How They Breed Racism in The Children

Two days ago, I took my children to school.
I parked behind a line of vehicles and opened the door for the boys to step out onto the kerb.

As the boys came out of the car, a white girl that had gotten out of a large black truck four vehicles away called my older son, saying “Hi”.
I am sure she is in the same kindergarten class as he.
My son responded by calling her name, saying, “Good morning. How are you?”

Something made me look up from grabbing the boys’ backpack from the car,
And I saw the girl’s mother forcefully turning her in the opposite direction from us.
Then she crouched by the little girl, talked to her for about a minute, and thereafter marched her down to the school entrance.

As she was returning to her vehicle, the boys and I were approaching the school entrance.
The moment she saw us, she turned her gaze to the ground and walked in a wide berth from us.

I shook my head, and I said to myself:
This is how they corrupt the minds of little children.
This is how they perpetuate generational prejudices.
This is how they breed racism.

 

And They Die Slowly

He woke up at 330 am to get ready for another day. By 430 am, he was out of his house in a God-forsaken part of Mowe to navigate his way onto the main road that will take him to his workplace in Apapa.

There were few vehicles on that inner road in the wee hours of the day. Nevertheless, what should ordinarily be a 15-minute drive from his house to the main road would take the better part of 45 minutes.
Years of government (both state and local) neglect have given birth to treacherous inner roads, worse than the terrain off-road vehicle manufacturers put their products through, to test endurance and stability.
Yet, he and most folks in such Nigerian neighbourhoods can only afford cars meant for paved roads.

As we commenced our journey, I winced in pain, not for myself suffering the slamming and dunking of being thrown up and down within the vehicle, but for the saloon car he was driving, which was constantly taking a battering on its underside from the unforgiving terrain.

Eventually, at about 515 am, we found ourselves on the main road. Traffic was already built up. The second hurdle of a regular day began for him, with the hope that it would be one of those lucky days when traffic would be forgiving enough for him to get to his office by 8 am. A journey that should be less than an hour has routinely turned into a minimum of 3 hours.

The same infrastructure meant 40 years ago for a population of less than 3 million, now caters for over 25 million people. The money that ought to have gone into new infrastructure to cope with the increase in population has found its way into pockets of individuals – looted and embezzled.
Five days a week, apart from the stress of his work, he endures the harshness of commuting for 3.5 hours in the morning and between 4 to 6 hours in the evening.

The day he is lucky enough, he gets back home at 930 pm. When he is unlucky, it could be 11 pm or 1 am. That is when he would have dinner, catch a few hours of sleep, to wake up again at 330am, set for another iteration of what late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti called “suffering and smiling”.

Families of many contemporaries of his, have one day received the news that their breadwinner slumped: was rushed into a hospital where for many days, in ignorance and incompetency, leprosy was left to treat eczema; and sadly passed away before attaining the young age of 40.

This is the tragedy of living and working in Nigeria for most of those who call Lagos and its’ environ their home.

This is Nigeria, where self-centred, looting, and cursed leaders have made death at a young age, ten-a-kobo for the citizens they are meant to cater for.

I Am A Christian, But I Use My God-Given Brain

It was the wilderness years of childlessness. A colleague who heard our story of losing our first child at 14 months, followed by miscarriages, invited us to a night vigil at his church.

Following the service, he told me his Pastor would like to see us, and we obliged. After some prayers, the Pastor began to explain what, according to him, he saw in the spirit.

I Digress

I was born into and grew up in The Apostolic Church. I was immersed right from a very young age in a spirit-filled and prophecy believing environment. When you hear the words “Bayi Ni Oluwa Wi” (Thus Sayeth The Lord), you know the Lord is truly speaking. Those who know me in my younger days, people like Stephen Kosh with whom I was active in both the Choir and Youth Movement, would sometimes allude that leaving Nigeria stopped me from becoming an ordained minister in God’s vineyard, even though I do not believe that is in God’s plan for me.

One of the gifts of the spirit is the discernment of tongues. Even then, in those days of real men of God, there were crooks trying to masquerade as prophets in The Apostolic Church. It was not unusual for the bell to ring as soon as such false prophecy starts, to stop the man or woman in his/her track.

Back to My Story

I listened with rapt attention as my London-based Pastor reeled out what he claimed to have seen in the spirit. 1, 2, 3, 4… By the time he would get to identify what he saw as the root of our predicament, our childlessness, I already knew a fake, and a quack was in front of me.

When he asked me to go and bring my mother as the root of our problem – a woman that was already at the bosom of her saviour, a woman whose physical and spiritual sacrifices I know first-hand, a mother that every single day I cry for because she never enjoyed the fruits of her long-suffering as well as labour over her children and many others – it took a lot of calmness and lack of facial expression to hide my disgust.

Many families, many marriages and many lives have been ruined by Tifunloran fake prophets masquerading as ‘men of God’. It is your responsibility to ensure you are not part of that statistics.

I Remain A Christian, But I Use My God-Given Brain.

Do Not Gloat

In 2008, I took some time from employment to finish writing up my doctoral thesis. During this period, I was a frequent visitor to a cousin’s office in London. One of those days, there was an ongoing discussion between the company’s staff, who were all Nigerians, about applying for land allocation in the Federal Capital Territory.

I was asked if I had an interest. I inquired about the process, and the explanation was like this:

  • We fill an application form,
  • Pay some processing fee that came to about £250 per plot,
  • The FCT administration would process the application,
  • If the application is approved, a letter of allocation/allotment will be issued, and
  • Full payment for the plot would be made.

I responded that I was interested. My brother and I completed the forms, and I gave my cousin’s partner, who was facilitating the process, the sum of £500 as a processing fee for the two plots.

About two months later, I was in my cousin’s office when his partner informed me our allocation letters had been sent to him. He gave me the letters for our two plots and demanded that we make available full payment for the plots within a week.

My official engagement before the period included instructing barristers to act on behalf of my employer. This entailed scrutinising regulations, legal documents as well as providing advisory opinions.

When I was handed the allocation letters, my cap as a certified paralegal went on.

At the first read, I could not find anything untoward in the content of the letters. However, with a second review, I noticed that the date on the allocation letter was many years before 2008.

When I asked about the anomaly, I was told that is the way the system works, and I should not worry about the date since the letter had our names on it.

I was uncomfortable. I went home and slept over the issue. By the time I woke up in the morning, I was convinced my parents would count their years of sending me to school wasted if I agree to continue the process of land allocation with a letter dated 199* issued to me in 2008.

So, I called my cousin’s partner, told him my brother and I were no longer interested in the FCT land application.

The guy was furious. I was the only one, out of many applicants he was facilitating the process for, who raised an eyebrow regarding the date on the letter. He called me all sort of names, including too educated to know how things work in Nigeria. He told me I would not get my £500 processing fee back.

I have put this story in the public domain to show that the rots in Nigerian society go deeper than anyone can imagine.

You apply for your Nigerian passport but end up paying up to N30,000 to uniformed immigration officials in their office before issuance. You go to the FRSC for licence renewal and end up paying N25,000 for something that officially is N9,000. You import a used car into the country and pay N2.5m as a clearing fee to customs, but the official documents you get issued show a total sum of N1.3m going to the government’s coffers.

When you gloat over Kemi Adeosun’s resignation, remember any of us can be caught inadvertently in the web of corruption that pervades the Nigerian society from the bottom to the top.

Risk and Safety Assessments: Your Personal Responsibility.

I believe that Nigerians need to take more seriously the responsibility for their personal safety and those of others they may be directly and indirectly in charge of.

When my parents built the house we live in about 38 years ago, concrete stumps were placed at the entrance of each room. This was done so that when a door is closed, it is flush against the stump and leaves no gap for a rodent to get in.

About 15 years ago, I was home briefly on vacation. I had barely gotten indoors when I asked my father to send for the bricklayer. When he came, I instructed him to remove all the internal concrete stumps. My father looked at me as if I was crazy. There I was authorizing alterations to the house he built without his express consent. Seeing the look on his face, I told him that apart from the fact that there has not been a single incident of rodents entering the house, the stumps were a hazard, particularly for him and my mum as they get older.

Three years ago, when my Dad became ill and his movement was slightly impacted, my instructions to make flat access to all the rooms made sense.

During many of my short trips, some for less than 12 hours, I have made more alterations. I had added smoke/carbon monoxide alarms to the house, which on many occasions had become lifesavers when food items were forgotten on the gas cooker. Since 2006, sequel to increasing incidents of slips inside bathtubs resulting in terrible injuries and sometimes outright death to the victims, the rule for me has been “shower cubicle only, no bathtub”.

Anyone in my house three days ago and visit today would wonder at the constant changes to the layout of my sitting room and study. With young, restless and inquisitive children, I have to do risk and safety assessments many times a day. In the morning, the items I thought they could not reach, by the time I get back in the evening, they have figured that pushing their scooters and standing on them provides an easy reach.

Dear friends, given recent domestic tragedies that makes one’s heart bleed in sorrow and anguish for those involved, I beg you to do a risk and safety assessment of your environment constantly. Not only for the sake of your children but to ensure the well being of all those who might have access to such a location.

Please, walk around your house and office. Identify items that pose a risk to your safety as well as those of occupants and visitors. Install smoke and fire alarms. Put high locks on entrance doors to prevent children from easily gaining access to the outside, to the extent that they slip out and wander into the road or places they should not be without guidance. Do not place items in locations where they can become injurious or trip hazards to you and others.

May the Lord comfort all those in mourning. May such tragedies be eliminated from our midst.

The Importance of Keeping Personal Diaries and Accurate Records.

During her review of my father’s autobiography in March 2017, my sister Bamidele noted the old man’s ability not only to recount events as well as names but to keep records. To those who know my father very well, her observation is not strange to them. For any project my father handles, if you want the types of nails used, the exact number of every kind of nail, the unit cost and the total sum expended, he will whip out the records for you.

Since my mother transitioned to glory in 2008, I have endeavoured to spend as much time with my father as possible. In our conversations, particularly when putting the finishing touches to his autobiography, I will talk about some occurrences in the past and seek clarification on aspects that I did not understand. For an 80-year-old man with terrific memories, my father would look at me shaking his head, and he would wonder how I have lucidly remembered such an event that he had forgotten about until I brought it up.

Growing up, one of the new-year phenomena in our house was a torrent of calendar and diary gifts to my parents from families, friends, associates, and former wards/students. My parents would keep a few for their use and give the rest away.
When I got to the age of writing well, I became a yearly beneficiary of my father’s disposal of the extra diaries he was gifted. My late mother’s preference was the pocket diary. My preference, from unconsciously studying my father, was the desk diary. From that time until the year 2007, I followed my parents in keeping a detailed record of daily events in a personal diary.

Two days ago, my father and I had a lengthy discussion on an issue that took place some twenty years ago. Even though he knows the kind of children he has, that we have strived to live a life of integrity as he and my mother taught us, as a just man, he did not assume anything and still sought clarification from me. My lucid memory of the issue concerned and other events I had never spoken to him about were not my convincing points, but the fact that I possess diarised records of the periods in the discussion.

The Yoruba have a saying that “Ẹni tó su ma ngbàgbé. Ẹni tó ko, kò le gbàgbé láíláí”.
The person that fouls an arena with excreta will forget. The person who had the inglorious duty of dealing with that piece of shit will never forget it. That is how powerful memories can be.

My dear friends, beware. The worst man to mete any form of injustice to is the man who possesses the uncanny ability to recall events as they happened with all the actors involved and documentary evidence of what transpired.

Do you keep personal diaries? Do you have accurate records? They are not just valuable tools when you start putting together the story of the course of your life. In my father’s life, I have learnt that at the appropriate time, they become the ultimate tool to silent naysayers and those who deliberately set out to distort history for selfish reasons.

It Is Your 75th Posthumous Birthday

Thank you for the sacrifices you made, and the moral values imparted to make us who we are today. You bestowed us gifts that all the money in this world cannot buy.

You taught us the value of integrity, to know and do what is morally right. You constantly reminded us of contentment being the ultimate expression of good character and that a good name is better than gold and silver.

You preached God, and you showed him in how you loved and cared for others, even when some derided or took advantage of you.

Mum, we continue to strive in abiding with all you impacted to us not just orally but in your daily living. Every time events or circumstances cause me to remember one of your Yoruba admonitions, the love for you grow stronger despite your eternal physical absence.

Mum, if you can, look back and be proud of your accomplishments. You have done excellently well.

From The Archives – Standard Newspaper Jos

I was pruning my digital archives and found this picture of where my life as an employee started.

It was 1988. Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife students had an unforgettable altercation with the federal government. As a result, the university was shut down for 3 months. By the time we were allowed to resume studies, our originally scheduled final examination dates had passed and we were no longer able to join the September batch of National Youth Corp Service (NYSC) for the year 1988/89.

Consequently, we proceeded as ‘spill-over’ corps to orientation in December 1988. I was posted to Plateau State with Simeon Babasola, Abdulsabur Bello, Kunle Alabi, Nnamdi Ojei, and a host of others. By the time we completed orientation, it became apparent that there was a dearth of places for corps members to observe the compulsory one year national service. Most of us needed to search for prospective employers that would officially allow us work for them exclusive of their obligation to provide accommodation and other conveniences.

As Kunle, Nnamdi and I began to rationalise what to do that would align with our educational backgrounds, Nnamdi remembered  that in 1985, the Department of International Relations at the University of Ife had a youth corps member that he was reliably informed works for Standard Newspaper Jos. In a jiffy, we were off in search of him.

We got to Standard Newspapers and luckily found the man we were looking for. He made us understand that the organisation had no vacancies for extra youth corps members because accommodation and extra allowance provisions had already been soaked up by the September batch. We told him we would find our own accommodation, take care of ourselves from the NYSC allowances of N250 per month. All we begged for was ‘a place to lay our national service heads’ for the one year duration. With this plea, further discussion was held with the management and we found ourselves absorbed to observe the national youth service at Standard Newspapers.

I enjoyed my stay in Jos surrounded by other wonderful youth corps members. Jos was peaceful. As strangers in the land, we had no concern for safety at that time, wandering around from one friend’s place to the other at 1am.

Within a short period of time, not only did management felt we deserved to be given accommodation and paid some stipend, I was tasked with setting up and manning a regular weekly column for Foreign Affairs. Kunle Alabi in his own right ended with a weekly Arts column through which we met many lovely folks including the cast of the famous soap ‘Cock Crow At Dawn’. The day late MacArthur Fom (Nosa in the soap) came visiting the two of us in the office is etched in my memory forever. Staff members could not contain their bewilderment at two young southern chaps who not only shake hands with the bosses that they were unable to look in the eyes, but got a celebrity of Nosa’s status to come down just to say hello.

Significantly, I do not know what my bosses saw in me. Assignments that usually would be given to trained and tested hands in journalism started being handed to me. I hope to write about some of those experiences another day.

I cannot forget Senator Solomon Ewuga (former Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State and former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory) who was the General Manager of PPC. He took me like a younger brother with a standing instruction to his secretary that I must be allowed to see him whenever I stepped into his office.

I am grateful to Senator Joshua Dariye (former Governor of Plateau State) who was then the Chief Accountant of PPC without whose financial authorisation I would not have been able to carry out the assignments entrusted to me. He had confidence in my ability to deliver quality projects every time apart from accountability on how funds allocated were spent.

I am eternally grateful to Rima Shawulu Kwewum (member of the House of Representative) for what he did for us in getting us a place at Standard Newspapers / Plateau Publishing Company (PPC) Jos to observe the NYSC assignment in 1988. He was the one that further took me under his wings in the features department where he was Editor, and gave me the foreign affairs column assignment.

When those close to me marvel at how I approach tasks and assignments for which I have little training or not enough time to prepare for, yet making good success of them, I owe the foundation of that daredevil confidence to my Standard Newspaper years and the three people acknowledged above.

The Nigerian Civil War of 1967-70: My Selected Bibliography

Yesterday, I made a promise to someone on Facebook to provide a selected  bibliography on the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-70. Since then, I have had other private requests for a copy, as a result of which I took the decision to make it available publicly.

As with any historical event, there are countless books, academic papers/articles, newspaper reports, personal opinions as well as social media write-ups on what is known as the Biafran War.

The selected texts below are by no means all the fictional or non-fictional accounts of the war that are available. They are the texts (books) I have found useful in the course of my own delve into the darkest part of the history of a promising nation.

For those who may wonder, I have read each of the items below, apart from having a hard-copy library of a significant number of the texts.

AUTHOR YEAR TITLE PUBLISHER
Achebe C 2013 There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra London: Penguin Books
Achuzia J O G 1986 Requiem Biafra Enugu: Fourth Dimensions Publishers
Achebe C 1973 Christmas in Biafra and Other Poems New York: Doubleday
Adekunle B 2004 The Nigeria Biafra War Letters: A Soldier’s Story Phoenix Pub Group
Adichie C N 2006 Half of a Yellow Sun London: Fourth Estate
Affia G B 1970 Nigerian Crisis 1967-1970: A Preliminary Bibliography Lagos: University of Lagos
Aguolu C C 1973 Nigerian Civil War 1967-1970: An Annotated Bibliography Boston: G. K. Hall
Ajibola W 1978 Foreign Policy and Public Opinion: A Case Study of British Foreign Policy over the Nigerian Civil War Ibadan: Ibadan University Press
Akinyemi B 1979 The British Press and the Nigerian Civil War: the Godfather Complex Ibadan: University Press
Akpan N 1972 The Struggle for Secession: A Personal Account of the Nigerian Civil War London: Frank Cass
Alabi-Isama G 2013 The Tragedy of Victory: On-the-spot Account of the Nigeria-Biafra War in the Atlantic Theatre Ibadan: Spectrum Books Limited
Amadi E 1973 Sunset in Biafra: A Civil War Diary London: Heinemann
Aneke L N 2007 The Untold Story of the Nigeria-Biafra War New York: Triumph Publishing
Anwunah P A 2007 The Nigeria-Biafra War 1967-1970: My Memoirs Ibadan: Spectrum Books Limited
Asika U ? No Victors No Vanquished Enugu: East-Central State Information Service
Awolowo O 1981 Awo on the Nigerian Civil War Ikeja: John West Publications
Azikwe N 1969 Origins of the Nigerian Civil War Apapa: Nigerian National Press
Azikwe N 1969 Peace Proposals for Ending the Nigerian Civil War London: Colusco
Balogun O 1973 The Tragic Years: Nigeria in Crisis 1966-1970 Benin City: Ethiope Publishing Company
Birch G 1968 Biafra: The Case for Independence London: Britain-Biafra Association
Brewin A and MacDonald D 1970 Canada and the Biafran Tragedy Toronto: James Lewis and Samuel
Cervenka Z 1971 The Nigerian Civil War 1967-1970: History of the War Selected Bibliography and Documents Frankfurt am Main: Bernard & Graefe
Clarke J D 1987 Yakubu Gowon: Faith in a United Nigeria London: Cass
Collis R 1970 Nigeria in Conflict London: Secker & Warburg
De St Jorre J 1972 The Nigerian Civil War London: Hodder and Stoughton
Draper M J 1999 Shadows: Airlift and Airwar in Biafra and Nigeria 1967 – 1970 Aldershot: Hikoki Publications Limited
Eastern Nigeria 1966 The Nigerian Crisis Enugu: Government Printer
Ejike B 2003 Weapons of Biafra: A Child’s Account of the Nigerian Civil War Lagos: Gik Publishers Limited
Ekwe-Ekwe H 1991 The Biafra War: Nigeria and the Aftermath Lewiston: Edwin Mellen
Ekwe-Ekwe H 2006 Biafra Revisited Dakar: African Renaissance
Ekwensi C O D 1980 Divided We Stand: A Novel of the Nigerian Civil War Enugu: Fourth Dimension
Emecheta B 1982 Destination Biafra: A Novel London: Allison & Busby
Essien J M 1987 In the Shadow of Death: Personal Recollections of Events during the Nigerian Civil War Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books
Federal Ministry of Information 1970 Lt Col Effiong Declares that Biafra has Ceased to Exist Lagos: Federal Ministry of Information
Federal Ministry of Information 1970 Broadcast to the Nation by the Head of the Federal Military Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Major-General Yakubu Gowon Lagos: Federal Ministry of Information
Forsyth F 1977 The Biafra Story: The Making of An African Legend 2nd Ed New York: Penguin Books
Gbulie B 1989 The Fall of Biafra Enugu: Benlie
Gowon Y and Effiong P 2001 The Nigerian Civil War And Its Aftermath: Views From Within Ibadan: John Archers Limited
Graham-Douglas N B 1968 Ojukwu’s Rebellion and World Opinion London: Galitzine Chant Russell & Partners
Idahosa P E 1989 Truth and Tragedy: A Fighting Man’s Memoirs of the Nigerian Civil War Ibadan: Heinemann
Ige B 1995 People Politics and Politicians of Nigeria (1940 – 1979) Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books
Iguh O T 1977 Last Days of Biafra Lagos: O T Iguh
Ike V C 1976 Sunset at Dawn: A Novel about Biafra London: Collins & Harvill Press
Ikpe S 2013 Red Belt: Biafra Rising London: Bygfut Media Limited
Iroh E 1979 Toads of War London: Heinemann
Kirk-Greene A 1975 The Genesis of the Nigerian Civil War and the Theory of Fear Uppsala: The Scandinavian Institute of African Studies
Kirk-Greene A H M 1971 Crisis and Conflict in Nigeria: A Documentary Sourcebook 1966 – 1969 Vol 1 January 1966-July 1967 London: Oxford University Press
Kirk-Greene A H M 1971 Crisis and Conflict in Nigeria: A Documentary Sourcebook 1966 – 1970 Vol 2 July 1967–January 1970 London: Oxford University Press
Korieh C J (ed) 2012 The Nigeria-Biafra War: Genocide and the Politics of Memory Cambria Press
Madiebo A 1980 The Nigerian Revolution and the Biafran War Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishers
Mbanefo A 1984 A Psychological Analysis of the Nigerian Civil War: Future Implications for Unity and Nationhood in The Civil War Years: Proceedings of the National Conference on Nigeria Since Independence Zaria March 1983 Vol III Zaria: Gaskiya Corporation Ltd
Mezu S O 1971 Behind the Rising Sun London: Heinemann
Muffett D J M 1982 Let Truth Be Told Zaria: Hudahuda Pub Co
Nafziger E W 1982 The Economics of Political Instability: The Nigerian-Biafran War Boulder Colorado: Westview Press
Niven R 1970 The War of Nigerian Unity Ibadan: Evans Brothers Nigeria Publishers
Njoku H 1987 A Tragedy Without Heroes: The Nigeria Biafra War Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishing Company
Nwankwo A 1972 Nigeria: The Challenge of Biafra 3rd edn Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishers
Nwankwo A A and Ifejika S U 1969 The Making of a Nation: Biafra London: C Hurst
Nwapa F 1975 Never Again Enugu: Nwamife Publishers
Nweke G A 1976 External Intervention in African Conflicts: France and French-Speaking West Africa in the Nigerian Civil War 1967-1970 Boston Boston University: African Studies Centre
Nyerere J K 1969 The Nigeria-Biafra Crisis Dar es Salaam: Government Printer
Nzimiro I 1982 Nigerian Civil War: A Study in Class Conflict Enugu: Frontline Publishing Company
Obasanjo O 1980 My Command: An Account of the Nigerian Civil War 1967-1970 Ibadan: Heinemann
Obikeze D S and Ada A M 1985 Children and the Nigerian Civil War: A Study of the Rehabilitation Programme for War-Displaced Children Nsukka: University of Nigeria Press
Obiozor G 1993 The United States and the Nigerian Civil War: an American Dilemma in Africa 1966-1970 Lagos: NIIA
Odogwu B 1985 No Place to Hide: Crises and Conflicts inside Biafra Enugu: Fourth Dimensions Publishers
Ogali O A 1982 The Return of Ojukwu and Why Biafra Lost The War Nigeria: Ogali A Ogali
Ogbemudia S 1991 Years of Challenge Ibadan: Heinemann
Ojukwu C O 1969 Biafra: Selected Speeches with Journals of Events New York: Harper & Row
Ojukwu C O 1969 Ahiara Declaration: The Principles of the Biafran Revolution Cambridge Mass: Biafra Review
Ojukwu E 1989 Because I Am Involved Ibadan: Spectrum Books
Okpaku J (ed) 1972 Nigeria: Dilemma of Nationhood: An African Analysis of the Biafran Conflict New York: Third Press
Okpi K 1982 Biafra Testament Oxford: Macmillan
Okpoko J 1986 The Biafran Nightmare: The Controversial Role of International Relief Agencies in a War of Genocide Enugu: Delta of Nigeria
Oluleye J 1999 Military Operations: The Planning and the Conduct during the Nigerian Civil War 1967-1970 Abuja: National War College
Onyegbula G A 2005 Memoirs of the Nigerian-Biafran Bureaucrat: An Account of Life in Biafra and Within Nigeria Ibadan: Spectrum Books
Opiah E A 1972 Why Biafra?: Aburi Prelude to Biafran Tragedy San Rafael Calif: Leswing Press
Orewa G O 1977 We Are All Guilty – The Nigerian Crisis Ibadan: Spectrum Books
Osaghae E E, Onwudiwe E and Suberu R T (eds) 2002 The Nigerian Civil War And Its Aftermath Ibadan: John Archers Limited
Ottah N 1981 Rebels Against Rebels Devon: Arthur H Stockwell Ltd
Oyewole F 1975 Reluctant Rebel London: Rex Collins
Oyeweso S (ed) 1992 Perspectives on the Nigerian Civil War Lagos: Campus Press Ltd
Panther-Brick S K (ed) 1970 Nigerian Politics and Military Rule: Prelude to the Civil War London: The Athlone Press
Parise G 1968 Biafra Milano: Libreria Feltrinelli
Saro-Wiwa K 1989 On a Darkling Plain: An Account of the Nigerian Civil War London: Saros
Schabowska H and Himmelstrand U 1978 African Reports on the Nigerian Crisis News Attitudes and Background Information: A Study of Press Performance Government Attitude to Biafra and Ethno-Political Integration Uppsala: Scandinavian Institute of African Studies
Stremlau J 1977 The International Politics of the Nigerian Civil War 1967-1970 Princeton: Princeton University Press
Sullivan J R 1969 Breadless Biafra Dayton Ohio: Pflaum Press
**** ? The Aburi Report Enugu: Government Printer
Thompson J 1990 American Policy and African Famine: the Nigerian-Biafran War 1967-1970 New York: Greenwood Press
Ugobelu E 1992 Biafra War Revisited: A Concise Account of Events that led to the Nigerian Civil War Atlanta GA: ProPrints of Atlanta
Uku S R 1978 The Pan-African Movement and the Nigerian Civil War New York: Vantage
Usman Y B and Kwanashie G A (eds) 1995 Inside Nigerian History 1950-1970: Events Issues and Sources Zaria: Ahmadu Bello University Press
Uwechue R 1971 Reflections on the Nigerian Civil War: Facing the Future New York: Africana Publications
Waugh A and Cronje S 1969 Biafra: Britain’s Shame London: Joseph

 

You and Your Vulcanizer Could Be Your Killer

(Vulcanizer is the Nigerian name for the man that is ‘equipped’ to replace the wheel on a vehicle)

My driving lessons, from a very young age, began with watching my father look after his vehicle. This was followed with being partaker in washing the inside and outside of the vehicle, topping up the radiator, checking the engine oil level and tyre pressures, and helping to find big stones that served as anti-rolling wedges during a wheel change.

Transition into sitting directly behind the wheel of a vehicle started with a studious examination of a book my father had bought in the 1960s when he was about to purchase his first car. The book covered virtually all aspects of a vehicle, the difference between a manual and automatic transmission, the technical layout of the gears and the process of shifting through them, the safety regime to follow when driving including manual signalling when your indicators fail for any reason, and above all, how to ensure your vehicle is kept safe for operation through regular maintenance as well as check-ups.

I have since had the privilege of driving for the last 37 years. The first 12 years were spent driving extensively on Nigerian soil, while the remainder has been spent driving mainly in Europe and North America apart from the occasional foray into other countries for conferences or vacations. Whilst I do not consider myself an A+ driver, I am sure many of those close to me will not fault a modest acclamation of being an A driver. It is on this basis that I write today on why you and your vulcanizer – that man that changes the wheel on your vehicle for you, can be your killer because of ignorance/lack of knowledge. Before I come to you, let me start with the third party.

The Vulcanizer

(1) You have just bought a brand new tyre and asked him to fix it on a wheel. Since he lacks the right equipment to do the job, he brings out a long flat steel and a huge sledge hammer, he begins to hit the side of the tyre all the way round to force the edges of the tyre inside the rim. When he finishes on one side, he turns the tyre over to start on the other side. Are you aware that the walls of the tyre contributes to its structural integrity and consequently its safety? By hitting the walls forcefully to get the edges of the tyre into the rim, not only has he weakened the structural integrity of the tyre, he has also accelerated the potential for the tyre to fail during normal (to talk less of abnormal) usage.

(2) After some huffing and panting, he got the new tyre on the rim. Thereafter, he inflated the tyre and having no pressure gauge, employed his fingers to constantly poke the hardness of the tyre wall as a good measure of deciding when the air inside the tyre is enough for the valve to be capped.

(3) Most concerning, he has no clue as to what the pressure for your make and model of car should be. So, you find a vehicle that should have a pressure of 32psi on the front wheels and 30 psi on the rear wheels having a mismatch of pressures ranging from 28 to 50 psi on the four wheels. Disaster already created.

You

You is inter-changeable for the owner, the driver or the owner-driver.

(1) When you were buying the new tyre, did you ask for a tyre with an expiry date at least four or five years from the date of purchase since all things being equal, a typical regularly used vehicle in Nigeria would need to have a tyre change every 3 years on an average? I am sure you did not, since you have no idea that tyres have expiration dates.

(2) Do you even know what the numbers inscribed on the walls of the tyre you have bought signify? Okay, you know that 165/55R15 91T indicates the tyre that will fit the rim of your car because that is what was fitted and you are replacing. For a second-hand car, you do not have a clue if that is the recommended manufacturer size. As such, if the previous owner has changed the tyre size to a non-recommended one in ignorance and stupidity, you also in bliss inherit the ignorance and stupidity. God have mercy.

(3) You are a speed maniac, who likes to do 170km per hour regardless of the condition of the vehicle, the condition of the roads as well as the speed regulations governing the roads/areas being travelled in. Sadly, since you have no knowledge of what the inscriptions on the tyre indicate, you have no clue that a tyre that has the inscription 205/65R15 95T is different from the one with 205/65R15 95H or 205/65R15 95V (I will be surprised if the tyre seller himself knows the difference apart from the selling price). Since the latter ratings are more expensive, you went for the cheaper one, the one that restricts your maximum speed to 120km/h than the one that provides for a top speed of 210km/h if the tyre is in good condition and with the right pressure inside it.

(4) The small gadget called a tyre pressure gauge costs less than what you spend on a bottle of Orijin in a week. Have you ever invested a small amount of your money on one? If you did, when last did you carry out a check to ensure the pressure inside your tyres are in compliance with what the vehicle and tyre manufacturers recommended, particularly after visiting your lovely, ignorant in bliss and lacking-equipment vulcanizer?

(5) I have been told I had no hair on my head when I was born. That baldness is the state you will find a significant amount of tyres on vehicles on Nigerian roads today. The threading on the tyres are not just worn to the recommended point where new ones ought to be fitted, they are worn far beyond the point where the tyres can have any meaningful grip on any road surface.

My dear friends, do you see how lack of knowledge, ignorance and sometimes outright stupidity are killing Nigerians in droves on our roads? You trust in God to keep you safe, but you constantly play a love-game with the deadly combination of an extremely hot climatic condition, over-inflated as well as bald tyres, over-speeding, poorly maintained roads, lack of driving training and/or road etiquettes, and you blame God when disaster occurs?

If this post has made you angry enough to wonder who the writer think he is to offer you advice on driving as well as maintaining your vehicle, I hope it prompts you to change your ways as we still need you (and others your action/inaction may untimely kill) on this side of humanity.