Friday, 30 March 2012


By Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri

"I want people to know that you don't have to be an organisation before you can make an impact in the world - that just you as an individual can make a whole lot of difference in the world,"  Kaptin Idoko told BBC news.

Idoko is behind the popular Gidi Traffic tweets that regularly and consistently  informs motorists in Nigeria's largest city of Lagos of the traffic situation across the state. With a strong following on Twitter - more than 16,000 people - he provides constant, reliable information to assist motorists on the ever-congested Lagos roads to make informed decisions about safe and alternative routes to their destinations. Perhaps most telling is that Idoko does not get paid for what he does!

His identity has remained unknown until he was nominated for the Life-Saving Hero award at this week's Shorties - regarded as the Oscars of the social media world. Although he did not win, he says that "Making it all the way down to this ceremony was a big recognition for me," he told the BBC's Leslie Goffe afterwards.
"I'm the first African in this category so that is a great win already for me and the Gidi Traffic family of followers, Nigeria and Africa..."A lot of people think Gidi Traffic is some computer programme yet it's actually just me," Mr Idoko said.

This is yet another testimony that you can engage your passion to be  the one who makes a difference.

Qutoes were culled from BBC News


By Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri

Ime Anwana, a Batch "A" corps member,  posted to serve in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) depot in Niger State has demonstrated that the youth  have the capabilities to make significant contributions to the communities in which they live.On Nigeria's popular television network programme, the NTA Newsline, it was shown how the village of Kaffin Koro rolled out the drums to honour Miss Anwana for her work in the community. The District Head of the village, Alhaji Abubakar Mamman cowned her with the chieftaincy title, "Jekadiyan Kaffin Koro (Ambassador of Kaffin Koro)" and also gave her a piece of land in the village.
Even though the state (Niger State) is home to two extremely rich, former military rulers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria - Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar - the state remains under-developed, with majority of citizens living in abjectly poor conditions, and having limited access to basic services such as roads, housing, healthcare, potable water and so forth.

When Ime Anwana learned that a local girls' secondary secondary in the nearby village of Kaffin Koro had no chemistry teacher, she volunteered to teach the students chemistry every Friday evening - free of charge! Piqued by the deplorable hostel accommodations in the school, she took steps to bring positive change by mobilizing resources for the construction of an ultra- modern student hostel. In sum, she raised  a total of 3.8 million Naira and supervised the building construction to finish stage. In addition, the hostel was equipped with 40 double bunk beds complete with mattresses.

Not even the motorbike (Okada) accident that she had during one of her routine supervisory visits to the construction site could dampen her spirit and determination for change. The Okada rider she was riding with was killed, while she sustained life-threatening injuries, spending three weeks in a coma,  and bed-ridden for three months.  Still, Ime would not let her dream project die!

Through her action, millions of young people in Nigeria have been inspired to take action, and initiate specific hands-on projects they feel will make their communities a better place to live. She has also proved right the popular saying that today's youth are tomorrow's leaders!

You too can make a difference...

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

"NASS has no business asking agencies of government to sponsor its probes" - Patrick Obahiagbon.


In a no-holds-barred online chat with SPACES FOR CHANGE on Sunday, March 25, 2012, Honourable Patrick Obahiagbon, the former lawmaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, who represented Oredo Federal Constituency in Edo State enlightened on the rudiments of lawmaking, the legislative processes and procedures at the National Assembly. Known for his progressive contributions to legislative proceedings as well as his famed use of grandiloquent grammar, he outlined opportunities for engaging the various committees of the National Assembly. 

The current face-off between Herman Hembe and Arunma Otteh demonstrates the need for citizens to understand the nature and scope of the legislative powers that lawmakers can exercise, and how
citizens can engage the various committees of the National Assembly in their pursuit for transparency and accountability in governance. This interview was conducted under the auspices of SPACES FOR CHANGE's PGI (Project Get Involved) program which seeks to inspire the youth to embrace new ways of thinking and acting by helping them understand the significance of their contribution and participation in public decision-making.

The interview was moderated by Allwell Okpi, a correspondent with the Punch Newspapers

Here are the excerpts:

S4C: Democracy is the government of the people by the people and for the people. Considering the House members and the senators are representatives of the people, how do people of a particular constituency ensure that their representatives reflect their opinions exactly on every issue? Simply how can Nigerians hold their representatives accountable?

Obahiagbon: The starting point of holding our representatives accountable is to ensure that we vote in those with the requisite capacity for the job. We must question their sybaritic modus vivendi when they are in office rather than adoring and hero worshiping them. In other words, we must not masturbate their egoless ego.

We must also take advantage of the recall process enshrined in the constitution and we must be guided by the Burkian apothem that "evil men progress only when good men fold their hands and do nothing”.

S4C: There have been several scandals in the House of Representatives and no one seems to have been convicted in court or sentenced. In light of the recent scandal involving the Securities and Exchange Commission, do you think the National Assembly can stand against corruption as a reflection what the Nigerian people want?

Obahiagbon: True, the National Assembly has been buffeted with graft allegations bordering on defalcation and malversation. This gives copious room for mental pabulum given the fact that the National Assembly is supposed to be the moral police man of our society. But the bitter truth however is that corruption has become a national gangrene and must be dealt with holistically.

S4C: Sir, what do you mean by 'national gangrene' and how do you think this can be dealt with? For example, what can Nigerian people do about the situation?

Obahiagbon: The National Assembly has no business asking agencies of government to sponsor its probes. That is the beginning of compromising it's attempt at cleansing the Augean stables. And more fundamentally is the fact that the anti corruption agencies must be extricated from executive suzerainty, and be independent to deal with both the plebeians and political patriachs without fear or favor.

By the way, national gangrene means national cancer.

Nigerians must habiliment themselves with a toga of recusancy

Is there a programme of induction in place that seeks to bring 'non legal' members of the honourable house (lower and upper chambers) to speed on the components of the constitution. For instance: How laws are written; Why laws are written; How to understand and interpret the laws. It does appear that majority of those elected come across as 'bench warmers' as quite a number of them have been caught sleeping, 'chatting away on mobile phones', 'exchanging pleasantries', 'chewing gum',  and the like.

There is no serious program of induction to get non-lawyers to acclimatize with the nuances of parliamentary work. Little wonder most parliamentarians are like fishes out of water.

The National Assembly asked the Executive Arm of Government to reverse the pump price of petrol to NGN65:00/litre and this was not done. What further actions is the National Assembly doing about it or is just gain saying to show to Nigerians that you people are working?

Obahiagbon: Resolutions of the House consequent upon a motion does not have the force of law. It's only persuasive on the executive and that was why the House resolution on fuel subsidy was treated with levity by Mr. President even though in advanced democracies, resolutions of parliament are accorded utmost respect by the executive organ of government.

S4C: But there is no provision for the legislature to compel the executive to listen to the people?

Patrick Obahiagbon:  The legislature can bring this about when they stop passing frivolous motions that are most times deficient in moral and national fibre.

S4C: Can you now help us out with what we can do the make the National Assembly do exactly what the people want, and not what their political parties or godfathers want?

Patrick Obahiagbon: Maybe we should be hostile to zombie parliamentarians rather than indulging them. Yes it has reached that level.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012



How do I sum up 23 years in one page? I don’t know. How do I describe you? I cannot. Not in any depth. Not for anybody else – you were my husband, my brother, my friend, my child. I was your queen, and it was an honour to have served you.

You were the lion of my history books, the leader of my nation when we faced extinction, the larger-than-life history come to,  my life – living, breathing legend. But unlike the history books, you defied all preconceptions. You made me cry from laughter with your jokes, many irreverent. You awed me with your wisdom. You melted my heart with your kindness. Your impeccable manners made Prince Charming a living reality. Your fearlessness made you the man I dreamt of all my life and your total lack of seeking public approval before speaking your mind separated you from mere mortals.

Every year that I spent with you was an adventure – no two days were the same. With you, I was finally able to soar on wings wider than the ocean. With you I was blessed with the best children God in heaven had to give. With you, I learnt to face the world without fear and learnt daily the things that matter most. Your disdain for money was novel – sometimes funny, other times quite alarming. It mattered not a whit to you. Your total dedication to your people – Ndi-Igbo – was so absolute that really, very little else mattered. You never craved anybody’s praise as long as you believed that you were doing right and even in the face of utmost danger, you never relented from speaking truth to power – to you, what after all, was power? It was not that conferred by the gun, nor that stolen from the ballot box. No. You understood that power transcended all that. Power is the freedom to be true to yourself and to God, no matter the cost.

It is freedom from fear. It is freedom from bondage. It is freedom to seek the wellbeing of your people just because you love them. It is the ability to move a whole nation without a penny as inducement nor a gun to force them. When an entire nation can rise up for one person for no other reason than that they love him and know he is their leader – sans gun, money, official title or any strange paraphernalia – that is power.

To try to contain you in words is futile. You span the breadth of human experience – full of laughter, joy, kindness and sometimes, almost childlike in your ability to find something good in almost everyone and every situation. You could flare up at any injustice and in the next instant, sing military songs to the children. You could analyse a situation with incredible swiftness and accuracy. In any generation, there can only be one like you. You were that one star. You were a child of destiny, born for no other time than the one you found yourself in. Destined to lead your people at the time total extinction was staring us in the face. There was no one else. You gained nothing from it. You used all the resources you had just to wage a war of survival. You fought to keep us alive when we were being slaughtered like rams for no reason. Today, we find ourselves in the same situation but you are not here. You fought that we might live. The truth is finally coming out and even those who fought you now acknowledge that you had no choice. For your faithfulness, God kept you and brought you home to your people.

You loved Nigeria. You spent so much of your waking moments devising ways through which Nigeria could progress to Tai-Two!!! You were the eternal optimist, always hoping that one day, God will touch His people and give us one Vision and the diligence to work towards the dream. It never came to pass in your lifetime. Instead, the disaster you predicted if we continued on the same path has come home to roost. You always saw so clearly. Your words are indelibly preserved for this generation to read and learn and perhaps heed and turn. You always said the dry bones will rise again. But you always hoped we would not become the dry bones by our actions. Above all, you feared for your own people, crying out against the relentless oppression that has not ceased since the end of the war and saddened by the acceptance of this position by your own people. In death, you have awakened the spirit that we thought had died. Your people are finally waking up.
At home, you were the father any child would dream of having. At no point did our children have to wonder where you were. You were ever at their disposal, playing with them, teaching them of a bygone era, teaching them of the world they live in and giving them the total security of knowing you were always present.

In mercy, God gave me a year to prepare for the inevitable. I could never have survived an instant departure. In mercy, God ensured that your final week on earth was spent only with me and that on your last day, you were back to your old self. I cannot but thank God for the joy of that final day – the jokes, the laughter, the songs. It was a lifetime packed into a few hours, filled with hope that many tomorrows would follow and that we would be home for Christmas. You deceived me. You were so emphatic that we would be going home. I did not know you meant a different home. The swiftness of your departure remains shocking to me. You left on the day I least expected. But I cannot fight God. He owns your life and mine. I know that God called you home because every other time it seemed you were at death’s door, you fought like the lion that God made you and always prevailed. In my eyes, even death was no match for you. But who can say ‘no’ to the Almighty God? You walked away with Him, going away with such peace that I can only bow to God’s sovereignty. Your people have remembered. The warrior of our land has gone. The flags are lowered in your honour. Our hearts are laden with grief.

But I will trust that the living God who gave you to me will look after me and our children. Through my sadness, the memories will always shine bright and beautiful. Adieu, my love, my husband, my lion, Ikemba, Amuma na Egbe Igwe, Odenigbo Ngwo. Eze-Igbo Gburugburu, Ibu dike. Chukwu gozie gi, Chukwu debe gi. Anyi ga afu na omesia.
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