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Progress by infiltration

Progress by infiltration

The Nigerian elections are here again. It’s certainly a season of tension, uncertainty, uneasiness, and unfortunately fear.

Nigerians across the globe are arguing back and forth: Who is good, who is bad, why this, why not that, etc. Sadly, many of the stalwarts of these intellectual discussions are either in the diaspora, couldn’t make time to register to vote, or cannot afford the stress of voting.

While many more will still vote, it’s curious that many were undecided about who to vote for the Presidency, hours to the initial date of the election. The two most popular candidates did not take part in the debates; they only obliged to interviews. However, what a different level of arguments we would have had if the contest was between their Vice Presidential candidates, the running mates.

I began to take part in Nigerian elections 20 years ago! In 1999, voter registration materials never arrived at the Fajuyi Hall station of my University. In 2003, I voted. In 2007, I voted. In 2011, I could only register at a place quite a distance from my residence. Those are two strategies: no registration, and remote registration. In 2015, I did not know how to collect my Voters Card. In 2019, I have my Voters Card. But everything keeps evolving. What if the Vice President had died in that helicopter crash? Then the elections were postponed while we were asleep, hours to the election.

Not a good narrative for a country in which Tom, Dick and Harry have mobile phones, registered and linked to their bank accounts.

However, I hope that one day, we will have a situation in which we will not be troubled about the credentials, age and character of the two main contenders. I hope that one day, our problem would be that the two main contenders are so good that we won’t mind choosing either.

How do we get there?
By getting involved in the primaries!
We have to infiltrate the political parties. We have to be members. Our voices must be heard at the grassroots rather than on Facebook. We need to get involved in the parties that are established, not necessarily to contest, but particularly to select the party flagbearers.

In 2002, the contest for PDP’s presidential candidate appeared tougher than in 1998 even though the incumbent President was contesting in that primary election! That’s what we need to make of our political parties.

Do you agree?
That’s a good first step.
Will you join a political party?

Any would do!

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A Teenage King

The preacher began to talk about the great things that happened in the reign of a King of Israel who ascended the throne at age 16! Wow! What technological advancements. Then he mentioned the name of the king! Uzziah?

Was that not the one whose demise marked the beginning of progress in Prophet Isaiah’s walk with God? Was that not the one whose story we read in Isaiah 6 and then passionately demand that every Uzziah in our lives pass away? Was that not the Uzziah (aka Azariah) who became a leper and had to live in a colony for the rest of his life?


In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah[a son of Amaziah king of Judah began to reign. He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother’s name was Jekoliah; she was from Jerusalem. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done …
The Lord afflicted the king with leprosy until the day he died, and he lived in a separate house.[c Jotham the king’s son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land. (2 Kings 15:1-3, 5 )

Uzziah was a powerful king whose army had weapons that could well be called first generation missiles:
In Jerusalem, he made devices invented for use on the towers and on the corner defences so that soldiers could shoot arrows and hurl large stones from the walls. His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful (2 Chronicles 26:15).

So I began to wonder where and how Uzziah missed the path.

  1. So many of the leaders and pastors we see today started out as teenagers in secondary school pastoring school fellowships. Afterwards, many moved on to pastor fellowships in Universities. After graduating, they began to find their way to pastoring through short or long routes.
  2. We can similarly say that in so short a time, a lot of technology has come to aid ministry in our days. I remember when one of the first churches in Nigeria took services online. My friend in the UK could not believe it. Not many churches in the UK had gone online in 2006/7. I remember when CDs came and they needed special equipment to write to them. We still had to stay with cassettes….in 1999. I remember when the only way to follow up first timers in church was through visits and handwritten letters! Now we could even do video calls. I remember when TV stations did only about 8 hours of service a day..and whole cities had only 2 or 3 TV stations. We have certainly seen technological advancement like Uzziah saw!
  3. What we have not experienced in our generation is leaders (or our generation) leading for 52 years. We are not sure what we would have after 50 years whether the growth will continue, plateau, or even decline.

But what really happened to Uzziah?

Temptations? Familiarity? Boredom and then quest for thrills?


But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense (2 Chronicles 26:16)

Did Uzziah feel “immune?” After all, not many kings have led well for 50 years.

Was it a kind of a midlife crisis? This might have been somewhere around his 50th birthday.

One big lesson is that in success we should always keep our eyes on the path that led to success!

Lanre

Laugh

Have you ever seen a beautiful lady or a handsome guy without a bright spirit? Even if such exists, the gloom will override the beauty. The Holy Book says that a merry heart does to us as much good as medicine. Everyone does need a bit of it.

Oftentimes, we do not laugh because we are fixated on our circumstances and hence ignore the big picture.

Do you know what is called Catch 22? A situation in which the solution is locked in the problem. For example, the car key is locked in the car, and you need to drive the car.

If laughter is medicine, then it heals; it solves problems. Yet, problems try to keep us from laughter. However, in this catch 22 situation, we can choose which comes first: the laughter or the problem.

Laugh IN the situation; laugh IN SPITE of the situation.

No beauty without Joy, no joy without laughter.

Patience

This month of November, I led a meeting in which there was a Nigerian man who clocked 60 on one of the days of the meeting. To commemorate his birthday, he published a small book which he gave to everyone around for free. “Being African,” I dived into the book straight away.

One of the key lessons the gentleman has learnt in life is patience. Immediately, I replayed the meetings in my mind. I was the youngest but the leader of the team. Was I patient with him?

Hmm.

I tried to push him a bit and thought out loud once that the man would delay us. Gladly, I wasn’t rude at any point. Sixty certainly is not an age of speed.

The striking thing is that the gentleman reports how he was very impatient as a young man.

Does that mean that I’ll lose my precious speed (or, if you like, hurry) when I get “there?”

I guess that’s the trend in the cycle of life. We start out vivacious and wonder why these old people are so mute. Then as we know more, we speak less.

Since we know that eventually we will all become “patient” in life, it is good to give some leeway to those who are already patient.

The Cycle of Life

A great man completed his time on earth recently in Ibadan, Nigeria. Painfully, I did not make it to the funeral. Seeing lots of pictures, it feels like a dream. I wonder if many people can feel the void he left behind. Yes, feel!

He stood as a strong pillar in everything he believed in especially church and family. I guess resources never go round, but I saw several faces that I remember how he touched.

Then the pictures reminded me of the years… the years gone by and the years going by. I remember standing by caskets in the Boys’ Brigade uniform in the same space shown in the pictures. I remember a tall, old man who used to drive us out of the main church Hall, assuring us that we would eventually inherit the entire church premises.

The other bit is the effect of time on the faces of the people in the pictures: retired-breadwinners, big-brothers-turned-professionals, contemporaries-now-in-diaspora, little-girls-now-business-moguls, etc. I can’t even figure out which former-little-kids are among the young-and-trendy faces in the pictures.

Summarily, the cycle of life keeps turning and everyone is at “midday” for only a period of time.

We must make the most of this time, measured in impact of our lives on other lives.

Together

A little over a year ago, a friend posted on Facebook that she wanted to start a book club. I think she added that she had books she wanted to read, and she had books she had started but couldn’t get to finish. She believed that together, we could read and make better progress than going it alone.

More than a year after, we have had one book each month on varying personal development topics. Most of us have probably not achieved 100% in reading the books, but everyone of us remains on the path to 12 books a year.

We may have projects/tasks we have been trying to push for a while with little progress. Consider partnering; consider mentoring.

If you want to go fast, go alone;
If you want to go far, go together!… African Proverb.

Pan African

Over the past few years, I have read about the many travails and few triumphs of the leaders of the African Liberation struggles: Nelson Mandela and the South African team, Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Felix Moumie, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikwe, Obafemi Awolowo, etc.

I’ve got many more to read about. However, they all have something in common other than being of African descent: they moved for liberation in the 1950s/60s. Most killed were killed in the 1960s. Mandela and co were jailed for life in the 1960s. It gave me a different perspective: our fathers, who we claim did not try, were cowered in the 1960s.

Janvier Chando has written a few books about assassinations of African pro-independence activists. He writes about how Cameroon has had only 2 leaders since independence, and neither was the will of the people. Furthermore, Ahmed Sekou Toure was the only lone to successfully defy France. We see the proof in the currency of the country, the Guinean Franc, as against the uniform CFAs which the other Francophone countries spend.

The assassination of Patrice Lumumba of Belgian Congo (now DRC) was so ringing that a Russian University was named after him. He was killed in 1971, 7 months after independence. Other reports say that General Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria took part in the UN’s peacekeeping efforts in DRC in the 1960s. Yet the UN is still trying to keep peace in the same country 60 years after.

Where is exactly is the problem?

The youths of several African nations are angry and likely confused. Could it be a coincidence that notable historical events of our nations are not taught in school? Could it be a purposive effort to keep the future oblivious of the past?

My study continues.

Nelson Mandela wrote that he never despised the black Policemen who were used against the African National Congress because they simply did not understand the visions of the agitators, nor could they see the brightness of the future the agitators desired.

“There is that great proverb that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter” — Chinua Achebe.

Would you suggest a book?

St Kizito

Saint Kizito (1872 – June 3, 1886) was one of the Martyrs of Uganda. The youngest Martyr slain by the King Mwanga II of Buganda. He was baptized on 25/26 May 1886, by Charles Lwanga (the leader of Uganda’s Christian community) at Munyonyo, burned alive on 3 June 1886 in Namugongo. He was canonized on 18 October 1964 by Pope Paul VI at Rome. His feast day is on June 3. (Wikipedia)

In Lagos Nigeria, there is a Catholic hospital named after him. It is primarily a children’s hospital but “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

The hospital is located in an obscure corner of Lekki. The access road is really bad and under water for about half of the year.

This hospital is an epitome of community service and care for mankind.

First, they do not consider religion. Whoever is welcome.

Second, they do not consider social status or wealth. Their services are as per your pocket. For example, you can choose to consult with a nurse practitioner (₦x), a Nigerian doctor (₦y), or an expatriate doctor (₦z). You can take your prescription elsewhere or buy your drugs here. You can choose to be admitted or to come from home, etc.

Third, they serve free breakfast for all children present at the time. Although it is just corn pap, we know that’ll be the best meal some child will have that day. The pap is nutritious as it is augmented with proteins from groundnuts and soya. They have a signature recipe for the proteins that you can buy.

Now, cheap service doesn’t mean poor service. The heavy cars that park outside Kizito will testify to this. Several people come, despite the crowd, because of the humaneness of the staff. The medical practitioners seem to know the simple solutions to complex problems. They certainly have the help of God.

Do they receive support from the public? Yes, through the website of the Catholic Church in Lagos (lagosarchdiocese.org).

Google says that there are St Kizito clinics in several African nations… quietly solving a problem most of us discuss loudly..

Kudos to the Catholic Church

As bad as…

Ebola vs Government

As bad as…
Part A

I saw the movie Facing Darkness about the fight against Ebola in Liberia around the year 2014. It is difficult to watch it without dropping some tears. Then I saw 93 days about how Nigeria conquered Ebola in 93 days. I took a few lessons from the latter:

  1. Nigerians are resilient
  2. Nigerians are usually not prepared
  3. Nigerians when united can conquer anything.

Part B

I remember in 2014. I had a movie date which I wanted to cancel because of Ebola. There was no one willing to comply with the rule to use handrails on the stairs because of Ebola. My church distributed hand sanitizers. Several things had to be cancelled. I met an old friend at a local airport, a medical doctor. She wouldn’t sit or touch anything at the airport. In fact, to be patted down, she provided her own gloves. Those days, I began to feel feverish. I called my doctor, and she was locked up under observation having been in a hospital where a suspected Ebola case was treated.

In all of these, one thing was clear: United, we can win!
Part C

Nigeria (and more or less all Africa) is like a culture medium for poor governance. We seem oblivious of what even blind men can see.

Libya’s beauty was an aberration; it had to be ploughed. DRC has the “conflict mineral”–COLTAN–found nowhere else in the world. Instead of this being a plus, it has proved to be a lone minus for the nation. The francophones are grappling with national poverty bestowed by “former” lords. South Africa seems to have been battling deliberate degradation. Zimbabwe supposedly broke free in 2017, the first project they embarked on was the expansion of the Robert Mugabe International Aiport?? Quite timely and strategic?? Nigeria is drowning in the waters of paper-perfect policies which have kept the light bulbs off and the train whistles silent!

What then?
Part D

When Ebola visited Nigeria for 3 months, we came together to fight our common enemy (the enemy of my enemy is my friend). We forgot political alliances; we joined hands and words. We were so determined, even people who were not infected died fighting!

Now, what if we view poor governance as it really is: a silent, audacious killer?

What if we get desperate and fight this enemy like marked men?

We looked Ebola in the face and conquered it. So can we conquer poor governance!

Power in Pain

A gentleman lived with his family in Connecticut. He left them to do a quick painting job in Washington, a four-day journey away. His wife wrote him, he wrote back; but he got no response. While expecting a letter from her, he got one from his father announcing the demise of his wife. He left his work and ran home but she had already been buried by the time he got there. He was so sad.

He couldn’t understand why communication had to be so slow. One day he got into some discussion about electromagnetism. Later on, he got a job at New York University and decided to attend lectures on electricity.

Afterward, he, Samuel Morse invented the Morse code and the telegraph, sending his first message on the 24th May 1844. That’s the beginning of text messaging, emails, money transfers, etc. In fact, when he clocked 80, Western Union employees honoured him for creating the industry that employed them.

One’d just want to imagine what the world would have been like if Samuel Morse did not look back to solve the problem that caused him so much pain.

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