Monday, 30 March 2009

Lessons from Port-Harcourt- Part 1

Wao! Its been a long lull. I have not posted any article of mine in a long while now for some heaven-knows-what reasons. Actually am inexcusable no matter the work load or challenges because looking at the likes of Adeolu, Dipo, Bridget, Odedeyi, and Topsie (I mean blogs i don't miss), I am challenged to bury my excuses and keep it up. Infact these folks have been great sources of motivation to me in this school of blogging. I am greatly indebted to you all.

What I am about to blog about has actually been on my mind for over a month or so now but for reasons I don't want to offer as excuses (lol), it has not seen the light of the day. Its about my beloved Garden City, the capital of the treasure base of the nation. Enjoy!

Well, for those who may not have read my complete profile, I stay in Port-Harcourt City (PHC). In fact I was born and brought up here. Ever since the present government of Gov. Chibuike Amaechi came to power, the story of PHC has been a tale of one demolition after another. Before I delve into the main gist of this post which are some positive lessons God taught me from this, let me do a brief run down of events so far.

Like I said earlier, it has been a tale of one demolition after another. Mile One market (the busiest and may be the biggest market in PHC) has been under construction even before Gov. Amaechi came to power. The old structures there were "batchers" (woods) and have been gutted by fire several times, the latest was in January 2004. So the then government of Celestine Omehia decided to put up a befitting structure and so, had to demolish about two-third of the existing structure. The plan was to build it in phase so as to cushion its effect on the traders. The traders were displaced and temporal sites provided for them while those who couldn't afford shops at these (two) temporal sites moved to places like fly over park, mile III market, others went into streets to rent stores, put up stalls/kioks and table tops, while others took to hawking. While the market is still under construction even as I write, Gov. Amaechi demolished and drove out all those trading at the fly over park. Another batch of the demolition was carried out at mile III market thus forcing the affected traders to move into streets in the manner described above. Some others as a result were forced out of business.

While these displaced traders were counting thier losses and trying to regain lost grounds in the various improvised locations they now find themselves, the government came up again this time moving into streets demolishing kioks, stores, extensions and in some cases residences. While some buildings were partly affected some others were completely leveled. It means some traders lost both thier business premises and residence.

Initialy, the reasons given were that these buildings were either illegal structures or they were too close to the roads. For this reason, no compensation whatsoever was paid. The rapidity and manner these demolitions were been executed, makes a child's play of Fashola's version in Lagos. At least I was in Lagos for some days in January for my younger sister's wedding and was in a postion to compare the two.

The second of this demolition exercise is billed for the second quater of the year and this time, the reason is that certain roads are to be dualised and as such houses whether illegal or not have been marked and owners given ultimatum to comply. Sorry! I forgot to inform you that in places like Trans-Amadi (oginigba), Old Aba road and co, that the dualisation project is already in top gear and stores and houses have already been demolished. However, this time landlords were duly compensated but trust them, thier tenants (residents and traders) were left to bear the brunt while they smiled to the banks. Our office was heavily affected and the reconstruction works to move it backward away from the road was born by our management without any input from our landlord even after he has been duly compensated. That's by the way...

As if that wasn't enough, Okada (commercial motocyclists) was outlawed in PHC and its environs on Dec. 31st 2008. There are areas in PHC where fences are not permitted and have all been pull down while for other areas they must, as a matter of state policy, be see-through. You can imagine the level unemployment and angst in the land. As they would say, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge but space will fail me to highlight them in details.

Those in government have taken the pain to explain to us that they are trying to implement the Port-Harcourt master plan which some claim has been a dust collector at the brick house (i.e Rivers version of the Aso Rock).
And I was told that Gov. Amaechi, speaking as a special guest at a ministers conference earlier in the year stunned his audience when he asserted that it was God who instructed him to embark on his policies.

I am one of those who have been very critical of the government for all these "anti" people policies and moves. But get me right! I am of the school of thought that "Rome was not built in a day". My criticism has been that the governor is taking too many things all at once thus exposing the masses to untold hardship instead of taking it "one step at a time". So, one morning while treking to work and reflecting on the state of things in the city, as I passed by heaps of demolished houses and shops, the Spirit of God started opening my eyes to the other side of the story. I was saying to myself bitterly that Gov. Amaechi shouldn't think of reversing all these mess just all at once because they came to be over a peroid of years. Yes! PHC was (is) a mess as it has lost its much touted garden city status. The situation was such that every available space in town including drainages, parking lots, backyards, around fences etc was converted to shops, residence and stuffs like that. With refuse dumps (heaps) almost at every major junction.

I was actually advocating, though to myself, a gradual approach when suddenly the Spirit of God took over and started teaching me some stuffs. You know what the Spirit said? He drew a similarity between these happenings and the treatment of a full blown cancer. "Though cancer develops over a period of years, dealing with a full blown cancer does not require a gradual one-step-at-a-time approach but a drastic one, certain changes (in our lives) require a drastic approach and not a one-step-at-a-time one". It was at this point I started studying the governors approach to tackling this problem and the lessons gained are what I want to share with you.

Looking at Gov. Amaechi's approach, I discovered the following at work: (1) conviction (2) the law of intolerance and (3) the law of implementation.

I shall deal extensively on these qualities and how they relate to our progress as individuals and as a nation in the following paragraphs and subsequent post.

Show me a man who is unstable as a reed and I will show you a man of no conviction.

Gov. Amaechi claimed that he has the backing of the Almighty. Wao! what other surest source is there for a man to base his conviction than on God whether right or wrong. This explains why he is undaunted and relentless cos he believes he is pursuing a worthy cause. And that is why he doesn't care a hoot no matter whose ox is gored. Nobody is spared, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, the good, the bad, and the ugly have all in one way or the other had a feel of the "amaechi" fever. That is, so long as their properties are wrongly situated or fall within the circumference of the road (re)construction works. If Pamo Clinics owned by former governor, Dr. Odili ( a man to whom Gov. Amaechi owes his political career and rise to fame) was not spared, then you know how serious the matter is. In fact, if the business premises of Gov. Amaechi's wife was reduced to heaps how much more should POWA shopping complex along Mile 1 be. It takes a man of steel conviction to withstand the barrage of criticisms and political maneuvering as Gov. Amaechi has done. When talks were going round that okada (commercial motocyclists) would soon be outlawed, there were calls from every quater asking him to shelve the plan but he turned deaf ears. That is the power of conviction!
Do you know why Nigeria is where it is today? One of the reasons is that we don't have leaders with conviction. What we have are Leaders who have no clear stand on such burning issues like corruption. They speak with tongues in cheeks and when push comes to shove, they chicken out. They have no ideals/values they hold dear, only interests and when their interest is served, they sell out.
On the other hand, we the masses are also guilty of the same. We pay lip service to such burning issues we claim to believe in. We strain at a fly in public but swallow carmels in secret because we lack conviction.

Do you know that God respects men of conviction even when they are wrong? He soughts for such men? You know why? He knows if He could get them to believe in the right cause then there is not limit to what He can do with and through them. Remember Saul of Tarsus who persecuted the church of Christ? The same zeal with which he persecuted the church was the same zeal with which he propagated the gospel of Christ. Before and after his conversion, he was a man of conviction who has always had something for which he was ready to die.
Those who have nothing to die for are actually living for nothing-Unknown

God respects men of conviction! Remember the sons of Rechab (the Rechabites) in Jeremiah 35:1-19? The twenty first century christianity is plagued with christians without conviction- christians tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, christians without backbone. Circumstances and not the scripture shape thier belief system. God convinces them in their closets on an issue, circumstances (and the world around) beat them into conformity in public.
Are there values (and beliefs) you would rather die for than let go? Do you believe in your vision? Do you have something that you stand for? Some terrorists and suicide bombers would rise against this generation of christians in judgement, for if they had been instructed in the true ways of God as most of us are, they would have been more profitable to His kingdom. They were men and women who had something they were willing to die for.

We sing "Abraham blessings are mine" but we often forget that he was a man of unshakeable conviction. He left his father's house, kindred and country at age 75 being fully convinced of the intergrity and faithfulness of the one whose voice he has heard. He left with a conviction that where he was going was better than where he was.
You can not stand out from the crowd and make your mark if you are not a man of conviction.
Imagine what impact you will make if your conviction is based on the infallible word of God.
Those who stand for nothing, will fall for anything
See you in the concluding post.


Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Rebuilding Nigeria

Below is an article culled from the site of someone I consider a role model and with his permission and consent, I am duplicating it below . The idea conveyed in it is so novel, that I believe with proper publicity and widespread usage could prove a veritable tool in getting our leaders to reconsider their legacy during and after their days in office.
What I want to write today is an article I will love you to pirate. I’ll like you to dub it, and put it on your blog post.
I have refrained deliberately for a long time to make any comments about our National Rebranding exercise. I hope I will be able to say what boils in my throat and wrists tonight, without making too much reference to it. For all it’s worth though, I think the fundamental error I can see, is that Nigerians have not been made to own it, and hence rather than having people championing it, and helping others buy in, what we have is criticism and condemnation by the same people who would have been it’s champions.
Having said that however, I have a proposition of an exercise that we can own as Nigerians. It’s a simple idea and it came as a fallout of a discussion that ensued in my office yesterday. It’s an answer of what we can do to focus our leaders on the problems that we have as citizens and to assist them in giving it the attention it deserves. We no longer need any assitance from any source to know that our most crucial problem in Nigeria is Leadership! If we are all on the same page in this realization, then our efforts towards a better Nigeria must be channeled to support, focus and direct our leaders.
I remember shortly before the elections last year I wrote an article I titled, “Power is all we need!” I pleaded with our would be leaders not to promise us roads or education, but to promise us just one thing - Power! That if in any leaders 4yrs we can celebrate 1yr of uniterupted power supply, then we should imortalize that president. Haven been to Egypt now to watch tombs, I say we must do the same, but before they die however.
First for the nation, then the states, then our local governments. Once we have a new president for example, we should as a nation analyze our most significant problem that we want solved in his or her tenure. After we have agreed on this problem, we should then go ahead and give that problem the same name with our president. We should substitute the name of our leader with this problem in our conversations, in our articles in newspapers, in our slang’s, in our music and drama. We should do this per state and per local government as well.
Let’s say for example that we have discovered that our biggest problem in Nigeria is Electricity, and for example that our president’s name for the tenure was Yaradua. Then everytime light goes, every time we are in darkeness, everytime we have any issues, our conversations should be like this.
When it is bad as it is - “Chai, Yaradua has gone again”, “Ah, we have not had Yaradua for the last 2 days”, “This Yaradua is so unstable”, “Ah what did we do today oh, we have half Yaradua today”,” What’s wrong with you, you are complaining that you haven’t seen Yaradua for 3 days, what about people that haven’t seen Yaradua for one year! or ever!”, “I wasn’t able to do it overnight, because Yaradua kept fainting”, “We have been using Yaradua as backup to our Generator”, “Iron your shirts, Yaradua may soon go oh”, ”
When this start becoming good - ” Up Yaradua!”, “Yaradua is really trying oh, we are not where we want to be, but we are far from where we were”, “Yaradua has been consistent for the past 24hrs”, “Ah, we need to celebrate 1yr of uninterrupted Yaradua”, “Yaradua is so much better these days”, “With Yaradua so constant, Nigeria is really becoming the most desirable nation to live in on earth”. “Yaradua is constant in all the states of Nigeria and the structures are in place to get Yaradua into all the local governments.”
Can you form your own new ones? Yes!: Ameachi for traffic on Port-Harcourt roads. Example "Ameachi" this morning was very hectic. The situation of "Amaechi" in town is getting better.
If we keep speaking this way, our leaders will know that we mean business with our desire for solutions. The next president will also know that one critical unsolved problem will bear his name until it’s solved. I recommend, that whichever president fixes electric power be given the opportunity to forever bear the same name with electricity in Nigeria and be forever immortalized in the lips and minds of Nigerians. The same for every future identified problem. A similar approach should be taken to the state levels. Whatever problem we align and identify must be instantly changed to the name of the Governor. If the issue in Lagos for example was Transportation and assuming the Governor was Fashola, then by now, people should be saying “Fashola is getting better in Lagos now”, or ” I entered one wrong fashola and they collected my phone and laptop.” or “Big Fashola (BRT) is actually making life easy for Lagosians”. We can identify the states one by one and identify the problems that need to be solved and replaced with their name.
My people say that whatever hurts one, must be primary in one’s conversation -
“Oun to ba duni lo n po loro eni”
Culled from Rebuilding Nigeria, on
The challenge now is how to ensure that the president’s name (or any leader in question) becomes synonymous with the problem(s) on the lips and minds of the populace. Let me suggest that those who are privileged to be interviewed on TV esp. AIT's "people's perliament" should so use the president's name while discussing problem of national significance or the governor's name for those of state significane instead of mentioning the problem to the point that their interviewers would ask them what that means…lol. Just my humble opinion. Similarly columnists and bloggers with massive followership should adopt the same approach while discussing similar issues.
Just as every leader would be pleased to have his/her name substituted with thier developmental strides (i know it gives them joy e.g Fashola for those big buses), they should also be concerned when they hear their names being synonymously used with problems they help excalate instead of solving.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Is There Not A Cause?

The above was a question David asked his elder brother Eliab in I Samuel 17: 29 And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause? (we can read the whole account in I Samuel 17). We all know the background of the story, but let me do a summary here. Jesse sent David, his youngest son, to go deliver some victuals to his elder sons who were at the battle field under the command of king Saul and to also see how they were faring in the battle. Coincidentally, David arrived there at a time when Goliath, the gaint from Philistine, was threatening and harrasing the armies of Isreal. Each time Goliath came forth bragging, the armies of Isreal including David's elder brothers would flee to take cover in caves. So when David arrived and was asking questions regarding the situation, his elder brother Eliab became very upset and angry at him. Probably, because he thought David had just come too see what was happening for fun so he could make a mockery of them when they get back home. The embarrassment was much and in anger he confronted the little David but David replied, "what have i done? Is there not a cause for my being here?'' (emphasis mine).
While meditating on this scripture in preparation for a youth meeting, my eyes were opened to the profound truth it carries. Take it or leave it, this is a question we all have to ask ourselves at certain points in our existence. The young David asked Eliab, "what have i done?" He was like, "have i broken any law by coming here? Is there not a cuase? In other words, He was simply saying, "I have not come here by accident, I have not come here for sight seeing neither have I come here to while away time or just to occupy sapce". "I am here with a purpose and for a purpose, I am here with a definite assignment to accomplish."

This is a question we all have to answer, if we must make impact in our generation. We must know the cause for which we are here, for such is the secret of a fulfiled life. Jesue told them in John 18:37 saying, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world" . You must know the cause for which you are here (wherever you are atm), the cause for which you were born. Is there not a cause why you were born a Nigerian into that tribe and family? Is there not a cause why you are a youth at a time like this? Or you think they all happen by accident or just a coincidence.
Mordecai told Esther "who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" This was what saved Esther from abusing the privilege shown her by divinity by making her the queen ahead of other women.

When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable- Myles Munroe
and When mission is not defined, derailment is unavoidable

Some of us live our lives like a child sent on an erand and who on his way, came across other children playing and decided to join them forgetting he was on an assignment. David was sent on an erand by Jesse his father and he didn't lose sight of that fact. Knowing where you are going is one thing and getting there is quite another. You are a divine vision on a mission to accomplish a divine assignment. Your life is a vision from God for you were born again not of the will of man but of God. If you lose sight of this, then your Goliath-that challenge waiting for your manifestation- will remain a threat.

Show me a man who knows where he is going but never gets there and I will show you a man who lacks focus-a man given to much distractions.

When David's brother constituted himself a distraction to him, the Bible says, David turned from him (his brother) toward another. Many of us find to difficult to select our friends because we are yet to discover our life's assignment (purpose). When you discover your purpose and stay focused on it, it selects your friends for you. Your purpose selects your friends. Not every brother in the church passes for a friend and atimes not even your blood brothers too. I mean friend and not acquintance. Your purpose selects your friend. Why do you think Jesus at one time called Judas friend and at another time, looked at Peter and rebuked him saying, get thee behind me satan? The reason is that at those times, Judas was facilitating the fulfilment of Jesus' cause while Peter was constituting a distraction from it. May God give us wisdom!

I want to challenge you to ask yourself some serious questions and go on a soul searching mission. Is there not a cause? I ask you. Is there not a cause why u are still where you are in life? why you haven't been able to achieve your set goals or pass that professional exams? Why u didn't make that interview inspite of all the efforts? May be you haven't been able to pay the stipulated price. May be you haven't worked hard and smarter enough.

It is a world of cause and effect. There was a cause why the answer to Daniel's prayers was delayed for 21 days. When the tribe of Judah was by-passed and Benjamin selected to produce the first king of Isreal despite the ancient prophecy that the lawgiver shall not depart from Judah, there was a cuase. When God told Samuel that He had rejected Saul from being king and has taken the kingdom from him, there was a cause. When David's house was on fire with incest, murders and sever in-fightings, there was cause. For Daniel a demon withstood his answer, for the tribe of Judah, Judah thier progenator committed incest and handed over his staff of authority to a supposed prostitute (his daughter in-law), for Saul his rebellion and self will casued him the kingdom and for David, it was his adultery with Beersheba and subsequent murder of Uriah her husban that triggered off those events. It is a world of cause and effect.

Is there not a cause? I ask you. Have your life been revolving round in cylce with nothing to show for it? Have you done all you think is neccessary and yet your dreams seem elusive? Does it seem that whenever you are up for something good, say an interview, a contract, a date (or proposal) and all of a sudden after one nasty night mare (or dream) everything is gone with the wind? As old as you are, perhaps a unversity graduate, do you still see yourself in your primary school as a student though with the consciousness of your present status as a grown up? I don't want to sound superstitious but we have to face these facts.To the average american christian these things MAY sound superstitious but the truth is that most of us Nigerians (and some Africans alike) are first generation christians with some serious battles to do. The other day, I heard Pastor John Haggee say he is the tenth or eleventh generation Haggee and that the first Haggee who came to America was a missionary. So we can see the difference. While his ancestors were serving the true God MOST of ours were given to wizardry, witchcraft, idolatory, carnibalism etc. Take a study of nigerian christians whose ancestors sincerely and totally embraced christianity early in life esp. those sacrificially involved in the things of God and tithing and will notice what impact it has had on them. I was surprised to hear that Pastor Chris Oyahkhilome's father was among the founding fathers of Assemblies of God in Nigeria. His family i was told is collection of servants and men of God. No wonder the psalmist says, "I have never seen the rightoues forsaken, nor his seed beg bread.There may be exceptions to this first generation christian thing, but if any of the above scenerios describes your ordeal then there is certainly a cause.

Is there not a cuase? There is and you have to find out. Yes! find out! Job 8:8-9 tells us " For inquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of thier father: For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing..."
Ask yourself (and parents) questions and do some soul searching, take those issues to God in prayers and pay attention to your dreams. Whatever the cause the good news is that, for this cause was the Son of God manisfested that He might destroy the works of the devil.
Which ever way whether as per purpose or challenges, whenever a man answers this question, a new dawn opens unto him. For "wisdom is a function of questions, and intelligence of answer"-Adeolu Akinyemi