Reflections of a 25 year old: “Am I CEO, Bitch?!”

Reflections of a 25 year old: “Am I CEO, bitch?!”

From 'The Social Network' Movie: Mark Zuckerberg Business Card [CEO, Facebook]
From ‘The Social Network’ Movie: Mark Zuckerberg Business Card [CEO, Facebook]

Mark Zuckerbeg, the young founder of Facebook has this written on his complimentary card: I am CEO, Bitch! He, like many other CEOs make it look easier than it really is. Perhaps this is why so many young people, especially on Social Media, comfortably claim CEOship of companies that only exist inside their heads. Like thousands of young people on Social Media who claim to be CEO this, CEO that, I used to have ‘CEO & Founder of Topnotch Films’ displayed on my Facebook profile. One day the ambitious title disappeared, removed by me, out of respect.

I have always wanted to start my own company; you know, be my own boss and enjoy all the Freedom that comes with entrepreneurship. So in 2009, at 19, I registered a publishing company with the Corporate Affairs Commission. This company, Debcykol Publication I named after my childhood sweetheart – why, a young CEO has to be hopelessly romantic! I printed business cards and walked about with nothing in my head but a twisted sense of self-worth. Of course the company made no profit and experienced a pretty quick drop and a sudden stop in its first year.

I will write about my Trial N’ Error approach towards starting a business in my next post.

Since I read what I like to call lamentation of an Iroko (It’s snowing in Lagos by Jason Njoku) I have not remained the same. Some truths that I have been contemplating were cemented. Doing business in Nigeria is brutal and only the brutal survive. My friend Temi who works at MainOne did not help. Temi reeled out facts of the state of broadband in Nigeria and it felt as though he were reading a riot act to me. And a riot act indeed it was because “Tee Jay, you must brace up for the turbulence ahead or bail out right now!” was all I heard.

CEOs are gods. They create and can destroy when it becomes necessary to. – they get dumped on, envied, hated, and underrated (or overrated). And like mere mortals they too cry. But unlike ordinary people when they cry they bleed through their eyes, mouths, noses, ears, asses, and every single pore in their skin!

I used to be proud and arrogant, and mostly ignorant of the realities of doing business in Nigeria. But a lot has changed now…

… Few months ago I was invited to speak at a Youth gathering. The organizers wanted me to speak on Entrepreneurship, “we want you to teach young people how be independent like you” they said. I smiled and shook my head. The Topnotch Group put together have not made as little as Fifty Thousand Dollars and some people were inviting me to come and go and be speaking plenty Englishes in the name of motivating a gathering of wannabe overnight millionaires. I declined the invite, “thank you very much, but NO,” sharp sharp. I would have jumped at that opportunity to rehash my version of Jordan Belfort’s many inspirational speeches in Wolf of Wall Street.

I also now pick my fights sparingly, not because of decline in energy as much as a conscious decision to not get involved if it does not grow – or destroy – something for me. There is so much to do and so little the time to waste around in egoistic fights.

Doing business in Nigeria is difficult. Although I told Africanpreneurs in an interview last year that I have no fear about doing business in Africa I am not delusional about the turbulence that characterize the business space, especially for startups.

When my prodigal friend Cece Ireneh recently took over a business in Ibadan, Nigeria our mutual friends flooded Facebook with photos of the opening of the eatery, Wendy’s Kitchen. People will always flock around successful people and share felicitous messages but after that no one will care about your battles through the first (at least two) tumultuous years as you gain traction, or plunge towards bankruptcy and depression. I am happy for Cece but I pity her. Do I doubt Cece’s resilience? Oh she is pretty smart alright. I am in fact in awe of how fast she raised the money needed to take over the business in a matter of days (four days after we talked about it I think). But she is going to have to bleed and sweat, like many of us hopefuls, to grow that business. And become CEO, Bitch!

I just got off the phone with Sodiq Alabi of BEEF PLUS. It is a new year and we were discussing plans to grow our businesses and attract serious investment. BEEF PLUS is a pretty new business that is trying to revolutionize meat vending in South West Nigeria like Uber revolutionized Taxi business. (Suraj of JarusHup). He too enjoyed felicitations when BEEF PLUS launched, just like Wendy’s Kitchen. But since then, he’s been left to his and his wife’s devices. Except for the fraternal love from me and other friends who have either invested or are about to invest in the company.

There is also Yax Mokwa who is still slugging out Mursali, a social platform for Nigerian students and another online craze waiting to happen upon us. I am proud to be involved with Mursali right from its developmental stage. It has been everything but fun. Then there is Gimba Kakanda. Gimba is working on Nigeria Diary…. A platform that I am eagerly waiting to root for!

There is so much to do at my end, too. If I must be able to pay rent, to eat, to pay hospital and utility bills while building up my dream, I must be brutally honest with myself, and more brutal in my approach to business going forward. Today I look at Dangote, Funke Okepe and Igho Samoni among others with a special kind of awe. I do not envy them, I respect them. I worship them, because they have built these mightily successful companies and still manage to make it look like they live an easy life.

I am simultaneously building two companies. Topnotch Films and Praxis Magazine. They are really not two companies but one, The Topnotch Group. I have learned a lot since my first business failed. I will be 26 in February and I know I getting old. Herein lies the irony: I claimed CEO very easily back in the days when all I did was talk about my plans to become a billionaire but since I actually started the journey… I have shied away from the title, out of respect. It has been tougher and more humbling than I could ever have imagined.

Ladi Delano became a CEO, Bitch! when he was barely 23 (this was when he founded Solid XS, a premium Vodka business). And today, in his early 30s he is co-founder and CEO of Bakrie Delano Africa, a billion dollar investment vehicle. Jason Njoku of iROKO too is a CEO, Bitch! But even all of these guys are considered baby CEOs in some quarters. So what does that make me?

No, I am not a CEO, bitch! But I am growing into one. I am ready to bleed the blood and stress the sweat that will duly earn me such title. Then I shall wear it, in fact flash it humbly. Because this journey is the most humbling experience.

Aloha to all dreamers and workers out there. Fraternal love!

Reflections of a 25 year old: “Am I CEO, Bitch?!”

DSS: Information Gathering and Intelligence Production

State Security ServicesState Security Service (SSS) also known as Department of State Security

Recently, the Department of State Security (DSS) arrested Nnamdi Kanu, operator of Biafra Radio. Since his arrest no one is praising the DSS (or, only few people are). But while he was running Radio Biafra almost everyone cursed out DSS for its inability to arrest “an ordinary engineer until blab bla bla”. Those who have DSS on their radar now are those in support of Kanu; they are still cursing the service for arresting their ‘hero’. But see, DSS serve as protectors of the Nigerian sovereignty therefore his arrest was (is) in order. It is one thing to ginger people to seek secession by presenting them with argument for it and demanding for referendum on the matter. It is a different thing to become hostile to the Nigerian state by inciting Ibos against their Nigerian brethren and vice versa. Anyway, this post is not about Kanu.

Let us discuss Intelligence Production and Information Gathering. It is common habit, almost cultural, for Nigerians to take to social media and badger the DSS and other security agencies for failing to prevent an unfortunate thing or two. It is almost as if some of these critics are always on the wait, stocking up arsenals, ready to compete for intellectual and philosophical prominence whenever the DSS ‘fails’ to do what they expect of the service when THEY expect. Take for instance the last bombing of Abuja. Almost immediately after the twin bomb blasts rocked the twin towns; Kuje and Nyanya, Nigerians took to twitter and Facebook to curse and denigrate our security agency, especially DSS and its personnel. Some genuinely wondered why the SSS has no “strong internet surveillance” and they cited a certain tweet from some guy who predicted the bomb blast. But it was the same Nigerians who, spurred on by Nasir El-Rufai, made sure that DSS did not acquire such technology. El-Rufai politicized the issue when he went about screaming that Federal Government was trying to acquire technology to pry into everything online. This raised privacy concerns and Federal Government ditched the plan. But before we discuss the role of citizens in information gathering we must consider something equally important.

DSS lacks the financial and operational freedom needed to effectively go about its duties. This is what Nigerians should be talking about. Politicians and people in authority undermine the service’s efforts. Before high profile appointments are made the service is often asked to screen those considered for such appointments. A report on the persons’ antecedents is submitted to the government along with recommendations. Vital information such as this (along with the recommendations) often ends up disregarded. When Gen. Azazi was being considered for the position of National Security Adviser (NSA), DSS ran background check on him and submitted a report about his involvement in oil bunkering, gun running and militancy in the creek. The government swept aside the report and appointed Azazi NSA anyway. Azazi frustrated the service as payback for ‘snitching’ on him. But this is not the first time the Nigerian intelligence community was undermined for political reasons.

Storm trooper armed with a F2000 assault rifleStorm trooper armed with a F2000 assault rifle

Nigeria once had a very formidable intelligence service known as the National Security Organization (NSO). The NSO was more covert, more infiltrating, deeply rooted in every sector of government than SSS, DIA, and NIA put together. This powerful organization was disbanded by Gen. IBB after he took over power. IBB disbanded NSO because the organization foiled several coup attempts in the past. For such very silly reason IBB destroyed the most powerful intelligence vehicle Nigeria ever had.

All of these happen because the DSS has no financial and operational freedom as at yet. This is what we should be concerned about instead of resorting to demoralizing badgering of operatives. Men and women of the service risk their lives to gather intelligence that sometimes ends up in the bin. That is demoralizing enough!

Now back to intelligence gathering. It is paramount that we acknowledge the difference between information and intelligence. The service already has an intelligence cycle with specified task, or areas of concentration, depending on what is most urgent or threatening at any point. Whatever is not of utmost importance at a particular point is redirected through ‘retasking’. This intelligence cycle is a continuous process which involves types of intel to be collected, the collection (and collation) of information, and the processing of information into intelligence, then the eventual dissemination of the intel to those who need it. Information that are not so urgent are kept until when they are needed so as to allow concentration on urgent or threatening issues. So what happens when you as a citizen report something to the service?

Whatever you report is first treated as mere information and put to basic intelligence test where it must answer questions of Who, When, Where, Why and How. It is the substance of your information that determines whether it is used. Several things must go in or out of information before it becomes intelligence. This is the basic process when you pass on information to the DSS by walking into any of the offices. There are other ways to pass on information like by sending anonymous intimations etc.

DSS operatives escorting Kabiru SokotoDSS operatives escorting Kabiru Sokoto

However, when you post away whatever information you have on the internet it becomes Open Source Info. Open Source information are treated with suspicion. It is also important to know that the service has a unit specifically designated to monitor internet activities. When you share information online the processing process asks a lot of questions. Why did you share it online? What are your reasons; monetary or vendetta? Did you witness it or heard from someone/somewhere? Here are examples of some open source information that turned out to be false: 1) Hausa people are planning to poison orange and meats, 2) Muslims have stockpile weapons in mosques, 3) IBB, Buhari, and Abdusalam are sponsoring BH, etc. So Open Source Information are generally treated with suspicion and if you understand that there are plenty of them trickling in you will appreciate why. So the best practice is to freely walk into any SSS office to report. No fear, no hassle; in fact you get rewarded when your info turns out to be useful.

Another thing. There are aspects where DSS cannot act, the most the service can do is transmit intelligence to the appropriate agency. I will write about some of such instances where intelligence was availed to those in authority but no action was taken and DSS took the rap for it when something bad happened as a result. Time is very important to information gathering and intelligence production. Sometimes selfishness, lack of political will, and compromise affects these processes in Nigeria. But above all, the lack of financial and operational freedom is telling on the DSS and this is what the Nigerian citizenry should be worried and talking about.

Let me repeat this here, THERE IS NO GROUP IN NIGERIA THAT DSS DOES NOT KEEP TAPS ON. Long before Kanu became popular the service was aware of his activities dating back to his underground days and reports were appropriately made; DSS was not only keeping close eyes on Boko Haram before it became notorious, it actually infiltrated the terrorists’ camp up to the leadership level; the service had discovered several channels through which government funds were embezzled and reported accordingly. But that is all DSS can do in some cases, report. There are innumerable occasions where the service transmitted intelligence to Federal Government about an impending disaster and such intelligence were disregarded. Sometimes it is the army or police or EFCC that ignores vital information from the service because of ego. Yes, there is ego-flexing between our security agencies, especially between the Nigerian Army and DSS.

Nigerians want Nigerian security agencies to be proactive not reactive. Well, Nigerians need to be proactive themselves. Support the DSS today!

DSS: Information Gathering and Intelligence Production

2016 Writivism Creative Writing Workshops Call for Applications

Writivism

19th, September, 2015
The Nairobi Arboterum: The Storymoja Festival
18:30 hours, East African Time.

The Writivism 2016 workshops will be held on various dates in January, March and April 2016 in five different African cities. The three-day non-residential workshops are planned for Goma, Dakar, Abidjan, Accra and Kampala. For the first time, we shall hold Non Fiction and Poetry workshops besides Fiction and shall hold some in French besides the English ones. Below are the details of the various workshops.

January 8 – 10, 2016:              Goma (Fiction – held in French)

January 15 – 17, 2016:            Dakar (Non Fiction – held in French)

January 22 – 24, 2016:             Abidjan (Fiction – held in French)

March 6 – 8, 2016:                  Accra (Non Fiction – held in English)

April 15 – 17, 2016:                Kampala (Poetry – held in English)

Another innovation is that whereas our workshops have in the past…

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2016 Writivism Creative Writing Workshops Call for Applications

OPEN LETTER TO SENATOR PHILIP ADUDA

image

Philip Aduda (miiddle) on a visit to Jerusalem with President Goodluck Jonathan.

OPEN LETTER TO SENATOR PHILIP ADUDA;
SENATOR REPRESENTING THE FEDERAL CAPITAL
TERRITORY, ABUJA.

Dear Uncle,

I am not happy to write you this letter at this time, especially through this media. But Uncle, I have tried to reach you in the past two weeks with no joy: the phone number I got is always switched off or ‘out of reach,’ and it appears you do not have the time to read or reply an email from your little nephew. You are a very busy man, I understand, and, by the way, it is no easy feat to be a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the greatest country in the world, especially when you represent the Gbagyi people of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. It is herculean task second to none, I understand. So I am not going to complain, because I know that you did not simply ignore me – I mean, why would you ignore your own? – you have been busy creating ‘enabling laws for the good
governance of the FCT. As committee member, National Identity and National Population Committee, and Chairman of
the Senate Committee on Power, you cannot afford to not be the busiest person alive. I understand why you are so inaccessible both by phone and email. This is why I am not sulking, dear Uncle. But I am very busy too and I expect you to understand why I have decided use this medium to seek understanding of the following matters from you.

One, I don’t understand why you, sir, and other Gbagyi politicians believe so much that we, your loving subjects, do not read the newspapers. I say this because the other day I read with utter dismay one of your numerous interviews where you bragged about developing the indigenes of Abuja “by making sure that they enjoy the dividends of democracy.” Unless you sincerely believe that we do not read the national dailies I believe that you won’t have the effrontery to lie like that, Uncle. We forgive this shameful shortcoming from a distinguished Senator like you. But please next time you feel the urge to brag about a lie simply do so in whispers, not on national papers. Thank you.

Two, I don’t understand how, or why, you conveniently go about saying that “Gbagyi people are educationally backward.” I don’t understand how you get away with promising to “appropriately empower qualified” Gbagyi youths if they go to school. I mean we have professors, doctors of philosophy, and Gbagyi youths in their mid-twenties who already have Masters, none of whom you have ’empowered.’ May be you are too busy to notice that the people you actually represent are rather ‘moving, educationally forward,’ but anyway tell me how you do it. I mean, when the FG thought to requiet the good people of
Abuja with the opportunity to produce a substantive federal director, you did not waste time in fixing your younger brother. That same brother who failed to pass the compulsory promotional examination as a level 15 senior officer under the employ of EFCC, even though he was given a second chance. But soon as the President said, “aiyo, bring me a qualified Gbagyi man,” you peddled your brother one time. Now Gideon is a top director in the ministry of finance in lieu of more qualified Gbagyi youths. You keep asking the youths to go to school even after acquiring first degrees and masters degrees whereas you, my beloved Uncle, only have a Higher Diploma. I don’t understand how you do it.

Three, please what is your definition of EMPOWERMENT? Last week, you teamed up with Peter Yohanna, Chairman of Bwari Area Council to amuse me. The two of you passed microphones to one another – like upcoming rappers engaged in a freestyle battle – to rap about how human empowerment is your forte.
What I don’t understand is, by sharing Okada, generator sets, and clippers to the youths, are you empowering them or insulting them? Again, Uncle Sir, what does empowerment mean? Is it the attachment of hundreds of youths, the same people you keep lampooning for ‘not going to school,’ to several VIO posts where they receive a paltry of five thousand naira (N5,000) monthly, or is it the recruitment of these youths’ mothers to sweep highways for eight thousand (N8,000) a month? I swear, Peter Yohanna and yourself are geniuses!

Anyway, those aren’t the main questions that I need you to answer. Let me repeat here the questions that you have been too busy to answer (I have sacrificed all other artistic considerations just to write a very plain letter, Sir Uncle):

1 – How much do you receive from the Federal government as allocation for the development of your Senatorial Jurisdiction or district?

2 – How do you disburse, expend, utilize these allocations? Please do not mention the motorcycles and cars you gave a few persons in the bid to return to the senate. And, sukusuku, do not offer some vague answer like “the government of President Goodluck Jonathan has really developed the original inhabitants of Abuja through my good office.”

3 – From your time in the House of Assembly up until now that you’ve graduated to the upper chambers, how many bills have you sponsored or supported? What are these bills; how many are party-sponsored or party-related? – how many for national growth? – how many for the betterment of the general wellbeing of the Gbagyiza?

4 – What have you done – are you doing – to douse the rising tension among the Gbagyi people about the perceived neglect and continuous exploitation of our lands by the Federal Government? Have you bothered to enlighten them about the pros and cons of the FG proposed Land Swap policy? Have you used your good office to cause them to see that the Federal Government is not their enemy, that some very few corrupt politicians are directly responsible for, and benefitting from, the status quo?

5 – Are you aware that Kubwa community has been jumping from one legal tussle to another, and have been losing communal lands to some phony land allocation recently? – you know we are farmers, yeah? Are you aware that Dan Tata is building a very large estate on the last communal farm land in Kubwa, and our parents now have to climb that Kubwa mountain to till for food while you are getting paid in multiple of billions on their behalf? Oh oh, I remember, you fooled them during the public hearing that they should worry not, because your very good and almighty office will solve the problem. How come we haven’t heard anything since then?

6 – Can you feel my disappointment in you?

Ehen Uncle, you have plenty detractors o. Enemies of your political hustle have been going about saying that you are an
hypocrite, never to be trusted, do you know? They say that your beloved President Goodluck wanted to make you the minister of state but that you refused the gesture and hinted that you’d rather wait until Senator Bala Mohammed vacates his position for you. But I didn’t believe them. I just laughed and told them to go away with their cheap blackmail. Actually, I told them that unless you are stupid and selfish you’d never do such thing. Before they say anything else I quickly added that you are not stupid and selfish, not my Uncle, haba mana.

Your detractors, dear sir, told me to wait and see some political realignment that would take place as 2015 draws nigh. Uncle, I am afraid to say that some of the events those prophets of doom prophesied are beginning to materialize.

They said, as at then, that: soon you were going to start following the President about as if you were the new ADC – as though the emancipation of the Gbagyi people depends on your politics of follow-follow; Senator Bala Mohammed will jettison his plan to contest for governorship of his state, and; the bill for the creation of the office of the Mayor of Abuja will miraculously resurface and get hastily passed into law, then Mohammed will run to be elected Mayor while you get your much dreamed-of Minister of FCT. Uncle, were these mad men right about you? Did you truly reject the opportunity to become the Minister of state for FCT yet continued to discreetly ginger our people to loudly condemn the Federal Government for not giving us any ministerial slot or ambassadorial posting? I ask because, well, you have practically become the unofficial ADC to the president; Senator Bala is likely not going to contest for governorship again, and; the bill for the creation of the office of the Mayor of Abuja has miraculously resurfaced after it was summarily kicked out before the first reading when it was initially sponsored on the floor of the national assembly. Did you, for personal ambition, refuse an opportunity that we have been crying for?

It is amazing how you came out of the gutters to become a multimillionaire, using our shoulders as ladder. If these
allegations are false then, dearest Uncle, good for you. But if you are indeed guilty then, oga sir, you are going to pay some day soon. Before you unleash the police on me for threatening your life – or career, ha ha – let me explain what I mean by you shall pay some day soon.

I do not speak or write for OIDA or any of the many organizations that you guys buy over with money and job offers. I write and speak for an increasing number of genuinely fed up Gbagyi youths who have our tribe at heart. And we have decided to become actively involved in the business of governance and representation of our people at all levels of government. The dynamics are changing and you shall feel us.

Yours most respectful,
Tukura John Atnadu Daniel.
topnotchwriter@hotmail.com

OPEN LETTER TO SENATOR PHILIP ADUDA

OPEN LETTER TO GBAGYI YOUTHS.

OPEN LETTER TO THE GBAGYI NATION

Dear Brethren,

Let me tell you a very short story.

I was born in 1989. And I came to the realization that, and this is especially true of our country, Nigeria, one’s ethnicity is one’s first means of identity (identification?), the day I was asked to fill my Local Government Indigenization form. I could already read and write by the time I got promoted to primary three, so Mother allowed me to fill the form myself (I was in primary five at this time). I got stuck on article 3 of the form which asked me to indicate my ethnicity. That was the first day I became aware of my identity as a Gbagyiza. I could not spell GBAGYI even though I spoke the language well enough, to the best of my ability. Back home that day I queried Father for not teaching me to spell Gbagyi, because as at then I could spell the three major languages and some. But I remember till today the inexplicable feeling, of pride and belonging-ness that murmured through my veins as Father taught me to spell and properly pronounce Gbagyi, my language. This happened sometime in 1998 and ever since I have remained a very proud Gbagyiza.

End of story.

I started this letter with my year of birth because I know you, my people. Those of you who were born in the ’20s, ’50s, and ’70s – even early ’80s – are going to scream ‘blue murder’ to remind me that I am just a small boy. Well, I love to remind myself of how old I am so no need. More importantly, this letter is targeted at Gbagyi youths between the ages of 18 to 45. If you are above this age rage then you are either part of our problem or part of those who lacked the spine to ask questions, contest authority, and stand up for what is right.

Dear people, I am tired, of: 1) being invited to events to listen to self-acclaimed Gbagyi scholars and thieving politicians who only excel in speaking embarrassing grammar and championing The Art of Unintelligible Sloganeering; 2) listening to ceaseless complaints against, and about, Federal Government’s infringement upon our heritage; 3) having to condone some primary seven (7) oldie claiming leadership over me – and actually tackling issues like the world has been on a pause since 1970; 4) listening to some of our parents, most of whom did not go to school themselves, crucify us for ‘going to school proper,’ and; 5) tolerating my fellow Gbagyi youths who rage over our elected office holders for shortchanging us, but bow to a thousand naira or ten during electioneering period.

We have been deceiving ourselves for too long and, by virtue of this letter, I seek to wash my hands clean so that I can comfortably say to my kids, “listen, I contributed my quota.” I wish to hereby reiterate the same suggestions that I have offered in private and at public gathering of Gbagyi people:

First off, if any of you think that we can take up arms against the government anytime soon then you obviously need a rude shock back to reality. If any of you actually believe that government is our first, second, or even, third immediate problem, then, I’m sorry but, you have been stupid and have been had. We are our very own problem, because ‘government’ is not in charge of our representation at local, state, and national levels. We are; and we do receive monthly, quarterly, or yearly allocation as due us – through our elected representative. Government is not responsible for blatant refusal by Dr. Peter Yohanna to pay the much budgeted and overdue scholarship money for students of the Bwari Area Council; government has done nothing to prevent us from stopping Yohanna from continuously allocating public lands to himself and his cronies; government did not order some Gbagyi traditional leaders to sell off certain communal lands around Karu and environ; I can most definitely assure you that President Goodluck Jonathan has no hand in the allocation of a communal farmland in Kubwa to one Hamza who in turn sold said land to Dantata who is presently building an estate on said land.

Today, a Koro man is the paramount ruler of Bwari, a Gbagyi kingdom. How did this happen? A few Gbagyi people who were in government and didn’t want to see the late Esu Dimmas become Emir at a tender age of 18 or 23 went and convinced J. T Useni to install the Ija-Koro stranger instead. Some months ago this emir ordered the arrest and detention of a Gbagyi boy. Why? Because the said boy went about ‘attacking the emir’s good name and office,’ whatever the hell that means. Anyway, this, like several other similar happenings lends credit to my argument that our fight must be internal, first.

Yes, the Federal Government – through certain individuals, of course – deceived our forefathers into leaving the center of Abuja which they originally inhabited. But damn, dear brethren, that singular incidence has been over flogged such that it now sounds like a hit song of a sort when narrated. We need to come clean with ourselves. The Gbagyi man who facilitated the deception of our forefathers has retired from active service after he was rewarded with a stint as an ambassador to some stupid country. Why are we shielding him only to heave all blames on the Federal Government as if FG suddenly developed legs and the ability to spin lies then came to our forebears? There abound theories that: a) our grandparents were duly compensated – monetarily and otherwise; b) some Gbagyi elites received some very hefty checks from some dubious elements in government to frustrate our attempt to get due compensation from the Federal Government. I know that we can all prove that our grandparents (or parents, as the case may be) never received any form of compensation apart from the ridiculous four-rooms-per-family red bricks houses that were meant to serve as temporary resettlement. Now, the second theory making rounds makes me wonder: what is really happening to the court case instituted by the Kubwa community against the Federal Government seeking proper compensation, resettlement, and damages done to our people over the years? – how come details of the progress of the case has now become a strongly guarded secret? – why do elders keep saying that certain documents cannot and must not be made available to the youths? When Senator Sidi Ali who is even non-Gbagyi was frustrated out of the senate for suing the Federal Government on our behalf while spontaneously – singlehandedly – sponsoring several bills in the senate, where were our parents and those buggers who are now becoming fat like pigs since they got elected into government? In short who fought him out of the senate? Aha!

We cry and bang our heads against walls but do nothing to enforce accountability or to even do some whistleblowing. Honestly, sometimes I wonder whether you, my people, behave this way because it is in our blood as Nigerians to merely complain then forget and wait until history repeats itself, then begin to complain again. Most of you just enjoy to King Kong about, screaming, “hey, we own Abuja,” even though you and your fathers have no knowledge of when the next bulldozer will arrive at your doorstep. You are as funny as the rapper who borrows money to rent flashy cars and pay classy models that he cannot otherwise go close to, just to shoot a music video that will allow him to jump around with his dick in his hand, shouting, “yo! Money I got, dem girls I bang;” as stupid as the politician who pays heavily to hire a crowd and invite the press to cover the rented crowd’s solidarity call on him to “come and contest and save your people.” Yadayadayada.

The only realistic, hence most effective, solution to this cancerous problem is to deal squarely with our traditional and political leaders. And with ourselves, as youths.

What must be done: we must become more vociferous in our demands for inclusion in deliberations concerning our respective communities. We are educated, way more than some of our parents, so we should comfortably and confidently demand that we get due representation both in the palaces of the district heads and in the political equation. Then we must become more politically active; vote out these buggers and contest political offices ourselves. No be two heads dem carry na. We must resist their high handedness and the use of police to instill fear in us. I mean, we are young and on the street; they should fear us, not the other way round. We must press for answers to more pressing questions and spit on those amongst us who are sold outs.

I am very well aware of fair weather activists that have sprout all over Gbagyi lands like weed on Columbian soil. We must maroon these bastards, too. The violence, dear brethren, that you are stocking up for the federal government should be directed to those who claim to be fronting for our cause but are in earnest only making noise to attract some form of settlement.

The political situation and fate of the Gbagyi people of Niger is topic for another. A very pitiful one. By the way, have you heard that Governor Muazu Babangida of Niger state has been endorsed to run for the Senatorial seat on ‘the ticket of the Niger North-East senatorial ticket’ or something ridiculous like that? Oh, but just recently during the bye-elections when I screamed FOUL PLAY you told me to shut up that I am only but a child. Oh?! Anyway, we should talk about this in my next open letter (when I am able to make out time and write it, shey?).

Come what may, do what you must, just be ready to, – like Ishaya Bako said –, when your child will look up to you and ask what you did when things were getting out of hand, have a good answer. I shall continue to do my bid, long as I can. It is with a clear conscience that I say you, dear brethren,

Mizhi Gbagyiza nu,
Tukura John Atnadu Daniel.

OPEN LETTER TO GBAGYI YOUTHS.

Freemason The Movie

A lot has been said about Freemasonry, both true and untrue. Yes, Freemasonry is an ancient craft; a sacred society in possession of powerful secrets that are as old as humanity per se. But no, Freemasonry is not a fraternity of devil worshipers or a fellowship for devil worship. In fact, foremost amongst the criteria to become a free and accepted mason is the believe in a supreme being; God, The Higher Self, Almight, whatever you desire to name it. However, it is funny how many people despise their ignorance of the subject to don themselves as authorities in masonic ways and matters.

As with the smear campaign against Illuminati, conspiracy theories abound targeting the make up, rituals, and influence of Freemason. The brotherhood has been so painted in the public eye to be makers of stars in the music and movie industries, respectively. It is also believed that once one gains initiation into this “cult” then all doors become open for such person, including and not limited to, access to the devil; grand master of the world. I have read from articles on the internet, with utmost disgust I must add, about how masons selling their souls to the devil for upward of six millions dollars or euros. I have also seen video essays that analyze hand signs by politicians, footballers and other consciously-made weird cinematographic displays in music videos to buttress this unsubstantiated claim. The public says that Freemason controls everything in the world while free and accepted masons say that they control only the important stuff. And so on and so forth, back and forth in a vicious cycle of arguments and counter argument. But this has not deter the determination quite a number of young people from expressing their desire to become initiates of the craft, even when they do not know what it is about.

Well, at last, we may yet put this age long argument to rest. A film has been made that ‘exposes the mysterious secret of the organisation of Freemasons’. This movie, from feelers across the world, will be in the cinema anytime soon. I am happy, as should all critics and watchers of this controversial fraternity. Since we have endured various videos on this subject matter I think the movie is timely. We can now hope to see the mysteries unfold in a two hour movie after which we may now return home in search of another mystery to criticize or watch. Or may not.

Below is a glimpse of what to expect:

SYNOPSIS

Movie Title: FREEMASON

A wealthy banker lies ritualistically and brutally murdered.

The banker’s daughter and only heir calls upon a brilliant but eccentric freelance writer, to assist in the investigation.

Teaming up with another veteran homicide detective, they suddenly find themselves thrust into the cryptic world of Freemasonry- pitted against a killer searching for a legendary relic, shrouded by hundreds of years of myth and mystery. The eccentric writer’s troubles multiply as he discovers that the killer is one of the banker’s close inner circle. With an inheritance of millions hanging in the balance, everyone is a suspect and every action perceived as motive. The eccentric writer’s path becomes even more cloudy as his relationship with the beautiful heiress dances on the edge of charm and collusion.

He is forced to come to grips with powers beyond his natural senses as well as his own mysterious past ties to Freemasonry in order to unmask the killer before they strike again.

The Freemason is a thoughtful suspense thriller- part Sherlock, part Hitchcock, creating a gripping mystery for you to unlock.

Tee Jay Dan

Freemason The Movie

A Billionaire’s Dream

Confetti flying. Champagne flowing. Davido’s skelewu playing. Clergymen praying. Talking drums praising. Sexy choir girls singing. I am dancing.

We are in a ballroom and Obama steps out of a bathroom and Michelle is with him.

“You made it. Get ready for the telescribe,” I turn to face the speaker.

It is Bill Gates. He squeezes my hand, pats my shoulder, turns and walks away.

Adrenaline pumping. Joy stomping. Tears of joy surging. Anxious rumblings. Noise. A cacophony of joyful, alien noises. My name. A second mention. Damn, where am I? A tap on the shoulder.

“Tee Jay, it’s time.”

Blurred vision. Thoughts darting about like arrows. Deep breath. Exhale. Where am I? Fear. Thoughts of wealth and love for Bill Gates. Courage. Mother’s face. Caution.

“Be content with what you have, son.”

Uncertainty; go, no, yes, don’t, do…stop!

“Tee Jay…”

There he is, Bill Gates, standing almightily before me, like a god, talking, but I am not listening. My mind is in Ghana, replaying events during my last visit.

There’s a nurse. Pretty woman. A pair of naked breasts. I grope. Two slaps to my cheeks. Mind’s screen goes dark. There’s the goldmine and a man is rummaging through my backpack. It’s filled with cash. We’re in Asante now, through Kumasi. There is a god. I spit. There are policemen. I insult. Handcuffs. Then…

“Are you ready?”

Back in the ballroom, standing next to Bill Gates, I am now few inches away from some sort of incubator. It looks futuristic but assuring.

“Yes, I’m ready.” I make a fist and shake off an apparition of mother which is about to form in my head again.

Bill Gates smiles. I enter the incubator. Ballroom resounds with applause. There’s a headphone, I wear it. Steve Job speaks to me, he’s alive, he wishes me well; “you can do it. Join us.” I smile. Donald Trump waves at me from the crowd. I remove the headphone. Incubator starts to spin. Bill Gates and the others are dancing now. I hear incantations. There is a frenzy. Bill Gates tears off his gray suit and begins to slowly turn into waves of fire. I am determined; no fear, no doubt. The Bill-Gates-turned-Fire-Wave swims into the incubator like flood rising up the Titanic. My feet hurts. It’s burning. Then my knees, then my navel, then my chest, and my neck. 23 years of living flashes in my head. I scream, but the voice isn’t mine. No, it’s mine, but it’s scary; hoarse, cracking, trembling, so evil. Now my whole is on fire like Nicholas Cage in Tomb Raider. Then I pass out. We are now is space; Bill Gates and I. This place is all red, even the air we breathe. See it, look as it wafts through my nose, causing my lungs to throb as it crash into my system.

I am shit-scared, but Bill Gates is smiling. He stretches forth his hand for a shake, but I hold back. I dread him, but still love him.

“Nothing is sweet as it looks. But you are initiated now,” he slides aside like a master choreographer to reveal the biggest and largest building in heaven and earth; The Billionaire Legion House. Uh uh, it’s not a building – it’s, erm, I don’t know, paradise?

Inside I dine and wine with the richest man in Babylon, gossip about home with Dangote, flirt with Oprah Winfrey, and play chess with IBB.

WHAP!

A searing lash tears through my back. I jerk up and a strong smell hit me in the face, almost knocking me insensible.

WHAP! WHAP!

Someone is talking at a very rapid speed. I force myself to listen.

“…noise since. Craze dey worry you ni?”

I look around: no Bill Gates, no ballroom, no conffeti, no music, nothing! – I am inside a tiny, overcrowded, and suffocating cell; brought here last night by policemen who arrested me for returning late from work – only a scary criminal with multiple scars; president of the cell, staring daringly down at me, a finely weaved whip in his hand.

“Who you dey yarn with since? Why you dey kick…”

I shut him out of my head, smiling, then pick up my pen and start writing A BILLIONAIRE’S DREAM.

Tee Jay Dan

A Billionaire’s Dream

City of Weirdness

Once upon a time, somewhere in the city of Kush, it was illegal to neither be a smoker, a junkie, nor a sex addict. It was more illegal to walk the street with trousers up above the waist, for the boys; skirts long enough to cover the thighs, for the girls. Such was the trend that girls only regard boys with sagging trousers and the boys, girls with skimping skirts. And it was law to break all laws enshrined in holy books, for, unto citizens of this city, they were archaic and too formulaic.

Somewhere in the city of Kush was a boy whose parents wished they were Kurds so they named him Kusk for he had barbels on his nose and chin. They threw salt over their shoulders and prayed that he grows to become that flashy man his father failed to be, but Kusk grew up to become, per their standard, gawky. It didn’t matter that he got his sums right and could read and write. Their son was a fool that nobody liked him; not a soul amongst his peer could he pair with.

Kusk proudly wore a chilling emptiness across his face whenever he walked to and from the city’s library. He chose studying over partying; mediatating over belonging; and, working out over sexting. Such was the nature of the crime that earned him the status of a weirdo. Even the library attendant who could not read her name even if spelt on paper believed he was a dummy. A girl of little height with hippy hips, eerie eyes, and such limply legs that buckles under the weight of her puffy stomach; she was Kush city’s finest. She had demanded for, in exchange for, or as payment for, unlimited access to her body, a mere tawdry lace, but Kusk silently picked the day’s book and walked away like she never was there.

One day he returned home tired and hungry. He had trekked for plenty of miles to a larger city in search of a job. And he performed excellently. He then found himself in a fix; a pillow to cuddle or a pack of noddle to coddle. He chose the latter since his intestines weren’t as enduring as his eyes. But sooner his legs began to wobble like fingers strumming a harp to a slow song and he collapsed.

Deep into the night, like lightning playing on a mountaintop, the cooker blew up and the house caught aflame. He survived. His parents too, except all that lend credit to their pretentious claim to affluence. Kusk was thrown out of the family with his bags of books and descent clothing to the cheerings of his mates. He smiled away, for he was to resume, on a forthnight, as manager of Kush city’s new bank.

Tee Jay Dan

City of Weirdness

Death by the Weave

When Angela died, emergency conspiracy theorists emerged and heresays trailed the entire mourning period like grumblings of heresies. She had been killed by the almighty, most fabled Amadioha; stricken by thunder lightning, not in the physical realm but in the spiritual – some say. No, in fact, she’d died from the much dreaded disease in the sahara; her bedwarming business; a venture she undertook so secretly that neither her friends nor any member of her immediate family suspected, had seduced the cold hands of death – others say. But the old people of Obiakolo community dismissed both speculations as ignorant prattlings of youth. Angela had died of a curse from Igbenagbeli; the god of age, for her blatant disregard for the old and frail. This explanation held more substance, hence, after the burial, the theorists formed alliance and produced a communique that never was to be made public – to be especially shepherded away from ears that belong to Angela’s relatives: Angela died a supernatural death, cursed by the several gods of the land for her several atrocities – especially the blatant disregard of the aged and frail, The Obiakolo Theorists Communique emphasized.

Likewise, every member of Angela’s immediate and distant family had their own explanation for the cause of the death of the village’s first Univeristy graduate. But they kept these explanations to themselves, for fear and want of peace.

This clever villagers, however, were uninformed of the things Angela did during her last days in preparation for the celebration of her graduation as a medical doctor; the first and only graduate from Obiakolo. Like every other girl on campus, she had plans: a last night of sweat and passion with her last campus lover, but before that, a last party with coursemates; friends and foes, gifts to buy and exchange, and finally The Last Supper; faculty dinner.

On the eve of graduation day, Angela and her friends went to Cassandra’s Beauty kiosk. They had mani-and-pedicures and all other cures after which, Angela, not as much for lack as for glamour, joined three other girls as they examine Cassandra’s fresh hair ware. When she could not find her favorite bronze color, she went haywire, yet settled for a black. A girl gotta look good! These weaves were authentic and classy; human’s and flown in from the city of beaches and careless graves.

Graduation bruhaha came and went. A month later Angela suffered unimaginable migraine, what she initially thought was symbolic of stress and hangover from three consecutive days of partying. Pain relievers were ineffective and soon she couldn’t sleep or use her brain. Prayers and concoctions didn’t matter as well. She began to shrink and lose her sanity, and, instead of a medical scan, the villagers began to theorize about her declining health. The girl died.

The people of Obiakolo were as wrong as Angela’s relatives. She did not die of that disease; her last campus lover and those before him wore protection. No gods cursed her. The food at The Last Supper was harmless. And none of her friends or foes harmed her. She literarily carried the killer about, carefully spreading it apart to smack her aching head. Traditionalists washed it with portion poured on her ailing head. And her peers envied it because, well, it was authentic and classy, and had originally belonged to Deusilene; a brazillian model – whose corpse was mysteriously shaven few weeks before Cassandra ordered for her hair wares.

While spiritualists danced and shared spirit drinks with their forefathers on behalf of Angela, a cobweb of worms were digging holes in her scalp. The reason for her death was fixed to her head. And after she died, Mary, her sister, the village champion, transferred it to her head. Angela was buried and forgotten. The Obiakolo Theorists thought they could now rest, but unknown to them, their job had just begun – Mary, Angela’s sister now wore the killer weave!

Tee Jay Dan

Death by the Weave

The University of Herbs

Thompson Ogedengbe, son of a retired educationist, was the smartest boy in my village. He carried giant books around but opened his girlfriend more. After WAEC he had two credits.

One day he came, bouncing like a bad basketball, to inform us of his resolve to become a doctor.

“You have just two credits,” I noted.

“But it’s Agric science and Yoruba language,” he retorted.

His father, gleamed endlessly, stared at his son thoughtfully then pat him on the head lightly. He entered his room and returned with an old goatskin bag.

Thompson’s grandparents were rumored by folklore to have lived for over a thousand and two years in Akunnu Akoko village of Ondo State: they fed on food that mysteriously turned up inside their magical goatskin bag, and when they died they buried themselves in a land that no man had ever heard of. The twin graves in the backyard were family monuments.

While we were too dumb to agree with the story, clever Thompson believed it all.

Papa Thompson gifted the magical goatskin bag to his son – relishing that his magical parents had willed for their smartest grandchild to inherit it. Thompson must leave for University in two days, Papa finalized.

Never mind that ASUU was on strike, Thompson basked in victory with shoulders high above the chin while we sulked in shame and envy.

Two days later the journey to the University began. At the village shrine, Thompson – hanging the goatskin bag – looked just like the Chief Priest’s assistants who flashed his toothless gum as he spoke.

“You’re prepared! Welcome.”

Turning sharply to Papa, Thompson cried “I want University!”

“Your credit in Agric science is for collecting herb and that of Yoruba is for incantations,” Papa smiled sadly. “Enjoy The Uniherbcity, native doctor.”

Tee Jay Dan

The University of Herbs