Jun 30, 2012

Barrister Solomon Dalung’s Bio

Barr. Solomon Dalong
Barrister Solomon Dalong was born on the 26th of September 1964 in the town of Sabon Gida within the then Resettlement Area which was a creation of the colonial masters to resettle and rehabilitate war veterans of World War II. This resettlement area is currently known as Langtang South Local Government Area.

 Dalong has not buried anybody as his parents are still alive and living in Sabon Gida. His father is a retired Director of Health of the Taraba State Civil Service. His great grandfather was a wealthy man of his time. The ancestor was a hunter who once left his village in Langtang to Ibi in the present day Taraba State for a hunting expedition. While in the wild, he came across white Europeans disembarking from their ship at the river bank of the Benue. He knew they were humans and performed the traditional rites of surrender by throwing his weapons and bowing down. The whites where quiet impressed and dressed him as a king by adorning him with beads and bangles with the Union Jack hung on his shoulder. He became an official mediator between the colonial masters and the natives leading to his influence and affluence. This historical event changed the course of history by giving his extended family a stake in the kingdom of Gazum District in Lantang South.

Dalong had his primary school education at LEA Primary School Sabon Gida from 1971 to 1977. He then proceeded to Government College Keffi, currently in Nassarawa State, for his secondary school education.

Against the tradition of joining the military that is common to Langtang people, Dalong chose to join the Nigerian Prisons Service in the early eighties. In 1991 while still in the Prisons Service, he enrolled to study Law at the Law Faculty of the University of Jos. The unpredictable academic calendar that characterized the Nigerian University atmosphere at that period saw him spending a whole nine years before bagging an LLB. He proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Bwari, in Abuja, graduated in 2000 and was called to the Bar in 2001.

After passing out from Law School, he took up a job as Personal Assistant to Chief Solomon Lar when Lar was appointed as Adviser Emeritus to President Olusegun Obasanjo. This job lasted until 2003. In 2004, he took up an appointment with the Faculty of Law of the University of Jos as a lecturer. As a lecturer, he has had the opportunity of attending leadership trainings courtesy international human rights organizations. In 2005, he combined his job as a lecturer and study while pursuing a prost graduate degree in Law. His LLM program successfully ended in 2007 and was appointed the Chairman of Langtang South Local Government Area the same year. As Chairman of Langtang South, he also served as the Plateau State Chairman of the Association of Local Government Chairmen of Nigeria (ALGON). His tenure as Local Government Chairman ended in May 2008. He then returned to the University of Jos. He made an attempt at representing Langtang North and South at the National Assembly but lost.

Dalong joined the Prisons Service as a Prison Assistant and rose to the rank of Assistant Inspector of Prisons. Following his training as an attorney, he was moved to the legal department of prisons where he served as Legal Officer II in the prisons headquarters prior to retirement.

Dalong’s strong condemnation of the political regime is inherited, as political criticism runs in the family's blood up to his great grandfather. According to Dalong, “governance is a social responsibility and a democratic leader is equivalent to a human god, having the responsibility to determine the destiny of his followers. He did not acquire power by conquest, strength or might but either by charisma, bureaucracy or law. There is an instrument that confers that power on him and is expected to exercise it within the parameter of the enabling authority.” Abusing this power irritates him. This is not just an additional factor that shaped his critical political attitude but the  most dire of these factors. 

In Langtang south Dalong is referred to as “the man who brought colored roofing sheets.”  He is a Christian and is married to his wife whom he fondly refers to as First Lady and is a father to seven children.

Jun 27, 2012

Big Man: Who is He?

The picture of a big man, in the minds of many, is that of a guy who has got plenty of cash. Along this line, if you want to be treated as a big man, you must be able to show that you have the money. Though true, the definition of a big man transcends that realm and is actually a spectrum that includes other categories of people. The definition of a big man revolves around power, the capacity to makes things happen. It is the reason why the man of cash easily comes to mind when you think of a big man. Money gives one power. Since it is what everyone wants, you can pay people in order to get them to do things for you.
Getting people to do things is however not exclusive to rich folks. According to William Shakespeare, some people are born great, some achieve greatness and others have greatness thrust upon them. There is no doubt that a great man is a big man and all these categories of greatness cannot be tied to money. My impression of a man who is born great is one that was born with some sort of appeal, most notably wisdom or intelligence. Due to his intelligence, he or she gets things done by proffering solutions when people desperately need them. He wins the reverence of people and is a big man as a result. Eventually money will still follow because people will feel that if there is anybody that should be rich, it should be him.
Some people acquire power or the capacity to get things done by virtue of the fact that they are occupying an office that enables them to give orders that must be followed. As a result he is a big man since he has the capacity to get things done. If you are a leader of an organization, you make plans, take decisions and execute the decisions of the organization with the resources of the organization. Though the resources of the organization are not yours, you have control over them and use them to get things done. That makes you a big man. My impression is that this category of people is the one Shakespeare referred to as those to whom greatness is trusted upon them.
The greatness of some people is faith-based. These persons are leaders of some faith and have large followership by people who follow the faith or ideology they preach. Osama Bin Laden was the leader of Al Qaeda, an Islamic fundamentalist group that intends to propagate Islam to all parts of the world through the use of terror. He had a large followership of people who believe in his course and were willing to play their role towards the actualization of his dream. That made Osama Bin Laden a big guy even without considering his parental background, as his adherents did not do his will because he came from a wealthy background but because he decided to sacrifice the power from the  millions of dollars that his family business generated to live in caves for the sake of actualizing his dream. His greatness or might was thus faith-based.
Prophet Mohammed was born in 570 CE in Mecca in the region today referred to as the Middle-East. Having lost his parents at an early age, he was raised by an uncle. He worked as a merchant and a shepherd. Occasionally, he went to the cave to meditate and pray for several nights. In one such night, he received a revelation from God. Three years after the revelation, he started preaching and proclaiming God as one and to whom there should be total submission. He gained a few followers initially. Today, the faith of Islam which he founded has grown to gain global followership.  
Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, Mary, in Bethlehem in Judea, south of Jerusalem over 2000 years ago. His birth was a fulfillment of a prophecy that a Messiah shall be born to save all mankind from his sins. As a fulfillment of the prophecy, Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross, died and rose after three days. He later ascended into Heaven leaving behind his disciples to continue with the good news of salvation that he brought. Today, the faith of Christianity, which he founded, has a global followership.
The founders of these two religions lived very humble lives. They left behind hundreds of millions of followers who believe in their teachings and do their will as a result, thereby making them the most powerful humans ever. These men were or are the ultimate big men.

Jun 12, 2012

The Origin of the Name " Kaduna"

Kaduna City
Kaduna city is the capital city of Kaduna State, one of the thirty-six states in Nigeria. It is located in the North-Western part of the country. The state it administers and which was named after it, Kaduna, was created in 1976. Later in 1987, Katsina State was carved of it.
Most places in Nigeria, as elsewhere, where named based on prominent geographical features present in the locality. Some examples include “Lagos” which means a lagoon in Portuguese, Plateau by virtue of the table nature of the land, Niger and Benue States based on Rivers Niger and Benue respectively.  Others include Cross-Rivers, Rivers, etc.  
In like manner, the city of Kaduna was named due to the presence of a prominent river in the locality. The name ‘Kaduana’ in its modern form is a colonial invention. The colonial administration was constructing the railway line that eventually connected the different parts of the country. While passing through the Zauzzau (Zaria) Emirates, it noticed the appeal of the locality and decided to move the capital of the Northern Protectorate previously at Zungeru in Niger State, to the new land. The white colonial administration sought the permission of the Emir of Zauzzau.  With his approval the capital was moved.
In naming the city, the colonial masters learnt of the presence of ‘rafin kaduna’, which means the river of crocodiles. ‘kada’ is a Hausa word that means "crocodile" while ‘rafi’ means a river. The word ‘kaduna’ is the plural of ‘kada.’ The colonial administration then adopted the word ‘kaduna’ for its new headquarters  The colonial administration however, changed the pronunciation such that one is not reminded of crocodiles when it is pronounced.

Saving the Music Culture of Jos

I have often believed that Jos, the capital of my home state has a reputation for producing music talent. I was however devastated when I traveled and lived in Port Harcourt where I saw it that it is not only Jos that has a brilliant music culture.

When Bongos Ikwe granted me an interview sometimes in 2009, I was astonished when he revealed that he had stayed in Jos as a kid and even attended, St. Lukes Primary School.  Apart from Bongos that has had a stint with our city; there are only a few artists to have emerged out of our city. The ones I can remember include Psquare, Jeremiah Gyang and the core members of the Chocolate City artists that include M-I, Ice Prince and Jesse Jagz. There is also the black member of the British pop group, Lighthouse Family, who is said to have schooled in Baptist High Secondary School Jos, I can’t think of enough artists to make us think that we rule the nation in this territory, especially given the kind of noise along this line.

I have often heard that Tuface was born in Jos but refused to believe it until I read an interview he granted to an online publication when he was asked where he was born. Tuface answered in the affirmative that he was born in Jos. According to Tuface, his parents came from Benue State. Later they moved from Jos to Benue State and back to Jos again. From Jos, they moved to Kano and back to Jos again, then Benue again and then Enugu from where he moved to Lagos to pursue a professional career in music.

After reading this interview I was then able to add Tuface to the list of artists with links to Jos. My believe that Jos is a fountain of music talent is now returning except for one thing – the fear that we may not be able to sustain it for long. This is because certain traditions helped to build and nurture the luminous music culture in the city. This tradition seems to be going extinct. If the traditions go, whatever it gave us will also vanish.

The manner in which the only television and radio stations of PTV and Radio Plateau that letter evolved to become PRTV was run encouraged the unique music culture in the city. Whereas most public radio and TV stations in other states insist on radio stations that promoted traditional African cultures or religious issues, those in Jos looked more in the direction of the Western approaches to issues, playing mostly Western music. On the state-owned electronic media houses, Western style programs probably used to corner more than 90% of air time. The broadcasters of the station where chosen by the high quality of what they have naturally and non-resident presenters where also chosen by merit based on talent they were perceived have which is necessary to inspire fans.

These days however everything is changing. In choosing workers of radio stations, value has been thrown to the gutters. Along the same vein, the presenters are also not chosen by merit. Persons without any interest in music can be given jobs as radio presenters. All these point to the direction of declining professionalism. One practice that is working to destroy standards is the fact that such DJs take money from desperate musicians to play their demos. The more of such demos they play, the more money they get from the owners of the demos. One is thus compelled to turn off his radio due to unattractive presentations as the airwaves are always littered with garbage. Good DJs who are confident of themselves make money through live shows where their fans pay to see them live and have good times and not by dominating the airwaves with detritus.

Good schools have played a huge role. Of course, J-town has often beat its chest in pride that has often been provoked by the presence of fabulous schools on the land. Some easily come to mind and include mind-changing rendezvous such as St. Joseph College Vom, Hill Crest School, Baptist High School, St. Louis College Jos, Nakam Memorial High Secondary School, St. Murrumba College, Government Science School Kuru, Plateau College Sharam, Boys High School Gindiri just to mention the most conspicuous. The best minds from these schools provided the extraordinary power that constantly inspired J-Towners to develop a scintillating music culture. Perhaps it becomes pertinent at this point to mention names of persons that played their roles in shaping the culture of the city. Some names include Joe Black, Nansel Nimyel, Charles Ibezim, Yakubu Lamai, L-D Extralarge, Fracis Oga, Abigail “Mama Jamma”, Uncle Steve, Morris Sua, Victor Duga, now professor, in just pointing out a few.

It has often been said that competition breeds excellence and one would have taught that the arrival of other radio and TV stations, particularly the  private ones should have started setting up a new pace that will compel the others to stand up. Sadly, the new ones have failed to live up to expectations.

Talents are gifts from God to mankind to enable him add value to life and make the world a better place. When these divine gifts are thrown to the garbage tribulations, will as you might expect, will follow.

Jun 8, 2012

Music and Nigeria at 50

On 1st October 2010, Nigeria celebrates its Golden Jubilee as an independent nation following the concession of the administration of the nation to Nigerians by the British colonial government in 1960. At fifty, there is the need to take stock and see if there is anything to party about.

The immediate challenges before an independent Nigeria in 1960 was how to sustain the economic growth, foster unity and sustain our leadership role in Africa. These issues thus serve as benchmarks for appraising the progress or otherwise of the Nigerian nation.

On the morning of our fiftieth anniversary, I listened to a BBC journalists asking Gen. Yakubu Gowon, former military leader, to list what he feels are the successes of the nation after fifty years of independence. The general was more emphatic on the unity of the nation. According to him, the ability of the leaders to ensure the continued unity of a country with a complex ethnic and religious diversity should be seen as the greatest success recorded and for which Nigerians should have something to cheer about. He talked about the civil war his administration fought to keep the nation as one between 1967 and 1970 as one demonstration of the ability of the government live up to expectation. Yes, it is true. The war succeeded in keeping the nation as one. The point of concern however, is that while the people were united, they did so with grudges. It is not that the Ibos or Biafrans never wanted to be part of Nigeria. They wanted it under circumstances that ensured their happiness. The leaders never gave Nigerians generally, this desire up till this point when we are celebrating fifty years of nationhood.  Continue reading

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