Jul 16, 2017

Kannywood is Ahead of Nollywood but…

A scene in Kannyhwood. Source:http://www.premiumtimesng.com 
Since the movie, Leaving in Bondage, the Nigerian movie industry has grown to become a global show, watched not only in Africa but also by the African diaspora. 

Initially, Nigerian movies were made largely in the south-east and feature actors from that region of the country. But the success of southeastern movies led to the development of the movie industry in the South-west and the North of the country as well. When the wood “Nollywood” is mentioned, it refers to movies made from the south-east of the country. This is because when the word was invented, the Northern and southwestern industries were at the level of conception. And when the northern movie industry started, stakeholders chose to name it Kannywood. This is because it started in Kano city in the North. In Nigeria, we refer to the industry in the South-west simply as Yoruba Movies. So, in Nigeria, when we mention the word “Nollywood” we know that we are talking about movies from the south-east of the country, in contrast to southwestern and northern counterparts. 

I haven’t been a fan of Nollywood. This is because, in my judgement, a larger percentage of the movies are highly unethical. They often concentrate on the storyline, refusing the heed the quality of the scenes. But even the storylines are often preposterous: the subjects are, most times, boring clich├ęs that do not reflect the diverse subjects of the real world. You also get the feeling that the directors are always in a rush to complete the movies, not minding how the rush dent the quality of the eventual movies.

Since the South of Nigeria is educationally more advanced than the north, we often assume that anything coming from the north will be of a poorer standard.  It is part of the reason why movies from Kannywood aren’t getting a fair amount of our attention. The second part of the reason is that you can’t watch them if you don’t understand Hausa. When, eventually, I started watching Kannywood movies, it was by chance, while I scroll through the movie channels of my Multi-Choice TV bouquet. Luckily for me, I understand Hausa, coming from a region of the country where Hausa is also spoken. I find Hausa movies very captivating because, even though the themes of the movies are largely romance, they naturally reflect a diversity of the subject, without the boredom that has become the seal of Nollywood movies. Plus, the storylines always seem real. 

Even though I find Hausa movies to be ahead of Nollywood Movies, they also have a few grey areas. Hausas are very fascinated by Indian culture. Sadly, the Indian culture reflects in Kannywood.  Each time the mimicry of Indian-styled singing and dancing begins to manifest in Hausa movies, I get turned off, feeling irritated. Recently, while watching a Hausa movie, I also realised that even background music that reflects the mood of a scene is sometimes a tune that one has heard in some Indian movies, with strong Indian flairs. I feel that Nigerian movies should reflect Nigerian cultures and traditions. When minority tribes are featured in the movies, they are portrayed as unserious and conservative people, a portrayal that is not true.

The art is a mirror to society. Hence our movies should reflect a true character of our society. 

Jul 8, 2017

Nigeria's Smokescreen Federalism Only Deepens Poverty

The Nigerian Flag. Source: self.
When Nigeria was granted independence from the British colonial administration in 1960, the new independent administration inherited a Unitary System of Government. In a Unitary System of Government, power is concentrated at the centre, with the smaller administrative units being weaker.

In 1979, however, the Nigerian government decided to discard the unitary system, opting for the Federal System of Government, in which the smaller tiers of governments are stronger, while the central government is weaker. The subunits, for instance, have the power to control resources within their geographic boundaries, sending small percentages of their revenues to the Federal government at the centre. Sadly, the Federal System, adopted by the Nigerian government was, and is still, on paper only. This is because, in practice, the Federal Government continues to control resources in the thirty-six states, giving out smaller percentages to them. If we were practising real Federalism, for instance, the states within the Niger Delta, from where the oil and gas come from, should have been responsible for developing the oil resources in their regions, contributing smaller portions of the revenues they make to the Federal Government. 

This political distortion is born out of the greed of persons who control the federal government. The sad reality is that even the subventions given out to the second and third tiers of government are done unfairly. There are smaller units that get huge, undeserved portions of the revenue and bigger units getting little, unfair shares of the revenue.

The result of this revenue imbalance is responsible for the agitations that have made the Niger Delta very restive. To calm the restiveness, the idea of derivation came. Derivation funds are percentages of oil revenues that must be given to the state in which the oil came. What is left of the revenue is then shared to all, including the states that have already benefitted from the derivation funds. So the oil-producing states get the regular subventions in addition to the derivation funds.  

The virtual federalism has ruined the country in two major ways. First, the agitations for the creation of states refuse to end. Everyone wishes his house was an administrative unit that should get oil revenue directly. The second harm is the fact that the smaller tiers of government do nothing rather than to simply wait for their shares of oil revenues? As a result, non-oil producing states that should have been creative in their desperation to generate revenues have remained lazy. Hence, the Nigerian economy has largely remained an oil-dependent economy.

Jun 30, 2017

Evans to get the Death Sentence

There is a strong possibility that the notorious, recently arrested Nigerian kidnapper, better known as Evans, may get the death sentence. This comes after the Nigerian Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, signed into law the Kidnapping Prohibition Bill, only after Evans had been arrested. The bill had been passed by the Lagos State House of Assembly in January of this year but was not signed by the governor until after the Evans’ arrest. 

The Kidnapping Prohibition Bill supports life imprisonment for kidnapping, but supports the death sentence, in situations where the victim dies in the hands of his kidnappers.

Following his arrest, Evans confessed that he had been an importer, but relocated to South Africa after his imported goods, worth twenty-five million Naira, were seized by the Nigerian Customs. In South Africa, he got involved in hard drug trafficking. He later returned to Nigeria to join kidnapping, accepting only U.S Dollars, British Pounds and Euros as ransom.

In a recent news publication in the Nigerian Vanguard of June 24th, a Divisional Police Officer in charge of a division of Lagos revealed that, when he saw pictures of Evans in the media, he recalled that his command had once arrested him in Lagos. It was sometime in 2006 and had to do with armed-robbery. Three banks, located in an international market in Lagos, were involved.  With that arrest, a policewoman, attached to the band unit of the Lagos Police College, requested Evans to be released, because he was related to her. When the command declined to grant her request, she travelled to a Nigerian southeastern state. The police command in that state subsequently sent a request for Evans to be handed over to it for being in its list of wanted criminals. Evans was handed over to it. The Lagos police command later learned that he had been released. 

It is a fact that, in the long period of Evans’ involvement with violent crimes, many Nigerians, including scores of police officers, had died. It is the reason why, legal pundits strongly believe that this time, Evans had finally met his Waterloo and wouldn’t escape the death sentence.

May 9, 2017

Congregation Attacks Own Pastor

Church House

A pastor of a branch of the Assemblies of God Church in Gura Riyom, Jos South, Reverend Abel Davou was, on Sunday May 7th, attacked by members of his congregation. His attack was the remote ramification of the leadership battle at the national level that had lingered for a couple of years. 

The legal wrangle had been between the General Church Council, led by General Superintendent, Chidi Okoroafor, and the suspended General Superintendent of the church, Reverend Professor Paul Emeka. It started when Emeka refused to accept his suspension as the General Superintendent. He, as a result, sued the General Council over his wrongful suspension. While the legal battle lasted, Reverend Davou’s church, with a population of about two hundred, remained firmly in support of the Emeka’s faction. Emeka won at the Federal High Court, but the Church Council appealed the ruling and subsequently won. Emeka, refusing to accept the ruling, proceeded to the Supreme Court but, again, lost on February 24th.  Even though there is the general feeling that Emeka’s loyalist knew they had lost the case, Reverend Davou said they weren’t aware of that,; their lawyers kept telling them that there was yet to be a ruling of the Supreme Court. 

The church order that followed the victory of the General Council of the Supreme Court, a copy of which was issued to commissioners of police in thirteen states, where the church has a presence, had directed that all those who supported Emeka’s faction should desist from using the churches until there is reconciliation at the bottom of the church hierarchy. This is because, from the ruling, the churches are properties of the General Council and not Emeka. But Reverend Davou was arrested and detained for five days, alongside other church leaders, for using the District Headquarters of the church for a meeting, despite the court order.  It was at that point that the Reverend saw, clearly, that he and his laity cannot continue to flout the court order, especially since even the Bible directs that Christians should respect the rule of law of nations.  As a result, it became necessary for Davou to tell his congregation the truth. But the congregation refused to accept his explanation, claiming that he was a traitor who had accepted a bribe from the Church Council, in order to switch his allegiance. As a result, his congregation, on Sunday 30th April, resolved that he shouldn’t be allowed to come into the church anymore. It was the reason why, the following Sunday, the police came to ensure there was no breakdown of law and order. The members gathered outside and worshipped, while police stayed to ensure no one opened the church. Since Reverend Davou could not be allowed to lead the worship, the service continued without him. Instead, younger boys he had trained, led the service while he stayed inside the pastor’s house, which stood facing the church. By the time the service ended, the police left. It was at that time that the crowd, which, by then had been infiltrated by hoodlums, started banging at the gate, urging the pastor to pack his belongings and leave. Women went into the kitchen and brought out utensils, claiming they belonged to the church and the pastor cannot use them. Boys hurled stones at glass windows, breaking them. When the pastor could not come out, others, with the aid of a ladder, climbed the roof top and started pulling out shingles.  At that point, we tried to take photos of the boys on the rooftop. That was when the angry youths turned against us, seizing the camera we were using to take the pictures.  We were saved by the intervention of a few God-fearing people.

The church members had claimed that, in addition to his “betrayal” of the church members, he “went after” married female members of the church and had, in the past, defrauded the church of its finances on several occasions.  At that point, the chaos had grown so dire that it was not possible to reach the pastor for his comments on the allegations. But another member later told News Tower that the allegations were made up to find enough excuses to hang the pastor.

Apr 25, 2017

Ngo Lyop Gloria Mang (1953 - 2017)

Ngo Lyop Gloria Mang. Source: Henry (son).

Mrs Lyop Gloria Mang, a mother, a wife, and an avid educationist, died on April 14th, 2017. She was killed by a therapy that was supposed to save her life. 

Mrs Mang was born in Rim, Riyom, Plateau State, on December 21st, 1953 to a family that helped in building the footings of the early missions. Her dad, a dispenser with the missions, worked in Vom and Ganawuri, from where she earned for herself the alias, Ngyuk. 

Late Mrs Mang went to the Local Education Primary School in Rim, between 1962 and 1967. At the time, education for the girl-child hardly went beyond primary school. But her head teacher, who saw her exceptionalism and feared it was likely going to get ruined by a tradition that ensured girls never went beyond primary school, intervened. He approached her father and suggested she should be allowed to continue beyond elementary.  A final decision was taken in her favour, after the father had conferred with his eldest sons, Toma and Yohanna. She was then enrolled into Girls High School Gindiri, in 1968, graduating in 1972. It was a family record; four female siblings ahead of her never went to secondary school. After secondary education, she moved on to Advanced Teacher’s College (ATC) Kano, getting married while she was a student. In 1978, she was enrolled into the Faculty of Education of the Ahmadu Bellow University (ABU) Zaria, graduating with a Second Class upper degree in Chemistry and Biology Education, in 1982. Her husband, Mr Mang, encouraged her to sustain her drive for higher education. It was the reason why she returned to school to acquire a Master’s Degree, between 1983 and 1986. In 2015, she obtained a PhD from the University of Jos, eventually dying as an Associate Professor.

Mrs Mang’s work life started in 1975, after her graduation from ATC Kano, when she became a teacher with St. Joseph College in Vom. In 1977, she left her job at St. Joseph College to take up another teaching job with the Plateau State Government. By 1979, she had become a Vice Principal at Government Secondary School (GSS) Laranto, eventually becoming a Principal at GSS Babale. She became the Vice Principal of Government Teachers’ College, Jos, between 1983 and 1986, when she was transferred to GSS Du. By the time she moved to Du, the school operated in an interim facility. Hence, she initiated and completed the development of the school’s permanent edifices. Du happened to be the village of Jonah Jang, who was the Governor of Gongola State, which eventually broke to become Adamawa and Taraba States, at the time. It is said that Jang gave out financial support towards ensuring the success of the project, after warning that she would go to jail, if he hears that any money he had donated had gone missing. This is despite him being a friend to her husband. It was the first time she personally met Jang. Between 1993 and 1995, she was appointed the Director of Planning at the Plateau State Women Affairs Commission, after which she returned to Educational Resource Centre of Ministry of Education. Having held such glamorous positions as a Director in the Women Affairs Commission, the Education Resource Centre turned out tepid.  She left, to become a lecturer at the University of Jos, in 1995. In 2011, she succeeded Sarah Ochepe as the Chairperson of State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB. 

Her passion for education led her to start her own school, the Glorious Hope School, with just one room and with four students, one of whom was her last child. That was in 1996. Due to the difficult financial situation, her children and husband served as assistants to the masons who built the initial phase of the permanent site of the school, with her joining when she returned from work. It became the reason why the family deliberately refused to change the rusty awnings of the school. They want it to remain as a sign of the modest past from which they came. Before her death, the school had grown to have day-care, primary, and secondary schools that boast of boarding facilities.

Mrs Mang lived her life roving carefully around institutions to avoid mainstream politics. Apart from becoming a Director of Planning in the Women Affairs Commission, she had nothing to do with women groups with a penchant for raw politics. By the time her husband became a clergy with the Anglican Church in 1996, she became active with the Women’s Guild and Mothers Union. She became a board member of the diocesan Anglican School in Ganawuri and for its primary school in Bukuru. For more than a decade, she sent financial support to missionaries working in the fields. It was in lieu of her absence in the field. 

When the People’s Democratic Party lost the 2015 election in Plateau state, becoming the opposition, Mrs Mang resigned her role at SUBEB, even when she had a year of her contract remaining. People gave this decision a lot of stereotypical interpretations. But her first son, Henry, explained that Governor Jang had given her a leeway to operate according to her beliefs, as long as it does not come against the established policy of public service. She was, however, not certain it was going to be the same with the incoming administration. To avoid becoming a square peg in a round hold, she took a decision to resign her role at SUBEB. Given that she had another year remaining, it took a lot of coaxing to get Governor Jang, whose last tenure was to end in twenty-four hours, to endorse the resignation letter on the 28th May, 2015. 

In April of 2016, while still working with SUBEB, Mrs Mang had a minor surgery to remove fibroid. But in the course of the surgery, it was discovered that she had a growing mass that eventually turned out to be cancer. The family had an option of taking her abroad or staying at home for the treatment. But she insisted that the treatment be done at home to save money for the continued development of Glorious Hope Schools, arguing that there was nothing she wanted to achieve that had eluded her. She underwent chemotherapy, every three weeks. The treatment seemed “successful” but the effects of chemotherapy were overwhelming on her. She eventually gave up on April 14th, 2017, after an astonishing life.

Feb 23, 2017

Xenophobia Again?

Protesting against xenophobic attacks. Source: Mail and Guardian

“It is crucial that South Africans should know that, as they talk about fellow black Africans taking their jobs, we have MTN and Multi-Choice trawling millions of dollars from nearly all these African countries on a daily basis. These millions of dollars are raked into the South Africa economy, for the benefit of the South Africans.”

When this current wave of killings started, I thought it was one of those inevitables, but the momentum gradually built and has refused to abate. 

So much has happened to make me respect South Africa. It’s the reason why I find it preposterous, the current wave of killings of fellow Africans down there. It’s called xenophobic killings, but it’s plainly hate that comes from a South African’s distorted understanding of how the world looks beyond the boundaries of their country. 

They say it is about jobs, but one is left wondering why only black Africans are targeted. Most of the Igbos targeted are traders who have worked hard to build their businesses. Like we often say here, “if you go to a village and you don’t find an Igbo-man, it means that foreigners are not tolerated in that village.” What that means is that Igbos are found everywhere under the sun: from Cape to Cairo and from Somalia to Gambia, from Greenwich to Greenwich and from the North Pole to the South Poles. Why are they not bullied for taking opportunities in those other nations? It gives reasons why the South Africans should check themselves. One thing I know is that should the Igbos leave those trading opportunities, the South Africans wouldn’t take them. Rather, they would be taken by other races, most probably Indians or the Chinese -these are races that you find trading everywhere around the world as well. If it was something our South African brothers can do, they would have been in it, competing with other races. When you consider that lootings are often associated with these attacks, you conclude that there is a hidden motive.

It is crucial that South Africans should know that, as they talk about fellow black Africans taking their jobs, we have MTN and Multi-Choice trawling millions of dollars from nearly all these African countries on a daily basis. These millions of dollars are raked into the South Africa economy, for the benefit of the South Africans.

South Africans would say, “South Africa is for South Africans. South African women are for South African men.” It is when I hear this that I know that there is something fundamentally wrong. I see no reason why I should be worried when a foreigner comes to Nigeria to marry a Nigerian woman that loves him. Here in Nigeria there is polygamy, yet millions of women live their lives without getting married. It is not because they don’t find anything attractive about matrimony. Rather, it’s because no man has come to say, “Would you marry me?”-they are more than numbers, more than sand on the seashores. In churches, there are special prayer-sessions for women who are bidding farewell to their good years without wedding proposals. 

Beautiful women are not exclusive to South Africa. Each time I watch the South African ABSA Premier League and the cameras focus to the stands, I see the beautiful ones, as well as the others (I wouldn’t want to call any woman ugly. It is said that beauty is in the eyes of a beholder. The ones we often classify as “ugly” are even the ones that get married easily.) So the beauty of a woman is actually in her ability to love her husband, care for the children and keep the house warm for the joy of everyone in it.

Again, this South African xenophobia has something to do with ignorance. Perhaps the South African authorities should consider educating its citizens on real colour of the world outside.

Nov 20, 2016

NIPSS is Still Focused -Dogari


Prior to 19th November, the kilometer-long stretch of road, from Vom Junction to the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, near Jos, Plateau State, became the focus of the men of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA). FERMA men went along the road, locating and healing its sores. It was how I came to know that a parsonage was visiting NIPSS. The only such persons are usually one of two most powerful men in the country: the President of Nigeria or his sidekick. For a very long time now, it has always been the later, and so it was on the 19th November. 

NIPSS was founded in 1979 to, among other things, help in designing policies that would help in mitigating some of the challenges of the nation and, even, the West African sub-region.

Over time, a question has developed in the minds of Nigerians. It is the question of whether or not the institute is effectively performing the role behind its creation. The question comes partly from the reality that a lot of public institutions in Nigeria, after years running, often become meager relics of their glowing pasts. Secondly, if people think that NIPPS is not fully living up to the logic behind its creation, it is partly due to the long absence of the President from the event; he has always been represented by the Vice President, unlike the situation in the first decade of NIPSS’s life. This is seen by many as a dent in the glamour of the institution. It is felt that if NIPSS has such a crucial role to play in the life of the nation, it should be the reason why the institute should be foremost in the schedule of the President.

So, I went to NIPSS with the hypothesis that, “NIPSS is not living up to the objective of its birth.” My host was the spokesperson of NIPSS, Mrs. Sekyen Dogari. Mrs. Dogari explained that NIPSS has not derailed, and it is fully living up to its mandate. Furthermore, she said, there was nothing wrong with the absence of the President, as long as he was represented by his deputy. She explained that it is necessary for people to understand that NIPSS is, after all, under the supervision of the office of the Vice President.  

Regarding the criteria for choosing participants, which has also come under strong suspicion of abuse, Dogari explained that even though NIPSS is not responsible for choosing participants for the training, she believes the process has never been abused. Her conviction stems from the water-tight screening process that likely participants undergo, prior to participation. Participants for the ten months’ course are rationed to public ministries, parastatals, and the private sector, and, since participants at NIPSS should not exceed a certain number within a year, the opportunity is usually rotated within its catchments to ensure their men and women are given a fair chance of participation. These participants must be of levels not lover than Directors, should have had a number of publications in reputable journals and should be at least forty years of age, among other hurdles. These names are sent to the office of the VP, which screens them to ensure they meet the participation criteria. Where a nominee is deemed unqualified, he is rejected and the agency involved is requested to forward another name. 

I asked Dogari if the impact of NIPSS is been felt in Nigeria. I was astonished to find out that NIPSS has influenced the decisions of the Federal Government of Nigeria, continuously, ever since its establishment.  Some of the policy proposals from NIPSS’s participants are awaiting passage in the National Assembly, while others have long been passed into laws and have become operational. Some of these policy suggestions that have affected the Nigerian state include: the defunct Directorate for Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructures (DFRRI), the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the Ministry for Women Affairs, and, most recently, the Niger Delta Amnesty program, among others.

If there are challenges at NIPSS, Dogari said, it is largely that of funding.  To take care of this, the office of the Vice President has suggested that NIPSS be creative. It is the reason the institute now has NIPSS Consult. NIPSS Consult, created in 2007, undertakes paid consultancy and short-term training on a spectrum of areas. Through this, it raises funds to prop up regular funding from Abuja.

Recently, people within and around NIPSS’s niche believe that it is high time the office of the Vice President looked into the age limit of course participants: the high age limit ensures that participants are mostly civil servants, at the sunset of their careers and barely last more than two years in the service after graduation from NIPSS. The implication is that the knowledge gained is rolled into retirement, making it a near waste. 

Kannywood is Ahead of Nollywood but…

A scene in Kannyhwood. Source: http://www.premiumtimesng.com   Since the movie, Leaving in Bondage, the Nigerian movie industry ha...