Sunday, 13 December 2015


The bank verification number is one of the CBN policies that got Nigerians on their toes. Though the program was launched on February 14th 2014, most Nigerians took the process serious when the first deadline (June 30th 2015) drew close. The population made CBN to extend the date to 31st October 2015. Customers besieged banking halls to enroll since it was learned that those who failed to be captured would lose access to their accounts.
Bank Verification Number (BVN) is a ten digit number given to a customer after their biometric details have been captured. To secure BVN, a customer’s portrait needs to be taken, their fingerprints captured and then their signature using a special pen and glass. The beauty of BVN is that it guards against identity theft and a customer’s details can be verified across all the banks in the country (not just the bank they enrolled with).

The benefits of the BVN cannot be over emphasized but there are still begging questions desirous of answers. A typical Nigerian is yet to understand how the process can guard them from fraudsters. Moreover, verifications are mostly required when huge transactions are involved. As online banking and marketing gains wider acceptance, swindlers are constantly gaining an edge over illiterate and ill exposed Nigerians.

Recently, I got a message with the title of the sender being "CBN". That caught my fancy. The message claimed that because of BVN my ATM has been blocked (and it has been blocked before so I took it serious) that I should call a certain number if I wish to unblock it. I called the number and the caller told me I had to verify I was the real owner of the card so I should answer some questions.

I said my name, my date of birth, called out my card number and the expiry date (well, I saw those as somewhat safe information to give out) it was when the caller told me to call out the three security numbers at the back of my card I figure it was fraudulent and ended the call. I was lucky by a bird’s hair; that close to getting my account emptied.

This is where I think BVN should be helpful to all Nigerians (and world over) to totally eradicate internet fraud of this sort. Since every customer’s details including fingerprint is already in a database, what if a new trading platform for online transactions is designed such that after filling in the card information, the customer still needs to thumbprint for the transaction to be carried out?

This will definitely end fraudsters from carrying out transaction for their victims. It doesn’t end there. What if we fast-track to a point where ATM has a provision for thumbprint too? It will bring to an end the era of criminals stealing and hacking people’s ATM cards (unless they’ll decide to take their victim’s thumb along).

These solutions may sound like hocus-pocus but I believe it will work (if the person in the right position to effect this change is reading this and thinks in tandem with me) and when it does work, customers will need to physically monitor their off-the-banking-hall transactions. I also believe this is the best way to secure an illiterate Nigerian from financial theft and justify the long hours they spent under harsh condition to get their BVN.

Sunday, 18 October 2015


Up until I joined I never knew World Earth Day (WED) was celebrated every April 22 nor was I aware that there was anything like World Environment Day (June 5) or World Water Day (March 22). The truth was that I never cared.

I first discovered two year ago while rummaging the web for any ongoing essay and short story contests that Nigerians can (an opportunity I always grabbed to sharpen my writing skills and also evaluate myself). At that time, I was concerned about a number of things; if my writing actually made sense, how people felt about my work. My idea was that if I should win any contest or even get short-listed, it meant I was doing great (that never happened. An awful way to evaluate oneself).

Meanwhile, I decided to read a few articles on the website (there is always something new to read every day by the way). When I did, I found a new purpose to life greater than my hunt for bounty; our planet is dying and I was one of the murderers.

Like myself, there are millions of people out there who are unaware of how their behaviours change our planet. Many years ago, I knew the exact month to expect the rains, when it will stop and when harmattan will take over the mantle of leadership but that is no longer so.

Climates have change; earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, erosions and melting of glaciers have taken over our environment. Why won’t the earth be annoyed? We keep taking and never give. Caring for the earth is not a government thing but the responsibility of everyone.

Yes, we have to cut down trees for timber, but what stops us from planting another to replace the one cut down? Why acquire more than you need and end up discarding many of them? Why can’t industries figure out better ways to manage their waste rather than dumping them into the sea? Why must we burn coal and fuel when the sun is there to give us cleaner energy?

The most disturbing and most prevalent especially in Nigeria is the culture of wastage (to show the world that you have ‘arrived’). People throw lavish parties with lots of food and drinks spilled. Same is the case every evening at drinking joints. People eat and drink and become drunk, leaving foods on their plate which are later collected into a dustbin.

At no other time has this crusade of attitudinal change been more relevant than today when parts of the world are gripping with food shortage. Even in Nigeria, there are still families that go to bed on empty stomach. The truth is that the earth is capable of supporting everyone’s dream but not their greed. We have approximately 7 billion people in the world in one planet, so consume with care.

I used to think I was an individual, what difference can I possibly make? But going through I got ashamed of myself; youngsters––as young as fifteen and under––raising their words and living the talk to make our environment a better place. You may be just one person in 7 billion but believe me, there are tens of people that look up to you to model their lives. Live the change and it will trickle down.

More recently, an ambassador on the platform (Miss Bindu Bhandari) wrote about her interview with what she tagged ‘the real Eco-hero’. It was about a man, a refuse collector that goes ahead to sell the scraps he picked from the environment to recycling plants so as to generate money for his family’s upkeep. The people that do this kind of job are the ones we most often look down on but through her interview I discovered otherwise.

The action of the man helps remove wastes that are not biodegradable from the environment. If not for this great website, I may still be basking in my ignorance environmental matters.

To end this write-up, I want to dish out 5 pieces of advice;
1) Don’t let a year pass without planting a tree or flower.
2) Reduce; while you dine, remember there are people out there who can’t afford to.
3) Re-use; all the old plastic and tyres can be put into other uses.
4) Insist on clean energy
5) Recycle; to reduce the rate at which new raw materials are mined

That refuse scavenger in you vicinity is an Eco-Hero. Who are you?

photo credit: Arushi Madan on

Thursday, 13 August 2015


The dark age in Nigerian history to me was not the period between 1967 and 70 when Nigerians raised arms against Nigerians in a bloody civil war. The darkest hour for Nigerians was from the late eighties to nineties. During that period, Nigerians became more aware of the possibilities technology could bring and yearned for more of such information but sadly, information was costly to get. Only elites could afford to offset the huge naira needed to get an internet connection (the window to endless information).

A lot of problems plagued that era basically because of lack of information. I recall like it was yesterday when HIV/AIDS became a pandemic in Nigeria; a section believed it was a diabolic disease sent to people by their enemies. The discrimination against people living with the disease was unimaginable. So bad it was that at some point I feared shaking hands with anyone that was lank because I wasn't sure how I could go wrong. In rural areas, cases were reported of people who believed they would be cured by sleeping with infants (besides ending behind bars, I don't know how that played out with their infection).

Endemic sub-Saharan diseases like malaria, cholera and typhoid fever took the lives of many (and probably still do in rural areas) because little was known of their mode of transmission and prevention. It is not surprising how the mantra, 'disease no dey kill African pikin,' born by ignorance quickly gained acceptance.

As technology advanced and information became nearer grasp, farmers didn't need to practice their career blindly. There came meteorologist that didn't just guess the weather but said with a high degree of precision how the weather would play out the entire year; the amount of rainfall and drought. This helped to reduce the amount of seed plants lost to flood and drought hence more fruitful harvest and better food security to the nation.

The advent of cheaper data (orchestrated by launch of indigenous satellite into space) proved that our actions were driven by ignorance. Information pertaining the vector and mode of transmission of some of the common diseases became an easy and verifiable read from the internet rather than mere speculations. There was an obvious decline in the amount of deaths recorded on those diseases from the year two thousand and five upwards. 

More recently, there was an Ebola outbreak in some West African states. When it came to Nigeria however, it was defeated, it was defeated. It wasn't defeated by drugs (obviously there is no known cure yet) or was it defeated because Nigerians were stronger than her neighbours. Nigerians were simply more prepared with more information.

From two thousand and five upwards too, Nigeria saw entrepreneurs making legitimate living from the internet, most notable Linda Ikeji the blogger. Others exploited the boundless world to market their products and services thereby reducing significantly the level of poverty. The internet also created jobs for writers and freight services (online shop deliverers) and computer engineers.

Inasmuch as data is relatively cheap and available, it is pathetic to know that rural dwellers in most part of the country are still cut off from this vast network and information. No doubt their behaviour and actions seems awkward to an urban dweller. A lot of avoidable deaths are recorded on such areas on daily basis and poverty flourishes there. It is not enough to pride ourselves as a great nation with accessible internet. We have to ensure that every single citizen is carried along in this transition. Data should be made available and cheap (if not totally free like my friend suggested when we spoke last week) to the nooks and crannies to help these poor ones get enlightened and polish their lifestyle.

If that farmer that owns a small piece of land in the village knows how unstable the economy is, he may reconsider taking up a fourth wife. If those ebullient young men that parade themselves as village champions, unleashing terror in their communities knew the vast opportunities on the internet they may reconsider their lifestyle. As a nation, we should keep pushing the boundary till every single citizen has access to limitless information because every single individual left behind under the tutelage of ignorance is one more individual to worry about in the future.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015


The oil boom of 1980s and its immediate massive cash rain blinded Nigeria’s successive governments from seeing the devastation oil exploration would bring to the host communities in long term. Looking at the fattening naira in the nation’s account caused them conjunctivitis and they whined on the sharing formula like infested teenager and dinned like there was no tomorrow.
In the euphoria of gyration, they forgot to be proactive enough to lay foundation that would tackle the future problems when they finally begin to come. Problems like oil spill on water and land, gas explosions and instability in oil price on the international market. The glitches came and took a deep painful bite off their host communities livelihood. The love for agriculture which up to that point provided the nation with food and stamped her on the world’s map as one of the greatest exporters of cocoa and oil palm waned. So did diligence and joy of eating the fruit of toil; boys must hama youths termed it.

When the oil price finally plummeted and maintained a steady plunge, a new mantra arose, ‘Diversification of Economy’ with a special emphasis on revamping the agricultural sector. Before the oil plunge, there has been a constant media jingle on fighting poverty by developing the agricultural sector (and this big words simply implied more farm inputs in the form of subsidised fertilisers and seedlings).

I doubt if a youth with hard-core I-Must-Hama mentality would fall for such. My views; they would simply get those subsidised goods and sell them at higher prices. Yes, that is how I-Must-Hama should reason. If the long theories put down on paper on reinvigorating the agricultural sector are to become anything of a reality, government has to invest massively on construction of food processing industries.

First off, these industries would soak up suitably qualified graduates (whatever that means) from biological sciences and chemistry and other related courses. In no distant time, there would be localisation of other smaller engineering firms to service those machines when need be. With more food processing industries, there would be a corresponding increase in the demand for basic raw materials.

Ceteris paribus, demand would push the prices of those raw materials up and industries would prefer to deal directly with the farmers (and end the era of middlemen eating the farmer’s sweat) rather than the middle men to cut cost. Naturally, the industries would be willing to scale-up the farmer’s pay and make the farmers richer. When farmers begin to display some affluence, no one would need to subsidize anything or beg anyone to go to the farm.

With more people heading back to the farm, there would be production in excess of the nation’s need hence someone would think of exportation. Exportation would improve the economy of the nation and stand it out among other nations of the world as truly the Giant of Africa, not in theory but in practical. Alas, this is how we can make poverty a topic for history lessons in Nigeria and create an eco-friendly environment free from oil rot.

This entry is part of Fair Observer’s YouLead 2015

Thursday, 6 August 2015


TORO! a Christian literary journal is calling for submissions in fiction/short stories (1,001 – 6, 000 words), flash fiction (1000 words or less), creative non-fiction, non-fiction/inspirational articles, book reviews, poetry, photography and arts.
Toro publishes three times a year (January, May and September) and accepts submissions all year round (January 1st – December 31st).

Every person aged 6 +
We accept entries in the aforementioned genres
We do NOT charge you a fee to submit entries to us
You can send more than one entry, in any or all the genres
We also welcome requests for us to grant interviews and will usually respond by asking for your CV and some of your works.
Entries should be written in or translated into the English Language
We expect to read/see entries with a Christian worldview, but we are not necessarily looking for the sterilized, sanctified, sanctimonious stories to pass around. We are looking for works that are grainy, gutty and uninhibited, works that do not shy away from the stark realities of our walk of faith. We however will not publish anything that is blasphemous or stands against biblically sound doctrines or is gratuitous with either sex or violence, or contains profanities.
Maximum word count for all categories is 6, 000 words. There is no limit on the number of entries for photography and arts categories.

Each issue of TORO! is a topical compendium of the different genres of creative writing and the arts. We would like to see a lot of entries reflecting the theme/topic selected for the quarter and we ask that your keep that in mind
However, don’t let the thematic focus discourage you from sending in your work. Your entry is NOT required to come under any theme to qualify and all entries will be given a fair chance based on quality
The theme for each quarter is announced in the Call for Submissions, and on the website
 The theme for our maiden edition (September – December, 2015) is PRAISE.

All entries must be sent as attachments.
Written entries should be sent in MS-Word (2003 or 2007) document format as an attachment
Entries should include a brief bio of its author, which should be 50 words or less
Entries should also include a very brief covering letter.

We prefer that the work you wish to enter for consideration should not have been previously published online, except on your personal blog or website. However, it may have been published in print either on its own or as part of an anthology
The copyright to your work remains with you at all times. However, as a courtesy, you will be expected not to publish the same work online elsewhere within a period of six months from the date it is accepted for publication in TORO!
We do not pay you for your submissions but you will get free basic editing done on your accepted work. Please note that entries which require heavy editing will likely not be accepted in the first place.

There are NO deadlines; we accept entries from January 1st to December 31st
However, to be considered for inclusion in any issue your entry should reach us at least 30 days before publication month (January, May and September).

Except for a Notice of Acceptance (NA) when your work is accepted for publication or a Notice to Review and Resubmit (RR), we make no promise to acknowledge each incident of submission individually
If your work made an impression on us but we could not accept it for some reason, we may provide you a line of review to help you work out how you can modify it in order to give it better chances if you decide to submit again. You are not obliged to carry out the suggested review or to resubmit after that, however.
Our response time is typically 15 days before publication.

Please send your entries to:
For fuller details on how to submit, visit: Here
Download older issues here for free


We all have been made to believe hitherto that good friends are the best things that can happen to anyone while enemies should be kept at bay. This is erroneous and after a long ponder, I came to a hard conclusion (which I expect many to oppose) that friendship and enemyship (warning: use this word with discretion) has equal but opposite effect. Opposite in the sense that one brings illusion of joy and happiness while the other brings illusion of hate and anger. I often liken the two attributes to Esau and Jacob because both come with justifiable reasons to make you feel the way you do.
However, both come with costly consequences which makes me choose alliance over them. Alliance is a symbiotic relationship where two parties come together to achieve a goal with no strings attached. Alliance doesn't always require trust rather mutual understanding and respect; more of a mutualistic kind of relationship. Some of the reasons why I prefer alliance over friendship includes:

1) Time
An enemy makes you spend time planning revenge or thinking of how to avoid them while a friend steals your time by needing you to be always there for them against often against your convenience. An average Nigerian youth with internet access spends nothing less than five to ten hours everyday on social networks. We all know the age-long mantra 'Time is money' right? It is no wonder we have many bling-bling-parading dejected youths in our society today. An alliance on the other hands only needs you to keep in touch with them for as long as whatever business between the both of you lasts.

2) Wrong judgement
Friendship and enemyship comes with a lot of sentiments. They make you think from your heart rather than from your brain and we know how costly that could be. Some people have ditched the best brains for mediocre because of hate resulting din a very poor outcome while others have been grossly mismanaged in their businesses but 'friendship' leaves them tongue tied from taking action. It is only in friendship we hear of betrayal. If you are not satisfied with an alliance, you seek legal redress immediately.

3) Missed opportunities
I have a friend who refused to attend the first graduation of the former school he taught because of a feud between him and the proprietress. It turned out that the graduation was huge, attracting dignitaries to whom he would have tried selling his musical talent. Some others have refused looking up for better jobs because according to them, they don't want to hurt the friendship between them and their current employers leaving them in perpetual social stagnation.

4) Loss of freedom
A person with lots of enemies naturally would be cautious of where he/she goes. Likewise, a person with lots of friends would be very careful of what he/she does and goes because of what the friends may think or say. Either ways, both are restricted consciously or unconsciously.


Thursday, 9 July 2015


Empty treasure! Empty treasury! Has become the new chorus to the economic song Nigerians have been hearing on radios, televisions and gossips. Some state governors with lots of revenue yielding infrstructures in their states have gone ahead to procure loans from various sources to pay the backlog of salaries owed her staff. Their actions may sound saintly but it brings us to the DOs and DONTs of borrowing and the need to answer the question, 'WHY SHOULD WE BORROW?'

DOs of Borrowing
1. Borrow to invest
There are times in the life of a business person when a mouth-watering deal may come up but he/she may not have all the financial muscle to seal it. At such points, it is paramount that he/she borrows to achieve the goal.

2. Mortgaging
With the rising cost of living and shrinking economy, every Nigerian should aspire to own a house; if not for anything, to cut down expenditure. Borrowing from a mortgage bank to fulfil this dream is a welcome development and highly encouraged.

3. Have a plan to payback
Having a payback plan will not only save you the shame of defaulting but also make sure that every penny borrowed justified its purpose. We all know how ugly it gets for some people when it comes to payback. Some lose their collateral.

4. Borrow from Yourself
Dont make it a habit to always look left or right when faced with financial challenge. Look for the things you have which are not of much importance and sell them off. Once a guy approached me that he is stranded and wants to travel to his village and needs little money. I weighed him with my eyes and his wrist watch was worth more than I wore. I shook my head and told him that I dont have money.

DONTs of Borrowing
1. Level up
You wont believe some of the awkward reasons that make people stretch out their hands insearch for aid; buy exortic cars, change wardrobe, impress women, pay for a drink etc. If you are one of these, please have a rethink. Any borrowed money without the potential of bringing in money should be discouraged.

2. Borrow just the amount you need.
Out of greed, some people will ask for much more than they need. The excess is wasted and when it comes to repayment, they cant account for the excess.

3. Borrowing without a concrete financial plan.
Some people indulge in impulsive borrowing. They borrow without knowing what they want to do with it and when the money gets into their hands, they are confused as to what next. A good financial plan should encompass all the intended expenditures and incomes and map out a time frame to start paying back.

With this new idea in mind, do you think our governors are justified in their borrowing?

Monday, 4 May 2015


Human beings are jealous beings by nature, a trait I’m guessing, robbed off their creator (Who said without mincing words, ‘I Am a jealous God’). Xenophobia’s history dates back to a very long time in human history, as traces of it can be isolated from biblical stories (like killing of Israelites male children in Egypt during their captive days because the Egyptians were afraid they would revolt someday).

Xenophobia exists, suppressed, guarded in every human being. There is always a repulsive force that curse within our subconscious on first meeting a foreigner. Denying this subtle fact is denying the human nature itself.

Xenophobia is not peculiar to South Africans as some people posit because of the spate of killings going on in the region. We have heard of people being attacked in various western worlds for no other reason than their skin colour. There was a time in Nigerian history when they insisted that their neighbours return to their country, an era that became engraved as the nomenclature of one of the commonly used traveller’s bag. This too is xenophobia. What is baffling is that skin colour is not the issue in South Africa and the heinous act is carried out by ‘brothers’ against ‘brothers’ who should on the contrary watch each other’s back. Yet still, I understand their genuine plight behind the bloody mask.

I happen to be fortunate (maybe not) to domicile in a state other than my state of origin. Born and brought up there doesn’t till date take away my foreign identity from the eyes of the natives. I am also not oblivious of the malign utterances made against my ethnic group such as (but not limited to);
“Dey dey pack our money,”
“Dey don buy our land finish,”
“One day we will deal with them,”
“Na so dem dey behave, very stupid set of people”.

Xenophobic attack is not tied to killings alone. Government policies where people from other states in the same country pay higher fees in schools or are levied higher taxes in their businesses is xenophobic. This is typical of Nigeria. This is Nigerians hating Nigerians on the basis of tribe. The so-called ‘ONE NIGERIA’!

Luckily enough, Nigerians are very pretentious and enduring people and with this behaviour we can keep pretending our way to peace. Sadly, we shouldn't expect every race or country to imitate us so easily in the face of glaring harsh realities.

This is in no way exonerating the senseless maiming of fellow human beings in cold blood and looting their treasury, their show-off for years of toil. There is a sharp attitudinal contrast I’ve over the years observed between indigenes and settlers. The latter nurse great zeal towards success and most verily put in their heart to their work while the former expect everything to come to them at the click of fingers because, ‘NA THEM GET THE LAND’ (You need to visit a government ministry to appreciate this fact). This is not actually the case because success sees hard work and not faces.

When the natives fail and the foreigners progress, the former conjure all sorts of savage excuses to boost their jealousy and justify their subsequent actions. The foreigners take blame for the natives’ failures.
At this junction, I’ll like to press some questions on the eyes of my South African friends clamouring that the foreigners have rendered them jobless;
  1)   Are you aware that your natives are in other countries and that your actions endanger their lives?
 2)   Will killing foreigners and ruining their businesses increase your chances of making wealth?
  3)  The jobs you are agitating for, 
i) Who created them? Natives or foreigners? 
ii) If natives, why would they prefer to hire a foreigner and not a native?

My little knowledge on entrepreneurship reveals to me that there are two things that would make a business owner not to employ the services of a job seeker and these are INCOMPETENCE and OVERPRICING. The first I guess is self-explanatory but the technical second has to do with ‘are your demands in pari passu with your estimated input?’ Employers will always seek a cheaper alternative.

That said, it is my humble opinion that South Africans seek to develop themselves with more studying and travelling to other countries (I would suggest an exchange programme between their schools and various other countries which will help their younger generation tolerate other cultures better) rather than venting their frustration on innocent souls.

Lastly, I appeal to Nigerians (and various other countries being attacked) not to be hasty in boycotting businesses in their country belonging to South African natives. Consider the massive unemployment this would create in a nation already raped sour by the brutal hands of unemployment. After all said and done, who gains?

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


It is said, "Charity begins at home," and I assure you, so does various other virtues and vices. To drive home my point, my emphasis would be on my state of residence, Benue state, where if not for ethnicity and nepotism I qualify and is entitled to every rights and privileges inherent within–unfortunately not so.

"When I came to this state," my dad would always brag whenever he spoke in retrospect, "water flowed through the taps twenty-four hours! There was no need storing water because you may never get to use them for months."

Though I may not have been born in that era to be able to verify their claim but I grew up in an era water flowed from the tap twice or thrice every month. Gradually, its frequency dipped, once a week, twice a month, and as I write, not a drop of water has dropped from our tap for more than six years now. Our tap has become a monument gazed upon for the knowledge of what tap means.

Isn't it funny that a state that has a major river dissecting it continues to be flooded by water hawkers (popularly called Mai Ruwas) who have become the source of portable water to residential houses in towns (not even nooks and crannies where it would have been pardonable).

What is more confusing is that the rot and inability of the government to provide basic social amenities is coming at the heels of oil boom. Was the excess revenue we get from sale of our local crude not meant to make better the delivery of those amenities? Whose meals continue to degenerate in quantity and quality with increasing income? (The person needs a brain scan for sure!)

Increased revenue in extension resulted in increased federal allocation to states. We all learnt that we should save for the rainy days right? However, most state governors saw that their share of the allocation could cater for the basic yearning of the people (payment of salary), they did justice to that and used the left over for whatever business they deemed fit.

They succeeded in their ventures because of two reasons:
1) Every blame would eventually go back to the federal government.
2) Insensitivity of citizens to demand more from their state governments.
In Nigeria, every problem from any quarter is expected to be tackled by the federal government. Then I ask, 'Where is the place of our state government?' If state governors cannot be held to oversee their states to the satisfaction of her indigenes and residents, then it is high time the system of state government is erased (like state governors succeeded in killing the third tier of government for obvious reasons).

Though I believe the federal government shares the blame for allowing such gross misappropriation of her hard earned funds. A responsible federal government should have made provisions for each state governor to give account of how they utilized previous allocation before they are given another. But no! It is not so. Federal government ditched accountability in disbursing funds for a 'come-take' rule. If a state governor has been robed with shame of not being able to access a month's allocation for under performance, am sure the rest will take a cue.

The indigenes and residents share in their state governor’s recklessness. The only demand they make from their governors is payments of salaries. How many times have people filed out on the streets or went on strike to protest for pipe borne water or electricity or affordable housing or better health care? Never! Money (in all forms, most notorious PMS) is always the spearhead of every protests. Even when other factors come in, they are sublime, voiced in an attempt to mask their monetary demands.
'If I have my salary, I can provide for myself what the government can't provide for me,' will be the response of most Nigerians on this matter.

The proliferation of private schools, borehole terminals for water sales and boom in generator sales is a clear indication that individuals are becoming increasingly aware of government's irresponsibility in carrying out her tasks but instead of screaming out loud, they decided to exploit the loops to their advantage.

With the mentality that federal allocation was enough to run the state (pay worker's salary), Governors let state owned institutions and industries (from once they obtained revenue) to rot. This to a large extent accounted to why most state governors have not a dime as state savings.

Taraku mills was one of the nation's foremost oil producing industry, famous for its pure soya oil, generated from hundred percent soya beans grown in the state; Benue breweries churned out thousands of 33 Export Larger beer bottles daily and absorbed many Nigerians; Bem plastic came out strong, producing enough plastic that could cater for the plastic needs of the state; there was the Benue fruit and juice industry lately.

Taraku mill folded up and the staff thrown out because of government neglect. Benue Breweries was grounded till Indians took over its management who till today dictate what happens and takes millions of naira as revenue back to their country annually. Bemplast was mismanaged to death. I could recall vividly my classmate when we were in secondary school telling me to notify him whenever we needed leather so that he would supply us because according to him, at night, bags of leather and assorted plastics are scaled through the fence into the hands of waiting evacuator. Benue Juice industry was only commissioned and never produced a cup of juice afterwards.

In the current administration, naira running into billions was sunk into the ground to build the so-called 'Greater Benue Waterworks'. We were assured that after its commissioning, water scarcity would be bygone. Yet, months after its commissioning, Benue residents still purchase their water or resort to wells and borehole. Then I wonder the justification of such capital projects if they can’t deliver on their promise.

The agricultural hub the state was known for which also makes its state acronym; "Food Basket of the Nation" is rapidly losing its relevance. Vibrant young men and women now take to smoking, drinking or politicking to make fast money. (Boys no wan work but they wan flex life.) You need to visit popular clubs in Makurdi (Wine Bar) and beer parlours at night to see what I’m saying. Quote me; there is no single street in Makurdi without a drinking joint. Little wonder Benue has for years monopolized the top position for high HIV/AIDS prevalence according to the newly published UN AID report early 2014.

The fall in oil price globally I tend to see as a blessing because the allocation has shrunk and many governors are finding it difficult to pay their workers. Benue citizens suddenly woke from long slumber to see the deplorable condition of their state and began to demand more from their government. The disturbing reality is that private establishments are now levied heavy taxes in a desperate measure by the governor to make up for the dwindling income. I wonder what happened to the excess funds that came in during the time of plenty. As a result, private firms are closing up thereby creating even greater problems because unemployment is on the rise.

The government should realize that taxation alone cannot solve her problem. To ensure a self-sustaining state beyond oil, the government should reawaken those basic services it rendered which her citizens happily paid for such as pipe borne water and schools. Building food processing industries handled by strict and competent hands would go a long way to resuscitate her youths' dying love for agriculture.

Most states haven't moved from their point of creation till date. I tend to believe this is so because federal allocation has put them to sleep. In my opinion, every state should be allowed to use their state resource to develop themselves and pay some percentage to the pocket of the federal government. Federal allocation should either come as interventions (when there is a disaster) or repayable loans to state governors who need financial aid. In such a scenario, states better off can also give loans to other states and benefit from the interest they'll pay in return. Maybe, this strategic governance would bring back the groundnut pyramid of Kano and the cocoa and oil palm plantation of the South which have all almost become extinct.

Thursday, 15 January 2015


“He always walked amongst them, watching quietly, unseen, unnoticed,” Amara said, trying to describe Nonso’s sudden uncanny behaviour the last time she saw him. Her body quivered, her voice unsteady and she occasionally used gestures to imprint her words in mind.

The old television was on when she stormed into my room unapologetic, uninvited. Kunfu Panda was playing and I laughed at Pow’s wanton silliness and exaggerated screams, ‘Awesome!’ in the face of danger. Nonso is my brother but it felt like Amara knew him better. Before he travelled to Portharcourt, for greener pasture, he spent most of his time with her. They sometimes cuddled on his bed, whisper to their ears and laugh at their silly jokes. I would excuse myself to the parlour and pout at the HD television hanging on the wall. “I dont like this television, it’s too clear and colourful,” I said when dad bought it to replace the old television. He planned to discard the old television but I protested we keep it in our room. I hardly believe anything I saw on the HD television. I preferred the old television, that gave a sharp contrast between a movie and NTA; when movies played on the VCD, the colours were bright but the moment NTA is flipped, the images blurs, and sometimes tiny black dots fill the screen. From tender age I learned to associate poor images to live broadcasts.

Our shared one-room was all Nonso and I had in common; beds placed side-by-side with the old television in-between. Nonso would lie down and face his wall and I would lie down and face mine. The only time we enjoyed flamboyant gist was when Super Eagles played; Nonso would lament how Enyeama punched a ball he was supposed to catch, how Mikel passed the ball to a defender instead of a striker, how Musa sometimes outrun the ball like a lorry without brakes. And when the images on the television blur, “Oh Lord! What is wrong with this stupid television?” he would scream and smack the television by the side, several times and unsuccessful, most times.
“Let me try.” I would say and tap the television gently by the side. This worked mostly. I concluded it was the television’s subtle way of saying ‘am old, please cuddle me’. Nonso would muse when I did get it right.

I went to the kitchen to get a glass of orange juice for Amara. As I passed the television in the parlour, a female newscaster was serious reading something. The image was spotless. I assumed a Nigerian movie was showing cut-scene news to drive home a point and didn’t bother to pay attention, because of my vendetta for Nollywood’s amateur movies. Amara screamed. I abandoned everything I held, dashed to see what was wrong. The expression on her face depicted horror. “Picture of Nonso and four others is showing on the screen,” she said. I turn to take a look, the television goes off.

Sunday, 4 January 2015


The day 2014 closed its curtain, as usual, I sat to ponder on my successes, failures, growth, degeneration, stagnations and so on. One thought that kept resurfacing was how I was swindled from a singularly unexpected source – a ‘family man’ with a wife and son, a man I once worked with for close to a year. Inasmuch as I have forgiven him, the experience continued to traumatize me, so I thought of what best to do with the memory and an idea came to my mind; turn it into a lesson so that others can learn from it.
There is a popular notion that swindlers use juju (black magic) hence you must fall for them each time. This is not always true, at least 80 – 90% of the times, juju is not involved but psychology, they preoccupy your mind with illusions that you lose objective thinking, and think only what they want you to think.
Using my experience, I will lead you through some of the steps to identify a swindler. These steps are easy to understand and are the same in almost all the cases notwithstanding the direction they take.            
“Hello, Tony” came the voice
“Hello sir.”
“Tony! I just finished speaking with the dean about that thing you told me and he is working on fixing your name into the shortlist. Send me your name, course of study and state of origin fast.”
“Ok sir!” I said and did as I was told as soon as I dropped the call.
My declaration of interest that sunny afternoon catalysed a cascade of a dozen other calls every now and then, for me to do this or that. Though I asked him to assist me secure a job in his establishment, that was a long time ago, more than a year even and we haven’t talked since that discussion. I had no reason to suspect anything at first because I knew him and I asked him the favour in the first place.
The scenario is virtually the same with all the cases of swindle I have heard of – the caller comes from the blue claiming to be a long lost friend, distant uncle or aunt or cousin or relative. After the initial introduction and sudden overflow of concern, what follows is them proposing to help you or seeking your help. Swindlers are not ghosts, they are people who know you or people who have spent a little time to study simple details about you with the fore knowledge that knowing someone’s name alone makes them lower their shield towards you.                                                     
Later that night, he called again to update me on the situation of things,
“Tony! Thank God o… Do you know what?”
Brief pause
“What?” I asked
“The dean forwarded your name and the list has been approved”
“WoW!” I screamed, “Thank you sir, may God reward you.” I told him with a sincerity erupting from the bottom of my heart. I mean this.
“Don’t worry, it is God, I will only struggle to make sure everything works. The only thing is that you did not buy the form and some people who bought the form were removed to accommodate the names from the dean and now the registrar is requesting for your file.”
“Ok” I chipped in.
“First thing tomorrow morning, send me the money so that I will help you get the form. The form is one thousand and also the dean is requesting for some appreciation, SMALL SOMETHING.”
“Ok sir, just send me your account number let me see what I can do.”
I thanked him again and again and ended the call.
He sent me his account number and I sent him a SMALL SOMETHING.
Though in my case cash got involved in a form of appreciation which was an indirect and smart way of putting it, in other situations – some of which I know people who have experienced – cash comes first. Some of the mundane techniques swindlers use to defraud their prey includes
a)      Showing you a bag full of money, sealed with juju and telling you they need money to pay a medicine man to remove the charm so that all of you will share the money claiming that if anyone touches the money without removing the charm, the person will die instantly. They promise you a fair share depending on the percentage you put in [If you come across this set, tell them to take the money to the medicine man and after he must have removed the charm they can pay him from the cash and share the rest].
b)      Another popular one is that you have won so so and so but have to pay some money for the processing [tell them to sell your winning, deduct their money and send you the balance].
The list is endless but this sort of defence works in all the cases. It only takes your consciousness to remember to use them. If I knew this earlier, I probably won’t be writing this post but such is life, some have to learn the hard way. 
“Tony, the appointment letters have been released o…”
I screamed. Only a Nigerian youth yet to be battered by the trauma of unemployment won’t understand this feeling, what this meant.
“Thank you sir. God bless you sir. I promise you will never regret this,” rolled out uncontrollably from my lips.
“Tony thank God o. my own is just to make sure everything is successful. I will collect it for you later.”
This was happening a day after I sent him SMALL SOMETHING for forms and files. About an hour later, he called again to tell me the situation of things,
“Tony, I went to collect the letter but learnt you have to pay five thousand for the letter to be released to you.”
“Ok sir, let me see if I can send it tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? Tony people are collecting their own o. and the registrar has ordered that anyone that fails to collect should be replaced. You know it is through the dean you got this, I don’t want to make him feel that we are not serious.”
“Ok sir, let me see if I can get the money.”
“Please Tony, try your best.”
“Ok sir” I said and dropped the call.
Before banks closed for the day, I transferred him another SMALL SOMETHING.
The next day he called to tell me the local government chairman hijacked the letters and that he was demanding 5K to release it. After the last SMALL SOMETHING, I added up and found out I have spent BIG SOMETHING. There and then I convinced myself that I won’t send a dime again to his account. He told me he would help me secure courses while I ran around for the money.
As promised, late in the afternoon, I finished working and checked my phone, six missed calls stared back at me. I returned the call and he was shouting, furious at me,
“Tony! I have been calling you since and you refused to pick my call.”
“Sorry sir, I was busy,” I said.
“Send me recharge card let me text you your courses, I don’t have credit.”
I obeyed and sent him another SMALL SOMETHING for his phone.
That evening while I was in church, eagerly waiting for his text, I asked God for guidance and courage to say NO without flinching. Till I got home, nothing, so I decided to call him.
“Good evening sir,” I said, “I didn’t see your text again.”
He sounded like I was a pester when he said, “I am eating, I will text you when am done.”
“Ok sir.” I said and dropped the call.
Few minutes after the eagerly anticipated text came in, he called,
“Tony, the courses are remaining two” – because he sent four – “the person that will give the remaining two is requesting for SMALL SOMETHING.
“Sir, to be sincere with you, my account is red. You know I am not working and don’t have money.”
“I know but Tony, na money them dey use pursue money o. Let me tell you, I am in the system and assuring you there is no amount you put in that will be too much. You will have three hundred to three-fifty students and hand-out is one thousand and is compulsory. Some students will fail and come to meet you. In one semester you are sure of half a million, that is outside your salary o…”
He finished his sugary explanations and I ended the call. I am sure if I had played along, more demons would have been manufactured by him to truncate my hustle.                                          
Where he pulled the first wrong string was shouting at me to send him recharge card. I am a very sensitive person and inasmuch as I respect people, I hate someone shouting at me no matter the reason talk more of shouting at me because you think you are doing me a favour.
Having the guts to tell me about a rosy future while my ass burned red hot as I mourn the BIG SOMETHING I have thrown away was a huge setback for him and that was where my interest died. What swindlers do is to draw out your greed. The greedier you are, the better for them. This is because greed is a bad driver, and robs its passenger the power of rational thinking.
Imagine if I had allowed my mind swirl on the borders of the good life he postulated, I would have kept spending till a point will come when the greed will fade and I will spend this time to protect what I have already spent.

Along the line when he started laying down unforeseen problems, I begged him that I should come around and see things for myself and sort out what I can but he claimed that I would spend more if I should come around but since he was in the system, they wouldn’t like to inflate prices where there was any.
Most times, they keep a flat, toneless voice. Same tone they use to announce your little ‘success’ will be the tone they will use to tell you about a sprouting problem.
You may have begun to wonder how I broke free or did I just end the communication? No! You are wrong if you think the latter. He kept on pressurising me, stating clearly the time frame but each time I would tell him that I will run around and later in the evening when he calls back to know how far I have gone, I will tell him I didn’t succeed. One day he called again and I told him plainly,
“Sir, I don’t have money, please use your money and I promise to pay you when I start the job.”
Guess what he said,
“We have not been paid.”
Hilarious right?
Well, in your dealings with anybody, always keep the consciousness that the person may be a swindler close.