Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Travel by phone: how ICT adds zest to my life!

Yesterday I did a different kind of travel.  I traveled through the greater Accra, the Central, the Eastern and finally the Western regions of Ghana.  All the time, seated in front of my computer, doing research,  and drafting a paper for an African-Union related institution.

Where did I go?  I took off from Accra, to a place called Kade in the Eastern region.  There is a research facility in a tiny village off Kade and there was a meetup scheduled there.  The initial journey was okay.. and the business of the day was done.

But the journey back was the THE one.  "I" was no longer coming back to Accra but going to Takoradi, in the Western region.  So the challenge was to come from Kade to somewhere in the Central region, either to a place called Mankessim  or to Winneba junction.  I needed to go from Kade to Swedru and onwards.

It was raining.. and we were looking for a  nice restaurant too!  Then hopefully, short cut, to link Swedru to Mankessim.  We passed through the villages, all named "Agona" something, then finally to Swedru itself. I have always thought that Swedru was a big place.. but well.  When we stopped by to ask "How far is Swedru from here"?  The answer was  "This is Swedru you are in".. Ah okay..

Then that question, can we go directly to Mankesssim from Swedru or do we need to come back to Winneba junction before going on..  we asked three different groups on the way.  Two of them said you must go down to Winneba junction, one said maybe you can find a way. So we decided to go down to Winneba junction.

The rain let up a bit after Winneba junction, finally caught launch: fufu and bushmeat at a restaurant a bit before Apam junction.  Then hit the road again.  The rain came back.. by the time we passed by Mankessim, it was 5:30 PM but was a dark ast 7:30 PM.  The decision needed to be taken.  Do we continue to go all the way to Takoradi or stop in Cape Coast for the night?  By 7PM, we pulled into a nice little hotel in Cape Coast, not far from the STC bus station and checked in there..

Then the attendant looked and said: "Oh, Master, your tyre is flat"! Well, get some rest, the gas station is opposite.. we will fix all of that in the morning! And will be in Takoradi before 10 AM!

Nice trip huh?  Well, dont forget I said I did all of that on phone!  I was just speaking with the person inside the car..while they drove.. all of that distance..

Oh yeah! Phone call rates are getting cheaper..if you have a "preferred" number.. you can talk all day, talk all night.. and travel... on phone!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Africa, Nigeria, and the likes of John Campbell

On September 9, 2010, John Campbell wrote an article titled: Nigeria on the Brink: What happens if the 2011 elections fail? in which he began by saying:

The 2011 elections in Nigeria, scheduled for January 22, pose a threat to the stability of the United States’ most important partner in West Africa. The end of a power-sharing arrangement between the Muslim North and the Christian South, as now seems likely, could lead to postelection sectarian violence, paralysis of the executive branch, and even a coup

For him,

Logistical preparations for the 2011 elections have not started. There is no voters roll, and despite the president’s signing of an electoral reform bill, some of these reforms remain unimplemented four months before the election. The election therefore will almost certainly lack legitimacy, especially in the eyes of the losers

He goes on to conclude that:

Nigerians have long danced on the edge of the cliff without falling off. Yet at this juncture, the odds are not good for a positive outcome, and it is difficult to see how Nigeria can move back from the brink.

If the readers took into consideration that John Campbell  was former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria from 2004 to 2007, is the Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relation and  also the author of the Center for Preventive Action’s "Electoral Violence in Nigeria" contingency planning memorandum, one will not doubt that he is indeed an expert in the field. In fact, his book, Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink, will soon be published.

After his article, a certain Azu Robert-Mary wrote a response, trying to highlight the same issues that "experts" go on and on about, most being negative with absolute denial of anything positive about Africa.

The Nigerian elections have been held and for the most part, has been declared by all as credible. Even Nigerians lauded their electoral Commission. Simply put, the predictions of prophet John Campbell did not come to pass.  No, Nigeria did not fall off the cliff, the military did not take over and the nation has come out stronger!

I was a bit surprised this morning to read that "Nigeria denies visa to ex-US envoy Campbell". It was an interesting piece, that recalled part of what Campbell had written about visa fraud in Nigeria.

I think there are some valid reasons to refuse visa to Campbell, not just him, but his likes:

The first reason is that there is 99% certainty that Campbell will be arriving Nigeria to look for that 1% of electoral mis-function, violence, unsatisfactory report and hate-mongering individuals. He needs these to finish his book.  Seeing his rank and connections before now in Nigeria, it is predictable that if he cannot find what he is looking for, he is quite capable of creating it!

The other reason is that it is too early.  Elections only happened several weeks ago and there was actually some orchestrated violence after that.  The prophet of doom should wait a bit.. maybe, just maybe, his dreams of a broken Nigeria will come true.

Ah, so at least Nigerian embassies are still functional?  Planes still land?  Universities still complete school years, up to holding graduation ceremonies? Seriously?  And John Campbell wants to be a guest in a University graduation ceremony in Nigeria?  So the country is still up and about then? The nation is not broken as yet? And John Campbell want to enjoy a peaceful happy graduation ceremony in Nigeria just weeks after the elections? No, thank you. 

Nigeria is a nation.  We have at least 54 of those now in Africa. We are not yet as consolidated as we want to be, but we are on our way.  We hear negatives about Africa everyday.. the images of people dying of hunger, of war, of hopelessness! For every initiative Africa and Africans want to take.. there is a "Campbell" out there drawing up a list of a million reasons why it cannot succeed, why failure is inevitable, why chaos is the only option.. so they can step in as "Almighty Saviours".

Nigeria DOES NOT need Campbell or his likes.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  Long Live Africa!