Writing this was interesting. I smiled more than once. It’s really satisfying to see how deepening this challenge is making me. Dredging up memories I thought lost. Writing this every morning before I set out, has put colour into my day.
Love is so inspirational. When you’re fifteen, a swelling bag of hormones and semen and emotions, falling in love is probably the most inspirational thing to happen to you. Poems fly off your hands, as fast as you can write them, lyrics to all the best romantic songs form your regular conversation; a rose becomes redder, the sunset more gold. Falling in love is so inspirational, especially when it’s your first love. You’re certain it would never end, you’re picking baby names and planning destination honeymoons.
Easy to do when your pocket money barely funds the bus fare to the next town.
My first love was nothing like the girls I had crushed on before her and physically different too, from the women after. Perhaps that was because I had been unintentional about falling there, and it was my first experience with growing into fondness.
She was kind. So kind. She had one of the quirkiest smiles ever, her cheeks squeeze into these dimples and her huge upper teeth poke just above her lips. She was, is, beautiful, not in that sharp prettiness that is the product of several treatments and dangerous concotions. Hers is a gentle beauty, soft and unobtrusive, but it pulls your eye and holds it there. She was trilingual, I remember nights learning the Yoruba bits to Styl Plus songs, to sing back to her. Days, poring over German to English dictionaries so I could flawlessly say; “Ich lieben dich”.
Still the only german phrase I know after, “Guten morgen” and “Achtung!”.
She gave me nightmares and happy dreams. Waking in a jolt, heart heavy because I feared she had replaced me in dream, waking soaked and sated because she chose me. Fifteen year old me, was a rollercoaster.
I told my mother about her, so certain I was of our eventual communalism, why not start now to make preparations?
She is married now, to a kind and handsome man, and has a beautiful baby I hope to see one day. To smile into his eyes, wondering all the time how those eyes would have looked riddled with astigmatism and short sightedness. Hehe.
We never did work out, as most of such relationships go, though we’ve remained friends.
My first kiss on the other hand. Ha. This was a rushed, giggly, mess of saliva that doesn’t deserve prose. Fascinating, strange, I didn’t have another until years after. Learning how to kiss was more about intention than practice. The willingness to exchange saliva with someone else, starts from the intensity of your intent. That’s what pushes you past their breath space, takes your eyes off the zit on their forehead and closes it, and then lets your lips brush and then push against theirs.
Kissing is delightful when you know how. A sense of headiness and belonging overwhelms you, especially when it’s your first kiss with that person. Acceptance. Every kiss wouldn’t feel like the first kiss; kisses begin to take on the role of sexual precursors, and bribes as the relationship deepens. Ha. But every once a while would come a passionate kiss, a welcoming, an acceptance, a binding. Those are the kisses worth anything.
Details required in this challenge are enough ammunition for a proper social engineer, it’s scary.
The older I get, the more I regret not maintaining a diary. Not like it would have helped me remember my earliest memory but, considering the cobweby fog that I see staring into the past, in a decade I probably would be hard pressed to remember today. That said, my earliest memories all revolve around growing up in a little town just off the Owerri-Port Harcourt-Aba road.
Sifting through those memories, like clawing though smoke, I’m awash with feelings of laughter and discovery. Learning that water is cool, that fire was hot, and that while sand can be fun to play with, and make into many shapes, it stings when it gets in your eyes.
One memory stands out in that very dim image, motivated perhaps by the fact that the picture exists somewhere, though I cannot recall now. I am perhaps 2 years, sitting on my legs, Japanese style, a feat I can barely attempt today, while my picture is being taken. My hair is combed out in an afro, cheeks plumpy like only a lot of akamu, sprinked through with soya bean powder and the occasional spoon of milk, can do. I am wearing a tiny blue singlet with brown stripes and shorts that match, staring into the camera defiantly.
I cannot remember much else of this memory, except that I was happy. Completely happy. I was at peace with the world, at ease and encouraged to learn, expected to laugh. It’s a sharp contrast with this day in 2019, where the expectations I face are that one be sombre and learning is restricted to the belief of the herd mind.
That 2 year old kid, stares back at me now, meaty arms planted on the sandy floor of my grandfather’s compound, and dares me not to be happy, not to be at ease.
Ha. Do I have a choice?
I regularly listen to advice from my younger selves. It’s a genuine sign of humility. Yes.
Also, the wisdom of your more naive self cannot be overestimated
It’s been an age, and some, posting here. But this is me again, trying my hand at this again and testing my focus with a challenge.
So here we go, with Day 1.
5 problems with Social Media
Without reservations, social media is probably the single, most significant technology since the development of the internet. Every phase and facet of modern life involves utilisation of a particular social media tool. With increasing dependence on social media for information, entertainment and even self awareness, it’s not altogether surprising that the problems associated with the tool have amplified. This is a list of five of those problems, today.
If you knew at first glance, the meaning of that word, you’re probably a living practitioner. I mean, no one having an active social life bandies around words like hermitism. Social media, while drawing closer the edges of the world, has delineated further the units in between. More and more loners have developed since the advent of the first ‘connected network’. While social media, as implied, is a tool for connections, it has taken to replacing face to face conversation and personal interactions, isolating communities and straining friendships.
Another problem that arises when personal interactions no longer exist is, people can assume identities that are either false, or worse, stolen. Simply because you can’t see them, someone could pretend to be anyone. This can be seen as freedom of expression in one verse, but victims arise in this scenarios when someone is played for a fool after believing in a false identity of another.
Likes, dislikes, and the fact that anyone, from anywhere, with or without prior conceptualisation, knowledge or experience, can offer opinions on anything about anyone is recipe for self loathing. Artists, and other individuals who rely on public adulation of their craft, risk much when exposed to the criticisms of social media.
Catfishes, purveying themselves as more than they are, more than anyone likely has the ability to be, in terms of wealth, beauty or some other sophistication, further diminish the self confidence of people already battling with insecurity.
At the start of the internet, in 1951, it was touted as a repository for information (read:Google). Want to learn about anything, read the internet. Want to get an unbiased view on happenings around the world, read the internet. That belief hasn’t disappeared, though it should.
With social media, anyone has the ability to say anything they want and share it as verified information. This is a problem, both in cases where the broadcaster is innocent of the falsehood of their claim, and in cases where it’s completely deliberate.
PS. I am not certain when the internet started, and I didn’t bother to check. That’s a completely bogus figure up there.
Similar to false information, but infinitely more dangerous, is the ability that social media gives for political bodies to promote any version of the truth for the sole reason of swaying a section of the electorate. Tiny, verifiable, pieces of information are overly amplified and spiced up with dashes of complete untruth to either discredit any otherwise credible person/thing, or grossly exalt an otherwise undeserving person/thing.
So there you have it, five problems with social media, as I see it. There are definitely lots more and they aren’t going away.
It’s been ages since I had to do this, and if it reads a bit dry, it’s the Harmattan.
E get this wise man wey talk something, e say, “things dey work out pass for those people wey dey make the best of how things work out”. The guy sabi die. Different ways dey wey things fit sup for this life, but na how and wetin you use am do, na him go make the different between whether you succeed to live another day, or you no succeed. Na person wey no plan well dey end up inside stew.
Definitely not a Dickens kind story.
E get this wise man wey talk something, e say, “things dey work out pass for those people wey dey make the best of how things work out”. The guy sabi die. Different ways dey wey things fit sup for this life, but na how and wetin you use am do, na him go make the different between whether you succeed to live another day, or you no succeed. Na person wey no plan well dey end up inside stew. If you play your cards right, na you go tanda in the near future with better lems, dey give people advice.
Make I clear you my story, maybe by the time wey I don finish, you go understand wetin I dey talk.
Okay, make I introduce myself. My name na Goat. Look me, yes you, look me. No dey look that fat woman wey stand there for road. No be nyash be that, that na person wey fat true true Continue reading “The Goat of Christmas Past”
Dedicated to the most self-less man I ever knew and the few stories he could tell me
In Africa, the sun rises and sets without warning, and the winds blow through the old forests with the songs of legends, the marks of their passing staining the blood-red sands.
And some of those legends are true.
In the old Edo, the first true black civilization, the empire was home to many tribes and cultures. Bound together by the Obas who ruled after the era of the Ogisos, the sky kings, it stretched almost five thousand miles in either direction; from the steppes of the Dahomey to the swamps of the Niger Delta. Within were the Itshekiri, the Etsako, the proud Ijaws and Urhobos, the noble Esan, the big and powerful Binis and the Igbos both west and east of the Niger River. All paid homage to the Oba and in turn were blessed by him, for the Oba was more than just a man, the Oba was king, the Oba was god on Earth.
Oba ghato kpe e!
The Bini empire was called Edo and it was powerful, the envy of the neighboring kingdoms to the west and the north. Their trade guilds employed the most skilled of artisans; blacksmiths and hunters, their warriors, soldiers from birth, trained in the knife, spear and hand-to-hand combat, and also in the finer arts of war and strategy and juju. It was strategy that led to the building of the Bini moats and high wall which surround the capital of the Edo Empire at Benin City, till this day. Moats that were built with the aid of giants enslaved and brought from across the deserts. Strategy and wisdom, both physical and spiritual.
The warriors who came from all over the kingdom, all swore allegiance to the throne of the Oba, and whether Esan or Ijaw, all spoke the lingua franca, a bastardization of the Bini language, known as the Edo language. Within this military were special cadres, the strategists, the juju priests and the elite warriors. This is a story of one of those elite warriors, and as with such tales, it began at night… Continue reading “Nwin-Nwin: The Legend Begins”
This post is not for lecherous old fellows or sick bastards looking for cheap ways to get 16 year olds. Nah. I spent time on this for the right reasons. That said, this post is for you there with a 21st century girl and for you the 21st century girl too.
You’ll be asking what a 21st century girl is right about now. This is the answer: a 21st century girl is typically a girl born within the 21st century (from year 2000) though this definition still extends to any girl below 25 at 2017. She is determined, exposed to the world, uninhibited, usually sexually active, headstrong etc. etc. Basically she is the pro-feminist, run with wolves, Arya Stark wannabe that Willow Smith sings about. Having a girl like that as your wife or girlfriend can be a bit of a task, and this post tells you just how to run through that task without killing yourself with 21 ways to keep your 21st century girl.
Guys, this is stuff you really need to know. Girls, this is stuff your #MCM has to know.
Alright, here we go.
Drop regular compliments
Sure, you saw this one coming. But let me explain. The 21st century man has forgotten how to compliment truly and if there is one thing 21st century girls love, or love to pretend they love, it’s the classics. They want a man that would drop the compliments as many times as possible. “Damn babe, you have got a great ass!”
“Damn! This boob fits right into my palm”
“Damn! That food was delicious. How do you manage to ALWAYS cook so good”
Yeah, just keep them going that way. They’ll love you for it. You know why 21st century girls are all over Instagram and Pinterest? Exactly, you got it. They want the regular compliments buddy.
Surprises can be bad you know. Like finding out you-still-do-weed-after-you-told-her-you-will-quit bad. Give her good surprises all the time, and they don’t have to be too expensive [yes, surprises are gifts, duh!]. Forget what pop culture magazines may tell you to sell their products, girls are not so much concerned about the cost, it’s the thought that counts. Surprise her with a bar of chocolate, tickets to the musical or the movie, pick her up from school straight to that fancy place you’ve been talking about for days. She’ll cherish those moments.
And here is a really important one. Surprise her at her house – that’s if you’re not married. Drop by unannounced. Nothing like not knowing when her boyfriend would show up to put Miss 21st Century Arya Willow Stark in the right place at all times. Oh, and let’s hope you are not the one surprised bud.
Give her some space but draw lines
On the converse side, you should give your girl some space. You do not want to be crowding her. She wants to break free or at least have the illusion of doing so. You have to let her go out with her friends to see a movie, attend a dinner, go swimming at the beach etc. without you. It is important though that you draw a line somewhere eg. She shouldn’t be out with guys past a certain time etc. Let her dance with other guys at the club, but not rock that special move she gives you. The reason for this is it lets you maintain some authority over her, and 21st century girls love authority the same way they love BDSM and Christian Grey.
Make her laugh
Money Comedy is the way to the heart, else Kevin Hart would never have found anybody. Make her laugh and she would be sure to stay with you. This works because her friends would also find you really cool and no 21st century girl is leaving her cool man with those vultures around.
Don’t be like the other guys
Whoever told you your girl shouldn’t be comparing you with other guys told a big lie. She will. And she should. That’s right, you want her to compare you to other guys. You want her to compare you with other guys and find out: “Wow, he’s not like any other guy!”
You’ve got to be neat, keep a neat wardrobe, clean clothes, nice house. Have a clean handkerchief, wear clean socks, change your boxers/briefs twice a day.
You’ve got to be time conscious. Always early, even when she will be late. It doesn’t hurt to have a schedule you run your life by – in moderation of course.
Can you sing, dance, write, have you ever made a funny Instagram video? 21st century girls want to be with men who are creative. Don’t ask me why. Ask Kim why she hasn’t left Kanye yet. Girls are attracted to the sensuality that creative men exude. “If he can be creative with words and pictures, then life with him will be awesome”. Discover your creativity and let her know about it ASAP.
Be careful when talking ABOUT other girls
Even if you are talking about Kim or J-Lo, there are certain attributes you should avoid talking about when it comes to other girls, except to laugh at. Sure, your girl or your wife may not be as talented as Tiwa Savage or Chimamanda Adichie, as hot as Kim or as athletic as Serena, but you do not have to say that or even acknowledge it ever. Which brings us to the next point.
Tell a white lie every once a while
This is as self-explanatory as it gets. “You are not fat baby, you are bootylicious”
“I am not a boobs man”
“I think judging girls by their ass size is derogatory”
“No one needs to score perfect As to be successful. Look at D’banj and Kanye, both dropped out”
You know why Vampire Diaries, Twilight and the rest of these monster romance flicks are so much the rave among 21st century girls? Because of the sensitivity of the characters. They are so humane. Edward Cullen is so sexy because he’s so hungry for Bella but he has to keep his demonic spirit at bay so he can love. The Salvatore brothers are so awesome and hot because they are so bad and wanna be so good but it’s so hard. Etc.
Share your weaknesses with her, even it makes you seem like you’re employing an injured bird technique, but trust me, it will draw her (mothering instincts and all) in and bam! She’s never leaving.
Put your relationship deets on Social Media
21st century girls need validation, if you haven’t figured that out by now. Change that relationship status to “In a relationship”, change your Twitter header to her photo, put up the photos from every time you go out on Instagram and watch her preen with joy and confidence.
Get along with her friends and fam
No matter how strong you think your love is, if you do not have a similar bond with her friends and family, she is definitely going to leave someday – except she’s an only child and loner, in which case she is the exception and you are going to have to leave your friends and fam and be everything to her. 21st century Girls are very herd oriented. If whatever group she belongs to – family or friends, resents you, chances of you working out slips down the drain pretty fast.
Be willing to compromise
You can’t have your way all the time. Letting her have her way once in a while would go a long way for your relationship, a lot longer than you playing boss all the time. 21st century girls are headstrong, and while they crave authority figures, they need to have their way every once in a while. On that note;
Let her be in charge sometimes
Not every time drive. Sometimes sit down in front seat and pretend you are comfortable with her being in charge of your lives and safety for a while. Let her make some of your mutual decisions. It doesn’t have to be formal, none of the things mentioned in this post have to be. It can be as simple as: “So bae, what would you love to eat tonight?”
“Where would you love to spend next summer?”
“I need your help deciding which design to go with for this building”[even if she doesn’t have your architectural degree].
Don’t be predictable
Surprise visits, good surprises etc. should have told you this by now. You cannot be predictable. The excitement fades when she can predict you down to the second and two metres. That doesn’t mean she shouldn’t know where you are at every time, but if last week you got angry when she mistakenly broke a really expensive vase, maybe you should react differently when she mistakenly ruins the picture of your late mum you’ve kept for 9 years.
Okay, that’s tough. But c’est la vie. Such is life.
Give massages on occasion
Another good surprise here. Massages relax the muscles, cause the release of dozens of endorphins (those chemicals released during orgasms) and always leave the person massaged really happy with the masseur/masseuse – except of course the masseuse is an Ijaw woman trying to massage that koko on your head back inside.
Whip out that oil or cream and stretch her out on the table for a massage without planning it. Or simply knead her neck when you walk past her, or while driving. This strengthens the bond of affection between you. And most importantly, you should not have to wait for her to ask for it.
Show her you are working hard for her attention
Girls love guys who work hard for their attention, but how is she going to know how much effort you are putting in if you do not show it? It’s not easy for you to send her texts, flowers, serenades or any of a dozen other romantic gestures. She needs to know this.
“Baby, is that Mercedes Benz for me?” Smile and say: “Yes baby, it is nothing”. Then leave the receipt lying around for her to see, so she knows how much that shit cost.
Pay her rent – if you are not living together, and then ‘mistakenly’ let her see your now-sad-looking account balance all the while smiling and saying: “I’ll do anything for you baby”.
The thing is, it may not be that difficult for you, but she doesn’t have to know that. She will feel more secure in your love for her when she sees what you are willing to do for her.
Take responsibility, eliminate your inner wuss
Shut up! You have an inner wuss. You do not always want to fight the guy who scratched your car, but she’s right there and she’s watching so you gotta “be a man”. Taking responsibility means when she comes to you with that problem, you do not simply ‘leave it to the authorities’ to handle, you take charge. 21st century girls need a take-charge man. You have to know how to drive a truck, shave a bear (yes, bear, not a typo), change a blown wall socket, repair a car on an empty highway at night with a toothpick and three recharge card vouchers. Or at least give off the air that you can. It’s simple, all you need to do is create an image of who you want to be, then be it.
Clear the air
It is really easy to think that since you are the guy, you shouldn’t be the one talking about your feelings without sounding like a jealous douche or the person trying to talk about the “problem” whenever you guys have a fight. That’s wrong bro. A lot of the time, relationships are messed up by unresolved issues built up over time because someone refused to clear the air. She was on the phone in the middle of the night, while you were supposed to be sleeping, and by morning the call log was deleted. Suspicious right? Talk to her and clear the air, keeping quiet about it would only keep you simmering till you boil over and everything sticky and smelly hits the fan.
In most cases, your suspicions were unsubstantiated.
If after a fight, you are still not okay with how things went, talk about it. Clear the air. You have a happier relationship when you feel secure.
No, I do not mean only nudes. Send photos of yourself at work, school, on the road, in the plane, working under the kitchen cabinet, in the car, bent over the bonnet, tinkering in your shed. Just send photos. Do you know there is actual statistical data that only 0.045% men actually take and send photos of themselves at work? And these 21st century girls want to see that.
21st century girls are literally the most visual females ever! And it is a really super-cute way to send sweet messages to bae. “Been thinking of you all day and now this work wants to attack me. Xoxo” then you add a photo of yourself swamped with dozens of worksheets. Totally guaranteed to get ‘Awws’ and an awesome dinner when you get home.
Sending these photos makes her understand that you think of her even when you are away.
Let her win!
It is absolutely necessary to let your girl know you are really smart at arguments, good at playing games and an absolute terror at Truth or Dare, but sometimes sir, let her win. There is a subliminal reason behind feminism in this century that has to do with girls winning over guys. Letting her win gives a sense of accomplishment that cannot be faked. If your girl [literally] feels like she is winning in your relationship, that’s an A plus bro.
Leave no doubts
All said and done, this is the most important thing you should do to keep your 21st century girl: you gotta leave no doubts, man. She should know at all times, that you love her absolutely and want to keep her. If she is ever in doubt, even for the tiniest smidgely second, there is a crack there. You should leave no doubts. Of the five love languages, the most effective remains Words of Affirmation. You should use this, a lot. Leave no doubts, and your girl wouldn’t leave.
So there they are, the 21 ways to keep your 21st century girl. Start practicing.
I have had several ruined relationships, and I am presently still uncertain if this makes me an expert on this topic or the worst advice ever
I actually interviewed several people to sample opinions for this post
I initially wrote this for TNC but it was rejected
When I picked up my laptop this afternoon, it was to type something, anything. Just have my fingers play on the keyboard. You see, unlike last year when I practically lived my life behind a laptop screen averaging something like 80-100 words a minute while watching TV, since this year and my new job which only requires I handwrite descriptions, type the occasional email and spend the rest of the time relating verbally while reclining in ergonomic seats, I have not had to type as much. As such my belly has gotten flabby(-ier) and my fingers now make mistakes with every sentence, even though I am staring at the keyboard as I type. Smh. Thus I needed to write something, anything at all and it was not so difficult to find the right topic. Continue reading “The Janusaneni Guide to know if you have found the LOYL”
For a while now, I have considered a number of the systems in Nigeria, trying to understand why they do not work, or why they do not work perfectly, so that I can figure out ways to make them do just that, and while I cannot claim to understand completely the inner workings of the polity, the various ministries, parastatals and agencies in this country, I however have some knowledge of what the systems entail, and can also read human nature and predict outcomes to a reasonable level. Over the next few weeks, as I find the time, I would be analyzing different systems across Nigeria and outlining my suggested solutions for reworking them for better efficiency.
What is the purpose of all this?
With the terrible leadership at play in this country, clueless ministers and “elected” officials running around like headless chickens, there are two options left for the Nigerian:
To duck down and let everything go to shit, while looking for the tiniest opportunity to vanish off to another country. Which I admit is the more appealing option to be very honest
Or, to try in any way to help the situation. To speak up when you can, to advise where you can, and to help in any way. This is a thankless job and well, risky somewhat. But somehow, it is the more honourable option, and bless her soul, my mother raised me to be honourable
So, I am posting this here, online, so that anyone can see it, and use it. I only ask to be referenced.
In all my thinking, I have realized that the major underlying factor that plagues the Nigerian system is an overpowering urge to copy the modes of operation of systems in play in other (more developed) countries. This is not endemic to Nigeria though, in many African countries the same can be said. However, this forces the Nigerian system which has not evolved enough to attempt strategies that are way beyond its ken. It’s akin to a baby trying on a meal of salad. While we know that salad and greens are good, awesome and healthy food (yaay! #Fitfam), a baby needs food with more heft at that stage of its development. And if that’s not enough, you should know a baby cannot chew cabbage with those pink gums.
“You really think I can eat this bush? Somebody that went to school…>_>
My panacea to the matter has always been to understand the extent and purposes of the modes of operation in place within the systems of developed nations and modify them to suit the Nigerian system, state of mind and place in the evolutionary chain. You can feed a baby bran and milk, or even vegetables, but by and large they have to be mashed first for the baby to swallow, since it has no teeth. As the baby evolves, or grows older, the food is modified till it is the same with what mummy and daddy chew. There are systems in play in Nigeria, but they are a direct copy of what is in play in developed nations, while our modes of operation for those systems, our state of mind and our place in the evolutionary chain, are not on par with the systems. The solution is to modify what we have learned to match with what we need.
For the purpose of today’s lesson, we consider the Nigerian checkpoint system.
Perhaps, as a carryon from the old military days when everybody was as distrusting of their mother as they were of their neighbour, the checkpoints were a wonderful idea: situate armed police and military officers at certain locations to search vehicles and occupants to ensure none is carrying contraband items, attempting to flee a restricted zone or “plotting”.
Remember, back then the old NADECO members would pile into vehicles and in the guise of taking a leisurely drive around town, plot and plan their subterfuges.
Till date, over 17 years into the democratic era, the checkpoints are still in full force. There is an argument, which makes sense that states; the checkpoints serve to detract the actions of nefarious individuals from carrying out their actions. The mere presence of a checkpoint within a particular location is enough to detract your average criminal and besides, the police officers on duty are trained in certain psychological techniques to detect those with criminal intent who try to pass through the checkpoints and can hold them at will.
Question 1: But, what of the more than average criminal? Or more likely, the police officer who does not understand or cannot remember the psychology principles taught during basic training? How do they stop criminals from passing through?
The police checkpoints have over time become sites of corruption, where thousands of naira exchanges hands daily and hundreds of criminal individuals pass through uninhibited and unhindered, their pockets only slightly lighter.
Question 2: How do we stop police officers from taking bribes?
In many different situations, I have witnessed brutality occurring at the checkpoints, where officers of the law are engaging in lawless thrashing of (sometimes, innocent) individuals simply due to a lack of evidence. Going beyond their purview to beat or fine people who park the wrong way, do not have (or forgot) a certain permit among their papers or who just look fishy in the eyes of the sergeant on duty.
Question 3: How do we stop police officers from going beyond their purview, to fining or beating people without proof or beating people at all?
In busy cities like Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, police checkpoints are an absolute nuisance. The population in those cities and the number of cars that ply the roads on a regular basis are a nightmare when combined with the presence of checkpoints at almost every other kilometre. Traffic jams are the outcome, along with overly stressed police officers, angry and irate passengers, drivers and other road users and in the midst of all this mayhem, the opportunity for criminals to sneak through.
Question 4: How do we reduce the number of checkpoints while still maintaining the value position they present?
There are many other questions that may arise, but I am certain that by the end of this post, I would have answered most of them. And now, the answers.
NB: Some of the answers/suggestions may overlap.
The more than average criminal is certain to pass through a checkpoint manned by police officers. The mere presence of the checkpoint does nothing to deter the criminal from passing through. The major reason behind this is the preparedness on the part of the criminal. The knowledge that a checkpoint exists on Street K, and will be there every night from 7:00 pm to 5:00 am in the morning, gives the criminal advance warning and enough intel to prepare. Criminals pay off officers on duty in advance to let them pass through, plan their movements for before or after the checkpoints have been dismantled, or properly hide their contraband items in places the police officers will not check and so on. The very presence of a checkpoint now serves as a motivation for the dedicated criminal to improve on strategy to ensure they pass through.
The solution to this is to employ roving vans/patrols instead of checkpoints. The element of surprise that is employed with the roving patrol van is a better strategy to detract criminals. Only an exceptional criminal would be able to evade a roving patrol which can appear out of nowhere, and at any time, set up a road block and begin checking vehicles. This method is sure to limit the level of preparedness of the criminal.
Psychological training for police officers is a matter of policy: Policy employed to ensure regular training sessions for all police officers assigned checkpoint duties to ensure they are constantly up to date with the most recent strategies to spot the criminal behaviour and apprehend it.
Bribery (both in the giving and collecting) is a character vice and can only be curbed using strict punishment as a deterrent. Stringent punishment for offenders (givers and takers and those found guilty of colluding in the crime or witnessing without reporting it), in form of instant sack or dismissal from places of work (whether public or private), “Walk of shame” parading in front of media outlets, as well as fines and prison sentences, combined together will serve as adequate deterrent to future misbehaviours. The only way to stop police officers taking bribes at checkpoints is to fight the practice completely, punishing those who ask, those who offer and those who accept.
A follow up question would be: Who would make the arrest? And how can we be sure the “arresters” are themselves not guilty of the crime? The answer is simple and a lesson as old as time. It takes a scapegoat. When a bunch of officers, and some private citizens are arrested, punished and paraded on major news outlets for “small bribe”, citizens would refuse to part with (ostensible, at the least) bribes no matter how pressured by police officers at checkpoints. By limiting the source, the supply would drop and the market would end.
This is a matter of policy first of all. The policy that ensures well trained officers are the only ones on the road. Secondly, a database should be created from all of the information garnered over the years related to number plates and other vehicle registration details, drivers license details etc. accessible on the internet with regularly updated copies made in both soft and hard copy available at all police stations (or Zonal HQs at least) across the country.
With a simple shortwave two-way radio, a text or a phone call, a police officer at a checkpoint can confirm from a dispatcher at the station if the man behind the wheel is indeed the owner of the vehicle, especially when the driver forgot his/her papers, or even more importantly ascertain if the registration papers or license that were presented are genuine.
This system of communication/confirmation with the stations will also help police officers track down fugitives and offenders who beat checkpoints.
NB: An enterprising car thief could mock up fake registration papers and pass through veritably every single checkpoint in this country, and only a system such as outlined above can prevent that.
Like earlier suggested, roving patrols would provide a better option than checkpoints. At certain important chokeholds, such as at state or city boundaries, a checkpoint is a great idea. Also, within a specific radius of important locations such as government houses and the presidential villa, checkpoints would serve a good purpose. However, to put them on every street junction is foolhardy. Patrol cars parked unobtrusively at the side of the road in certain areas, and then some leisurely patrolling through the streets would serve a better purpose, reduce the possibility of traffic logjams and improve the ability of the police officers to spot threats.
Now, my suggestions are just that, and the comments are open for any additions and discussions. I intend to continue with this series and would appreciate suggestions on other topics we can discuss.
Warri babies eat anything, from what I hear
I am not responsible for whatever lessons an enterprising criminal may glean from this
I am responsible for whatever lesson a law abiding police officer, citizen or policy maker gleans from this
The suggestions here are not limited to the Nigerian Police Force
Walking into the Garrison Tech Cluster was a surreal experience the first time. I had heard so much about the place, seen it so many times as I rode or drove past, and read so many articles about it. So this time around, I decided it was time to visit the cluster and find out for myself if the stories were true, which of them were farfetched and what stories I could add to the mix. I alighted the taxi just below the Garrison bus-stop sign on Aba Road Expressway and stared across the busy road at the bustling marketplace before me. It was a jumble of stalls, large umbrellas of different colours and shade, garishly coloured signs in bright neon and the deafening cacophony of hundreds of power generators. The cluster seemed to buzz like a hive, from a distance I could feel the intensity of the place – a pulsating excitement characterised by the bustle as people darted about in varying degrees of excitement, hands bristling with various gadgets. I crossed the road with trepidation, anxious about what I would find and yet curious. The cluster seemed to yawn open before me, hundreds of shops with doors wide open, large industrial fans fighting to preserve the cool against the heat of the laptops and gadgets. A jean-clad young man walked up to me, mouth open in a gap-toothed grin. “Bros, you want to repair a phone?”
I was in the cluster.
The Garrison Tech cluster is a collection of inter-related tech businesses found at the Garrison axis of the Aba Road Expressway. These businesses range from Software to hardware repair, sale and maintenance stalls, for computers and mobiles, CCTV installation, Tech Security software protocols etc. These businesses are run by young men and women from different parts of the country, separated by tribe, social caste and education and united by a love for technology and a desire to use that technology to the utmost in the fulfilment of their dreams.
As part of the Garrison Tech cluster series, I met with Wisdom Ofoni who has been at the cluster for six years. Wisdom who hails from Bayelsa state, agreed to talk to me at his office which he shares with a colleague and friend who we have interviewed earlier in this series – Barisiere Godfrey. I talked to Wisdom and got a few insights into his life and the reason why he came to the cluster.
“I love creativity, I love challenges”
The young man who is in his early thirties kept a slight grin on all through his talk with me. On occasion his eyes would dart to one of the two computer screens in front of his while he checked the 22 downloads he had ongoing, but asides from that he paid me his full attention. “I love creativity, I love challenges. I took it as a challenge to go into the field and do what others cannot do. That is what brought me to Garrison,” he smiles. Wisdom Ofoni performs the usual Garrison tech cluster services – flashing and unlocking of mobile devices and upgrading them, and then he goes a step further with installing CCTV cameras as well as installing marine communications systems. He also works on Mac and Windows operating computers. “I mainly work on the software, but for CCTV and marine communications installation, I work with both the hardware and the software.”
“I did not go to computer school”
Wisdom’s father died shortly after he finished from secondary school. Back then in 2001, he had applied and secured admission into an art school in San Francisco, the death of his father however put a stop to those plans. Stalled in his attempt to study art, which had always been his passion, Wisdom turned to IT. “I had a friend who worked at a cybercafé and I would visit him there. Every day I went to the cybercafé and watched the engineers work, unscrewing the computers and making them work again. This was when I fell in love with IT”. He had access to the computers at the cybercafé and from watching the hardware engineers and videos on YouTube, Wisdom began to develop the foundation of the knowledge that would earn him a shop at the Garrison Tech cluster.
“My sister gave me a laptop that I loosened and played with. I discovered the location of the hard disk and the RAM and practically turned it upside down. Eventually, I got hired at the cybercafé,” he adds with a smile. “As an engineer. I did not go to computer school.” He eventually left that cybercafé for another where he was better trained to repair computer systems by seasoned engineers.
Working for free for five years
Wisdom first came to the cluster in 2007. Back then his iPod had a problem and he had come to the cluster to fix it. At the cluster he met Obinna who took the iPod and jailbreaked it. Jailbreaking is the process of removing the restrictions on a mobile device so it can accept third party applications. After watching Obinna work, Wisdom went home and tried to practice. It was not long afterward that he came back to Obinna and volunteered himself as an apprentice. “I worked for free for 5 years,” he says with a wide grin. In the first 2 years, he only worked part-time for Obinna, spending the rest of his time at the cybercafé where he also worked as an engineer.
Obinna is still in the cluster and both of them have remained friends and Wisdom has not regretted the decision that he made.
Nigerians can excel at IT
When asked why he came to Garrison, his eyes flash as he answers with conviction. “I came to create a job for myself instead of waiting for the government to provide me with one. I have created in this place, a white collar job not just for myself, but for others too.” He shows me his brother who works for him and gets paid for it and another young man who he has also employed. Wisdom not only employed them, but he has also housed the young men in his house till they can stand on their own feet. “I want to carry them along and show them that they can achieve what I have achieved. The world needs to know that Nigerians can excel at IT”.
A passion for security
Wisdom has a passion for security and wants to develop an IT firm in a few years so he can combat the insecurity situation in countries like Nigeria. “If you go to the hospital, you can easily gain access to anyone’s medical record. Hospitals in developed countries store their patient’s files in databases that can only be accessed under specific authorization. In Nigeria, it is too easy to gain access to privileged medical records. If the person suffers from a contagious disease like HIV, it can lead to stigmatization which can hurt the person”. To work as a security expert, Wisdom admits that he needs a license. Even though he has been working on his own in Garrison Tech Cluster for over a year now, he still has not registered a company. He has however sent in names to the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria to start the process.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
“In 5 years time I see myself bigger than this. My firm would be registered and I would be the CEO employing younger ones. I want to give the younger people an opportunity to make something out of their lives. In Nigeria, very few 18 year olds know how to create a CV when applying for jobs. This is not the case in the Western world, over there young people between the ages of 15 and 18 have CVs and can apply for jobs. I want Nigerian adolescents to know that there is nothing wrong with having a CV now. Gain experience and learn how to work for yourself. This way life would be easier for them as young adults”
What challenges do you face here?
“The major challenge is the internet connection. With good internet, you keep yourself up to date, and be informed on the new things that are coming out. If a customer comes for software work, you have to run that job on the internet to make it easier. If you don’t have access to the internet it is a great challenge. We have security challenges too. My neighbour was robbed at night after we had closed for the day. Other than that, I can think of no other challenges. Yes, there is a lot of competition, if you do not have internet connection and are not upgrading yourself frequently, you will not last long in the business. Studying and leaning to update myself, in order to know the new things, is how I stay ahead of the competition. Studying online, reading tech blogs and joining GSM forums to know challenges they are having is a great way to stay ahead.”
Wisdom is married with two children, Princess, a girl who is older at 10 years and Justice, a boy, who is 3 years. His wife’s name is Timi. They live in a 3 bedroom apartment at Akpajo on the outskirts of Rivers state from where Wisdom journeys every morning to the Garrison Tech Cluster. Asides from his little family, Wisdom also houses some other relations and one of his staff of two, making a total of seven people in his house. Timi sells diesel fuel at retail from a shop close to the house when she is not taking care of the children. Both his children attend school – Justice is just about to resume as a Primary 1 pupil with the new session while Princess starts at Junior Secondary School 1.
I asked him one last question before I left his shop.
If your father was still alive, or you had been able to secure admission to art school would you be here?
“I cannot say for certain where I would be, only God knows that, but I am happier here”
This post was originally posted here as part of a series I assisted in curating on the Garrison Tech Cluster in Port Harcourt.
First of all, I am not a coder, not a core one by any definition. Once upon a time I learned MySQL, worked about two weeks as a database admin, did a short Java and Android course and never typed another line of code again. Anyway, I am a proud member of GDG (Google Developer Group) Port Harcourt and on Friday, 18th November, 2016, we had the privilege to host the Google Developer Festival (DevFest) for Southern and Eastern Nigeria.
This post is not so much a review as a recant of my experiences and the lessons I learned being a part of the organizing team.
Becoming a GDG Port Harcourt member
Okay, to begin, how did I become a member of GDG Port Harcourt? It was sometime last year, in one of the very few instances when my former employer showed some mettle, he recommended me to a free UI/UX Masterclass being organized by the GDG Port Harcourt. It was during the two day program that I met Gino Osahon, Sharon Georgewill, Sokari Gillis-Harry, Joshua Joshua, Precious Chukundah, Daniel Ekpo, Godfrey Ayaosi, Ihunanyachi Thompson and a number of the really cool guys who make up the GDG PH. Naturally, my team performed excellently at the UX Masterclass event and I asked Gino if I could join in. It was that simple. I subscribed to the GDG International Facebook page, submitted my email address and phone number and got added to a Whatsapp group and then a mailing list.
Now let’s fast-forward a few months into the future, take out the afro hairdo and the boss with the lack of mettle, and we have #DevFest16.
This is Google’s Developer Festival, one of the many free events Google organizes annually, to teach people more about technology, especially Google technology, as well as encourage them to utilize Google products. Festivals usually have codelabs, hackathons, pitch sessions and panel sessions as part of the program and this year was going to be no exception. Except for one thing, this time around I was going to be part of the team. Somehow during the first meeting of the chapter lead and his team members, someone had suggested I would be likely to volunteer.
They were right.
LEADING THE RIGHT TEAM WILL ALWAYS GUARANTEE SUCCESS
One of the best things that can happen to you as a leader is to have the right people in your team. Whilst being a part of the sponsorship team, I was also tasked to handle the Online Media publicity team of the event. Considering the level of the event, it was probably going to be one of the toughest tasks I had ever carried out. I was excited to do it, already envisioning different campaign strategies to be used, content to be created and so much more, and this was before I even met the team I would be working with. Jerri Nnah and Dorothy Mepba of AdForumCo are two of the most talented media people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. At the risk of disappointing clients and my future employer, I have to admit, these guys and their team did so much work for this event, I was practically lazing about in the background. With minimal direction, they achieved so much, my supervisory role was illusory.
After trending online for 3 days straight, with hundreds of interactions coming off this event, it was no surprise when we exceeded our registration quota of (500 attendees) with over 532 people registered by the morning of the event, and then perhaps a thousand people who actually attended, some of them not even registering.
BE PREPARED, ALWAYS
This is one lesson, I should have noted from my days with the Boy’s Scout when my father would lug me into the backseat of his Volkswagen Beetle and drive me half-dressed to the parade ground on the grounds of the St. Paul’s church at Airport road in Benin City. Every single Saturday, whether I was dressed or not, once it was time, I was tossed into the car and he would drive off.
“Be prepared, Oare,” he would say.
A few months to the appointed date, we were prepped, and all teams assembled. We were going to take #DevFest16 like a monsoon wind (since saying storm is too mainstream), and then Google announced we should hold off on any kind of publicity et al., until they give approval. The wind went out our sails. Everything ground to a halt. Planning committee team members traveled from the state, some got married and pregnant (hehe, I kid), everyone went back to their usual duties, I put away my already printed “I set to KILL IT in the DevFest Planning Committee! YAAAY!” t-shirt. As expected, apathy set in and we all forgot about our duties.
Then, with barely 20 days to go to 18th November, Google gave the go-ahead. The scramble was the stuff of history movies (the kind where stuff blow up). First of all, the entire thing was happening in grainy black-and-white, none of our anticipated (money-laden) sponsors would sponsor the event, publicity was slow in kicking off, the website for registration and co was suddenly littered with bugs, the hall we planned to use was suddenly in danger of being booked on that day, and all the while the hours kept ticking away. We ought to have kept up with our planning, we ought to have stayed prepared. This is one lesson I would not forget.
MURPHY’S LAW WAS CAST IN STONE WITH THE BLOOD OF BINI WITCHES
Looking back now, the event was a definite success, all things considered. Participants and delegates from across Southern and Eastern Nigeria and beyond, all went back happy, and knowledge was imparted. However…
Everything that could go wrong did. The speakers came slightly late, the cords that had been bought were miraculously too big to fix in the jacks, the walkie-talkies did not work, data connectivity was slow, program schedule was a binsh to handle, PHCN and the PHED (Port Harcourt Electricity Distributor) kept taking power, the backup generator was slow to come on, the ACs were overworked, one of the projectors refused to work, participants brought along more laptops and devices than we had sockets for, name-tags for organizers had the wrong names on them, sometime after maybe 800 people had been served refreshments, the food finished, there was a typo on a poster no one noticed until event day, as well as sponsors whose logos were not included in the backdrop. The list goes on, but each of these mentioned contributed to causing a bit of mayhem at the event.
When planning events, it is wise to consider every kind of eventuality because a tiny grain of sand out of the way can expand a crack into a crevasse.
EVEN CLOSE-KNIT FAMILIES FIGHT, WHAT MATTERS IS WHEN THEY COME BACK TOGETHER
As was to be expected, we fought. Bitterly. Blood everywhere. Tempers were raised, egos were crushed, insults were tossed from one end to another, legs and heads were threatened with dire harm, organizers threatened to boycott the event and so on and so forth. But in the end, the GDG Port Harcourt came through like a family, albeit a shaky extended one, with too many wives and offshoots, but still a family. When it mattered the most, members had volunteers came through and put their very best to work for the success of the event. And this, not the planning or logistic magicks employed by Banjo, Joshua and Daniel, was responsible for whatever successes we recorded that day.
ONE, ONE, ONE…AND STICK TO ONE THING
There were many takeaways from the event, but one stuck to me more than most. Aniedi Udo-Obong, the Google Developer Groups Coordinator for Sub-Saharan Africa and Chief Host of the event, when taking his keynote address said (amongst other things); “Read one book, watch [and finish] one tutorial and join one community”. He aimed to advise beginner/amateur and expert devs who were considering too many options at the same time to concentrate on one and be a master of it. Stick to one.
It was brilliant advice and another one I would always remember. Stick to one thing, join one community. I am happy I joined GDG Port Harcourt and was a part of #DevFestSE16.