On To The Next One

Chioma Agwuegbo
Posted January 8, 2011 from Nigeria

We live in interesting times. Full stop. Sometimes I sit down and marvel at the things that go on around us; the good, the bad, and the despicably ugly. Makes me wonder at my friends who say they are bored; these days there’s so much drama around we almost don’t need to sleep!

Start from the elections in Ivory Coast in November 2010, enter actor number one. Laurent Gbagbo plays the part of villain in resource rich but poverty stricken Ivory Coast which he has ruled for the last 10 years. Elections were conducted, he lost but like a malnourished baby has clung to the breast that is the Ivorian Palace, adamantly refusing to cede power to Alassane Ouattara, the winner and president elect. Homeboy has refused to heed calls from the United Nations (who he signed an accord with), ECOWAS, AU, ex-mom France, and world bully America.

By the way, I hear Gbagbo refused to speak to Obama when the latter called, telling his assistants to inform Mr Obama that he was resting!! We’re waiting for the next move, and my heart goes out to the souls that were lost on the 16th of December during the peaceful protests by Alassane and his supporters. Despite the threats, sanctions imposed by the AU and the West, government accounts being frozen, Gbagbo has refused to go!

Still on governments, politics and people, the town of Ayakoromo in oil rich (cliché) Bayelsa State in November passed through the valley of the shadow of death thanks to the hands of a government who last I checked, was supposed to protect them! Unfortunately Psalm 23 wasn’t alive for them because not only did they fear (and see) evil, for some of them that was the last thing they saw.

Over what? So the government suddenly decided they’re looking for a certain John Togo who’s a militant, bad boy, and the reason for all of Nigeria’s problems, including electricity and the dwindling/dead state of our education. Abi? Why else would the military swoop in the village without any warning and wreak havoc on the place, only for both Togo and his lawyer to say (through the press for God’s sake) that Togo’s not been in the area in the last three weeks! How can one human being outsmart the army of a whole country? Or is it only in Ivory Coast we play ‘big brother’?

Moving on, Wikileaks was the biggest thing in 2010! Seriously people, and we thought Haiti would be the most memorable, however devastating and sad that story was. Wikileaks happened, and toppled everything on our popularity charts for the year! Not only did it shake governments (especially world bully and origin of all the documents), it trended on twitter! For those of us who are still hazy on some of the details surrounding Wikileaks (meaning you must surely live under a rock), 39 year old Julian Assange started www.wikileaks.org in 2006 and is editor in chief and head of the five-man board that runs the whistleblower camp. The entire ruckus started on the 28th of November when Wikileaks partnering with five media power houses started releasing documents ordinarily considered as sensitive. Wait; do you really expect me to tell you more? According to Kemi Adetiba (heard it from her first), Google is your friend!

Anyways, so while I think it was/is plain irresponsible for Assange to be with two different women (and friends for that matter) in three days (whether he ‘surprised’ them or not), I’m sure most guys have taken Sweden off their list of dream countries, especially if they were going there to find ‘Oyinbo’ wife!

Back in Nigeria, so I’m sure the former governor of Delta State had a white Christmas, even though not of his own volition. Early in December a court ruled that he be extradited to the United Kingdom to face charges of corruption, fraud, and money laundering. Didn’t help that his wife, mistress, sister, and even lawyer have been prosecuted, found guilty and sentenced by courts in the UK. Funny though, that former Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr Michael Aandoaka exonerated and acquitted him of all such charges. Nigeria we hail thee!

Still in the hallways of the courts, so there was the Halliburton issue. In my mind, our legal department either needed an excuse to be in the news, or had a target to bring in some money for their ministry. Nigeria woke up one morning and said they would file for Dick Cheney, former vice president of the United States to be extradited to Nigeria to face charges not unrelated to his role in bribery (to the tune of 180 million dollars) during his time in Halliburton. I don’t have a problem with going after him (I actually thought it was a very bold, impressive move considering who they went after). I just also saw it as a stupid, blatant disregard for priorities; it’s like chasing a snake that’s bitten you and moved on while you have scorpions still clinging to your crotch!

Anyways, just when the media was prepping for an exciting time in the courts, Nigeria dropped the charges (also known in some quarters as settling out of court). No reason given, only that we’d agreed to a settlement of 35 million dollars. Shameful. Despicable. Pitiful. Outright disgusting. Typical Nigeria, calling clean what the whole world has pronounced filthy; I’ll have you know that Halliburton was tried and convicted in the United States (their home country) but no….. We had to settle for 35 million on a case worth above 6 billion dollars! And yes, Halliburton recently complained that Nigeria wants the whole sum at once! Where does that money go? Let’s not even go there.

On a very sad note, 2010 was also the year Nigeria took a seat at the International Bomber’s League table. Started from the panty bomber in January, the whole ruckus about Nigeria being on a terrorism list, etc. We were humiliated before the world in October when bombs went off on our Independence Day, and now it seems like every Tom, Dick and Blessing walks around with explosives! From Jos, to Maiduguri, to Bayelsa, Delta, there’s been one related incident or the other. Most recent was the bomb that went off at the Mogadishu Barracks in Abuja which left more than eleven human beings dead, and scores of others wounded. My heart goes out to every family who was affected by any of the violence in Nigeria this past year, I trust God for the fortitude to cope with the loss.

By the way, last I heard, the person’s who’s been credited with ‘bringing Facebook to Nigeria’ said we should pray. Are you kidding! That’s all you’ve got Sir? Oh yes, apart from the grand plan to appoint a Minister of/for Terrorism who for all intents and purposes most likely will not have a clue as to what he’s supposed to do! At least, we can be grateful he hasn’t absolved any group of the bombing (yet).

Good people, despite all of these, it’s a new year, new slate, fresh chance to right the wrongs of the past year, and most importantly, the chance to better our lot by coming out enmasse to register to select to vote and protect! The registration starts on the 15th of this month, a couple days away. Let’s do this! Get all the information you need on the electoral timetable, and even the closest registration site to you here.

Finally, if you’re reading this, congratulations for making it into the new year! Have you broken any of your resolutions yet? On to the next one!

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