Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ajebutter "Omo Pastor"

If you are an ardent follower of Nigerian music, you have probably heard the new song Ajebutter Omo Pastor. I’m not a huge follower of most Nigerian artistes and as a matter of fact have only heard the song once, but before it was played on the radio that day, the OAP gave a brief review of the song and in a nutshell, it talks about ‘Wayward daughters of pastors’.

I have heard lots of people call pastors’ daughters bad girls, accusing them of doing all the things that their fathers preach against – drinking, smoking, clubbing, provocative dressing and so on. I really don’t know if the accusations are true or if they have just become stereotyped, so let’s just say maybe they are adventurous.

Those who rise to the defense of the pastor’s or their daughters or even wives say that a true Christian should not be deterred because pastors or their family have fallen into temptation or have sinned. They usually say – “Make God your standard and not man”.

To them, the fact that your pastor was caught in adultery doesn’t mean you should judge him and leave the church. They say, look-up to God and not man. If a pastor is being extravagant, don’t judge him; if a pastor is proud, look-up to Jesus for humility; Jesus should be your role model and not any man. They advise that you do not speak ill of men of God, the anointed! Are they right or are they simply being fanatical?

I recently came across a Bible scripture which gives me the confidence to write this post. It is 1 Timothy 3: 1 -13, and here's what it says:

 1The saying is true and irrefutable: If any man [eagerly] seeks the office of bishop (superintendent, overseer), he desires an excellent task (work).

2 Now a bishop must give no grounds for accusation but must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, circumspect and temperate and self-controlled; [he must be] sensible and well behaved and dignified and lead a disciplined life; [he must be] hospitable [showing love for and being a friend to the believers, especially strangers or foreigners, and be] a capable and qualified teacher,

3 Not given to wine, not combative but gentle and considerate, not quarrelsome but forbearing and peaceable, and not a lover of money.

4 He must rule his own household well, keeping his children under control, with true dignity, commanding their respect in every way and keeping them respectful.

5 For if a man does not know how to rule his own household, how is he to take care of the church of God?

6 He must not be a new convert, or he may [develop a beclouded and stupid state of mind] as the result of pride [be blinded by conceit, and] fall into the condemnation that the devil [once] did.

7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation and be well thought of by those outside [the church], lest he become involved in slander and incur reproach and fall into the devil’s trap.

8 In like manner the deacons [must be] worthy of respect, not shifty and double-talkers but sincere in what they say, not given to much wine, not greedy for base gain [craving wealth and resorting to ignoble and dishonest methods of getting it].

9 They must possess the mystic secret of the faith [Christian truth as hidden from ungodly men] with a clear conscience.

10 And let them also be tried and investigated and proved first; then, if they turn out to be above reproach, let them serve [as deacons].

11 The women likewise must be worthy of respect and serious, not gossipers, but temperate and self-controlled, [thoroughly] trustworthy in all things.

12 Let deacons be the husbands of but one wife, and let them manage [their] children and their own households well.

13 For those who perform well as deacons acquire a good standing for themselves and also gain much confidence and freedom and boldness in the faith which is [founded on and centers] in Christ Jesus.

You to decide where this scripture leaves us!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The many travails of the small business owner

This week, several countries including Nigeria celebrated Global Entrepreurship Week (GEW). The GEW initiative was launched in 2007 by Carl Schramm, President and CEO of Kauffman Foundation and Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the UK. The reasoning behind the launch of the initiative was to create a global movement to inspire people everywhere to embrace entrepreneurship. Laudable idea but certainly a tall order for Nigerians when you consider the many travails of a start-up or small business.

Speaking of travails, what do you consider the biggest bottleneck in starting a small business in Nigeria?
  • Power

  • Startup capital
  •  People

  • The business idea

  • For a while now, my friends and family have encouraged me to start a small business as a plan B income and I haven’t been brave enough. Until very recently I believed my major deterrent was startup capital but after a close examination of the challenges small business owners around me face, I have come to a conclusion that their major bottleneck is PEOPLE!

    Think of it, if PHCN doesn’t give you power, you can generate yours by relying on a generator; for start-up capital you can get bank financing, or loans from a cooporative or famly, as for ideas, they say there’s nothing new under the sun. There are loads of global case studies to learn from. But it is difficult to get substitutes for good PEOPLE.

    Small businesses have the highest staff turnover. The average Nigerian worker is increasingly unreliable. Fresh graduates all want to work for blue-chip companies even when they don’t have any work experience. What’s more, a lot of them cannot generate a basic report of speak good English, yet they want to earn the same pay as those who started their careers 5 – 10 years before them.

    Attitude of semi-skilled workers is even worse. They don’t understand that customer is king. They don’t understand that without the customer they have no pay cheque. They are plain rude to the customers you work hard to get. They come crawling and begging for a job and 1, 2, 3 months on the job, they become truants. Just when you think they’re settling into the job and you are building a stable workforce, they bail out. You are then faced with costs of recruitment and training all over again.

    There is no dignity in labour. People don’t want to work but want to have all of life’s luxuries. A worrisome situation because we need entrepreneurs if this country is to develop. How can we over these challenges? Let’s talk about it.

    Thursday, November 8, 2012

    Differentiate or Die: The Story of Omawumi Magbele

    Few weeks ago I was with my BFF as he lamented the poor performance of Nigerian Artistes at Basketmouth’s latest show held in London in August. He was particularly angry that he’d bought a ticket to watch Nigerian Artistes lip-sync at that event. For a Britico like him, it was big deal, for a Nigerian like me who’s seen this over and over again, it wasn’t. Although I shrugged it off, it doesn’t make it right. On the contrary, it is very sad that we have so many artistes who are acclaimed to have gone ‘international’, go on tours yet perform over a playback CD and get paid handsomely. It is simply criminal!

    I do take a moment to however recognise several other great talents like Omawumi Magbele, Asa, Dare Art Alade, Timi Dakolo and others who are true artistes and clearly belong to a different league because they learnt the ropes. Today’s post celebrates Omawumi Magbele, a true artiste who knows what it is to perform with the full complement of a band. A proudly Nigerian artiste whose concert tickets are their money’s worth.
    I have followed her right from her audition at West African Idol about five years ago, and as marketing people say, Omawumi was top-of-my-mind after the audition because she sang my favourite of Christiana Aguilera’s songs - Infatuation. Thereafter, she put up a great show and emerged second place at the Idols competition. After her launch to stardom, I had my first physical encounter with her at a Malta Guinness launch event. She had done a theme song for the brand and performed it at that event. Her voice was strong and she sounded even better than she did on TV. Her stage presence was also superb.

     As a young marketing executive several years ago, I read an article titled: Differentiate or die. The gist of the article was the need to clearly standout and carve a niche as a business. Omawumi has done just that with her music.

    From her first single ‘In the Music’ with a beat which had a South African tinge, Omawumi has continued to up the ante. But what has struck me most about her in recent times is her ability to make the ordinary the extraordinary, and her decision to sing in Pidgin English without any apologies. Call it her strategy; it is certainly paying-off. She’s entertaining but beneath it all, she communicates a distinct message.

    Talking about turning the ordinary to the extraordinary, “If you ask me…” is an ordinary phase but Omawumi has made a hit track of it; Bottom belle I’m told is a re-make of an old highlife song which connects with our parents, and Kpamurege which she used in that song is a word we played with in primary school…

     Like it or not, Pidgin is our unofficial lingua franca. Some people fane ignorance and will rather speak English with a British or American accent, but not Omawumi. She has a proudly Nigerian identity and she is not ashamed of it.

     I acknowledge that it is important to speak Queen’s English as it is our official lingua franca and Omawumi certainly does. English makes you a citizen of the world; but Pidgin, makes you a citizen of Nigeria.

    No female Nigerian artiste rocks the Ankara like Omawumi, she is proudly from Warri and I celebrate her for flying the proudly Nigerian flag. And guess what, it certainly pays-off to be; it is the best career accelerator in the Nigerian entertainment industry.  If you doubt it ask artistes like Iyanya, Djinee and others whose break didn’t come until they went Pidgin or local.

    To succeed in business in Nigeria, remember that it is a game of numbers, and the numbers are at the bottom of the pyramid - the Pidgin English speaking people. Marketers say “KYC” – Know Your Customer. Omawumi certainly knows them.

    Friday, October 5, 2012

    A salute to GTBank security personnel

    Four months ago I tweeted:

    “GTBank has lost its value for customer care with long queues, smelling branches, no parking space and security men who can’t direct customers on where to park.”

    One word to describe how I felt, IRRITATED!

    I was irritated because I had visited a branch at Alausa to use the ATM and the security man said it was okay to park along the road as the car park was full and my car got towed.

    According to him, the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) grants a concession on Fridays allowing roadside parking during prayer time because of the traffic to the mosque which is located close to that particular branch. As LASTMA officials are unable to tell who goes into the mosque or bank, I wasn’t at risk of my car getting towed or impounded.

    Events however did not pan out in my favour as my car was towed by LASTMA during the few minutes I spent using the ATM. It was quite a horrendous experience because not only was it a Friday at 3.50pm by the time I located the LASTMA office, which meant I couldn’t pay the fine until after the weekend, I was stranded without a car for the weekend and Monday which I had taken off to study ahead of my exam on Tuesday was spent at the bank, the Lagos state secretariat and the LASTMA office, trying to retrieve my car.

    However, I have since forgiven the security man whose name or face I cannot remember but have made it a duty not to visit that particular branch anymore. My most recent visit to the bank was last Friday amid the rush toward the public holiday, and I couldn’t but once again appreciate the work those fine gentlemen do.

    As I learnt that the first week in October of every year is Customer Service Week globally and dedicated to recognise the efforts of customer service professionals who serve and support customers, I like to salute all GTBank Security men with this post. A lot of people may think customer service week and choose to recognise the efforts of the frontline customer service within the organisation but I choose those behind the scenes whose efforts we take for granted.

    For 10 years and counting, I have banked with GTBank and I dare say that they have been consistent. If in all my years of banking with GTBank I have had just one negative experience and the personnel in question was respectful and very apologetic then I believe they are worth celebrating. Afterall, Jesus recommends we forgive 70 x 7 times.

    Their security men are polite under the sun or in the rain. They have never asked me for a tip and always manage the mad rush at the bank which has now become commonplace at GTBank branches in the last two-three years. I dare say GTBank has a culture and it hits you right from the experience with the security men through the tellers and so on. They understand the concept of brandingbeing a customer’s total experience with all touch points including security men and not just the bank’s logo.

    I really hate the crowd at the bank these days and it could mean one of two things:

    1. Positive word of mouth (WOM) has spread about GTBank that virtually everyone now owns an account with GTBank

    2. Customer service has declined

    But I choose the former because with all the innovation around e-banking, I hardly have a need to visit the bank.

    You may wonder why all the fuss but in a country such as Nigeria where good customer service is a privilege or everything is paid for such as someone demanding money because he gave you directions to your destination, or selective treatment at salons in which those you give the higher tips get attended to first, then the comportment of the GTBank security men is big deal.

    So to GTBank, I doff my hat in admiration of your ever so comported security personnel.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Proudly Nigerian

    In the last two to three weeks I have sat in meetings to review proposals for a high profile event and I one thing seems to keep reoccurring. All the event planners have suggested that because it is a high profile event, the menu shouldn’t be Nigerian. They have recommended the bland, half-cooked and the uncooked including Sushi. While I have tried to kick-back, this seems to be the trend and really gives me cause for concern especially as it is happening at a time when we are celebrating our independence and our nationality. I simply cannot understand why you should serve purely international dishes at a Nigerian event, high profile or not. A worst case should be a mix. 
    I have attended a high profile event in the UK. The event had CEOs and top-guns from Europe, Middle-east and Africa. It was VERY high profile and the menu was VERY British. The menu came with the invitation about two weeks before the event and all they were interested in knowing was whether or not I am vegetarian. They couldn’t be bothered with serving Nigerian dishes.

    We say we are proudly Nigerian but are so quick to forget who we are; we want to attend a Nigerian event and eat Sushi; want to speak with a British or American accent, and generally act like who we are not. 

    Inspiration FM On-air Personality, Dan Forster has been in Nigeria for over 10 years, is married to an Ibo woman but he is yet to lose his American accent for a Nigerian accent. I even recall him lamenting over the radio that his Nigerian born children will end up with 'the stupid Nigerian accent', so why are we so eager to lose ours?
    About half my Blackberry contacts have had the Nigerian flag or something symbolic for their love for Nigeria as their DP since yesterday but I don’t believe that a lot of us are proudly Nigerian.

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    Good riddance

    Quite an interesting week I had!

     At the start of the week - Monday and the end - Friday I ran into two guys who could have been the man but felt they were too much for me back then. Today, we are certainly not in the same league. The hand of the clock definitely turns around.

    I think it was Lighthouse family who sang, “... he left you black and blue without a word of explanation... someday, you will wonder what he see him anyway...” Lighthouse family is so correct. That is exactly how I feel.

    I just want to say - thank you Lord, and to them, I say good riddance...

    Saturday, September 8, 2012

    As Cynthia Osokogu is laid to rest: Should we blame social media for her death?

    The use of social media in Nigeria is increasingly coming under attack. First it was the Senate President – David Mark, then Dr. Reuben Abati in his article of 26 August 2012 – The Jonathan They Don’t Know, who attacked social media users in what he described as

    "…all the cynics, the pestle-wielding critics, the unrelenting, self-appointed activists, the idle and idling, twittering, collective children of anger, the distracted crowd of Facebook addicts, the BBM-pinging soap opera gossips of Nigeria, who seem to be in competition among themselves to pull down President Goodluck Jonathan."
    More recently, a lot of people have blamed the murder of Cynthia Osokogu on social media, but I beg to disagree, because I believe that the problem is that as a nation we usually fail to look at the underlying causes of our problems.

     Senator David Mark and Dr. Abati believe that social media has given people the voice to insult the president but the truth is – if the president does right, people won’t insult him. So, it is not so much about social media. Without social media, they will insult him in their homes and little gatherings; social media has only given the common man a voice.

     You have probably heard about ongoing debates in certain states in the US about whether or not people should be allowed to carry guns openly especially given the increased killings on campuses and cinemas. I found a particular lady’s response to Al Jazeera on the issue quite thought-provoking. Her response was –

     “…guns don’t kill people. People kill People.’’

    Her response sum-up my viewpoint very nicely.

    In every situation, we should look to the underlying problems. Cynthia wasn’t killed because she made friends on social media … she was killed because she met some wrong guys. Like a lot of undergraduates who leave campus with friends or even Pimps to meet strangers on the promise of things as trivial as a Blackberry, Cynthia could have met her killers through a friend.

    Back in the day we had pen-pals most of who we had never met. Having a pen-pal was cool. We exchanged letters with them and as a matter of fact, it was encouraged by parents and teachers. Having a pen-pal is pretty much the same as meeting someone via social networking sites in present day. I however don’t recall any records of someone who got murdered by a pen-pal. The bottom-line is that greed, violence, rape, homosexuality, incest, and various forms of immorality are on the rise.

    Cynthia was laid to rest yesterday, and as we condole with the Osokogu family, the questions we should ask ourselves are – How can we better protect our young ones? How can we reduce violence and the increasing immorality in our society?

    Sunday, September 2, 2012

    Is every spinster in her thirties under a curse?

    If you are a lady, thirty years and over and yet to tie the nuptial knot and living in Nigeria, then somebody might have suggested that you are under a curse and probably need to go for deliverance at the Mountain of Fire and Miracles church. I have found this suggestion quite confusing and so began to ask the question – ‘Is every spinster in her thirties under a curse? After some soul searching, it turns out that my answer is: YES!

    Not exactly the answer the ladies were expecting but you are under the curse of a POOR ECONOMY that has caused several women to become bread winners, and men afraid of commitments.

    The same curse placed on thousands of Bankers (formerly the most eligible bachelors) who have been today rendered jobless.

    The same curse placed on today’s Men in their thirties that they cannot dream of building their own houses when most of our parents at thirty owned at least one house.

    The same curse that has driven several young Nigerians abroad in search of greener pastures when the majority of our parents grew up, schooled in Nigeria and could afford a decent life here.

    The same curse that sees most people scrambling to own a foreign passport.

    The same curse which has led most couples to settle for not more than two kids because of the fear of not being to cater for them when most of our parents had four kids on the average.

    YES, we SINGLES (whether – male or female) are all under that curse called poverty.

    What however baffles me though is that everyone puts pressure on the Spinster. Why not the Bachelor in his thirties? Who says he doesn’t also need to be delivered of an ancestral curse?

    While evil lives among us, the reality is that our economy has deteriorated very badly and so our men are becoming more individualistic. A lot of bachelors are saying “I can’t foot my bills let alone bear the burden of a spouse”. Women are more educated and are saying, “rather than starve while waiting for Mr. Right to show up, I’ll work hard to build a career.” And as Dr. Myles Monroe said in one of his teachings, all the energy the women are supposed to use to support their spouses as ‘Help meets’ they are putting into their career. So is that such a bad thing that she is now called, CURSED?

    Truth is times have changed. Once upon a time Nigerian women got married at 18 years, after sometime they began to get married in their twenties, today some women are getting married in their thirties. Some say 30 is the new 20.

    Whatever, the case, another reality is that not all will get married, not all who get married will have children so just take each day as it comes and live life.

    And according to a quote my friend Dante has on his desk:

    “If you are waiting for the love of your life, STOP; they will be waiting when you starting doing what you love”.

    Saturday, August 25, 2012

    Most bizarre reasons why guys break-up with girls

    What is the most bizarre reason a guy has ever given you for breaking up with you? Here are some interesting ones I have heard of:

    ü  “You are a virgin, and I don’t need a virgin girl right now. I just wanted to have fun”

    ü  For asking me I had taken my bath

    ü  “You take life too seriously – why are you studying for a professional qualification?”

    ü  “You are too good for me, I don’t deserve you!”

    ü  “You are all grown up and independent; I preferred you when I used to buy you everything including your tooth brush.”

    ü  I’m very used to my space now and don’t want to share

    ü  “Some people are really good together but just cannot be together”– what exactly does that mean?

    ü  “In all our years of dating, you never told me that you love me.” But I told you I don’t believe in love, haven’t you read my post titled: Love vs. Romance?

    Love is an ACT and not a WORD. The truth is, a man will come up a bizarre excuse if he’s irresponsible and afraid of a commitment. So, Ladies, don’t beat yourself up if you have been a victim. You’ve got only life … live it big time!

     If you’ve got any bizarre experiences, feel free to share in the comment box.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    Good Girls Go to Heaven; Bad Girls Go to London

    I stumbled into a very interesting conversation recently. The topic under contention was:
    'where to draw the line between decent and indecent dressing and at what point it would be right to accost and reprimand an indecently dress lady?’

    The participants complained that skirts were getting shorter, low-rise trousers getting lower, cleavages had become deeper, and weaves (hair extensions) were longer.  They particularly found the low-rise jeans offensive as they tended to expose a lot of female thongs and underwear. They all seemed to hold a unanimous view.

    The argument suddenly took a turn when a certain gentleman said he wished to warn against reprimanding a 'seemingly indecently' dressed lady. For him, scantily clad women were seeking to be noticed and an attempt to scold them could lead to a backlash. More so, he had absolutely no problem with a woman dressing to be noticed. He argued that the new generation men weren’t into women with natural hair, the longer the weave, the better, and a little sex-appeal was in order.

    As non-conformist as he sounded, I agree with him. Our world has become engulfed in perversion.

    Today’s Good Girls don’t get noticed, dates and sometimes spouses. Even church boys want the vain girls. It no longer pays to be a Miss Goody Two-Shoes!

    If you don’t fix your hair, a guy will ask you why? If you don’t wear make-up somebody will ask you why? White powder is soooooooo not in, brown powder is so in vogue; red lips are so kissable, and the more glossy the lips the better.

    These things may not be right, but they are the reality. In today’s world, Vanity Rules!

    Nobody wants to be a good girl anymore because nobody wants to be rejected. Everybody wants some love and attention, and if it takes some vanity to get the attention, then women will continue to go all out.

    My cousin used to say “Good girls go to Heaven, and Bad girls go to London”. The average undergraduate today doesn’t want to go to Heaven – she wants to go to London!

    Friday, June 22, 2012

    Nigeria’s Centennial Celebration: Will Nigeria be one country by 2014?

    Two days ago, we congratulated a colleague for his decision to relocate his family from Kaduna to Lagos following the increased bombings in the North and the most recent multiple attacks on churches on Sunday, 17 June 2012. This colleague had lived the better part of his life in Kaduna, and had started a family there before he was posted to our Abuja office, so you can imagine that it was a really difficult decision for him to make.

    As we grieve in the devastation of incessant killings in our country, I heard in the news this morning as I drove to work that the Secretary to the Federal Government, Anyim Pius Anyim has inaugurated a committee to plan for Nigeria’s centennial celebration slated for 2014. A key highlight of the celebration  to mark 100 years of the amalgamation of the North and South in 1914 would be a compilation of Nigeria’s history. As I soaked in the news, the recent diamond jubilee celebration of Queen Elizabeth II reign was a good reminder that we need to preserve our history.

    However, while a compilation of Nigeria’s history is long overdue, I ask myself – Will Nigeria still be standing as one country by 2014? Fifty-two years after independence and we are in doubt as to whether we are truly free.

    Speaking of history, I recall our journey to democracy. It began with the passing on of General Sani Abacha, and then came the interim government and thereafter, the election of President Olusegun Obasanjo. I still have a vivid picture of the way the passing of General Abacha was celebrated back in the day when the breaking news came on air that fateful afternoon in the year 1998. 

    I was opportuned to be in the University then (no better place to have witnessed such an event) headed for the library to do some studying. The  atmosphere was  filled with jubilation and the least charade that it seemed like I had misplaced priorities. What was the occasion? I thought to myself. In no time, I learnt that the life of General Sani Abacha had come to an abrupt end. We were free at last! Or so we thought.

    Two things were noteworthy which I can never forget. Students in their ever  ecstatic mood had managed to swiftly build a make shift coffin and they were in procession with leaves depicting a loss, but as against the usual gloomy faces and tears in a funeral there was jubilation and of course pandemonium. Mind you, this was only one faction. The other faction had hijacked an unfortunate Coca-cola distribution truck and they had declared free drinks and a carnival for all. What a shame!

    While I do not applaud those students for their unruly behaviour. It  was however a clear indication of the level of oppression we had faced from the Abacha regime. We celebrated then, thinking it was the end of untold hardship. 

    Some months down the line, as we watched the swearing in of President Obasanjo, my mum shed tears as she couldn’t believe that Nigeria finally had a democratic government. I couldn’t understand it but her explanation was that life in Nigeria was just about to get better. Today, I am of the opinion that my mum shed tears in vain.

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    Let He Who is without Sin Cast the First Stone

    It is almost two weeks after the Dana Air crash and I can finally pull myself together to blog about it. Call this post late, but I do feel the need to share my thoughts.
    Although I didn’t lose any relative or close friend thankfully, I was quite shaken because unlike the Sosoliso and Bellview plane crashes of 2005, the Dana Air crash had someone who was connected to someone who was either a relative or a friend.
    Here’s what I mean - we lost a corp member at my office, my sister-in-law’s dad lost his business partner, one of my classmates lost a friend, another classmate lost two colleagues, my friends lost friends and it goes on and on and on. It is for this reason that I was therefore shaken.

    The reality is that it could have been anyone. More so, I flew back from Calabar to Lagos on 2 June while some of my colleagues who were Abuja bound had hoped they had a Dana Air (which seemed to be on time) ticket as we waited at the Calabar airport for the Arik Air aircraft to arrive from Lagos, take them to Abuja and return to Calabar to pick up myself, other colleagues and passengers to Lagos. To cut a long story short and not leave you confused, our 12.45pm flight eventually became a 4.10pm flight. And so when I heard of the plane crash the next day, I was thankful but also reminded that it could have been anyone of us.
    For three nights I couldn’t find sleep as my mind roamed in search of answers to several speculations in the news about the crash. Amidst my insomnia, it occurred to me that the reason why I probably didn’t feel the loss from the Sosoliso and Bellview crashes was the fact that I wasn’t quite as advanced as I am now in my career. As at that time, I traveled by air sparingly and didn’t value human capital as much as I do today. Going by the socio-economic situation in Nigeria, I believe it would be safe to guess that most of the people onboard the Dana Air plane where young professionals and entrepreneurs probably between the ages of 25 and 45 years; the implication - shattered dreams and wasted lives of potential leaders of Nigeria. People who would have provided solutions to some of our societal problems, and probably even employers contributing to the GDP of our nation. A huge loss to a developing country like Nigeria with an almost non-existent middle class I must say!
    The second significant issue for me was the looting that took place at the crash site. I still cannot fathom it. It just validated my sentiments in an earlier post in 2010 titled: Corruption in High Places. My position then was simple. I had stated that corruption is in every one of us while we continue to point accusing fingers at the government. We are largely about what we can rip-off the next person but do it at varying degrees.
    I am saddened at our degenerating values and keep wondering where we missed it. I know I will stir up a huge debate with this issue of every Nigerian being corrupt but let all who read the earlier post on corruption and are without sin cast the first stone!

    Wednesday, May 2, 2012

    Counting my blessings!

    May is upon me already and I failed once again by letting a whole month go by without making time out for my Blog.

     I really want to do this more seriously. I have thoughts race through my mind all the time and I want to share them very much, but by the time I’m done with my 8-5 job, deal with Lagos traffic and black-out, I am hardly ever able to settle down to Blog. I do hope that someday, I will have time to do this more diligently perhaps like Linda Ikeji or even Mr Mo.

     It’s the day after workers' day and as I lay in bed thinking, I realise that there’s a lot to talk about but today, I choose to count my blessings. 

     I choose to be thankful, as I reminisce and remember that I lost a colleague 4 days ago.

    I look at the past 10 years of my career and I am grateful for being alive and in good health. Over the course of my career, I have met colleagues who helped to shape me, I have smiled with several and grieved at the passing at some so beloved.

    From being a lady who owned only one pair of black suede court shoes to one who owns scores of shoes; I am thankful.
    For the bosses that gave me a chance, and for the difficult bosses alike, I say thank you.

    I am grateful for the joys and the pains; the exposures and the setbacks. I have seen several restructuring and downsizing exercises but I have been favoured enough to escape them. 

    I made friends - some good, some bad. Some have cheated and taken advantage of me but some have been truly kind, and I am thankful.

    Today, I just want to say thank you Lord!

    Sunday, March 18, 2012

    Christianity and its socio-cultural context

    I know this is a very touchy topic and I hope I do not offend God and man by the views I will share in this blogpost. However, I have carried the thoughts in mind for about a month now and I feel the need to let them all out this evening.

    Two things happened in the month of February that led me to this reasoning. Firstly, I had cause to attend a Sunday service at a branch of a very popular Nigerian Pentecostal church in East London; secondly, I attended an International Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) conference in Lagos, a week after.

    I will begin with the church service. As I walked into the auditorium that fateful Sunday, I expected to see a mammoth crowd as you would usually see if you visited the church's headquarters here in Lagos. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case. The pews were largely empty and the aisle clear. I however got seated but what was more interesting to me was the Pastor’s message.

    She enjoined the congregation to pray without ceasing stating that we wrestle against principalities and powers, and thereafter began to highlight instances during which we need to pray, but they seemed a bit mundane to me. For instance, she said – ‘if you are a woman whose pot of food constantly gets burnt, then you need to pray’.

    On our way home, my BFF with whom I went to church and I reviewed the message and laughed. The message was awkward to us because in Nigeria, we are used to praying about getting jobs, spouses, financial breakthroughs, visas, protection from armed robbers etc.

    Few days after I returned to Lagos, I attended an international CSR conference and the keynote speaker stated that what is considered as CSR would differ from one country to another based on the local socio-cultural influences. His classic example was the health care system in the UK and US. He said that while corporations who invest heavily in health insurance for their employees in the US pride themselves as being socially responsible, that practice cannot be considered CSR in the UK because the British government has a robust healthcare system under the NHS which caters to the well-being of the populace.

    This analogy got me thinking about the preaching I received in the UK, and as I pondered, I came to a conclusion that perhaps socio-cultural influences also play a role in the way Christianity is received and practised.

    In a developed society where good largely thrives over evil, corruption is minimised, truth and justice prevail, people get jobs and appointments on merit, visas are obtained if you meet the stipulated requirements, food is affordable, there is security, healthcare is subsidised and the common man can secure a mortgage to purchase a home, then perhaps all you may need to pray about could be - how to be a better cook. Furthermore, I came to a realisation that those who were seated in the congregation were individuals who genuinely wanted a fellowship with God.

    This again brings me back home. Would the corrupt politician who occupies a front seat in church be in church if we have a system that effectively checks corruption? Would the young school leaver be in church if he was certain that without prayers or breaking a sweat he would get a job? Would the average worker be in church if he knew he would get a promotion when it falls due? Would the mums be in church if our men were more disciplined? Would the spinsters be in church if our society did not stigmatize young unmarried ladies; and so on and so forth.

    The answers to these questions will be helpful in ascertaining if we genuinely love God, or if we are just a religious people seeking miracles.

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

    You never know unless you try!

    The last one month has been really reassuring for me. I have done the things which my mother feared most and considered impossible with me. I have survived -3oC and I have held my breath under water in a swimming pool!

    What was most remarkable is that I was able to stay longest in the pool compared with my contemporaries with whom I was learning to swim. That for me was a big deal because it contradicted my mother’s beliefs of me.

    As a child my doctor recommended swimming for me stating it would help my lungs function better. At that time, I was very frail, in-and-out of hospital, thus my mum defied the doctor’s order because she feared for my life. Having reviewed my experiences these last weeks, I cannot but think that she should have let me try.

    Now, I realise that you never know if you can do it unless you try. I have always wanted to visit my friend in Canada but my family always says I won’t survive the cold. Now I know I can. I am proud of what I have become and the things I can do.

    I think we miss out on life for failing to try and it is disheartening because, unlike money and every material thing, one treasure that will live with us forever is life’s experiences!

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    The Goodbyes to Whitney Houston

    For me, Whitney Houston’s passing was more touching than that of Michael Jackson. Far away over the Atlantic Ocean but I couldn’t hold back the tears as I watched BeBe Winnas sing during her funeral service two nights ago.

    The songs we sing and love are those we appreciate because they speak to our experiences, expectations and persona. For that reason, I believe that for Whitney to have sung all those songs, she must have had a lot of love to give.

    Since I heard about her passing, I kept asking myself how someone like Whitney who had so much love in her heart could end up the way she did. Some have blamed the pressures of the entertainment industry for her demise; several others have blamed Bobby Brown; and some have blamed her for having the sensual love and not loving the way God wants us to love.

    As I watched the church service, I couldn’t help but say she should have just stayed in church and forgotten about love, just like most of us should have stayed virgins and forgotten about love. I felt like loved failed her, like it has failed most of us. These were my thoughts until Bishop T.D Jakes came up to the podium to minister.

    Bishop Jakes said, according to the Bible, Love is greater than Death. And he talked about the several people whom it seemed death conquered despite the great things they had done like Abel, Noah, Habakkuk etc. until Jesus came and conquered death.

    I guess Bishop Jakes is right. We cannot but love as children of God, because God is love. Though we make several mistakes in the name of love, though we may get hurt in the name of love, though we maybe taken for granted and tagged ‘naïve or gullible’ because we live by 1 Corinthians 13, which says’love believes all things’, we cannot but love. What is important is that we hold unto God.

    Goodbye Whitney, you were beautiful and had an outstanding voice; we surely will miss you!

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    My 2 cents on Nigerians’ protests against the removal of fuel subsidy

    This is my shortest post on this blog so far, and it may be seen as inconsequential given the issue at hand, but all that has to be said has been said already and I choose not to be-labour the issue:

    Reduce government wastes and cost of running government, fight corruption, let the cabal responsible face justice, insecurity is a greater pain for Nigerians than removal of fuel subsidy, we need power etc.

    However, my biggest take out from the removal of fuel subsidy and the current nationwide strike is that it has forced Nigerians to read, and seek out information.

    I have always listened to the news on my radio but now I am glued to my TV as well to listen to the news. I have opened every link sent to me via a Blackberry chat message or SMS on the pressing issue. I have read virtually every Blackberry broadcast and blog post which has been shared with me on the removal of fuel subsidy.

    What strikes me is that this attitude shift doesn’t just apply to me but several others. Most people are now hungry information, realising that knowledge is power and that the information shared will give many people the will to fight in this situation.

    Perhaps if Nigerians were this hungry for information, they would have voted based on facts on not for ‘luck’. They would have voted for the party and not the ‘man’!

    I do hope this hunger for information and desire to know the truth will remain in Nigerians after this issue is resolved.