And then a few weeks ago, I watched again as ‘Jonathan’ after ‘Jonathan’ was called out. This time I didn’t wait very long before going to bed.

We are being asked once again to vote for a candidate delivered by the exact same system that has produced his predecessors because after 12 years, this time it will be different. I leave you to imagine what signals will come out of Aso Rock in 4 years if we are to continue with the PDP.

No word has been as much abused as the word ‘change’ especially when it comes to politics and campaign. And because Nigeria cries out for change so obviously, change has become a single door through which a throng of politicians try to run through at the same time whenever elections approach leaving the race not to the best but to the most thuggish. 

But I can make my decision based on those who indeed brought change when they had the chance to do so…anyone can brandish a credit card with change written all over it. At some point, real cash will have to be involved to complete the transaction.

My name is Feyi Fawehinmi and I am 32 years old. If I had been born in the east end of London, in my lifetime I would have seen Canary Wharf rise from the ground from a part of London that was no more than a glorified marsh. And I would have grown up with a vision that no longer sees the obstacles in front of me but the possibilities. 

Or if I had been born in Beijing, I would have watched in my lifetime as my city was completely transformed into one of the most developed cities in China good enough to host the Olympics. And I would have grown up not being overwhelmed by the problems but excited by the possibilities.

I could have been born in Atlanta, Georgia and I would have watched my city transformed by the 1996 Olympics and seen life spring up from empty spaces all over the city turning the city into a world class town. And with that, never again will I look at an empty dark space the same way again. And when Barack Obama says ‘we do big things’, I would nod in understanding.  

As it turns out, I was born in Nigeria so the gutters that have been open for as long as I can remember remain open till today…filled with quite possibly the same stagnant water. I might therefore think that covering gutters (which will in turn reduce mosquitoes that still kill our people) is such a big deal. And when I travel round the country and see open gutters everywhere, I am more likely to be overwhelmed by the scale of the problems that have been left to fester for forever.

The inimitable Pius Adesanmi put it best when he said;

“You are not likely to consider constant electricity in the 21st century a right that must be fought for if your mental universe is such that you want to mount the pulpit on Sunday and give testimony that you went to the lord in prayer and fasting and came against the spirit of darkness and, behold, “NEPA did not take light during the naming ceremony of my child!”

In other words, because I am a Nigerian, my idea of development and advancement is completely warped (not different, warped) and I have come to view certain things as perhaps acceptable. We underestimate how far behind we are from where we should normally be. And we forget that the world is not sitting down somewhere waiting for us to catch up. We cannot continue to flirt with a party that is more likely to produce a Peter Odili as governor than it is to produce a Rotimi Amaechi.

We are all partly to blame for where we find ourselves because as much as we have had the misfortune of being ruled by the most clueless of generals, there have been those moments when an olive has been offered us and we turned it down. We could have perhaps voted for Awolowo instead of Shagari and our story might have been different today. Or maybe not. The important thing to note is that we had a choice then and we have a choice once again now.

A wise man once said that the reason why God gave us Mondays was so we could start again even after a very bad week. 

I am voting Nuhu Ribadu because Nigeria is crying out for positive change and nothing says change like his candidacy…not just a change in the choice of headgear. 

We are at a point in our nation where we are being sold second hand sophistry packaged in a new wrapper. That the presidency is defined by a man who would be nowhere in the reckoning were this to be anywhere near a serious open contest. That a man propelled to the top of the nation’s leadership by a series of events that would make Lemony Snicket green with envy apparentlyhad all the solutions inside of him all along. That a man, just like his late boss, who had never been known to aspire to the highest office in the land is now the best man for the job…presumably after having seen what the job entails and declaring it to be only slightly more difficult than a cakewalk. 

It is important that we pause and listen to the arguments being presented to us. Yours truly is an accountant and I work in a firm where I report to a Director. If something were to happen and my boss couldn’t make it in to the office one day, I could probably cover for him for a couple of days using whatever knowledge I have gleaned from working with him. This does not however automatically make me a director. If my boss were never to return to the office again, the reasonable thing for the company to do would be to call for applications for the vacant role and if I felt confident enough to apply, I would do so like everybody else. I would not expect to be treated differently even though I might have an edge. 

But in Nigeria we have created a system whereby, as long as you are able to reach the Presidency by whatever means, you automatically become the ‘best man for the job’. To sit on the chair is to be. And invariably the country is dragged to your level of competence…usually downwards hardly ever upwards.

Nigerians are once again faced with a choice and we can be fixated on the person sitting on the chair to the detriment of every other person. We only postpone the evil day in that regard.

So when I look at all the candidates running for office, I comfortably come down on the side of Mr Ribadu as the best man for the job. I am not moved by luck or chance. I choose to remain clear eyed when making such a serious decision.

 

It is practically impossible to talk about the candidacy of Nuhu Ribadu without talking about Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos state and ACN chieftain.

Without mincing words, I am no fan of the Asiwaju mainly because I think he lacks the intellectual capacity to come up with a vision as leader of the Yorubas, never mind Nigeria, as he is seen to be these days. 

But unto Asiwaju what is due Asiwaju.

Wole Soyinka once said that ‘records are not kept to assist the weakness of memory but to serve as guides to the future‘. So a quick recap will suffice.

Olusegun Obasanjo got elected in 1999 in an anomalous fashion in that he lost his entire constituency (South West Nigeria) but went on to win the Presidency. In a parliamentary system such as the UK, David Cameron would no longer be Prime Minister if he were to somehow lose his constituency of Witney in Oxfordshire. 

Four years later this anomaly was seen as a weakness for Obasanjo and there was much grumbling directed at him from within the PDP. Invariably having learnt the lessons of politics, he needed to correct this problem. So by hook or crook he needed to ‘deliver’ the South West to the PDP from the AD. This was achieved in various ways from outright rigging to giving false assurances to men like Segun Osoba.

Yes it is true that Lam Adesina was considered to be pretty much useless by the people of Oyo state but today they have Adebayo Alao-Akala in his place, a man who has plumbed the depths so far that the only place left to go is for him to drop out of the earth’s bottom.

Yes it is true that Olusegun Osoba was seen to be disconcertingly haughty by the people of Ogun state but he was replaced with Gbenga Daniel who is never far away from the gravest of allegations ranging from murder to theft.

Yes it is true that Bisi Akande and Adebayo Adefarati were seen to be old and lethargic by the people of Osun and Ondo states respectively but they were replaced by Olagunsoye Oyinlola who never once let anything stand in the way of his enjoyment around the globe and Olusegun Agagu who performed so woefully in Ondo state that he saw fit to hire Mike Tyson, Michael Jackson and such like to aid his re-election in 2007.

Yes it is true that Adeniyi Adebayo in Ekiti state was seen to be a spoilt and privileged daddy’s boy but he was replaced with Ayodele Fayose who spent billions of naira on a shameful poultry project in the state where not ONE single chicken was ever seen. 

In the end, the PDP hostile takeover of the South West in 2003 was a self serving move led by Obasanjo using his patented brand of do or die politics.

Now pause for a moment. And imagine if the PDP had completed a clean sweep and taken Lagos state in that same 2003. The APP/ANPP had also been decimated by the PDP from 9 states down to 2 states.

Today the ACN is in control of 4 states and has more than a good chance of capturing at least 2 more states in April. The ANPP remains stuck on 2 states and is likely to remain at that after the coming election.

There is therefore no doubt that the ACN is the #1 opposition party in Nigeria today. And it would never have been possible if the Asiwaju didn’t somehow stand firm in 2003 to repel the PDP juggernaut. The only hope we would have an opposition worth the name today would be us waiting for the PDP to implode and spin off a new arm. 

Then there is of course the question of legacy. No amount of garnishing can turn a plate of frog meat into something palatable that one would want to eat. However if push came to shove, one would at least make a choice in favour of the frog with an egg inside it….so says the Yoruba proverb.

Obasanjo and Tinubu were motivated by the same selfishness when they were picking their successors in 2007 but it is hard not to imagine that Babatunde Fashola is in fact the frog with an egg inside it when placed side by side with the late Umaru Yar’Adua.

The ACN as the main opposition party in Nigeria today presents the most realistic vehicle for Nuhu Ribadu to achieve his aim of change. Politics always comes in packages; It is not a christmas hamper where you can take what you want out of the basket and abandon the rest. This is the reason why Barack Obama rose out of the same party in the same state of Illinois as the hopelessly corrupt  Governor Rod Blagojevich.

To repeat; this is not a defence of the Asiwaju…he comes with baggage. But the office of the Nigerian president does not tolerate a godfather for too long and I am confident that Mr Ribadu will be his own man and set the agenda as President. Because I know he at least stands for something. 

 

I believe a new Nigeria is possible. And on April 9th I will vote for Nuhu Ribadu as the man best able to deliver the vision of Nigeria I have when I close my eyes and imagine the possibilities. 

But I will also abide by the choice of the Nigerian people. Whoever wins will be recognised as my President. And not a drop of any Nigerian’s blood will be shed in the name of any politician, Ribadu included. And I am confident that our votes will count. And the people’s voices will be heard.

But I do not love any one candidate more than I love Nigeria to the point where I believe he has to win or nothing else. Presidents will come and go but Nigeria will endure. I will vote my conscience and I will accept the result.

I am not afraid.

 

FF

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Word On The Streets III

My usual random ramblings after every trip I make to Nigeria. Here goes nothing…

1. Murtala Mohammed Airport looked really clean when we arrived. I honestly cannot recall seeing the place that clean any of the last few times I have been to Nigeria.

But then again, we got in at 5.30am and we were probably the first flight to land that morning so….

2. I started asking people if they had registered to vote as soon as I got my bag off the conveyor belt. In all I must have asked around 30 people or thereabouts. I’d say about 60% of those had already registered while ALL of the others said they were definitely going to register. I didn’t encounter anyone who was apathetic to the point of saying they were not going to register at all.

At the airport, a  customs officer I asked if she had registered almost took it personal with the way she answered ‘of course!’. I found this to be an incredibly encouraging sign.

The one down side was the amount of ignorance of the whole process I noticed in a couple of people I spoke to. I spoke to the sales girls at a shop in Ilupeju and they didn’t seem to understand why they should register near their houses as opposed to where they work.

The simple fact that there would be no movement on election day and you can only vote where you are registered was seemingly lost on them. Anyway, their voter education only cost me 3 minutes.

It’s one thing to be disenfranchised by technology, logistics, rigging or violence…but we cant rule out the fact that quite a few people unwittingly disenfranchise themselves through ignorance or careless mistakes.

Each one ought to teach one…so please do so wherever you find such people who are genuinely ignorant of the process. If you cant be bothered, remember they are able to cast a vote that may drag you and Nigeria backwards later. We are all in this together.

3. At the start of 2010 I made a conscious decision to be at least 51% bullish on Nigeria at all times…to be more positive than negative about the country at any given point in time. As you can imagine this is a pretty tough one as the country can really test your resolve on most days.

So I am on the plane back to London and I decide to go to the bathroom. While waiting for the bathroom to become available, I listen in on the conversation of 3 men standing close to me. One particular chap called Habeeb was in control of the gist and he reeled out one depressing tale about Nigeria after the other.

To hear him tell it, Nigeria was pretty much a hopeless basket case on which he had given up. And he was encouraging the other 2 guys to do so as well. His stories sounded genuinely harrowing…how the bakery he inherited from his father had literarily been run into the ground by the workers etc. He also seemed a very smart man. I will admit that at one point I asked myself; ‘what are you doing? You got on a plane to Nigeria just to go and register to vote…this very same Nigeria you are hearing about??

So I use the bathroom and after I am done, I decide to hang around pretending to stretch my legs. Their conversation soon shifted to talk of a revolution in Nigeria and I took that as my cue to wade in.

I tell them how waiting for a revolution is no more than an exercise in navel gazing. Even the recent Tunisian example remains inconclusive and it remains to be seen where that country finds itself next. I also tell them nothing says we cant have a revolution via the ballot box.

Ultimately my aim was never to win an argument with men who were all evidently much older than me but to sow a seed of ‘doubt’ in their minds….to make them, even if for a split second only, doubt the picture of doom and gloom they were painting for the country.

I don’t know if I succeeded but I know we were talking for close to 2 hours until one very rude Arik Air hostess came to ask us to leave as if we were shortening the air ration around the place…or something like that.

I am no Bible basher but a particular Bible verse comes to mind here; 2 Corinthians 10 verse 5….I have taken a line from The Message version

We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies

Patriot games are never easy.

4. That a lot of people now have 2 generators (or more) is of course no longer news. What I found interesting is that there is a strong economic argument for having a standard generator and one small ‘beta pass’. My friend ran me through the rough numbers and it made a lot of sense running two generators based on demand at different times during the day. He even had both generators in matching yellow colours

Media_httpsegolenetyp_zdakz

Look, no point kidding ourselves here, there is no electricity in Nigeria. Simple as. You cannot run a business factoring in x amount of electricity to be supplied by PHCN. The only thing you can seemingly predict is how much you would spend on diesel/petrol in a week.

This thing has crept up on us to the point where it is now normal. But joy cometh in the morning…or in April…or in 2012…or whenever.

5. Most people will tell you that having house helps is now no more than a necessary evil. Every time I hear stuff that truly scares me both as a parent and as a Nigerian.

So this friend of a friend went out and left her daughter with the house help as per normal. I don’t know what had transpired before or even during the time the house help was with with the child, but 20 minutes later the mother apparently returned home to find that the child’s upper body clothing all wet while the trousers were dry.

Just so I don’t mix up the story, let me jump to the end; the child died. From drowning or drinking too much water. They concluded that the house help had dangled the child upside in a drum of water…hence the wet upper clothing only.

Last year in June when I was last in Nigeria, I went with a couple of friends to some chap’s house in Victoria Island. As soon as we got in I noticed the man’s house help was a Filipino lady and I immediately began to SMH thinking this was the latest Nigerian ‘efizi’.

Now I am not so sure its just ‘efizi’. Maybe people who can afford it feel much safer that way.

6. I didn’t get to visit the new Shoprite in Surulere the last time I was in town, so I did this time.

While we were trying to park in the multi-storey car park, I looked at the ramp leading to the other car park floors and I did a double take. I have used multi-storey car parks all over this country and in America, of a truth I tell you, I have never seen anything like this particular ramp before.

The ramp was, without exaggerating, set at almost a 35 degree angle! The shopping centre is still relatively new so I guess the car park hasn’t really seen the kind of usage it was designed for but I fail to see how there wont be accidents on those ramps. You can just see a car sliding backwards as it tries to climb the ramp and crashing into the car behind it.

When you think that it was first designed, then the cement was mixed, then they arranged the bricks,  and they watched it dry…and no one said ‘this thing doesn’t look right’…you begin to wonder.

More importantly, the idea of multi-storey car parks raises other questions about how much innovation is going on in Nigeria. Only a few years ago, such car parks were a novelty. Yet we have been building multi-storey buildings for a while. If I remember correctly, Mega Plaza car park was the first purpose built multi-storey car park.

Today, the glaring lack of space in Lagos has now forced people into doing what we should have been doing a very long time ago.

I was talking to some friends and someone said Nigeria has only just started the journey towards development. Someone interrupted and said, actually we are still looking for the keys, never mind actually getting in the car and starting the journey.

What is not in doubt is that almost anything innovative and useful will be a massive hit in Nigeria these days. So if you have a great idea, don’t wait for it to become obvious and then impossible. Start to work on it yesterday…look for help when you are stuck.

The only evidence you need that the country needs to think of new ways of doing things is to look around you.

7. Goodluck/Sambo billboards are everywhere. They are all over the airport and are impossible to miss as you drive around town. They seem to be the only ones advertising. 

Its also an interesting part of our politics that you will never see an incumbent asking for donations from members of the public. We have subconsciously accepted that once a candidate is in office, he should be able to fund his own re-election campaign from the treasury.

So while Dele Momodu and Nuhu Ribadu ask members of the public to donate to their campaigns to get them going, you wont find any donation tab or request on the Goodluck/Sambo website.

A small point to note but it illustrates the huge challenge faced by any candidate trying to unseat an incumbent in Nigeria.

So if you are like me and you want to see change in Nigeria, be considerate when you criticise a challenger who is trying to unseat an incumbent.

But more importantly, we need to get into the habit of donating money to candidates we believe in.

Nigerians (Christians) don’t have a problem ‘sowing seeds’ in church or donating towards the purchase of a new car or house or suit for their Pastor. The reality is that after you have done all that, by and large the problems of Nigeria still remain.

Its not out of place that we learn to ‘sow seeds’ into the campaigns of candidates we believe in. The best candidates are usually the ones who need the most money…look for them, they are there. They might not be in the PDP or the ACN, but they are there working as hard as they can under very difficult circumstances.

Let me introduce to you one such candidate I am backing (if you haven’t met him). His name is Malcolm Fabiyi and he’s running for the Senate from Abuja. You can download his manifesto here and see what he’s all about. And if you feel comfortable enough with what you have seen, contact them to make a donation.

P.S Femi Pedro has this huge billboard ontop of a building on Ikorodu road. Shame really.

8. So I am now a registered voter. I have selected the candidate I am voting for (will gist you more on that shortly) and I will be returning to vote in April and most importantly I will protect my vote.

I do not know what the Nigerian people will say via the ballot box in April. But I do know that they are not dumb as our politicians have made it look like in past elections. So even if the people are talking rubbish, I am confident that their voices will be heard.

Maybe then, we can begin to make the connection between the way we vote and the state of the nation and then rectify it at the next opportunity we get via the ballot box.

Maybe.

 

I was in and out of Lagos like Jack Bauer. If I didn’t get in touch, I apologise. I will make it up in a couple of months time.

God bless Nigeria

 

FF