Archive for September, 2007

GOLDEN ASIA

September 12, 2007

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It came like a renewed feeling, being proud of Nigeria. Resilient, committed when it matters most, survival against all odds, a few of the qualities we can use to describe a real Nigerian. Real because they do not wake up hoping to succeed by fraudulent means or hope on someone to provide their next meal. Real because they are a pure description of the Lion and Gazelle story, “the lion starts running as soon as he wakes up this goes for the Gazelle because if the Lion is slow there will be no food and if the Gazelle is slow it ends up in the belly of a Lion” that is a real Nigerian.

Two Nigerian soccer teams had two victories on Sunday, September 9, 2007 but one of them has stayed in the headlines, not because the other was less significant, but because it was earned after a stiff fight. Once again Nigeria dominated the whole of the world fighting through Europe on the Asian soil. I think Asia is fast becoming an omen for Nigeria. This same tournament also produced the likes of our own “Papilo” Nwankwo Kanu, Celestine Babayaro, Wilson Oruma, to mention but a few and all the three U-17 Golden victories were on Asian Soil.

Our Eaglets cruised through, France, England, Germany, Spain and their South American counterparts; Argentina and Columbia. The challenges were surmounting, yet they kept moving; first there was team arrival in batches, then shortage of kits and then the coach fell ill all at the door of the championship, but the guys were undaunted. The challenges were tense, they were committed, obedient, like one of them at a reception for them in Lagos, “we were already told what to do in the field and we worked towards it”.

I was deeply touched as I watched a mammoth crowd welcome them in the company of the executive governor of Lagos State, Barrister Babtunde Raji Fashola on arrival at the international wing of Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos. They also expected to grace the presidential villa on invitation of President Umaru Musa Yar’adua as is customary. They have simply written their names in gold as long as Nigeria, Africa and world football is concerned. Also not forget some other real Nigerians; our Super Falcons kept their hopes of staying the Women’s world championship alive with a gallant fight and subsequent one all draw against a much sophisticated Swedish side.

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Twenty Naija

September 7, 2007

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A quick  look at latest-additions to the Naira family simply brings a major thought into your mind; this Twenty Naira must be special. Looking at its distinguishing features like; Ruggedity, National colour, CBN official Logo, crispy nature et al. one cannot help but conclude that this particular note must be of certain importance to the developer as well as the people it is meant to serve.

One of this important motives came up recently when the governor of the Central bank of Nigeria; professor Chukwuma Soludo announced a new currency reform,Under the revaluation and subtraction as well as addition of zeros and dots,  behold our Twenty naira was proposed as highest denomination from the last quarter of 2008. Even though the federal government has moved to stop the bid, it was clear that our beloved N20 denomination was a prominent figure.

To the populace, it is evident that is the most popular denomination that suffers most of squeezing, folding, spending, exchange etc. The twenty Naira has a lot of people to thank for all the trouble, mentioning a few; market women [ who squeeze and multi-fold them in bid to retire the currency into the perceived most secure bank:)… (I no talk O!) ], school children have pegged their lunch money at N20 therefore they get this every morning, churches [even though a lot of clerics say their God is not a poor God, most offerings are donated on N20 basis, Occasions [ with our money spraying attitude, N500 worth of twenty naira denominations can buy you at least ten minutes of dance-floor fame, not forgeting our egunje ogas [you sabi them now?] who have made it a standard for passage. But this N20 strong.

Now to the issue of today, I just disembarked from a danfo (commercial Bus) that caused a lot of traffic behind it because the engine suddenly went off and people had to push it to safety.On discovering that fuel shortage was the cause of his problem, the conductor quickly produced a can of Petrol (PMS) and made for the fuel tank, I watched in amazement as he did not have any funnel or decanting material. Well, just as I was about to ask him,he fished out a paper stuff and in no time he had finished the fuel transfer, lo and behold he has just used the TWENTY NAIRA NOTE as funnel.

what else won’t this N20 see. So I keep asking, is there nothing we can do to protect this darling denomination that has cost a lot of tax payer’s money to produce?

MATTHEW THE BRI-TERN

September 1, 2007

BDHC

Conversation

Me: Good morning sir.

Blue Guard: Welcome, who do you want?

Me: Sorry, is this where the Trade and Investment Unit reside?

Blue Guard: Ehen! Who do you want?

(Now that looked like a memorized phrase)

Me: We are here to see Peter Stephenson

Blue Guard: Peter Stephenson? Are you on appointment?

Now he was totally dazed, you know what it feels like to be sized up, of course he didn’t see us come down from any big car, no protocol, just two young men walk to the gate and not just ask for the Trade and Investment Unit but also the Director (you are not serious he thinks). In the 4mins of sizing us up, I called him back to reality, by moving the gate and then got his attention. Well after explaining further he asked for my Name and where I came from, I simply gave my Paradigm Initiative Nigeria ID card and he disappeared behind other guards. I think he got the greater shock after putting a call through to the UKTI department because when he came out he had this look of – I wonder what they want here. For me, I had the feeling of fulfillment because the blue guard had an opportunity to have my preview before the main movie

Seriously, we did not go site seeing at the British Deputy High Commission Lagos neither did we go for visa activities. It was Friday August 31, 2007 the mentorship attachment as well as short orientation ceremony for the first Ajegunle.org Intern who will be attached to the UK Trade and Investment for a one month workplace experience. This is a major part of the UKTI support for the Ajegunle.org project. After the fourth security check we then wait for a few minutes in the lobby, and then comes the always alert Peter, smiling and announcing that one of his staff is celebrating her birthday, thus we came at the right time to grab a pizza bite.

Well laid office though a lot of renovations going on yet the place looked serene, like Matthew put it, “perfect working environment” I started imagining how he is feeling about his will be office for the next twenty six (26) days. Straight to the open office of the UKTI, we all got introduced, Valerie, Lara, Patricia and of course the Birthday Girl. During all these I just can’t help but imagine the look of satisfaction on Mathew’s face. By the way Matthew is one of the bright students that just graduated as the pioneer set of Ajegunle.org and was elected on merit after a rigorous interview session as the first grandaunt for the internship. One other final astonishment was Matthew’s would be mentor for the period; she is a combination beauty, strength and intelligence. Patricia Akpotoboro is the Assistant Trade Development Manager at the UK Trade and Investment, someone you want to work with, even a few minutes encounter revealed that to me.

In all I believe this is will be a live changing experience for these young entrepreneurs emerging form the ghetto (Ajegunle) as they go through this monthly ritual one after another. There will always be a selection process since the twenty-five(25) monthly trained cannot participate at the same time, and hoping we can also get other cooperate organisations to provide such opportunities.