Nelson Mandela’s Musical Legacy

English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gaute...

English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 13 May 1998 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How will I remember Nelson Mandela? It will be in the music that was made about him and his role in the struggle to smash apartheid. There are many reasons why. As a child of the 80s in Nigeria, we didn’t have political programmes dedicated to the struggle – it would have been hard and perhaps a bit hypocritical, seeing as we were under the thumb of the military for the greater part of 1980-1990.  There was no CNN/cable television for us until the mid to late 90s, no internet, no news breaking globally in an instant. No. My initial education on South Africa, apartheid and Nelson Mandela was from the music of the day.

I remember Majek Fashek’s Free Mandela, from his album I and I Experience. The song spoke of the man who had been in jail for 27 years, who “left his wife and his children for the sake of Africa”. The song also reminded us that Nigeria had been independent had been independent for 29 years but Nigerians were still dependent. Majek begged Margaret Thatcher, George Bush and Frederik De Klerk to free Mandela; it begged Babangida to free Nigeria and it begged colonial masters to free Africa. During the Fela-rites-of-passage years that all Nigerian men in universities go through, I would later hear Fela Anikulapo-Kuti point out the absurdity in Thatcher and Reagan, who he said were friends of Pieta Botha, go to the United Nations to press for a charter on human rights.

I remember Ras Kimono’s Kill Apartheid. He sang, “Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Gorbachev and Pieta Botha/All of them come and join together/They want to be the blacks’ masters/So, kill apartheid, we have to kill apartheid…” I forget the musician’s name now, but I also remember “The whole world is saying: stop this apartheid; Africans are saying free Nelson Mandela! Oh yes! Liberate South Africa Now!

I remember Paul Simon’s Graceland  concert, with which he launched his African-flavoured album of the same name. Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba (God rest her soul too) did a duet – Bring back Nelson Mandela, brick him back home to Soweto, I want to see him walking down the streets of South Africa TOMORROW! Bring back Nelson Mandela, bring him back home to Soweto, I want to see him walking hand in hand with Winnie Mandela…” Apart from Masekela’s hypnotic trumpeting, there was something about that simple plea that plucked at my young heart.

I remember Onyeka Onwenu’s tribute to Winnie Mandela. “Winnie Mandela, sould of a nation, crying to be free…they can take away your man, take away your happiness, but they can’t take away your right to be free…”. I remember Nel Oliver, who resurfaced recently with the wedding hit “Baby Girl”, do a song on apartheid as well. “We must refuse segregation, we are born to live together. Open your hearts and sing in harmony, Apartheid in South Africa…” [Update: I’ve since learnt that the song was called “Upheaval”. I also found the video…]

There were so many more songs celebrating Madiba and his struggle. I’m sure I will be reminded of a few. I remember being in boarding school the day he was released from prison. We all gathered round the TV they’d brought into the common room just for the occasion. I suspect that the gravity, the significance, of the occasion was lost on the prepubescent gathering. For me, it was that this man I’d heard so many songs about was finally free.

Rest in peace, Madiba.

NB.

I’ve been told that it was sacrilegious to omit Asimbonanga by Johnny Clegg. I hope the powers that be will forgive me for this oversight, as I’ve sought to correct my error by embedding a keeper. Madiba joins Clegg on stage at this performance of Asimbonanga. Enjoy.

All in One Place:The Limericks of November

The Victorious Golden Eaglets

GEJ’s brought the rub of the green

The best footie days since my teens

MRIs or not

Three great goals, One shot

Our sorrows, tonight, they are lean

 

The Sacked, Unambitious $1m Ghanaian Minister

Ghana must go, so they went

And the last three decades have been spent

In doing stuff right

And fighting the fight

Of not letting government be bent.

 

Please stop referencing Ghana

And all Dramani’s Drama

While you eulogise

Our government denies

Being a republic of banana

 

Stella “Escapes”  Attack #Stellagate

She purchased those cars, not in jest

And also a bulletproof vest

The House’s report

Is just writing sport

Now sympathy trumps an arrest

 

Turned out the Beamer’s weren’t costly

And we were outraged unjustly

To questions about

Corruptional doubt

Our Prez has replied “robustly”

 

Birthday Blues

Twas Ol’Goody’s day yesterday

50yrs Oswald popped JFK

From school with no shoes

To buckets of booze

No surprise he was poorly today.

 

Christopher Kolade Resigned

Hear Chrissy has chosen to leave

Untainted, he’d have us believe

But all that is sure

SURE-P wasn’t more

Than an ace up ol’GEJs sleeve.

 

ASUU Wants Strike Pay

Did nothing for four months and one

It seemed like the striking was done

But they want to show

Much more than we know

The pen is a BROS to the gun.

Legislature Defections: Sitting Pretty or “Fidihe”?

Since the APC announced its absorption of the breakaway faction of the People’s Democratic Party – the so called “New PDP” – questions have been raised as to whether defecting lawmakers must now vacate their seats in the various legislative houses. This ordinarily should be the direction that the moral compasses of the new members of the APC should point to. If you asked your constituency to vote for you based on your membership of a party and then leave the party after your election, you should ask for their trust again.

However, the issue is legal and not moral. And the principal actors also realise this. In its statement after the defection, the PDP, through its National Public Secretary, Olisa Metuh, the PDP said the governors and legislators were free to leave the party, concluding with the following reiteration:

“We reiterate that the position of the law is very clear – that there is no factions whatsoever (sic) in the PDP.”

In his own press release, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka, the NPDP’s National Publicity Secretary, apparently in response to the nuanced “de-factionalisation” of the PDP, declared that the seats of defecting lawmakers were safe, citing constitutional and judicial authorities for his position.

Sections 68(1)(g) and 109 (1)(g), in virtually identical wording state that

A member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if – (g) being a person whose election to the House of Assembly was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected: Provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored.

What this means, in plainer English, is that a lawmaker who switches to another party before the next elections will not lose his seat if the switch is as a result of a division (or breaking into factions) in his original party, or his original party merges with another.

The New PDP, as a result of concerted resistant from the Old/Real (?) PDP, was not registered as a political party by the Independent National Electoral Commission. There is also a subsisting court ruling restraining the New PDP from using the PDP’s logo or parading itself or its members as PDP. Does this mean, as Metuh has suggested, that there are no factions within the PDP? A court would probably need to rule on the point but I would suggest that common sense would recognise  that there has, in fact, been a split within the PDP since the machinations at its last National Convention.

Eze Chukwuemeka, in his press release, also cited a Supreme Court judgment from 1983 which ought to give the new members of the APC some comfort. In FEDECO vs Goni, Aniagolu, JSC (as he then was) said the following, on “cross-carpeting” and Section 64(1)(g) – equivalent of current 68(1)(g) – of the 1979 Constitution:

“The mischief which the framers of the Constitution wanted to avoid was carpet-crossing which, from our constitutional history, in the not distant past, has bedevilled the political morality of this country. They had however to allow for a situation where a political party, by reason of internal squabbles, had split into one or more factions. A split or division could arise without any fault of the members of a political party, resulting in a member rightly or wrongly, finding himself in a minority group which may not be big enough, or strong enough, to satisfy the recognition, as a separate political party, of the Federal Electoral Commission. For such a member not to be allowed to join another political party with his faction may be to place him in a position where his right to contest for political office will be lost. Such a situation is entirely different from the fraudulent and malevolent practice of cross-carpeting politicians of yester years who, for financial consideration or otherwise, crossed from one political party to another, without qualms and with out conscience. Such a practice had to be discouraged by the framers of our Constitution if political public morality of our country was to be preserved.”

This dictum is instructive, as it clearly recognises that a faction may exist even if INEC (then FEDECO) did not register the faction as a separate political party. Taken with the fact that the Constitution permits a departed factionalised legislator to retain his seat, I think the APC can safely put its feet up, at least until the next elections.

Interestingly, it appears one can switch parties whenever one likes and for any reason, without any consequence in the US Congress. See here and here.

SIDEBAR

1. As we are on the subject of elections, I recently stumbled upon some provisions of the Electoral Act of 2010 which bear some significance to the ongoing(?) elections in Anambra State.

Section 102 states as follows:

“Any candidate, person or association who engages in campaigning or broadcasting based on religious, tribal, or sectional reason for the purpose of promoting or opposing a particular political party or the election of a particular candidate, is guilty of an offence under this Act and on conviction shall be liable to a maximum fine of N1,000,000 or imprisonment for twelve months or to both.”

Juxtapose this with the following statement credited to Chief Arthur Eze

“That short man called Ngige, we gave him power and he went and joined Awolowo’s people; the people that killed the Igbo.”

And the following statement credited to Chief Dennis Agumba

“It was Chris Nwabueze Ngige that described the deported Igbos as destitute, just to please his godfathers from Lagos, who are funding his governorship campaign.”

Are these two men guilty of electoral offences?

2. The Parties who insist that they will not take part in the supplementary elections in Anambra State need to know (they probably do anyway) that boycotting would be an empty gesture.

“An election tribunal or court shall not under any circumstance declare any person a winner at an election in which such a person has not fully participated in all the stages of the said election.” – Section 141

If you’re within striking distance of Willie Obiano but refuse to take part in the supplementary elections, the court cannot declare you winner even if everything goes your way during the trial.

The APC-nPDP “Merger”: 5 Things

Although it’s a bit of a misnomer, as the “New PDP” neither ever acquired a distinct corporate personality nor was recognised as an actual political party, but a “merger” with the All Progressives Congress (APC) was announced today. As the news spread on Twitter, a hitherto latent pragmatism also spread with it.  Suspicions about the leanings and probity credentials of the APC leaders gave way to acceptance that Nigeria isn’t yet ripe enough to be led by a party of saints. There was palpable excitement at the notion that a party that didn’t exist a year ago now has 18 governors (and numerous federal legislators) in its fold. What are the implications of this merger, though? Here are a few naïve thoughts from my de-tribalised, de-politicised, de-everythinged mind

1. An Epic Clash Awaits in 2014/15

Forget for a second, if you will, about the potential presidential candidates. Lick your chomps instead at the prospect of the mother of all muscle-flexing between Federal and State might. Incumbents typically do not lose elections in Africa. In Nigeria, the ruling PDP’s candidate has won every presidential election since our then (and still?) nascent democracy was born in 1999. The PDP has wielded control over the fabled “machinery” of elections since then. However, it was overwhelmingly the largest party in the past and its majority has now been halved. Federal Machinery is no more than an agglutination of Municipal Machineries. With Municipal (i.e. State) Machinery no longer aligned with Federal purpose the outcome may remain unknown for now, but it is sure that the jostling will be the busiest, rowdiest, most legendary election campaign (and spending, let’s be honest) that us 45’s and under have ever seen.

2. Shine Ya Eye

My twitter bio has been updated, to indicate my availability to provide electioneering services that cater to the vanities of elite Nigeria. I am not a ballot-stuffer and I have never brandished a weapon against a fellow human in all my life. To be honest, I want nothing to do with that side of our peculiar electoral process. However, I can do and coordinate the fancy stuff that we, the electoral minority, like. After all, a credible campaign consists of serving the illiterate masses empty platitudes and attempting to beguile the elite with concrete policy. If the epic spending predicted in point 1 above proves true, then there is going to be a big “mahkate” for consultants. Get your consultancy on.

3. Jagabanism is Next to Progressivenessism

Slate the Jagaban Borgu all you like but dismiss him at your own peril. This dismissiveness I speak of is not just in the context of the opposition parties (as the political calculations suggest a South-Westerner is unlikely to be a popular presidential candidate for another 20 years or so) but even with the APC aficionados. Sure, he is building a family dynasty, with the good lady senator senating and the Iyaloja General doing whatever it is Iyalojas do, but perhaps the Tinubus will be the Kennedys or the Bushes of Yorubaland – with due apologies to FFK. With the opinion most people express about him online, I think, given his astute succession planning in Lagos State, it is either he gets an unduly bad rap or Governor Fashola simply is not the saint we imagine him to be. Lagos has progressed unquestionably under their watch however, so it is clear that the man knows a thing or two about developmental spending.

4. Dry Bones Will Live Again

It was said recently, citing sources from within the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, that the reason for its poor record of enforcement recently was  a lack of funds. No money to chase stealers of money; the sad irony.  We can rest assured, however, that this hitherto missing money or a good Executive substitute for it will be delivered to the EFCC and they will begin to pursue their statutory mandate with renewed vigour and unprecedented fervour. That the scope of their sights is set on members of the burgeoning APC will be a minor footnote in the quest to kick corruption out of government. Never mind the fact that the N255m armoured car scandal refuses to go away, even with the feeble Wag-The-Dog tactics of an attack on an empty ministerial car by unknown gunmen. But I digress.

5. Plus Ca Change…

Asari Dokubo and co will no doubt, in the wake of the moves to unseat their “Jesus Christ on earth”, remind us that it is Niger Delta oil that is running through all our veins and that removing the incumbent president would be akin to ripping each of our hearts out of our bodies. It will be of no consequence, should this president be removed by a popular vote. It is “their turn”. Then, as elections draw closer, and the president begins to lie down before men of God for prayers, religion will also join tribalism as an honoured guest at the electoral feast. General Buhari, did not lie prostrate before the archbishop of Canterbury during his recent visit, so GEJ is well ahead in the picture polls. Pictures from the Jerusalem walkabout will resurface and Buhari will have to defend why he contracted the Mossad to abduct Umaru Dikko. Allegedly. Then the president will reduce the barriers for accessing the Nollywood World Bank Fund. So those ones will come out and act and sing for him again. Then North will be awash with “Sai Buhari” posters. Then the polity will be unbelievably heated up, in spite of the tepid warnings from the presidency…

All in One Place: Limericks Of October

#STELLAGATE

She ended her evidence, gleeful

Knowing that it was deceitful

As nothing that’s wrong

Is righted for long

By simply adding “Do the needful”.

 

Today we are needful of grace

A waiver to hold us in place

When she disapproved

Requests with “approved”

‘Twas needful to throw out her case.

 

Ah Cosmas, what manner of goof?

You who were genteelly aloof?

Your attitude’s lax

To evasion of tax

Your bullshit is not bullet-proof!

 

Wasn’t the best of responses

He told us,now look here you dunces

The cars are for guests

That do all the tests

And give all our planes second chances

 

The ministry gave Cos the nod

To buy a Bavarian pod

When you seek reform

It must be the norm

To defend against Acts of God

 

The question that’s now on the table-

Is it true or is it a fable

That aircraft must drop

Accidents won’t stop

It’s really all inevitable?

 

GEJ’S PILGRIMAGE TO ISRAEL

Our president’s off to pay homage

To Jesus; return in His image

We pray that our lives

Will tranfigurise

On his return from the pilgrimage

 

The people unsheathed their talons

He committee-cised, played along

But when SHE arrived

“Ah, Baruch” he cried

Embraced her with a “Shalom!”

 

ASUU STRIKE

Ol’ Labby, Goodluck’s head of lament

Has had yet another “oops” moment

The govt signed

Labaran opined

Without understanding th’agreement

 

So Johnny, when last on the air

Said ASUU was being unfair

Their strike isn’t right

They misuse their might

Unlike them, the govt’s sincere.

 

SPORT

The Manchester United

Now run by Scot un-Knighted

Is down in a rut

A stagnancy glut

And #Arsenal fans are delighted!

 

Sachin, Sachin Tendulkar

For him we down sambucca

Now he has retired

The world’s most admired

Three cheers, we doff hats to you sir!

 

SHOWBIZ

Hear Bruce & Kris split up today

Two decades, two years, put away

We keep up no more

Our sympathies pour

To requests to butt out, we say “K”.

 

OTHER POLITICIANS

The “Market-Woman General”

The question becomes seminal

Pray, what does she do?

I don’t know, do you?

And yet they had a carnival.

 

Ah, Fani, what a fella

His tweet last night was hella

Deziani’s got poise

Okonjo rules boys

But oh, what he said about Stella!

 

At Bukky’s some poor paupers died

11 or “just” 4 (who lied?)

But no one will pay

As we learnt today

DPO’s been ordered to slide.

 

PSYCHOPHANCY

In times of acute tribalism

Days of debased “parapoism”

We all have one hope

Let’s bathe with the soap

Of scented Akpabioism

 

It’s said to be just like Awoism,

Zikism and Nkrumanism

Zik, Kwame we know

But where will we go

To find the roots of Akpabioism?

 

We need to ditch this prism

Through which we’ve caused our schism

Our health,roads & schools

Our rage at “those fools”

Just needs patriotism

 

 

 

All in One Place: The Limericks of September

NIGERIA – CURRENT AFFAIRS

Our problem is not electric

Though without it, things are hectic

Those things that disturb

Will no more perturb

Once we go biometric

 

We’re lucky to still be alive

Still huffing to try to survive

This week just went past

Dark shadows were cast

As BH snuffed three forty-five

 

He said it with little compunction

It’s proof of our abject dysfunction

It wasn’t a joke

Our prez took a poke

“Nigerians celebrate corruption”

 

So, twitter mirrors life

With all its toils and strife

As we harp on marriage

A Gusau entourage

Of 8,000 want to be wifed

 

They gathered from far for Aliko

Days after the rip from Atiku

To honour the man

Their oil masterplan

No plans of their own, brains like Tico

 

Is Shekau dead or alive?

Does he have 4 lifetimes or 5?

JTF say none

His lifetimes are done

But man, his last video was live.

 

So Jonny the prez rang the bell

A big deal for him, we can tell

But For Those Who Have Died

Whose Bodies Were Fried

The Gong Was, alas, their Death knell

 

Old Goody is off to the Apple

In posse of 600 people

Or 8 score and 10

It’s beyond our ken

The number is simply not simple

 

All over our people are dying

The bombers our fears multiplying

The kill in God’s name

Or so they proclaim

And yet, His Agape defying.

 

CHARLES TAYLOR’S APPEAL

Charles Taylor is not feeling well

He’s finished, far as he can tell

No freedom no more

A 1yr term for

Each diamond to Naomi Campbell

 

Ol’Charlie appealed at The Hague

Convicted on grounds that were vague

Least that’s what he held

His appeal was quelled

A 50-year Term is his plague

 

DAVID “THE HEAVYWEIST BOXER” HAYE

Haye was to box up with Fury

No longer, he’s got an injury

But knowing that guy

He cut up his eye

So he could vacay to Missouri

 

THE ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Our friend Paul Di Canio got canned

For reasons we all understand

A sole point in five

Machismo alive

It’s time for a gaffer more bland.

 

DiCanio of Wear has been sacked

Tho clearly no Chutzpah was lacked

They said he was mad

Ciao bella,good lad

As only 1 point has been racked

 

Moyes has aged since May

His white hair’s turning grey

Though used to the boos

Can’t walk in those shoes

Can’t make his players play.

 

Manuel and David Moyes

Must worry’bout their boys

And all of the fans

Online and in stands

There, making angry noise

 

The scousers today, game was bent

Lost to the team from the Solent

But Suarez is back

Next week in attack

They must not lose hope or relent

 

José & this matter with Mata

The former does not like the latter

A pity, because

Last season he was

Blues’ best,that’s the truth I don’t flatter

 

Le Prof has finally spent

On class, and not just on rent

From Madrid a thrill

They gave us Özil

To thrive, from whence Bale went.

 

Did you see the fantasy sale

That’s making all football heads wail

The priciest man

In Galactico land

Is Gareth (not Christian) Bale

 

POPE FRANCIS

Habemus a Papam so liberal

A real right wing champion & General

He prays for the gays

No judging, he says

There’s grace for all, urban & rural

 

JAMES AND FK

From London, more Efe bravado

Though he’s still incommunicado

His homes will be sealed

For it’s been revealed

He owns a whole third of Oando

 

The placid interval was short

His mind was to become a fort

But as she denies

Alleges he lies

He’s asked her to meet him in court.

 

He’s had an epiphany

Result of his infamy

Loving or lost

Booming or bust

Discretion’s best says Fani

The Benevolent Dictator Theory

Idi Amin

Idi Amin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When people gather to discuss the future of Nigeria, the consensus is usually 2-pronged. The first is that the brand of democracy we have now clearly is not working. The second is that we are probably screwed if we don’t address our fundamental deficiencies. The third (yes, I know I said two) is that we need a benevolent dictator to set us right.

The mind that proposes a benevolent dictator has probably considered that  returning to military rule would not be a bad option, given how slowly we have moved since 1999. However, that is not a thought that we are allowed to entertain, as constitutional law jingoists insist on drumming it into our heads that “the worst civilian regime is better than the best military rule”.

I think we can agree that the evidence suggests to the contrary. The world’s oldest democracies are in the middle of economic decline (yes, there is the argument that boom and bust are cyclical) and oligarchies like China and the Sultanates and Emirates of the Middle East are prospering. -Ish. We could even throw a Cuba into the mix. Of course, it doesn’t help the argument that Oligarchies and constitutional monarchies (at least the ones referred to here) are totalitarian and slightly repressive but the economic and public administration metrics seem good.

This benevolent dictator matter though. He will be armed with his singularity of vision and purpose, ensure that his corrupt predecessors are forever prevented from returning to public office (many point to Jerry Rawlings and his purge), and not be impeded by the obstacles of democratic checks and balances in achieving the fullest impartation of his benevolence.

How would we choose him, given that choice already negates the concept of dictatorship? And if we don’t get to choose him, how do we determine the level of his benevolence; that he is in fact not malevolent? We might end up celebrating his ascension to power, like the Ugandans did Idi Amin, before realising that we’ve ended up with, well, an Idi Amin.

Further, philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau who gave us the theory of the separation of powers, identified (rightly, in my opinion) the pervasive, heady effect of having absolute power.  It corrupts absolutely. Not going to point fingers at anyone, relax Mr Mugabe.

Which brings me to the matter of the African dictator. This will probably be racist, in as far as a black man can demonstrate racism towards his own ethnic group, but I am thoroughly convinced that a [black] African benevolent dictator cannot stay so for very long. His culture, his family, his friends, his religious ministers, will ensure that he becomes parochial and nepotistic. And nepotism is a cancer – it cannot remain “little” – it will burgeon beyond the control of our benevolent dictator friend. And once our benevolent friend begins to exercise his absolute discretion and power in the favour of a select few…well, history is replete with examples of what happens next.

I usually argue in these discussions that the theory is a reflection of our laziness. We want the finished product without any fire of refinement whatsoever. We want to sit in our corners, minding our own business, tending to our own onions, while our “elected” representatives extort us, pilfer from the public purse, rob us blind and then, flash, bang, a saviour drops out of the sky and delivers us from all the evil. I don’t think this will happen. We are only to get out of this democracy what we put into it. Apathy will ensure that we are governed by the intellectual dregs of society. Abstinence will ensure that we remain infected by the malaise of corruption and maladministration. Indifference will only lead to continued daylight robbery under our very noses.

My riposte to the Benevolent Dictator Theory is the Democratically Aware and Engaged Citizen Theory. What say you?

SOS to NASS – We are not Cashcows

One of the reasons that corruption blooms, grows, flourishes and abounds in Nigeria is the acute, ongoing state of uncertainty concerning most laws and regulations. Many regulations are actually no more than directives – the head of an MDA (governmental Ministry, Department or Agency) wakes up and “proclaims” a new law, upturning the status quo and, many times, bearing penal consequences for violation. See here on the danger in “legislating” by directive.

This is the reason why, if you run into trouble with the law and call your lawyer, he cannot come to your rescue with the swagger of an Alan Shore or a Harvey Specter. He’s never 100% sure of your rights – 99% maybe, but never 100%. He will, most likely, begin to bargain with the POLICE/LASTMA/FRSC/VIO/whoever, trying to call their bluff or negotiate the bribe you need to pay to procure your freedom. Corruption thrives and lawyers turn to bluffers – and that is where we are as a country. That, and the fact that every single government intervention becomes a racket, frustrating Nigerians (like here) – the official route is guaranteed, nay, structured not to work.

The current competition between MDAs to carry out “new” registrations and be the first to tout “biometric data capture” as the be-all and end-all to all our security problems (cue laughter) is leading us down a precarious precipice. Knowing our temperament though, enough will never be enough.

The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has ensured that we all cough up a mandatory N60,000 or so, to procure new vehicle license plates and new driver’s licences. The official cost is closer to only half that amount but good luck and patience to anyone going the non-racketeered route. I remember clearly when my dad changed the number on his Renault 9 GTL from OY 727 X to BF 77 BDJ, circa 1989. Olu Agunloye was the head of the FRSC then, and the change was ostensibly an upgrade to a modern, computerised database. Osita Chidoka, citing incomplete records (I monitored one of his interviews on BeatFM Lagos) and the need for an overhaul of the system, set 30th September 2013 as the deadline for the new plates. Government/the civil service screwed up the record-keeping (if he’s actually not merely arranging his golden parachute) but we are carrying the can for them. The same inefficient civil service will administer this new system so, we can expect more laxness and a need for revamping in another 20 years’ time. And, in any event, the “new” plates changed the format from AB123CDE to ABC123DE, and there’s now a splash of green paint in the background. Never mind the fact that, with regard to the “new” driver’s licence, people are being given dates four months into the future (well beyond the implementation/effective date) for their data capture.

Not to be outdone, the Nigerian Police has launched a Biometric Central Motor Registry (BCMR). The BCMR will cost us only N3,500 officially, though experience suggests it will also turn into a racket and we will probably need to pay at least N10,000 and we won’t get the BCMR cards for at least 3 or 4 months after paying. See here for the step-by-step guide to procuring the BCMR.

What are the reasons for the BCMR? According to the Force spokesperson, CSP Frank Mba,

“the decision informing the introduction of the BCMR comes against the backdrop of contemporary security challenges bordering on terrorism, high incidence of car theft, carjacking, kidnapping and other acts of crimes and criminality in our society.”

The newspaper report quotes him further on the features of the BCMR thus –

“BCMR will operate on smart-cards and portable hand-held receiver and is a specially developed technological means of attaching automobile owner’s unique traits and personal data to their vehicles for proper identification and protection purposes. With this forensic analysis, the police claimed that it is designed to match 20 million fingerprints per second which speed depends on the size of registered prints, adding that the system can match 500,000 pictures per minute if you have a registered database of 150 million; the likely match time for facial recognition is about five hours.”

I think this is nothing but a pile of utter bollocks (pardonez-moi). I clearly remember when we had to get ECMRs. We repeatedly pay a government not bound by any data protection law to collect our personal details and hope that they treat it with due care. Not only that, we become criminals if we do not pay the government to correct its own fundamental record-keeping errors. Successive administrations emerge with new schemes to tax us, to permit their staff to extort us on the roads, without giving us assurances of a minimum time-frame before they are allowed to (illegally) tax us again.

Why do you want to tie biometrics to a vehicle? What does the involvement of your vehicle in the commission of a crime actually prove, beyond the fact that it was used in the commission of a crime? People transfer ownership of their cars all the time. Will the BCMR back-end accommodate transfer of ownership? People borrow and drive each others’ cars all the time. Will the BCMR prevent car theft? Unless the driver’s biometrics are required to start the engine, I don’t see how. Tolu Ogunlesi was car-jacked and thrown in the boot of his car while the armed robbers with their armour-piercing artillery used the vehicle in their operations. Would a BCMR have helped the police in identifying the bandits after the operations? Where are the old ECMR records and what verifiable use were they put to? We cannot keep stumping up for unlegislated taxation and here’s what I think we should do. You should be warned though, depending on your location, that it will cost you about N500-N1000 to participate.

Here is a list of the current members of the House of Assembly. Here is a list of the current members of the Senate. Below is a short letter that everyone can copy and paste (or amend as liked) and send to each of the legislators representing their State. Will it work? Unlikely, but I think it beats merely tweeting, blogging or getting worked up about it.

[Date]

[Name of Legislator]

National Assembly Complex

Three Arms Zone, Maitama

Abuja, FCT

Dear Sir/Madam

Re: Frequent Levies by the Nigerian Police and the Federal Road Safety Commission

I am a resident/citizen of the State you represent at the National Assembly and I write to bring to your attention the hardship being caused by the recent changes being made to driving documents by the Nigerian Police and the FRSC.

The processes are convoluted and cost more than the official fee, the documents are not issued in good time and the legislative basis on which the agencies in question seek to exact levies on us is questionable. While the FRSC is indeed empowered by law to regulate vehicle/driver licensing, this should not mean that we can be mandated to procure new vehicle or driver identification at the Corp Commander’s every whim. The Nigerian Police, on the other hand, has even less ostensible power to “register” anyone, much less exact a fee for doing so.

I call upon you, in conjunction with your colleagues, to stand up for the Nigerians you represent and, at the very least, amend existing laws to stipulate the minimum time-frames permissible between regulatory interventions of this nature. Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

[Sender’s Name]

All in One Place: Limericks of August

They gathered from far for Aliko

Days after the rip from Atiku

To honour the man

Their oil masterplan

No plans of their own, brains like Tico

 

Le Prof has finally spent

On class, and not just on rent

From Madrid a thrill

They gave us Özil

To thrive, from whence Gareth went.

 

Did you see the fantasy sale

That’s making all football heads wail

The priciest man

In Galactico land

Is Gareth (not Christian) Bale

 

He’s fully recovered they say

In wholly opprobrious way

But if he returned

To the cockpit he burned

I bet none of those guys would stay

 

There once was a team warchest

S’posed to make squad the best

But something is wrong

For all summer long

The cheque-book’s been under arrest

 

The House has declared him unfit

His sackings not likely legit

The vultures unyielding

His signature wielding

The absurdity makes one spit.

 

Danbaba’s case is a weird one

His Deputy must be a feared one

For stupidest prank

His handlers we thank

As Suntai’s becoming a jeered one

 

ASUU went on strike, now been struck

In Delta, Kidnappers amok

One score Dons abducted

A ransom expected

Kidnappers are in for a shock.

 

Once Martin LK had a dream

That coffee’d be equal to cream

A half century past

Now free, free at last

The coffee and cream are a team.

 

There once was a toll concession

Made Lekki an exception

Now down has been struck

Is Gidi in luck

Or the buyout’ll buy out an election?

 

Assad is the bossman in Syria

Now ravaged by war & hysteria

Provoking the West

To clean up the mess

But ‘Raq,’Ghanistan still infernia

 

There once was a coach named Wenger

Been on an 8yr-long bender

Determined that he

Miraculously

Would win without being a spender

 

Mikey & Catherine have split

It doesn’t surprise me one bit

When he said his patch

Was caused be her snatch

I knew before long she would quit

 

The governor that fell from the sky

Expected by many to die

Is back on his feet

Incredible feat

But ready to lead? Pls don’t lie.

 

Suntai though now mute is still writing

Sack letters (less bark and more biting)

But deep down I expect

The thought or prospect

Of being flown by him’s not inviting

 

Like Yardy,Danbaba is conscious

But to ask him to speak is presumptuous

Political dance

In macabre trance

And nobody finds it obnoxious

 

In the creeks once lived a warlord

By amnesty to society restored

From arms, bayonette

To owning a jet(!)

Late Yardy we must all applaud

 

There broke a holy scandal

“That preacher is a vandal”

Salacious surcharge

For Grace-ous discharge

Brethren, let’s light a candle.

 

The salacious saga’s crescendo

The Grace-Powerups like Nintendo

To levels unknown

My mind has been blown

Wow, see pastoral innuendo

 

There once was a Gyptian Pharaoh

Ruled, feared like Emperor Nero

Imprisond’pon Spring

That Arabs did bring

Released, cos Gypt’s at ground zero

 

The start to the season was patchy

But ‪#Wenger is wise, like Apache

Redeem us, he must

Or ‪#InArseneWeRust

So Gunners, defeat Fernebache!

 

Old Rob of new Rhodesia

Black King of maladmesia

Has done it again

Now in 7th reign

All cheer? It must be amnesia.

 

The proud red men of London

Are faced with a conundrum –

To flourish or dry

To spend or to die

In glare of White Hart bunkum

 

Here’s more presidential porn

From the’appendage heaped with scorn

Our oxes are gored

Tim’s Vice-Man ignored

Cos with her they didn’t mourn

 

His article, overly retweeted

Salacious parts now deleted

No Hector of Troy

The sad little boy’s

Apology futile, defeated.

 

The author of tribal trilogy

Adduced “non-tribal” biology

The lesson is learnt

His fingers are burnt

And hence the quick apology.

 

There once was a “ceasefire”

By men who were pariah

It’s puzzling how

They fooled that old cow

As death-count keeps on getting higher.

My Limericks (…so far)

A beloved central banker

Was alleged to be a wanker

He squeezed the send button

To another’s man mutton

Alhamdulillahi,Love u,he thanked her

_____________________________________

A hippo came from the delta

And spoke, all ran helter skelter.

A virtue, her name

Like Helen, a dame

Her logo, a big umblerra.

______________________________________

A soldier named AlMusty

15yrs on trial grew dusty

One week out jail, promoted, all hail

Their consciences are rusty.