issues

THE VEXATIOUS BUDGET OF NIGERIA’S NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

Good day folks.

I have seen a few online petitions going around lately and one has caught my attention. The petition requesting the National Assembly (NASS) to open its book regarding the perennial N150 Billion (Approx. $600 Million) budget is a feel good one, but really doesn’t open up the matter. It’s okay to sign the petition, but more informative to understand the issues.

Let’s remember that the cold war between the Presidency and the NASS started in 2011, when President Jonathan refused to approve the NASS budget that was increased from N112.24 billion to N232.74 Billion (over 100% increase). The President had proposed N120 Billion, but eventually both parties agreed to settled for N150 Billion, which has remained the yearly budget till 2014 (Their budget was slashed in 2015 to N115 Billion). From that point on, the NASS practically stood in the way of the Executive over several issues, for which Nigerians paid the ultimate price. Can you imagine that if left unchecked, the NASS would have been blowing over N200 Billion on themselves????

Prior to 2011, there was some level of budget breakdown for the monies allocated to the NASS. We could tell what went to the Senate, House of Representatives, NASS Service Commission, etc. For the past 4 years however, no one has been able to breakdown this budget of N150 Billion despite the various demands by pressmen relying on the Freedom of Information Act.
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A TRIBUTE TO MY OUTGOING PRESIDENT: YOU SIR, HAVE MY RESPECT.

Goodluck PencilReally, you didn’t have much of a choice because the handwriting was clear that Nigerians needed a change. Not because you didn’t do well, but because the propaganda against you was seethed in the red hot belly of strong alliance that formed from the moment the unexpected knocked on your doors.

Despite the failures of your government, both perceived and real, your nobility breaks through the preponderance of narrow narratives of politics and persuasions that border on the preposterous. I believe you were given to our country as that lonely wall upon which our differences, vexations, animosities, and bile will be nailed to, just to unite us on the common activity of breathing out our devils.

Personally, I do not prefer your leadership style. To this, I have learnt that we are all made different and crafted for a given time, a given setting, and given people. For this, I can see through the heat and mist of my desire, beyond the trifling conveniences of my ignorant learning, to the higher calling of personal graces with which some are endowed.
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Fiction

THE LIFE IN CALABAR – AN INCONSEQUENTIAL SHORT STORY

I drove out of the airport at about 7:15 pm local time on Sunday and was mindful not to cause any delays in the exit lane from the parking lot. The parking receipt had slipped through the space between the driver’s seat and the fancy hand rest. I struggled to squeeze my fat fingers through to where the coloured paper rested while keeping the car in motion since from the rearview mirror there was a convoy of government officials trailing. I was driving a rental car, a small mini sedan which I often drove home from the airport instead of taking the light rail into town and hissing at every stop of the 45 minutes journey. Luckily, my dear friend Esther was manning the final exit gate and she simply waved me on and reminded me “Bros Bee, I’m still waiting for the trip oh!”. “I will call you”, I shouted in response. Call her fire! Ever since I met her at a restaurant in town and told her of my weekend getaway with my wife and friends to Creek Town holiday resort, she has bugged me severally to take her family along the next time I went.

The 1km road from the airport terminates at the ‘Welcome to Calabar’ roundabout, a massive landmark which unites three major expressways leading to the major districts in the City of Calabar. Beautifully constructed and well maintained, I usually take a deep breath when I get to drive around it to remind myself why I love this town. At nights, the dancing streams of water shot from powerful nozzles are coloured by underground lights and quite spectacular to behold. The water acrobatics from the concentric pools move with the rhythm of the local Efik percussions. At Christmas, tourists are usually treated to some elaborate water displays while driving into the city.
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issues

Top African Countries for Investment – by Afkinsider.com

1. South Africa

Despite a troubled recent history, South Africa has quickly become a model of stability in Africa and an important voice on the world stage. It ranks second in the world for accountability of private institutions and third for financial market development, showing trust in its markets at a time when trust is hard to find. With a rapidly growing tourism industry, a wealth of natural resources and booming industrial production, South Africa presents a unique opportunity hard for some investors to pass up.

Cape Town, South Africa ThinkStockPhotos

2. Mauritius

Little-known Mauritius offers a strong infrastructure for foreign investors – particularly in the areas of ports, air transport, and phone communication. Coupled with strong and transparent public institutions, clear property rights and an efficient government that enjoys an independent judiciary (a rare find on the continent), Mauritius has high standards for investor protection.

Port Louis in Mauritius ThinkStockPhotos

3. Rwanda

The Rwandan government’s no-tolerance policy when it comes to corruption makes the country a strong contender for investment. High-functioning institutions and security infrastructure contribute to the package. Additionally, Rwanda is well known for innovation and efficiency, and has well-developed financial and labor markets compared to the rest of the continent.

Tea plantation in Rwanda ThinkStockPhotos

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A TWIST TO JOSEPH KONY

Before you spread the word, take time to think first. How many times have you been fed a pitiful image about Africa that prompted you to suddenly become a temporary social media activist? You can’t remember? How many times have you watched a documentary framing an issue that speaks to a crisis in Africa, and you shed a tear and were moved to repost the video to your FB timeline, or even shared it inbox to raise awareness on the matter? Countless I imagine. I love this age we live in. One thing happens five time-zones away and we are inundated with reports of it in less than 5 minutes. We are buried in the innards of the information monster and we seem to be oblivious to its numbing effects on us.

So constantly we are faced with the reality of dual living; the social media avatars we present, and the real us strutting the corridors of life and sucking up to the demands of bread and water. Armed with Blackberrys, Android devices, iPhones, pads, and pods, along with the power platforms of Facebook, Twitter, and the likes, we suddenly assume the active global citizen that lends it voice to almost every passing concern. We like, share, comment, spool, anything that gets our attention and quickly move on to the next big thing. We have so perfected the art of using emoticons that we even literally believe that a ‘lol’ means the user is bursting out in actual laughter.

There seems to be only one thing that is consistent, and that is the desire to belong to something bigger than us.  But as for actually getting involved in something bigger, we stand in apparent contradiction to our avatars. Sad innit? A while ago I wrote a blog post on the treadmill dynamic and why social media activity is like going somewhere but walking on a treadmill. We engage in so much visible activity but no tangible impact. As soon as I saw the Joseph Kony video earlier this week, I knew that suddenly we will have many social activist rekindling their passion for social justice. However, by the weekend, I expect that their profile pictures would have return to more real images of friends, parties, idols, etc.
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I MUST SAY SOMETHING: THE KAMIKAZE DRIVERS OF ABUJA

It is always a thing of joy and pride to visit the Abuja city. Some years back, a special CNN coverage of the growth of Nigeria’s capital city pronounced it as like one of the most promising 21st century cities in terms of beauty. I couldn’t agree less, as it is easy to perceive the great thought that went into planning its structure and order. Sprawling around scenic rocks, it is totally different from a city like Ibadan, which is “flung and scattered among seven hills like broken China in the sun”. While Ibadan, like Lagos grew organically over the years, Abuja is a deliberate imagination of men. It was given birth to by an idea and that has so provided for the primacy of its design. From the city’s entrance, whether from the airport or other doors, you can tell of the systematic allocation of resources and literally draw your movement on paper to trail the city’s concept. It is always a relief to be in an ordered environment, far away from the confusion of ethnic and economic settlements where stress is allocated to its dwellers.

But like the case of any good thing, there are certain spoilers of the vine. For Abuja, almost everyone who drives a car is like a Fox

Abuja junction traffic from ayakubu.blogspot.com

trying to outwit another. Unlike Lagos, which has one popular race track, Abuja is the Grand Prix all by itself. Once a driver hold the steering, all lanes merge into one and it boils down to who arrives at their destination first, even though we aren’t all going to the same place.  I often wondered who exactly gave these kamikaze drivers a license to hit the road. I am beginning to suspect that the case of Abuja is like Calabar city – after Okadas (commercial bikes) were banned, it seems the operators graduated to cab drivers – and this probably is one reason the city’s taxi drivers seem perpetually high. Abuja drivers have no regard for simple traffic rules and flout them with such relish that bewilders a city newbie.
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