Sunday, February 26, 2017

10 Little Things to Remember When Life No Longer Excites You

1. A big part of your life is a result of the choices you make. And if you don’t like your life – if it completely lacks excitement and passion – it’s time to start making changes and better choices.

2. Life is to be enjoyed, not endured. You CAN follow a path that moves you. You are always free to do something small and positive that makes you happy.

3. There is good reason why you should wake each morning and mindfully consider what and who you will give your day to. Because unlike other things in life – money, entertainment, obligations, etc. – time is the one thing you can never get back once it’s gone.

4. It’s not what you say, but how you spend your time. If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.

5. Your passion is an inherent part of you. Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about. Nothing you have that much passion for is ever a waste of time, no matter how it turns out in the long run.

6. When you focus your heart and mind upon a meaningful purpose, and commit yourself to fulfill that purpose a little bit every day, positive energy gradually floods into your life.

7. We have to stop telling ourselves that other people are our reason for being unhappy, unfulfilled, etc. They aren’t in the long run.

8. The more we fill our lives with genuine passion and purpose the less time and energy we’ll waste looking for approval and admiration from everyone else.

9. Your body may eventually grow tired, you may lie awake some nights listening to your past regrets, you may miss your only love, you may see the world around you overcome by negativity, or know your respect has been trampled on by unfriendly faces. There is only one thing for healing that works every time – to rediscover what excites you and then dive deeper into it. That’s the only positive effort that a battered mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or doubt, and never dream of regretting.

10. Just one small step today. That’s all. True purpose has no time limit. True passion has no deadline. Don’t stress and overwhelm yourself. Just do what you can right now – just the next smallest step on a meaningful path.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Charade That Is Our Judiciary

From the Farouk Lawal / Otedola saga to the Andrew Yakubu embezzlement, the narrative has followed the same pattern. A media hue and cry followed by a citizenry social media trial that pitters away as soon as the next headline comes along. It is common knowledge that corruption remains the bane of our society but what is startling is the magnitude and scale that surfaces each time. Ours is a society where the GMD of NNPC can be said to be the Lord of the Manor in a Feudal state with his influence, far reaching. While curbing the corruption culture in public service is one part of the dilemma, the biggest malady is plugging the loopholes in our system that allows for one man to gleefully and easily divert almost 10 million dollars in cash to his pocket.

In the past 10 years, there have been a litany of top profile corrupt and fraudulent cases. The Ibori example is an apt reminder that there is no hold bar for our politicians in the embezzlement quest. Ibori’s corruption escapades is well chronicled but each time the figures are rehashed it breaks the heart. This was a man that admitted to looting over 40 billion naira during his 8 years stay as governor of Delta state (1999 – 2007). However, the biggest losers of this case were the people. James Ibori had a Rockstar welcome in Oghara– a man returning from jail for stealing from his people! The drums were agog and the red carpet rolled out for their illustrious son. Afterall, their son was not the only one to travel that path. Call it dementia or collective amnesia, this is the story of ‘we the people.’

In all of these, one has to be sympathetic to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The criticism of a selective war has been levelled on the anti-graft agency; yet, no one can deny that they have done an excellent job of unearthing the country’s fortune illegally acquired by those that should serve us. What is done with these monies are not the business of the EFCC. Theirs is to recover and pass across to the right channel. While the EFCC cannot be entirely absolved of blame in some of their tactics in the war against corruption, the body should be encouraged by all and sundry. For God’s sake it takes some balls to go after some of the names the body have chased and hunted down.

The stories of the Andrew Yakubus, Sambo Dasukis, Diezani Allison Maduekes, Obanikoros, Murtala Nyakos and their many colleagues are prevailing tales of where our Judiciary has proven to be handicapped in role modelling its independence, serve justice as appropriate, and more importantly send a message to all. The shenanigans of our laws and how we have perfected the art of stalling judicial trials of high profile corruption cases is almost standing logic on its head and making a mockery of the corruption crusade. Whether the delays are playing to a script or are default encumbrances inflicted by our judicial process, it must be flushed away.

When all is said and done, what will success look like in the fight against corruption? It is building structures that makes corrupt acts difficult, instilling a culture of discipline and contentment, making scape goats of culprits and government role modelling prudency and cost discipline. It goes without saying that the fight against corruption has been the major pass mark in President Buhari’s scorecard, yet it is not a glowing distinction at the moment.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

20 Things that Will Matter a Lot Less to You in 20 Years

1. The inevitable frustrations of an average day. – 99.9% of what’s stressing you out today won’t matter a month from now. Sooner or later you will know this for certain. So just do your best to let go of the nonsense, stay positive, and move forward with your life.

2. The little failures you often feel self-conscious about. – When you set goals and take calculated risks in life, you eventually learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important in the long run.

3. How “perfect” everything could be, or should be. – Understanding the difference between reasonable striving and perfectionism is critical to letting go of fantasies and picking up your life. Perfectionism not only causes you unnecessary stress and anxiety from the superficial need to always “get it right,” it actually prevents you from getting anything worthwhile done at all.

4. Having complete confidence before taking the first step. – Confidence is that inner inertia that propels us to bypass our empty fears and self-doubts. On the road of life, we come to realize that we rarely have confidence when we begin anew, but as we move forward and tap into our inner and outer resources, our confidence gradually builds. A common mistake many young people make is wanting to feel confident before they start something, whether it’s a new job, a new relationship, living in a new city, etc. But it doesn’t happen like that. You have to step out of your comfort zone, and risk your pride, to earn the reward of finding your confidence.

5. The intricacies of what’s in it for you. – Time teaches us that we keep nothing in this life until we first give it away. This is true of knowledge, forgiveness, service, love, tolerance, acceptance, and so forth. You have to give to receive. Such a simple point, and yet it’s so easy to forget that the giving of ourselves, without a price tag, has to come FIRST! It’s the giving that opens us up to grace.

7. Being an online-only activist for good causes. – Online is fine, but sooner or later you realize that if you truly want to make a difference you have to walk the talk too. So don’t just rant online for a better world. Love your family. Be a good neighbor. Practice kindness. Build bridges. Embody what you preach.

6. The pressures of making a big difference all at once. – When we’re young it seems like faster is better, but in time we witness the power of ‘slow and steady’ at work. We come to learn that no act of love, kindness or generosity, no matter how small, is ever wasted. The fact that you can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, is proof that YOU can make a big difference in life and business, even it can’t be done all at once.

8. The temptation of quick fixes. – The older your eyes grow, the more clearly they can see through the smoke and mirrors of every quick fix. Anything worth achieving takes dedicated daily effort. Period! Honestly, I used to believe that making wishes and saying prayers alone changed things, but now I know that wishes and prayers change us, and WE change things. All details aside, when it comes to making a substantial change in your life – building a business, earning a degree, fostering a new relationship, starting a family, becoming more mindful, or any other personal journey that takes time and commitment – one thing you have to ask yourself is, “Am I willing to spend a little time every day like many people won’t, so I can spend the better part of my life like many people can’t?” Think about that for a moment. We ultimately become what we repeatedly do. The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing – growing happens when what you know changes how you live on a daily basis.

9. Having a calendar jam-packed with exciting, elaborate plans. – Don’t jam your life with plans. Leave space. Over time you will learn that many great things happen unplanned, and some big regrets happen by not reaching exactly what was planned. So keep your life ordered and your schedule under-booked. Create a foundation with a soft place to land, a wide margin of error, and room to think and breathe every step of the way.

10. Being in constant control of everything. – The older we get the more we realize how little we actually control. And there’s no good reason to hold yourself down with things you can’t control. Learn to trust the journey, even when you do not understand it. Oftentimes what you never wanted or expected turns out to be what you need.

11. Blaming others. – Have you ever met a happy person who regularly evades responsibility, blames and points fingers and makes excuses for their unsatisfying life? Me either. Happy people accept responsibility for how their lives unfold. They believe their own happiness is a byproduct of their own thinking, beliefs, attitudes, character and behavior. And although it takes time to fully grasp this, it’s a lesson worth learning.

12. Winning everyone’s approval. – It’s the strength of your conviction that determines your level of personal success in the long run, not the number of people who agree with every little thing you do. Ultimately, you will know that you’ve made the right decisions and followed the proper path when there is genuine peace in your heart.

13. The idea of saving certain (overly dramatic) people from themselves. – Honestly, you can’t save some people from themselves, so don’t get sucked too deep into their drama. Those who make perpetual chaos of their lives won’t appreciate you interfering with the commotion they’ve created, anyway. They want your “poor baby” sympathy, but they don’t want to change. They don’t want their lives fixed by you. They don’t want their problems solved, their emotional addictions and distractions taken away, their stories resolved, or their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left? They don’t know and they aren’t ready to know yet. And it’s not your job to tell them.

14. The selfish and disparaging things others say and do. – If you take everything personally, you will inevitably be offended for the rest of your life. And that just isn’t worth it! At some point it becomes crystal clear that the way people treat you is their problem, and how you react is yours. Start taking full advantage of the amazing freedom that comes to you when you detach from other people’s antics.

15. Winning arguments. – Not much is worth fighting about for long. And if you can avoid it, don’t fight at all. It really doesn’t matter that much. Don’t define your intelligence or self-worth by the number of arguments you have won, but by the number of times you have silently told yourself, “This nonsense is just not worth it!”

16. Judging others for their shortcomings. – We all have days when we’re not our best. And the older we grow, the more we realize how important it is to give others the break we hope the world will give us on our own bad days. Truly, you never know what someone has been through in their life, or what they’re going through today. Just be kind, generous and respectful… and then be on your way.

17. Society’s obsession with outer beauty. – As you grow older, what you look like on the outside becomes less and less of an issue, and who you are on the inside becomes the primary point of interest. You eventually realize that beauty has almost nothing to do with looks – it’s who you are as a person, how you make others feel about themselves, and most importantly, how you feel about yourself.

18. Fancy and expensive physical possessions. – Later in life, your personal wish list for ‘big ticket’ physical possessions tends to get smaller and smaller, because the things you really want and need are the little things that can’t be bought.

19. All the shallow relationships that just make you feel more popular. – It’s nice to have acquaintances. Be friendly. Just don’t get carried away and spread yourself too thin. Leave plenty of time for those who matter most. Your time is extremely limited, and sooner or later you just want to be around the few people who make you smile for all the right reasons.

20. Distant future possibilities. – As time passes, you naturally have more of it behind you and less of it in front of you. The distant future, then, gradually has less value to you personally. But that doesn’t really matter, because the good life always begins right now, when you stop waiting for a better one. Some people wait all day for 5pm, all week for Friday, all year for the holidays, all their lives for happiness. Don’t be one of them. Don’t wait until your life is almost over to realize how good it has been. The secret to happiness and peace is letting this moment be what it is, instead of what you think it should be, and then making the very best of it.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

2face, Protests and The Urgency of Now!

It was the famous Elie Wiesel who once said that “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Nearly two years into the change deal, Nigerians carry the look of a people that have been sold a dummy. The anguish in the country is palpable, the anger, infectious; the frustration, nauseating; and the impoverishment, viral like wild fire. The litany of issues currently confronting us will make for a difficult sermon but perhaps, most predominant for the man on the street is the strain that is currently been put on him and his ability to provide his daily bread.

It was mixed reactions by Nigerians when popular artist, 2face Idibia announced the cancellation of the planned protest, of which he was the brainchild. Though 2face was able to explain himself and why the purported rally was shelved, the general consensus was that he bowed to sheer pressure from powerful quarters. A part of me is excited that 2face pulled the plug on the rally, largely because I fear that a good number of Nigerians were going to join the protest for the wrong reasons. If popular vibes on social media were anything to go by, then the relish ahead of the hitherto protest reeks of misplaced interests. In the minds of many, it was a chance to see 2face live on the streets, take selfies destined for Instagram with him, and possibly see him perform live without a fee. I also worry that while it is fine for him to galvanize the movement, it should never be about him. If it is indeed true that many people have bought into the raison d'ĂȘtre of the movement, then it should go ahead with or without 2face.

Indeed, one has to give 2face Idibia the benefit of the doubt in his decision to cancel the planned protest. He might have borrowed from Goodluck Jonathan’s book when he declared that the protest was not worth anyone’s life but he had a point. The rally was beginning to take a different colouration. Yet, there is a sad feeling that this was a missed opportunity. From Brexit to Trumpism, there is a populist wave blowing across the world and the case for the ‘little guy’ is starting to mean something. One wonders if 2face has not blown away a needed spark to a movement that could lead to somewhere bright for our nation. It is in days like these that the departures of the likes of Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Bob Marley stings the most. These were artists who understood that their musical stardom came from the streets, and that leaves them with a moral burden to fight for the same streets. There is also a sad narrative to the botched protest which was hinged around the assumption that the protest was sponsored by some political big wigs in the opposition. It defies believe how almost every discussion in Nigeria dovetails into politics. Why must it almost be about politics? If indeed 2face was being sponsored, so what? The real question in a saner country should be: Are the issues he raised true or not?

Having said that, one wonders if we needed a 2face Idibia to remind us that our national plight requires some speaking up. The docility of the average Nigerian borders on suicidal. The lip service and gross apathy boggles the mind. The cacophony of complains usually stays in the confines of beer parlours, commercial buses and Iya Sikira’s restaurant. At best, there are few rants on social media which most times ends with a tribal, religious or political fisticuffs, depending on your allegiance. It is almost a broken record to say that we are first Nigerians before we are anything else but that is the truth. The rich will be deluded to think that the perennial sufferings of the poor are not his headache. It is often said that when the poor are pushed to the wall with nothing to eat, they will eat the rich. The point is that there is the urgency of now that cannot be ignored. It goes beyond passing a verdict on the Buhari led administration. Nigerians are simply tired of its leadership (past and present) and the bastardized political structure that churns out such leaders. Nigerians are tired of failed promises, startling impunity, incompetence at all levels and fluffy ideas. Most importantly, Nigerians are hungry with palpable anger in their eyes.