Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ndi Igbo: A People In Search Of True Leadership

Like him or loathe him, but you can't certainly deny the temerity and panache that he exudes. Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu is a man that even words will not aptly describe. As one commentator puts it 'He is many men rolled into one.' In truism, to rehash all his feats here will be an effort in futility. In fact, eulogies on that subject are already ubiquitous. However, for those few who still hold grudges and throw diatribes at Ojukwu, it is only right to say that for all his achievements, he was still a man with flaws. Although, that is not the theme of this article. As the Ikemba 1 of Nnewi begins his journey to a world we will never know in the flesh, it begs the question: Who will take up the mantle of leadership in Igboland? Ojukwu was viewed as a political father of the 'Ndi Igbo.' He was to the Igbo, what the likes of Ibb, Gowon and Buhari are to the North. He might not be the favourite of everyone, but he was surely the outright choice in Igboland. Now, the daunting vaccum exist. While it is true that divisions and strife exist in virtually every regions in Nigeria, it is more pronounced in Igboland. The search for true leadership among the Igbo have proved elusive. The vested 'interests' of most of those who pride themselves as statesmen often kicks in the way of ideal leadership. When push comes to shove, leadership is no where to be found among the Igbo. Unfortunately, Ojukwu's demise will further compound this woe. Is it not pathetic to note that only few weeks after the Dim died, tussles over who will succeed him as Ikemba has already reared up it's ugly head. It makes one wonder if some of the eulogies that have been poured on Ojukwu, have not been a cheap attempt to regain relevance for some. The glaring divisions are certainly plausible reasons that makes one doubt if a soverign state of Biafra would have thrived, if it had survived. Political role models in the form of Ojukwu, are in short supply in Igboland. The politics of materialism holds sway in the land. It is no more news that chieftancy titles in Igboland have now become an auction of some sort. It is the highest bidder who now wears 'the red cap.' What happened to integrity? To meritocracy and virtue? As 2015 draws closer, the leadership vaccum in Igboland remains a big puzzle. The people needs one in the form of the Emir and Sultan in the North, and the Oba in the West. If Ndi Igbo must stand a realistic chance of getting the presidency in 2015, then a lot needs to be fixed. Popular opinion has it that Owelle Rochas Okoroafor, the governor of Imo state, is the anionted son of the Igbo for 2015. However, this is a house divided within itself and a lot can change between now and 2015. Perhaps, it is high time that the Igbo tell themselves the home truth about the numerous anomalies in the land. Immortalizing Dim Ojukwu is beyond the encomium that many have casted upon him, we must emulate the strength of his conviction and learn from the subtle lesson that a son of a business tycoon (Lious P. Ojukwu), who had all the good things of life at his beck and call, could still pursue a course he believed in into the realms of death.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tsunami In Intercontinental Bank: The Untold Story

The idiom thrives in the corporate world that bank workers are orphans, and recent events in the sector lends credence to this. The hurricane in the banking industry that was ushered in by the imperious CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, does not require a rehash here. We all knew how the appiontment of the Prince of Kano brought a watershed in the banking system. Those that were paraded as kingpins under the Soludo era, became objects of sheer ridicule under the Sanusi dispensation. For better or for worse, Sanusi salvaged the industry. However, the misdeeds that have made some of these banks that were believed to be healthy, to now begin to merge, leaves alot of questions to be asked. Many were shocked to their bone marrows when Ecobank acquired the once 'sublime' Oceanic bank, and surprise do not adequately explain the feelings of many when Access bank took over Intercontinental bank. The expediencies that made all these inevitable remains a theme of debate. However, the alarming sack of staff of Intercontinental bank by the 'power that be' at Access bank, can only be described as inhumane and pathetic. Depending on who you choose to believe, about 1,500 to 2,000 staff were affected out of the over 4,800 staff the bank has. Many that have been in the bank for about 5 to 10 years, were shown the door without their gratuities or any other fringe benefits. As if the penury was not enough, those staff that were fortunate to remain had their salaries and allowances slashed. In fact, everyone were to receieve an entry level salary, irrespective of qualifications or experience. For the axed staff that went to find reprieve in the court, they left disappionted. The court claimed that the working contract they had was with Intercontinental bank, not Access, thus, justifying the whims and caprices of Aig Imhokhuede and his cohorts at Access bank. Suffice it to say, one understands that Access bank, having newly acquired Intercontinental bank, must embark on some drastic measures. But, there is always a better way of doing things. At a time when the unemployment creed has become a song on everyone's lips, this development has come to add more venom to an already open wound. For all his verbose and scatching remarks, only time will tell if all these Sanusi's reforms will bring lasting sanity in the banking sector. Nonetheless, while injustice is meted out to workers of Intercontinental bank, the admirable crichton (Sanusi), has turned a deaf ear. Imagine how many lives are dependent on these staff that have now been sacked. It does not require a strech of the imagination to see that with this debacle, the rate of crimes and other societal anomalies, will skyrocket. Penultimately, it goes without saying that job security in our country is equal to zero.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Short Story: Nigeria And The Menace Of Unemployment

To say that Kunle was a man of letters, will be mitigating the truth. The 27 years old cove was a graduate of the prestigious University of Ibadan. An institution that he left with his footprints behind. Kunle bagged the enviable 'first class honours' in Mathematics, and when often asked what the seceret of his success was, he will answer with a pathetic, yet witful smile 'nothing'. As Kunle had a flashback on those years of stardom, he relished in himself 'I am good, you know', he will often soliloquize to himself. Now, as he returned from the University of Leeds, where he had voyaged in further pursuance of the golden fleece, he clutched to the utopian belief that jobs awaited him on the streets of Lagos. Five years had gone by, and reality have fully dawned on him. The search for a job was a cumbersome ordeal for Kunle. For those five years of 'penury', he lived his days cap in hand, accepting whatever crumbs came his way. Bolaji had been a faithful friend to Kunle. Though an illetrate of the finest order, Bolaji could still afford the luxury of a home. It is in this home that he accomodated his 'well read' friend, Kunle. Each time Kunle will him, 'You should get some education, you will need it in life someday'. In response, Bolaji will laugh with a scorn that is better imagined. It was a laughter of mockery, a laughter that reeled in ignorance. Three more years elapsed, and Kunle's optimism was fading into obilivion. Finally, the NNPC test came around. Only ten vacancies were to be filled, and yet, 18,254 candidates came to tussle. Kunle marveled in disbelief. He tried anyway, and luck finally smiled his way. He got passed all the hurdles called, interviews, and just when he thought it was carved in stone for him to finally get a job, the silver lining in the cloud that he had imagined deserted him. 'we are sorry, but authority above us demanded that we give the job to someone else, a relation to our boss', the voice at the other end of the phone said. Kunle broke down, not knowing weather to 'cry' or to 'weep'. Bolaji walked in, and he related the heartbreaking news to him. 'Na wa o, sorry sha', Bolaji said in a tone that made it difficult to tell if his sympathy was sincere or scornful. Kunle turned on the T.V set, and there was the president of Nigeria, talking of how successful his administration had solved the unemployment puzzle. One of the shenenigans at the gathering muttered, 'create a job if you can't find one'. 'I have taken enough', Kunle said as he switched off the T.V set. He left the house swiftly, running, gasping for air. His destination was the third mainland bridge, in Lagos. Kunle stood at the tip of the bridge, ready to take his own life. The helpless pedesterians and motorists were all standing at a spot, looking at Kunle. They wanted to stop him, but he was too far from them. Kunle gazed at the water, he smiled. Flashes of the past, pains of the present and despair of the future, all beclouded his mind. Tears began to freely flow from his troubled eyes. Down and out, Kunle left the tip of the water, and entered into the road. He tore his clothes, danced along the road, and mumbled words that made everyone watching to know that Kunle has gone mad. 'He must have sinned against the gods' one of the passers-by said. 'For where! Na blood money dey do am this thing', a truck pusher said as he laughed uncontrollably.

Friday, February 3, 2012

This Madness Called Football!

Call me a ranting imbecile, I really don't care. The subject of football fanaticism has reached a perturbing height that it begins to beg the question: Is it really worth it? Does it truly count at the end? Wednessday, Ist of February, will be remembered as a black day for the beautiful game of football. It all happened at Port Said in Egypt. Mayhem was let loose between fans of Al-Masry and Al-Ahly. This was after the match where the former had an unprecedented 3-1 win over the more renowned Al-Ahly. This senseless rancour claimed the lives of 74 (78, depending on who you choose to believe) people. Suffice it to say, this ugly incident is simply the latest in a series of violence and unrest surrounding the sport. From the frenzy world of the English Priemiership to the stern turf of the Italian Serie A, to the exquisite football artistry in the Spanish La Liga, the story of violence is the same. Even in our own country Nigeria, some fans have gone insane. We have had series of cases where fans of foreign clubsides either kill or injure oppossing fans. Some marriages have been destroyed in the name of football, idleness have taken on a new name for some, and overall efficiency at work have taken a nosedive, all in the name of football. How did we get here? Football pundits will argue that football offers a form of escapism for many, from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, especially in this part of the world where news headlines are a pack of nightmares. However, there is the need for fans to check this excessive love (lust if you like) for football. Richard Wright famously stated that 'the spectators can never be part of the action'. Thus, no matter how attached you are to a particular football club, you can never become a gladiator. The true moments of glory and agony of a clubside are truly felt by the players, coaching staff and management. This is not saying that becoming a football fan is acrimonious and bad, however, we all need to realize that at the end, it's just a game which should merely be enjoyed, at least for the fans. Thus, it is obvious that it does not worth breaking a sweat or losing sleep or skipping meals the next time your team loses a football game.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mourinho And The Burden Of Barcelona!

Seldom in his amazing career has the self acclaimed 'Special One' been repeatedly humbled in defeats. Jose Mourinho was handpicked by the powers that be at the Santiago Bernebeau, to mainly curtail the 'irritating' and sublime dominance of their archrivals, Barcelona. But, this holy grail appears to have evaded the mindas touch that we all know that José conjures. One win in ten attempts against the Catalans can only be described as the peak of disasters. Not only has Barca remained the trailblazers, the bragging rights which the Madrid hierarchy desperately covets, has remained in the Camp Nou. These are certainly not happy days for Mourinho, and until he solves this protracted puzzle, he might never become the greatest gaffer of all time. Several explanations have been put up to explain why Madrid under José, never seems to be able to defeat their sworn enemy. Some reasons could outrightly be dismissed as untenable and fictitious, while some are embedded with truism. However,one fact cannot be gainsayed, and which is that Mourinho has always had a personal rivalry with Barcelona. This 'Cold War' streches back to his days at Chelsea. The Pourtugese has undoubtedly admitted that he can simply not defeat Barca at their own game, and during his spells at both Chelsea and Inter Milan, he has resorted to the infamous mantra of 'parking the bus' and 'catching them on the break'. However, at Madrid, the rivarly with Barca is a different kettle of fish. El Classico is simply not about three points only, it is most importantly about the bragging and bullish rights, the tussle for supremacy and the battle for wits. But with Mourinho's arrival at Madrid, the rivalry translated into hatred. Red cards have become an inevitable feature at El Classicos. While it is true that a handful of Barca's players often simulates and 'play acts' against Madrid, Real Madrid players often stoke the fire. Tackles against Barca always carry malacious intents with them. This trend is not only harming Madrid's ambitions, it is also killing the beautiful game of football. When football gets very personal, it loses it's essence. A glance at the Spanish La Liga suggests that Madrid are seven points clear, but even Mourinho knows that with Barcelona, the team behind them, it is not yet uhuru.