Panic in Haramistan as Boko Haram now Deadlier than Ebola

Newsweek highlights in this report that Boko Haram has killed more people than Ebola. Boko Haram is deadlier than Ebola. And you know, these things are especially true when reported in foreign publications.

 

As a result of this news, the government of Haramistan, formerly part of North-Eastern has announced the following measures to combat the scourge.

 

  1. Hand-Sanitisers are to be installed in all POW and concentration camps in the bushes and forests.
  2. Prisoners, orphans and amputees cannot exchange handshakes after prayers. Good sanitation and personal hygiene must be maintained at all times.
  3. All schools are closed until the WHO pronounces the region free of Boko Haram. This can only happen 40 days after the last person killed by Boko Haram has died, so parents whose children have not yet been killed or kidnapped should find ways to occupy their children at home.
  4. A containment centre for all persons afflicted by Boko Haram has been set up. Haramistani death workers will embark on a house-to-house patrol in their hazardous equipment suits to bring the scourge to a halt.
  5. Infrared thermometers will be deployed at the Haramistani airport and all other transportation routes into the territory, to ensure that Boko Haram does not enter via the ports.

 

The government of Haramistan is confident that these measures will bring Boko Haram under control and return killing supremacy to Ebola.

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Presidential Media Chat: The Language Problem

The presidential media chat of the 4th of May 2014 was another opportunity for Nigerians to hear their president “unscripted”. As with most  media chats he has hosted since becoming president, yesterday’s also provided canon fodder for those looking for gaffes to fuel the next internet meme.

In his previous media chats, President Jonathan provided such timeless soundbites as “Stock market business is not a jackpot business”, “Wikileaks is just like a beer parlour gossip”, and “Libya is just like someone is carrying a pot of water on his head and it just fell and broke, GBOA.” When asked to comment on allegations of his wife being investigated for money laundering after reportedly being apprehended with $13million dollars at an airport, his response was “Have you seen $13m in cash? Is it something one person can carry? Can only you carry it?”

Last night, his response to a question on the claims by ousted CBN governor that $50billion in oil proceeds was unaccounted for, was first of all “Oil money gets missing in every administration.” Then, after some wiggling and wriggling, he concluded that “$50billion cannot be missing and America will not know. America will know. It is their money. Where will you keep $50billion dollars?” And this was after he relayed Sanusi’s claim that the money was missing from over 18 months’ proceeds.

There is the argument to be made, with some merit, that these expressions are unbecoming of the president of any country, not only from a language perspective, but also from one of logic. If one person cannot carry $13m in cash, how about 10 people? When last did Patience Jonathan travel without an entourage? And if never, what suggests she couldn’t have arranged one on the said occasion? $50billion, over 18 months, shared between several people is not a lump sum block of money waiting to be seen and known by America.

However, it may be that the language problem exceeds the logic obstacle. A PhD having challenges with either language or logic is something of an oxymoron, but here we are. I do not intend this to be disparaging but it appears that meanings frequently get lost in translation  when the President transits from the language he thinks in to the one he is required to speak in. It is a problem many multilingual people with unequal levels of fluency would face.

For instance, and this is probably an indictment on me, when I’m speaking in Yoruba, I find myself thinking or processing the conversation in English. Thus, sometimes, I am halfway through a “transliteration” before I correct myself and use the proper Yoruba phrases. For many native Yoruba speakers, it is the reason why you’d hear someone say “What did you carry in the exam/race” when asking for the person’s position – Ki l’o gbe?

It may be the reason why the President’s wife, tearful, lamented,”There is God o! There is God o!”, for either ‘God is real’ or ‘God sees all this’.

It may be why the President said, last week, “I  have lived three quarters of my life on earth” (and the other quarter on Mars, it was joked) when he meant that he had expended 3 quarters of his life expectancy. Or why he said, last night, when defending but not really defending MEND, “MEND are not terrorists…I’m not defending MEND because I’m from the Niger Delta”, when a clearer version was probably “Do not think that because I’m from the Niger Delta I’m defending MEND.” I do not know. I’m guessing.

Besides problems with translations and transliterations however, there are also issues with  his unique choice of words. “Every administration has missing oil money”; “Terrorism in Nigeria is because, well you know, if you want to attack the Black race, and Nigeria is the centre of the Black race…”; “They have advised me, I won’t say from where, that I shouldn’t attack Sambisa Forest, so that the Boko Haram won’t melt into the general populace…”; “We are the current champions, we hold the trophy, we hold the shield – let APC inform us who is the challenger…” all do leave a lot to be desired.

Many also complained about the very basic level of his illustrations. For example, to explain rebasing, he used a farming allegory about taking account of more produce than was previously customary. I thought it was a functional example, really, but this brings me to the wider issue of the general levels of education, reasoning and argument in Nigeria. The President is our everyman. He is the people in your neighbourhood, the people that you meet when you’re walking down the street; the people that you meet each day. Millions of us cannot write letters or emails without several lines of bad grammar, many cannot hold a rational argument (or any argument for that matter) without quickly descending into insults and ad hominems, and millions more are functionally illiterate. L’etat, c’est nous. Le President, c’est nous aussi.

We are unlikely to have an Obama/Cameronesque leader, in my opinion, until we become like the people that Obama and Cameron lead – in business, in national conscience, in political engagement and, most of all, in learning and literacy.

I suspect that the majority of the Nigerian people would have found last night’s media chat satisfactory. Or, at the very worst, the President’s performance did not affect his approval rating by too much. For people that would harp on eloquence and inspiring speech though, it must be said that the number one contender from those challenging the PDP for its trophy is not much better. So, will use of language really count when we go to the polls in February?

 

5 Reasons Why GEJ Should NOT Resign

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In the wake of 2 bombings in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, the second taking place barely three weeks after the first, some people have resorted to calling for President Jonathan to resign or, alternatively, for the National Assembly to commence impeachment proceedings against him. I  disagree. While it is true that scandal continues to follow scandal, bombing follows bombing and national morale is undoubtedly very low, I do not think the President’s resignation is required. Here are my reasons.

 

1. THIS IS A DEMOCRACY. If we truly believe in democracy and the need to build enduring democratic institutions, then, barring gross misconduct, we need to accept that we are stuck with whoever we elect for the duration of time prescribed by the constitution  for them to be in office. We don’t get to chop and change midstream if the person we elected turns out not quite as we expected. This is the reason why we must pay greater attention and commit to playing a greater part in the electoral process first. The earliest that GEJ should go, is May 2015, when everyone crying #GEJOut can test the popularity of their movement at the polls.

 

2. WHO’S NEXT IN LINE? If the President resigns or is impeached, Vice-President Namadi Sambo takes over. If they’re both impeached, Senate President David “telephones-are-not-for-the-masses” Mark becomes President. Forgive me for not being too enthused about either of these prospects. At any rate, how would this change anything, with elections less than a year away?

 

3. GEJ IS NOT THE SERVICE CHIEFS. These guys need to get a whole lot more of the blame than people are willing to allocate to them. GEJ is Commander-In-Chief but he’s not the head of the intelligence gathering or counter-insurgency combat teams. He isn’t personally manning check-points or patrolling the terror hotspots. His Generals and their troops are. If anyone should be resigning (and that’s a big “IF”), the service chiefs are probably better candidates.

 

4. RESIGNATION WOULD BE A(NOTHER) VICTORY FOR BOKO HARAM. Would it not be the greatest tragedy, a huge smear on our collective nationhood, for Boko Haram to be able to beat its chest and declare that they bombed our president out of office? At the end of the day, until he’s served out his term, he is our president; our number one citizen. A king defends his castle. It would be a shame on my family if an unruly neighbour could unseat my father from our homestead. I’m sure the same applies to most of us.

 

5. RESIGNATION WOULD ONLY SERVE THE ETHNIC SUPREMACISTS. There are some who believe the President of Nigeria cannot and should not come from one of its smallest minorities. Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians. I will be politically correct and end my 5th point on that note.

 

Times are dark and dire, though, and we need our president to be bold, brave, inspirational and communicative. Not a word from him so far on the 200+ missing school girls, or the most recent bombing. Even if it’s hot air, we need to hear that he’s with us, see him shed an Obama tear or two and just generally show some emotional intelligence. Step up, President Jonathan.

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 LOGIC OF AMNESTY

First, they had no spokesperson and their demands were unknown. Then, they were ghosts and the government was not going to put itself through the indignity of negotiating through psychic mediums, spiritualists and marabouts. Now, it seems somebody’s called the Ghostbusters, told them that their services will never be needed and an amnesty committee has been constituted to make recommendations concerning Boko Haram.

 

This follows hot on the heels of what many might consider a pre-emptive strike, with the Federal Government said to have awarded yet another dodgy security contract, this time in the South-Western region of the country, to yet another leader of a local militia. The contract is said to be worth N2.4bn a month and it is unclear what the duration is. Southern Nigeria is now crawling with guerrilla warlords who have been rewarded for their mutinous behaviour with “juicy” government work. Let’s ignore the fact that we have several security agencies and reasonably-sized armed forces. Let me not say that government is outsourcing the performance of what the constitution describes as its “primary purpose”, when my ogamost oga at the top is clearly saying something else.

My “Ogamost” Oga At The Top

THISDAY reports that the president “bowed to pressure” to shift ground on amnesty for Boko Haram. This pressure came from many elder statesmen and even a branch of the Nigerian Bar Association. The logic behind the pressure is that amnesty worked in the Niger Delta (although this post empirically questions the correlation between the amnesty programme and increased output in the Niger Delta), therefore amnesty will quell every uprising Nigeria will ever have. Alright, so I have laced it with a healthy dose of cynicism but this clearly is untenable not only from a policy position but also from that of logic.

Granted, there is the solitary similarity between Boko Haram and the Movement for the Emancipation of The Niger Delta (MEND) – they are both militant groups with tribal/sectional origins. But that must be where the similarity ends. MEND was ostensibly fighting for the diversion of a greater portion of the region’s mineral wealth to its own people and remediation of all the damage to their farming land and fishing waters. When the government commenced its amnesty programme there, it first of all admitted that it had wronged the people of the Niger Delta. There was some logic to the government saying, in that instance, “your fight is an honourable one; we have wronged you; lay down your arms, come back into decent society and not only will we not punish your insurgency, we will restore all that the cankerworm has eaten.” Or words to that effect, anyway.

On the other hand is Boko Haram, whose cause no one has been able to successfully articulate AND rationalise. “Rationalise”, for me, is the key part of that sentence. Were they formed for an aim that rational society should accommodate? Can any of their demands be met rationally? Is there anything rational in all that they have said or done since they stepped into the international spotlight? If the answer to all these is a resounding ‘NO’, what then is the rationale for granting them amnesty? What has led the government to believe it can reason with them? Above all, what part of their behaviour or rhetoric suggests that amnesty would even be a useful tool? Lest we forget, the predominant MO for MEND was to kidnap oil workers and sabotage oil infrastructure. Boko Haram are suicide bombers.

Now, I fully understand that Borno and Kano have been ravaged by the sect and the people just want peace. But is peace at any price really peace? Boko Haram wants less of an interaction with western civilisation and the implementation of Sharia law nationwide. How do you begin such negotiations? Ok, we’ll ban western education in Borno and Kano States but you have to leave the rest of the country alone? You get to have Sharia in a maximum of 10 northern states and that’s it? And if they renege and pick up their arms again tomorrow, do we show more flexibility on where ‘Boko’ will be ‘Haram’ and how far Sharia will be allowed to spread? Only recently, a splinter group, Ansaru, has been reported to be even more deadly than the original Boko Haram. Should they be offered amnesty too? Is amnesty for Boko Haram justice?

 

 

Location of the four cities in north eastern N...

Location of the four cities in north eastern Nigeria where the Boko Haram conflict took place. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The message from the government is also quite clear. Arm yourselves, disrupt activity within the nation with as much violence as you can muster. We will reward you from the abundance of our treasury. You will be rich beyond your wildest dreams. Unlike your peers who are busy acquiring an education or struggling to build a career. They would be dead to us, if not for the taxes we need them to pay.