The March RoundUp

 THE BIRTHDAY OF TEX

We start our roundup this month with the most awesome thing about March – one celebrated one’s birthday and commemorated the occasion with a limerick:

 

There once was a tweeter named Tex

His specialty was in the lex

On Ides minus 2

His birthday, woohoo!

So dig deep & pull out some cheques!

 

Sadly, no cheques yet. Maybe next year…

 

THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Nigeria’s controversial national conference started this month. After squabbling about religion, marginalisation, voting rules, respect for elders, the right to doze off without the press covering it AAAAAND receiving their first allowances of N1.4million each, it does not seem as if things will get moving for another week yet. Still, we celebrate some of the more famous delegates in the limericks below:

 

When Jimmy was head of the sports

His case shoulda gone to the courts

A great innovator

Showed a generator

When started, man, it teleports.

 

A cross-dressing fugitive man

Was impeached then forgiven and

Despite his disgrace

Will yet be the face

Of Bayelsa’s conferencing band

 

What really is two-thirds 19?

Is it 12 or is it 13?

Ol’Richie returns

To raise these concerns

When all the delegates convene

 

An ex-gov’ning husband of judge

In landmarking judicial sludge

Forever denied

The risk of being tried

An “elder statesman”, oh what fudge!

 

OOH LA LA!

After being dubbed a specialist in failure by the Special Punk, Jose Mourinho, Gooners all over  the world licked their chomps in anticipation of the showdown between Arsenal and Chelsea. Like the protagonist in a Kung-Fu movie, we all expected Arsene Wenger to “take his revenge”. The prospect received additional spice because it was Arsen’s 1000th game in charge of Arsenal. Things didn’t quite play out as expected. In fact, Arsenal shipped 6 goals without reply that day, prompting Professeur Wenger to attempt dodging the post-match press conference. The following limerick, as salve for our North London wounds…

There once was a French coach named Wenger

In-club for a thousand game bender

Got stuffed by José

Well, hip hip hooray

Our specialist, legend forever

 

ROAD SAFETY REFORM MEETS ROADBLOCK

A learned colleague recently obtained a judgement from the Federal High Court, restraining the Federal Road Safety Corps from impounding cars that do not have the new number plates. You can read the story here. Unconstitutional and illegal. Does this mean that cars with the new plates are improperly registered? We cannot say. Will the FRSC adhere to the judgement? We’ll just have to wait and see. Will you get a refund for the unconstitutional and illegal number plates on your car? This limerick is for you.

It turns out our old number plates

Now don’t have expiry dates

But no reimbursement

Will come from the gov’ment

To those who had paid the new rates

 

“KORO” LAMENTS MARGINALISATION IN LAGOS

Senator Ambassador Honourable Musiliu Obanikoro was in the press twice this month. Luckily, we feature both events in our roundup. In one, he is reported as lamenting the dearth of “shonz of de shoil”, indigenes of Lagos, in the management of the State’s affairs. Perhaps Lagosians should have their own sovereign conference to resolve this matter…

It’s something that makes Koro bitter

How Aliens in Lagos now litter

The armchairs of power

Indigenes, this hour

Must rise to defend this bullshitter

 

Koro reportedly also played a role in the “did-he-didn’t-he” that followed reports of the resignation of the newly appointed defence minister (Koro is his junior minister, his expertise in defending, uhm, his fellow Lagosians coming in very useful here).  The minister, retired General Gusau, quickly denied news of his resignation, but something very clearly happened between the ministers and the joint chiefs as news of their reconciliation was roundly received with relief. In honour of the purported resignation however, the following –

Nigeria’s joint chiefs weren’t inclined

To meet with Gusau, how unkind

The head of defence

In pure common-sense

He picked up his pen & resigned

 

NATIONAL IMMIGRATION SERVICE [SHAM] RECRUITMENT TRAGEDY

In a truly heart-wrenching sequence of events, the National Immigration Service charged 6 million applicants N1000 each, so that it could invite 500,000 thousand of them to a test at various stadiums around the country, intending to offer only about 4,000 of them employment.  There were stampedes in almost each stadium, 19 people died and hundreds more were injured. Now, first question is, how the hell do the NIS, who have 2 people stamping each passport at the airports, need 4,000 more staff? Then, where did the Minister for the Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, find the nerve to come on television and blame the multiple stampedes on the “impatience” of the applicants? Then, our president, Goodluck Jonathan, incomprehensibly decides to award 3 employment slots to the families of those who died and automatic employment for everyone injured in the stampede. Unsurprisingly, he nearly caused another stampede at the National Hospital, with people feigning injury and clamouring to be put on the automatic employment list… [*deep, deep, breaths*]

 

A stampede as stamping HQ

Recruited for stampers brand new

Like dreams they were crushed

As applicants rushed

To 19, we now say adieu

 

A stampede, as stamping HQ

Recruited, but all went askew

500k tried

And then 19 died

The polity heated, a-stew.

 

The head of our troubled interior

In garbage from oral posterior

Has asked us to blame

The dead & now lame

And ignore his motives, ulterior

 

The head of our country has tried

In satire personified

To placate the mob

By giving a job

To families of seekers that died

 

Have u been maimed in a stampede?

Or just maimed, but still full of need?

Then go to Abuja

The gov’ment will give ya

A job as their penance for greed

 

May the souls of the departed rest in peace. May those whose negligence led to their deaths not receive the customary golden parachute and silver handshake from the federal employer.

 

AND IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS…

President Goodluck Jonathan went to Europe and informed his audience that corruption in Nigeria is blown out of proportion; things aren’t as bad as we know them to be… Okay, then.

Our country is full of distortion

Especially talking corruption

We exaggerate

Discombobulate

And blow it all out of proportion

 

… and Russia is giving the rest of the world its middle finger in Ukraine.

There oncce was a country, ‪#Crimea

Whose borders’ll now disappear

Cos Vladimir Putin

Is sticking the boot in

Regardless of ‪#Ukraine‘s despair

 

As they say in Russia, dasvidaniya! Until the next roundup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Doing Business Needs To Be Easier

The Federal Government and many State counterparts know how to spin a good yarn on entrepreneurship being the solution to Nigeria’s unemployment pandemic.  There has been no better evidence of the country’s stark reality in the employment stakes than when the government itself shambolically attempted to test over 500,000 job applicants to fill only 4,000 vacancies (less than 1%), resulting in stampedes and deaths.

 

So, yes, unemployment is a problem. And you would think that governments serious about stimulating private sector job creation would be similarly serious about creating an environment conducive to this. Sadly, starting and running a business in Nigeria remain extremely tough and most of the obstacles to giving it the best shot come from the government and its various agencies.

 

Granted, it isn’t the fault of the government (well, not directly, anyway) that very little credit is available and so office space, electricity generators, equipment, supplies, etc. all have to be paid for in full prior to commencing business. However, most business people find that once they’re set up, they’re then at the mercy of all sorts of “officials” from State agencies and the local government, demanding all sorts of levies for sundry permits, depending on the nature of business being carried on.

 

The problem isn’t the permits in and of themselves, as most entrepreneurs I’ve been privileged to advise do want to do business legitimately and in a structured manner. The problem is in the way that these agencies ambush businesspeople. What’s worse, I doubt that there are any consultants who can give you the full list of permits, licenses or approvals required for a business – this advice will come with a caveat. So, how can people starved for cash properly plan their expenditure?

 

My proposed solution is for the government to simplify this process. I realise this is antithetical to current practices of making approvals as tortuous as possible (in order to extract as much “extra” from the public as possible) but we surely cannot continue this way. My proposal for simplification is similar to the Federal Government’s One Stop Investment Centre (which hasn’t really worked out, by the way, but a noble idea).

 

The idea behind OSIC was to create one office where investors could go to for all the permits required to carry on business in Nigeria. Great idea, but key agencies like customs and immigrations have remained very tribal (who would blame them, given how much, for example, expatriate quotas cost) and “one stop” hasn’t really been one stop.

 

A state OSIC would be a great idea too though, especially if the State Government secured (or coerced) the buy-in of Local Governments too. One place for every single permit your business needs, with a pact from the government that no one would be harassed over any permit or levy not issued or collected at its OSIC. In addition to that, serious states (I’m talking to you, Ogun State) have to dismantle road blocks where local governments demand that motorists buy radio licences to be able to drive through the local government. It isn’t only illegal, it is patently stupid. Same as with requiring trucks and articulated vehicles to obtain permits for each local government they intend to drive through. This currently affects only loggers and the like but when e-commerce begins to require larger delivery vehicles to maximise efficiency, it simply won’t be workable.

 

In the World Bank’s annual “Doing Business” report for 2014, Nigeria ranks 122 out of 189 in ease of doing business. In 2013, our rank was 114, so it appears doing business has become tougher over the past year. You can see the report for yourselves here (and here for the overall rankings). It is no coincidence that the countries where doing business is easiest are amongst the world’s most prosperous.

 

We have only 6 years to go until 2020, when the government says it plans to break into the elite group of the world’s Top 20 economies.

 

The recorded music market in the US, 2000-2013

Music sales over all are dropping, but digital’s share of the pie is rising…

Music Business Research

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) recently published the sales figures (shipment figures) for the recorded music market in the US for 2013. Accordingly, digital sales increased by 7.6 percent to US$ 4.36bn from 2012 to 2013. Nevertheless, overall sales (digital and physical) slightly decreased by 0.3 percent from US$ 7.016bn to US$ 6.996bn in 2013. Thus, the sales decline of 12.3 percent (US$ -325m) in the physical product (CD, vinyl, DVD, SACD) could not be compensated by the growth of the digital music market. All in all, digital music sales accounted for 64 percent of the overall recorded music sales in 2013.

The strong increase of digital music sales is fueled by the booming music streaming and subscription segment, which grew 39 percent in 2013, generating US$1.4bn in revenue. However, single track download sales shrank by 3.3 percent (US$ -54.6m) in the same period. Digital album sales have slightly…

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The Roundup – 6th March 2014

We begin our roundup this week with the question on all our minds since it became known that the NNPC could not account for a huge, huge, sum of money, somewhere between “only” $10.8bn and $20bn: WHERE IS OUR MONEY?

We ask the bees, where is our honey

Comedians, where is our funny

For those at the top

Those few that we prop

We ask them ‪#WhereIsOurMoney

Well, in what was seen as an attempt to force the hand of the federal government, finance minister and coordinating minister for the economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, issued a statement calling for a forensic audit of the NNPC’s accounts. The statement was issued shortly after the CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was fired under circumstances most watchers connect to him blowing the whistle on the NNPC billions.

Ngozi, she’s gone now and floored it

Tentatively, watchers applaud it

The money that’s lost

She said to her boss

Will be found in forensic audit

CNN sacked Piers Morgan. Though it was probably because of his show’s dismal ratings, many say it was because of his crusade against the National Rifle Association and its reverence for the Second Amendment to the American Constitution, even in the face of frequent massacres. He’ll be fine, though, that Piers.

There once was a journo named Piers

A Brit in the States for 3 yrs

For verbal affray

With the NRA

He’s off now to find new frontiers

Speaking of massacres, there has been absolutely no let up in North-Eastern Nigeria. Not to try to attribute varying weights to what have all been hugely tragic events, but the killing of about 40 students in their school was particularly horrendous. The raw wound of the national psyche was further opened when the federal government insisted on going ahead with its controversial centenary jamboree only a day or two afterwards.

100yrs been in the making

Did ripening but never did taking

And in our fresh grief

Our mourner-in-chief

Will proceed with the celebrating

When Barry was faced with the loss

Of 20 kids & the school’s boss

He broke down and cried

Well here 40 died

And Johnny does not give a toss

The irony of commemorating the centenary only a few weeks before the national conference was not lost to some. Here, a tweet from OAP Temisan Okomi:

For patchwork ten decades ago

Our government has put on a show

But in a few weeks

Our conference seeks

To answer: to stay or to go?

Whenever the Nigerian oil cabal is taken on, it fights back. A scarcity followed the initial investigation into fuel subsidies a few years ago, a scarcity has now followed allegations of $20billion being unaccounted for. The joke is now in circulation, where Nigerians apologise to the cabal and tell them they can keep the $20billion as long as they released petrol supplies again.

We’d best leave the oil thieves alone

For each time their cover is blown

A shortage arises

A scarcity crisis

To punish for loot now forgone

Whenever we spotlight the murk

The system soon goes full berserk

Will we stay the course

Or show our remorse

And simply now all face our work?

In South Africa, the trial of “blade runner” Oscar Pistorius for the murder of his girlfriend has commenced. Guilty or not guilty? We’ll soon find out.

Post-Oscars, there’s Oscar Pistorius

On trial, for murder inglorious

He shot in the dark

Extinguished her spark

His defence, it’s felt, might be spurious

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has advised Governors that it is in their interest and the interest of their states to seek cordial relations with him. He said, “A number of politicians feel that the best thing to do is to be abusing Mr. President, abusing the Federal Government and so on. You are elected to develop your state, I think the best thing is to have good relationship with the centre, whether you have a pin or you don’t have but one day it will come. Wearing boxing gloves, jumping into the boxing ring to face Mr. President does not help the development of any state.

A warning today from the Rock

To guv’nors whose tongues run amok

If you want progress

Then try some finesse

And stop criticising Goodluck

Finally, we end with an event still causing ripples on the interwebs. In Nigeria, we once had a greatly feared dictator, Sani Abacha. He died in office under circumstances that have never been officially explained. The government of Goodluck Jonathan decided to grant him a posthumous award, along with other past heads of state for being  “Outstanding promoters of unity, patriotism and national development.” Fear not, Lord Luggard, Flora Shaw and Queen Elizabeth were also given awards.

The families of Gani Fawehinmi and MKO Abiola rejected the purported centenary awards to their progenitors. Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, rejected his award as well, because, he said, he could not share an award with the late Abacha, who was a “murderer and thief of no redeeming quality”.

Well, one of Abacha’s sons responded to Professor Soyinka. You can read his nicely drafted letter here. Of course, many took umbrage and a learned friend has written a response to Sadiq Abacha here.

Phew! Long intro! The now long-awaited limerick follows –

Rejecting co-gong with dictator

The Laureate, longtime provocator

Was richly chastised

By sonly reprise

Though son was a pampered spectator