Monday, February 23, 2015

The Trouble That Is Obasanjo

For some reason, he has been able to forge a cult demeanor of some sorts. His admirers range from young to old and so many are in awe of his charisma. A demagogue of a kind, Obasanjo guarantees a polarization of opinions. Having been a leader in this country in both the democratic and military dispensation, he is perhaps the best power monger in the nation's history. No doubt, that in itself should accord him some respect. However, I am not sure if any other thing should.

While I am neither a GEJ nor a Buhari sympathizer, I firmly believe that General Obasanjo's recent show of shenanigan during which he tore his PDP card was a new low for the Ota gaffer. In many ways, it was ‘unstatesman’ like, and in more ways than one, unwarranted. It is just fine for OBJ to decide to leave the Party at will. After all, he has been a divisive figure to the Party's polity for a while now. However, to go as far as pulling such theatrical stunt on national TV was vintage OBJ. It was both a disrespect to the party that once made him and a slight on our politics. What was even sadder about the event was that some representatives of his ward who were present chanted in jubilation at the drama. How they couldn't see that it was nothing to celebrate was a pity. There was nothing gratifying by such action, irrespective of party affiliations.

For some of us who are students of history, General Obasanjo's recent display was not novel. He has had a history of witch hunting his successors, especially those who are not ready to sing his song. During his first stint as ruler in the military days, OBJ earned a reputation for being divisive. Having handed over power in a transition that brought Shehu Shagari to power in 1979, he became the chief detractor of the regime, especially in 1982, leading up to the 1983 elections. In same vein, after working to install Yar'Adua as president in 2007, he soon fell out with him the moment he was trying to become his own man. The story has it that the Late Yar’Adua at some point stopped taking his calls due to his excesses which was becoming disturbing. And now, Obasanjo has become the commander in slay of the Jonathan administration. It is also interesting that the disowning of the Party by the Aremu happened just weeks before the elections. It is one thing to criticize a government for ineptitude; it is another thing to do that with crass disrespect and glaring self-serving interest. As Simon Kolawole once said, ‘Obasanjo is a wind-reader’ who always knows when to jump ship. It is a great shame and a testimony to our teething democracy that a former leader like Obasanjo makes public life all about him and the News is quick to make him headline. If he is not writing a public diatribe to the president, he is mocking the former vice president. The report that recently went viral of some governors going to Ota to genuflect to the former leader was also a show of OBJ’s excesses. That he takes pride in such demi-god act is pathetic. It is apt to say here that OBJ is perhaps one of the few godfathers remaining from an era of godfatherism that is gradually fizzling out of our political life. His chronology of shenanigans has attained a disturbing level. Perhaps, it is worth mentioning that in saner turfs, former leaders are the conscience of the nation who provides an anchor for it in moments of distress. In America today, there are four living former presidents (George H W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George Bush) but none have made themselves nuisance to the Obama administration. One should also say that the Buhari train has to be very careful of General Obasanjo and his so called support. While he still wields some influence politically, I think the degree of this influence is grossly exaggerated in the minds of many.

Agree or differ, Obasanjo was not a good leader. He might be an enigma because of his unconventional and precarious attitude, but that does not let him pass for a legendary status. For a man that has tasted power for so long as he has, you expected him to have bequeathed a working democratic system. The next time we sing the praises of Baba, it is worth remembering that it was in his era that corruption and other social vices thrived. This is also the man that was so intoxicated with power that he did everything to cling on via the failed third term agenda. They say the ultimate test of leadership is to have a successor that succeeded. It is still public debate if Obasanjo passed this test.

In no clime except Nigeria will he still be accorded the kind of reverence he currently enjoins. He was not a great leader and should never be the compass for morality or the standard for good governance. It is often said that he who comes to equity, must do so with clean hands. OBJ does not possess one. He is rash, he is vindictive, he is corrupt and a power chaser of unimaginable proportions. In more ways than one, he has lost his mystifying powers and that reality appears to hunt him these days. Make no mistake about it, he made some pocket strides while in power but he also hatched and betrothed to us this decadence called corruption and other evil seeds that have germinated to plague us today. Obasanjo was not a great leader in my book and it is suicidal to mention him in the same breathe as a Nelson Mandela or a Julius Nyerere. While posterity will read of him, I am not sure they will remember him for the right reasons.

Monday, February 16, 2015

6 Ways to Change Your Attitude When You Can’t Change Anything Else

1.Still your mind. – In order to gain conscious control of what goes on in your mind, you need to develop a keen awareness for this process. What helps is to hold still for a moment, take a deep breath and free your mind of all the chatter that’s going on inside and all around. This makes room for a change of state, for something new to enter. So give yourself a break. Don’t say you can’t. Yes, you have battles out in the world to fight, insecurities to overcome, loved ones to contend with and goals to achieve, but a break from it all is necessary. It’s perfectly healthy to pause and let the world spin without you for a while. If you don’t, you will burn yourself out. You must refill your bucket on a regular basis. That means catching your breath, finding quiet solitude, focusing your attention inward, and otherwise making time for recovery from the chaos of your routine.

2.Change your focus. – From the awareness of your thoughts and emotions you become able to consciously redirect your focus. It’s time to take it willingly away from something that drags you down, and zero it in on something that inspires you. Focus on the next logical, meaningful step. There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them. So keep your hope alive through positive awareness. Don’t let the pain make you desperate. Don’t let the negativity wear off on you. Don’t let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Spend your energy moving forward. Change your thoughts and you change your reality. Our thoughts are the makers of our moods, the inventors of our dreams, and the creators of our will. That’s why we must sort through them carefully, and choose to respond only to those that will help us build the life we want, and the outlook we want to hold as we’re living it.

3.Practice gratitude. – What you must realize is that you don’t really need more; you just need to appreciate what you have. It’s a beautiful and bittersweet way of thinking all at once. If you don’t have what you want now, you don’t have what you want, but you still have enough. Be thankful for what is, and also be thankful for what has not yet come to you. For that means there are still many possibilities available. Find peace in the thought that you can’t ever have it all or know it all either. You are always just a fraction of the whole. For if you weren’t, there would be nothing more to experience. Value what you know, and also value the countless things you don’t yet understand. For in what you don’t understand, there is the joy of growth. Life will always be incomplete and a bit asymmetrical. Realize this and embrace it. Be happy and sad at the same time, be hungry and thankful at the same time, be nervous and excited at the same time, and be OK with it.

4.Reframe your struggles as growing pains. – Remind yourself that there’s scarcely any happiness, passion or success without struggle. If the road is easy, you’re likely going the wrong way. Everything that happens helps you grow, even if it’s hard to see right now. Circumstances will direct you, correct you, and perfect you over time. Sometimes these circumstances knock you down, hard. There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong. And you might feel like you will be stuck in this rut forever, but you won’t. When you feel like quitting, remember that sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right. Sometimes you have to go through the worst, to arrive at your best. Because our most significant opportunities are often found in times of great difficulty. Thus, you will face your greatest opposition when you are closest to your biggest miracle.

5.Look for the beginning in every ending. – Everything in life has to come to an end sometime. It’s important to acknowledge and accept the end of an era – to walk away sensibly when something has reached its conclusion. Closing the door, turning the page, moving on, etc. It doesn’t matter what you call it; what matters is that you leave the past where it belongs so you can enjoy the life that’s still available to be lived. This ending is not THE END, it’s just your life beginning again in a new way. It’s a point in your story where one chapter fades into the next. Take a look at the first page of this new chapter; it’s a beautiful one.

6.When all else fails, use your body. – The mind reflects your body by responding to its levels of tension, rate of breath, speed of movement and mental focus. Likewise your body mirrors your thoughts, feelings, mood, and responds to your state of mind, the questions you ask and the words you speak. So if the mind and body are intrinsically connected – meaning that one has a direct affect on the other – it becomes clear that if we directly and consciously take control of one, it will influence and transform the other. So by mindfully adjusting how you use your body you can directly influence your state of mind, and dramatically transform your attitude. Just imagine you’re sitting there in a bad mood, shoulders hanging forward, shallow breathing and frowning. Go ahead and do this right now to experience how it influences your state of mind. And then do the opposite: stand up straight and put a big smile on your face. Take some deep, strong breaths and stretch your arms into the air. Notice how you feel better? Bottom line: Take the vehicle your creator has given you and use it! Your body is the best tool for changing your attitude in an instant.


Monday, February 9, 2015

6 Things You Should Insist On No Matter What People Say

1.Insist on making your life your own. – Most of us are not raised to actively seek our calling. We may not even know that we have one. As kids, we are seldom told we have a place in life that is uniquely ours alone. Instead, we are encouraged to believe that our life should somehow fulfill the expectations of others – that we should find our happiness exactly as they have found theirs. Rather than being taught to ask ourselves who we are, we are trained to ask others for permission. We are, in effect, schooled to live other people’s versions of our lives. Every day is designed and developed as told to us by someone else! And then one day when we break free to survey our dreams, seeking to fulfill ourselves, we see that most of our dreams have gone unfulfilled because we believed, and those around us believed, that what we wanted for ourselves was somehow beyond our reach. It’s time to unlearn these lies and make changes. It takes courage to grow wiser and become who you really are. And today is the first day of the rest of your life.

2.Insist on subtracting what doesn’t belong in your life. – There’s so much you can let go of in life without losing a thing. It’s called growth. Letting go of the old makes way for the new. Letting go of what isn’t working makes way for what will. When the pain of holding on is worse than the pain of letting go, it’s time to let go and grow. In other words, start subtracting… the habits, routines and circumstances that are holding you back. You cannot discover new oceans unless you build up enough courage to lose sight of the old, familiar shoreline. Be brave. Follow your values. Make changes. Dare to be different. And don’t be afraid to like it.

3.Insist on making passion a priority. – Purpose is the reason you journey. Passion is the fire that lights your way. Without passion, it’s impossible to progress. The heart of human excellence begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning. Some resist this fact and think passion is just fluff. Well that’s nonsense! Honestly, the saddest people I’ve ever met in life are the ones who don’t have a deep passion about anything at all. Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand, and without them, any happiness is only temporary, because there’s nothing meaningful behind it to make it last. So remember, if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it. Only passions – great passions – can elevate the soul to great heights. If there was ever a moment to follow your heart and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.

4.Insist on working hard for what you want most. – Sometimes you’ve got to create what you want to be a part of from the ground up – you’ve got to work harder than ever before to get more than you ever dreamed of. Be a dreamer. Be a doer. Know what is truly important to you and why. Then act on it with all your might. Dreams don’t just magically become realities; it takes a lot of determination, sweat, and hard work. And remember, tough circumstances don’t last; tough people do. Most obstacles melt away when we make up our minds to march boldly through them. If you have a strong commitment to your goals and dreams, and wake up every morning with a burning passion to work toward them, anything is possible. So dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams a working reality.

5.Insist on saying what you need to say. – Dr. Seuss once said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” There’s a lot of truth in that statement. Be cordial and reasonable, of course, but don’t tread carefully on every word you say. Push your concerns of what others might think aside and say what you need to say. Let the consequences of doing so unravel naturally. What you’ll find is that most of the time no one will be offended or irritated at all. And if they do get upset, it’s likely only because you’ve brought something important to their attention that forces them to think differently. Bottom line: When you don’t speak up, there’s a lot of important stuff that never gets said. And in the end, there’s no greater sadness than holding on to the words you never had the courage to speak.

6.Insist on leaving other people’s judgmental opinions alone. – When I first started writing on this blog, I’d agonize over whether people would think what I was writing was good enough. I desperately hoped they’d like it, and oftentimes I’d catch myself imagining they didn’t. Then one day I realized how much energy I was wasting worrying about it. So I’ve gradually learned to relax with simply not knowing. Some problems in life, such as not knowing what others think of you, are not really meant to be resolved. How people perceive you may have more to do with them than you anyway. They may even like or dislike you simply because you’ve triggered an association in their minds by reminding them of someone they liked or disliked from their past, which has absolutely nothing to do with you. So here’s a new mantra for you – say it, and then say it again: “This is my life, my choices, my mistakes and my lessons. As long as I’m not hurting people, I need not worry what they think of me.”


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Thoughts On My Birthday!

Awkward as it appears, Happy Birthday to me!
It’s amazing how 365 days have elapsed like a flash. I vividly remember the day, the position of the sun, the attire of the sky and the smile in the voice of my mentor when he called to wish me a splendid birthday celebration. However, time truly flies and I look back to the past 52 weeks with a heart of sheer gratitude and a mind sharpened by time.

The one big lesson I have learnt over the past one year is the power of moving on. In life, we will all make mistakes and you can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could've, would've happened and should’ve been. However, what’s done is done.

It is often said that many years from today you are more likely to regret the actions you didn’t take, than the actions you did. This has been one of my biggest mantra in life. In this thing called life, things will happen and you will not always get it right. You will make decisions that won’t go right, you will make utterances that will get you in trouble, your inactions will cost you some things and people will stun you by their actions. However, you have to dust yourself, pick the lessons up and move on. It is important that we forgive ourselves for making mistakes. We need to learn from our errors and move on. We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here now with the power to shape your day and your future.

I have learnt that things will not always be perfect and happen the way we envisage. It is important to make room for such occurrences. I have come to the conclusion that we have to let go of the life that we have planned in our head and live it one day at a time, believing that God has it best figured out for us. The truth is unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize the situation was over, you cannot move forward. As Jennifer Varnadore once said, ‘When the world is at your back and the heart is at your feet, the best way to go on is just be.’

This has been my biggest takeaway from the past year. Penultimately, I am eternally grateful to all that has made it a worthwhile journey.

Thank you!