A Nigerian Student in England with too much to say, not sure if he makes sense, so read and find out.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Long Absence, Nigeria's 3rd Term Fever and Brokeback

To the very few people who have ever bothered to come on this blog and who have done so in expectation of something fresh from me, I owe you my most sincere apologies. My excuses include my quest to change my weekend part-time jobs, prepare my final year dissertation and other mumbo-jumbo that a student uses to kill time. Since my last blog a lot has happened in my dear country Nigeria and indeed the world. Nigeria's banking scene has been downsized from some 89 prodigiously useless banks to some 25 moderately consolidated banks, we're hoping it brings about some positive changes. It mightg shock my readers to learn that in Nigeria, banks prefer to avoid financing things like mortgages, hire-purchase, industry and agriculture, the basic staple of banks elsewhere in the world, preferring to offer loans to state agencies who are "more reliable" and needless to say contribute next to zero in economic growth. On the international scene, the Americans have been told what we in the outside world took for granted that our calls and emails to friends, family and associates in the US were being monitored by the NSA (No-Such-Agency) actually the National Security Agency...personally, I dont see the need in having such an agency if it doesnt get to snoop on suspected terrorists..foreign and domestic..seems obvious to's their job....anyway that's another matter.

As you may have noticed, the state of the Nigerian economy is not my topic, although it would if I could claim a better understanding of how it was run...if it is run or simply watched..nah, my topic today touches on the news in Nigeria regarding the continued rumours of a plot, conspiracy, it what you will by the country's ruling party, the PDP to amend our constitution to allow President Olusegun Obasanjo and some thirty state governors run for third terms of four years.

My girl friend in furtherance of her ambition to soften my conservative approach to social issues dragged me to the Odeon cinema to watch the movie that is the talk of hollywood, cannes and everyother film festival city in the world, the gay flick, "brokeback mountain". For the sake of clarity and for the benefit of my readers in Nigeria, a strongly conservative and rightly traditional society, I will try to give a blunt assessment of the movie, its message and it's connection with a move by the Nigerian federal cabinet to outlaw gay same-sex marriage and why I think the proposed law is right....without quoting you the Bible, the Koran etc.

There is a certain legal scholar in Nigeria by the name of Professor Ben Nwabueze who in the 1980s wrote a magnificent (i think) text book for Nigerian law students and lawyers titled (something like) "Nigeria's Presidential Constitution." In that book the Prof who was and still is an authority on constitutional law in Nigeria and Africa gave a behind the scenes look at the 1978 constituent assembly that produced the Nigerian Constitution. In the book, Nwabueze said that the drafters sought to introduce an American style system, with more checks and balances and more scrutiny and express limitations on the executive powers of the President, that the Americans of the 1780s or 2000 would have considered too burdensome on the President of the United States. Nwabueze argued that it was necessary to limit the Nigerian President so tightly because of the practical reality of him having vast resources and powers at his disposal.

2006, all those checks and balances have been swept aside by the Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) administration. This is not to say that the government has broken the law. No. I for one will not hesitate to say here that in 1999, I prefered the reverred Dr. Alex Ekwueme for the top job, but last minute machinations got OBJ the nomination and ultimately the presidency. In 2003, I thought OBJ had done a good job to deserve a second tenure and also because, the alternative, Muhammadu Buhari was a bigot, not a good idea for a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria. OBJ won re-election and has I believe done a good job. I won't bullshit and say he's the best thing to happen to Nigeria since washing machines or playstation 3, but I sincerely believe he has done enough to deserve my respect and thanks as a citizen.

Unfortunately, OBJ's friends want to spoil all that. They think Nigeria is all about Obasanjo, that Nigerians are too dumb to elect a comparable or even better successor, that Nigerians have to be hynoptised into seeing reason in why we should not change a winning horse. In effect, the argument is that Obasanjo has done so much for Nigeria that he deserves a full constitutional amendment to allow him run for a third term. I have not heard such arrant nonsense .....wait a minute, I was 1998, exactly this time in 1998, that a man who we later found out helped himself to £3 Billion ($6 Billion) of government funds was being urged by "honourable men" to stay for life. General Abacha ran Nigeria like a prison, not as bad as Saddam, but not any less uncomfortable and shameful (internationally). The exact same people who clapped while Abacha locked up OBJ for a crime he didnt commit, and who OBJ felt he had to keep close to him, when he later succeeded to Abacha's job in a free election, those same people are now trying to hoodwink Nigerians into accepting a third term for President Obasanjo.

As if our sensiblities had not been insulted enough, Ambassador Negroponte, the US intelligence czar told the US select intel committee that Nigeria's 2007 elections could be a disaster if OBJ insisted on running...understandably he was more concerned about the inevitable disruption in oil supplies (quite he a Nigerian? not his problem if we're busy being stupid). I have so much respect for the person and office of the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and for Olusegun Obasanjo in particular that I have refused to believe that he has any intention of stooping so low and partaking in this leprous plot against the constitution. It is however unfortunate, that he has not taken various opportunities to assure Nigerians that he will keep faith with us and leave next year. Instead, we have been treated to ridiculous statements by his aides, Fani-Kayode and Onyema-Ugochukwu both professional politicians and psychophants, well known for abusing and insulting critics and respected citizens, and who will say anything to justify any government policy.

What do I think? OBJ will go....if not...well there's nothing we can do about it than whine, complain and blog...

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN....if you're reading this outside Nigeria, then you must either seen the movie or heard or watched a review on television or radio. Fox television in the US, the mouth piece of conservative America declared it a Homosexual Propaganda. Here in the UK and Europe, people can't get enough of it (unsuprising). For my readers in Nigeria, this is one of the films that either won't be sold in Nigeria or won't sell well....except of course among the middle-class, creme da la creme and top totties who try to keep abreast with international matters..

BROKEBACK is a movie about two cowboys, who fall in love...(no it's not pornography)...To say that I saw the movie without a tinge of trepidation would be a lie. I almost got blind with shock when the two main characters played by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal (check the spellings) engaged in what appeared to be sexual intercourse...(ok ok sex...anal sex) basically, sodomy. (see Leviticus in the bible). At the end of the movie, to my girl friend's suprise and yes pleasure, I liked the film. It was a gay film, a film about gays, but it was a good film. The cinematograohy, script and backdrop of glorious mountains ( I have to visit Wyoming) was excellent, the dialogue was credible without being cheesy, even the sex scenes seemed unimportant, except to demonstrate the physical nature of the character's affection/intimacy....(readers in Nigeria day yuck here)...I would recommend it to any "straight" guy who knows where he stands on the preference scale, (might be a good idea to go with your girl friend or protection)...The message was not lost on me, it was a good movie, I would see it again, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with the lifestyle, the same way I wouldn't emulate, Don Corleone from Mario Puzo's the Godfather or Don Clericuzio in the Last Don. It's a movie! Enjoy it !

That brings me to the plight of gays in Nigerian. The concept of gay rights in Nigeria and much of sub-saharan Africa is anathema, except in South Africa, where homosexuals were said to have suffered under Apartheid and managed to win a windfall of civil rights when the 1993/4 interim constitution was negotiated (please verify) so I guess in that case, they "fought" for it and last year their courts moved to allow same-sex marriages.

Men have sex with men in Nigeria, rich, poor, muslim, christian, all sorts....the thing is we don't talk about it....we even deny it... Personally I think that system works, as a catholic I can NEVER accept homosexuality as a natural alternative lifestyle to a normal hetereosexual relationship that culminates in marriage, and the procreation of children. I consider gay relationships "objectively instrinsically disordered".

As a Law student in the UK I have inevitably come into contact with people, students, lecturers and yes, friends who proudly call themselves gay. Many of them are decent, remarkable people who will point out to me that their success and position in life has nothing to with who the "fuck". On that I am in complete agreement. The Nigerian government has proposed a law to outlaw same-sex marriages in Nigeria. If reasonably drafted, the law will pass without resistance in the National Assembly, loudly supported by closeted gay legislators urged on by religious leaders... Before talking about the bill, I want to mention that Nigeria already has laws against "sex against the order of nature"...(meaning gay sex) But the law is not enforced for two reasons, 1. the police has more serious things to worry about, 2. the subject is taboo, and only done in private, usually by people rich and powerful enough to lock up the police detective who would dare.

Personally, I dont think gays in Nigeria or Africa should be denied the full protection and benefit of the rights guaranteed their fellow citizens. Most Nigerians (this writer included) would praise someone doing a good job to the heighest heavens, but get antagonistic if told the person was gay. I am not proud about it, but as a future lawyer, I have change my outlook and believe in the spirit of the law, which is to do right to all manner of people, fairly, without affection or ill-will. I'm not saying I want gays to march down the Marina in Lagos or Shehu Shagari Way, Abuja in pride ceremonies....good heavens No! but I don't think it's the business of government to regulate people's sexual relations. It's not only silly it's also impraticable....(I dont care what any pastor says on that.)

While I have nothing against gay Nigerians living full and secure lives, under the protection of the law, I am implacably opposed to anything thing that would undermine the institution of marriage and the position of the family as the centre of African society. I don't think this is gay-bashing or homophobia, but a responsible effort to protect what is, has been and ought to continue being the basis of our native culture. I dont think I have to start quoting the bible, the koran or various Vatican documents (..I read those, sad ain't it?) to support my view, neither do I have to do what most Nigerian religiousists do, which is to vilify others as godless, unless their every conduct is sanctioned by scripture, I think the good lord gave us enough common sense to be able to discern for ourselves what is fair, good and proper.

Bottom line, dont jugde.........I'm guessing this piece might upset a few people...liberals and my fellow conservatives....

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Happy new year everyone. I want to use this opportunity to say a big thanks to anyone and everyone who spent some time reading my blog (instead of say...watching an episode of the Simpsons). I am sorry i havent been able to ramble about Nigeria, the world and everything in between, especially as therr has been quite a lot happening since my last post; incuding 2 major aircrashes in Nigeria which shocked Nigerians and exposed the incompetency of our aviation authorities and their (lack of) regulation, the successful elections in Iraq! (yes successful), and the new madness in the Nigeria about a (rumoured) aspiration of our President and thirty of our thirty-six state Governors to subvert our constitution by introducing a (clearly idiotic) amendment allowing them run for third terms of four years respectively. Needless to say that I will need to delve into the gist of these and other topics including my Persons of the year Bono, Bob Geldorf and Ellen Sirleaf Johnson. The first two need no introduction, the third is a nan (grandmother) who recently got elected to run Liberia (After the last elected guy completed the job of messing the country up). Maybe you can check this blog out on tuesday January 3rd, I should have something sensible up then,....(no guarantee it will be sensible)..till then let's be thankfull we made it to 2006, and personally....I wish you a happy new year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Nigerian Perspective on Nigeria and the World

Hello all! I'm nigerdude a 22 year old Nigerian student studying law in England. I am honestly supposed to be studying for my exams but thought what they hell I might as well add blogging to one of my other sad hobbies and ramble out my views about current events, especially my country Nigeria, an African country in transition from a frightful past to a consitutional democracy. As you must have noticed on CNN, BBC and Sky, but not fox or Al Jazeera, Nigeria sits in a corner of the world noted for nothing but abject poverty, corruption and disease. While I personally have been blessed (read libero-conservative catholic) to be born into a more comfortable standard of living, I am desperately mindful of the need to dispel this notion that Africans, especially Black Africans need or deserve the constant pity and patronage of the world, or that Africans are inherently underdeveloped or corrupt. I pride myself as a pragmatist and a realist and will endeavour to be as frank as possible in any debate I pitch myself in. My country, Nigeria has no excuse being one of the poorest countries in the world neither do we have any reason to allow ourselves to be compared with banana republics in the continent with whom we share nothing by way of economic potential or human resource other than the colour of our skin. I hope also, based on the advise and (definately) criticism i receive from whoever reads this blog, to comment on events on the international scene including everybody's favourite scapegoat, G.W Bush, his war on terror (which I support), the war in Iraq (which i dont support), democracy in Africa and the Middle-east, Religion (don't worry I'm not dogmatic) and women's rights (I'm dude by the way) . I would also and possibly more importantly want to show you in the outside world, a view of Nigeria and Africa you will not see on television. A country of One and Twenty million people, drawn from ancient empires, kingdoms and peusdo-nationalities comprising two hundred and fifty ethnic groups, even shared into muslims and christians (both generally entrenched and conservative) AFRICA'S LARGEST DEMOCRACY, the largest economy in West Africa, and of course, one of the most corrupt nations on Earth. (just being honest) Nigeria has come far since 1999, when we returned to democratic rule and I think it's important that the stereotype of the ne'er do-well African State be dispelled and utterly rebutted. I will not be patronising, so dont expect me to be soft on issues like poverty, disease and corruption. I'm also thinking of buying a book of jokes to add a little humour to my writing.....i'm just worried about the copyright issues. If you have read through all this and think I'm worth your time please leave a comment (ok, criticism) and come again.

One Nigeria.