Tag Archives: Politics

Social Media: Promises & Pains.

The 2015 elections have come and gone. But events that happened during the campaigns still make me think of how far we’ve gone. An aspect of the campaign that was rampantly used was the massive use of the social media. This is the first time that the virtual world would have a great influence on our electoral process. Even politicians that do not know anything about the internet created social media profiles.

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And why not?

With a sizeable number of the population classified as youths and a large percentage of such found on the internet, it was only logical to take the campaigns to their doorsteps, literally. For a few years now, the social media have influenced politics in the world (side eye to the Arab Spring). Here at home, the #OccupyNigeria protests can be referenced. The social media has also been used for meritorious and charitable causes. Funds have been generated via Twitter for those with medical and social needs.
With all these promises come side effects. During the electoral processes, the heavy use of the social media gave way for the use of propaganda. While propaganda isn’t a bad concept on its own, the use of same for misinformation evokes anger in me. Because of the wide reach of the internet, a tweet made in the corner of my mosquito-infested room in Iresa-Adu village in Oyo state can influence the thought process and decision of someone in her mansion in Eket, Akwa Ibom. Such is the power of the social media. This is in sharp contrast with the propaganda peddled at newspaper joints. That one is localized.
Then, there are the overlords. This is quite common on Twitter. These are tweeps with demagogic tendencies. During the 2015 electoral processes, they had minions who nod in approval to whatever they tweet.

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et tu, Nasir?

Their influence might be derived from their follower count (which runs into several thousands), number of tweets (usually into tens/hundreds of thousands), sense of humour et al. These are the ones that the politicians use in achieving their aims. Their ability to create trending topics make them useful tools for politicians.

Another source of misinformation today is because of the proliferation of blogs. Anyone, sane or not, with internet access is able to open a blog and fuelled by the quest for AdSense money, traffic must be generated at any cost, even on a platter of integrity. Thus, outrageous news items are formulated. My ‘homemade’ antidote to this is to before reading a news item check the source- a funny name & it’s off my reading list. The politicians now use the social media to control the narratives, so as to condition the mind of the people towards a direction. Thus, claims and rebuttals are norms here. It’s now difficult to trust the news I read online now. Or maybe my standards are high- justifiably so. If you’re in the business of informing people, you hold the power to shape their mindset.

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1- Armoured tank?? 2- Must be another Lagos.

Oh heck! You can create a mass hysteria. Thus, if I’m going to give you that power, it has to be deserved.

Looking for credible news in the myriad of blogs now seems like “looking for a needle in a haystack”. How do you find it?- Bring a damn magnet!

Social Media Bill?

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Problem is... @SegunObasanjo is a parody account.

Hakeem.

2015 Elections: The Days After.

So, my country has concluded its much anticipated elections- hopefully, there’ll be no rerun. Now, our lives will be restored to default settings. The past few months have seen our radios & TVs taken over by campaign jingles & political talks, the social media was on lockdown for campaign (the effectiveness of the social media in determining the electoral activities should be studied)- hashtags were a normal feature on Twitter. In fact, discussions followed the route of politics. Every action of the government was seen through the prism of currying favour from the electorates. Our national life was conditioned in a particular way.
The campaign period highlighted some factors that were absent in previous electoral campaigns. Even before the elections, the use of card readers and PVCs by the electoral umpire (which was a first actually) had caused the heating up of the polity. Concerns were raised on the feasibility and reliability of its use. Also, the campaigns for this election made optimal use of the social media. With the youth comprising the highest number of voters and many of them on the social media, it was commonsense that discourse on these platforms would be political. Twitter was the hardest hit. Hashtags sought to outdo one another. The election really showed the true colours of some. Some turned erstwhile friends to foes and some bridges were burnt. Also, a factor that contributed to the loss of GEJ at the polls stems from the acts of those whose duty it was to make friends for him making enemies instead *side eye to Omokri, Okupe & FFK*.

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Swaggu!

Like I discussed here, the campaigns were about mudslinging than issues. A casualty of this campaign was debate. In a society like ours where electoral choices are coloured by emotions, debates could only be of little significance. Interestingly, the candidates who dodge debates have always gone ahead to win the election -2003, 2007, 2011 & 2015. The elections also tested how unified we are as a nation. Many people saw the election as one between the South and North. Some saw it as an election between Christians and Muslims. The First Lady didn’t help matters as she disparaged the Northern part of the country. The Vice President, Namadi Sambo also referred to APC as a christian-dominated-party. The voting patterns also reflected this. Except that of the South West. There are positives though (even from the voting patterns). A christian candidate won in Niger state, a state dominated by Muslims. Also, an Igbo man won a seat in the House of Representatives in Lagos, a Yoruba land. The gubernatorial election in Lagos also caused some ripples.

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The utterances by the Oba to drown non-indigenes who do not vote for his candidate and the obvious ethnic-based campaign undertaken by the PDP are the major highlights.
Now that the campaign grounds are empty and ballot boxes returned to the stores, the incoming administration has to hit the ground running. There’s plenty of work to be done. The expectations are high; thus, there’s no room for disappointment. This election is a special one in the sense that it’s the first time since our return to civil rule that the incumbent would be defeated at the federal level. APC, a conglomerate of opposition parties, now has the majority seats in the legislature, controls the executive arm and controls the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria. Now, this is a kinda holistic approach to governance. The new government need to arrange a team of world-beaters with a sense of duty and patriotism. That’s the first step to a working Nigeria. With a new party at the helm, Nigerians hope to see a different approach to issues. All the campaign promises and party manifesto need to be lived up to. We really need some catching up to do. In the 21st century, there’s no excuse for a developing nation to still be grappling with electricity generation and distribution.

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Expectations hitting the ceiling.

The issue of electricity is one that cuts across all political, tribal and economic divides. Tackle this and many things will fall in place. It’s like a domino. One issue that contributed to PDP’s loss at the polls is the handling of the nation’s security vis-à-vis insurgency. One of the main goals of government is provision of security. Failure in this will consume the successes recorded in other sectors. People need to feel safe. In fact, it’s second on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Thus, the incoming government should know its importance.
The economy, the other half of the goals of government needs a serious attention. The outgoing government prided on Nigeria being the biggest economy on the continent. The irony is that many citizens disagree with that. The claim is seen as a paper tiger achievement. Only a few benefit from the economy. Thus, the new government has to formulate policies that affect the majority positively.

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Many people believe that the welfarist inclination of Buhari will ensure this. Well, there’s only one way to find out.
Conclusively, the major beneficiary of this election results is the Nigerian people. Many now have a renewed confidence in the power of the ballot. They believe they now have a say in who leads them. Whether change or continuity, elected officials now know they have to earn their position. Though there is still plenty room for improvement, the umpire, INEC, under Prof Attahiru Jega deserve some praise. Except for some skirmishes in some states, the election was adjudged free and credible. If the new government also messes up, the proverbial cane used on the iyale is lying patiently in the ceiling.

Photo credits: TwitterNG

Hakeem.

The Genius, Tinubu

So this morning, the Financial Times ran a headline hailing Tinubu as being the brain behind Jonathan’s loss at the polls. They called him the Nigerian Machiavelli. Also, when General Buhari collected his Certificate of Return from INEC affirming his victory, he mentioned Tinubu during his acknowledgement. So, who is this man? A man the opposition (how tables turn!) fears as much as they do Buhari.

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He has been hailed as a master strategist. A man whose street cred is on fleek. Not many politician can boast o such- probably his protégé, Aregbesola. This man changed the face of opposition politics in Nigeria. But how did he do it? His emergence as the face of opposition proves that quality thumps quantity.

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Jagaban Borgu!

Regional politics still plays a huge role in Nigeria’s political affairs. After the 1999 elections, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) controlled the South Western region of the country the All Peoples Party (APP) controlled the Northern region while PDP controlled the federal. During the 2003 elections, AD fell for Obasanjo’s schemes and lost all their states except Lagos controlled by Tinubu. This marked the incursion of PDP into the southwest and subsequent demise of AD. This placed Tinubu and Obasanjo on a collision course. With just one state under his control, Tinubu forged on. In the heat of this, the President suspended the monthly allocation to the state- a move capable of wrecking the state. But that only served as a catalyst for building a self-sustaining Lagos. If Tinubu had fallen for Obasanjo’s antics, there might have been no credible opposition in Nigeria.

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The state’s IGR went from hundreds million naira to tens of billions of naira. Tinubu held onto Lagos as if his life depended on it- and indeed his political life does. With the demise of AD, the Jagaban formed the Action Congress. It was on this platform that his erstwhile Chief of Staff, Babatunde Fashola, a relatively unknown man won the governorship election. The ascension of ‘Tunde Fashola to the Government House really was a masterstroke. He was hiterto unknown in the political scene but he performed to the extent that he was adjudged to be the best governor in the country and he became a reference point for performance.
During the 2011 elections, the party leveraged on Fashola’s popularity and clawed back the South Western states from the PDP, save for Ondo state. In all these, Tinubu’s handwriting was written on the party’s victory at the polls. Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states became ACN states. With this, the ACN was positioned as the major opposition party in he country. Though the party presented a candidate for the presidential election, it was so obvious that he was going to lose. The priority wasn’t the control of Abuja but taking over states in the region first. That would then serve as a launchpad for ‘assaulting’ the presidency.
Insatiable as ever, the next action is to drop the tag of ‘opposition leader’ & gun for the top. This isn’t going to be an easy task. The ruling party, PDP had been in power since the country’s return to civil rule and thus, has solid and widespread party structures. Heck! They paraded themselves as the biggest party on the continent. To defeat this giant, coalitions has to be formed. There has to be a united front to confront the ruling party. Hence, the formation of the All Progressive Congress (APC). A coalition of 3 parties- ACN, CPC and a faction of APGA. CPC was a party formed by General Muhammadu Buhari to advance his presidential ambition. Thus, there wasn’t any solid structure. The party was run basically on Buhari’s goodwill and popularity. The faction of APGA that joined the coalition was the one controlled by the Imo state governor. So, the main party in the coalition was still the ACN, under Tinubu’s tutelage. In fact, ACN’s party symbol was adopted as the new party’s symbol. The party presented Gen Buhari as its presidential candidate. Even though, he had contested and lost 3 times, General Buhari was still the party’s best shot at the presidency. He was a cult figure. Even during his loss in previous elections, there were some states he had under control. States that mattered in elections as they had huge population- Kano, Kaduna and Katsina. I daresay no politician in Nigeria has the appeal of Buhari. With Buhari as a front for the party and Tinubu pulling the strings in the background, the party launched a robust and intimidating campaign. Social media was on lock down, the street was active, the jingles on the radio and television were creative and running. Buhari was packaged as a brand- a movement. The campaign presented Buhari in a way he hadn’t been presented before. The party also capitalised on the ruling party’s misgivings. Even though, the people’s votes determined the ultimate winner, Bola Tinubu provided the platform. And then, on the last day of March, 2015, General Muhammadu Buhari was declared the winner.
One fact I find funny is that Tinubu doesn’t hold a defined role in the party. He’s referred to as the national leader or party chieftain, yet his influence dwarfs that of the party chairman. The Lion of Bourdillon, as he’s called, finally became the face of the governing party after more than a decade of being that of the opposition. I don’t think there’s anyone that understands Nigeria’s political workings like him. It’s even believed that he was behind the emergence of a relatively unknown Prof Yemi Osinbajo as the party’s vice presidential candidate. His emergence was really a well planned move as it swayed some undecided voters. Osinbajo was a commissioner during Tinubu’s time the governor. Tinubu is reputed give people opportunities. Fashola, Aregbesola, Osinbajo et al are people that had their first political bite under his tutelage. Loathe him or love him, even his greatest foe can’t deny his political mastery. With just one state under his control, he assiduously won back some states in the region before gunning for and winning the presidency. Even with that one state, he was really a thorn in the Federal Government’s flesh.

Meanwhile, this is my best pic from the celebratory pictures of Buhari’s victory. Her happiness is infections.

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Hakeem.

Chess, Politics & War.

Even if I forget everything about Estaport secondary school, my experience with the game of chess can never be forgotten. It was the first time I heard the term, ‘CHESS’ and played the game. Within a few days, I was hooked. Break time were not to remain the same again. Looking back now, armed with life experience & more knowledge, I can say it was worth it while it lasted. And now, comparisons can be made.

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Checkmate!!

Chess, both in its gameplay & structure, is quite unique (Not every time Call of Duty, sometimes a brain-stimulating game). Inferences can be made to real life situations. Chess playing flourishes on the ability to be one step ahead of your opponent. And boxing him to a corner. Pawns are those pieces which are the least powerful- usually put in the line of fire. Those pieces behind the pawns have more powers. The King is the ultimate piece of the game. The survival of the king is dependent on those pieces who surround him. Ironically, they have more freedom to move than the King. Take them out and the king is a sitting duck. The Queen’s movement is towards all direction and to any length. She is the one whose ability encompasses all others safe for the sly Knight. Take out the queen and the kingdom is weakened. Now, let’s juxtapose between real life situations & the game.

POLITICAL CHESS.
The theory of Social Contract states that man cedes his power to the state. Here, the state makes laws to guide his existence. If Hobbes’ Leviathan is it, then the subjects are tools to achieve a goal. Even without Hobbes’ absolute government, the citizens are still subjected to the whims of the ruling class. Pawns. During crisis, it’s the citizens that bear the brunt of decisions of the ruling class, as IDPs and refugees. Sacrificial lambs they are.
Since the game of chess thrives on thinking ahead, it means that the your opponent is forced to do what he wouldn’t have ordinarily done. Laying a trap. This act was perfected by Talleyrand during the defeat of Napoleon. A former minister of Napoleon, he masterminded the Napoleon’s escape from prison and eventual defeat at Waterloo. Knowing the importance of crushing Napoleon & knowing Napoleon’s ambition, Talleyrand merely baited him into going to war he knew he couldn’t win while he sat behind watching events go as he planned.
Forcing your opponent’s hand is divided into two parts-
-A false sense of control
-Make forced decisions
The first one gives him the impression that he’s in control while in reality, he acting the way you want. This technique was used by Henry Kissinger on Richard Nixon. Knowing Nixon to be insecure, Kissinger would present range of options to him in such a way that the one he favoured always seems the best solution compared to other options. This gave Nixon a false sense of authority.
The second one means making your opponent play on your turf, where you control all options. This was used by John Rockefeller when he created the oil monopoly. Instead of owning oil companies, he took control of what all the oil companies needed to exist- transportation. So, indirectly he forced the oil companies to play according to his dictates.

The emergence of Hafez Al-Assad as Syrian president was pure chess tactics. Hafez was a man who many believed wasn’t as ambitious as his contemporaries; he seemed satisfied being just a team player. Salah Jadid and Muhammad Umran seemed more ambitious. But by biding his time and scheming, Hafez became the president while Jadid was imprisoned and Umran assassinated. Assad did this by keeping his intentions and getting loyalties from key actors. In political scheming, there is generally a sense of mistrust. Everyman has an intention for which he’s in politics for. Selfish most times. This is how Louis Bonaparte came about ruling France. He was considered by Louis-Adolphe Thiers to be a stooge material. As soon as his hand reached the eku-ida, he did away with his proprietor.

WARFARE CHESS.

War is the continuation of politics by other means.

         – Carl von Clausewitz

Advanced politics if you wish. In fact, I have always maintained that for an army general to be successful, he needs to have the knowledge of chess. This is because the game has similarities with warfare. The military, like chess, is mechanical in nature and workings. Roles are assigned. This seeks to ensure effectiveness.
A strategy of chess usually employed by the military is baiting. In chess, a player seeks to bait or sell a dummy to his opponent to make him expose his vulnerability and strike where it hurts most. One act soldiers usually watch out for on the battlefield is ambush. This singular act is capable of decimating a large army and striking fear into generals. Ambush takes the form of booby traps which make use of seemingly harmless objects, thereby making the soldier relax his defence and/or see himself being in control. This was one tactic the Vietnamese used against the American troops during the Vietnam War. Similarly, the Japanese used it against the Russians in 1905. By spreading propaganda against the Russians, the weaker Japanese made the Russians come to them with the objective of wiping out the Japanese with a decisive blow. But this journey made the Russians weak and the inexperienced Japanese took them out. Related to this is the use of dummies by the military during the World War II where the both the Allies and Axis employed the tactic to outwit each other. Military dummies have since become mainstream in military formations today.

Also, a rule of chess is that a pawn will be promoted once it reaches the other end of the board. This is an uphill task as the pawn is the least powerful- thus highly improbable for it to escape the ‘gun fires’ on the chessboard. In the medieval times, a soldier is recognised based on the number of kills he’s had. He transforms from a (probable) peasant to a warrior.

The victory in chess isn’t determined by the movement of the King. Rather, it’s by that of the other pieces. This validates Douglas MacArthur assertion- ‘A General is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him’.

                               ***
I think I need to polish my below average chess performance. You folks need to read Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power.


Photo credit: Google Images.

PS: Watch this video. It’s packed with meanings concerning how chess is related with war and the politics of war.

Hakeem.

My Hausa Love.

2014 was really a major learning curve for me. It was the year it was destined for me to have my youth service. And indeed I fulfilled an objective of the NYSC. The scheme is such that many people have used to shed their toga of arrogance and ignorance. During my service, I learn more about the Hausas than I had learnt throughout my 20-something years.

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I had them as friends, neighbours, comrades, students (how I miss Akim Navy Barracks), prayed in mosques where Hausa was used for sermons, ate in a Hausa-run restaurant (for the first time) So, it’s bound for conversations to follow the tribal route some times. And no, I didn’t serve in the north; it was in Calabar. An irony, right?
Being the most conservative of the major tribes in Nigeria, there is a high probability for misconceptions and misrepresentations to be rife. Now, I’m not saying the Hausas are the best thing to have happened since slice bread.
Heck no! Of the major tribes in the country, they are the ones with the lowest rate of getting educated. Does JAMB’s ELDS ring a bell? They are also prone to ethno-religious crises.

But there are some of their qualities I admire; qualities that distinguish them from other people. Cultural qualities. A cultural feature I love about them is their language. This is something he doesn’t joke with. So important it is to him that he feels elated when a non-Hausa understands it. It’s rare for one to encounter two Hausa men conversing in English of even pidgin. In fact, they can discuss in the language for hours without any input from the English language. This one no possible in the south o! A southern man cannot even talk for 5 minutes without him borrowing a word from the English vocabulary. And this quality of the Hausas isn’t limited to those born in the North. Most of my students in the tutorial I held in Akim Navy Barracks mosque were Hausa children who were born and bred in Calabar and there is none of them that can’t communicate in the Hausa language. Back in the south especially in Lagos, many parents don’t speak their language to their wards; it’s always English. Yoruba is seen as a vulgar language, one to be touched with a long pole. Numerous times have I encountered peeps who do not understand Yoruba and I just shake my head. I remember Aliyu , my friend from Sokoto telling me that no matter how educated an Hausa man is, if he sees a fellow Hausa man, their discussion would always be in their language. Down south, 3 Yoruba or Igbo friends would rather speak in English or pidgin. That’s a sign of poshness. Ladies would speak through their nose in one annoying accent.

Another feature of the Hausa is their sense of community. In Calabar, these folks have two major places where they live- Bogobiri and Nassarawa. In these places, you would not even know if you are in the South-South or up north. See ehn, throughout my stay in the peoples’ paradise city, I did not hear of gathering of Yoruba folks. An association of some sort. I don’t think there is a city in Nigeria where there isn’t Sabo. Is there?

The political life of the Hausa man is underrated. Especially with how many view them as illiterates. A popular saying is that no matter how poor an Hausa man is, he go still see money buy radio. In movies, they’re depicted as radio-clutching men. He’s not listening to the latest jam in town or celebrity gossips. Rather, he’s listening to the BBC or VOA.
Also, Charles Erukaa, a Channels TV correspondent, while reporting his experiences on campaign grounds all over Nigeria, said the most enthusiastic people about the election were Northerners. The campaign ground were usually busting at the seams. Even though, people on campaign grounds don’t guarantee victory at the polls, the region also recorded the highest rate of PVC collection.

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Pre-postponment stat.

Talk of putting your money where your mouth is, right? Even in the insurgency-ridden Maiduguri, the turnout for APC’s presidential campaign was huge. Sometimes ago, I read on a blog whose owner is prolly from the South, how she would not vote even though she has her voter’s card. This she disclosed with pride. Political apathy.

Conclusively, many southern folks see the north as a desert, arid land. A place crawling with cattle herders, with huts dotting the landscape. What a terrible stereotype! Was watching one Hausa movie with someone, when he saw a beautiful storey building & he mocked the north by saying ‘So Hausas sef get beautiful houses’. I just shook my head ni. The internet still can’t take the place of travelling in the scheme of cultural and anthropological knowledge.

Hakeem.