Sunday, July 27, 2014

THE NIGERIA YOU WANT

Ike Ononiwu
Nigeria will never be a great nation and truly live up to its absolute potential, not because of corruption or any other vices that we as a country have come to be associated with, but because we, as the citizens and shapers of the destiny of this nation do not believe in it, and continually use our words to look down on, insult and take for granted the country, its resources and its authority.

The honest truth is that it is easy to love a child that is doing excellently and growing up properly and proportionately. It is easier to be proud of a parent who has his/her affairs together, has a good job where the family can be well catered for, and has enough influence and respect in the community. It is easier to be proud of a country that has a rich cultural history, a certain respectable balance between those that have and those that don't, a crime rate and levels of corruption that have no global reputation, and whose citizens, for the most part, cannot truthfully say that their government does not take care of them. Unfortunately for Nigerians, we don't seem to have reached that pinnacle of pride yet.

My country, richly blessed as it is, has had a lot of struggles. Each and every fellow citizen can regale you with tales of how inefficient the system is, or the seeming lack of order that permeates every facet of life, or the outright and blatant corruption that is rampant in every corridor of power. Honestly, we have struggled, and we have suffered. Even in a bid to count our blessings, they seem to be outweighed by the hardship and discomfort that we experience even in the provision of the basic amenities.

All this is true, and all this is fact, and at the risk of sounding like a lot of people before me, we, both individually and collectively will have to decide if we want to accept our country the way it is, or for us to decide that this is not the Nigeria that we want. Things are bad, and have been so for a long time, but that is no reason why we should give up on it. It is amazing the power that is in our words, because as is stated in the Bible, "You shall have what you say", meaning that if even half of this population continually speaks positively and proudly of this country, in spite of what we are made to endure, people will rise up from within to change things for the better, and people will rise from outside us to encourage us.

You think you deserve a better country? Based on what? You only deserve what you work towards. I emphasize work because it is one thing to wish the country well, but it is another thing to do your part in achievement of that goal. Wherever you find yourself be of such excellent conduct that it gives your country a good name.

Living in diaspora gives us a good idea of how we are seen as a country, and most of those impressions are given by us. Then, when these opinions are formed and uttered by non-citizens, the instinctive response is to be offended. I choose to speak positively, pray for and do my own part to realize the Nigeria that I want for me, for my family and for my fellow Nigerians. It is easier to complain about Nigeria. It is harder to work for it to realize its potential. Those that complain are thus, in this context, lazy people.

 I'm sure there are plenty articles that have been penned along these same lines, but it bears reminding that instead of accepting and condemning Nigeria, let us use that same right to speech to force us into action, and get the Nigeria that we want.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Letter To Suarez' Grandmother

Ike Ononiwu

First of all, this is not meant as an insult or affront to the lady in question but more of my disagreement with her statement and methodology.

It is no secret that the biggest news from the World Cup last week had nothing to do with football directly but the biting incident involving Uruguayan player Luis Suarez and Italian player Giorgio Chiellini. Since FIFA passed their judgment on the matter the reaction from all aspects has been mixed and in some cases surprising. The one that caught my attention the most was the reaction from Suarez' grandmum in a statement issued yesterday:

Suarez has been unfairly victimised in his "barbaric" expulsion from the World Cup for biting, his disconsolate grandmother said on Thursday. "Everyone knows what they've done to Luis. They wanted him out of the World Cup. Perfect, they did it. They chucked him out of there like a dog," a sobbing Lila Piriz Da Rosa told Reuters from Suarez's birthtown Salto in north-west Uruguay.

Piriz, who has 22 grand-children, said football authorities had been watching Suarez from the outset. "This was on purpose," she said of the sanctions given to the brilliant but volatile Suarez, who has been punished three times now for biting and once for racism. "They had their eyes on him to see what he does. It's barbaric what they've done to him," Piriz added. "I'm his granny and I love my boy loads,!" Piriz said. "Please don't ask me any more." - Eurosport

Far be it from me to come between the love for a grandmother and her grand son but this response is one of a number of reactions that is just absolutely ridiculous. This notion of Suarez being victimized is laughable at least. How is it possible to see a football professional bite three people on the field of play and yet he is the victim? How is there a witch hunt on someone that in spite of his past indiscretions, everyone has forgiven him and even celebrated him for triumphing in the face of his 'adversity'? If Balotelli is the king of off field discretions, then Suarez is the king of on field misbehavior. Biting tendencies aside we will also remember that he has had racist charges levelled against him as well as his famous handball at the last world cup that knocked Ghana out. And Suarez is a victim?

Forget the fact that if a different footballer who wasn't so prolific did the same thing repeatedly the whole world would have taken him to the Hague for crimes against humanity and barbarism. But because he is in fact a protected player he got off easy. It may not be so far fetched to accuse FIFA of favoritism and not victimization.

So his grandmum cried and shed tears so that the world would see a human side to her serial biter grand son but that bit of manipulation was totally unnecessary. After all she has 22 grandkids. Does biting run in the family? Why does she have to take to the spotlight to lament when she has 21 that have refused to bite people in their line of work?

No one did anything to Suarez. Whatever punishment was meted out to him was totally deserved, and in my opinion was insufficient. I won't even bother going into what other reactions were, like that proferred by the washed-out has-been that is Maradona, in whose opinion Suarez did nothing wrong, but enough of this victimization talk. That man needs a proper psychological evaluation and possible spiritual intervention because you have to ask yourself, what goes through a man's mind that would make him want to bite someone else? Please feel free to leave a comment below stating what would drive you to bite another person.

Then again what is the point of banning Suarez? He'll just come back to the Premier league in November and still be the highest goal scorer in the league and will be once again celebrated as the triumph of a reformed man over his adversity.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Ike Ononiwu
So I feel like writing again.

It's a few minutes to 7 p.m., and I'm in school with Timothy and Jenna. I'm experiencing somewhat of a block so I ask them randomly what they think are the pressing issues of our contemporary times, and even though they gave me varying answers, interestingly, they both arrived at the same broad conclusion: people have an issue with priorities. 

Except in very broad terms, there are no specific or ideal rules about what should be done at what time, and in what order. People generally have to decide for themselves what they think should be the right order of events for any range of activities. It is different for various people because everyone has a different set of circumstances governing their lifestyle choice and behavior.

That being said, it still holds that at each and every point or stage in a person's life, it is expected that there are some things, some groundwork that should have been laid in order to increase one's chances of succeeding in the corresponding phases of life. Most of these are shown or represented by responsibilities, either to society, family or even one's self. Responsibility, even though it is relatively unpopular is a great indication of maturity in an individual. That person is appealing who has learned to order their affairs in such a manner as to avoid chaos and confusion while ensuring maximum efficiency.

So even though there are no broad rules for what comes first or should be a priority, the hallmark of priorities, which is order cannot be overestimated. For the individual who wants to be very efficient and effective, attention to priorities is of great importance. It is very easy to take that last statement for granted especially as we wrongly assume that everyone wants order in their affairs, but it is one thing to think wishfully, and another thing entirely to determine to make it so. No matter how much one wants to believe in the sanity of all mankind, the fact remains that those that pay any serious attention to priorities are in the minority.

Also to be taken into consideration is the fact that priorities do change. They could change from time to time or from situation to situation. One must learn to identify the circumstances surrounding him/her and act accordingly so as to keep up with the times. It's all easier said than done, but all very worth doing in the end. One only has to ask how much is willing to be done in order to get to where you want to go to, and put first things first, doing as the Bible says, "Redeeming the time, because the days are uncertain."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Heels At The Cross

Ike Ononiwu

Lovely shoes, aren't they... By their trademark red soles, yes, these are Christian Louboutins shoes, specifically Christian Louboutins Lady Super Platform Mary Jane shoes, and these are the sort of shoes that the young ladies wear every Sunday to the church where I worship.

I'm not quite sure how it started. All I can remember is that it wasn't always like this. Those were simpler days where the ladies in church were content to look decent, clean, with only a hint of style, maybe in an ear ring, bracelet or pendant, but right now, it is an all out fashion exhibition at Sunday services. And I kinda like it, to be honest. It has its good parts, and its downsides, unfortunately. Let's do the good parts first.

Previously, I have never been one to invest so much in how I look to go anywhere, quite frankly, and if not for some concerned female who pushes me, whether it be my mum, sister or dear friend, I could care less, but these ladies invest so much in how they look, and for the most part they pull it off, and we men are nicely assaulted with beautifully dressed ladies, most of which pull of simple and decent, but chic with minimum effort, or just a nice accessory here and there, and we even have some fashion icons who have made their appearances into a fashion science. Sundays at church are a beautiful affair because of these young ladies, especially since a good number of the guys at church are still obsessed with dressing like Lil' Wayne, Cabo Snoop and Kanye West, or some celebrity who has decided that his belt does a better job securing his butt than his waist. Very immature, but a topic for another day.

On the downside, unfortunately, the church has become an avenue to display what items of clothing you have in your wardrobe, and it all becomes about showing off what you have. The instant church becomes about ANYTHING or ANYONE except Christ, we have a problem. We've seen Louboutins, Jeffrey Campbells, Vince Camutos, etc., Sunday in, Sunday out. I've even had statements credited to the fact that since they cannot compete appearance wise with the other girls, because as we know, these shoes don't come cheap, and there is no responsibility tying them down to attending church mandatorily, they have chosen not to come to church anymore. And I must admit it is kind of intimidating to walk into church and see someone wearing shoes which cost the same as your total monthly allowance.

I asked myself why the girls go to such extents to present themselves so, and one reason I came up with is, in the workings of a girl's mind, presentation is a very big deal. How a girl looks is not a matter to EVER be trifled with. I have made some rash statements, and I acknowledge that they were very wrong, not because they were untrue, but because how a girl looks matters to her, and any negative statement or criticism is not unnoticed, and could even hurt. So at every point, a girl/lady wants to look her best. Also, for most of the ladies in my church, this being a school environment, they have no where else to really dress up to go to, except church services on Sundays. There are hardly any formal events to attend, so church is the only place that they can properly dress up to, and so, they make the most of it.

After all has been said and done, church is, and will always be about God, not who we are, what we look like or how we appear. We will never stop dressing well to church, but it will not be the reason why we come in the first place. I know for a fact that it is not just here that this is obtainable, as it is very common, especially for Nigerian women, to always dress fashionably to church, but as long as Christ is the focus, then we carry on looking good. Ladies, you are much more than what you wear, or look like or say. A woman's heart and mind is delicate, but also very intriguing, strong, and sometimes inspiring too. If you must invest in something, invest in you, making yourself the best you could possibly be, just as God created you to be: special, each and every one of you.

Please feel free to leave your comments below, so that I can also learn more on this topic, or if I have said anything wrongly, or out of context, feel free to mention too. Thanks for reading my piece.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sister's Graduation

Ike Ononiwu

Here I am in Wolverhampton in the UK here to witness my sister graduating as a lawyer. I am so happy I could be here for this trip, but first of all some background.

My summer holidays were nice, even though for the most part, I didn't go anywhere. I had to wait for the last week of the holds to travel to the UK. Of is quite a significant trip for me because I haven't been here since I was a baby. Literally. I never had any real interest in coming to this country, either, if I must be honest, but I wasn't about to let slip an opportunity to see my baby sister graduate, as well as visit this land which has become an annual pilgrimage ground for so many of the students from my institution.

I must say that having been here for about 4 days so far, I am impressed with this country. There is so much variety Herr, and the ethnic diversity is amazing, to say the least. I love the weather, even though it can be quite emotional. I stayed in the West Midlands, and I loved it.

My parents are also around, and that's so cool because I want able to go back home this summer, but I still get to see them, and it has felt like old times. For all sorts of reasons.

So, I'm writing this article during the graduation ceremony. My sister was just called up and issued her certificate. I'm so proud of the little rascal, and my parents wouldn't be anywhere else in the world right now. I now my sister is set up nicely for even greater things in her life, with more awards, professional and academic to follow.

This is the primary reason why I'm here. I came to celebrate my sister. In the same way I will celebrate my other siblings whenever they excel. I'm so proud of my family. Remember the surname. You will need to.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

MBGN 2011: WHAT WE WERE ALL THINKING

Ike Ononiwu

The Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria 2011 (MBGN 2011); to use someone’s words, a state of emergency should be declared. I normally would not discuss this, but I couldn’t resist stating the obvious. Before we go on, please watch the following video clip, after which we will discuss some highlights:

 

MBGB 2011

 

Now that we are done with that, I am going to point out a few points, highlights that we all should have seen, but with a bit more analysis. It bears noticing even from now that this was quite sad.

 

Nigeria is without a single doubt, one of the most ethnically diverse countries on Earth today, and we constantly strive for unity among the citizens of the country. Still, could someone please tell me why contestants representing 18 states are represented by a geopolitical zone with only 5 states? The South-Eastern zone has only 5 states, yet in addition to representing those states it has its indigenes representing core northern states like Adamawa, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Yobe, Taraba, Gombe, as well as some core Western states like Osun and Oyo, or why Westerners are representing Kaduna and Borno states? I am all for national character, but if we just wanted Nigerians to contest, why don’t we just go to cosmopolitan states like Abuja or Lagos and pick girls for the competition? Why bother going from state to state looking for representatives?

 

Let’s talk mission statements of these young women. One gets the impression that it’s either they were poorly schooled on what to say, or they are a bunch of politicians masquerading as potential beauty queens, or they don’t expect us to take the seriously in the first place, so they might as well say anything knowing that no one will take them seriously. These mission statements are a lot like election manifestos and more often than not, people give the actual content 30% of their attention, because they hardly believe them, anyway, but listening to these young women rant off cliches or unattainable goals, or set such low expectations, it has the same effect as listening to a song by Vic O: you can almost literally see your IQ packing its bags and leaving your apartment, swearing under its breath never to come back. One of the girls actually looked bored while she recited her own mission statement. Let us not go into their grammar so that I don’t take this personal.

 

Am I the only one that noticed that these girls were LITERALLY begging for votes? Must everything we do reflect how bad our economy is? I get the impression that if they were allowed to, they would even kneel down on the ground with their hands clasped together pleading that we send our votes to their code/number, depending on who you were listening to: when did V3, or V6, or V12 become a number, for heaven’s sake? With all the begging going on, these girls are nothing more than beautiful hustlers. It is kinda reflective of their true mission statements, and what they intend to achieve if they get to wear the crown and sash of success at the penultimate event.

 

There are other issues like why Brazilian hair seemed to be standard option for all contestants, or the ridiculous age discrepancies with 30-year olds suddenly claiming to be 18, or why a lot of the contestants seemed to base their success on the statement, ‘By God’s grace’, but instead, I want you all to read the following that was sent to me:

The validity of these statements are yet to be tested, read on:
I watched with dismay and sadness some of the auditions of MBGN 2011 yesterday. We have to declare a state of emergency in our educational sector. It is sad to note that most contestants or aspiring beauty queens were asked the capital of Kebbi State, and 5 out 7 did not know. One said, the capital of Kebbi State is KOGI, her friend said Douala. One was asked to name the largest city in west Africa, she confidently said NIGERIA. One said,her expectation is that she is beautiful, fair, and jovial...the other was asked what is her opinion on foreign aids to Nigeria and Africa. She said there are many testing clinics now in Nigeria, so foreign aids, will not kill Nigerians again...one was asked to mention and talk about one current female minister. She said Mrs Okonjo Iweala, is the current Prime Minister heading Finance matters. One was asked about the governor of CBN, she said they are yet to conduct election in that state, another was asked what currency was used in nigeria before naira,she answered kobo, another said abacha was Nigeria’s first president.

I also doubt the validity of every statement, but with that being said, how far is it from what could possibly be the truth?

 

Some girls in my school did an amazing parody of the previous video. Thank you for reading this article, and please leave your feedback in the Comments section. Thank you!

 

MBGN 2011 parody

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A SONG BECOMES A PRAYER

Ike Ononiwu

 

This evening I attended a Darlene Zschech/Hillsong concert. I am not famous for expressing my emotions, but the concert was AWESOME! I couldn’t do the white-people-concert-jump because my ankle is still recovering from an injury I Darlene Zschechhad recently, but I really enjoyed it, and when I found a window, I tweeted my comments and pictures of the event. Darlene has SO MUCH ENERGY! For one thing, I couldn’t believe I was actually at a Hillsong concert, and seeing her was like a sensory overload, one that, true to nature, no one else would have seen except me. I’m big on sound, so hearing all those speakers do their thing was a personal ministration. If ever I become a very good instrumentalist, the goal would have been so that I would be good enough to play for Hillsong. Those guys…. It felt like each instrument was doing it’s own individual praise ministration. As someone next to me said, it felt like the guitar alone was singing the words of the song. Watching the backup singers do their thing, I am sure I haven’t seen such consistent passion anywhere else. I don’t think it’s even fair to call them backup singers; with voices like those, they could easily sell their own records, and have their own grand concerts. And there was Darlene… Right now, in my mental ranking system, she is my favourite all-time worship leader. Let it be also known that this ranking hierarchy was set up as this article was being written. She is no spring chicken, but she clearly had more energy than anyone else on that stage; except the drummer. That guy had enough energy to power a small bike. The crowd… well, it was kinda a mixed reaction. The standing crowd was very involved in the entire thing, while those in the gallery and upper floors looked like they came to watch a movie that was a hit 6 months ago. Plus, my African brethren really brought it. We know how to worship, no doubt.

 

A lot of popular songs were rendered at the concert, and it’s Hillsong, so they were almost all sing-along pieces. For some reason, it is so easy to follow a Hillsong number, with the projected text and all. The song which appealed to me the most, and which inspired this article was probably the shortest one as well: All I Need is You. This song was rendered somewhere in the middle, and as it was sung around me, it stopped being words with appropriate harmony, and it became more than that. There are very few such songs, but in that moment I was able to separate the music from the words, and while I was in that hall, surrounded by about 5,000 worshippers, I prayed my only prayer of the night: All I need is you, my Lord. It was all I wanted. I was alone in that auditorium, nothing else mattered, my dreams, my interactions, my challenges, nothing else mattered. When Darlene also did a rendition of How Great Is Our God, it was then that I endorsed my decision to come for this concert as the best thing I would have done with my time this evening. That song, All I Need Is You, was, and is still my prayer. That right there was my act of worship. I would never trade it in for anything else. And to think I was this close to deciding not to go for the concert….

After the concert, I went to meet up with people I knew, who were all over the place. There was a light in everyone’s eyes, like we had shared a unique experience, each person in his/her own unique way. One thing was common, though: we had encountered God in that hall. The concert is past, and I am officially a concert person now. I did pray one more prayer. While Darlene was exhorting, she said that God was rebuilding and restoring dreams. I claimed it for myself, and I claim it for everyone who is reading this article. There is NOTHING God cannot, and will not do for you. All you need do is separate yourself to Him, and ask. Let Him show you how important you are to Him.

 

If you follow me on Twitter or are a Facebook friend, you have probably seen what I am about to write a number of times, but I know for sure, after my experience tonight, that I will never praise any man the way I will praise my God.

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