Tuesday, November 15, 2011


With the lines of music I hear these days on radio stations and watch on my TV screens, I am of the opinion there is a wanting for something more deep and meaningful. The lines are similar and the beat is just as the same. Only few Nigerian artistes understand what music is and believe in being an individual in a crowd. When you watch our American and other counterparts (though not all of them make sense) you know we are still far behind. Many musicians lack style, lyrics content and originality.
 Very true, we are better but we can do more. People like Tu Face are huge stars. We like to deceive ourselves that many of our stars are making music. There are so many musicians with beats that we can barely hear what they are saying. I have always thought that music should carry a positive message but since I am not hearing anything, I cannot say there is a message. It is always about a girl or a guy in love, with girls have naked shaking their buttocks….i am tempted to think; do they really think, they are sexy or what? Since we have no message, we are using sex and vulgar lyrical content to sell. It is majorly noise and when you try to say otherwise, they say you are beefing them or you are jealous.
The kind of music young people dance to, even some of the older generation leaves you wondering where we are headed. That further goes to say that we need to transform our thinking. We have to do better. When I hear musician in Nigeria talk of mentoring people, I am wondering what they are mentoring, when they are teaching nothing already with their lyrics….people make a couple of bucks and they start saying they are made, how BABA GOD has blessed them and no enemy can run them down. All manner of supposed ghetto and gangster rap...a lot of people think they understand hip-hop, forming fake American accent, plenty wannabes, lack of originality and poor lyrical content.
OF SHAPING US. When all you hear is sex, sex, getting rich quick, no room for delayed gratification, naked girls, money, flashy cars and the likes, it is likely to becloud your thinking and values…
We really have to improve and media houses should stop playing and showing all manner of sorts…what exactly is the point if the song does not pass a message? It rarely entertains and it is usually unnecessarily loud. We are driven by making all the money that we forget quality. How can we go far? When you look at our musical talent hunt shows, the winner goes into oblivion after a single hit or album, after that, they can barely put music together. A good musician, should know the professional ethics, be able to make music with anything, not just one type of music.
A good musician is well grounded and very versatile. When you watch the talent hunts, they are usually looking for the same type of people, particular audition songs….do we all have to sing like Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Rhihanna or Whitney Houston? Do we all have to do Usher or become like Justin Bieber? What then is the point in originality? Excellence thrives with originality and it is why most winners of these talent shows do not go far….when you are trying so hard to be another Jay Z, another Mariah Carey instead of learning from them to build your own brand, you become overwhelmed and your talent suffers. You tune multiple station and you are hearing the same songs, songs that are meaningless. We even dance to them without giving second thoughts to what the lyrical contents are saying. I have stopped a lot of that, I am getting more interested in what musicians say…. It tells the type of people we are. Even though I find myself singing along sometimes unconsciously, I am gradually coming out of that. That is because it is everywhere, you hear it continuously.
They type of people we celebrate in music sometimes leaves you wondering. When we have the likes of Onyeka Onwenu with major classics, songs you can hear every word and sing it, people like Panam Percy Paul, Asa, Dare Art Alade, Lagbaja, Fela, Femi, Nneka, Ayo ,9ice etc. People like Omawumi, Timi and J’odie are doing well on originality. We can improve if we will just understand the basics of music. Creativity and originality is the word. We cannot continue to be making noise and believing we are stars. We will remain local champions. The potentials are there, it is just the basics.
I am all for the oldies and few of the new school because the oldies is music to my ears and they will remain classics for a long time.

REUBEN ABATI: The Metamorphosis

In recent times, Reuben Abati has come under serious criticisms and it is understandable why people should feel they way they do. Reuben Abati was the outsider, the type of writer the common Nigerian could relate with because we believed he spoke our minds and he criticism of the ruling class was on point.  When he was chosen by Goodluck Jonathan to join his cabinet, we were hoping that being an outsider, he would be speaking for the common man….. Whatever happened to the Reuben Abati we used to know on the pages of Guardian Newspaper or did we really know him?  It is being human. We get carried away sometimes, thinking we know people but the truth is humans are very unpredictable especially with money and power.
The whole metamorphosis began when it was rumoured that he lobbied intensely for the position being that he wrote a ten-part article on Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency.
In case, you do not know who Reuben Abati is, He used to be the Boss at The Guardian Newspaper (one of Nigeria’s Top Daily Newspaper), he usually wrote a column and we loved it because of how much he expressed topical issues without mincing words. Perhaps, that was the man of yesterday…. People do change; it is not new around here. If you asked the man himself, I bet he would say he is still the same person but am not sure many Nigerians would agree with that.  A lot of people are not so keen on rubbishing him but it is a case of what he said then and what he is saying now. How could he fit in with PDP and what of his famous column which described Nigeria as a failed State?
Power corrupts……true fact! Looking back at what he said in the past and what he is saying now, you will agree that our dear Reuben has metamorphosed into a politician. He went from criticizing the Government to now defending that same Government. He has truly moved from being a critic to being an apologist. This goes to show that criticizing is easy but when it is your turn in power what guarantee is there that you will be different? Now that he is within the corridors of power, his tune is different. It explains why a lot of supposed “good people” get a chance to experience the corridors of power and they soon forget where they are coming from, they are and they totally compromise. Only God knows what happens in the Nigerian Corridors of power.
In 2009, He recommended that it will soon be time to start stoning the Economists in the corridors of power in Abuja…..Now that he is there; it all comes back to him. He was a strong critic of PDP, now he is part of them. What does that tell you?
In His own words;
        PDP: “...a most irresponsible political party, its continuing success in Nigerian politics, a great oxymoron, but a veritable indication of the putative nature of Nigerian politics marked as it is by insincerity, inequities and injustice....the PDP has done great damage to Nigeria and its people. Consistent with the mood of the times in 1998, the founding fathers of the PDP promised Nigerians...”litical party that will uphold the sanctity of the rule of law, human rights, strong political culture, equitable wealth distribution, minority rights, infrastructural development and high standard of living. They have failed Nigerians on each and every one of these issues” It is a divided political party, a party where the end justifies all the means and the meanness, and where the party register is full of obituaries. Across the country, there is so much strife in PDP constituencies, In terms of values, the PDP has gone down the scale in the last ten years, and the direction is clearly, permanently Southern. But while the party leaders pretended to be on good terms, they forgot to spare a moment or even a thought for all the victims of PDP's power politics, the men and women whose lives have been sacrificed by ambitious and greedy party members... Dr Reuben Abati in 2009
         “This is perhaps why most Nigerians are indifferent about the National Honours system. It does not change anyone’s opinion about the character of the title-holder. It does not attract a salary or a lifetime pension. It probably allows access to the VIP lounge at the country’s airports. But anyone with a couple of thousand Nairas can also use the VIP lounge…….”ho rather than pay a token sum for an hour of comfort, waiting to catch a flight, would insist on waving a medal? Still, we should not make light of it. The concept of honour is at the heart of society. Men from time immemorial have craved it. They would kill for it, if possible, go to war, and risk all. Honour is an intangible asset; it is about prestige and self-worth. But that prestige must be seen to have been earned, to have been worked for, such that it inspires the admiration of the community. Like Akintola Williams, CBE; I.K. Dairo, MBE. A review of the National Honours Act and system is overdue. Nigeria must be probably the only country where people are given national honours for work not done, or in anticipation of what they would achieve. National honours should be reserved for those who through hardwork and extraordinary achievement have helped to raise the Nigerian profile and its place in the world. If this be the case, the highest honours in the land should be reserved for the Wole Soyinkas, the Kayode Esos, the Chinua Achebes, the Chukwudifu Oputas, the Dick Tigers, the Fela Kutis, the Margaret Ekpos, inventors, entrepreneurs, great promoters of the Nigerian dream, including the honest average Nigerian, but not politicians and their sponsors, not every civil servant who manages to get to a certain position, not coup plotters, not traditional rulers, not government contractors and certainly not similar rent collectors.-Dr Reuben Abati, 11th June 2010

          Portrait of a country as a failed state By Reuben Abati
WHY is there such a scarcity of good news in
Nigeria? Bad leadership. Poverty. Ignorance. Impatience. Apathy. Alienation. Frustration. Wickedness. Hypocrisy, and more. Many years ago, the buzz phrase in the original argument for a new world information order was that the reporting of Africa should focus more on the positive attributes and achievements of the people rather than the predictable stereotype of Africa as the world's worst basket case. We blamed the Western media for its racist mindset. We lamented the meanness of parachute journalists who jet into Africa for a few days, report all the dirty gutters, the bare-chested women, the fratricide and the poverty and present that to the rest of the world as the true face of Africa. Two or more trips later, and well-funded travels across African countries, some of those journalists ended up with tomes on Africa and became experts on African affairs!

Less indignant commentators asked for the development of local structures to deepen the capacity of local African media systems to compete in a world where information is all. I don't get to hear all of this now being trumpeted from the rooftops with the same ardour of old. At least in Nigeria, we may gradually be settling down to the cold fact that bad news may be all there is to tell in our public sphere. Yes, in the private sphere, people still organise weddings, loud funeral parties (after which the living tends to be worse off than the dead due to the weight of debts), house-warming parties (well, Nigerians like to warm/wash everything including the purchase of a used SUV four-wheel drive which Americans are shipping off due to high energy cost- we go wash am o), dedication of babies, birthdays, send forth parties: good news is made of such stuff in the privacy of individual lives.

Looked at closely, such good stories, so described, invariably point to one form of sadness or the other in private lives, and indeed the event may be a way of covering up other deficiencies, psychological and social. Never judge the goodness of the lives of Nigerians by the number of people who congregate at pepper soup joints every Friday evening (proclaiming Thank God, it is Friday) or the gaily dressed aso ebi crowd at weekend parties particularly in the South West whose Yoruba population has been described in one recent dictionary as "the fun-loving people of South-West Nigeria." They even hold wedding parties nowadays on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Lift the veil and look at the public sphere:badnews.

Democracy has not changed the tone of news in the public sphere. It is the same drone of dreariness and jeremiad, failures and aborted hopes. There is no point blaming the outsiders anymore. Foreign media channels have become favourite sources of expert commentary on the African, nay Nigerian condition. We quote Western journalists with such great concurrence. A negative comment on
Nigeria on BBC or in the Economist, the Financial Times of London is immediately reproduced in the local media as gospel truth. Nobody is complaining about negative image and if there are some people still doing so, they are few indeed. Deep in their hearts, they know the truth that "this house has fallen," that the Nigerian state is in retreat, that all is not well here. In the age of the internet, and instant news, the apotheosis of the global village theory, Nigerians do not even have to worry so much about imbalance in the world information order, they are all over the internet and the blogosphere, lamenting the frustration in their lives. Nigerians curse, rave, rant, they abuse each other, they hold every other man responsible for their own woes. So much bile.

Reading the newspapers, sitting down at editorial discussions, engaging fellow compatriots in debate, you wonder how so difficult it is to be a Nigerian, how so low life and living in
Nigeria can be. It is a great wonder we are not all in psychiatric homes yet. It is three or four months to the end of the year, it is in vain that anyone can point to good news. Is it the endless strikes in the hospitals (which have resulted in needless deaths), or the strike by school teachers at all levels (which continue to disrupt the school calendar and the lives of students)? How about the lack of regular electricity and the high cost of diesel which has driven companies across the border or forced them to shut down, like the textile factories, resulting in job losses and greater social hardship? No end in sight to the Niger Delta crisis, with governments only managing to dance round the issues. Across the country, armed robbers, kidnappers, rapists and ritualists are on the prowl. Ten years ago we wrote on the bad state of Nigerian roads. The FRSC used to complain about the urgent need to revamp the roads in order to reduce carnage; last week, the FRSC said precisely the same thing, and yet in ten years, close to a trillion Naira has been spent on road audit, construction and maintenance. The roads are still bad. We are confronted with corporeal changelessness and worsening uncertainty.

Surprise: every Nigerian knows what is wrong. We don't need to wait for media headlines. We climb over each other to articulate the best solutions. A thinks he is wiser than B. C suspects D because he or she is of a different ethnic extraction or religious persuasion. The land has been overtaken by assassins at all levels; some carry daggers and guns, they complain about election results or religion and then kill others, the so-called educated ones engage in such bitter fights that make them no better than the Boko Haram zealots. The people blame their leaders. The leaders blame their followers. Even public officials go on television to complain that they are overwhelmed.

Every year, we say the same things: leadership is the problem, civil society should wake up, the Constitution must be reviewed,
Nigeria is a failed state, it needs a revolution (yeah!), institutions need to be re-built, economic reform must focus on drivers of growth, proper federalism must be adopted, the Niger Delta question must be addressed. Let's line up all our leaders and give them the Rawlings treatment (yeah, yeah!). We look at the achievements of other countries and we draw parallels wondering why Nigeria is behaving like an slowpoke. We ask the media to do better. We ask that the development process must be pro-poor,  we shout, we scream, And we put it all down to the lack of political will to do anything. Find that will, and all else will improve. We insist further that those who have looted the treasury should be guillotined. We say it. We scream it,  In due course an important foreigner visits the country and comments on our failings and we all talk about how profound that is.

Of course there is the praying and fasting crowd. They fast during Lent. They fast during Ramadan. They can quote the Holy Quran or the Bible with the facility of a parrot. They claim to know God. They go to umrah, hajj or they visit the
Vatican and take photographs with the Pope! Many unemployed graduates have learnt to short-circuit the system: either set up a private business, or engage in internet scam (the most amusing being the case of one fellow who says he makes the fantasies of lonely old white women come true through phone and internet messages, and he soon fleeces them), or become an armed robber, or better still, a spiritualist (claim you have been called by God: Nothing impresses Nigerians more than claims of ability to see into the future and identify the enemies debarring your progress- every Nigerian is waging a war against enemies- real and imagined). Even the ones abroad occasionally flee from the enemies in the Western world: credit crunch, hunger, unemployment, terrible bills, humiliation, hopelessness, they return home only to be confronted by bigger enemies. Some of them stay back and join the struggle with enemies, but many return abroad, drifting from one uncertainty to the other, hoping that some day, Nigeria will become a country where they and their children and their own children can have a true sense of home.

And then in the midst of it all, one Nigerian suddenly wins an international award, and while some people applaud, others would sneer, and the event leads inexorably to the evil of comparison: he couldn't have excelled if he was still in
Nigeria, and so the good news is pushed offshore. Football used to make us happy too, but now we can't even put a team together and we are not sure of anything with our over-aged players and unhappy coaches.

The months come and go, the year ends. Yar'adua asks the MDAs to return their unspent budgets. We all go to the church, the mosque, and we wish each other a happy new year. The New Year is a copy of the old. And we start all over. We search afresh for the missing political will, for the magic wand that will make our society efficient in the age of efficiency , there are no life-threatening monsoons, typhoons, earthquakes, tsunami, or wild fires stopping us, only madmen and specialists,  We argue, we scream -all over again, we rationalise. And life continues.

He has countless articles to his credit…..what do you know? He is a changed man judging from his words and I try not be surprised because who knows who will be the next to get corrupted?
Nigerians are already tired of this administration and the cycle still continues. For those who voted PDP, some are already regretting why they did. It is a waste of time, next election, doesn’t let religion and tribalism even your emotions cloud your reasoning. Point is…..you just never know! Everyone has a price; make up your mind never to be bought or sold.