Friday, September 20, 2013





Saturday, July 6, 2013


Hiya peeps, been a looong time we don yarn. How una dey? I had to put this article on my blog not because its a juicy topic but because of the writer. Ever since i met Nwilo Bura-Bari Vincent on Facebook a few years ago, I have respected him and his work.his talent has been an inspiration and has always helped me to do better. I remember writing notes on Facebook and waiting for him to comment knowing that if he did, then i did really good.
Few weeks ago, Nwilo wrote on about D'banj. He hit the nail on the head so hard, i felt i should put it on my blog. so with his permission, i bring you: An Open Letter to D'banj by @saintvinny.


Dear Oyebanjo, Dapo Daniel AKA D'Banj,

I am seated at a local restaurant here at the university town of Nsukka, in Enugu State, Nigeria, drinking a bottle of Fayrouz and listening to the sound of the generator, which is the only source of electricity around here.

I have watched your latest music video. I went through the rigour last night. It is the video of the song entitled 
Dont Tell Me Nonsense and it was awfully disgusting, the song, I mean. Kaffy and the rest of the dancers didnt disappoint in the video.
This is bad, I know, using awful and disgusting, in same sentence. But that is what I feel about what I saw. Brother, DBanj, a lot has changed since you left your brother and hustle partner, Ajereh, Michael Collins AKA Don Jazzy. Truth. Your songs have been nothing but trash. I wonder if anyone has said anything nice to you since you started making songs outside Don Jazzy. If they have, it must have been for that singular hit song entitled Oliver Twist. Kai! That song swept through Nigeria and the rest of the world. You would not believe that the ordinary child on the streets of Nsukka knows the lyrics of that song and the dance steps too.

In Nigeria, there are plenty factors that weigh us down. One is our inability to manage our weaknesses. I see you have been buying yourself expensive jewelleries. The other day, I saw on Olorisupergals blog that you wear a wristwatch worth my entire family and maybe inheritance. I commend your taste. You are a lucky and hardworking man. You deserve it, besides; Oliver Twist made marks. It took the Nigerian music to a height that had never been seen in recent times. Its toping charts, downloads, Youtube views and itunes purchases are amongst the few things I can mention.

Dear, DBanj, Don Jazzy may not be an ideal partner, I bet you, no one is an ideal partner! Perfect couples quarrel and make up. It is the joy of having such union. I believe misunderstanding is part of us, as humans. I will run to the zoo the day I see a union that agrees on almost everything.
Back to your music, I feel Don Jazzy was made to make good music with you. He may not only be your producer, but whatever input, from advice, to production, will go a long way. Besides, he has been miserable too, without you. I have seen his eyes in music videos. There is one he did with Tiwa Savage. Ah, Tiwa. She looked dazzling, while Don Jazzy looked wanting and dispirited. Tiwa may have a perfect voice but Don Jazzy has not been able to achieve what he did with you. The other boys, K-Switch, Wande Coal and the goody bag crooner, DPrince are unfortunate learners. They must be stark illiterates to have taken sides when you guys parted. I understand their ignorance. But my concern here is, if you wish to stay relevant in the sight of Nigerians, making good music, and not caressing a stripper on stage on your birthday, then you have to make amends with Don Jazzy and understand that people argue because they are beneficial to themselves. Only dummies agree on everything.

I think tribalism had a lot to play in your split. It is a sad reality, if I am right. Tribalism will eventually destroy Nigeria. Our young people think they belong to a superior tribe and so make silly comments which sometimes bring about misconception and then crisis. I once had a boss, who is Igbo, who felt my tribes men were lazy, just because she came to my state and saw a job and was privileged to be a high ranking staff. I have had people who think those from the north should be gatekeepers and cobblers. Someone called me a militant once in Abuja, at the Sheraton, when he discovered I was from the Niger-Delta. I forgave his gross stupidity. I think we should drink a cup of water when ignorant people say rubbish about our personalities or flaws and relate it to tribe.

You are a great young man, D'Banj. Few people have attained the height you have. I am encouraged to pursue what I am currently pursuing because I know I will triumph. Your likes and that of 2Face Idibia, despite your weaknesses are heroes. And you must recall that Kanye West met you because he had heard good stuff from you. When nothing good manifests, he may be forced to give you a new job description at Good Music, which may be mopping of the floor of the studio. This evil will not befall you. If you believe it, type amen.

DBanj, pride is the worst enemy of any man who wishes to last longer anywhere. A drop of arrogance may work, but pride is detrimental. You were called the entertainer because you offered entertainment. Today, Inyanya, Kcee, Flavour, Wizkid and Davido are doing better. Imagine Burna-Boy, chai, that boy has some senses oh. His music, even when he is talking nonsense makes you want to sit and listen or dance to it, as the case may be. The only person that is yet to outshine you is my dearest sister, Tontolet Dike. That girl needs Jesus.

I have to go back to my drink. I paid for it and it is almost missing me. I enjoy your struggle or hustle, as you may choose to call it. I wish to hear something profound from you. While awaiting that miracle that only you can perform, I wish you the very best of life.

Your admirer,
Nwilo bura-Bari Vincent

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Hypocrisy Of Yesterday’s Men

Below is what Dr. Reuben Abati wrote yesterday criticising those(former government employees) asking for accountability from the current government. Note that this article was written yesterday in his power as a Special assistant t the president.


A Loosely bound group of yesterday’s men and women seems to be on the offensive against the Jonathan administration. They pick issues with virtually every effort of the administration, pretending to do so in the public interest; positing that they alone, know it all.  Arrogantly, they claim to be better and smarter than everyone else in the current government. They are ever so censorious, contrarian and supercilious.

They have no original claim to their pretensions other than they were privileged to have been in the corridors of power once upon a time in their lives. They obviously got so engrossed with their own sense of importance they began to imagine themselves indispensable to Nigeria. It is dangerous to have such a navel-gazing, narcissistic group inflict themselves with so much ferocity on an otherwise impressionable public. We are in reality dealing with a bunch of hypocrites.

With exceptions so few, they really don’t care about Nigeria as a sovereign but the political spoils that accrue from it. And so they will stop at nothing to discredit those they think are not as deserving as they imagine themselves to be. President Jonathan has unfairly become the target of their pitiable frustrations.

Underneath their superfluous appearance, lies an unspoken class disdain directed at the person and office of a duly elected president of the country. It is a Nigerian problem, perhaps. In the same advanced societies which these same yesterday men and women often like to refer to, public service is seen and treated as a privilege.

People are called upon to serve; they do so with humility and great commitment, and when it is all over, they move on to other things. The quantity surveyor returns to his or her quantity surveying or some other decent work; the lawyer to his or her wig and gown; the university teacher, to the classroom, glad to have been found worthy of national service. When and where necessary, as private citizens they are entitled to use the benefit of this experience to contribute to national development, they speak up on matters of public importance not as a full-time job as is the case in Nigeria currently.

What then, is the problem with us? As part of our governance evolution, most people become public servants by accident, but they soon get so used to the glamour of office that they lose sight of their own ordinariness. They use the system to climb: to become media celebrities, to gain international attention and to morph into self-appointed guardians of the Nigerian estate. They mask self interest motives as public causes and manipulate the public’s desire for improvements in their daily struggles as opportunity for power grab.

They are perpetually hanging around, lobbying and hustling for undeserved privileges. They exploit ethnic and religious connections where they can or join political parties and run for political office. They even write books (I, me and myself books, packaged as cerebral stuff); if that still doesn’t work, they lobby newspaper houses for columns to write and they become apostolic pundits pontificating on matters ranging from the nebulous to the non-descript. Power blinds them to the reality that we are all in this together and we have a unique opportunity to do well for the taxpayers and hardworking electorate that provide every public official the privilege to serve.

Unsatisfied with the newspaper columns, they open social media accounts and pretend to be voices of wisdom seeking to cultivate an angry crowd which they feed continually with their own brand of negativity. They arrange to give lectures at high profile events where  they abuse the government of the day in order to gain attention and steal a few minutes in the sun; hoping to force an audience that may ‘open doors’ for them, back into the corridors of power. These characters are in different sizes and shapes: small, big; Godfathers, agents, proxies. The tactics of the big figures on this rung of opportunism may be slightly different.  They parade themselves as a Godfather or kingmaker or the better man who should have been king.
They suffer of course, from messianic delusions. The fact that they boast of some followership and the media often treats them as icons, makes their nuisance factor worse. They and their protégés and proxies are united by one factor though: their hypocrisy.

It is in the larger interest of our country that the point be made that the government of the day welcomes criticism and political activism. This is an aspect of our emergent democracy that expands on the growing freedom of expression, thought and association but there is need for caution and vigilance, lest we get taken hostage by the architects of odious disinformation.

Nigerians must not allow any group of individuals to hold this country to ransom and no one alone should appropriate the right to determine what is best for Nigeria.

The accidental public servants who have turned that privilege into a life-long obsession and profession must be told to go get a life and find meaningful work to do.

Those who believe that no one else can run Nigeria without them must be told to stop hallucinating. The former Ministers, former Governors, former DGs, and all sorts who have been busy quoting mischievous figures, spreading cruel propaganda must be reminded that the Jonathan administration is in fact trying to clean up the mess that they created. They want to own the game when the ball is not in their possession. They want to be the referee when nobody has offered them a whistle.

They seek to play God, forgetting that the case for God is not in the hands of man.

One of the virtues of enlightenment is for persons to have a true perspective of their own location in the order of things. What they do not seem to realise or accept is that the political climate has changed.

When one of them was in charge of this same estate called Nigeria, he shut down the Port Harcourt airport and other airports for close to two years under the guise of renovation. The Port Harcourt airport was abandoned for so long it was overgrown with weeds after serving for months as a practice ground for motoring schools. It was reopened without any improvement and with so much money down the drain, and the pervasive suspicion that the reason it was shut down in the first place was to create a market for a new airline that had been allowed the monopoly use of the other airport in the city.

Under President Jonathan, airports across the country are being upgraded, rebuilt and modernized; in less than two years, the transformation is self-evident. Perhaps the greatest hypocrisy from our see-no-good commentators comes from the one who superintended over the near-collapse of the aviation sector who is now audacious enough to claim to be a social critic.

For the first time since 1999, the Nigerian Railway Corporation is up and running as a service organization. The rail lines have become functional from Lagos to Kano; Ewekoro to Minna, and very soon, from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, Abuja to Kaduna and Lagos to Ibadan. They couldn’t do this in their time, now they are busy looking for money that is not missing with their teeth.

When questions are asked, they claim they invented the ideas of due process and accountability. They once promised to solve the crisis of electricity supply in Nigeria.

But what did they do? They managed to leave the country in darkness with less than 2,000 MW; abandoned independent power projects, mismanaged power stations, and uncompleted procurement processes. The mess was so bad their immediate successors had to declare an emergency in the power sector. It has taken President Jonathan to make the difference. Today, there is greater coherence in the management of the power sector with power supply in excess of 4, 200 MW; a better conceived power sector road map is running apace, and the administration is determined to make it better.

They complain about the state of the roads. Most of the contracts were actually awarded under their watch to the tune of billions!

They talk about corruption, yet many of them have thick case files with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the courts and the police on corruption-related charges. One of them was even accused of having awarded choice plots of government land to himself, his wives, his companies and other relations when he was in charge of such allocations! Really, have we forgotten so soon?

These yesterday men and women certainly don’t seem to care very much about the Nigerian taxpayer who has had to bear the brunt of the many scandals this administration is exposing in its bid to clear out the Augean stable. They’d rather grandstand with the ex-General this, Chief that, Doctor this and ex-(dis)Honourable Minister who has no record of what he or she did with the funds the nation provided them to deliver results to protect our interest so that we don’t end up continuing to make the same wasteful mistakes.

It is enough to make you shudder at the thought of any of them being part of government with access to the public purse; but then we’ve already seen what some of them are capable of doing when in control of public money, authority and influence; and to that the people have spoken in unison – they have had enough.

Nigerians are wiser and are now familiar with the trickery from these persons whose claim to fame and fortune was on the back of their public service.

Our point at the risk of overstating what is by now too obvious: We have too many yesterday men and women behaving too badly. We are dealing with a group of power-point technocrats who have mastered the rhetoric of public grandstanding: carefully crafted emotion-laden sound bites passed off as meaningful engagements. That is all there is to them, after many years of hanging around in relevant places and mingling in the right corridors, all made possible through the use/abuse of Nigeria. Our caveat to their audience is the same old line: let the buyer beware!

Dr. Abati is Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to President Goodluck Jonathan

Culled from  Vanguard

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Hurry Up Jonathan

The article below was written by Reuben Abati in May 2010 when he was still a Guardian editor.


"IT is very easy in a Presidential position in Nigeria, nay Africa, to get carried away with the ceremonies of office, to be largely overwhelmed by the fawning attention of sycophants and opportunists, and as the intensity of this increases, the man of power begins to imagine himself a superman, and he soon forgets his primary assignment and begins to enjoy the office for its own sake and what it can bring. It is both a practical and psychological pitfall, the drama of which has been played out all too often in many African states, to the great discomfort and disadvantage of the people. It looks like President Goodluck Jonathan is beginning to fall into that pit. He needs to watch his steps.

During the inauguration of a new Federal cabinet in March, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan as he then was, seemed to have demonstrated an awareness of this same pitfall when he promised that his government will "hit the ground running." He charged the new Ministers to come up with blueprints within two weeks and that this will be formally presented to the Executive Council and defended. That speech was full of excellent sound bites. In it, the Acting President also promised to focus on certain key areas of governmental activity: electoral reform, the war on corruption, the Niger Delta crisis, and the power sector. To show his determination, the then Acting President also took personal charge of the power portfolio with a promise that his government will ensure regular electricity supply in the country as a matter of urgent priority.

Although there was still so much uncertainty surrounding his Presidency, with the former President Umaru Yar'Adua still in the background on a sick bed, and reports of selective sightings of the ailing President, Jonathan's emergence brought fresh hope and helped to stabilise a drifting polity. With Yar'Adua's death on May 5, and Jonathan's assumption of full presidential powers on May 6, whatever doubts that may have existed about the legitimacy of his government were neatly resolved. But since February, and given the events of the last few days, there is no indication that President Jonathan intends to "hit the ground running." He seems to have hit the ground dancing. He should watch his footwork. Where are the blueprints from the Ministers? Three months have gone already, when will Jonathan start working? He should read the mood of the Nigerian people more carefully, the ordinary people, I mean. They are impatient.

In three years of the Yar'Adua presidency, not much transformation took place as the people continued to search in vain for the same democracy dividends they have been looking for since 1999. They were distracted by tales of Presidential illness, and the wanton irresponsibility of the professional political elite. Jonathan has enjoyed so much public goodwill because he is the beneficiary of the change that the people wanted. Any kind of change would do, and that is why not so much capital has been made out of the fact that Jonathan was in fact a part of the Yar'Adua government as No 2 man. Jonathan is expected to run a Presidency that is driven by a policy of "business unusual." A Presidency that works as if it is under the pressure of time, and it is; a carefully focused government whose only priority is service delivery within the short period available, and a man at the top who inspires fresh confidence because he knows what he is doing.

Early signs indicate that Jonathan may find it difficult stepping up to the game. He has fallen so early into the error of doing business as usual. He is the ultimate pacifier. He seems determined to run a government of the Godfathers. Every man who imagines himself to be a custodian of the Nigerian legacy, even only a portion of it, seems to have a share of his government. Nothing has been more sordid than the silly politicking that has so far attended the appointment of a new Vice President. For comparison, Dr. Jonathan should look towards Britain where a major political situation has been resolved so decently within a matter of days, without any disruptions and the country has moved on. A general parliamentary election was held (no ballot snatching, no violence,  no iwuruwuru), the result was a hung parliament and a coalition government had to be formed (in Nigeria, that could have resulted in bloodshed), Gordon Brown resigns (if he were a Nigerian, he would have found a way of getting some MPs to cross-carpet to the Labour Party), the LibDems align with the Conservatives, David Cameron emerges as Prime Minister (born in 1966; IBB are you there?) and Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister (born in 1967: IBB, you see?), and almost immediately a new cabinet is announced. Britain is moving on. It is possible to say that the circumstances are different (no Prime Minister died in Britain) but we are dealing with the same issues: change of government, management of processes and leadership; while Nigerian flounders, the British have again shown us how a modern government should run.

For a whole week, the country was held hostage by speculations about who should be the next Vice President. We have been treated not to a decisive and prompt choice by the President, but to the activities of all kinds of powerful individuals and groups: The Governors Forum, the Northern Senators Forum, Northern Emirs, the Yar'Adua family, General Theophilus Danjuma, and General Olusegun Obasanjo all associated with the nomination process. The Northern Senators Forum was divided over the issue and the Governors reportedly resolved that one of them must become the Vice President. The Middle Belt was up in protest and some characters from the North West claimed that if the Vice President did not emerge from their geographical zone, Nigeria's unity could be threatened. There has been no talk about quality or merit. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo goes to Katsina to pay a condolence visit and he reportedly told the Yar'Adua family that President Jonathan will sustain the late Yar'Adua's legacy. How does he know that?

In every manner, President Jonathan gives the impression that he is yet to take charge of his office. He should hurry up. He should appoint as Vice President, a man that he can work with, not someone whose only interest is politics and the 2011 general elections. The Governor of Kaduna State, Namadi Sambo has been named Vice president designate, but the Governors Forum is said to have imposed on him on the President. The dirty politicking over the appointment of the Vice President already exposes the dangers in the zoning arrangement and Nigeria's fragile unity. By allowing every matter to drag, Jonathan slows down his government and loses momentum.

When will his initiative on electoral reform begin? What is his blueprint for the Niger Delta? When will the construction companies begin the task of providing needed infrastructure in that region? Or if that is not possible, what structural and constitutional reforms does he want to push through to resolve existing conflicts? On corruption, is he really interested in the anti-corruption war or he is out to use the anti-corruption agencies to settle conflicts within the ruling PDP? These are not the key signals coming out of the Jonathan Presidency. His handling of the appointment of the Vice President can only further divide the PDP. Those whose names have been touted and who have been busy lobbying for support may become new enemies of the president and the new Vice president and do their utmost best to thwart the administration's efforts. In more serious societies, where there are equally divisive issues as in Nigeria, a Vice president would have been announced immediately and all mischief-makers duly neutralised.


And yet what the people want is real change: change in their circumstances or a momentum in that direction. Something has changed however: President Jonathan's wardrobe. He now oscillates between the Ijaw gear, the Arewa cap and the complete Yoruba agbada. One of these days, he will get round to the Igbo red cap, the Tivi black and white cap, and the Efik/Ibibio wrapper. No chance for the Koma people in that wardrobe arrangement, I think. But can President Jonathan just please, hurry up and focus on the important issues of national interest, the same issues that he himself has identified to start with?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Weeks ago, I came accross a column written by one of my mentors, Professor Ayo Olukotun, and I thought I'd share especially with all that's going on in today's politics.



“The reading habits of politicians matter because in what they choose to read will be found what they think and what they will do” – YARN MARTELL (CANADIAN NOVELIST)

As the opening quote sourced from award winning Canadian novelist Yarn Martell suggests what politicians, presidents especially read or fail to read are of profound importance to gauging the quality of their minds, worldview, imaginative depth and what decisions they are likely to take. In 2011, candidate Jonathan appeared to grasp the importance of the reading culture of leaders when he launched “a bring back the book” campaign featuring a carnival and presentation of his book entitled “My friends and I”. The book was reviewed by Dr. Reuben Abati; Special Adviser to the President on media. Ennobling as that campaign was, it left out the crucial question of the reading culture of Jonathan himself, an issue that has received fresh salience in the light of some of Jonathan’s enigmatic pronouncements on the fuel subsidy riots on media partisanship, on Boko Haram as well as the quality of his media appearances.

Let us embed this narrative in the global mainstream in order to avoid provincialism, to tease out edifying comparative lessons and throw the issues in bolder relief. Come quickly with me, therefore to the desk of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron who is described in a recently published magazine as a “voracious reader who speed reads his way through several tomes a week”. Cameron by his own verified admission went through a frenetic reading phase in which he devoured all the novels of the English novelist, playwright and critic; Graham Greene who majored in thrillers that connote high wire diplomatic intrigue. We are assured by the manager of Cameron’s favorite bookstore in Westminister that the politician just before his annual holidays makes large purchases of books spanning the areas of political philosophy and contemporary fiction among others. Let us quickly cross the Atlantic and peruse the United States President Barrack Obama as he wades through a diverse menu of books ranging from Shakespeare’s tragedies, through books on Abraham Lincoln’s leadership to classic modern novels. Of course it is well known that United States presidents maintain an official reading list of books, by which they not only improve their minds but rejuvenate a flagging national reading culture by force of personal example.

Zeroing back on Nigeria, it is pertinent to recall that an earlier generation of Nigerian politicians such as Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Chief Anthony Enahoro among others read and wrote avidly. At the 2012 Annual Obafemi Awolowo memorial, Toyin Falola, distinguished history professor at the University of Texas posited correctly that Awolowo read and wrote more books on Nigerian politics than most professors of political science. The reader maybe surprised to learn also that Nigeria’s former head of state, Olusegun Obasanjo used to be a lover of books, at least in his first term as military president of Nigeria. Dr. Stanley Macebuh, one of the finest intellects to have passed through the Nigerian media scene reported in his then weekly column at the Daily Times that he caught Obasanjo regaling himself with a book of some intellectual depth in the course of a trip to China, in which Macebuh came on the same plane with Obasanjo. No wonder, the retired general gave a better account of himself in the late 1970’s than in his later incarnations as civilian president. Evidence? He avoided self succession and set a democratic precedent at a time when sit tight rulers mushroomed on the continent. Two, he was at the time an economic nationalist who stood up to the Western economic doctrines based on the so-called free market but which the western powers do not practice in their own countries. Who knows, had Obasanjo kept up the intellectual stamina of those years manifested in his love for books, he might have avoided the delusions of the third term project and the pitfalls of rightwing economic nostrums which are especially hard on the poor.

That is a matter for another day, however. The focus of this enquiry is Jonathan and what he reads or fails to read. If Jonathan were to make public his reading list today, he would not need another “brink back the book” campaign to both convince a skeptical nation of his “mental magnitude” to borrow a favorite expression of Awolowo and to rekindle the appetite for books in an increasingly Philistine generation. That kind of public testimonial on the part of Jonathan will also pull the rug from under the feet of some of his hardline critics like Professor Ayittey, a world acclaimed Ghanaian scholar who after watching one of Jonathan’s media chats dismissed him as “a joke”. In the same connection, another group sought to initiate the process under the FOI act whereby Jonathan will be compelled to reveal his IQ scores. The group of activists based their doubtful crusade on the premise that some of the utterances of Jonathan did not portray him as someone intellectually capable or intelligent. All of these criticisms it must be admitted sound somewhat ironic considering that Jonathan is the holder of a doctorate degree and was expected to bring to governance a certain intellectual gravitas if not profundity of thoughts.

This writer does not think that Jonathan is the witless fool that caricatures of him have advertised. Nonetheless, a nation trapped in a siege of kidnappers and roving criminal gangs; caught in a protracted drift and inertia of massive proportions is surely waiting for the sure footed touch of a leader who will minister to its troubled soul. What Jonathan has going for him is a certain unpretentiousness and the easy going camaraderie of a politician who did not seek power but in a sense had it thrust upon him. But clearly more than pleasantness and a certain modesty deriving from an appreciation of one’s limitations are called for in a nation like ours stranded in a modern day version of the forest of ghosts depicted in Yoruba fables. Jonathan has made many promises to the nation to turn things round but it will take incurable optimism to argue that things are not getting worse and in some respects like the soaring levels of squander mania and corruption getting out of hand.

To properly understand why the nation continues to travel downhill we must put the searchlight on the president’s reading culture, his grasp of issues and understanding of what the times demand; in order to map out possible remedial steps in the area of improving or even modifying his appreciation of burning national issues. Though he belongs to a generation of politicians not famous for their love of books or the company of intellectuals it is still possible in some respects to amend the situation and what better way to begin than for him to make public his list of favorite books and other reading material?

Olukotun is professor of Political science and Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences and Entrepreneurial Studies at Lead City University, Ibadan. 
Culled from Punch