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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Random Stories at Dawn

The lords of fuelIts 5a.m and I’m wide awake on my bed listening to the prayer calls from my neighbourhood mosque, my mind is troubled as l contemplated the difficulties that will arise from the proposed Fuel/VAT hike strike, OBJ's parting back handed slap to Nigerians, something very much in his nature as he was arguably the first Head of State to approve a fuel hike. As at last night, the streets and filling stations had emptied, the lords of fuel (Olu epo) were out doing brisk business and traders and transporters had affected an upward price review. I get up to read the news online to the distant calming chant from the mosque and l heaved a huge sigh of relief. The strike is off, the government wisely negotiated with labour unions and civil societies. The battle is won, but the war is on. The war is the complete overhaul and reform of the very corrupt and inefficient Nigerian energy sector. In the meantime, in true Babangida time honoured tradition, what goes up always goes up. We will still have to bear a 5-naira increase, which might of course have been the original intention.

Calmer now, l moved on to other news and my temporary ease quickly dissipates. I read a story with a familiar pattern. Nigerian ex international Godwin Okpara jailed for rape in France. I was going to quickly move on thinking the victim to be some unwitting young white female unaware of our "no means yes, man wants, man is stronger, no one to stop him, no one is looking (except of course at Oshodi, during riots and armed robbery), man takes" mode of accepted social sexual behaviour. Not that it makes it better if it is a white girl, its just that the possibility of justice is much higher in those countries no matter what the "she was gagging for it" school of morons promotes. It was with a sense of distaste that l read that the female concerned was a 13-year-old imported servant (otherwise called house help) from Nigeria whom he had repeatedly raped in his garage. In his defence the ex footballer claimed that the sex was consentual. With a 13 year old, most likely poor and illiterate child employee whom he claimed to have adopted! The man must be mad! Even madder is the wanton ranting of an alleged friend of Okpara who posted a demented defence claiming that Okpara's wife is the witch responsible for his troubles and confirming that yes the rape was known to the player's wife and perpetuated by other males in the family too.
The true madness however is that such stories are so rampant in Nigeria it is almost an expected norm, why else do you think Nollywood is so compelling? Those stories, seemingly grotesque and so crassly told usually carry a pearl of truth that is familiar to the millions of Nigerians who watch it and it provides morbid fascination for others. I interviewed a young nurse for a nanny position yesterday and on enquiry as to why she isn't working as a nurse, she revealed that she was tired of the constant sexual harassment and near rape by doctors on night duty with her. From her countenance l suspect she has probably been raped in such a situation but God forbid she tells, and face ridicule, stigma and further abuse, at best she'll get pity, certainly she wont get justice as l have never heard of a case of a man convicted for the rape of an adult female or male. Even the few convicted of raping a child usually only get a slap on the hand judgement. At least the trafficked child in Okpara's case got justice.

Site of a collapsed building

No longer at ease, l read another story with a painfully familiar pattern, there was yet another collapsed building in Lagos with usual fatalities.Usually, nothing less than 100 dead is any cause for undue concern, l swear a public officer took offence on the show when l insisted that that fatality figures at one such disaster was more than he would admit. You people like to exaggerate, only about 150 people died he said. This latest collapse came one day after one collapsed in the same neighbourhood, which is one month after one collapsed in a Lagos suburb and that was 3 months after… the list is endless. I have done at least 5 shows in the past 2 years on collapsed buildings in Lagos. The station only agrees to air the shows when the death toll is horrendous especially if you cannot point a direct finger of indictment at the federal government, they don't care so much about propaganda and censorship for the Lagos government, that is LTV's responsibility. Personally l think one death is one too many and l fear this is going to follow the same pattern; there will be official huffing and puffing but the concrete of corruption, disregard of laws and inefficiency of the regulatory bodies at the bottom of such tragedies will not be blow away. What is sure to be blown away is yet another structurally incorrect, over crowded tall building in an area of bad drainage in Lagos.

By now l am a little despondent, then l sight a story on the ongoing Ehingate. The last two IGP have been exposed to be appallingly corrupt, any prizes for guessing why the police is in such tatters and armed robbery is on the rise. I have a moment of bliss as l recalled Hafsat Abiola Costello's comment about China's policy of execution of corrupt public officials as they are considered to be murderers. As the chants from the mosques faded in rhythm with the rise of the sun, it dawned (wink) on me that there is a ray of hope in the fact that they have been indicted in the first place. and if this was done across board then Insha Allah, we will be on course. So it was that l returned to Zen like calm and a hopeful spirit ready to face the new day, don't tell me l am being silly (this to that mischievous inner id) don't you know that is with this spirit we survive each day in the city of god? Why the heck can l not get that stupid Jeffery Archer's little story (Clean Sweep Ignatius) on a Nigerian official out of my head? What is it the book title? Yes a twist in the tale, sweet that coming from 'Lord' Archer.


princesa said...

Kai! the Godwin okpara story gotme sooo sad. Some men are just beasts!
About the NLC impending strike and the fuel/VAT hike, i think labour should still go on the strike. N70 is still too high to pay for a litre of fuel.The Govt should revert to the old price so that the cost of everything-from food to transportation will also drop.

My 2 cents said...

Naija is no longer at ease!.

I was in lagos a few weeks ago and as my flight descended into the landscape of Muritala Mohammed airport and it's environs, I swear I saw some buildings quiver.

That country has no respect for lives, it's like there's a blood sucking demon lurking in every dark corner.
How can you explain such fatality to the international community, where is the architect of this level of calamity..dang!

As for the Okpara guy, he's like a lot of perverts roaming the streets of Nigeria, unfortunately he took that idiocy abroad and the hands of the law caught up with him.
He is a sex offender and should henceforth be treated as one.If he comes out of jail alive, People please hide your under-aged children,there's a perv on the lose.
Funmi, you stood me up on our date lol!

Anonymous said...

Where do I start?...umh, I guess no where. Knock on wood! Nigeria is a cursed nation - unending fuel strike, sexual predators on the loose, wanton disregard for human lives, rampant corruption on all facets of govt. establishment; Nigeria is gradually disintegrating into a precipice of abysmal doom.

Anonymous said...

It is with so much regret that I write this comment. It rate of economic growth in Nigeria is very disappointing. We claim to have a democratic government yet we do not have the progress and results associated with a democratic government. With their mouths, our government claims to be there for the people yet, their actions are far from their testimony. Come to think of it, why should the sixth, largest, oil producing nation in the world have to deal with fuel hikes? Like we all know the problem is corruption. Until we deal with this problem, most citizens would continue to battle fuel hikes, poverty, economic deprivation, among many other impoverish conditions. Speaking of corruption, some of the least favorable effects is the lack of justice which in my opinion leads to increased crime rates. Criminals are often let off the "hook" and not properly prosecuted for their crimes. We often compare crime rates such as armed robbery, murder, rape and sexual harassment, between locally and abroad and we often wish the results of the latter were ours; Yet, we fail to consider the reason for such an extensive difference. This is not to say that citizens of developed countries are more innocent and honest than their technologically deprived counterparts but rather the consequences for their actions are apparently more severe an stern. Take the rape charges against the footballer as an example. I can almost guarantee that no legal action would have been taken if it happened in Nigeria. Instead, everyone would play the blame game and pin the victim as the cause of the whole incidence.
In a nutshell, changes need to be made in our justice department and reducing corruption would be one of the best means to accelerate the change.

Iyaeto said...

Dear Funmi, that serves Godwin Okpara,his wife and mum inl aw right right. I'm extrremely happy that the poor girl got justice.I am preety sure that it happens in a lot of Nigerian homes all over the world.i pity the girl though as she's emotionally scarred for life but I kind of blame the girl's parents too but they would claim ignorance and poverty. Please Funmi I think you should organise a programme on the ills of human slavery/trafficking because it happens to adults too. Men take advantage of their vunerability.

Unknown said...

Sometimes i wonder when these madness will stop in lagsos or nigeria cos its not just lagos that buildings have gone down without notice,but i know dat some day somehow things will surely work;i am so so optimistic.
As for that footballer i think he is just mentally derailed abi e no see all those makossa ladies in parie or he just dont want to spend money.But as they say "SOME MOTHERS DO HAVE THEM"
Hope to see u at the talk show on thursday funmi

Omolola said...

yep!!!Opara is a perv.alrite and his wife is a looney as well.but what about d parents of the girl!they should be held accountable for child traffickn.a 13yrold should be in school gettn an education!

Price hike,strike........Nigerians are already used to the trend,Govt wants to hike d price of fuel by 20%........They start with 40%......labour goes on strike,no fuel,no work,no food,helll we all get bored and then govt finally reaches a truce with labour or whoever and agree on 20% increase.we all would be happy to get bk to biz as usual.The struggle continues!!! But God pass them...

twinstaiye said...

Okpara's story is pitiful quite alright. The wife and witchcraft angle is very difficult to belief, but could also be true. How come a well known footballer could descend so low as to have to do it with a 13 year old? Baffles me, but then, it could also happen. Truth is, I am confused the more.

Funmi Iyanda said...

@ princess, completely agree with you and as you may know, the strike is back on.

@hey 2 cents, getting old in my prime, wot date gurl?

Funmi Iyanda said...

@iyaeto, l don organize programmes tire, dey dont care even worse now, dey dont air them, the struggle continues.
@eastcoast, quite right, it is all interwoven and until we tackle the underlying cancer of corruption and build our democracy on a true representative constitution and rule of law, all this will continue
@all, what is our generation going to do about it a. do about it b. do differently?

My 2 cents said...

Gurl please! You're ageless! The date at my blog, see you made it, thanx and hope the strike doesn't last too long, naija sha! it's always something with that place...

sugarlomps said...

Its so sad that some men r so shameless and heartless imagine! he opened his mouth to say he had sex with a 13yr old. It jus beats me what will he say if any1 did that to his child, thank god he did it in land where the law has no respect for status or who you are, and his well you know what they say about birds of same feather.
Strike wen will this end well jus pray that they come 2 an agreement soon.

Ms. Catwalq said...

Godwin Okpara, see how his actions have maligned every nigerian man now ( most of them are not much to write about anyway but at least we have some good ones...few and far between and usually unheard of)

Why are they hiking up the price of fuel? Why is this president sleeping on his oars? Or are his kidneys (rumoured to be in problem) acting up?

As an architect in training, I will say that I will lay the blame for collapsed buildings on both the property owners as well as the architect and construction manager. the truth is that many cannot afford to build with the right type of materials required for the structure to survive in the rain soaked climate of Nigeria. many build as soon as they can in a bid to end their high rental fees. They build in stages, some of which are years apart leaving materials that should have been treated and covered up, exposed to the elements. Secondly, a good architect is expensive to patronise (sadly, our craft comes with alot that has to be monetarily compensated for) and so many homeowners accept the "expertise" of draftsmen who neither qualified nor licensed to design and construct buildings.
Many architects are returning home and have been trained about the integrity associated with design; we are taking pains to correct and eliminate the hitches with our industry.
For the building that just collapsed, I heard it was old. Building materials and methods from twenty years ago require systematic care and upgrades to keep it standing for another fifty.

BOBBY said...

This is just crazy

Anonymous said...

wow, just crazy mehn, na wa o