<![CDATA[Faith International Christian Centre - Blog]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 03:52:37 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[My Epilogue for President Obama]]>Fri, 20 Jan 2017 17:51:36 GMThttp://ficcnigeria.org/blog/my-epilogue-for-president-obamaPicture
I know I am going to get a lot of applause or backlash on this blog, depending on which part of the divide you sit on. We are in the throes of the last hours of Obama’s presidency, and I remember the feeling on the night he became president.

I recall the popular quote of those days “There can be no black man in the white house”, but the phenomenon was going to happen none the less. I bought two of his books about that time, “Dreams of My Father” and “Audacity of Hope” I devoured them, deeply captivated by the rich words and stories as he spoke about his birth, and the childhood in Indonesia. As I read, I imagined him in something close to a lorry travelling to see his grandmother in Kenya. I imagined his very black relatives who were not as light skinned as he was, celebrating their half cast brother. I was captivated when he spoke about his journey as a young man who needed to find his identity. I was deeply drawn into the story of how he became a community organizer in Chicago, how they organized to get the city to change the use of asbestos in water pipes (even though that confused me a bit, as I wondered how asbestos was found in pipes, I know in Nigeria we use asbestos for roofing sheet), anyway the story was still very interesting, and finally how he got into Harvard to study for a law degree. I was enamored by the story of his internship and how he met the lady that we popular have come to know as the FLOTUS, the intelligent, beautiful and scintillating Michelle Obama, and the enactment of their love story. How he was the intern attached to her at the law firm they both worked for, the firm where their paths crossed.

8 years ago, I was barely married for 3 years, had a thriving banking career and a young baby who was just about to turn one. So when I read Obama’s story of how on his way home from senate meetings, his wife would ask him to buy baby food, and how he would still get home and wash dishes, the story resonated with me. I had a banking career, and those days, my wife would call me at whatever time of her choosing and ask me to buy baby food and diapers.

I recall the night he became president. We stayed awake and virtually watched till dawn (well it was night in Nigeria but day time in America). We followed every story. How he came down from the presidential limousine to walk and greet the crowd against the advise of the security officials. I recall how one guy on CNN said it was his honour to be recording the inauguration of the First Black President of the United State. We reminisced on the black struggle, the struggle for equality by Rev. Martin Luther King and his cohorts including Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton and John Lewis. In fact that night, I watched Jesse Jackson shed tears of joy as they inaugurated Barak Obama as the 44th president of the United States. Beyonce and Jay Z sang with serious swag, after all black people were in power. And of course, it was a time to celebrate a historic moment. For the first time, all the sufferings of the slave trade, all the struggle for voting rights, for a seat space in buses, for black and white integration, for white-black equality seemed to have reached a point of inflexion. We all celebrated because in our minds, the time of the black Americans had come.

I will not take away from the experience, the campaign slogan “Yes We Can” became every bit a reality. Sooner did he come into office that he captured and killed the notorious Osama Bin Laden and people began to say “Obama don kill Osama”. His speeches were made by master orators. His biggest gift yet is his gift of the garbs and his super swag. The word “Swagger” got a new notoriety when Obama came to office. We had the pleasure of comparing his slim athletic build to those of our pot-bellied African presidents. There was hope. Hope in America, hope for Americans, hope the black race in America and even in Africa. There was inspiration. Inspiration that anyone could be anything they dream to be. Finally we had someone who would defend the cause of the black man. He believed in the black cause, and had not made up his mind on the LGBT agenda.

So he won the second term and the story changed. He made up his mind about the LGBTQ story finally, and it seemed that as he made up his mind about that, he made up his mind for a lot of other things. He decided that one of the reasons that God put him as president was to drive the LGBTQ agenda. That simply because the biggest cause of his advocacy. He pursued it more that he pursed the education of Africa. He pursued it more than he cared about the problems of the black people, he pursed more that he pursed health and wellness across the world, apart from Obamacare. Once he made up his mind about the agenda, he became their biggest advocate. His core visions became “The right to abortion and the rights of LGBTQ”. He pursed every law and was willing to force the agenda down the throat of anyone that he came across. He met with Nigeria and of course threatened to remove aids to the country if the country does not legalize gay marriage. Of course the Nigerian National Assembly threw it out and legislated a 14 years prison sentence for homosexuality and sodomy of any kind, and true to his words, he remove all aids for treatment of HIV AIDS. He refused to sell weapons to the Nigerian government on the guise of human right repression in Nigeria even when Boko Haram was decimating a better part of the North East of Nigeria. His agenda was more important to him than the people of Nigeria and the lives of children and women who were dying everyday in the hands of BH.

In Kenya, his father’s homeland, with all the sufferings and economic troubles they country had, the biggest message he had for them was to legalize gay marriage. The President answered him well. He did not advocate for education, or disease control, or health or economic growth, he advocated for legalization of gay marriage.

In America, all hell broke loose. Soldiers were fired from their jobs for holding bible scripture on their computers while gay men were celebrated with medals of honour for coming out as gay. LGBTQ became the biggest success key in America – Ellen became mega rich, every movie had a gay or lesbian interaction, even children cartoons were beginning to be infiltrated. Coaches were sacked for praying with their football teams. Pastors who had served their country and their communities for years were labeled as haters just because they would not be muzzled to call bad good. They sent IRS after pastors and church organization to repress them and beat them into conformity. The good people were labeled as bad and people who commit abomination became the good thumbs. A county clerk was put in jail because she would not sign a gay marriage certificate. A florist was charged to court for refusing to make floral decors for a gay wedding, a baker was fined heavily for refusing to make cakes for a gay marriage. It became so bad that churches could no longer preach against a sinful moral code that was an abomination before God. There was a full time advocacy to gag the church and the people of God. Finally the toilet law came out and the Obama government chose their transgender agenda over the rights of children and the mass of the people to a life of choice. The Government told the states, "comply with the toilet rule or risk losing all federal support for schools in your state". They even told church and Christian organization to compulsorily comply with paying for abortion treatment whether or not it was against their tenets, and they had also started pushing for churches to also comply with the toilet rule for transgender people.

The Obama administration created a war for the moral soul of America. It was a war between the LGBTQ agenda and those that believe in traditional values, a war between abortion right and pro-life, a war between conservatism and extreme liberal on the left. Their goal was to redefine what was moral or immoral. They raised the argument that the word of God could not be the moral code of the nation, that they must sever church and state at whatever point of interception. Those who asked for a right to stand away from their agenda were labelled haters of the people and the state. They derogated them to second class citizen while gay people became the super stars. He gave them medals of honour, and raised their lifestyle and choice over the lifestyle and choice of majority of the people. He called anybody who dared to oppose any of the ideologies as intolerant, only themselves were tolerant, see how tolerant they are. Meanwhile, the black people in American suffered more than ever before. Every other month in the last 2 years had a story of a law enforcement officer shooting an unarmed black man. This happened under a black president. Black neighbourhood became repressed and oppressed, black schools were so challenged with gang activities and school shootings while the Black president was busy advocating for whatever agenda and rights were important to him.

He chose Iran over Israel. Iran was an enemy state since the revolt and take-over by Ayatollah Komeini, but Obama chose to give them a 10 year plan for uranium enrichment even when Israel kicked against it on the basis that he was granting them access to nuclear bomb. He gave Iran $150B for the release of four American, even though he claimed that was not the reason. He considered Iran’s threat to Israel overrated and of course, the threats have continued to come. Afterward, he chose to divide Israel and allowed the UN seed East Jerusalem to Palestine. He decided that Israel’s enemies were more important than Israel and preferred them.

The war he started ran into the presidential campaign of Clinton and Trump. Everyone on the side of Trump was classed into a basket of deplorables. They classed evangelicals as haters and racists and bigots. For me that is what intolerance is made off. When people disagree with your point of view or vote against your opinion, you call them names and discredit them. In their manner, the administration and their supporters worked hard to discredit the church and whoever had conservative principles. They assumed only themselves to be superior and their opinion superior. It was so bad that for the first time in the history of America, the Democrats did not pitch the church for any vote. Trump did, and the rest is history. He won, and they lost. They lost so bad they have not been able to get over it.

They had projected that it was impossible for Trump and the conservatives to get 270 electoral votes. They made polls and polls to strengthen their own arguments. They had classed the Church as second rate and thought they had been cowered, they were too weak to matter, but they made a mistake. The Church saw and understood the war. They knew it was a fight for the Supreme Court, a fight for the moral soul of America and the world, a fight for the right of a foetus to life instead of being aborted. They read the records, over 60million children aborted since 1980 in America (that is about 5 or 6 West African nations put together). The church they had relegated to the background stood up and voted. Trump won, Clinton lost.

What is Obama’s rating? The same polls that said Trump will lose and Hillary would win and missed it miserably are saying Obama’s approval rating was over 60%. Do I believe them? But had he done half as much for the black people as he did for LGBTQ, he would have achieved a lot more. Had he done half of what he did for Iran, for Israel, he would have been a better president. So while I celebrate him for his personal achievement of being POTUS 44, I am glad he and the democrats are leaving government at least for the next four years, let’s have some relief!

I am glad the tenor is ended, and I am glad the Democrats lost everywhere – The Presidency, the House of Rep and the Senate. I am glad Republicans won, particularly Trump, and most importantly, I am glad how the fight for the moral soul of America went.

Goodbye Obama, welcome Trump. I pray that God will bless the Trump government and use it for his glory, in Jesus name.

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<![CDATA[My Verdict, Mr. President]]>Thu, 24 Nov 2016 16:32:12 GMThttp://ficcnigeria.org/blog/my-verdict-mr-presidentPicture
​Many waters have passed under the bridge, as they say; Trump won the American Presidential election while Hillary conceded gracefully, and  Nigerian government finally agreed that the nation is in a recession.   A new figure came out in November 2016, a third consecutive quarter of negative growth, 2.3%, and still the government in power has no coordinated response to the recession.  They are still planning to release their economic recovery plan by the beginning of the next quarter, or did they say by the end of the year?  19 months after Buhari took over government, the country and steeped further into recession,  and of course, there is still no reasonable electricity, there is no road, no water, no food, in fact the Government have predicted  famine, and most importantly, there is still no money from the corrupt politician and their cronies whom  the government have been chasing about for the past 19 months.
 
By the way, I campaigned and voted for Buhari, and not withstanding his abysmal performance,  I would still vote for him today should he be placed on the podium with Jonathan or Atiku.  If Jonathan had still being at the helms of affairs, , we probably would not have had a country today, maybe they would have sold the country, given us change and still told us the country was not "broke" or "broken". However, today, should Buhari be placed on the same podium with a wildcard third person, a willing disrupter, I am so sorry, I am "porting" straight to that camp.  Tell me, who Buhari epp?
 
He won election, and it took him 6 months to appoint ministers, eventually, there was nothing fantastic about the appointments.  If he was not appointing his cousin as Chief of staff, he would be appointing his nephew, or his sister's cousin-brother, or any one of his tribesmen.  The appointment of ambassadors has become a story for another day.  To allow those he appointed to work, who sai?  They all have to wait for his body language as he emerges from the kitchen, living room or the other room.   To see him, you have to first see his cousins who have literally hijacked the government from him.  Even the people that helped him become president can't reach him.  But come to think of it, what did they expect?  He already told them he belonged to nobody and he belonged to everybody.   Only that the “everybody” he belongs to are the people of his own extraction, even at the expense of the nation and the big issues facing us all, else how do you explain how only people of his extraction have express appointment, everybody else has to work in acting capacity. 
 
Even security, yes, Boko Haram has been decimated, but Fulani Herdsmen have been decimating every other part of the country, no single arrest, instead, they are asking for free land to be reserved for them as grazing space.  Over 1000 people killed by Fulani Herdsmen and not one reasonable arrest has been done, yet Nnamdi Kanu, who had killed nobody or held a violent protest, is being arraigned on terrorism charges.  His only sin being that he agitated for the Indigenous People of Biafra, and he is Igbo.  By the way, I don't agree with that agitation, but why would you charge Nnamdi Kanu, who never killed anyone, or bombed anywhere, with terrorism, while you allow Fulani herdsmen roam, kill and maim people without regards? Till today, no member of the Miyeti Allah has been arrested or tried or jailed for murdering innocent people across the nation.
 
Mr. President, behold the verdict of your electorate, you have done poorly so far, but you have 2 more years, 2 years to redeem your name and give us the leadership, service and change we voted you in to effect  so that we won't be ashamed to beat our chest and exclaim that we voted for you.

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<![CDATA[My Escortion to Buckingham Palace]]>Thu, 22 Sep 2016 16:36:08 GMThttp://ficcnigeria.org/blog/my-escortion-to-buckingham-palacePictureBuckingham Palace
Sequel to my River Thames trip, I didn’t mention that I made a tourist visit to Buckingham Palace.

First of all, I didn’t plan to go to Buckingham palace and I was not even sure where it was. But I had been inquisitive. For some reason it did not occur to me that Buckingham palace would be somewhere easily accessible in central London, not to talk of it being just off Trafalgar Square. Interestingly I had visited Trafalgar square once and even taken a picture of an arch on the right side of the square, on my way to Westminster, but was not sure what the arch was or where it pointed to.
I had trekked that day, with my camera by my side. Na so the waka carry me reach Pall Mall. Ehh! Pall Mall wey we dey see for monopoly.

My plan was to find my way to Trafalgar square and then Westminster Road. I was determined to reach the Westminster Abbey and the House of Lords, so getting to Pall Mall was a pleasant surprise. I walked up a corner, found a Brazilians Embassy building that was promoting an open house event, then a souvenier shop. I entered the Brazillian House first and then the souvenir shop and na there discussion start.
“How may I help you sir?”
Na so one of the guys wey dey the shop ask me.
“Just want to see souvenirs you have”. I answered.
Na so the guy carry map comot. I never see people wey like map like Londoners. Map full everywhere, bus-stop, map, restaurant, map, road side where people dey waka their own, map, remain small make people toilet sef get map.
Na so I collect map, begin look am like say I be geographer..
“Excuse me, just to ask, pls where is Buckingham Palace at?” Na im I ask the Oyibo guy, with my British –Nigerian accent. By this time, I don dey London for a few days and London cold don hammer me enough to change my accent. E be like na cold dey change people accent for Jand.
“Oh”, the guys said. “Just walk up the street, take left, and then walk down, and you would see a stairway. Walk down the stairway and you will be on Buckingham palace road”.
I thanked him and did as I was told.
Guess what, that left turn took me back to Pall Mall, where I had just passed. I had seen what looked like a dead end, and did not bother getting there, apparently that was the stairway that joined the Buckingham palace road.
Oh boy, na so I descend the stairway, as I look ground, wetin I see, red coloured main road with flags everywhere, e be like I dey inside television. I don reach Buckingham Palace road.

See people everywhere, Americans, Indians, Mexican, African, even British people, as dem full, all of us dey go escortion for Buckigham Palace.
How British person go dey come escortion for Buckingham palace?
Anyway, as I reach there, people full, dey take selfie. Me sef, I balance begin snap my own. Na there my groove start.

While I was there, I began to wander, “How many people have ever gone sight-seeing at the palace of the traditional ruler of their town? Why e be say as Oyinbo dey go queen palace, we sef no fit carry our leg say we wan go Oba palace go to escortion?

How come people can go to Buckingham palace, in droves, just to sight-see, but cannot go to, let's say, the Ooni's palace or Oba of Benin palace to sight-see?

Una dey fear jaaz, full stop.

Shuo, who wan go Oba of Benin or Ooni of Ife palace go do sight-seeing? Oba palace resemble Buckingham palace for your eye?
Anybody wey go palace for sight-seeing, na anything im eye see, e go take.

But truly speaking, should we not be going on tour to the palace of the Ooni or Olubadan or even the Oba of Benin? Should they not have museums of ancient history? Should should the museums not have artifact of our true history? Not those “ridiculous” stories of how Oduduwa came from the sky and how Olodumare sent him with cowrie, sand and chicken. Which pikin go believe them?
Stories of how when Oduduwa got to the earth he saw water, and he poured the sand, and then the chicken came and scattered the sand and then the sand dried and became land. Sincerely I don't even know who formed this story in particular and added it to Yoruba mythology for people to accept.

Truth is a lot of us are afraid that the Oba's palace is secluded and jaazed up and you do not want to meddle.

I spent 6 solid years in Ife and never went to the Ooni's palace. With all the rich history the palace courts, as the palace of Oduduwa. The rich story of how Oduduwa founded Yoruba kingdoms, having moved from Benin to settle in Yoruba land.

Benin ke?

Yes! Benin. And maybe I will tell you the story as I understand it, and how it help me make some sense of all those ridiculous stories that formed the Yoruba mythology.

I grew up reading Yoruba history. The records they have kept is eclectic, to say the least. The accuracy of the Yoruba people’s side of the story too is fantastic, except for the sides that connect to some other non-Yoruba actors.. For instance, the history agrees Oduduwa came to Ile-Ife (that is the Yoruba side, accurate), but from where? Mecca, the sky or somewhere else? Yoruba historians become lost or silent, but they agree that that he came from somewhere and that is how the Yoruba story begins. Oduduwa comes to Ile-Ife, settles and bears several sons including one named Oranmiyan.
People from a land that later became Benin come and asks Oduduwa to be their king, Oduduwa says no and sends Oramiyan or Oranyan. Oranmiyan goes to the land (Yoruba history does not have the name), and after ruling them for a while, name the place Ile-Ibinu (Land of Vexation) and tells them only a child born in that land could be their king. He also bears a son (Yoruba history does not tell his name) and installs him as Omo N'oba. Hence the title of Oba in Benin. Ile-Ibinu metamorphoses into Bini and eventually Benin when the Portuguese came in the 15th century.

To cut long story short, Oranmiyan leaves the town and comes back to Ile-Ife and then travels to Oyo where he establishes the Oyo Kingdom and becomes the first Alaafin. Yes the same Oranmiyan. The story from there continues with pitch accuracy.
He bear children, one of them is Dada (Ajaka), and the other is Sango. Dada becomes Alaafin as Oranmiyan goes back to Ile-Ife to become Ooni. The Oyo people pick the story from there and tell how Dada was weak and was dethroned to be replaced by Sango, his younger brother, and how Sango's notoriety grew until he could call down thunder . The story goes on how to tell how Oyo became a great empire and expanded as far as Dahomey (present day Republic of Benin) and then how by means of expansionism campaign they establish an outpost in a place called Eba Odan (present day Ibadan). Ibadan people pick up the story from there, and tell how Egba people used to own the axis until Oyo people established the outpost at the place where the savannah meets the forest (Eba Odan) and eventually drove the Egba people further inland.

Ibadan people then tell the story of how they gained independence from Oyo after the Oyo-Ibadan war, the war that earned Ibadan their "Oriki" as “Awon omo a je igbin, je ikaraun e" meaning (the people that ate snail and also ate the shell). Story has it that during the war, Ibadan people escaped to the mountains and survived on "Oro" fruit and Snail. They ate snails and used the shell of the snail as improvised cups and paddles to drink water and corn-pap. The story and history of Ibadan people goes on to include the war between them and Ijesha, the war that was called the "Kiriji War" the first war in Yoruba land that involved the use of cannons, purchase from the British. To put the time in perspective, the war was happening at about the same time the precussor bank that became FirstBank was being established - about 1894.

Going back to the Oranmiyan story, Oranmiyan becomes Ooni, and then Oduduwa's other sons, seven in all, also disperses and founds other yoruba kingdoms, hence the reason why they call Yoruba land "Ile Oduduwa" meaning Oduduwa's Land.

So I grew up on these stories, but I had one question, "Where did Oduduwa come from?" As definite as Yoruba people are about their story, this side of Oduduwa was very indefinite. Some said he came from Mecca, but that didn’t sound correct, because Arabian words did not gain access into Yoruba culture until the Fulani invasion, via Jihad, which was resisted, until the religion slowly gained access. The story of Afonja and Alimi and how Afonja was motivated by Alfa Alimi to rebel against the Alaafin, and how eventually Alfa Alimi connived and killed Afonja, then took the Ilorin kingship and made it an Emirate. So saying that Oduduwa came from Mecca was inaccurate.

You couldn’t have heard Yoruba history without being familiar with Oduduwa’s myths, which did not look like they made sense until the day I read the history of the Benin people.
Firstly the land Oranmiyan renamed Ile –Ibinu had a name before Oranmiyan got there. It was called Igodomigodo (sounds familiar, right? - Obahiagbon). Oranmiyan only renamed it Ile-Ibinu. The son he had, had a name, his name was Eweka. He was the first Oba of Ile-Ibinu. The people of Igodomigodo had a kingship structure in place that they asked Oduduwa and then Oranyan to fill, the kings were not called Obas until Oranyan came. They were called Ogiso which means “The ones that came from the sky”. Ogiso was the title of the king of Igodomigodo, as well as the recognition of their next in lines.
So why would they come to ask Oduduwa to be their Ogiso?

It was because Oduduwa was originally the son of the Ogiso and was supposed to be Ogiso in his stead. However through palace politics, he was usurped and so had to leave. He took his men and they settled in Ife where he established a kingdom. Now if Ogiso (the one from the sky) was his title, it made sense that the mythology would say Oduduwa came from the sky. That tied for the first time,

His original name was Ekalederhan, and when he settled in Ife, he changed his name to Izoduwa. Izoduwa was called in short Ooduwa and further stretched by metamorphoses to Oduduwa, and that made sense. I know that Oduduwa is usually called Ooduwa or Oodua in speeches, and Izoduwa is still a Benin name in current use, so it makes sense.
The reason why they asked him to come be their kings was that the Ogiso died and they needed a new Ogiso, and had to come fetch Izoduwa, but at that time, he had established his kingdom, and he told them, "A king does not leave his throne, to go somewhere else" so he offered his son Oranmiyan. That ties together and makes sense. Benin people, like the Yorubas, also have pristine records of all kings from Oranmiyan till date, and the story preceeding Oduduwa, the story that explained why Oramiyan came to Benin.

So the Myths were not really wrong. They just couched facts in unclear mythical rhetorics.
When Ooduwa did get to Ife, he met Agbonniregun who was a diviner, an Ifa Priest. Myths have it that Agbonniregun entered into the earth and turned into "Opele"

Sweet Yoruba history.

My question remains, how come with this rich history we do not go to the Ooni's palace on tourism?

Anyway such was my sojourn at the Buckingham palace. Hopefully someday, we will be able to go on escortion to our local palaces without being in dread of Jaaz.

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<![CDATA[No Be Only Naija Rivers Dey Brown!]]>Wed, 14 Sep 2016 23:00:00 GMThttp://ficcnigeria.org/blog/no-be-only-naija-rivers-dey-brownPicture
No be only naija river dey brown.

For the sake of all you who keep yapping lagos lagoon and bar beach all the time, no be for only naija river dey brown. 
I took a trip to the UK and decided I needed to go sight seeing. Of course it was summer, and as a proper toursit naija boy, I decided I had to go to River Thames and the Tower bridge of London. Na so I enter bus from my hood for East London, face Central London.
As a JJC, I ensured I had the direction to the Tower bridge, and as I dey go, I dey pray say "Father, please let the bridge open today", you know the Pounds to Naira exchange rate, and I was determined to have my Pounds worth of enjoyment. Na so I enter bus, I don determine say today me sef go see River Thames.

First bus stopped at Oxford Circus, na im I come down, begin waka. As a Lagos sharp guy, I decided to do window shopping. How I go waka from there reach Tower Bridge and I no go feed my eyes. I begin enter shops one by one. First stop Hamley's, ol boy see toys, I see toys I bow. As I don check the Pound wey dey my pocket, I don pre-decide say today na to look, take picture and face my waka to River Thames.

Next I enter one Coffee shop where dem dey sell designer coffee. the coffee name sef na pepper. Na so I enter, oyinbo say, 
'Welcome, sir would you like to experience our coffee?" 
I said to myself, "experience kwa!", "Yes, why not?" 
Na im dem carry me go this table. Ol boy, see light, and arrangement. Dem bring one small sealed metal cuplette wey be like taba container, and the guy says,
"our coffee is specially made from premium coffee beans, grown in the south of Italy". 
In my mind, I was like "what is premium about any coffee, no be make the coffee dey catch?",
See, as far as I am concerned, coffee is for keeping you awake, full stop. I don't believe any coffee is premium if it doesn't keep your eye sparkling clear like day. None the less, I sat at the table.
The guy carry the cuplette put inside one machine without opening. The guy press the brew button, na so this clean yellow coffee, wey be like latte, comot, the guy passed it to me.
I taste am, see bitter! 
One small shot, and I was instantly shacked. I ask the guy for the price, the guy say I must buy the box of the coffee and the machine, na dia mata end.
I responded, "great, I like this coffee, you have me for a customer, I will surely visit again". 
Na dia my coffee parol end.

Na so I continue my waka, from shop to shop, item to item, bags, shoes, shirts, store wey be say na only burger dem dey sell, another one wey show me dispenser of soft drink say, "you can help yourself sir". It was there I knew why they call soft drinks soda, if you drink am as you see am, you go bleach!
Anyway, I continued, with my face set on getting to Tower bridge of London and seeing the River Thames. I had heard that there are lots of restaurant on the banks of the river, na so my waka continue.
 
Oyibo sabi keep monuments, every where monuments, their papa wey die for 1850, man wey be the first post master of England, woman wey start the first nursing school etc.   As I dey waka, I dey take picture. Stand beside monument snap selfie, beside building, snap selfie, stand for front of shop wey dey sell old-school umbrella wey Mungo Park take enter Africa, snap selfie, as I dey waka I dey snap. Finally, I reach London bridge.

For No 1, London bridge, see people. Everybody dey waka like say dem be queen cousins - white, black, brown, even blue, peolple full everywhere dey smile, dey take picture.
So I asked, "please I like to get to Tower Bridge of London". 
At this time, my English don begin change. E be like as I dey waka dey take picture, na im my English dey metamorphose. By this time, it had become almost queen's english. My accent, wey I no know whether na American or Dubai, don transform.
The fine slim sister I spoke to turned around and said to me,
" You just walk down the stairs, yeah, walk straight on, yeah, and you'll get the the Tower bridge". 
I said "thanks". 
By this time I don waka almost 30kilometers, I don trek tire. You see the reason why this British people no dey fat na because dem dey over trek. Trekking is their second name. They can trek for London! Me sef, by this time, don acclamatize, na so me sef put leg for road, begin waka go down the stairs. I look floor, na wetin dem write? "Queens Walk". 
Here na Queen get everything - Her Majesty this, Her Majesty that. Anyway, as I dey go where I go from pass reach River Thames, I did not mind. After much waka, na im I see the acclaimed River Thames. The River Thames wey I read for Charles Dicken's book - Oliver Twist, the Thames where James Bond and that pretty blond act Live and Let's die. The Thames where dem talk say the Women of London build bridge pass during first World War. 

When I see the river, I was shocked. The water was brown like lagos lagoon, Infact as I dey look the water, I dey remember Third Mainland bridge lagoon. I just dey imagine those Ilaje people on top River Thames dey throw net. 
Kai, na to see this water I waka almost 3 hours? 
From that day it became clear to me that the river always looks beautiful in a magazine. In conclusion, all water na almost the same. Any water you see wey over blue, na photoshop make am.
To be fore warned is to be fore armed.

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<![CDATA[September 2001 - How My City Changed!]]>Mon, 12 Sep 2016 22:08:50 GMThttp://ficcnigeria.org/blog/september-12th-2016Picture
Where were you on ​September 11, 2001?
I will tell you where I was.

I was at Bembo Games Village and had gone to see one of my old time friends, Leslie Omoyine.   Leslie and I have such a unique friendship, we have continued to meet at major inflexions in my life, firstly, at  the entrance interview for admissions into secondary school.   This was way back in 1986. 
It was a week-long interview and we had to board at the school through-out the duration of the interview.  Leslie’s bed was next to mine, in a hall we came to find out, when we were granted admissions, was one of the Blue House hostels.  The hall was one of four halls joined together in a quadrangle, a quadrangle I came to dread throughout my junior years. 

We stayed friends since then even though Leslie left command for GCI.  As fate would have it,  just about the time I was to graduate from University, my mum moved house to some area very close to Bembo Games Village and again Leslie’s house (Bembo Games Village) became our sole preferred place to hang- out.   I graduated, went for my youth service and of course, on my return, I had to go say hello to my old friend who had also come back from NYSC, only weeks before me. 
So we were at his house when the news of 9/11 broke.  Like the rest of the world, it was alarming.   News and Images flooded the airwaves.  The President of the United States of America, George W. Bush, came on air and made a historic and heroic presentation that led to the war on terror.   The whole America rallied.  They began to collate the names of the dead and the missing.  We eventually found out, over 3000 people – Fire fighters, staff who worked at the World Trade Centre, as well as visitors, People in the planes, people at The Pentagon.  Name by name, emblazoned on the wall on Ground-Zero where World Trade Centre was.  Every single person was accounted for; dead or missing, accounted for by name. 

Anyway, Fast forward 15 years, September 11, 2016 the names are still there, inscribed clearly, and Americans still hold memorial services for them.  Everyone that created the chaos – the terrorists in particular, have had their fair share of troubles.  Osama dead, Al-Zawali, dead, Osama’s son dead, Al-Queda, under fire, and the government of Saddam Hussien, who spoke way too much than was bearable to the American government of the day extinguished.  The world has not remained the same ever since.

But did you know that that fateful month of September 2001 held more stories that the American 9/11?  It was also the month Jos exploded.  What we came to refer to as the first Jos Crisis. 

While everyone remembers the terrorist attack and by name, the victims of the American terror attack, very few people  remember that  crisis in Jos.
I served in the City of Jos.  It was a city I adored.   From the start, I knew God wanted me to go to the city, and I decided that was what I wanted to do.   It was a city that had a long history of Christian missions and missionaries. The tales of the beautiful weather of Jos was so captivating and alluring.  So the day I checked my call-up at Student Affairs in Ife and found out I had been posted to Jos, my Jos knew no bounds. 

The city did not fail.  The vegetation was grassland, long reliefs and mountains.  The weather was chilled with clear clouds; there was even these pleasant rumors that the weather was so cold in a neighbouring town called Pankshin, that people were breaking ice around their houses.  I saw hail stones rain down regularly in the city of Jos.  As nic as the weather was, the people were even much nicer.   People were really kind and welcoming, especially those cute sister at the University of Jos.  Yours truly took a peek preview at one or two of them.
Food was also cheap – Spring onions, cabbages, lettuces, onions, irish potatoes.  It was the first time I saw people feed cabbages to their rabbits.  What! 
The city had a vibrancy about it that was amazing.  It was also a city of the art - drama, music and musician.   The city of Cock Crow At Dawn, The city of the legendary Panam Percy Paul, the city where Tose, my friend, cut her music teeth, the city of MI Abaga and his irks.  

When we arrived, It was as though Jos was been renewed.  People were moving in from Zamfara and the other core Northern cities where the demand for the implementation of Sharia Law  was making life unbearable.   Jos was naturally the place to move to. 
A few months after we arrived Jos for NYSC, the first Guaranty Trust Bank Branch opened around a place called British America.  On the street off Ahmadu Bello Way, Zenith also opened a branch.  Diamond and Standard Trust Bank had also opened branches.  The city was opening up to business.   The college for Policy and Strategic studies Kuru was just outside the city of Jos.   And I recall how after I got redeployed to GTBank, we would go and see some of the executive "students" there who wanted personalized service. 
In the month of August 2001, the first Mr. Biggs opened in the city by the edge of Terminus Market, and It was really exciting.   All we had before then was a place they called Juice and Grillade and the Plateau Hotel at Hill-Crest.

My place of primary assignment was a private school in Dadin Kowa, Jos South, and I taught whatever I could - Agric, Maths, physics and anything else that was available to be taught.  My school proprietor also baked bread.    He and I would drive his jalopy beetle to town to distribute the bread to shops, we would return by the next day to pick up our cash. 
Since I felt led to go to the town, I decided I was going to settle, so I started the first ever Faith International Christian Centre at one of the halls in the facility of the Jos museum and botanical garden.  I also started job hunting.  Given my line of study, I went to the Veterinary College in Vom, outside Jos to test out my prospect.  I was determined to eat the good of the land.  But as God would have it, It was Guaranty Trust that opened their doors to me and that was where my banking career began.  I also began to look for "transactions", a beautiful God loving sister to call wife!

We had high expectation for the city.   With the way new businesses were opening up in the city, we envisaged that in 10 years or so, Jos would have blossomed.  Our expectation was that it would become one of the most lucrative cities of  the North, and match the likes of Kaduna and Kano in prosperity.   However my stay was cut short.

At the beginning of September 2001, having passed my conversion interview, I had to attend the GTB training school program in Lagos.   So I packed my load, bought a night bus ticket and left for Ibadan, my sojourn had worked out.  But for the city of Jos, I  was about to find out what the future was keeping in hold.

I had barely settled at home when one of those mornings, my mum called me and said, "What is happening in Jos?"
I said "Jos?" "Nothing I know of".  
"What could possibly be happening in Jos?"
Off course Jos had exploded.  Whatever the cause was - I guess a tussle  between indigenes and Hausa People, the first Jos crisis had started and things were never going to remain the same.  As America was experiencing 9/11, Jos was experiencing its own horrors as have never been seen before.    The city of great hope was shattered, and till it today it has continued to be decimated from one point or the other, by fulani herdsmen, or whatever intruder trying to claim other people's ancestral home.
There was only one difference, while American stood up and fought back for their nation while they accounted for every single person who died at the hands of the terrorists, in the Jos case, no one stood up against the evil that was ravaging the land, no one was punished and no account was made of the people who lost their lives or were displaced.    While 15 years after, American government remembers the victims of the 9/11, in Nigeria, there is even no mention or remembrance of the crisis, not to talk of the victims of the crisis.

In America, everyone that participated in causing the problem faced justice, in Jos, no one was ever questioned or called to justice.  People that died, did for free.  No memorial, no remembrance, no justice.
America has continued to fight to stop terror in their country detremined to deter  mischief makers  from carrying out their neferious acts, but  in Nigeria, the government of those days did not do much, and neither have subsequent governments.   Jos crisis happened again and again leaving the city almost decimated.   Infact the whole North ended up exploding and till now, government is still trying to rein in the evil.  Not just that Jos remained decimated, other problems surfaced – Boko Haram (which is finally under some control), Fulani herdsmen (busy killing people with impunity, and no one is even arresting them), and hooligans killing the woman who had that store front and refused them her store front  space for ablution, and the others that killed the Christian lady preaching on the street  because they did not like the fact that she was preaching on the street.  Till today, nobody has been arrested or punished  for such impunity in such a country as ours.

Has evil continued in this country because we do not have memorials of the past?  Everyone that died has been nameless and faceless, just numbers.  Like I have said before, numbers are numbing, after a while it stops evoking feelings of any sort, it becomes just another news item.  Maybe if the names and images of these people who die daily are published for the nation to see, then someone would get angry enough to force the State to do what it is supposed to do.  Maybe we will continue to remember that such madness is not supposed to continue unchallenged in a  country like ours.  Maybe the Nigerian state will organize resources to ensure these evils do not repeat themselves, like the American have done,

Has evil continued because people can commit offences, and hiding at the back of religion, ethnicity and other affiliations, go scott free, while the state looks on?  The State is supposed to be the arbiter of peace and justice.  If the State fails in its duties, and men who have committed atrocities go scott free, the state will eventually fail.

This season, I join all the families who lost their lost ones at the Jos Crisis of September 2001, as they remember the event.  I give my condolences and mourn once again my city!  May the Lord grant rest to the dead and the souls of the faithful departed.  May the Lord bring lasting people to the city of sunlight - Jos and our nation as a whole.

 Hopefully a memorial will be built in Jos in remembrance of all the many people who lost their lives during that September crisis of 2001 and other crisis in that city, and maybe it will remind  us all of how very much we must  protect our nation and prevent such barbaric violence from repeating itself.
God help us, and may the Lord heal the city of Jos and the state of Plateau. 

NB:  Can I mention again that Leslie and I met again years after in University of Ibadan during our Masters Degree, and it was in his room I found the ID card of a this pretty damsel that became my wife!

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<![CDATA[The new Intrapreneurs]]>Thu, 18 Aug 2016 17:40:35 GMThttp://ficcnigeria.org/blog/the-new-intrapreneursPicture
I love my Job. I do not mean that loosely.

How many jobs give you the opportunity to fly a jet (commercial though!) to a meeting in another state in the morning and fly back home at close of business, on the same day?

How many jobs give you the opportunity to meet the number of magnificent people we are opportuned to meet on a daily basis – “C” level officers of big corporations that most people only read of in the papers, Government policy makers and drivers, all sorts of entrepreneurs and business owner   and other amazing people of all ages who are working to make a better life for themselves and others?
 
How many jobs give you the opportunity to play major roles in the decision making process for the development of nation changing infrastructures – deployment of fibre optics cables and capabilities across the Atlantic, establishing last miles internet connections, building power infrastructures, development and execution of new growth strategies for  industries and their value chains,  mid-wifing change in orientation, policies and practices that change the way  we live our lives, and promoting small businesses and individual and facilitate the turning of their dreams to reality?
They say a man will tell his bankers what he can’t tell his wife.  Well, how many jobs, apart from law or medicine, give you that opportunity to be engaged with people on that level.

We are the biggest facilitator of dreams and ambitions.  I have driven on particular roads with pride because I knew how the road was financed.  I have bought products with excitement knowing I was a part of the success story of the companies that produced them.  It feels great to know I have influenced the way people do their businesses because I was integral to designing and creating that business process.    It is amazing when you know you count and your job counts in the scheme of things.   Truth is if you look deeply at what you do, you will see that it counts.  What you do is making someone’s life better, and making the world a much better place to live in.    This is dignity of labour, and everyone deserves it!

Sometimes we get consumed by the drudgery of our daily tasks and lose sight of the beautiful tapestry our actions are contributing to because of the nomenclature by which we are called – employee, worker, servant, daily rated staff and the list goes on,   but that does not change the big picture. 

I know people become what they are called.  This is the reason why highly desirable workplaces have changed the nomenclature used in their workplaces.   Entry level staff are now called Executive Trainees, junior level officer are now referred to as junior executives and so on, sales reps are now called sales consultants, and then the big advocacy, to address everyone, from CEO to cleaner, on first name basis (this one feels like a counter culture though, especially if you are Yoruba), but it has brought some of the biggest benefits to our modern workplaces.  It has shortened the power distance that characterized the market, and has strengthened the resolve of younger team members to work hard knowing that one day they could be running the shop.  Interestingly, it has increased respect in the workplace because finally it has become clear that power is not a product of your nomenclature.   Most importantly, it is creating a new set of worker-entrepreneurs I’ll call Intrapreneurs. 

Intrapreneurs work for the company, but they know they are not just some dispensable tools; they are the powerhouse of the organization.  They work like owner-managers only that they may not be owners.  They bring their skills, their energies, creativity and vision to the table, to create and enhance the value of the organization.    They work with a different believe system; they are not waiting for 5pm so they can close, they are willing to go beyond the ordinary to deliver outstanding services in their quest for excellence.  They may miss the mark sometimes, but they are committed.  They also know their value and the power they have to positively disrupt systems.  When they are unhappy, they don’t form unions, or spend their energy complaining about a system they don’t own,  they find a new place or else create a new company or business altogether.  Everyone may not become an entrepreneur, but we can all become intrapreneurs.

 I believe in Entrepreneurship and I am one, and I also believe in intrapreneurship.   People always talk about how one day they intend to leave and start their own thing.  They encourage each other to one day become entrepreneurs, and that sound very nice, but in reality, to get to that place where you own the organization, you need to be a successful intrapreneur first.    Becoming a successful intrapreneur requires that you understand that your job function or responsibility is not just one of those chores you must do, that it is your business!   It requires that you understand that you and your colleagues are not just workers or dispensable tools, but enterprise owners, responsible for creating the desired value.   That you are not just  waiting to be assigned a job, but you are part of a creative process that generates the service to be delivered; that it is not just sufficient to come to work and close at 5pm, but you must exude passion and drive and the willingness to service your customer.  It is at this point that your work takes on a life of its own, and mutates from drudgery to fun; where suddenly, you see the big picture, the possible profit, the next change that must happen and the courage to protect and grow your enterprise.

One of the things I love about the structure we run in the banking industry in Nigeria is that every business unit has to function like an organization within the organization.   As a business team you have to compete for your share of mind within the organization. You have to defend why the Bank must commit its resources to your business.  You must find your own work space and pay for it, set your own targets, look for your own income, manage your own expenses, and meet your PBT figures.    You must set your strategies, think up the resource you need, find your own deals and push until you close the deals.  No one will do that for you.    All your seniors executives do is agree your budget and give you the environment to execute.    No one is going to think for you or assign you a job, and if someone has to, you may be asked to go, or a boss will be found for you.  You defend your own credits requests, find your own customers, innovate your own transaction structures, design your marketing efforts and develop your own solutions and even find your own staff.  In short, you are required to take ownership of your business.  That is what intrapreneurship is about!   This is the point where work becomes fun because you can see how everything you are doing is going to add up to the bank’s bottom line.  Aren’t these what entrepreneurs do?

In summary, you need to change your paradigm.    Enterpreneurship must start with intrapreneurship.   If you are not faithful, creative, inspired and dedicated to another man’s, who will give you your own (In Jesus’ words).

My point is, you job adds value to humanity.  You need to take ownership of your role and become a die-hard intrapreneur.  It is only a matter of time before your entrepreneurship will be released.

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<![CDATA[Here Comes My Latest Book - Understanding How Faith Works!]]>Thu, 04 Aug 2016 19:57:19 GMThttp://ficcnigeria.org/blog/here-comes-my-latest-book-understanding-how-faith-worksPicture
Writing has always been my thing.  I started writing poems when I was 13.  Finished my first manuscript by about 18, and it was titled "How To Break Sinful Habits".   My mum knocked out the manuscript on her typewriter, reading through my rugged writing.  And guess what? that was the first time anyone ever invested in my writing.   She was my first "investor".  She believed in me and my writing enough to invest her time, and I am grateful.  

I was ambitious about becoming a published writer, so I decided to  find a publisher. I hustled no be small.  I began to forward copies of my manuscript to traditional publishers - Evans and Co., that was what I knew, and of course, they were more interested in publishing educational books that served schools, and that was sufficient for them.  To be fair to them,  at that time, the publishing business had dissipated, and they were not doing much. The few ones that existed were focused on publishing educational books for secondary schools.  Very few people were also writing at that time, mostly christian literature, and most of the prolific christian writers of those days had to develop their own publishing lines.

So I decided to find publishers of christian books, the most popular I knew - CMS bookshop and Dominion House (of Living Faith Church), so I traveled from Ife, where I attended  the best University in Nigeria (Obafemi Awolowo University) to try my opportunity on Broad Street.  Yes,  Broad Street, Lagos!  I came to CMS bookshop, then went to Dominion House Iyana Ipaja.  That was the first time I came to Lagos by myself .  Before leaving Ife, I sought the good advise of my friends from Lagos, and told them to watch the 9pm news on NTA, in case I got lost.  I was determined that should I get lost trying to make my dream a reality, then I must let NTA rescue me.

Well tell you what, after trekking around Lagos in  hot sun and entering all forms of molue, I got to CMS bookshop only to discover it was almost non-functional, and  then later in the day, found out that Dominion Book only published for Living Faith, it was an in-house publishing company, Though they could not help me, the tripl changed something within me, I went back to Ife determined to continue to make manuscripts, and with a vision to one day own my own publishing house.  I was the more determined to become published sooner or later.   Sooner it was, and I got caught up in a wave - to publish my own ministry newsletter.  By 1997, I had published my first newsletter, i called it  Zoe Streams, a name I inherited from my  now graduated secondary/university seniors - Bro Gboyega Shitta, Emmanuel Ogbechie, Peter Yakubu and Folarin Ogunyinka.    The newsletter was rudimentary, two pages, had no ISBN number, but it was my first published work none the less, and was the precursor of what I do today.   From that moment on, I had caught the publishing fire, and it was a matter of time.

My writing continued.  one manuscript after another - " Maximizing Your Potential, Fulfilling Your Purpose",  one I think I titles "You will Win" the book I eventually reworked about 14 years later and published as "Discovering The Greater You", my first published book,  it was the first published book by my company - "Prestine Books (A division of Prestine Information Technology Limited)".  Then I wrote a fiction (I am currently re-working for publishing ), titled "The Outcast".   I love fictions, and I was proud to knock the fiction together.   I also planned one of two other manuscripts that I have not yet written, I still  have the plan but I am not sure if would write them.  I have had those plan since my final year in University.
 
Anyways, I decided to write an on-line "30 Days Devotional on Faith" for the study page of our church website.  A 30 days devotional on faith looked like a no-brainer, So I started.  Day 1, day 2,day 3, day 10, day 15, day 20 and so on.   I was exhausted, but determined.  Day 21, day 22, finally, day 30.  This was back in 2011 or so. 

Fast forward 2012, I started making my own website.  I decided to finally venture into blogging.  I wrote my first blog and published it on my website in Nov. 2012  and have not stopped since.  Guys read my blog and encourage me to publish in a newspaper,  I loved the fact that they could suggest that, I decided to start my own news magazine called "Emerald" and published my own blogs. Emerald became the turning point for me with regards to publishing..  All of a sudden, I knew all the nitty - gritty of the book making art.  "Discovering The Greater You" was the first book work I did.   This time it has everything - properly registered ISBN, barcode, solid printing, all done in Mushin.  I had suddenly cut my publishing teeth.

In 2014,  after we had published "Discovering The Greater You", I had a brain wave,  why not make the 30 days devotional into a book?  I loved the idea, but little did I know the character test that task would be.  So I started. Spares times , weekends, public holidays, we crunched the letters.  2015 came and I was turning 40 the next year and i was determined to give myself a 40th year birthday - A new book work.  So we pushed.  Reviews and re-reads, correction, corrections, more corrections, ISBN, bar codes and then finally it was set for arrangement   I had gathered a fantastic team of Mushin based technocrats to execute the job.  Graphics people, lithographer, digital separators, printers, book joiners and binders, hard cover makers and most importantly, my bank account, and we started to push,  page by page, act by act, my team knocked the book together.  We moved with speed, arranged, did digital separation, bought bails of paper, printed and started binding.  Then one of those days,  I came around for a random check on some of the bound jobs. and to my amazement I saw that a whole page had been skipped, and some pages had skidded off the page during correction, because of the software we used, and no body noticed.  What!  I was flabbergasted.

 It took my  lithographer to encourage me.  I must mention that he is muslim, but he was God sent.  His encouragement was exceptional.   Guess what, we had to cancel about  40% of total job.  Think about it, 40% of 500 copies of 160 paged book, almost completed!  We were distraught.  But the team stood by my side.  The Lithographer would say to me "Pastor, e try ka pari iwe yi, e ma gbadun e"  meaning, "Pastor please try and let's complete the book, you will like it".  He was my go-to team lead.  He organized every part of the production team and supervised them.  he got the best prices and hands to ensure nothing went wrong again. By this time, I was emotionally exhausted, save that my birthday had come and  I was determined to complete the book.

Fast forward months after, the book was completed, titled "Understanding How Faith Works". It was a really nice job- 30 chapters, over 160 pages, white hard cover over laid with a clean beautiful cover with nice print and really deep and clear content.  I loved it.  I had midwived the book, and like a new mother, I was so exhausted and I did not even put the book up on Facebook for promotion. I decided to take time off to recuperate.
 
Back and fully energized, I hold this book  as God's gift to me for my 40th birthday, the best gift to give myself on a land-mark birthday, it was a true test of my character and the grace of God and I like to thank everyone  on the team of Prestine Books  who worked hard to put this book together and  who made it possible to complete the 30 chapter devotional styled book on faith.  Thank you all.  

Phew!, now I have this out, and I am ready to sell the book, please start placing your orders!  I hope it blesses you, instructs you,  and radicalizes your  faith walk.

Much love.



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<![CDATA[Nigerian Economic Situation and Its Solution - My Take]]>Fri, 19 Feb 2016 11:56:10 GMThttp://ficcnigeria.org/blog/nigerian-economic-situation-and-its-solution-my-takePicture
​The exchange rate situation in the country is no longer news. On the 18th of February 2016, USDollar sold for N380 Naira to a Dollar depending on which mallam you spoke to. The causes also seem obvious, the fall in the government largest revenue generating business – Crude oil, policy actions that have worked out in the reverse and most importantly, the activities of exchange rate speculators both corporates and individuals.

Of course, the issue with crude oil price crash is beyond our control as a nation. Truth is the oil cheese has moved.  On the 16th of February 2016, Saudi Arabia said they were willing to consider a freeze in production if Russia would do the same. Between them, they produce over 20million barrels per day. Oil price moved up marginally on that news, but truth is, does that change anything for us as a nation? Not exactly. Remember that the problem in the industry is not just excess production, but reduced demand for crude. The United Sates has become a net exporter of crude; Iran is also threatening to increase its export potential. We, as a nation, suffer from both ends of the crude divide, we do not have buyers, and we do not have refining capacity. In the short term the government has engaged in swaps to meet local demand, but in long run, my tale is that we will need to invest in local refining capabilities and other oil infrastructure. The best time to invest has always been in down market, this time offers that advantage – lowered cost of oil infrastructure because of the lull etc. I already blogged about this in "Who Moved My Crude Oil Cheese".

​ Policy actions that the Government has taken in the past few months have not worked because of the inability to correctly predict response to the actions. 2015, post- election, the first wave of exchange rate pressure that started during the campaign session was relieved slightly when people who had gained election campaign money, shared in Dollars, tried to offload, but it was short lived. Once the euphoria of the election passed, and the reality of the crude oil income crash came home, the next wave of pressure began. Coupled with the anti- corruption moves and the reduced availability of FX from CBN, exchange rate began to rise. The government moved and issued the first policy, “Stop accepting Dollar cash in banks” the thought was that the move will make the dealers hold their cash and excess cash can then force down price. It did for a few days, until the market deciphered the move. They envisaged that there was no way government could keep the cash out of the banking space for too long, and concluded that the policy would not last. So they played the waiting game and of course the exchange rate rebounded and started the rise. Fast forward 2 month, the policy was reversed. The market won their bet and the exchange rate skyrocketed. Then the CBN while not meeting the demand of legitimate importers equally banned sales to Bureau De Change, the market tried to hold on within the scarcity and the rise continued. This point ties to the third cause – The activities of speculators.

As at 2016 February, the currency has crashed by almost 100% in the black market, and to all intent and purpose, the crash has been based on speculation and the speculators have been fed by the scarcity of FX on one end and huge unmet demands at the other, leaving everyone speculating on PRICE. Both corporate and private people speculating that the dollar will get to N400/USD and as such everyone holding on to their cash until then so they can make huge profits on their Dollar. However the pent up demand for legitimate due LCs, foreign loan repayments and other invisible transactions – school fees, medical bills and all that would have normally been provided by the government have not been assuaged. Banks have huge volumes of legitimate requests that they can't seem to meet and this has forced everyone, both the corporates and the individuals into the already excessive pressured parallel market or whatever market they can find, even across the border market. So the FX market is experiencing pressure both on the demand side and on the supply side and both pressures are impacting Price!   Nigerians are beginning to renege on their obligations with their international counterparties, FX loans not settled, LCs, not paid on, schools fees not settled just to mention a few, and the effect is failed credit rating and increased credibility issues with regards to Nigeria and Nigerian businesses, further increasing the pressure on government.

In normal economics, “Price” balances demand pull or supply push. High demand creates high price if supply is steady, and low demand creates lower price if supply is steady. Supply may now move up or down to counter-balance price and achieve a desired price, but in this case it is different. Concurrently Demand is increasing while Supply is reducing; making it difficult for Price to find its equilibrium, even the speculators hanging in between do not have the supply intervention to cash-in on the price, hence the free fall. The only way to curb the free fall is to introduce an external influence - an intervention on supply side to close the bottom of the supply bottle and curtail the supply fall. The other undesired advantage is that the intervention could also take advantage of the price to profit and this will in this case be termed devaluation.

So my take is this, government is the only body with the ability and the will to find Dollars to intervene in the market without excessively taking the undesired advantage of Price or even forfeiting the price advantage all together. Government already has the estimate of all our non – oil import and a fair estimate of our invisibles within the banking system that is not fulfilled, so Government can source some financing that would cover our imports and invisibles for two quarters from our International parties, mostly bilateral – US or China etc. The sourced fund will be used to settle all the obligations currently unsettled in the Banking system, and then to provide funds to settle imports over two quarters. The mere announcement of this funding will reduce the psychological pressure the market is going through and begin our long journey towards recovery. My take is that it is during this intervention that the government may take advantage of the current exchange rate to effect some devaluation so as to get in more Naira for the FX used for the intervention. This is the only point where devaluation can make any sort of sense. Devaluing outside of this premise is of no value to the country, period.

Secondly the government would have to further reduce the list of items valid for FX, so as to protect the country from frivolous FX demands while reinstating the 2002-2004 regulations on Domiciliary account deposit and export proceeds. We had these restrictions between 2002 and 2004 in this country and it provided sufficient controls for our foreign exchange, interestingly, the price of crude today was the price as at 2003.

Thirdly, it is hopeful that Buhari’s government can achieve this because of their strong anti-corruption stance. Corruption would have been a bane to this intervention, but in the atmosphere of no –corruption, reducing the pent up demand within the banking industry will have strong impact, apart from the fact that it will reduce speculating pressure on the exchange rate, it will go a long way to stimulate the economy and while increasing income obtainable form import duties and all.

​ I hereby submit my opinion.

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<![CDATA[The Oil Price Debacle - Any Upsides?]]>Mon, 25 Jan 2016 12:19:20 GMThttp://ficcnigeria.org/blog/the-oil-price-debacle-any-upsidesPicture
The oil price outlook has been grim  to say the least.  in January 2016, oil price fell for the first time since 2004 Jan to below $30.  For upwards of 33 years (i.e. between Jan 1970 and 2003 December) oil sold at below $30 per barrel.  This increase the oil industry is fretting about started in Jan 2004, exactly 12 years (from Jan 2016), and began to make the ascent.  Within 4 years it crossed the $100 mark. before the crash in 2008, and then resurged again until  2015 where it stayed at over $100 for about a year  before the eventual descent to below $30 in Jan 2016.   

Who didn't know that the "oil windfall", as it was called, was temporary. Even the Nigeria government, as un-strategic as they say our public officers are, opened what they called the excess crude account where they warehoused the difference between the crude budget bench-mark and the actual value in  the market place.  Everyone knew that the surge was temporary.  The countries that had more gumption, especially the Arabian countries (UAE and Saudi Arabia in particular) saved up  and  used their windfall to  invest in their economies, the other less initiated governments, like Nigeria, more or less sat back and shared theirs - some went into private pocket  and some to national frivolities.  The point was everyone somehow knew that all they were enjoying was a windfall, only that no one knew when the party was going to end.   While the countries that sell sold  and made massive spread, the countries that bought grew the more determined to find a way to end the windfall.   the United States, for one, had to make a decision to explore offshore oil off the coast of Alaska and also began to look for alternative energy.  They approved drilling off the coast of Alaska and  they also came up with Shale Oil.  They stopped importation of crude in 2015.   China also gradually began to re-structure their manufacturing machineries to use heavy crude which was cheaper and more available. They  party  was finally brought to an end! 

For one, we need to come to terms with the fact that the party has ended.  There is shale oil ready to compete for any price hike, now the United States that has not exported a drop of all since  the 70s decided in December 2015 to start crude export.  Iran that had been out of the market due to sanctions on their nuclear weapon development have had their sanctions lessened, if not removed, and are planning to come back into business.  Iran and Saudi Arabia are at the opposite ends of the Islamic divide which mean they are competing nations and would try to outdo each other as far as oil is concerned.   So even if Saudi who has continued to ignore OPEC's call decides to reduce their production, Iran will happily fill their place, anyhow, OPEC is imploding and will implode.

For Nigeria, is there an upside to this hoola-baloo?  \My answer is Yes!   

To start with, oil is not just an export - cash resource to Nigeria, oil is a national strategic resource with national security implications. The fact remains that even if oil falls to $10 per barrel, Nigeria will still have to drill.  We are still grossly under supplied with  oil and oil products.  Look at the drop in oil price for instance, it has not yet translated into cheaper or more available fuel for Nigeria and it may not even translate if we keep going without rethinking our strategies.  Oil products are still very expensive, our exports have been drastically reduced, yet we do not have crude distillates available in the country to power our nation.  Nigeria is being punished on both sides of  our economic candle.  The Government had deregulated Kerosene, but as at January 25, 2016, it was announced that  Kerosene will now sell for  N83/litre ( it sold for N50/litre).  Diesel still sells for about N150 per liter  and it is the most utilized crude distillate by the Nigerian corporates, especially the manufacturing industry.   Meanwhile our entire economy is driven by these un-available and expensive distillates.  Since 1999, we have not invested anything in the oil industry and we have not had the incentive to do so.  We could simply export crude at high value and use some of the  proceeds to subsidize the import of distillates.  Some profiteers emerged  and capitalized on the export, import and subsidy. Also as price rose, the cost of investing in new oil infrastructure also increased and became very exorbitant.    But with the crash in price and the lost of export potential, I see an upside:

Firstly, oil price has crashed and along with it the price of oil related infrastructures, so it is time for Nigeria as a nation to invest in our oil infrastructure. Given the importance of crude distillates to our national existence,  and we have not been able to invest because of the varied distractions and cost., now the price is down, it is time to BUY!    It is time to buy vessels to ship crude from the offshore wells to crude depots that should be built in the south west where there are lesser pipeline damages.  It is time to invest in deepening our  shallow continental sea - shelves so that we can receive very large vessels directly into the ports - Koko, Apapa, PH, Calabar  and even Badagry instead of our ships berthing in Cotonou and then trans-shipping to Lagos. It is time to either improve the continued use of pipelines that keep getting sabotaged or divert products to safer location by vessels.   It is time to invest heavily in refineries,  because the cost of the infrastructure has fallen and it is now more affordable.  This is not a complicated business sense, we do it all the time.  Investment manager always talk about investing at the low points of the market or what they refer to as "down-market" when the price crash has bottomed out, but most  uninitiated invest at "up-market" when the price is looking at the peak and the market is nearing its climax.  So this  is the best time to begin to plan to make Nigeria energy self sufficient and  maybe even become a sub-regional super power where sales of distillates are concerned.  There is always a fair market for distillates.    if we are willing to stretch, I also feel it is time to even consider dredging the Niger and the Benue rivers  to  improve the capacity to move products and other goods deeper inland.   If we can finance it from our pocket fine, else it is time to borrow for these ends and borrow not a few.  We need to set a 2 to 3 years investment target and find the money we need to make these happen.  It will not only boost our economy, it will change our course permanently.

Secondly, I feel like God has provided us a window of time, a window for us to improve our refining capacity and our oil infrastructure.  Yoruba people say whatever turns its face to one, turns its backside to another.  I have this odd feeling that in another 4 to 5 years , price will rebound again or else the market will stabilize.  It is the way of the market, it goes up and down.   When the  market rebounds again, in whatever form, we will be ready as a nation to benefit maximally.   

Instead of sitting down and crying gloom and doom, we need to stand up and reckon that Providence might have dealt us a hand that may end up changing the course of our national destiny for the better.  There is some good in this seeming bad.  We the discerning have to find it out and latch on to it.

May I end with this, things are not always as bad as they first seem and this oil price crash, in my opinion, sure does have some silver lining behind the dark clouds.

Selah!

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<![CDATA[Nnamdi Kanu - The Indigenous Man of Biafra]]>Wed, 09 Dec 2015 14:32:33 GMThttp://ficcnigeria.org/blog/nnamdi-kanu-the-indigenous-man-of-biafraPicture
As a full blooded Igbo, my story also revolves around the war.  I was born a couple of years after the war, well if you were born in the 70's, you were born after the war.  Almost every Igbo person who was born in the 70's can relate to stories about the war and somehow it has continued to be retained in our Igbo consciousness.  And though the war ended since 1970, there is still a lot of affinity that is drawn from the identifying  with Biafra,  the solidarity  forged by a sense of common destiny based on a common past for all the Igbo people.  Even though it was not solely Igbos that participated in the Biafran agitation, yet Igbo people in particular feel the stronger  bond to it because  of the leadership role, huge loss of lives and properties, and the fact that they disproportionately took the larger knock.  Clearly, the common pain has been a binding factor  and people naturally galvanize around  a common purpose, a common pain, or common interests.  Most misconstrue this as a need to divide Nigeria again, but it is not, it is a deep seated desire to forge a common identity as Ndi Igbo, and create a common front to pursue the interest of the Igbo man.   

This is the reason why I take a personal exception to Nnamdi Kanu's activities and those of his Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) because they are taking advantage of the affinity that should have been used to foster common good,  to foment trouble and disturb public peace.  He pioneered Radio Biafra, and riding on that Igbo affinity, he gained listener-ship across Igbo land.  But  he had other intentions. Firstly, the radio station transmitted illegally, without license and on an unauthorized frequency, both of which are unlawful.  Secondly he began to incite people through the medium, calling for arms supply so they can fight, fight who? Again this is very unlawful.  Then law enforcement arrested and have continued to detained him without charge.

There are many discussions in the public space on this Nnamdi Kanu's issue  as well as the IPOB / MASSOB protests in the East.  My take is Government should charge Nnamdi Kanu.  The protest started when they arrested him and held him in custody without charge.  As far as I am concerned, this is a democracy and in a democracy, you are not allowed to hold someone for over 24 or is it 48 hours in custody without authorization from a competent court of law.   Anyhow you look at  it, you can't break the law to maintain the law.  if someone is committing an offence, and Nnamdi has committed several, ranging from broadcasting radio signals through a frequency that he does not have authorization to use,  broadcasting  rogue (i.e. without license), inciting the public to cause public unrest and disturb public peace,  refusing to desist after being warned by law enforcement, the offence can go on and on, with various consequence as per the books,the person should be arrested, yes, but in a democracy, he must not be held in detention beyond the stipulated time without appropriate warrant.  Otherwise, it will constitute a human right violation.

Just thinking aloud, Our security operatives, do they learn anything at all  from the result of their previous engagement with the public?  Do they just suck up to which ever government  is in power and act like "Zombies" in the words of the Fela?  Or are they just saboteurs in the colours of obedient servants?  Holding people without charging them will make the government look bad, no matter  how much goodwill they had.  See how extra judicial killings of even Boko Haram deteriorate the international stance of the Jonathan government, and yet never served as judgement to Nigerians?  My candid opinion, extra Judicial killing is not justice, holding Nnamdi Kanu without charging him is not justice either, and it has the capacity to tarnish the human right image of this Buhari Administration.  By holding him extra judicially, the security operative have shown they have learnt nothing from the past or have not shown that they have the best interest of the government at heart. 

As for IPOB, news has it that government is holding discussions with them,  In my opinion, holding discussions with the leadership of  IPOB isn't bad, though it accords them some form of legitimacy that they would otherwise have not been granted.  But as far as I am concerned, they should start the discussion by charging Nnamdi or getting legal warrant to hold him longer than necessary. Then dialogue with the people  to go back to their business and allow Nnamdi Kanu have his day in court.   Afterwards, the law enforcement have to start arresting people and then fining them at mobile courts for disturbing public peace. 

Thirdly. they need to jam the radio station signals.  it has to stop broadcasting, period.  No one should have the unfettered access to spreading inciting message across an area and be allowed to function.  if they want to run a radio station, then they can apply and officially abide by the rules of the state.

At the end of the day, we need to develop tact in dealing with this type of recalcitrance.  Our human right record is important to us, especially at this time.


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