Mar 26, 2010

Barcelona Vs Arsenal: A Fifty-fifty Chance

According to Arsene Wenger, there is a 50-50 chance of victory for his side, Arsenal FC of England and FC Barcelona on the much awaited Champions League match between the two sides to be played on 30th March. I agree with him.

Football may be the most popular sporting event of our planet but its followers and even its experts are not among the best soothsayers. As I have seen over the years, predictions of the outcomes of football matches are often based on superficial observation, political motives or just sensational. Even though the outcomes are usually at variance with the predictions, football analysts always fail to learn lessons. Ivory Coast for instance was tipped to win this year’s edition of the African Nations Cup. They were eliminated in the quarter finals by Algeria. Brazil or Spain was tipped to win the Under-17 World Cup held in Nigeria. Switzerland surprised the whole world.

Ivory Coast was tipped to win simply because of the outstanding performance of Didier Drogba at his club, Chelsea FC of England. Football is however a team event and it is the reason why Egypt that was not even in the books of forecasters eventually won the tournament.

Besides remaining among the three best English Clubs in the last decade, Arsenal has been a very consistent team in the Champions League within the same period, always going to the quarter finals stage for most of the years. It has one of the best coaches in the world and boasts of players of great finesse. On the other hand, Barcelona which is more or less a peer is considered a favorite simply because it is the defending champion. It is not about status. It is about current form. On that basis my own prediction is that any of the two sides can take it.

Mar 20, 2010

Jang Relaxes Curfew despite Growing Insecurity

The plateau state government yesterday announced the relaxation of curfew to now last between 9pm to 6am. Before now, freedom of movement within Jos/Bukuru metropolis was between 6am to 6pm.

Observers however believe that the action of the state government was rather hasty. The administration made this announcement shortly after the burial of late Amil Anko, the Chairman of Bassa Local Government of Plateau State who died in an auto crash over the weekend. It was alleged that Anko died while hurrying to beat up curfew. Despite his status, the late chairman felt it was necessary in order to avoid any scuffle with the security agents who have been perceived to be lopsided against the Christians since fighting resumed in Jos and environs this year.

Many believe the security situation has not improved enough to warrant the relaxation of the curfew. Four days earlier, another village was attacked by Fulani herdsmen in Riyom Local Government Area of the state. The same day curfew relaxation was announced, the corpse of a stabbed Christian youth was taken along Bauchi Road where the inhabitants are largely Muslims. In the night of the same day, four gunshots were heard around the Bukuru maternity clinic as a result of a misunderstanding between soldiers and Christian youths opposing the refusal of the soldiers to act against a crowd of Muslim youths who moved down to the neighborhood that night, claiming they were taking advantage of the curfew relaxation to move around.

Mar 4, 2010

The Jos Crisis of January 2010: Almost a war defines war as the waging of an armed conflict against an enemy. On the other hand, crisis according to is an unstable condition involving an impending abrupt or decisive change.
I live in Bukuru town in Jos-south. Bukuru is the second largest town in Plateau State. It used to be a separated town from Jos but development eventually matched the two towns in the 90s so that Bukuru is essentially an extension or a suburb of Jos, just 9km away.
Besides the misunderstanding that led to the killing of two persons at Nassarawa Gwom on 17 January 2010 in Jos North, nothing else happened that day. I found my way to Trade Center along the way to Vom the second day. At about 11am, word came through local radio that the state government has declared a 24-hour curfew as a result of the escalation of the disturbance of the previous day. The implication was that all markets will be closed. So I bought what I could buy and was lucky to find a daring bus driver going to Bukuru. By the time we arrived Vom Junction along the Bukuru Expressway, I saw two corpses. By the time we arrived Bukuru Fire Service, there were cutlass wielding youths who barricaded the road. The driver then dropped us and turned back. It was a safe territory for me. So I walked passed the youths without anybody saying a word to me. But I had to avoid the expressway and walked along the perimeter of the town in the Gyel neighborhood to the west of Bukuru town. Its lower elevation afforded me the opportunity to have a full view of Bukuru town.
From the vantage position it seemed that Bukuru had become an industrial area of some sorts. Every house became a chimney from which smoke spiraled into the sky. Sounds of gunshots, the cries of people in the face danger and the shouts of people urging their men to fight on filled the air. By the time I arrived home, the smoke has thickened and diminished the intensity of the sun. There was an eclipse, eclipse of the sun by the smoke of the burning town.
My house is at a relatively safe location, just behind the fighters that have pushed the enemies to about half a kilometer east of the Bukuru expressway. I then walked along the expressway to discover two additional corpses. Occasionally, the youths will cross the expressway to set fire on the few remaining houses. At about 5 pm, the combined effects of hunger, fatigue and carbon monoxide poisoning had drained the strengths off the fighting youths on both sides. The smoke kept rising but the town suddenly became quiet and calm.
Nobody slept, fearing that the enemies might use the night to launch another attack. The next day soldiers from Abuja came and put a final end to the fighting.
During the 2001 crisis, there was fighting in Bukuru. In 2008 however, the town managed to stay on the fence. There were more deaths in Bukuru town than there has been this time. The horror of the current conflict could however be seen in terms of the intensity of destruction of homes and businesses. At a glance it could be said that 40% of the houses in Bukuru now lay in ashes. The popular Bukuru market is now history with the Ibos coming out worst. The absence of homes and business facilities has suddenly turned Bukuru to a ghost town.
After walking around the town, I came back, sat and unconsciously held my head between my hands. Bukuru town is gone and would take decades of unbroken peace to restore it.
The fight for territorial expansion is now old-fashioned. People are now fighting to make the world a better place by making the optimal use of what they already have.

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