Trae’s guide to surviving detention in Nigeria

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So you’ve heard and read it all: the execution of Troy Davies in Georgia USA, The release by Iran of the US spies/hikers and the arrest of the British-Ghanaian banker Kweku Adoboli plus tons others. In all the common denominator I’m interested in at the moment is detention as a result of an alleged crime. What are some of the tips you’re better off knowing as a Nigerian male who’s expected to be a man in all situations, and if by chance you find yourself locked down how do you cope.

1) The first rule of being a Master Mind is to not get caught, yes as incompetent as the Nigerian security agencies are you still need to cover your tracks. The odds are stacked against you though cos in most cases somehow somehow fowl nyash dey open, but the smart will know how to lay low after a hit with making it in the long run in mind. But truth be told despite the thrill of a misdemeanor, and in a lot of cases trying to prove a point because you’re aggrieved ultimately there’s nothing as good as having peace of mind. The benefits of going legit cannot be overstated; your people need you and you can’t afford to let them down. Like Osaze, Enyeama and MySpace.com you're not indispensable and people tend to forget you when you go down. But form is temporal and class is permanent; try to be spotless and excel in your own field so that when your name is mentioned people remember you for the positive effect you had on their life.

2) For the most part infrastructure wise Nigeria can be a very horrible place. Thus if you find yourself in police detention be prepared for the worst. The EFCC net though is notches up that ladder possible because of the higher standing of the institute and inmates thus in many more ways its sanity friendly and assault and homosexuality free. Both ways though when the desirable is not available the available becomes desirable. Little things like pillows, bed space near exits become coveted and your animal survival instincts will come to play but your ability to be amiable will keep you in the good books of all. Detention will take away your freedom, you’ll dream not of driving a good car but of just being able to take a walk in the park. And not going anywhere fast you’ll think your whole life like reading the Bible start to finish many times over. Fear not though because whatever comes to a man is equal to a man. Stick with the happy crowd, there'll be lots of laughs to share and try to engage yourself productively. Stay healthy and body build when possible; also learn as many skills as you’ll be exposed to that’ll raise your value in the job market when you’re out. Personally I advise against getting your mind twisted with the Bible or religious stuff as it only serves to give you hope of a lazy kind with lots of man hours waste in tow. It’s like getting addicted to gambling instead of seeing how you can go one step better than chance/luck to seize control of your universe. In all try to keep a positive mind; worthy of note: The Shawshank Redemption.

3) Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan. This idiom will come to play in your detention experience. I’ve seen a lot in my lifetime that I can authoritatively tell you that very few will be willing and able to sacrifice time and money to help you when you’re down. Some will sympathize from afar but for most life just goes on. Your 100% bet of people that’ll come get you out or run around to meet your bail conditions is your family, possibly because blood is thicker than water and people feel naturally drawn to help their own. Other than that this is when you’ll know your true/real friends. Forget about how much of the guy or popular you think you are now, detention and down times reveal the big picture. You’ll do well to reanalyze and balance out your relationships now knowing where the people in your life stand so as to avoid a shock therapy in future. On a lighter scale “thank God you’re not an Americans”, in the West its stuff like this that renders people homeless but you’re Nigerian and should make sure you have a healthy support system by your good deeds now that you’re on top.

4) Finally a note for government and anyone entrusted with leadership position over others. People just want to work and be happy (gainful employment), make an honest living and be able to splurge once in a while. Not worrying about where the next meal will come from and where to lay their head at night. To dissuade people from committing crime you’ve got to work your social security system, create jobs, pay a living wage and make available the necessary infrastructure. Humanity starts with you and me and realizing in our every action that we’re all brothers and everyone has the right to live and not just exist. It’s either that or the words of Tupac Amaru Shakur will forever reign true: “I ain’t guilty cos even though I sell rocks/it feels good putting money in your mail box/”.

Jega’s INEC goof and why I am voting Ibrahim Shekarau for President in2011

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Anyone who’s been following my Facebook rants knows I am totally appalled by INEC chairman Professor Attahiru Jega recent goofs that led to the double postponements /rescheduling of the national Assembly elections. Strongly sharing the sentiments of Rhythm 93.7 Jos election day studio guest (his name slips my mind) it is a crying shame that after 4 years of preparations we’re nowhere better than we were the last time general elections were conducted. Same old story and excuses. What shocks me even more is seeing people give him the thumbs up despite this fiasco; that what he did was brave. It goes to show how low we’ve set our standards as a nation that we should celebrate mediocrity as if we don’t deserve better.

Proactiveness would have prevented all this. And taking a decision to postpone the elections the first time around is not rocket science; for Christ’s sake that’s the logical move going by the electoral act. Giving the position of things that afternoon anyone (even a 10 year old) in Jega’s shoes would have done the same thing. Sacking Jega now is not an option being that we’re at the peak of operations but if we must progress as a nation then we must be disciplined and strive for excellence. Encouraging people to do right and when they do right and duly applying penalties when things go wrong to ensure everyone steps up their game.

I’ll tell you a story; when I was in banking, to enable checks and balances we had a practice of rotating duties as to which pair of staff were the custodian of the branch keys weekly. It so happened that on one faithful day a staff on duty due to one reason or the other was late to work and forgot the branch keys at home. The consequence was that the branch missed clearing at CBN for that day. In the Nigerian context clearing is an activity mediated by the Central bank in which different banks come together to net off or settle their trades, transactions and interbank cheques. Such dealings often run into millions if not billions of Nairas and determines when customers get value for cheques deposited into their accounts. For such an error which adversely affected the bank in its intent to meet its service level agreement with its customers, the said staff was suspended without pay for one month as a disciplinary measure. Now think about what Jega did and the adverse effects it had financially, logistically and psychologically on the total mass of 150 million Nigerians and tell me why actions shouldn’t be taken against the INEC staff responsible for letting the nation down. Personally I’d like to see some months of working suspension without pay imposed as a deterrent against such behaviour ever again.

Let's say no to mediocrity in Naija; we deserve better! (Art wise this is not the most professional of jobs but you can get where I'm driving at right?)

My colleagues and followers of my rants on Facebook alike also know I am an ardent supporter of Governor Ibrahim Shekarau’s cause to be elected president this year. And so recently I was asked why I take such a stand and being one to stand on the path of reason I did so as follows.

1) He has the necessary political experience being a two term Governor of a state as important as Kano.

2) He is intelligent, cool, calm, collected and has the leadership charisma. He’s the kind of person you’ll be bold/proud to point out as your president. As was seen at the recent Presidential debates he was the only candidate that addressed the issues sensibly. Showing within those hours that he was a candidate with a clear thought mission, well informed of our national challenges and realistically having ideas on how to tackle them. Contrast this to Nuhu Ribadu who debated exuberantly like a school boy Student Union President, Buhari who had his head in the clouds or President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (JEG) who kept on riding his luck and failing to inspire confidence.

3) He is a fine gentleman devoid of ethnic and religious sentiments who in the past 8 years has been able to greatly ensure peace and stability in Kano as diverse as it is.

4) He is a sound policy maker, who does his homework well and consults extensively before swinging into action. Agreed there might have been a few contentious issues but all said and done Governor Ibrahim Shekarau’s is an honest, hardworking, modest and incorrupt leader who did a fair job in Kano State.
5) He is a humble man; you can’t but be enthralled if you read up on his rise to the post of Governor from being a mere civil servant. He also is very diplomatic, and few exist who can objectively speak badly of him.

6) Real recognizes real; no wonder Pat Utomi also endorses him.

7) Compared to the competition, he is the best choice. Buhari truncated democracy in the past and has no moral right to aspire to be President. Nuhu is simply not up to standard and inexperienced. Jonathan is not his own man and doesn’t have the mettle of a president.

Mobility restored; lessons learnt the hard way

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Tony Tetuila’s “hit my car” track from about 10 years back was just a song to me, not until it was dramatised in my life a little over eight months ago. Sadly the culprit wasn’t anyone at all in the mould of Tinubu which would have got me prostrating in hope of better things to come. The culprit wasn’t even on Eedris levels, in which case the fear of shame and face saving would have settled everything. The culprit was like me a bloody commoner and frustrating as the whole experience was, mobility was finally restored with me learning my lessons the hard way.

June 12th was the day. Much like it symbolizes for us in our national consciousness: good turned bad, turned good again; it was for me sort of like the gift and the curse. Some stuff I was pursuing finally materialised on that day but sadly my car was also involved in a crash. The reason being that out of trust built up over some months I had turned a blind eye to the fact that my repaired car would stay overnight in my mechanic’s care. And as fate would have it the worst happened, the car got hit pretty badly and my mechanic sustained injuries, though not too severe. All this left me as confused as Nigerians after The Eagles’ one nil loss to Argentina; hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

What follows are some of the lessons learnt in my eight month ordeal. These are all purely from the Nigerian experience, though first time car owners wherever might still be able to learn a thing or two.

The chief of this is that there’s no substitute for family. Like Baz Luhrmann implied in “everybody's free to wear sunscreen” they’re the ones that will always have your back. My father was immense in this regard. Demoralized, confused and low on cash my Dad encouraged me greatly and we decided against the use of force/courts because face it all lawyers and the police are really interested in Naija style is money. Funds were sourced for the repair to commence, which all in all cost about one third the original purchase price of the car. The agreement reached with my mechanic being he’d take responsibility and pay back in instalments till the refund was achieved.

Naturally the repair was in trusted in the hands of mechanic and his associates. The procedure being body work (panel beating), engineering (mechanical) and then electricals. The basics being done I had to take the car to a different workshop where it’ll be worked on with much more seriousness to take care of the finishing. Because as expected my mechanic just wanted to do the bare minimal and get the load off his chest once and for all. Ideally with money and man power on call this repair could be concluded in a month, but realistically it’s worth noting that after an accident and repairs Naija style the car will never be the same. Like they say there might be forgiveness but the scars will always remain.

A major tip when dealing with car matters is that no matter how busy you are it really helps if you can monitor your mechanic when carrying out repairs. That way you learn more about your car, you protect yourself from the fallouts of a shoddy job and you decrease the turnaround time. Significantly too you potentially cut the cost of repairs down by at least 30% as you get to join in the bargaining (pricing) of spare parts. Note: people will always try to game you if you allow them! Following through on this when it comes to registering or renewing your car particulars it’s best to ditch the Nigerian mentality of always aiming to cut corners. The official way is actually stress free and more economical!

Another tip is that modus operandi wise mechanics like doctors deal with difficult problems by using the same method of diagnosing via a process of elimination. The downside is that this can be costly and futile if the mechanic is inexperienced. You need to watch out for the countenance of a mechanic when at work. A bad workman quarrels with his tools and frowns a lot. A good craftsman on the other hand knows with much greater certainty what needs to be done and does so. Thus as a rule of thumb much older mechanics with years of experience are often better.

Lastly with all certainty I’ve come to realise that mobility is a necessity not an extravagance; it greatly enhances efficiency. The loss of mobility for me was tough to adjust to and bear and it adversely affected my self-esteem. Shout outs to all the commercial riders/drivers. Drive safe people; you might want to interpret this as drive slow and not by faith (hitting on 140 km/hr when you can’t be certain of the condition of the road a kilometre away) to avoid “speaking grammar”, throwing money down the drain and Inconveniencing yourself.

August 3rd 2009. My car when it just came through, courtesy the happy people of Intercontinental Bank and the good people of Mubi, Adamawa State.

June 20th 2010. Some days after the gift and the curse.

November 3rd 2010. Surgery commences.

December 14th 2010. Surgery in progress.

January 12th 2011. Surgery near completion.

Why can’t we all just fucking get along?

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Like many others I’m been a Lil Wayne fan; in my case since first hearing him many years back on “young n blues”. So while I had my playlist on shuffle/random some days back his “Mrs. Officer” song came up. Instantly being reminded of how much I love the track I subsequently chopped and screwed it for my cell phone ring tone. Banging out a 30 seconds piece predominantly featuring the “Rodney King baby, yeah i beat it like a Cop” line I particularly like. Being who I am, some research minutes later I was schooled on the “why can’t we all get along” line that had been hibernating in my mind for years now.

And so I ask why can’t my people in Jos fucking get along?! Why the insanity with the weekly vicious cycle of killings, burnings and assault? Mere mortals we all are, our skin colour is all the same so why allow our ethnic differences to divide us? More ridiculously why act on hate in the name of religion when most of us are only but Sunday Sunday/Friday Friday worshippers? Why allow religion to fuck with our minds to the extent we can’t think logically anymore?



Being in an election period and so extending this to our politicians why can’t they just fucking carry us along and stop being so self-centered? GamineGirlie wrote an article weeks back about how she thinks the energy expounded by concerned Nigerians primarily via social media networks on the need to take the voters registration dead serious is misplaced. Her argument is that everybody’s talking about voting but nobody’s talking about making sure we have credible candidates to vote in the first place. And she does have a point; made all the more obvious by politicians like Kwara state Governor Bukola Saraki.

The idea that Nigerian politics is devoid of ideals and is basically a “I chop you chop” system is demonstrated so vivaciously and most recently by his (Bukola Saraki) actions. Here was a man that only months ago appeared visionary and wanted to best the works of GEJ (Goodluck Ebele Jonathan) as President come May 2011. All of a sudden after changes in the power games of his party the PDP at national level and at the state level he’s swiftly humbled his ambition so much so that overnight he declared for, poached, contested and won a senatorial seat nomination. That my friend is a man who doesn’t give a fuck about your welfare but is merely seeking to maintain a steady flow of income for himself. Like the chameleon he’ll change his spots as many times as he has to; survival is after all the name of the game.

You want more examples to buttress the point? Gladly; Abubakar Olusola Saraki, who assumes he’s some sort of indispensable figure in Kwara state to the extent that all governors must breathe through him. His idea of kwara state progressing is having all leadership within his blood line. Another popular example is the God father of Amala politics the Late Lamidi Adedibu who believed the job of efficiently running a state was only possible after all parties had partaken in a meal of hot amala served from his kitchen funded solely from the state's allocation. Other example include but are not restricted to Governor/Senator (either or both titles would do) George Akume, Ahmad Sani Yerima, Ahmed Makarfi and Chimaroke Nnamani. Nigeria we hail thee!

Album review: “beautiful imperfection” by Asa

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On December 30th I updated my Facebook profile thus: “A tale of two over hyped sophomores: Asa’s “beautiful imperfection” and M.I.’s “MI2”. Just bought the former/proceeding to play for what should be an uncountable number/… (Of times)”. Sadly it wasn’t to be.

Asa returns three years after an outstanding debut with an album that in my opinion has very few real beauties and by her standard a lot of imperfections. As they say repeating a great feat is never easy.

Some of the changes responsible for this include the production. On her debut “asha”, her chemistry with her erstwhile producer Cobhams Asuquo was orgasmic. Till this day “Jailer”, "360", "Bibanke", "Subway", "Fire on the Mountain" and "No One Knows" are still on heavy rotation on my playlist. Benjamin Constant stepping up to be sole producer on this LP just didn’t do it for me.

I kind of get the feeling her artistic direction and style was directed at being more western mainstream like; exemplified by the lead single “be my man”. There’s also a slight rock feel to some of the songs. Well when a foreign label takes on a Nigerian act for this length of time I guess it’s sooner or later expected.

Despite making a string of guest appearances on other Nigerian artist songs in the past few years she kept to her no guest appearances/features stance on BI (beautiful imperfection), to belt out in over 40 minutes the kind of album a lot of people might not be big on but will still go ahead and play in the office to kill the dead of silence and appear like some mature minded music listener.

The songs not being overtly Naija themed like in asha I like to feel this album lost the local touch or identity. Despite hardly understanding much of the Yoruba when it was used particularly in “bimpe” I still stand by this opinion. Perhaps one of the things that does really tickle my fancy in BI is the album sleeve art work. Simplistically really cool and for an admirer of natural hair wearing chicks I couldn’t but be impressed.

Favourite tracks:
You’ll have to listen to this album yourself to form your own opinions being that I’ve not made much of an effort to dissect the songs individually but an opinion I can make for you is that “may be” and “baby gone” are the absolute stand out tracks of BI. “May be” is melodiously socially conscious while “baby gone” is a heartfelt ballad about lost love.

Rating: My rating for the album on a scale of 5 is 2.5

Album Details

Original Release Date: October 25, 2010

Genres: Soul, jazz

Label: Naive

Production: Benjamin Constant

Track list:
1. Why Can’t We
2. Maybe
3. Be My Man
4. Preacher Man
5. Bimpé
6. The Way I Feel
7. OK OK
8. Dreamer Girl
9. Oré
10. Baby Gone
11. Broda Olé
12. Questions

Links: More info on the album available at http://www.asa-official.com/2010/10/beautifull-imperfection/