Friday, January 20, 2012


Dear Uncle,

Congratulations on your pyrrhic victory. A major achievement for your administration, now you have every reason to pop champagne and dance to the music of Dr Sid.  You have saved the country from the throes of economic ruin and in the words of your favourite youth, “Ose”. Indeed gratitude is a small word to say for what you have done. In fact when I woke up this morning and saw soldiers on the streets, my heart was filled with pride. Your show of strength is a warning to those disgruntled protesters that you are not a weak ruler.  That you would crush any opposition, save for those people who hate western education. Uncle, don’t listen to the critics encouraging you to take them on, don’t they know that you are from the Delta, and as we say there is no “Mumu” from our region. Please concentrate on the matter at hand; a matter of urgent national attention. This is a very important assignment, a divine task to transform our country economically. You should be commended not condemned by the people, but please forgive them, they don’t know what is good for them and where the shoe “pinches”, after all most of them wore shoes to school and you didn’t.  Now that you are in a position to wear one, you can truly tell where it hurts. Pray uncle what is your shoe size?  A very good friend of mine who is into oil and gas business would like to know. He told me in confidence that as part of his efforts to ensure he secures a lucrative deal and also in appreciation of your fight against corruption, he is willing to buy you 365 pairs of shoes. He promised that as long as his contract run, you would not lack shoes. Trust me sir, I told him to jump into the Lagos lagoon with his offer. If shoe were a problem, there would have been budgetary provision for it. If you could budget close to six million dollars for food alone, then you would have done the same for shoes if it were absolutely necessary. My friend is a jester and is highly recommended for a political appointment. Every king needs jesters in his court.  Sorry, I digress, back to the crux of the matter.

Truth is, the new policy of your administration is welcome development. We know that there is a wicked cabal bent on pushing the country to the edge of the precipice and you have displayed exceptional courage hitherto lacking in your administration in confronting these economic saboteurs.  Well done sir, I shall move from neighbor to neighbour asking them to come out en masse to celebrate the country’s new messiah. I have personally earmarked huge sums of money for musicians who are willing to wax lyrical about your achievement. Better still; a concert will be organized to herald this new era for our country. It is truly the dawn of a new era. We would witness unprecedented growth and development. With the revenue that would accrue to the country from your new policy, our streets will be paved with gold; every village would have a refinery; healthcare will be free for all and sundry; hospitals will have the best facilities in the world consequently top government officials will no longer travel abroad to treat headache and constipation; epileptic power supply would be history; manufacturers would reclaim warehouses from churches. This new policy would take our country to her apogee. I can see your name written in gold in the annals of the country’s history.

However sir, I am worried. So to allay my fears, can you please tell me if your subjects would be alive to see the glorious future? Wont majority of them have died from the burden of the new policy? Just asking and if my questions are provocative, please forgive me; blame it on the naivety of youth. And I don’t want you to call out an entire battalion of soldiers to deal with me.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Fourteen years after his death, the spirit of late Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was resurrected during the nationwide protest rallies across five consecutive days in the second week of January in Lagos.

Even in death, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was larger than life. “I no be gentleman at all oh. I no be gentleman at all oh,” sang an angry wave of protesters among tens of thousands at the Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, Lagos; as they swung to the beats of a musical prophet. This was far from being the Broadway musical. But Fela’s music provided an almost perfect soundtrack to express national outrage over the removal of fuel subsidy by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan on January 1, 2012. Since then, the grandeur of economic illusions was shattered like windowpanes as many Nigerians hurt from the pain of harsh realities inflicted by the removal of fuel subsidy. Beyond the fact that Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer and ranks as the fifth-largest exporter of crude oil to the U.S, the anger of most stemmed from the knowledge of the monumental corruption and wastage in government.

“You be thief (I no be thief). You be rogue (I no be rogue). You dey steal (I no dey steal). You be robber (I no be robber) You be armed robber (I no be armed robber)…,” the Afrobeat legend’s classic song titled ‘Authority Stealing’ blared from the loud speakers mounted on stage at the park, venue of the January 9 – 13 protest rally in Lagos organized by the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), a coalition of civil societies and human rights groups and following the strike called by the National Labour Congress (NLC).

“Dem leave sorrows, tears and blood, dem regular trademark. Dem regular trademark. Dem regular trademark,” another of Fela’s classic “Sorrows, Tears and Blood” resonated across the park. The protesters agreed with him, having heard the news that Ademola Aderinde, was shot by a trigger happy policeman in cold blood at Ogba, a suburb in Ikeja, the Lagos capital, on January 9.  Although the police commissioner had issued orders for the arrest of Segun Fabunmi, the police officer who pulled the trigger that killed Ademola. Then, most Nigerians see the deployment of soldiers to strategic protests centres in Lagos, including the Fawehinmi Park, on Monday January 16; as proof of the same highhandedness that was prevalent among Nigerian security forces, including the constantly criticized police force, during many decades of military dictatorship. 

Tens of thousands at Gani Fawehinmi Park: Pix credit: Sam Umukoro
Tens of thousands at the park - rechristened by some as Freedom Park gyrated to Fela’s heavy percussion beats and sang along lyrics laced in deep socially conscious messages. “Remove corruption Not Subsidy,” read one of the many placards dotting the landscape of the protests venue. Many have argued that the government is wasteful, should reduce its cost of governance as well as its bogus salaries and allowances to officials instead of removing fuel subsidy it claims could bankrupt the country’s economy. However, the federal government has argued that it would build new refineries while resuscitating the old ones, as well as reinvest the fuel subsidy money to improve other sectors. “Argument, argument! Argument, argument, argue. Them argue. Everybody dem argue Them dem dem argue,” Fela sang through the speakers. His spirit was resurrected among a thousand voices rising to a crescendo. It was a synergy of rage and a million decibels in sound that could not be ignored. Every day at the rally venue, since January 9, Fela, who once declared his interest to become president of Nigeria but had his candidacy refused, had a revolutionary effect on the surging crowd through his evergreen songs. “As time dey go. Things just dey bad. They bad more and more. Poor man dey cry. Rich man dey mess. Demo-crazy. Crazy demo. Demonstration of craze. Crazy demonstration,” Fela sang from another classic ‘Teacher don’t’ Teach me Nonsense”. Like the timeless lyrics of another of his songs said, many who were gathered at this venue and in other protests venues across Nigeria, were tired of Suffering and Smiling.

Suffering and Smiling. But not anymore!” read an inscription on one yellow commercial tricycle, popularly known as Keke NAPEP, as some rough looking protesters alighted later that afternoon. The first three words were borrowed from the title of one of Fela’s songs, which was played hours ago.  They looked evidently angry, probably with the Jonathan administration. Just then, Fela’s“When Trouble sleep, Yanga go wake am, Wetin him dey find,” “Palaver, he dey find. Palaver, he go get-e o,” boomed through the speakers. They screamed back excitedly as they joined the crowd to sing along the chorus. Throughout the duration of the rally, Fela’s songs was the unofficial soundtrack of the protest as his timeless classics blared intermittently from the speakers, in between speeches by labour leaders, activists, celebrities, and performance by various artistes.

Beyond fuelling the sounds of revolution, Fela’s music also highlighted the lyrical poverty of today’s contemporary Nigeria music, which was left exposed like a naked woman in the market square by the Afrobeat’s legend’s decades-old classics. Only a handful of artistes that performed at the rally ground had the same powerful effect on the crowd the way Fela’s music did, as none of their songs really had deep socially conscious or political lyrics that could serve as a catch to the crowd. Despite their popularity, Tuface Idibia, D’banj or WizKid’s music would most likely have been out of place in a setting like this,” someone in the crowd noted. He may be right. Many of the artistes present performed songs that scored high on entertainment value rather than for its political or social message. The essence of their music and lyrics seem to be lost like a handful of sand in the ocean that was Fela’s music as it swept through the surging crowd like tidal waves.

Although a few came up with poor remixes to suit the occasion, the last dance and encore belonged to the Afrobeat legend. “I go many places. I go business places. And I see, see, see. All the bad, bad, bad things. Dem dey do, do, do. Call corruption... I say I waka waka waka. I see, see see…. Waka Waka Waka,” Thousands in the crowd sang along with Fela’s backup singers. This superseded the Broadway musical. “That’s my elder brother singing,” screamed one protester, lost in the musical rapture. 

Like their father’s, the music and performance of Grammy Award nominee Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti also had the same effect, as their songs were also laced with socially conscious lyrics and political messages. Until his death in August 1997, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was a social commentator and vocal campaigner for human rights and good governance, which were reflected in most of his songs. Revered by his Afrika Shrine faithful as Abami Eda – meaning 'a mysterious creature or the weird one’, the five-day Lagos protests have shown that, with his evergreen tunes, the spirit of the Afrobeat genius was very much alive in his motherland.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Nigerian Artistes Against Fuel Subsidy Removal: Aduke Joins the Chorus

Young, beautiful, and talented singer Aduke may have warmed her way into the hearts of many Nigerians with this touching song, titled 'Hear the Voice'. It is a rally cry against fuel subsidy removal announced on January 1, 2012. With this song, Aduke, like fellow artistes - Tha Suspect and Flavour Nabania, have amplified the chorus against fuel subsidy removal. And some more artistes may yet be in the studios, putting finishing touches to their musical expressions against it.

After almost two weeks of mass protests nationwide, many Nigerians are still hopeful that the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan would finally hear the voice of the Nigerian masses. Just like Aduke sang.

Enjoy the video.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nigerian Artistes Sing Against Fuel Subsidy Removal

Nigerian Artiste 'Tha Suspect' and Flavour Nabania have added their vocal skills  to the fuel subsidy removal issue, which has generated a lot of debate and outrage among Nigerians all over the world. "Subsidy matter, na for your pocket... No be say money to build refinery no dey," he argues in the video produced by Capital Hill Music productions. While Flavour expressed his argument in Ibo language.

Many Nigerians have argued that the government should cut down on its expenditure by reducing its cost of governance, as well as its bogus salaries and allowances to officials; instead of removing fuel subsidy it claims could bankrupt the country’s economy. For instance, while most Nigerians live on less than two dollars a day and do not have access to quality health care facilities, a breakdown of the 2012 budget showed that the government budgeted N992.57 million for “feeding” in the Presidency, while N45 million was earmarked for the purchase of kitchen and household equipment, N293 million for “refreshment”. N1.2 billion was also budgeted for The State House Clinic in the Presidency for the improvement of facilities. However, the federal government has argued that it would build new refineries while resuscitating the old ones, as well as reinvest the fuel subsidy money to improve other sectors.

"N200 million to take care of your garden for one year, na the Garden of Eden? N1 billion to chop for one year? Sorry o! You wan use am collect medal for Olympics?" Tha Suspect questions in the video, with beat samples reminiscent of that from the late Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti in the background.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


A sign post showing the new pump price at a filling station: AFP
Following a sober Christmas celebrations in some parts of the country, the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan delivered a frightening New Year gift to Nigerians in the name of fuel subsidy removal. A N65 to N141 price increase amounts to a 116% increase that would also result in a comparative increase in the prices of goods and services across the country.

Okay. So President Jonathan did what four military rulers & three civilian presidents before him couldn't do. Big deal. But is this fuel subsidy removal really in the best interests of 160 million plus Nigerians, where most of the Niger Delta have suffered oil spills amounting to over 546 million barrels of crude in the last five decades, where the country’s four refineries have been run aground by mismanagement and corruption, where majority of the people live on less than one dollar a day?

Let’s cut the chase and temporarily disregard the figures being bandied about by government officials and beneficiaries as the cost of fuel subsidy and benefits of its removal.  No matter how you look at it, go under it, over it, on top of it, the January 1, 2012 fuel subsidy removal by the federal government through its agency the PPPRA is illegal, ill timed, insensitive and unjust. 

And despite the postulations of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration that it would be in the best interests of the nation in the long run, it must be said that the ill timed decision would affect every sector and facet of Nigerian life.

Protesters at Federal Secretariat, Abuja, marching against 
fuel subsidy removal. Picture credit:
There are a thousand and one reasons to doubt the sincerity of the federal government in reinvesting the fuel subsidy money into other sectors.

For one, Nigeria is the 5th largest exporter of petroleum in the world, yet she imports refined oil, because her refineries have been run aground by gross mismanagement and a corrupt elite. Other countries where their fuel prices are relatively high or almost the same as obtained in Nigeria today have a better standard of living, far higher minimum wages, trusted leaders, and some are not even oil producers like Nigeria is.

In countries where their fuel prices are relatively high or almost the same as obtained in Nigeria today have a better standard of living and far higher minimum wages. For example, how can you compare the United States of America with a minimum wage of almost $2,000 a month with Nigeria where the minimum wage is N18,000 or $120 a month.

If the country had a sincere government and was not populated by a thieving class for this long and the country did not have endemic corruption; then Nigerians won’t be questioning their moral authority over fuel subsidy removal, doubt their intentions or distrust their claims that the money would be reinvested into other sectors.

Fuel subsidy removal would affect not only transportation but every facet of living costs in Nigeria where there are no proper of functional regulatory pricing structures and so the prices of goods and services go up and scarcely come down. Otherwise fuel subsidy removal won’t be an issue of debate.

If Power Holding Company of Nigeria PHCN was working and there was constant supply of electricity, most Nigerians won’t be enraged over fuel subsidy. At least then they won’t have to spend their hard earned money on fuelling their generators to power their homes and water pumping machines.

Picture Credit: Osun Defender
If the country’s four refineries had been fixed long time ago and it was working at optimal capacity, fuel subsidy removal or non-removal won’t be an issue.

If the federal government cuts down its size, including the outrageous salaries of its officials, cuts down on its ‘irresponsible’ expenditure; then fuel subsidy removal won’t be an issue, because they too would severely feel the pinch.

If these government officials and ministers take public transportation like most Nigerians, instead of flying first class or cruising around chauffeur driven cars wherever they go on taxpayers money, then fuel subsidy removal won’t be an issue.

If the nation’s refineries are working and there was no questionable deregulation of the oil industry, it would encourage healthy competition, paralyze the so called cabal, make petroleum products more affordable for Nigerians; then fuel subsidy removal won’t even be mentioned. The country’s telecommunication sector is a prime example.

If the country had functioning transportation system – good roads, efficient rail lines, safe waterways, even subways,; then fuel subsidy removal won’t be an issue.

If the manufacturing sector and Small Business Enterprises had some form of support from the federal government to help grow local businesses in the country and so reduce importation of goods and services, which in turn would improve the country’s economy and so the welfare of the citizenry.

Protest over fuel subsidy removal. Pix PUNCH
These are some reasons why Nigerians have decided to stand up and passionately resist an insensitive government and market forces of evil to protect her rights to a better life. The fuel subsidy removal issue has become a wakeup call to national consciousness, a resistance to misguided leadership, sycophancy, corruption, bad governance, mismanagement of national resources, monumental greed among people in power, gross financial, political and moral irresponsibility and insensitivity of public officials in high places. 

The ultimate salvation for any country stuck in the valley of decisions lies in the desire of the government to listen to the cries of the people. Before it snowballs into uncontrollable rage. 

God bless Nigeria.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Happy New Year (Pix Credit: DailyMail)

Imagine a new Nigeria tomorrow.
Where peace, truth and justice shall reign.
Together, we can make it better!
May we witness a better country 
And a better world in 2012.
God bless Nigeria. 

Peace to all of mankind.

Happy New Year, everyone.