Thursday, April 30, 2009



The Nigeria that you lead is a land of too many critics. Whoever came up with the concept of free speech had obviously never met with Nigerians. That is why I salute your unusual courage and humility in even seeking to serve these people as their ‘servant leaders’.

They have come again. This time, they say the rainy seasons are here and most roads are still in a state of total disrepair and dilapidation. They are up in arms against you, complaining bitterly and ceaselessly about the traffic jams, the loss of man hours, the difficulty in transporting goods, the loss of revenue to government coffers (as though you are not the government), the road accidents and the general inconveniences and untold hardship that they go through daily. However, they haven’t bothered to see the other side of the story and appreciate the benefits of bad roads to them. What an ungrateful people! If they did, am sure they would revere you all instead of this reviling. As a concerned citizen, I adjure your high mightinesses not to listen to these alarmists; do not buckle under their pressure and don’t consider for even a minute the repair of any of these roads.

As a matter of urgent national security importance, Nigerian roads must maintain its leading role as the backbone of the government’s welfare policy for our daring policemen and mendicant citizens. Those clamoring for road repairs do not have the interest of these patriots at heart, otherwise why can’t they see how helpful the slowing down of vehicles at potholes is for beggars, men of the police force and their numerous dependants. They also have not noticed the huge savings that the government is making from this scheme. The alternative which would be to draft and implement a huge social welfare policy for them is not desirable at this point at all. After all the little N20 or N50 that motorists drop do not take anything from them, they should stop complaining and see it as Police Compensation and Appreciation Package (PCAP).

It is a known fact that Nigerians have abnormal and irregular eating habits. Bad roads come in handy in taking care of one aspect of this anomaly. Take for instance the man who takes 6 wraps of ‘eba’ or ‘akpu’ before setting out for work in the morning. Ordinarily, this man would be heavy and lazy in the workplace, thus affecting his productivity and contribution. But thanks to our roads, the digestion process would have been long completed even before he gets to the office. Your critics won’t be able to come up with a more effective health policy.

Furthermore, our rugged roads and landscape could serve as a huge revenue source and foreign exchange earner for the nation, unlike what the critics desire to make us believe. Surely you are aware that amid fears of a terrorist attack last year, the Dakar Rally was moved from Dakar, Senegal to South America for the first time. Nigeria can immediately bid for its return to Africa, but not in Dakar anymore but in Benin, Nigeria or some other Nigerian city noted for extremely bad roads. The kind of roads and terrain the competitors in this automobile race traverse cannot be found in South America or even Dakar but in Nigeria’s Niger delta. We could realize millions of dollars yearly from tourist visits alone. The issue of terrorism doesn’t arise because even though there has been a campaign of calumny against us by foreign embassies no terrorist attack has occurred within our shores.
We could even take it a step further by having a subset of our rebranding exercise- NIGERIA: GOOD PEOPLE, BAD ROADS. In this subset, we will brand our bad roads in such a way that those who have good ones would be humbled and pity their lot. Trust me, you will catch their attention. They will begin to see our bad roads, not as the problems they want to see and make it to be but as assets that they truly are. The wisdom in this is that the money you could have used to do these unnecessary roads can then be channeled into paying the lobbyists and marketing firms that will push this into new frontiers for our great nation. In a few years, it would spread like wild fire and countries would be falling over each other to copy our model. For once, we would be taking a leading role in innovation.

Listen no more to their folly; after all good roads did not stop the winds of recession from blowing in other climes. We have more important things to do with our money. There are still political daughters left to be given out to opposition governors in lavish ceremonies. As you know, these ceremonies are imperative if we must foster political and inter-state unity and if we must move towards a one-party state just like other reasonable nations like Singapore. Furthermore, there are still investigative and reform committees to be formed and funded. You don’t have to accept their recommendations, let there just be a semblance of relative motion, whether it is forward or backward motion doesn’t matter. After all perception is everything.

Once again, I salute your Excellencies for your patriotism and service. I anticipate no change in your approach to governance. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Sincerely yours,

STAN’S NOTES: This post is dedicated to all Nigerians that go through the torture of plying Nigerian roads- basically all Nigerians. The government announced some road projects this week. Let’s hope they mean business.
Check this page on Thursday 7th May for my controversial interview with a renowned university don. Thanks.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Some older folks say that there used to be a time when Nigeria was sane; when there was a sense of patriotism, and when moral decadence was an exception and not the norm. I have never lived in that Nigeria. However, I believe strongly that someday I will. A recent experience showed me just how hard it’s going to be to see that Nigeria again.

I value my sanity a lot. That’s why on gaining admission into the university, I never considered residing in the hostels. The chaos, randomness and disorderliness were and still are far above my threshold level. So, my brothers and I rented a flat in a more serene environment outside the campus. However, the sanity and sanctity of my sanctum was seriously threatened recently. Let me explain.
The flat adjacent to ours has been unoccupied for a while and so we were expecting neighbors anytime soon. But not the kind we saw and definitely not the number. On that particular Tuesday some three weeks ago, about 40 people -boys, girls, and men- walked into our compound with their luggage and sat in front of the empty flat, obviously waiting for the keys. They looked like strangers and sounded like strangers too, with their heavy Ibo accent (keep in mind that this was Benin). It was confusing and amusing all at once. They looked like pilgrims going on hajj; just that this wasn’t the Murtalla Mohammed Airport - it was my house. Needing an explanation for the intrusion, we walked up to the one who looked as though he was in command, coordinating and controlling affairs. “Please, what’s going on here?” ,we asked. “Who are you?” ,he replied/questioned back. We introduced ourselves. And then he released the bombshell: “These are my students for the WAEC exams.” The meaning of that statement registered in our minds immediately and after one or two other questions and clarifications, we walked away, while they -all 40 of them- got the keys and settled into the flat.

The full gist was that this young man, who identified himself as a student of the University Of Benin -maybe with the help of accomplices- was running an ‘advanced examination malpractice crime syndicate’, where he arranged with students/desperate people in need of a certificate from the Eastern part of the country. Their ages obviously did not matter because some looked as young as 18 while others looked as old as 40. And all these ‘special candidates’ were to write their exams in ‘special centers’ where he and his accomplices would perform ‘special miracles.’

It is highly probable that my narration would seem ‘normal’ to a lot of Nigerians, a unique testament to how degenerate most have become. I don’t even think some of these people thought there was anything wrong with their actions because the loudness and intensity with which they prayed and sang praises in the mornings was like a farmer thanking God for a bountiful harvest. One of them –a PHCN staff in Onitsha- sounded to me like the victim. Hear him, “I didn’t make my English in WAEC, so they haven’t promoted me. That’s why I am doing this.” I am sure he expected me to say “eiyaa”. Instead I silently wondered what his wife thought. She probably supports. And so it is that generally the consciences of many Nigerians have been seared, we no more feel a thing. Values and principles seem so ‘old school.’ It ought not to be so.

The National Policy on Education (1981) identified citizenship education as:” a basis for effective participation in and contribution to the life of the society; character and moral training, and the development of sound attitudes; developing in the child the ability to adapt to his changing environment.” Even a blind man can see that like ‘Old Roger’ in our nursery school rhymes, citizenship education as defined above is ‘dead and gone to the grave.’ But if Nigeria is ever going to stop dawdling, it must resurrect. How? I wish I had all the answers but I don’t. One thing I do know is that good men must ‘take back their country.’ Good parents must teach their kids citizenship education on time and they too must practice it. Good teachers must not compromise on standards and values. Good law enforcers must bring all those culpable to book. In short, every good man/woman must play his part. One Nigerian musician put it very well in his song:
Mr. President- lead us well;
If you be governor- govern us well;
If you be senator- senate am well;
If you be police- police well well no dey take bribe.

As for those ‘special students’, they were chased out of my compound three days after their arrival by policemen. It turned out that my landlord was misled. They probably went somewhere else in further pursuit of their cause. Whither Nigeria?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

UNIben disUNIted

Even now, a casual observer walking within the school walls wouldn’t think anything was wrong. The hostels are still rowdy, lecture theatres are still packed full and the school’s famed social life is booming as always. But all is not well in the University of Benin, Nigeria, for beneath the semblance of normalcy is a riveting political battle as fierce and intense as it is shocking. And it all began the day Prof. Emmanuel Nwanze, the immediate past vice-chancellor, retired or possibly a short while before that.

Prof. Nwanze’s five year tenure ended on February 9th and as directed by the then minister of education, Dr. Igwe Aja-Nwachukwu, he handed over the reins to the deputy vice-chancellor (admin), Prof(Mrs.) Uche Gbenedio albeit in acting capacity. The move was in line with convention in federal universities in the last one year, where in the absence of a governing council, the federal government appoints an acting vice-chancellor. In all the cases that this has happened, the deputy vice-chancellor in charge of administration was appointed and in all the cases, it wasn’t a problem – until UNIBEN. Opposition to Prof. Gbenedio’s appointment was swift and emphatic and it came from two fronts – the legal and the ludicrous.

Let’s start with the ludicrous. Certain folks reasoned that since the outgoing VC was a Delta Igbo, it was sacrilegious for another Igbo -Mrs. Gbenedio- to serve as acting VC. Leading this school of thought were ethnic champions like the Benin Forum, Edo Citizens Forum and the Concerned Edo Citizens. This tribal argument obviously makes no sense but is symptomatic of the general Nigerian disease where in the words of renowned journalist and publisher of Ovation magazine, we “continue to stick to our primordial systems of zoning and federal character. And continue to treat fellow citizens as foreigners in their own country.” I couldn’t agree more. For one, Uniben is a federal institution and by law is not bound by their sentiments. But even more importantly, it is a university – one of Nigeria’s finest. Universities are supposed to be champions of meritocracy, excellence and sound work ethics. A hodge-podge of the best and brightest minds a nation has to offer. That a group of local champions most of whom have no affiliation at all with the institution apart from geography would champion such a selfish and myopic cause is truly disheartening. The fact that these same kinds would leap for joy that a Kenyan black duly occupies the white house says a lot about the hypocrisy of man.

The legal angle was introduced by a faction of the university’s ASUU branch led by Dr. Ilevbare whose grouse was that the appointment did not follow due process because Prof. Gbenedio’s tenure as deputy vice chancellor had expired as at the time of her elevation making her ineligible to be selected as acting VC. At the beginning, it seemed like they wouldn’t be having their way because the new governing council –inaugurated in March- was only interested in filling the vacant position of substantive VC, even requesting for applications from suitably qualified and interested candidates. At that time the governing council didn’t seem to have a problem with the acting VC. Not until they too ‘realized’ some weeks later that her appointment did not follow ‘due process’ (that word again). The council led by the new chairman Prof. Mmuendaga Jibo therefore mandated the university senate to conduct a proper election, effectively overruling the visitor to the university, President Yar’adua, on whose behalf the former minister had appointed Prof. Gbenedio. Battling desperately to save her job, Prof. Gbenedio went to the courts and obtained an order restraining any one from removing her as acting VC. But the governing council and senate-eternal champions of due process- ignored the courts, went ahead and elected a new acting vice chancellor in the person of Prof. Emmanuel Kubenje, the provost of the college of medical sciences. Not done yet, they punished Mrs. Gbenedio by suspending her from all the university’s activities and placed her effectively on half salary for daring to take the school to court without giving the school community the mandatory 30 days notice prescribed by the school rules.

Needless to say, this is a needless battle. Honestly, I am amazed at the amount of fuss and controversy the issue of who becomes ‘acting’ vice chancellor is generating. I would have expected that the governing council of the university be more interested in immediately ensuring the emergence -- by due process of course -- of a substantive vice chancellor so that the business of running the institution is unhindered. Also, the measure meted out to Prof. Gbenedio is too severe. She isn’t just some opportunistic school teacher. She was the first vice chancellor of Benson Idahosa University and until her elevation and demotion, was the deputy vice chancellor of UNIBEN. If this is about due process, then she must be given her due.

One of the most brandished achievements of the former VC was that the school ran an uninterrupted calendar for 5 years (the first time that has ever happened). This feat was as much his doing as it was the students’ and for now, the students are surprisingly quiet. That’s a good sign. The students’ union government recently released a circular, stating its neutrality in the whole affair and its ready disposition to accept any one who emerges as the VC. That’s also a good sign. How long the students maintain this level of maturity is another matter. Fingers are crossed but ears can still hear the rumblings in the cloud, senses can feel the disunity in the land. And that’s never a good sign.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Happenings in Nigeria and across the globe have been occuring at a dizzying pace. The politics of election re-trials, the propaganda war in Edo state, the PHCN delusion in Kwara state as well as the meeting of world giants in London minus the so-called giant of Africa etc. are just some of the many updates in the polity. However, and rather unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to 'blogcast' my take on these issues because I am on a much needed and compulsory therapy. Perhaps I would be able to share some of my experiences at a later date. I trust you understand. My regular posting will resume on April 14th. Thanks.