‘Nigeria’s Unity Not Negotiable’, President Buhari

Punch Newspaper Opinion
November 23, 2020

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), returned recently to the grating fiction of a mythical Nigerian “unity” that is not negotiable. Arising partly from ignorance, partly from arrogance and driven essentially by sectional interest, he now leads a narrowing column of elites desperate to maintain the unjust national contraption that continues to deliver poverty, insecurity and frustration in the midst of plenty. In reality however, Nigeria is negotiable and should be restructured soonest or risk inevitable implosion.

As it has become his sing-song, Buhari boasted in a speech delivered on his behalf at the 72nd Foundation Day and Convocation of the University of Ibadan, “The corporate existence of Nigeria is not negotiable. Hence, efforts should be made to protect our dear country as a single entity.” He added that all divisions, conflicts and violent clashes should be condemned without offering any concrete plan of how to end these.

It bears repeating that there is no political union in the world, nor has there ever been one, that is not negotiable. Second, unity cannot be legislated, forced or preached into existence while the underlying causes of disunity are completely ignored. “Unity without verity,” said John Trapp, an English philosopher, “is no better than conspiracy.” The country’s current political structure as embodied in the 1999 Constitution is a sectional and elite conspiracy and must be dismantled.

Nigeria’s three major ethnic groups and about 250 other ethnic groups are not united and have never been because of the present and past pretensions of power holders. Describing it as a “mere geographical expression,” the late Obafemi Awolowo said over 70 years ago, “Nigeria is not a nation in the same way that Germans or English are,” but a natural federation of diverse nationalities that can prosper only when properly organised as such. Indeed, the country was not amalgamated for “unity,” but for Britain’s economic convenience. But the gradual movement to federal principles in the early 1950s that saw the defunct regions, having considerable autonomy, ran sub-national political and economic entities arrested that. The rapid building of roads in the Eastern Region is still remarked today. The Northern Region was famed for its groundnut pyramids; groundnut was Nigeria’s single most valuable export between 1956 and 1967, according to the International Crops Research Institute. The Western Region set the pace in education, industrialisation and infrastructure, building a civil service acclaimed to be comparable to the United Kingdom’s.

Today, the country is worse than the Lugardian contraption in 1914 as it is not structured for justice, social cohesion and economic growth. Britannica rightly says, “The political principles that animate federal systems emphasise the primacy of bargaining and negotiated coordination among several power centres; they stress the virtues of dispersed power centres as a means for safeguarding individual and local liberties.” Lack of autonomy has reduced the 36 states to beggarly liabilities, created 774 skewed and resource-draining local governments and nurtured a monstrous centre that appropriates most resources.

The results are terrible. The government has lost control of parts of the country to bandits and terrorist insurgents. It is arguably the only country in the world not at war where soldiers are keeping the peace in 33 out of its 36 states. Figures by Amnesty International that 1,126 persons were killed and 380 others abducted by bandits from January to June are regarded as understated. In many Northern states, even the governors cannot travel safely on the highways. Insurgents and bandits ambush, kill and abduct police officers and soldiers. Apart from hosting three of the world’s five most deadly terrorist groups – Boko Haram, ISWAP and Fulani militants – insecurity, in the form of kidnapping, armed robbery, cult and gang violence, piracy, rape and drug abuse, has created food insecurity and 2.5 million refugees, over 200,000 of whom are taking refuge in neighbouring countries.

Through it all, the Buhari regime resists the clamour for state policing, insisting on the single policing system that has failed so abysmally.

Deprived of control over resources in their domains, the states have become mere administrative centres instead of drivers of economic development. This has created a disarticulated economy, with inflation at 14.23 per cent, unemployment and underemployment at 55 per cent and dependence on oil revenues for all to share at the expense of inclusive, poverty-reducing productive economic activities.

It is a supreme irony that Buhari, who preaches unity and non-negotiation, epitomises the dysfunction, disunity and futility of this ghastly contraption. He runs the most divisive, most sectional and most exclusionary government in Nigeria’s history. He does not believe in the unity he preaches. Prior to the 2015 election, anticipating a fourth time defeat, he notoriously prepped his base for battle, “the dog and the baboon will be soaked in blood,” he reportedly said on a BBC Hausa Service programme. He took office with the vow that those who gave him fewer votes would not be treated like those who gave him 95 per cent support. And truly, he has been working that discriminative talk, favouring his North-East/North-West base in appointments, funding and federal support. Under him, the hollowness of the “unity in diversity” slogan is laid bare. Calls for separation, once a fringe activity, have moved into the mainstream.

Yet, Buhari is holding the country down through fear, harassment and threats. He and his group will soon become irrelevant as the restructuring train gathers momentum. Pressure for reform is rising. Every day, inflation, economic recession, poverty and unemployment, political stasis, public corruption and a stifled, censored public space are becoming more intolerable. These are obvious signs of systemic failures.

Countries once professed to be non-negotiable are today sad historical footnotes. Yugoslavia splintered violently, mighty Soviet Union collapsed violently, Eritrea emerged from Ethiopia and South Sudan from Sudan. Singapore separated from Malaysia to become a model of economic dexterity. Under wiser leaders, Czechoslovakia peacefully divided into thriving Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Definitely, Buhari’s dictatorship will end one day. Advocacy for a just, economically viable and politically stable federation should not waver. No individual or group should be allowed to act like a metaphoric dog in the manger. Like every other country, Nigeria, to survive, must remain work-in-progress. A series of negotiations and restructuring have featured since England and Scotland merged to form the UK in 1707. The four nations in the union are still negotiating and a majority of Scots seek separation. Belgium’s constitution has been amended 29 times since 1994 to reflect the aspirations of its diverse ethnic and language groups and 104 times in India since 1947.

Even countries that are not contending with multiple fault lines are rewriting their constitutions. For instance, Chile is leaving behind the constitution of Augusto Pinochet and his entourage. After prolonged protests across Chile, the President, Sebastian Piñera, agreed in November 2019 to hold a referendum. More than 78 per cent voted in favour of a new constitution and 79 per cent also voted in favour of the new constitution to be drawn up by a body, which will be 100 per cent elected by a popular vote rather than one which would have been made up by 50 per cent of members of Congress. On April 11, 2021, the people will finally choose 155 citizens that will draw up an entirely new constitution.

This is the only viable option to defend Nigeria’s corporate existence; not a worn out intimidation and threat. There is no such thing as a united Nigeria that anyone can justly and morally defend. Unless he changes his course and acts courageously and patriotically like his Chilean counterpart has done, the path Buhari and his cohorts are leading Nigeria to may end in destruction.

Words And Phrases To Stop Using On Your Resume

The Enterprisers Project
Are you a jack of all trades or a quick learner? Watch out: A job hunter’s resume needs to show, not tell, say recruiters and IT hiring managers.

Stephanie Overby | November 23, 2020

it jobs 2020

Your resume may be the first thing a hiring or recruiting manager sees. So when it comes to standing out from the pack, every word counts. Yet even seasoned IT leaders may be tempted to use some of the same phrases, expressions, and statements they always have.

The resume’s job is to communicate your value. Keep that in mind when you find yourself calling yourself a team player, listing responsibilities, or bragging about those top-notch communication skills.

Resume tips for job hunters: 8 phrases to avoid

Here are words and phrases that may cause the reader’s eyes to glaze over – along with what you should articulate instead. Consider this expert advice from recruiters and hiring managers about what works:

1. Stop using: Team player and quick learner

If you find yourself writing your resume the way you think a resume is supposed to be written, stop. Some overused words you should use minimally or avoid entirely include participated, evaluated, worked with, part of a team that, team player, and quick learner, says Keith Sims, president of Integrity Resource Management and a member of executive recruiting network Sanford Rose Associates.

Try instead:

“Eliminate and replace meaningless and overused text with value statements,” advises Sims. Here are some active verbs to consider:

  • Delivered
  • Designed
  • Created 
  • Implemented
  • Improved
  • Enhanced
  • Eliminated
  • Replaced

If you feel compelled to describe yourself as a quick learner, make sure to immediately follow with a strong, specific example. Rather than calling yourself a team player, consider taking credit for team deliverables, using active verbs.

2. Stop using: Jack of all trades (JOAT)

“Typically, when someone puts this on their resume it shows they may have come from a small IT environment and wore many hats in their role. People use JOAT to explain that they have experience in many different areas of both high and low skill,” says Jenna Spathis, practice manager, enterprise systems at technology staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network. “Using this phrase on your resume as a catch-all to explain your experience is nondescript and passive.”

Try instead:

It’s still important to highlight the fact that you have multiple skills; the best IT professionals do. ”Instead of using this umbrella term or other qualitative phrases, use quantitative data,” Spathis says. “Listing out tasks in detail, like ‘migrated 80 end users from Windows 7 to Windows 10,’ will give hiring managers a better idea of your experience and ultimately help tell your story better.”

3. Stop using: Results

To be clear, it’s important to communicate the actual results you’ve delivered in previous roles. But phrases like “results-focused,” “results-oriented,” or “results-generating” are empty.

Try instead:

“Make sure you always include recent, relevant results in each employment section and summary at the top of your resume,” says Lisa Rangel, a former recruiter and managing director of Chameleon Resumes.

4. Stop using: Lists of trendy technology terms

You’re familiar with Big Data? AI? RPA? Cloud? Get in line.

You’re familiar with Big Data? AI? RPA? Cloud? Get in line. “‘Used BIG DATA to solve longstanding company issues’ is a real example from a resume,” says Sims.

Try instead:

“If you are working with big data or any of these trendy terms, then you are working with a product and solving a specific problem,” Sims says. Be specific about the technologies you are using and note the outcome or impact that you delivered using these capabilities. Sims offers this example: “Used Splunk to aggregate data from SAP and eliminate previously unknown security risks across all corporate operations, completely eliminating audit risks and protecting shareholder value.”

5. Stop using: Outdated technology

If you’re a skilled IT leader or manager, you’ve worked with a long list of technologies, some of which most enterprises no longer find valuable. Leave those behind, advises Spathis. “Hiring managers want candidates who are forward-thinking and trying to learn the most recent tech releases.” 

Try instead:

Explain your experience using only the most recent technology. “Be detailed and include the different versions and systems you are native with and the projects you’ve done with them,” Spathis says.

6. Stop using: Good communication/good communicator

Nearly everyone is guilty of putting this on their resume. Delete it. “No one would put ‘bad communication’ on their resume, so including filler phrases like these are undemonstrative,” Spathis says.

Try instead:

These phrases won’t help you get an interview, says Spathis, but including details on your responsibilities and projects that called for communication skills will. Use your precious resume real estate to show, not tell, your leadership and communication prowess.

7. Stop using: “Responsible for”

This is “a worn-out phrase that tells a reader that a job responsibility is coming, but no outlined accomplishment depicting how well one did this responsibility,” Rangel says. “It’s a bloated phrase filled with hot air and no substance.”

Try instead:

Write an actual achievement pertaining to a responsibility rather than the responsibility itself, Spathis advises. “Try to avoid this phrase and opt for action verbs instead to explain what you achieved. So, instead of writing ‘responsible for Office 365,’ write ‘deployed Office 365 to 150 users.’ The more detail you can include on your resume, the more likely you are to stand out.”

8. Stop using: Over/more than 25/10 years of experience

  • “This is a phrase that often gets used by senior executives and professionals who then get upset that age may be being used against them,” Rangel says. “Don’t lead with the chin.”

Try instead:

Focus on the value you’ve added rather than your longevity in the IT field. “Frankly, relevant accomplishments are relatively ageless, so lead with those instead,” Rangel says.

Make Your Employees Feel They Belong

By Lolly Daskal

A basic need of people everywhere is to feel they belong. A sense of belonging is essential to emotional well-being, and it’s also an intrinsic motivator, activating people to become more involved and inspired. In short, it’s an essential component of any successful team and organization.

In today’s climate, where people are dispersed geographically and often divided over political and cultural issues, it’s harder than ever to create that sense of belonging. But challenging as it is, it remains one of the most essential things a leader can do to ensure their team’s well-being and effectiveness. Here are some steps you can take:

Create a culture of inclusion. Exclusion often happens unconsciously and unintentionally. To combat it, you need to be purposeful about cultivating and maintaining a culture that equitably supports people from all backgrounds and walks of life in achieving their potential and ensures they are accepted and valued. An inclusive culture views differences as strengths.

Create a culture of respectful connection. In a connected culture, people are bound by strong ties; they support and trust one another. People inspire one another to give their best effort. Without sacrificing individuality, they build strong group norms that align them with the organization’s mission and goals, and they keep one another engaged and involved.

Create a culture of contribution. When people feel that they are making a contribution, that their work matters, that their talents and strengths are valued and their efforts make a meaningful difference, they develop an awareness that they’re working for something bigger than a paycheck—and their work will reflect that awareness.

Create a culture of safety. The best way to make people feel they belong is by creating an environment where they know they are safe to be who they are and express themselves without negative consequences. People can relax and  let their true selves shine through. They know they can speak up and be heard—and even get it wrong sometimes. People can’t possibly feel they belong somewhere they don’t feel safe.

Create a culture of recognition. When you express recognition and appreciation, you foster a sense of belonging. You communicate to people that they matter—and when people know they matter, they feel empowered and able to excel.

Creating and maintaining a culture where people feel they belong is never going to be easy. It requires that every level of the organization view their actions through a diversity lens to make sure they’re creating opportunities for everyone to contribute equitably, and making sure that leadership knows how to motivate and inspire. But the results are powerful. When people know they matter and their contributions are making an impact, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish.

Lead from within: The best leaders take the time to understand the importance of creating an environment where people feel they belong.

Nigeria, not a preferred investment destination – Summit Group panelists

Panelists at #NES26 Day 1 [PHOTO: @officialNESG]

Panelists at #NES26 Day 1 [PHOTO: @officialNESG]


NES26 panelists say Nigeria needs visionary leaders and policy consistency

by Bassey UdoNovember 24, 2020

To realise its development goals and attract investment, Nigeria needs leaders with vision and consistent policy decisions that foster public-private sectors partnerships.

These were some of the points made by participants on Monday at the 26th Nigeria Economic Summit (NES#26) which opened in Abuja on the theme “Building Partnerships for Resilience.”

The participants spoke in the opening plenary session on “Nigeria’s Turning Point.”

They said the leaders must also be committed to educational, technological and infrastructural development as well as national security for the country to achieve sustainable growth and their development goals.

The panelists include the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, his Sokoto state counterpart, Aminu Tambuwal, CEO of MainOne, Funke Opeke, and her counterpart in GIG Group, Chidi Ajaere.

The discussions moderated by Adesua Onyenokwe focused on making Nigeria an investors preferred destination.

Mr Ajaere, who represented the youth and business people on the panel, said no nation can thrive without a serious economic plan.

He said successive administrations in Nigeria have not pursued any plan with commitment from conception to implementation.

Six issues for sustainable development

Mr Ajaere identified six things Nigeria and Africa need if they are to achieve sustainable development.

They include a leadership that takes responsibility for their decisions, consistency in policy decisions, educated population; technological development; infrastructural development and national security.

“We need to urgently dialogue on issues of national development by bringing together people with the capacity to deliver what we need from all sectors of the economy.

“To achieve national development, there must be a fusion of policy making by the government and the private sector coming together to find the solution to the Nigerian problem. We cannot wait a day longer,” he said.

Mr Ajaere also advised the youth to participate in the process to influence policy and decision-making on issues that affect them.

Benefits of public-private sector partnerships

On how the private and public sector can cooperate to ensure development, Mr Ajaere cited the example of Delta State-owned transport company, Delta Line, which failed despite huge potential.

He said for over two years, the state government was paying the salaries of the workers with only 13 buses in the company’s fleet.

When the GIG Group, which runs the God Is Good Transport Company, was invited by the state government to partner in the management of the transport firm, Mr Ajaere said within a year of taking over, the company’s fleet grew from 13 buses to over 200.

Impact of policy somersaults

Mr Ajaere, who presides over a GIG Group that controls six businesses across different industries, narrated his personal experience and the impact of inconsistent government policies.

He said following the announcement of a policy encouraging local manufacturing of automobiles, the GIG Group three years ago decided to go into partnership with some foreign investors to build ‘Made in Nigeria’ vehicles.

He said the Group spent over N5 billion without taking loans from the banks to build the vehicle assembly plant.

He lamented that the government without consultations, recently cut duty on imported vehicles from 35 per cent to five per cent.

He said the government pronouncement has suddenly thrown GIG’s investment into a disarray.

“We have invested all that money. What is going to happen to us (the investors in that vehicle assembly plant) now with the policy somersault? Will the Federal Government come to our aid with incentives for the monies sunk already into the investment?” he lamented.

“What is going to happen now is that if the government tells people in another three to five years to come to Nigeria to build automobile assembly plants, or any other plant, they are going to become very skeptical, because they have seen that in Nigeria there is usually policy somersault,” he added.

He said rather than attract investment in the manufacturing of local vehicles, the reduction of import duty on imported vehicles will encourage importers of new vehicles into the country, thereby draining the country’s foreign exchange.

Way forward

Mr Ajaere said if all the 36 state governors agree with the President for at least 80 per cent of the vehicles they use and other imported items are made in Nigeria, the economy will be better for it.

He said he believed local manufacturers can meet local demand if given support as obtained in Europe, America and other climes.

He said the government must consider constitutional reforms that encourage policy makers to be long term planners of development.

How I Spontaneously Cut Down Screen Time

| Helen

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

I open my eyes, staring up at the dark ceiling. Automatically, almost subconsciously, I reach for my phone and turn it on. I blink multiple times in succession, trying to get used to the bright light. Once my eyes have adjusted, I tap on the Facebook app and scroll through my feed.

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. We wake up and then automatically reach for our phones. After checking the time, we scroll through the notifications, both a time killer and a time waster. Before we know it, we realize that we’ve been laying in bed for two hours, doing nothing but aimlessly going through our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram notifications.

I realized that doing this was cutting out valuable time that I could be using for something else. Instead of going through my Facebook feed, I could be playing with my daughter. Instead of trying to take an Instagram worthy picture, I could be singing to my baby boy. Instead of trying to craft the perfect tweet, I could be taking a walk. We spend so much of our lives on these devices. What good does it do knowing how much time we are spending in these virtual worlds?

The past few days, I’ve been keeping my phone off. No, this isn’t some heroic attempt at cutting out all social media.

I’ve been keeping my phone off to conserve battery life. A few days ago, I realized that my phone charger wasn’t charging at all. The only way that it would charge was if I held the charger cord a certain way. Even then, it wouldn’t charge fast enough. I’ve been charging my phone every morning while taking my daughter to school. The rest of the time? I turn it off. My phone has literally been reduced to a home phone from the nineties.

Of course, I still check my social media notifications at night before I wake up to teach. I wake up to nurse my baby boy, and then find myself with nothing to do. So I turn my phone back on and quickly look through the notifications for an hour or two. But the rest of the time? My phone is off.

The Verdict

I’m finding that I actually like it. I like turning my phone off. With my phone off, my daughter’s not begging to use my phone to play one of her phone games. With my phone off, I am not obsessively checking my notifications for an image, post, or tweet that someone posted. With my phone off, I am just living in the moment.

Living in the moment and focusing on the present has given me more time. I have more time to play with my kids. I have more time to clean the house. I have more time to write a blog post. I have more time to learn about social media. And soon I will have more time to work on that children’s book.

Being without my phone has literally given me seconds of my life back.

I am not in any hurry to buy a new charger. Eventually, I probably will buy a new charger. But until then, I am fine living as if I’m in the nineties.

I am fine living without a phone permanently glued to my fingers. I am fine living without obsessively thinking about what my notifications could be telling me right now. Because at the end of the day, they are just images and words on a screen. What’s most important are the people and things that are around you.

Effective treatment and prevention is available for COVID-19


Institute for Political Economy

November 23, 2020

Two Effective, Safe, and Inexpensive Cures for Covid Exist

I have published previous letters from the virologist Marc Wathelet to the Belgian health authorities about Covid.  In this one he points out that effective threatment and prevention are available, that awaiting a vaccine simply results in more deaths, and that the vaccine itself is problematic.

Effective treatment and prevention is available for COVID-19.

Dear Minister of Health,

In these difficult times, I would like to draw your attention to a treatment that could make a huge difference to the health of people who find themselves infected with the new coronavirus in Belgium.

It is ivermectin, a well-known and well-understood drug discovered in 1975 that is on the WHO essential drugs list. It is used in humans to treat infections with many types of parasites and it also has antiviral activity. This is one of the drugs that warranted clinical trials to test its effectiveness against COVID-19, as I suggested last April https://tinyurl.com/yyzyoe7n, but we did nothing.

An unpublished study (preprint) from Egypt compares the effects of ivermectin to those of hydroxychloroquine. The results are spectacular!   https://www.trialsitenews.com/benha-university-breakthrough-randomized-controlled-trial-shows-ivermectin-effective-for-treating-covid-19-as-prophylaxis/ 

The standard treatment for COVID in several African countries, including Egypt, is the combination of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and Zinc. This study compares this treatment with the combination of ivermectin, azithromycin and Zinc. It has four arms of 100 individuals each, where moderate and severe forms of the disease are treated with either of these two drug combinations.

They measure the percentage improvement in symptoms and decrease in viral load, and the number of deaths (which comes down to a percentage since there are 100 patients per arm).

Here is the summary of the results obtained:

Hydroxychloroquine, moderate forms:                       74% improvement, 4 deaths

Ivermectin, moderate forms:                                       99% improvement, 0 deaths

Hydroxychloroquine, severe forms:                           50% improvement, 20 deaths

Ivermectin, severe forms:                                            94% improvement, 2 deaths

With such clear results, now is the time to show vision!

Please also see this article that reviews clinical trials with this molecule around the world https://tinyurl.com/yyqbq8gw.

I am counting on the experts who advise you to confirm that the benefit / risk ratio of this therapeutic approach is largely in favor of its use for severe forms of the disease. It is essential that this treatment becomes immediately available in hospitals to treat severe forms.

It is not a question of verifying this study with new studies before making this decision, while we have an average of almost 200 daily deaths due to COVID in Belgium over the last week, and therefore an excess mortality ~ 65% at this moment. We don’t have time!

Its use in moderate forms of the disease requires a confirmatory study, but this drug should be available for prescription by front-line doctors when medical supervision can be ensured to monitor for potential side effects.

This medicine is only available in our country in its topical formulation, as a cream (Soolantra®). It is possible to obtain the necessary formulation, 3 or 6 mg tablets for oral administration from neighboring countries, but our pharmacies are not supplied.

I therefore recommend that you 1) authorize the oral form of ivermectin in our country; 2) ensure the supply of our pharmacies with this essential drug; 3) ensure the transmission of this information to hospitals; and 4) organize the necessary trials to confirm or deny its usefulness on the front line for moderate disease.

We must have the lucidity to recognize that this is a “game-changer” and that a very rapid response from the government would limit the harmful consequences of the mismanagement of the health crisis from which our country has suffered until now.

I remind you that none of the vaccines in development are designed to induce mucosal immunity, the only kind of vaccine that is potentially sterilizing, and therefore likely to have an effect on the transmission of the virus.

The criteria for evaluating these candidate vaccines are limited to a reduction in symptoms but not a reduction in deaths or an effect on virus transmission: the bar is set very low to ensure their approval. The reduction of symptoms, if achieved without serious side effects, is certainly desirable, but it is very likely to promote the transmission of the virus because it is the appearance of symptoms that prompts the change in individual behavior that can limit transmission.

In addition, studies are accumulating which indicate that a vitamin D deficiency favors the development of the severe form of the disease: it is a question of setting up a large information campaign to recommend that everyone supplement their diet with vitamin D.

It is a very simple and inexpensive measure, which can have a very substantial effect on the morbidity and mortality associated with COVID-19. Remember that the consequences of sequelae associated with COVID-19 are significant not only for the individuals concerned and their families, but also for our health care budget. What are we waiting for to take this simple step? Have we forgotten that it’s easier to prevent disease than to treat it?

Please act, Minister of Health, act today: do not feed the narrative that the government does not have the interests of its people at heart, only the wishes of the lobbies!

I remain at your disposal,

Marc Wathelet, Doctor of Sciences

Lawlessness, Reason Life Is Cheap In Nigeria

Nigerian soldiers threatening two men
Nigerian soldiers threatening two men (Photo Credit Harrisson Gwamnishu, twitter page)

VIDEO: “I can kill you, nothing will happen,” Nigerian soldiers say as they assault two men

Mr Obaigbena, who sustained bruises from the beating, said he believes the soldiers would have killed him. “I am fortunate to be alive,” he said.

by Cletus UkpongNovember 23, 2020

A group of armed soldiers have been caught on camera assaulting two young men in Asaba, Delta State, Nigeria’s South-south.

A video of the incident, which happened on Saturday, was posted on Twitter by Harrison Gwamnishu, a human rights activist.

In the video, one of the assault victims sat helplessly on a tarred road, while three soldiers beat him up.

The soldiers could be heard cocking their guns, even though the young men were unarmed and appeared too weak and frightened to fight or resist them.

Cars drove past the scene of the incident, while passers-by stood at some distance, shouting in protest.

PREMIUM TIMES, Monday, spoke with the victim who identified himself as Godson Obaigbena, a 28-year-old graduate of Sociology, Delta State University, Abraka.

Mr Obaigbena wears dreadlocks. He is into music production, he said.

He said the soldiers – about five of them – assaulted him because his car almost hit another young man who was riding a motorcycle.

Mr Obaigbena said the fault was not his, but that of the other man whom he said was riding recklessly, on top speed.

“I was just about coming down (from the car) to find out if he was okay, some army people started beating me, slapping me.

“They didn’t even allow me to explain, and the bike guy was fine, he was already up. He just stood up and picked his bike,” the young man told PREMIUM TIMES.

“One of the soldiers said to me, ‘I can kill you and nothing will happen’. He said he would throw my corpse away.”

The other victim of the assault is Mr Obaigbena’s brother. He is seen in the video crying and telling the soldiers that his brother (Obaigbena) is a “sickler”, as the soldiers repeatedly hit brother.

Mr Obaigbena said after beating him, the soldiers searched his car and found nothing.

“They searched the bike guy and saw some pills on him, so he was high when he was driving. That was how they left me to go,” he added.

Mr Obaigbena, who sustained bruises from the beating, said he believes the soldiers would have killed him. “I am fortunate to be alive,” he said.

“It is becoming too much, they should put an end to the brutality,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Nigerian army, Sagir Musa, did not respond to calls and a text message asking for his comment.

Human rights abuse by security agencies in Nigeria appeared to have continued unabated, despite recent nationwide protests by young Nigerians who demanded an end to police brutality.

PREMIUM TIMES reported, about a week ago, how an unidentified soldier assaulted a commercial driver and threatened to kill him for overtaking his car on the Abuja-Kaduna road, North-central Nigeria.

A few days ago, some soldiers in Ibadan, Nigeria’s South-west, were caught on camera flogging one woman in public whom they accused of “indecent dressing.”

In Delta State, soldiers last month reportedly forced a medical doctor to swim in the mud for “violating curfew.”

The latest assault incident in Asaba underscores the helplessness of the Nigerian citizens and the need for the Nigerian authorities to proactively tackle the deteriorating human rights situation in the country

Freddie Mercury on Death and Poetry

Not made for heaven! I wonder where he could be.

words and music and stories

Today marks the 29th anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death: the Queen front-man died in 1991 from bronchial pneumonia followinghis AIDS diagnosis.

He said:
“When I’m dead, I want to be remembered as a musician of some worth and substance.”

“Oh, I was not made for heaven. No, I don’t want to go to heaven. Hell is much better. Think of all the interesting people you’re going to meet down there”

Here are here are two more quotes on poetry by the rock star himself:

“People are always asking me what my lyrics mean. Well I say what any decent poet would say if you dared ask him to analyse his work: if you see it, darling, then it’s there.”

“True poetry is for the listener.”

“Quando sarò morto, voglio essere ricordato come un musicista di qualche valore e spessore.”

“Oh, non sono stato creato per il paradiso. No, non voglio…

View original post 65 more words

Tim Harford on telling data stories with audio: “You need to keep simplifying”

Tim Harford

Tim Harford photo by Emily Qualey

Economist and podcaster Tim Harford, author of How To Make The World Add Up, spoke to MA Data Journalism students this month. In a guest post for OJB Niels de Hoog rounds up Tim’s tips on creating compelling number-driven stories for radio and podcasts 

Orson Welles famously said that there’s nothing an audience won’t understand, as long as you can get them to be interested.

Listening to Tim Harford’s podcasts it is clear that he has taken this message to heart.

“If you’ve got a hook, a personality, or a question people want answered, that will carry people through a certain degree of complexity that they wouldn’t tolerate if it was reported straight.”

The show delves into the numbers behind the news, and debunks many false claims in the process. https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-1&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1326216738988503040&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fonlinejournalismblog.com%2F2020%2F11%2F24%2Ftim-harford-on-telling-data-stories-with-audio%2F&siteScreenName=wordpressdotcom&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550px

Really enjoyed having @TimHarford chat to MA students at @BCUJournalism this morning — his book is such essential reading on avoiding mistakes that we all make, I can’t recommend it enough https://t.co/dCBPArMJEx #bcujournos— Paul Bradshaw (@paulbradshaw) November 10, 2020

Data stories on audio: it’s all about simplifying

Tim explains that when telling a number story, you need to avoid including too many details.

“I spend a lot of time stripping scripts of details that reporters have put in,” he says.

“It’s partly about focus. We can’t give people all the numbers; we can’t tell all the stories — so what’s interesting here?”

For the numbers that you do need to share, Tim suggests using words like ‘approximately’ or ‘about’. In most cases the audience doesn’t need those decimal places.

He also says that you shouldn’t worry about your listeners getting everything single detail.

“If you give people the bottom line clearly, then they can miss details and that’s OK.”

Many stories come with several caveats. In the interest of the story, Tim suggests doing one of those cautionary elements really well, and bracketing the others.

“With audio you need to keep simplifying”, he says. “It’s tempting to overcomplicate.”

Narrative structure and Cautionary Tales

Cautionary Tales, another podcast presented by Tim Harford, uses narrative structure to explain ideas from social science and safety engineering.

The first episode of Cautionary Tales starts with the story of the Torrey Canyon, an oil tanker that shipwrecked on the western coast of England.

As the story unfolds, listeners are aware that it won’t end well, but they don’t yet know why, and what the consequences will be.

This suspense is what allows Tim to delve into the psychological theory underpinning the captain’s actions, without losing the attention of the audience.

The story switches back and forth between the oil tanker approaching the rocks, and an explanation of ‘plan continuation bias’, the cognitive bias that played a key role in the disaster.

Footnotes can still be relevant in audio

Unlike written stories, audio doesn’t allow for the inclusion of footnotes. Tim explains that they are still relevant, but they just can’t be broadcast.

“As you’ve got multiple people working on a script. There will be a number in that script, and someone else will be working on the script and they need to know where that number came from.”

Often, the story of how a number was produced becomes a story in itself.

“I find it interesting how often someone else’s footnote is my story.”

Getting your definitions right

Tim also talked about the importance of checking definitions, even if the meaning of a term seems obvious.

He highlighted the point by giving an example of a mistake they recently made on the More or Less podcast.

'Record' Covid cases, Trump on the death count, and ant pheromones

In an episode on the US election, they refuted a claim by Donald Trump that Covid-19 is less lethal than the flu, because sometimes over 100,000 people in the US die from seasonal flu in a year.

While the claim from Mr. Trump was indeed false, this point was made on the podcast by saying that such an event was quite rare, and that the last time this many people had died from the flu was in 1967.

In a correction on a later episode they explained that not only had they gotten the year wrong — the flu pandemic started in 1968, not 1967 — more importantly, they had misunderstood what ‘1968 flu pandemic’ meant.

The 1968 flu pandemic, it turned out, refers to a four-year period that started in 1968. And the number of deaths were spread out over this period as well, bringing US deaths per year during that period to well below 100,000.

The difference between radio and podcasting

Listen out for “How To Vaccinate The World” on Radio 4 in an hour. With the help of smart friendly people I discuss what’s going on in the world of Covid vaccines: https://t.co/KLNwH1OZHl— Tim Harford (@TimHarford) November 16, 2020

Asked about the difference between radio and podcasting, Tim replies that he doesn’t see a big distinction.

“A lot of people emphasise the difference between radio and podcasting in a way that I don’t fully understand.”

The main difference, according to him, is in the timing. “You can’t be off by a second on radio,” he says.

He illustrates the point by sharing an anecdote from when he was asked to present a radio special on the BBC World Service. “They said: ‘If the queen dies, here’s what’s going to happen,’” before explaining that he would have to announce an interruption in the broadcast in the unlikely event that the queen would die during that specific hour.

Another difference he noted is that podcasting often involves more editing and more iterations. “Especially with American podcasts,” he said.

“The American podcasters — Radiolab, This American Life, 99% Invisible — they really know stuff that BBC radio has forgotten or is trying to relearn about audio storytelling.”

Back to basics

Audio storytelling comes with limitations — especially when telling data-driven stories. Tim doesn’t seem to mind these restraints, however.

As he explains how it was like going back to basics, he smiles:

“In a way it’s like classic old school print journalism, where you’ve got a certain number of column inches.

“And you can’t have any fancy graphs, because you can’t print in color. So you just kind of tell it in words.”