Sunday, 30 December 2012

A widespread rebel-led revolution is not the panacea for Africa

Today, many Nigerian youth are yearning for a revolutionary displacement of the nation’s leadership. They want new and younger people to replace the incumbents, and are willing to achieve this objective through turmoil and rebellious revolution. While I am indifferent to the age group of most African leaders, I strongly believe young people can also lead in certain quarters.

More concern should be given to leaders’ productivity than their ages. In the United States, the late Senator Robert Byrd (1917-2010) was West Virginia’s Senator from 1959 to 2010, making him the longest-serving member of the United States Congress. Recently, 19-year-old Proscovia Alengot Oromait was elected a Member of Parliament in Uganda by the people of Usuk. The electorate cast votes in her favour because they believe she will perform well in office.

In Nigeria some youth are even asking to reconfigure the three major ethnic groups into individual republics due to continued threats and attacks from Boko Haram, the seemingly uncontrollable forces of terrorism dominating the Northern region of the country. There is concern about leaders perceived to lack transparency, selflessness and integrity.

However, I am not fully convinced that a rebel-led revolution is the best way to create lasting and favourable change in Nigeria and other African societies. The anarchy of revolution is incapable of resolving the major problems in the continent. Though persistent aggression will eventually create change, such a change will come with its attendant problems. The socio-economic implications of prolonged disorder, the formation of new and stronger political cliques, and a need to eliminate the dangerous weapons that were instrumental in enforcing change are just some of the major problems that emerge after a typical armed revolution. The goings-on in Tunisia and Egypt have yet to persuade me to think otherwise.

Again, leadership inferiority is not absolutely the root cause of the challenges in Nigeria. Rather, it is one of the fruits of general citizenship misconduct. Bad leaders are citizens who were born by certain parents and groomed by some mentors. To identify the origin of the nation’s dominant problems, certain key questions must be answered: “Why did parenting and mentorship fail for many years without a rethink? Where were those who should have corrected our leaders when they started erring? How did parents and mentors become corrupt elders seeking gifts, cash prizes and contracts from persons for whom they should be responsible? Why did godfathers and elite elders become myopic for earthly interests?”

These questions should be answered and the lessons learnt should be applied now and in future. The aftermath of uprisings will neither create instant employment for the majority nor bring more order into the society. In fact, leadership following a rebellion operates under high pressure because people’s expectations are elevated.

Read More at: Commonwealth Correspondence Portal

Thursday, 27 December 2012


While pondering on the issue of development across nations and different strata of the society, I inquired about the reason for the wide gap between developed and developing societies, advanced and less advanced continents and the rich and poor, and amongst myriads of reasons, I discovered a striking cause- the TIME FACTOR! With the same amount of time, each one has been able to do something more worthwhile than the other. 

A sage once made an illustration that drives this thought home. According to Him, all men are born equal; we were all born naked, crying and with tightly closed fists. We brought nothing into this world other than ‘something’ which was held in our tightly closed fists. That invisible ‘thing‘ is called TIME and all men have equal measure of it.

If every man around the world and through the lines of history have always had the same quantity of time, what then could be responsible for the backwardness or progression of one society and the other? Well, I figured out every two distinct continents, nations, or societies with varied degree of civilization have always had a major difference in their attitude and approach towards time.

Over time, developed continents, nations and societies, be it in America or Europe, have always done with their time, more significant activities than have been done by their developing or underdeveloped counterparts in Africa or Asia. All inventions in history are valid outcomes of wise investment of time.

Doing things differently within the space of time has shaped civilizations and functioned as a major tool in development rather than the availability of vast mineral resources. While one society pays attention to research and development to improve general living conditions, another pays its own to the survival of its privileged citizens.

While one country pays attention to global issues to increase her relevance and position as a renowned solutions provider, the other pays attention to being the consumer of imported goods and beneficiary of foreign aids.

While the stakeholders in forward thinking societies continue to invest time to pave new ways for generations yet unborn, those in disadvantaged economies beg the question. 

The record of poor time management set by both policy makers and the average populace of the society is an underlying cause of backwardness in many third world countries today.

This among other factors has created the difference in what each society has been able to achieve within the same space of time. Time indeed is a factor to reckon with; we will do well to invest it wisely.

Emmanuel Oluwadunsin Ayeni is an engineer, inspirational speaker, writer and entrepreneur. He enjoys inspiring other people to greatness and contributing to global development. Currently, Emmanuel resides in the lively city of Lagos in Nigeria.
Twitter: #emmandus || Email: || Google+: Emmanuel Ayeni

Monday, 17 December 2012

Reminiscence & Hope: Once Upon a Time in Nigeria --by Oludare Pius

Photo Credit: Olumoraks

Do you still remember the time when the only TV station was NTA, and the options you had were NTA channel 10, NTA 2 (channel 5) and NTA channel 7. That was the time when Frank Oliseh of “newsline” was more popular than today’s Frank Edoho of “Who wants to be a millionaire?” By the way, who doesn’t want to become a millionaire? That was when Birdman and G-force looked like today’s Avatar; the animation really looked crispate. You would have a lot of friends coming to your house simply because you had cable TV. Or perhaps, because you were the kind of classy bachelor that had a VHS player and some Indian films at home.

Once upon a time Paratroopers was the reigning game and Pacman tried to rival it before Mortal Kombat finally took over. Then, a computer genius was someone who could power on a system, do a few things on word processor, enter basic commands and tell you the history of the computer (genius in fact).

Indeed if I reminisce where we are coming from as a country; when streetlights were an endangered species; when the price of a litre of oil would not buy you the smallest unit of groundnut in today’s currency; when a football derby between Nigeria and Ghana would pull more viewers than a La Liga El Clasico match between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You will agree with me that many waters have passed under the bridge. Come to think of it, I am still scratching history on its surface; I have not mentioned our parents’ lamentation of the magic one Naira existent in their own time.

I remember the time when owning a NITEL telephone line made you a big person. Phone lines were so expensive, the then Communications Minister actually said it wasn’t meant for the poor. You would literally have people booking appointments to take calls at your place. Later, NITEL would visit you with their crazy bills as though to test your patience. But thanks to technology and business competition; today, phone lines are so cheap that you could get a basic GSM phone and SIM card at a price that is cheaper than the cost of a scientific calculator. Kudos to God for creating the Chinese!

Once upon a time SIM cards were more expensive than some of today’s hi-tech phones. Nokia 3310 (a.k.a. pure water) once cost 40,000 Naira. Then, you had to use your airtime wisely and ensure that your call does not enter the next minute. A certain operator even said a per-seconds billing was not possible. Today, all that is history courtesy of industry competition and NCC reforms.

Do you remember freedom? I still recall the time when “mum” was the best word to use if you were talking politics and a uniformed man popped into your corner. That was when “fellow Nigerians” was the appropriate and official way of greeting Nigerians. That was a time when those uniformed guys decreed a lot of capricious edicts and they were established on all. Today, our democracy may not be great; but hey, you could stand in front of Asokoro Villa and call the president a bad boy (please, not my recommendation).

Talking innovation, do you still remember the time when satellite TV entered the Nigerian market? The dishes of their outdoor units were so large, you would mistake them for new architectural roofing. The vast majority that could not afford satellite or cable TV had their TV antennas suspended so high in the sky that they rivalled the height of the tower of Babel. The logic was the higher your VHF/UHF antenna, the more the TV signals it would receive. This made some neighbours extend theirs so high, you would think they were indeed searching for some heavenly TV station. Now, satellite TV is relatively affordable with various competitive prices. Again, the dish sizes have so reduced that no fearless Spartan would want to use it as a shield on the battlefield.

While history or changed times may make us smile, one thing remains secure: Nigerians are able to quickly adapt to any system. Perhaps, we so much get used to systems that we forget the past and fail to appreciate our future. But I hope to see an all-round changed Nigeria. A Nigeria where huge developments would have their way and the impossible issues of today would be another chapter of history.

I hope to see a Nigeria where underground pipes would carry more water than air, where power utility companies would distribute electric power nonstop. I hope to see a time in Lagos city when the plenteous transport conductors called Agbero would look respectable in befitting locally-made suits and the mighty buses called Molue would transit the metropolis with factory-fitted air conditioners and plasma TVs. I hope to see a period when all Matatus or Danfos would be four-wheel drives –they would all have standard bus stations and offer an online booking system. It is really possible; don’t think of it as wishful thinking. I mean I could just sit down in my office and check when the next Molue would arrive at the bus station.

 I hope to see a Lagos where I would wake up late by 7.00 am and have the assurance of making it to the office before 8.00 am, irrespective of my location courtesy of a well-structured railway system connecting the gamut of the state; a Lagos where traffic jams running into 30 minutes delay would make the breaking news of the next hour.

I hope to see a time when there would be equal opportunity for everyone, without respect to tribe, language or religion; when all industry monopolies would be broken and St Louis Sugar would no longer be the only cubed sugar product available in the Nigerian market. I mean, a time when all Nigerians would have options in all ramifications.

I hope to see a new Nigeria where, “I will construct roads, give you light and sink boreholes in your neighbourhoods” are no longer be manifesto and campaign topics because everyone would have access to the basic amenities of life.

I hope to see a Nigeria in the near future, where once upon another time, we would look back and thank God the country has made us proud because we all stood for our rights and took responsibility for our actions.

Before its revision here, this article was published as Once Upon a Time on Pius’ blog.
Oludare Olugbenga Pius is a writer and social entrepreneur. He enjoys meeting people, visiting places and learning new things. His blog address is

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Aflame Alive: Learning from the Mandela Model --by Fasanmi Bamidele

Last year, as my birthday drew nearer, I entered a habitually reflective mood. I was full of gratitude to God for liveliness despite several threats to my existence over the years. Few months earlier, on 15th of April 2011, I had escaped death in an auto crash that broke the spine of a fellow passenger and consumed 8 other human lives. I was indeed grateful to still be around to contribute positively to humanity. The venue of the gory incident was actually a well-known death trap for travellers and did not receive the attention of government as it ought to. This is probably because most persons in authority had not lost their friends and relatives to that accidental terrain or those who had died in time past were not important to them. After all, the lack of value for human lives is still a common disease in African society.

Really, Africa as a continent will improve if Africans observe a paradigm shift –a slight change in our value orientation. Though we have an abundance of corporate resources, our values are distorted and hopes are very low. A people with high hopes will not consume everything today as if there will be no tomorrow and their leaders will not access influential positions to suck the people dry. Sometimes, I wonder how many potential African leaders have been destroyed by ghastly accidents that could have been prevented. In my country Nigeria, terrorist attacks now rival with severe road accidents and occasional plane crashes to prematurely claim the lives of prospective generational leaders. I cringe at the mere thought! If only we could see people as our greatest resource (a key concept in human resource management), we would love, feed and protect them.

One day, as I thought about aging, I asked myself, “Am I really increasing in value? Will I truly be missed by my generation when I eventually take my exit?” While thinking, I read some books and newspapers too. Then I came across a news piece that said that plans to immortalise a living man were ongoing. According to the newspaper, his face would be printed on paper currencies in his nation. This was going to happen for him because he almost paid the ultimate sacrifice in a persistent struggle –the saga of awakening the conscience of the propagators of apartheid and fighting racism in his country, South Africa. That got me thinking again. The man is still alive and many generations of South Africans and other nationalities will get to stare at and hold his image. This is something many living folks would hardly have as a dream. But what made him worth this much? The answers I got will be shared shortly. I hope it gets some of us thinking and replants in the hearts of those looking up to us in our diverse spheres of contact. 

Nelson Mandela is highly revered as a living legend by people of different colours. He is a global icon and member of the esteemed Council of Elders (a body which, Richard Branson says, consists of persons who have contributed most meaningfully to peace and posterity in various fields and nations and now sit over global issues to intervene according to the powers of their influence). Becoming a member of such body requires a very rare virtue. You could call it selflessness, crusading or bearing a heart for people but every heart has its language of expression. I believe Mandela made a decision to have no ambition other than to see his people treated with respect and fairness; to have them smiling in the midst of true freedom. He must have dreamt –both day and night– about the equality of his brothers and sisters in South Africa. He must have been like the historical Jewish figure, Moses, momentarily crossing the Rubicon in a solitary place and deciding that nothing would stop him. To understand the gravity of this, consider the possible reaction of an average couple if their child chooses to give up a seemingly bright future in pursuit of one that is replete with fight and incarceration on behalf of others. Perhaps, no caring parent would approve it. 
When men have proven throughout history to be the most ungrateful of all intelligent creatures, how would a bright young man tell his friends that his greatest dream is not the accumulation of riches or possession of affluence but the realisation of his people’s freedom, respect and acceptance? Mandela must have mourned himself and given birth to a new life internally. He must have internalised a life that is fearless to torture, suffering and condescension. I have learnt from the life of Nelson Mandela and made up my mind to live to impact, bless and make people happy and fulfilled, whether they are aware of my contribution or not.
Africa is inherently great but there is a need to value human lives. Mandela reached the height of his dreams without needing great funds. He did it by suffering for himself and others. If suffering is a raw material for making posterity, then only few of us in Africa can lay hold on the inability to access it. Suffering is everywhere in Africa. Many are poor and suffering without assistance. If we bear in the suffering of others to bring enduring liberty and enjoyment, then we have nothing to lose. Once a man has sworn to die, if necessary, for his dream, all of creation will come to assist him. I have written these, not because I have achieved some sort of heroic exploits but, because my heart witnesses that they are right and true. If we do not have funds, let us give ourselves. We would do well to learn from the Mandela model; a man who used himself, not money, to set his people and descendants free. Just writing this piece puts my heart in the mood. Sharing it with others will help in the gradual regeneration of human value in Africa...Thank you friends.

Bamidele Fasanmi is the CEO of Fasdel Strategic Solutions. He affects individuals and organisations through hands-off mentoring, change initiation, paradigm shift, reward systems as well as corporate and personal transformation. He may be contacted via or BB PIN: 31696F98