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The failure of Money

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In 1998, I saw a Nollywood movie (I can’t remember the title) in which the daughter of a wealthy man got into the University. She misinterpreted it as freedom.  She lived such a life that her parents were not aware of; she could not afford that. In time, she took ill. She was diagnosed with HIV. Then, her father had to be brought in. As though it was not incurable, the doctors laboured but the disease wore on. The father kept upgrading to bigger and better hospitals. When it was obvious that she was dying, the father called the Chief Medical Director and said, “Doctor, please do something;  I want to spend money.” The doctor responded that there was nothing they could do as the disease was yet incurable. Summarily, she died. That was the first time I saw that money sometimes fails.

After each of the world wars, Germany was reported to have had to redenominate their currency by dividing by 1,000. There was the story of the man who went to buy a loaf of bread with a wheelbarrow full of money; it took so much to buy bread. On the way, he was distracted and by the time he came to, someone had poured his money on the ground and made away with his wheelbarrow. The money was so useless that the robber poured it on the ground. That is another example of the failure of money.

In more recent times (2015), Greece was running out of money. People had money on record, but in reality, the nation was out of funds. Money was rationed, and the nation could only beg to borrow more.   Again, in contemporary times, money failed. Reminds of the primordial days of trade by barter, when no one needed money.

Why then do we have so much faith in money?
Why does money give us so much assurance of security?

If we bear in mind that sometimes money fails, we would not lean so much on money.

For wisdom is a defence as money is a defence,
But the excellence of knowledge is  that wisdom gives life to those who have it.

King Solomon.

My holiday

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My Holiday! That would have been the title of the first essay to be written in English class if we were in Primary 3 in the 1980s.

Christmas holiday was great fun for me. Apart from meeting numerous friends, I think that finally, I had one Christmas without overeating. Very great achievement that has taken decades! One other very interesting thing for me was driving through various cities! I basically saw four cities. The attempt to visit a 5th was not successful. The 4 cities are in South West Nigeria: Lagos, Ibadan, Oshogbo and Ijebu-Ode. There were other smaller townships along the way that need not be discussed.

  1. Lagos

After “The Man that tamed Lagos” Babatunde Fashola left office as Governor of Lagos, complaints have been rife about the tardiness of the new Governor. Then two notable things made the news:

  • The Police and other law enforcement agencies in Lagos were rebranded. For years, Lagos is the only state where I would drive around without policemen stopping me to look for what is not lost. Outside Lagos, Policemen could stop you and ask questions that I would leave you to determine the qualifying adjective: Where did a young man like you get money to buy this car?
  • A road at Ayobo, a Lagos community, was said to have been constructed in 6 weeks! That is not a sign that impossible things are happening, but that Project Management is improving in Nigeria…at least in Lagos!

The city/state is relatively clean compared with the others.

2. Ibadan

More road projects seem to have been executed in the past 8 years than in any other time prior–so some development is noticeable. However, also noticeable is the return of refuse heaps.

In 1996, I was at my first job ever. My boss left the office and got into some road blockade that took so long. Eventually, they found that a train broke down at a road crossing! He would have waited, but there was a refuse heap by the road which made the experience hellish. So he wriggled out of the traffic and took another route trying to get home. Lo and behold, he got there and there was heavy traffic. Investigating, he found that the train he left at Bodija Crossing had been fixed. It got going and at the road crossing at Sango, it broke down again! He was irate…He left the country not long after. Things however got better with time.

Those refuse heaps are back on all major roads in Ibadan. Three things seem to be responsible:

  • Ingrained poverty and culture of disconnection (what is my own with it??)
  • Non-payment of salaries started by the state government
  • I-don’t-care attitude on the part of the government officials. How do you drive around freely when your incompetence is on display??

3. Osogbo

I estimated my drive from Ibadan to Osogbo to take me not more than one hour; the last time I went on that trip was in 2004. I was very wrong. All the federal roads were fine, but to turn into the road leading to Osogbo at Gbongan (a town between Ibadan and Osogbo), I had to look for a motorable opening in the bush! The much heralded overhead bridge had been abandoned uncompleted, and overgrown with bush!

To be sure I was not mistaken, I asked someone for the way and he told me I was on course! It is unimaginable how bad the road now is. It took two hours to get to Oshogbo from Ibadan. Ultimately, I had to engage Google Maps as it kept appearing as if either I was on the wrong road or the town had moved to another location! I had to see the distance from a digital map.

The roads in the city showed signs of attempted-development. But everything had been abandoned. And there was plenty of red dust to show for it. I empathized with people living in that town! I actually blotted out at a point, “Are you guys sure you have a Governor in this state?” And they were quick to give me a sarcastic answer.

4. Ijebu-Ode

Here again, the heaps of refuse had taken over the highways. The incumbent Governor however succeeded in putting up two fly-overs in 4 years. Furthermore, the abandoned reconstruction of the arterial road has been resumed albeit at a slow pace.

 

We need all hands on deck, especially hands experienced at positive transformation. We should no longer stand aloof and watch others do whatever, while we criticize on social media or expect God to do something!

Be more involved in your nation in 2016!

My Tail

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There are some horses that roam my neighbourhood. There tails are long with long hairs. The tails serve to protect the “exhaust” from especially flies. With the long hairs, the tails also serve to remove flies from the body. I noticed that for goats the tails are very short and usually standing straight rather than covering the exhaust. There are hairs serving to keep flies out. I’m not really sure what they use their tails for.

For the squirrel, the tail is long and bushy–seemingly as big as the squirrel itself. Apart from covering, the tail is used to achieve balance while climbing or running on narrow paths. At times, the tail is packed behind, at times it is stretched out and swaying from side to side. The tail of a dog shows emotions. It wags when happy, and hides when afraid. Fishes propel themselves with their tails; birds steer and balance with theirs. Crocodiles can kill with their tails while monkeys climb trees with theirs. Man has no tail, neither do gorillas. Each specie is equipped with exactly what it needs!

The tail is like the provision that God has put in the life of each man. You are equipped based on what you are set to do! If the squirrel wears the tail of a horse, it won’t be able to climb a tree because of it’s weight. If the horse wears the tail of a monkey, it won’t have as much capacity to deal with flies and other insects. No other tail could help the crocodile get food like the tail of a crocodile.

As one year ends and another starts, we tend to review and forecast. Oftentimes, we emphasize what we would need to do what or be who we should. Let’s try it differently this time: what do we have that points at what we should be doing? What does this tail of mine say about what I should be doing? What capacity do I have that indicates some direction?

 

 

 

The Second Best Team

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I heard about the diligent boy who wanted to play football in Secondary school. He was present at every training, never came late; but did not make the school team. He kept coming in hope that one day, he would be selected. That day never came.

However, one day the coach decided to form a second team because there were good guys who did not get a chance to play. Here, he got a chance. The second team was also so good that the school registered both teams in the state-wide tournament. Of course the first team consisted of the best guys and they won practically all the games they played except one.

The second team played very well throughout the tournament, though it was strange to find a school represented by two teams. Summarily, both teams made it to the finals and guess who won? The second team! They beat the first team!

What irony! But then, who determines our position in any race? We do! The worst that could happen is that we would not be allowed to play; if we are labelled “second best,” we have already been given a chance!

It’s up to you and me to prove our worth!

The museum of procrastination: a review

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I happened on a little advert of HSBC bank. Not been able to see it again since then. It was titled The museum of procrastination. I considered it a wicked job since everyone (I mean you, him, her, and me) is guilty of some procrastination. First, procrastination was beautifully and simply described as “needless delaying where action is required (Book: Richest Man in Babylon).

So in the advert, the museum of procrastination was described as the “store of good intentions that were never fully realized.” It opened with a Gym Membership Section displaying gym memberships that were never used, and particularly, those that were used only once. Hmm. Reminded me of the gym that was full in January and the regular customers were angry. One told the Gym Manager to increase their capacity. He responded that he should come back in February when most people would have stopped coming!

The next section in the Museum was the Section of Unfinished Novels. The curator said here, “What a waste of talent.” The guy requested for a minute silence for these unfinished novels and wasted talents. If you have not found your “piece” in this two, just hang on a bit longer.

The next section displayed musical instruments that have only played Frere Jacques. Yeah, that recorder some of us got in primary school could be on display!

Then on to inventions that were never made!

I bet in one of these four rooms, if not all, we all have a little keepsake. that we never intended.

Wonder if it is possible to say, “Nothing of mine will ever find it’s way into the museum of procrastination…never again!” 

Economics Of Electricity

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I remember the end of 2009 when the Nigerian Attorney General announced that Nigeria had achieved the set 5-GigaWatts power generation. I told a friend, “Oh! I did not know that was the way; it is achievable then! Just announce it and it is done!”

Last weekend when I heard that Nigeria was close to 5-GW finally, I felt like shouting that it was not true! But then, the light just doesn’t go off again! It just stares at you night and day! I began to imagine the merits and the demerits.

MERITS:

  1. Success breeds success! For achieving 4.8-GW, the guys are now determined to hit 5-GW! And they are so going to hit it because they were at a meagre 2.5-GW about 3 months ago, coming from an all-time low of 175-MW four months ago! J
  2. Health effects. There are easy-to-overlook health benefits of this. First, may we never hear again of surgeries impossible because of power outages. May our homes be as quiet as this forever, free from the noise of generators. May we always sleep well at night. May the carcinogenic (Cancer-causing) fumes of diesel and petrol be gone forever from our bedrooms! Sleeping well is key to good health.
  3. Economic advantages. First, businesses will no longer spend 90% of their profits on diesel. That means they can talk about growth and business expansion in real terms. Also, citizens would spend less on personal power generation. Employees / citizens would then have more disposable income to patronize businesses. Businesses would produce more and employ more people who would then increase production and spending.
  4. Charity. In 2006, a Lagos church had a diesel budget of N11million. I can imagine that it has now gone up to may be N22million. If that money is set free, more hungry mouths will be fed, more street children will be rescued, more public schools will be upgraded by that church that is already contributing so so much!
  5. Less Fire Calls. My community is prone to power surges. Heavy ones! But since the power became stable, we’ve not had a single one! Power surge is the number 1 cause of building fires in Nigeria. They destroy and kill; but now, we can sleep with both eyes closed. Furthermore, we store less fuel now!
  6. Security. I got talking to a military man one day and asked why he lights up the whole premises at night. He explained that once the whole place is bright, no marauder would approach the light. Now our communities are better lit…and hopefully, safer!
  7. Food. First, at this time, you are not likely to buy dodgy fish or chicken, refrozen! Then you don’t have to throw away the food you spent hours cooking—food has stopped spoiling!!
  8. Road Transport. With less fuel consumption, we will have less fuel deliveries, and less fuel tanker accidents on the road!
  9. Jobs. On one hand, one tends to think that less consumption of petrol leads to job losses. But that may not be true. There are too many derivatives of crude oil for us to create numerous jobs. When we had Tyre factories in Nigeria, they still had to import carbon black, a derivative of crude oil. Are you reading this on a computer or phone? It contains more petroleum products than you can imagine. Hope you are not sitting on a plastic chair, and wearing rubber/foam slippers. And your car doesn’t use rubber tyres? It’s like we have been eating PONMO and complaining about how expensive leather materials are!
  10. GCE results. Students will now study at night with sufficient lighting, less headaches and better understanding.
  11. Road Traffic. What happens when you are waiting at the red light and instead of going green, it goes off? J Chaos!
  12. Telephony. I remember years ago when telephone calls used to go off with power cuts! Imagine that the GSM companies do not run on diesel, both data and call rates could go down a bit more!

 

So what are the demerits? Sadly, there are!

  1. Job cuts. The generator technician on my street is always in his shop now. I really feel for him! No one is servicing generators anymore. I try to warm mine once a week! He will have to transpose his skills to another industry or starve!
  2. Petroleum Marketers. Since we began to have light, our expenditure on Fuel has nose-dived. When was the last time you saw a poster on your gate with a phone number to call for home delivery of diesel?? Times have changed!
  3. Generator Merchants. When we needed generators, solar panels and windmills could have been provided. But short term gain was the only consideration and now… the party is over! They still don’t have to lose. The demand in Nigeria of today is calculated at about 10.5 GW and generation is only about 5 GW. I believe the 10.5 GW includes many Nigerians who are not yet on the national grid. So there is room to supply renewable energy. Besides, as things become calmer and businesses begin to grow, 10.5 GW will start shifting upward. However, the sun and the wind are free, and where gas is available, it is cheaper than diesel.

 

I can’t seem to think of as many demerits as merits. I hope it’s not over-optimism. But it appears there is much more to gain than to lose in having good power supply. So the next time you see an uncle lamenting being broke because subsidy payments have gone down, ask him to account for the so much he has got, else, it is not worth our investment.

Say it!!

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 I sat back one day and thoughts began to flow.
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When my brother was preparing for National Service after the university, I used to say jokingly that he would go to serve at the farthest place possible: Maiduguri! It happened.
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When he was preparing to wed, seniors used to tease me that I would also be on the floor, prostrated to ask for the hand of his wife in marriage. I used to say jokingly that I would be in suit. Hence, I would stretch out my hand for a shake and won’t be able to lie flat on the floor. When the time came, I had exams  in the university. I finished a paper on the Friday and raced back across 80 km to attend the traditional ceremony. I was in shirt and trousers, coming from an exam! When my dad saw me, he called me to himself and told me to get someone to take me home to wear something more appropriate. I said okay. Instead, I went to stand at the back to watch the ceremony! Daddy did not know I had another exam at 8 am the next morning; I had only one or two hours to spare! So, I did not prostrate!
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Sometime ago, I had to go to another city to see someone. While away from home, I began to feel feverish. It was not a small matter. I called my doctor who told me she won’t prescribe any drug till I had come for a test. The next morning, I got on the way back. I told her I would come straight to the hospital to have the test done. It took me about 2.5 hours to get there. I was feeling so feverish, I had to do something. I began to say to myself, “By the stripes of Jesus I am healed and sickness cannot stay in my body. Malaria parasite dies out in Jesus’ name.”
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Two and a half hours of that and I got to the hospital. My blood sample was taken while I went to take lunch. Long and short, the test revealed no malaria parasite and I went home smiling, with the fever clearing progressively! Eureka!!!
That was the last time I went to see a doctor for treatment!
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I see that while it is good to ensure that nothing negative proceeds out of our mouths, it is equally important to say the good things we want to see…by the authority the Almighty has given to us in Jesus!
I no longer wait to feel feverish. I say want I want to see, and by God, I’ve been seeing what I’ve been saying!
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Jesus spoke to inanimate things (e.g. the fig tree; Mark 11:12+) and they heard. So why not us?
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Re-equip

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When we have to embark on a trip, we inadvertently prepare a few things that would help us get there. This preparation may be inadequate, but usually, it will get us to the destination even if it would not give us a good time there.

We have to choose our modes of transportation. Sometimes, you have to choose further: Ok, I’ll go by road. Which route? Do I  drive my own car? Or do I ride  with a friend? Do I go by public transport? This is taking for granted the fact that we had already established our destination.

We arm ourselves with what we believe are necessary supplies for the trip. However, most trips require more than just initial preparation. Some trips even require us to retreat (fail) and take on the trip again. In 1953, two people made it to the top of Mount Everest at the same time: Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay. Tenzig had attempted in 1952, but the team was beaten back 240 meters from the summit. The current Nigerian President M. Buhari took the office by force in 1983 but was chased out in less than 2 years. He has been vying for the office since 2003 and he made it in 2015 when his strategy was completely overhauled; he re-equipped.

Sometimes after our attempts have proved successful, we need to still overhaul the whole machinery. Sometimes we find that we are not sufficiently equipped to sustain the success; we get some more education, we refuel our cars, we hire new staff, etc.

Summarily, Not Much in Life is Passive!

We may need to do less, do more, etc. But above all, we need to keep evaluating and making adjustments.

 

 

Good Content

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At one time or the other, we all have had inappropriate things come up on our computers or mobile devices while surfing the internet. It could be on your personal device, or at an internet cafe, or at a borrowed device. Sometimes, you feel the inappropriate thing followed a cookie to your device. At other times, you are sure that it was not any cookie; it just came!

Sometimes you see gross pictures that could haunt your mind for the next few days. Other times they are just symbols of idleness set to take your time: “Watch this video and see what happens to the guy on the left.” At other times its news that would leave us either angry or afraid.

What are we to do?

We have kept quiet and it has not helped; we have spoken against it but we have not necessarily got results. Why not produce good content?

In 2011 a guy whose name I cannot remember wrote about 10 points to make the new year a good year. One key point that came across to me was that we should not just be consumers on the internet; we should also contribute! Hmm. That was why I started this blog.

There are people that we have to defriend on Facebook for habitually posting inappropriate content; and there are those whose walls we check when we need encouragement. There are those we know we could get good information from; there are those that we get gossip info from. The question is not, “What kind of content do you contribute?” Rather, we should ask, “What could I contribute to make the pool better?

There is doubtless a battle between good and evil, between light and darkness; and every little torch counts!

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Pix: http://www.atwix.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/ATWIX-man-in-the-bottle.jpg

Strength!

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To the scientist and the engineer, strength is in the physical formation. To the leader and the soldier, strength is in invincibility. To the little boy among peers, strength is in the size of your biceps; and the capacity to win arm wrestlings!

What is strength to you?

Dictionary defines strength as (1) the quality or state of being physically strong; and (2) the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure.

There is so much pressure on us in today’s world even though we may deny it. The barrage from the news is all negative, and repressive: from Nepal. to India, to Nigeria, to the Middle East, to the USA, etc. We are bombarded with information about natural disasters, insurgency, receding moral standards, temptation to err, etc. All these pressures want to break us: to tell us that we are not good enough or strong enough.

Someone blurted out last week, “Why do these things have to happen!?” I won’t venture to answer that question, but while still looking forward to the answer, I will ask a different question: “What can we do to remain sane in this situation?

 

1. Do not stand alone

Quoting Confuscius, “If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.” King Solomon also writes, “Two are better than one,… For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.” We are better off in company of like-minded people!

 

2. Connect with SomeOne stronger

As much as mankind has attempted to deny the deity of God, we have not been able to evade it. Someone pointed out that evolutionists date rocks by the fossil and date the fossil by the rock i.e circular thinking. We do this when run out of ideas. A Professor of Physics wondered why it’s only water that expands anomalously if not that SomeOne arranged it so as to preserve aquatic life in winter. Whichever way, if we are sinking, we are better of clutching at a straw–a strong one at that!

 

3. Live for a purpose

Living to earn a living is boring! Make something happen for someone else, or for your city, or community, or nation! If we have a reason for living, it could be easier to weather our storms. If we live for ourselves alone, we may soon ask why live and go through all the pressures in the first place. In the book In Pursuit of Purpose by Myles Munroe, he opens the book with the story of a prosperous man who jumped into the ocean to kill himself. A young and strong man saw him and went after him, saving him. The rich man was in his 70s. He was happily married with good children getting on fine. But he said, “Everybody knows who I am, but I do not know why I am.” Without purpose, it won’t be long before man caves in.

 

4. Embrace your mortality!

Well, we want to live long, but no one will live forever and the earlier we come to terms with this, the easier it would be for us and the more peace we would have!

 

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 Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.

– Mahatma Ghandi – 

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The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 

– King Solomon –

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