Nigeria(ns) Sef

Even in the most terrible of situations,
these people build humour.
You might wonder whether it’s a coping mechanism.
We wonder too.
It seems almost innate to make jests in a storm;
and more so after the dusts have settled.
Afterall, it is the more you can do while trying your best—or after.
Viktor Frankl might be proud.

My generalisation may be incorrect, but the average Nigerian feels entitled to the proverbial ‘national cake’; the one those in goverment—and their croonies—have been feasting on for longer than the youths can remember. The youths have learned too. And a good number have successfully tried to partake of the global cake, sometimes considering it the easier option.

In a country like Nigeria it can be difficult to properly identify those most in need of the covid-19 foods palliatives. Certainly, there are poor people that don’t look as poor and ‘rich’ people that don’t look as rich. We’ve heard of a one-legged man who begs for alms; he has a house, nice clothes etc. People struggling in their hussle, and who may not even have a piece of land to build a house on happily give him money; apparently he’s cool, standing in traffic…. Please don’t take this the wrong way.

There’s no country like Nigeria.

So a warehouse was found in Lagos last week, or thereabout, with foodstuff branded as palliatives for the 2020 lockdowns inspired by a desire to stave off the mysterious SARS-COV-2 virus touring the nation. It was looted. People have been scouring other states for similar warehouses. About a week before that I came across two pictures placed side by side. One showed packaged noodles distributed as palliative while the other, nice looking meals packed for those in the ‘endSARS’ … protests. The message was clear. Now partially vindicated by the discovery of the warehouse(s). We’ve at least seen where [some of] the money went.

Stop the burning and looting, biko! But they will not be consoled—even after. The miscreants have taken over. I fear some of them are the same people contributing to insecurity at some bus-stops … when it’s dark—usually.

It now seems like the art of governance is tantamount to the art of personal enrichment. Where the people in power create schemes to skim—no, shovel—national/state/local government income into their personal/family and croonies pockets. (I’ve heard randomly that one former governor is an innovator in this field of studies.)

Those ‘under’ them in government, perhaps now, so as ‘not to carry last’, have their methods too. You may have to pay transport money to someone to move your file through/to the required desk, for instance. The issue is now systemic; having a life of its own. People could even get hired/fired based on how well they maintain the status quo. Certainly, that makes good business sense. The business of goverment is business afterall. It just has been largely for the benefit of a select—the special ones. Bad still, the private sector is not spared. Yet, the many awesome and smart and honest and pleasant … Nigerians keep the ball rolling.

I heard someone exclaim jovially, “Omo, wahala dey!” (meaning that there is trouble), while discussing possible solutions to some of Nigeria’s pressing problems. In all, we closed with “Nigeria go better”, (taken from a song) a phrase of hope, but in reality sometimes spoken with a tone of resignation—well, not today.

The Nigerian Eagle has landed (spoken as a prophecy). We fly green-white-green.

The company looks like it’s dying—9mobile

Etisalat came into Nigeria with a splash, marketed themselves as though they were for the high class, and a special group with cool tastes. They were the last to arrive so they had the hill climbing task of building a customer base in an ‘old’ but still growing market; they needed to ensure national availability quickly so as not to detract potential customers. Their services worked well, and they attracted lots of users through their data service, but they made themselves the most expensive of the four. They wanted to be the Apple computers of telcos in Nigeria. Years later, they sold off, and a new company 9mobile took their place. Nothing changed, the core strategy of unique but pricey—relative to the competition—tariffs and appealing to coolness remained the same. They’ve been losing customers from before the sale, and still are. It looks like they simply don’t want to live anymore. Because of a false start and a false premise?

Here are some thoughts that have come up in discussions without regard to workability….

The mobile network business serves a commodity market requiring a delicate balance of price, performance and ‘coopetition’. Many people will cope with mediocre but managable performance if the price is low enough.

Forget coolness and high class, this is a commodity market where people don’t attach emotional highs to spending big with nothing for other people to praise. Your service is neither an iphone nor a mercedes.

Use the Chinese method, bring your prices down. However, don’t overdo it, and don’t reduce quality too much either. Matching the cheapest across the competitors may be sufficient. This may lower income, but hopefully stem the trend of losing customers. You may even get some old customers back. Providing free data will win you many fans, surely. Could there be a medium to long term benefit for doing this? How can you do this without upsetting the others?

Wouldn’t it better to give real tariff benefits that apply to all network, versus too much skewing to own customers. Most people use other networks already…. You want to both keep your existing customers and win new ones.

Look for a complementary side gig; it looks like the others are ahead, but there’s alot of space in the sky.

Sell off to the second biggest provider?

Close down the business and auction the property.

Our Independence Day Tomorrow

To unity and faith, peace and progress.

Its now  fifty-four years that Nigeria did the formal send-off of the British colonial government. It was on the first of October, 1960.

Not long before, the British had mapped out a territory to be bound together as one country. They named it from the Niger river area. In 1914 the British colonial administration at the eastern edge of West Africa put together a motley crew of tribes and tongues; nations of various character, nations with different histories, to form one region, one administrative domain. There began our collective history as Nigeria.

Long before 1914, there was a call put out to peoples of every tribe and tongue and country to join a new nation. It’s bells ring today. The way been cleared and the door was opened for any to enter by a choice. To become one nation under God and to have the spirit of Christ to rule them all. Its a motley crew of peoples too, transcending borders and lands, peoples and cultures. You could almost think America. The Church is the Ecclesia, a people called out of many tribes.

Different from how the peoples of Nigeria became Nigerian, we became Christian by choice when we acknowledged that God is, and chose to believe that the son of God died and was resurrected for us, alive now and for eternity. Our ‘independence’ moment.

This translation was effected by our words spoken from heart as we’d said that Jesus the Christ is our lord and leader; It was also in mind and attitude, as we’d chosen to believe Jesus the Christ—accepting as truth that he had brought us into sonship with God, the supreme love.

Our differences and the collective experiences of our tribes may give us reasons to differ, to argue, and even to be angry. What really makes the difference for society and more, is the attitude with which we deal with these histories and feelings. Always we remind ourselves as Christians that we are one in Christ; we remind ourselves also to earnestly keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, dealing with one another in love.

We are reminded to not go to bed with anger. Reminded to forgive; to repay evil, but with good. To stand for truth and justice. And to choose peace, as much as it depends on us.

All too often, our humanity gets in the way. So it’s a battle, and one we will win with God’s help. And He says we have to try first, and second, and third, and ….

With the unifying by the Spirit of Christ, or nationhood, differing backgrounds should only be celebrated and appreciated. True that our tribal loyalties are strong, but our bond in God is deeper. Our bond as a nation, and family, needs be stronger than every reason for balkanisation in order to keep good peace and ensure oneness.

We have only a few things to live in: righteousness, peace, and joy. Surely we can make it.

Romans 10: 9 – 10
Ephesians 4: 2 – 6
Romans 12: 4 – 21

Cooking white rice and some.

We’re in a season again of wholesale meal sharing, eating with friends, family and whoever. With food on my mind, I thought to share my way of preparing rice (white rice) and making a meal of it.

Why rice? Because it’s a staple and its easy to cook and it goes with many things. It isn’t choosy about what you eat with it (the Chinese know this too well, buffet galore). Most importantly, I cook it well.

The way
Pour washed rice into a pot of water (boiling/hot/normal) with heat at an appropriate level and cook until white and soft enough for eating. Simple!

In this method you put just enough water so that it ‘dries’ up about when the rice is well cooked. After the water has boiled for a few minutes, you can reduce the heat and let it kind of simmer. Cooking rice in a little too much water and for a little too long tends to making ‘tuwo shinkafa,’ a rice pudding of sorts that goes with some soups/stews (miyan kuka, miyan taoshe etc) eaten with hand; common to the Hausas and some northern Nigerian tribes. It may be salted to taste, and flavoured with onions or black pepper, even with a seasoning cube. White rice may be served with honey and butter (truly), and with perhaps chopped sweet peppers or vegetable mixes (green peas, corn, cauliflower, carrots…). Some soups and stews work well. Red ‘stew’ is the norm in Nigeria and it goes well with bananas or fried plantain.

There are different varieties of rice, some cook faster than others, some more nutritious, while some swell more. ‘Popular’ Nigerian varieties include Ofada and Ekpoma. Take care to ‘clean’ them before cooking so that you don’t get to chew ‘cooked’ stones. There’s also Abakaliki rice. You can’t beat these varieties for taste, aroma, and nutrition.
We mostly eat imported rice (from Asia), cleaned and parboiled, thus less nutritious. It might even be GM (genetically modified). A common imported variety is called tomato rice, then there’re the others. And that is all I know. There are many here who have never had the pleasure of tasting local varieties.

Please take precautions to prevent accidents or disasters while cooking. Note also that the above method may result is a slight browning of rice at the bottom of the pot which is quite delicious when perfectly engineered.
As a general rule, rice is not to be stirred. Doing this upsets the channeling of heat to the top and may lead to variations in softness making it challengingly palatable. The heat localisation at the bottom may also result in toast/roast/burnt rice.
Put a fork or spoon through to the bottom and move slightly to one side to check whether the water is dry if the water level is below the rice level in the pot.
Rice would usually swell to about 3 to 4 times its volume when done. This should be a useful guide for determining how much water is needed. Evaporation isn’t much of a consideration with a pressure cooker.
There’s jollof rice and fried rice too, but they’re beyond the scope of this piece.