Search This Blog

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Let Cynthia Sleep!!!

Violence and the Internet

Let’s divest technology off Cynthia and allow the pretty girl a decent sleep. I hate this image Cynthia is fast gaining in the news. I hate it with my entirety. Technology is a platform not dominant in itself but dependent on the control of its users. The outright blame it is sharing in the gruesome murder of Cynthia is starkly unbecoming. In all these sheer blames being poured down on Technology, we soon neglect the issue worth dealing with. For the necessary umpteenth time, technology did not kill Cynthia, men of dark intentions did. Panning more attention on these people is most important. That will allow us an ample rein on how to deal with future situations of this type. Let me tell you something; Facebook is not the cause, we are.

I have had my fair share of the online experience to run commentary on it. I am also one of the online enthusiasts as my means will allow me. It is exactly a decade since I know the web and I have never for once left it. We were once in a relationship and those times were characterised with examining our differences. At a time it was a courtship, this was when I was slowly being driven by it. Now, I and the web are one, let’s just call ourselves life partners. There is virtually nothing I cannot deploy it into – and as I said earlier on – as my means would allow me, internet is still money draining in this part of the globe. I have had my rough edges with the use of the Internet. With the time and precious opportunities lost on binging on it, I have since grown to maximising it into an everyday helping tool.

The web is an interactive platform run on the linkage of individual users. Isn’t that what Web 2.0, the sought-after platform of the web, fosters?  So how does the internet come to execute a thing by its self? Internet is an extension of the real, we should always know that. Whatsoever comes on it is only mainstreamed from our interactive physicality. The Internet only promotes and sustains, it never can boast of anything of its exclusive origin.

In gaining closure on the death of Cynthia, the traditional media has not been helping. With their misleading headlines and messy conclusions, you soon begin to believe they bear sinister grudges against the internet. The internet has outsmarted them. Sure. Now, it seems the unfortunate death of Cynthia is offering them a cheap gauntlet against it. Even when it has become the general belief that Cynthia’s death is occasioned with the use of the new media, I won’t be coaxed into believing such. We lose it on many fronts when we misplace the basics that matter for lazy conclusions. For clarity, just like anything that can be cashed on, the new media only aided the nefariousness of this gang. Before the new media came, we have been having cases of this colour. So why hype this out of proportion now?  Let’s not be hoodwinked out of simple reasons. The new media may have been a tool, the evil is independent of it. And as such should be dealt with separately.

I can closely observe we still grapple to understand this new media. Our immediate older generation probably ever wouldn’t. When anything amoral comes on it, we scream crimson murder, solely criticising it. That is like removing the user from the tool. When a knife runs foul, does one blame the knife? When a stone is thrown, should the stone be broken and the thrower absolved? It is a good thing this gang has been apprehended, let’s question them for the reason for their deed and not the reason for their tool.

Recently, shortly after this incident, her father asked her if she owns a facebook account. She affirmed. She was given a stern look and silently reprimanded. When her dad gave her the newspaper reporting Cynthia’s death, she understood the situation better. For Seun, for my friend, facebook has become the next thing to evil in her home. She is now faced with the post-trauma of Cynthia’s death.

“This sort of crime is only possible because of the unique connectability, anonymity and intimacy-at-a-distance which the internet affords.”David Reid. I can’t agree less. Our security details should take a clue from this. To start with, do we even have cybercrime experts? That’s so bad if we don’t. Internet is now with us. There will be more evils and its advantages will continue to leap too.

This occurrence wouldn’t be the last. Cynthia is dead, I commiserate with the bereaved. She is upwardly mobile, her death shouldn’t be tied to that. Let her sleep, spare her the noise.

Let Cynthia Osokogu sleep!

·         Additional insights provided by Olagunju Seun.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

‘SO WE DO NOT FORGET’: A NaijaStories’ Anthology

Mourning in Retrospect

This is my grief outpoured on white pages. This is my time to mourn.

I read the scars of the Dana Air Crash in this NaijaStories anthology and I recall bitter memories; memories that turned horrible in retrospect. Dana Air Crash happened seventeen days to my birthday. I was in school and immersed in the anxiousness that goes into preparing for an examination. So many things were happening to me that month. I had an exam to write and I just had my heart broken by a silent seductress. The semester was nearing its end and I was prospecting for a fare to take me home, but my friends were equally broke. Those days were horrible. When I was told a plane had crashed, it was like any other news. Boko Haram had just bombed some people too. So, what distinguishes one from the other?  Those are evil, but we become more evil as we get used to this blackness; these headlines painted with blood; these jagged and sawed bodies in scattered parts on our screens and social walls. When Dana Plane crashed, I saw pictures, read news and got inured to the daily horribleness as the dark days went by, or as I thought they went by. Forgive my nonchalance. Forgive my seeming familiarity with these evils. That gene makes me a Nigerian of this age. I have been so scarred that what gets to my hearts must pierce through this evil-beaten skin. I am You. I am Joseph Omotayo. I was born on the 17th of June. 153 people died on the 3rd of June, 2012.

Weeks after, as I was at home, as I read through this anthology, I cried silently. There is a moment of deeper grief that comes with collected emotions at silent time. As I read these entries, away from the din of my 14-peopled room on campus, I grieved solely. Now I must mourn, grant me the privacy. Now I cry, don’t try comforting me. I am only mourning in retrospect.

Art for Memories and Tears

It would grieve the minds of Oscar Wilde and his aesthete influence, Walter Pater, in their graves if I say this anthology provides an outright disproval of their concept of art for art’s sake. Nigerian author, Emmanuel Iduma, also affirmed this in an interview recently by saying that ‘…art cannot be for art’s sake…’ Conjuring up this issue will amount to some sort of neglect on my part, at least from the paradigm of the painful happening that necessitated this anthology. Here is art for memories and tears. I have shed mine.

This anthology is one that tolls like a bell in one’s memory, jarring one from the lively unconsciousness that has clouded one’s mind as to the pervasiveness of death. It is to the memory of the 153 souls who irrespective of age, sex, tribe and belief were grimly scarfed by death. You have not been part of this ‘memorialization’? Here is an opportunity to do so. Log into, download this anthology pro bono and you will be giving these souls a second life to live, not in your device but in your heart.

Below are some of the entries;

Tears in Letters

Till Death Do Us Part by Enoquin
Playing pranks on the wrong person can go a long way in denying one an everlasting joy. It haunts when every attempt to invalidate what has been done proves abortive especially when death comes in to force a denouement on the whole drama.

Kay struggles with the pain of being betrayed by his fiancée, Efe, till he crosses the eternal border. But to Efe, it’s only a joke. A joke that needs to develop before being laughed off. Death enjoys no such joke. It denies the joking party the after-laugh of her game.

MD 83’s Last Flight by Inspired Illustrationz
This treads the path of a satire in narrating how the father of a generation of aircrafts after years of meritorious service is compelled to go for a re-commission in the World Air Museum, an allegory of Nigeria’s derelict aviation industry, where it plies the path of excruciating misery.

His Pot Lied by Tonye Willie-Pepple
I wonder what it is between Tonye and what goes into the stomach. Having read his poem, ‘The Old River Bank’ in Saraba magazine’s newest issue, which like ‘His Pot Lied’ is infused with culinary imageries, I opine that this bard is a true worshipper of the gastronomic deity. This poem is too good to ignore in this review. It recounts in craftily enjambed lines the tale of a devil-cook, who in search of meat, fries a human meat to naught. Indeed, the pot is a bloody liar.

P.S. - I Love You by Ife Watson
Ayo Sodeke, a lady on the verge of marriage may not have to blame her demise completely on the Nigerian factor. This story validates African traditional beliefs as against the Western religions.  So many things give Ayo ominous signs before boarding that plane, but she ignores all and only has to send these words to her lover as she becomes balls of fire: P.S. I Love You. The imageries of this story moved me.

‘…It seemed something sparked in the plane as the passengers heard the word ‘panic’ – pandemonium was let loose as everyone screamed at the top of their voices; calling on to Jesus and Allah to save their lives just this once and they would be good forever. You listened numbly as the young man beside you promised to resign his job and become a full time pastor if God spared his life. You felt like you were in a 3-D cinema watching horrific events unfold on the screen. Then, the glass on your eyes broke and you realised all at once that you were part of this bizarre movie…’

Laugh Lines by Kiah
This is really a short story. There is a way Kiah makes her transitions and save the reader the rigour of rambling in a valley of insignificant descriptions. Ifunanya waits for Odinaka, her husband who dies in a plane crash to return, though in the infantile body of Nnamdi, her unborn son. Until then, she believes Papa Odinaka’s laugh lines will not be restored.

Memoria by Ayokunle Falomo
The poet says it is not a poem but I am not fooled! The structure and diction confirm my belief that this is a poem. It is glaring even before the poet says it that this poem is not too easy.

Surprise by Teewah
Teewah's story is another good one. It manages two settings and narrations in a cramped space of one and half pages. It is well told. It boils with anxiety and melancholy alike.  Maybe Toni will not expect surprises in a long time. The last she expects from Dayo has a Dana imprint of doom.

For The Sake Of Closure by Afronuts
This piece presents the universality of death; how it can unite us irrespective of our multifarious discrepancies. It is also a eulogy to the newly-defined mourning mode the internet has afforded us. Afronuts’ experience which he relays tells of how one can flip one’s device to shed some e-tears.

Lamentations (When shall we heal; what shall we remember?) by Xikay
Divided into six parts, each mono-stanzaic, this poem captures in its simple and poetically opulent diction the mood of despondence as well as the tone of inquisitiveness normally attributed to sorrow. Here is my best stanza:

‘Say, is he blind that holds the harvest sickle?
Why doth he pluck fledgling stars, yet to twinkle?
Foolish farmer, hungry; he slaughters little chicks
And stuffs apples yet unripe, in his cheeks!’


For one; this anthology is a memory preserver. For another; it tends to humanize the pains for all of us in a bearable way. Download your copy of this anthology and let’s all listen to the various voices in it as they resound through this memorial offering. We can never forget the Dana Air crash victims. We wouldn’t!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

‘Progressives’ Impunity in Osun: Spare Me This ‘Change’

Osun State Seal

Guest blogged by Sodiq Alabi

Osun has never been lucky with good leadership since her establishment in 1992. Forget about the regrettable military era (92-99), fast forward to May 1999 and there you find Chief Bisi Akande whose major idea of governance was retrenchment of civil servants and using the saved funds to build a gigantic state house which until 2010, when I was there last,  was still largely unoccupied. Click on 2003 and you see Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola (of the People’s Democratic Party- PDP), a man people thought would be a change. At first, the Okuku prince seemed serious but the brazen corruption, unprecedented mismanagement and executive lawlessness that characterized the later part of President Obasanjo’s tenure did not spare Osun. Little surprise that in 2007 the electorate once again voted for the so called progressives now led by Bisi Akande, but Maurice Iwu’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deemed it fit to hand the mandate to the runner up, incumbent Oyinlola. This illegal second term of Oyinlola (07-10) was the longest and worst period of the state. By the time the Appellate Court handed Mr Rauf Aregbesola (of the Action Congress of Nigeria- ACN) his rightful mandate, majority of Osun people were already groaning under the oppression of the government and were also rightfully afraid of the impending governorship election of 2011 which was being fiercely contested between Fatai Akinbade and Iyiola Omisore, the accused murderer of Chief Bola Ige, both of the PDP. Had the appellate court not ruled against PDP only God knows how many people would have died in the do-or-die PDP Primaries and the gubernatorial election that would have taken place.  

The inauguration of Mr Rauf Aregbesola was greeted with great enthusiasm that could rival that of the ascendancy of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States.  Unfortunately for the people of my dear state, Governor Aregbesola has so far not fared better than his predecessors. Actually, he has been dabbling in things that have little or no bearing on the standard of living of the people he is supposedly serving. Things that had they been done by a PDP led government; the mainstream media and political analysts would have gone crazy.

First, he thoughtlessly employed 20,000 youths on a salary of less than #10,000 per month for works that already had agencies for them. He impulsively changed the name of the state from ‘Osun State’ to the State of Osun as if we should be grateful our governor could rephrase names. An anthem and pledge were composed for the state and a new coat of arms no one understands its significance was designed. The motto of the state was changed from the popular and culturally significant ‘state of the living spring’ to the meaningless and clichéd Ipinle Omoluabi. All these and more were the cosmetic changes the Aregbesola’s administration implemented with scarce resources and celebrated with elaborate fanfare.  Changes that will most likely die with the present regime.
For sure, Oyinlola was largely an incompetent governor and he surrounded himself with thieves and criminals but the erstwhile governor also had some not so bad idea while in power. But just like every other new governor (and despite the fact that ACN and Aregbesola promised they would be different), Aregbesola has made the rubbishing of the projects left by his predecessor his number one agenda. He stopped the six stadia being built across the state; this came as no surprise to one as Aregbe’s role model, Governor Akande sacked all the Physical Education teachers and cancelled all the sport programmes in the state and Osun till now is yet to recover from that unfortunate decision. The newly established, fastly growing but prohibitively expensive Osun State University would have become history but for the protest of people of good will. A small but important example of the lack of vision of this administration is the demolition of school buildings before new ones are built.  Pupil of some schools in Osun might not have classrooms to resume to next session. We might need to write a book to document the failures, inaction and mis-action, mismanagement, lack of vision of this clueless regime. So let’s talk about the most bizarre of the happenings in the State of Osun.

As I have mentioned earlier, Osun people are already accustomed to living under bad governance even if they were promised something else. They’ve got some twenty years’ experience and they were adequately equipped to handle another four years of ineptitude leadership. But what no one should never ask of us is life under some kind of martial law; some sort of sanctioned jungle justice. What am I talking about? Just a second.

SAS vehicle on the watch
It was my friend, an Osogbo based blogger, who first told me of the latest impunity going on in Osun. I didn’t really pay attention to him until I traveled home for the Eid Fitr; during this period I lost my granddad, a staunch supporter of ACN, and I have  to spend two weeks in Osun. These two weeks have been one of the most enlightening and shocking periods of my life. Let me ask you, what’s the punishment for indecent dressing? You don’t know? Well you are in good company as I didn’t know too. My lawyer friend insists there is a seldom implemented law on general indecency. But in Osun under the watch of Ogbeni Aregbe, the punishment for indecent dressing is severe beating and public humiliation. Of course, you heard me right. The government of Osun has retained the services of some soldiers and police officers organized into a special force unit called Swift Action Squad (SAS) whose major job is to secure the lives and properties of the people of Osun but are now more concerned with harassing the people. They specialize in jungle justice; making the Aregbe regime look impatient for the legal process that helped the governor reclaim his mandate. Today in Osun you get punished for your ‘crimes’ immediately and on the spot by these soldiers. These soldiers are the accuser, the prosecutor, the jury, the judge and the punisher all rolled into one. Once you are charged you are guilty and once you are guilty you are summarily punished. No appeal, no protest.  
The main victims of this new kangaroo court are young girls who commit the error of wearing clothes that make them look too sexy for these Aregbe’s buffoons and probably turn them on too. These idiots seize young girls from the streets and sometimes drag them off speeding Motor cycles and beat them to a pulp. Exuberant young men are also not exempted from this jungle court. Nursing mothers who do not carry their children according to the unknown laws of the almighty SAS can be tried and punished. Other things that no one knows until someone fall victim are also criminal under this new regime. The punishments for crimes according to these imbeciles depend on their perpetually foul mood.

One incident that shocked me beyond word is that of a young lady ‘arrested’ on Saturday 25th August, 2012 in Iwo. She was accused of wearing a top revealing her breast and the soldiers forced her to remove her top so as to totally reveal the breast she was ‘trying to flaunt’. Then a passing innocent Okada rider, who had no idea what was happening, was also stopped and asked by the soldiers to fondle the exposed breast of this young woman. The Okada man tried to turn down this offer and that’s a decision he would be regretting for a long time. He was mercilessly beaten and at the end he had to do as asked. What kind of punishment is this?  Just like most people who witnessed or learnt of this case, I was enraged. This is no fiction. This was even briefly mentioned on a breakfast show the following morning on the state owned Orisun FM with the presenter justifying and making light of the incident. I consider myself a morally conscious and a religious person but I do not see any sense in this kind of arrangement as it is most vulnerable to injurious abuse as we have seen in this case. Even under Sharia, which I must add the governor is not at all implementing, there are procedures, very strict procedure for issues like this.    

As a believer in democracy, I hate arbitrariness and disregard for rule of law and rights of citizens. These people that are summarily punished like primary school children have their right to a fair trial which I’m pretty sure these soldiers have little idea what it entails. Even under the harshest judicial system in the world, people still have right to a trial unless we are back in the military era. For someone who benefitted from the painstaking judicial system of this country, this SAS of a thing constitutes an all-time low for Governor Aregbesola. How can a system that successfully retrieved a stolen mandate from an incumbent and a member of the ruling party not be able to deal with misdemeanor like indecency? As it is now, citizens especially youth are living under constant fear that they may unwittingly commit an unknown crime and get punished. I personally saw a young girl ran like Usain Bolt when she heard the seriously irritating siren of SAS. What this girl wore could easily pass for a cheer leader dress in Lagos or Port Harcourt. I fail to see how punishing that young girl is going to lead to the provision of job for my friends that graduated couple of years ago, or refurbishment of class rooms in our schools or promotion of civil servants. Have you ever thought of indecency and thought of Osun at the same time? Your answer just like mine would probably be a NO. And that’s because indecency has never been a problem in Osun until our governor of little things successfully made issue out of nonsense. I understand something of this nature might have happened in ACN led Lagos state few years back and  may still be happening in ACN led Oyo state. 

Why would the primary assignment of a government of a state with high poverty and dropout rates, poor infrastructure, almost zero industrial presence, and high unemployment concern itself with the issue of young girls who wear short skirts? Or young men with Obama style hair cut?  Unless the intended consequence (as against unintended consequence) is to instill fear in the minds of the citizens and distract attention from the inadequacies of the government. Perhaps the governor is using this gimmick to appeal to the skewed religious awareness of the citizens and portray himself as the enforcer of God’s rules. Whatever it is, Osun people certainly did not sign up for this. A friend of mine asked me why these things are not reported in the mainstream media; while I cannot presume to know all the answers, I can fairly say that in Nigeria, victims of abuse and oppression rarely talk or report them. The tendency of our people to blame the victims perhaps discourages victims from seeking redress. Another reason may be the fact that ACN controls the majority of the media in the South West. An equally important reason to consider is the laziness or lack of initiatives or drive on the part of our journalists and writers and the cliché reporting of only already reported news. People rarely break news in this clime. I hope this piece will provoke a thorough investigation of the activities of this vigilante outfit. We cannot allow this kind of things in a democracy.

When you are outside of the state and you hear about the progress Aregbesola is making in Osun, you naturally want to feel good as an indigene of the state. Like one time in 2011 when someone told me that secondary schools students were being gifted a palm top computer. I was overjoyed at this commendable initiative until my sister told me that it was all news to her. No computer was being given. Today, students across the state are still waiting for the fulfillment of this year old promise. Just another successful media propaganda, of which ACN are now grandmaster. I’m officially now tired of the so called progressives’ effectiveness and efficiency and their messiac importance and of how they will change Nigeria for the better if they take over from PDP as they have done in the South West. If what is obtainable in Osun is what is on offer for the rest of the country, then I say please spare us this choking change. Spare us this useless, distorted and abysmally failing ‘progressive’ politics. And for my Governor, do away with the inconsequential and cosmetics and face true governance; your time is running out. 


Sodiq Alabi, a poet and political analyst, sent in this piece from Iwo, Osun state. He could be contacted through

< >