Monthly Archives: July 2016

When A Rogue Challenges A Thief

In what can only be described as a theater of the absurd, President Muhammadu Buhari is now challenging former President Ibrahim Babangida.
One cannot help but chuckle at Buhari’s temerity for demanding accountability from President Babangida. I had always suspected that the two were not exactly the best of friends, but I have to say I was more than a little amused at the cheekiness of it all. You know, maybe Buhari is actually beginning to believe his anti-corruption charade. Perhaps, he imagines that Nigerians are really impressed by the barefaced spin, the selective prosecutions and his largely incompetent leadership as far as the economy is concerned. 
But pray tell, why does Buhari―an illiterate, incompetent soldier cum religious zealot―who overthrew the  democratically elected government of Shehu Shagari, expect the ire or at least, the righteous indignation of the average Nigerian for Babangida who subsequently overthrew his illegal and anti-democratic regime? Are we supposed to ignore his anti-democratic precedent because he claims he was fighting corruption at the time? This would be laughable coming 31 years after the fact, if not for the painful fact that Nigeria has continued to regress since Buhari’s coup d’état. 
Nigerians do not particularly care about his disaffection for the equally corrupt thief called Babangida. As far as many Nigerians are concerned, they are both guilty of the sort of malfeasance, ineptitude, nepotism, and clannish mindset that has hindered Nigeria. Yes, Babangida might have been the bigger thief, but no one, who is not rabidly pro-Buhari, assumes for one second that Buhari is squeaky clean in Nigeria’s messy corrupt politics. He was deposed, I suspect, not just because he was an authoritarian blowhard who visited inhuman and extrajudicial cruelty upon the populace in the name of fighting indiscipline. It was partly because his administration was ridiculously inept and squandered resources. 

Sure, a panel set up under Shehu Shagari’s administration would later clear Buhari of the charges (wink wink), but this astronomical sum of money that disappeared from the NNPC coffers (2.8 billion naira in the late seventies was an insanely huge amount of money) was never recovered till date. Maybe if you were simple-minded enough, you may sheepishly agree that Buhari, the Minister of Petroleum at the time, had absolutely no knowledge of or complicity in the matter.  I will not even begin to dig into his numerous human rights abuses when he eventually overthrew Shagari’s government and took over. At any rate, you just have to marvel at the man’s guts for wanting to put another kleptocrat (IBB) from a bygone era on blast as though he was a paragon of virtue. What will this trip down our collective memory lane, filled with painful reminders of their sordid past history, do for present day Nigerians in the midst of this pressing depressing economic downturn?
Buhari disappeared for a brief period, and came back again during Abacha’s tenure. Somehow, he wangled an invitation by Abacha to come and head up the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). The PTF was a coveted prize as you can probably imagine because Petroleum was and still remains Nigeria’s main export. With PTF coffers filled to the tune of billions of dollars, Buhari was supposed to oversee a modernization or a developmental project which would at the very least provide electricity, potable water and macadamized roads throughout the federation. This again was a failure in my opinion despite the fact that some have widely touted it a success on the strength of some paved roads that the PTF engineered. The fact is, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that it was like all other ambitious projects embarked by clueless leaders in the past: some tokenistic measures are taken and then eventually abandoned as precious millions of dollars slowly and mysteriously make their way into the pockets, the foreign private accounts or the tax-free havens of a thieving elite. For an uneducated soldier in 80’s Nigeria who deposed a legitimate president and lorded over the country and its treasury for less than 2 years, he has done exceedingly well for himself financially and otherwise. This fact is often overlooked. 
Buhari should knuckle down and tackle the problems facing the country NOW. That should be his priority. The nation is groaning under a severe economic strain right now. The exchange rate is well over N330 for $1; there is a scarcity of fuel/petrol and worse, the price for a liter has shot up; the health care sector is in ruins; businesses are closing down; the educational sector is a joke; crumbling infrastructure and amenities are staring everyone in the face; there is rising insecurity as Boko Haram threatens peace and security with apparently little to fear of from Buhari’s government; and on and on and on. Instead of pressing forward on those issues, Buhari is junketing around the world or worse, inviting us to look back 31 years ago to demand from Babangida the truthful answer for his ouster―as though, to use a local expression, that makes a difference in the price of a cup of beans today. 
He eventually realized his lifelong dream of becoming Nigeria’s president, with the sort of powers that comes with that office. If he is really serious about Babangida’s actions in those days, and he really wants to be seen battling and crushing corruption, this is his opportunity to take decisive actions to bring Babangida to justice. Surely, he should do this, right? Or are we to assume that Buhari doesn’t know that Babangida is corrupt? He surely knows, but more importantly, Babangida also knows where Buhari’s skeletons are buried, literally and figuratively. This is, in the final analysis, a minor spat between two scoundrels.

Countering Anti-#BLM Lies

I saw a post on Facebook by one of my Facebook friends in Canada regarding the Black Lives Matter (#BLM) movement which pleasantly surprised me because of how accurately she was able to capture the essence of the movement especially now that we are noticing a concerted effort to de-legitimize the movement. I simply clicked the “like” button for that Facebook post and left not realizing that some serious discussions were raging down in the comments box. Somehow my attention was drawn to it, and upon reading the comments that followed, I realized that there were certain claims or lines of arguments that were being trotted out to silence the movement which needed to be countered. 

First of all, since I have now read them, I have to confess that I am baffled as to how people in other parts of the world can truly understand or empathize with the severity of  the terrible legacy of slavery and institutional racism in the US—especially how it has manifested in the lopsided or disproportionate incarcerations or killings of the black minority population—WHILE some people just across the border in Canada completely fail to recognize this. Are they truly that insulated, that aloof, that disconnected from these sad realities? Or is this just a case of intentionally turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the issue? I loathe to dismiss some with contrarian views as fundamentally comprehension-challenged, however it seems to be the most charitable characterization if one does not simply want to label them closet racists.
Now let’s review some of the false claims now being leveled in arguing against the Black Lives Matter movement (claims which anyone with a functioning internet connection can check up on and refute):
Consider this quote:

…. If 6 months ago I started wearing a shirt that said White Lives Matter. Do u not think that would be offensive? Do u not think if I wore that around Regina or the University people would think I was a racist? I honestly find the entire black lives matter movement to be racist. It discriminates against all other races and perpetuates hate and disconnection.

White Lives have always mattered in the US and I suspect in Canada as well. Printing “White Lives Matter” on your t-shirt, if you are white, is just redundant. To use a terrible example, it would be like clamoring for a “Straight Pride Parade” day after witnessing a “Gay Pride Parade” day. Or for a “White History Month” after witnessing a “Black History Month”. Anyone with any firing neurons would readily recognize that these days, parades etc are simply for recognizing and supporting minorities whose interests and vital contributions have not always been recognized. The unstated but obvious fact is that “Straightness” has always been the norm, the recognized, the celebrated. Or in the other case, that month was marked out to recognize and celebrate Black contributions—not because Whites did not contribute meaningfully, but that as the majority population, the rest of the months are, without explicitly stating it, already recognizing White contributions. As a matter of fact, you could argue that most of what passes for American history is “White American” history in this corner of the globe—even though there was significant contributions by people of other “races”. 
The fact is, in the US, due to a long history of slavery and institutional racism (which by the way is not even denied by most Caucasians–there have been reams and reams of data and surveys collected on the subject), black lives have not mattered. We are talking from days when blacks were considered only three-fifths human or closer to the great apes than to modern man; to chattel slavery and forced labor; to the Jim Crow era and segregation; down through the centuries to the present day with disproportionate distribution of wealth, economic strangulation, disparities in employment opportunities, horrible disparities in the criminal justice system, and in the disproportionate murders of black people at the hands of the police–a militarized, trigger-happy instrument of the government. You may be excused if you do not live in the United States and thus do not really get to experience or properly understand the gravity of the things being discussed here, but please do yourself a favor and quit harping on something you do not understand. #BLM is simply a cry to redress these societal wrongs because in the grand scheme of things, it is obvious that Black Lives ought to matter TOO. 

The truth is that all lives matter. Please watch some of the videos of what members of this group black lives matter are saying. They are not preachers for equality and peace but of inequality and hate. I think the energy being spent on this issues should better spent on fixing the real issues in a lot of black people’s lives in the USA and that is poverty, education and health care. we all need to stop focusing on the symptom and start to cure the true disease and it is not race it is poverty, poor education and health care for again everyone because all lives matter . Please do not get caught up in this hate mongering and discord.

The claim that #BLM discriminates against all other races and perpetuates hate and disconnection is simply a STUPID lie. Permit me to speculate on this for a second,  but have you noticed how it would appear that the majority of the people who seem so threatened by #BLM’s fight for justice happen to be Caucasians? Why is this the case? It is simply because there is a dominant white majority who have benefited richly from the long history of slavery and racial prejudice to the detriment of the people of other races. Therefore, when they (the privileged white majority) hear black people protesting the systemic injustices they have experienced, there is considerable guilt and maybe panic. Is it really too far-fetched to believe that they falsely assume that the people protesting and asking for equal treatment must, by some weird logic, be seeking to terminate the privileged status that whites have enjoyed since the creation of this country in order to impose a new reality favoring black people exclusively? It is not surprising therefore, that in wanting to blunt the moral force of such a movement, anti-#BLM activists (an overwhelming majority of whom are of the Caucasian persuasion) have sought to conceal their preference for a continuation of their privileged status quo by hiding under the banner of “All Lives Matter”. 
This is a point that needs to be emphasized greatly.
Too many people online do not actually understand how offensive the hashtag #AllLivesMatter truly is. They are not politically plugged in, and consequently many just think it is a benign phrase–an all-inclusive phrase designed to express the sentiments that all lives are sacred. I wish it were really just that simple and innocuous. The truth is that all things being equal, there would not have been any furor raised by such a sentiment. However, even the most cursory of glances through America’s history to the present day will reveal that all things have never been equal! It is very important to realize therefore that before #BLM came along and gripped the national consciousness, there was never this concerted push by the white majority population, or by huge swaths of the police  and the mainstream media to shine a powerful and uncomfortable light on the specific issue of the disproportionately greater deaths of African-Americans at the hands of the police. The matter had been around but because there were usually no video evidence, lying cops have controlled the narrative–they planted or doctored evidence, and told outright lies to justify their reckless behavior. Worse was that even when some egregious case got to trial, those murderous bad cops were tried and cleared of any serious consequences by friendly judges and juries. All things considered, #BLM was a protest against these sorts of galling injustices. It was only after they got national recognition that some reactionary forces, mostly shrill and possibly racist voices in the mainstream media, seeking to minimize or spite this movement, began to float the #AllLivesMatter slogan. I have already touched on this in a previous post.
So, yes, there are many people who are using it innocently thinking that it is expressing an all-inclusive sentiment NOT realizing that they are unwittingly helping to propagate a subtle, racist anti-black sentiment. If you would permit me to use another crude example, it would be like if my index finger was broken or sprained, and I go to see a doctor. The doctor comes, asks me which finger of my hand was experiencing the sharp pain. It would be like looking at that doctor with all the pain still being felt and exclaiming “all fingers matter–attend to all fingers!” As you can hopefully see from this example, that retort on my part, no matter how well-intentioned, is altogether not helpful. As a matter of fact, it is irrelevant. The index finger was what urgently needed the attention or focus of the doctor since it is in pain. When people post or tout #AllLivesMatter, what they may not realize they are doing (and trust me, some do in fact realize this) is that they are trying to stifle the legitimate voices of protests coming from the Black Lives Movement regarding the equality of treatment that was not there in the very first place! Surely, this should not be too hard to grasp. No one is by any means suggesting that people of other “racial” or “ethnic” backgrounds are not important, or that their lives do not matter rather that when it comes to certain historical and current injustices, certainly on the issue of death by cops, one ethnic minority is still being disproportionately affected. Seriously, like I said, at this point, only racists, or the willfully obtuse will fail to understand at this juncture. Have you wondered why most people from other minority ethnic backgrounds do not necessarily see the need to oppose #BLM? It is because, not only can they clearly see the injustices in the system against blacks, they are intellectually agile enough to realize that as minorities in the United States, they can very rapidly equally experience the ugly hand of racial prejudice and bigotry!
It is time to end these pernicious lies. If you like, you can visit the #BLM website and read up on their own position as espoused by organizers and “leaders” in this effort. There, you will quickly discover that the fight for justice and the cessation of the indiscriminate killing of black people at the hands of bigoted, armed, emotionally and psychologically unhinged police officers is NOT a call for the disparagement of all white people; indeed it is NOT even a call for the denunciation of all cops. This is because it is abundantly evident that not all cops are engaged in this madness. Also it is clear that there are many whites, and indeed people of all racial backgrounds, who are speaking up against these issues. They are abundantly welcomed by #BLM because the truth is that the only thing it takes for injustice to persist is for good men and women of conscience despite their skin color, to say or do nothing. 
You simply need to think about the thousands of people that have been protesting peacefully throughout the country to see that these claims are simply fatuous lies. Yes, as with all movements borne out of opposition or resistance to injustice, there will be a definite segment or subset of the movement, who, moved by the mindless injustices they have witnessed, may be pushed to acts of incitement or even violence in order to hit back at the perceived enemy. In the past, #BLM organizers have resisted such factions, and denied them the right to act out in the name of the movement. BLM have always insisted on drawing attention to these issues through peaceful protest—and this is the indisputable fact. If nothing is done to address these obvious wrongs, no sensible person ought to be surprised then if the oppressed or marginalized resort to less-than-peaceful means to register their utter dissatisfaction. That nightmarish scenario is what every discerning, history-mindful person ought to be eager to avert. Just think of what sort of anarchy might ensue if the rest of the 41.5 million black people in this country, hitherto living peacefully with their Hispanic, Asian and White neighbors, suddenly decide to favor armed or violent conflict. Indeed, it is absolutely clear that #BLM is not seeking to discriminate against all other races or to perpetuates hate and disconnection. That claim is patently absurd.
Furthermore, in case it is not already evident, it is an exercise in woeful binary thinking to suppose that protesting extra-judicial murders by the police implies that #BLM or other Black Organizations are not concerned with or doing something to tackle some of the other issues plaguing the black community. This is a response to people who think Black people cannot walk and chew gum as it were – that is, black people are incapable of waging a multi-pronged struggle against systemic injustices. Anyone who thinks this, is, for the avoidance of a more pithy observation, remarkably dense.
(To be continued)

Black Lives Really Do Matter

There are lots of spurious, demeaning and harmful lies circulating in some aspects of the media, and in many exclusively or majority white enclaves/establishments, about the Black Lives Matter movement. Only the irredeemably obtuse, or shameless contemptible racists would, after being reliably and factually informed on what ‪#‎BLM‬ is truly all about, would continue to believe or speak such revolting drivel. 

Unfortunately, many people you may see on TV purveying opinion that could potentially influence millions of ordinary Americans, and who realistically ought to be aware of the real facts regarding #BLM, are annoyingly or shockingly ignorant. A real disgrace. 
#BLM is not a hate group; it does not preach violence against cops or against whites. #BLM does not preach that ONLY black lives matter or that black lives should matter MORE. These are some of the disgusting false tropes being spread to de-legitimize the movement. #BLM is the simple realization that historically, economically and otherwise, black lives have not mattered in this country– a country which purports to be guided by the proposition that all men possess certain inalienable rights and should be treated equally under the law; it is a protest against a corrupt and unfair criminal justice system that disproportionately targets and punishes or incarcerates black people; and finally, it is a cry for justice and redress for what has become glaringly apparent–the internal prejudice and bias possessed by many cops which have now manifested its ugly head in the rising spate of needless shootings and deaths for black people even when unarmed or when complying with the police. 
 All good men and women of conscience, whether they be black, brown, yellow or white, who have seen these injustices and disapprove, must now speak clearly to condemn these unnecessary police killings and intimidation perpetrated in their name and join together to seek for reform. Clearly, a militarized, trigger-happy police bodes well for no one because this is not a police state. If you keep quiet because you are white and feel that this issue should be tackled by black people alone because you are not directly affected, do not be surprised when some of these power-drunk, authoritarian and trigger-happy cops, are used to brutalize you or strip you of some these freedoms you hold dear–a reality which is now being lived and felt by many of your black fellow citizens. 
 Speak up NOW. Demand accountability. Demand change. Demand justice and fairness. Black lives also matter.
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