Category Archives: Politics

Loadsa Money!

What I’m about to say is not directed at any group or person in particular.

But rather, consider it a wake-up call for ALL of us.

And remember – I did warn you a few weeks ago that as well as encourage and uplift you this year, I will always tell you as it is.

I begin

During a chat with my dear friend Lanre this morning, it became all too apparent that mankind has more often than not being his own worst enemy.

Waaaaaiiiiit!!!!!

It really is about time I did this.

Before going any further I want to sincerely thank those very close and so dear buddies of mine; yes you guys – Tolu O, Gbogie B, Toyo O, Lanre O, Temi P, Tosin O, David A, and that tall chap that never likes being mentioned.

Thanks guys!!!

Time and time again our chats, arguments, and even at times the odd agreement, have been important and indeed necessary ingredients to most, if not all of my articles.

Right – back to the matter at hand.

A few weeks ago I woke up at about 4am (whenever that happened last year I got upset. Now I’ve accepted that it’s part and parcel of getting old). lol 

As soon as I awoke my thoughts went straight to that little town in the US where 20 kids were shot dead a few months ago.

What an absolute tragedy!!

Now – I follow Piers Morgan on twitter.

If you don’t then I suggest you do. He’s superb – brutally honest, and at times absolutely hilarious.

And as a fellow passionate Arsenal fan, it’s strangely comforting to read his angry tweets on Saturday afternoons – as that hallowed (yes hallowed!!) team from north London – yea the one that is forever in transition – continues to push the boundaries of pain and torture to new and unbearable heights.

Why am I talking about Mr. Morgan???

Oh yes – ever since the tragic incident in that little town in Conneticut, Piers Morgan has been agressively campaigning for a review of America’s gun policy.

He believes, as I do, that guns should be banned.

Ban ’em!!!! (yes yes, I did purposely omit the ‘th’)

Simple!

Full Stop!

No flipping excuses!!

Just ban the damn things!!!!!

But we all know that ain’t gonna happen.

Why?

Because the US government and its’ backers are making way too much money from the arms business.

I could write about this all day, but I’m going to give you just a couple of examples.

In which sectors do the biggest financial donors of US governments do business?

Yep. That’s right – Oil and Arms

What did Iraq have?

Who led the war in Iraq?

Who got the contracts for the rebuilding of Iraq?

The commercial arms sales, reviewed by the State Department in 2011, was in the region of US$44 billion.

The figure for 2012 was expected to be at least 60% higher.

Now here’s the rub.

Quite a few of the countries that the US sells arms to are routinely acused of human rights abuses by the US Government.

That seems to me a rather odd contradiction.

I’m going to stop there.

This is not a tirade, or even a complaint against the US government.

My point is this –

As a result of incessant greed, mankind seems to have pressed the self destruct button – steadily destroying millions of lives across the globe for the sake of financial gain.

Back home – we all know the damage and destruction that oil has inflicted on Nigeria; not least to our brothers and sisters in the Niger Delta region.

Whether previous governments are to blame for allowing foreign oil companies to literally rape and pillage our land, or whether we should lay the blame firmly at the door of the foreign oil companies, one fact remains –

It Should Never Have Got This Bad In The First Place!!!

Why did it get so bad?

The answer is simple

Lust for money

To be perfectly frank my concern lies not in who’s to blame, but in the state of human nature – our mindsets – what we’re all willing to do for the sake of a few million dollars.

Now let’s bring this home.

Yep. That’s right – bringing this to your front door – and mine.

My dear friend Lanre explained something to me this morning.

“When you allow your mood and emotions to be determined by the amount you have in your bank account you are allowing mammon to be your God. But when you remain faithful, grateful, and trusting in God no matter what, then you are walking in the spirit and not the flesh; thereby allowing the Almighty and living God to be your God.”

Pause for thought anyone????

Deep breath

So what to do?

I’m not saying we should all just sit at home and not face up to our financial commitments.

After-all we’ve got to eat; and so do the kids.

But who are you going to allow to be your God?

Who will determine your moods?

Who or what will you place your faith in?

On whom or what will you place your worth?

Once again, I have to ask this question.

Is It All About Earth?????

Is the reason you fast, pray, and go to church because you want God to bless you with “loadsa money”?

I’m exaggerating???

Ok..next time you go to church, listen out for the reason behind the loudest Amen.

I’m referring to ALL of us now.

It seems to me that we all need to be very honest with ourselves in order to make a decision.

Are we in this for ourselves?

Or

Are we in this for God?

Do we prefer ‘loadsa money’ on earth – at any cost?

Or

Do we do things properly – with love, and humility, in the knowledge that our real home – our real life – is in heaven.

Before I ask the next two questions I want to emphasise once more that I am talking about ALL of us – myself included.

When we spring to our feet during church services as the pastor makes a powerful prayer / declaration about money and success;

Are we praying to God?

Or

As a result of our desperation for wealth, possibly paying homage to mammon?????

©Segun Akande

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Think Again

A few days ago Christiane Amanpour’s CNN programme featured Nigeria.

We were informed that statistically Nigeria is the third worst place to live on this planet.

The statistic not only made me sad but also rather irritated – verging on angry.

“How dare they?” I thought.

“What or who gave these guys the right to decide which places are good to live in, and which places are not?”

Needless to say, once my patriotic emotions gave way to our dear but often ignored friend, ‘Mr.objective’, I started to see reason.

Despite the valiant efforts of the present government, Nigeria continues to experience a myriad of challenges.

– serious security concerns

– unstable power supply

– a poor education system

– a non existent health care system

– inadequate housing

– bad roads

I said to a friend in 1999 that it would take fifty years for Nigeria to get to where it should be.

Why?

Because decades of military rule, constant abuse of power, and the blatant pillaging the nation’s resources resulted in not just stagnation but abject decline.

Hence, rather than blame this present government we need to bear in mind where we’re coming from.

1999??? That’s just thirteen years ago people!!

By my estimations we still have a another thirty seven years to go!

But one thing is for sure. We are finally moving in the right direction.

So for those who like me felt a little disheartened after the CNN programme I say this;

“Fear not!

And be not sad!

We are finally on our way. We may not see it in our life time but be rest assured that our grand children will live in a great Nigeria.”

But hang on!

This is not supposed to be a political article – not in the slightest.

My topic today is discouragement/encouragement.

Ahh yes – now it makes sense.

The reason I started with the CNN programme is because of how I felt after watching it; just a tad discouraged.

Nigeria is a country in which we all need regular doses of encouragement. Lol

I’m sure you’ve all noticed an increasing number of articles and phrases designed towards encouraging and uplifting us.

I genuinely thank God for such articles and phrases.

I’m sure you agree with me when I say that this journey we call ‘life’ can at times be so arduous, and so very dis-heartening.

But is it possible that the reason we are so easily discouraged is because we subconsciously believe that this is it?????

In other words despite our faith, we still seem to live our lives with a mind-set that screams,
“IT’S ALL ABOUT EARTH! IT’S ALL ABOUT EARTH!”

What on earth is Segs going on about now????

Very simple

The greatest security anybody can have is God

The greatest blessing anybody can have is God’s grace

The greatest gift anybody can have is Christ

The greatest wealth and power we can have is the spirit of the living God dwelling inside us

The greatest treasure anybody can have is Heaven

Is it possible that we are so easily disouraged because our focus is on the wrong things?

I’ll let you into a weee little secret. This is actually the article I was supposed to write yesterday. But when I woke up yesterday morning I kinda chickened out of it.

Why?

Because I was concerned that it may not be what you want to hear.

I’ve noticed something very interesting recently.

Whenever I write an article that is designed to uplift and encourage people to be the best they can be in this life – promoting success and wealth, I always get fantastic feedback.

But whenever the message is about Christ, and hints at the importance, relevance, and reality of life after earth the feedback is …well …non existent. Lol

So I guess I kinda (ok – no more kindas’) got addicted to the wonderful feedback.

That is until a dear friend of mine sent me a message late yesterday afternoon.

She has no idea how her message affected me.

She forwarded a message from Rick Warren’s Saddleback church to me. The message was about serving God.

In her personal message to me she said,

” But I guess you already know the importance of serving God. Keep up the good work.”

The vanity in me was so chuffed.

Absolutely delighted!

I even called her to confirm that the message was indeed for me!!

I went home feeling so good about myself.

But on waking up this morning her words came back to haunt me. Lol

Her words opened my eyes to the fact that due to wanting to give readers what they want to hear, I have buckled time and time again at the prospect of preaching this particular message.

So here goes

People!

This life is NOT the end!!!!!

In comparison to the real meaning of life -an eternity in Heaven -we are here but for a few miliseconds.

Our aim in this life is to be the best we can be for God and those around us – so that we can all enjoy that wonderful place we call heaven.

We must bear this in mind in absolutely everything we do.

In other words – yes, of-course, try your very best whilst you’re here on earth.

Love those around you

Provide for those around you

Protect those around you

Aspire for great things

Aspire for wealth

These are all good. There is absolutely nothing wrong with pushing aggressively for all the above.

But remember to always bear this mind;

Your real treasure – your real home – is heaven.

In all things you do, consider the reality that you are here to love and serve God before moving on to love and serve Him for an eternity in heaven.

So it’s up to us.

Do we want to continue living our lives as though this is it??? All about earth???

Or do we want to embrace the greatest security of all – salvation and God’s love.

The irony of all this is that if we think again, and re-direct our focus, our tendency to be easily discouraged and disheartened will reduce significantly.

There!

I’ve said it.

Sorry if you didn’t like this

Actually – no I’m not

Not sorry at all.

Think again, and do your best to embrace this message.

I know I certainly need to.

Let us regularly encourage ourselves in the knowledge that there is indeed a heaven.

There is an eternity of love, joy, and service to God.

This is what REALLY matters.

Finally, it’s befitting to conclude this article with a quote from my dear friend.

Quote

“The reality is that we will all die one day and we pray its at a ripe old age, but whatever age it is, there is heaven or hell; and we all know no one wants to go to hell. I’ve never heard anyone elect for it.

So it’s good to be reminded that it doesn’t end here, or even with death; and that it’s the aftermath that matters most.”

©Segun Akande

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The Positives

As we celebrate another year of independence, I’ve chosen to look at things a little differently.

Rather than rant and rave about all the things that are wrong in our beloved country, I’ve decided to focus a little more on the positives.

After-all, we could all do with a visit from Mr. ‘Feel Good Factor’.

So let’s look at some of the progress that Nigeria has made during the past few years.
‘What flipping progress??’ I hear you remonstrate.

Waaaaiiiiiit!!!

Continue reading

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A Change of Heart

Loving people unconditionally is something I’ve always struggled with. Some people are just so difficult to love!!
But they are!!! Lol… Yes yes yes – including myself!

Shut it!!

Arrogance has often been a major challenge; so too have pride, anger, and a tendency to be easily irritated.
I’ll stop there. No need to add any more.

Yep, that’s me – a few hundred miles away from ‘far from perfect’.

Continue reading

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Little Steps and Giant Leaps

Judging from the responses to the article ‘Has God turned His back on Nigeria?’ I think I can safely say that we all agree that God has definitely Not turned His back on Nigeria.

It seems therefore that the blame for Nigeria’s failings lie squarely at the feet of Nigerians.

By Nigerians I refer to two sets of people.

1. Those that have abused and continue to abuse their positions of power and leadership for personal gain.

2. We, the electorate that continue to pray and worship, and yet refuse to take ownership and responsibility for our dear country. Please don’t get me wrong. I love my God very much, as I’m sure you all do. This is in no way a criticism of christians or muslims, or any other religion for that matter. But can I honestly put my hand on my heart and say that I have not shied away from my responsibility as a Nigerian Citizen in the past? I think not.

Before going any further I want to remind us all of something very important.

The reason president Jonathan is so secure in his seat right now is because for the first time in decades millions of Nigerians went out to vote. After falling for the hype surrounding President Jonathan and our ‘fresh start’ millions of us, myself included, went out and voted for him. Yes, I’m sure that rigging occurred in some areas. But overall I think it is quite fair to say that he won the election pretty fairly. This is the reason his position is both secure and credible right now. We voted him in. Regardless of our opinion of his performance so far, we gave him the credibility and authority to govern.

So where does the power really lie?!!

Real power lies in the hands of the electorate.

Real power lies in the hands of you and me.

By ownership and responsibility I am talking about two things in particular.

1. Love and service to one another

What I am about to say next is not mumbo jumbo. It is not supposed to make us feel good about ourselves. It is not intended to get us excited. On the contrary, my hope is that what I’m about to say will make us all pause, think, decide and commit.

You and I are not here by chance. We all have certain talents that we have been blessed with. We didn’t earn it. We didn’t buy it. We were born with it. Our creator gave them to us. Those talents that you possess are not for your glory and personal gain. They are to be used to love and serve others. They are to be used in order to fulfil whatever our God given purpose on this earth is.

If we can ALL dedicate ourselves to using our talents to fulfil our purpose, Nigeria will make giant leaps in a very short space of time. To each of us, what we do individually may seem like small and irrelevant steps. But put all our steps together and they become giant leaps.

However, so long as we all continue to use our talents for the pursuit of personal gain and personal security, Nigeria doesn’t stand a chance. Why? Because so long as we continue doing this our focus and attention will never be on what truly matters, and Nigeria will continue to be governed by people with personal and selfish agendas.

A couple of days ago I was discussing the issue of living in Nigeria with a very dear friend of mine. He was fed up with Nigeria and was considering moving oversees with his family. I told him that I fully understand how he feels (I really do). But I also asked him to ask himself and God what his purpose in life is. I told him that if his purpose in life lies in Nigeria then he Cannot and Must Not jump ship. But that if his purpose in life is not in Nigeria then he should feel free to get out as soon as possible.

Each of us has a God given purpose in life. For some, that purpose is in Nigeria. For others it is somewhere else.

For those of us that know that our purpose is in Nigeria, it’s time to stop the procrastination; it’s time to stop fearing what others may say or think; it’s time to stop allowing the past to hold us back.

Remember – it is Not about you.

It is about those around you.

It is about our country.

It is about our children’s children.

I said this yesterday, and I’ll say it again now. Do we really want a future in which our children’s children are forced to dwell in foreign lands with no identity?’

Pledge

I recently made a pledge to myself. I pledged to myself that I will use the talents that God has blessed me with to fulfil His purpose for me. God’s will is for His kingdom to reign on earth. Therefore I know that so long as I am focussed on achieving His purpose for me I am also playing my part in God’s good and perfect will for Nigeria.

2. Holding governments at all levels accountable

I have no idea who the councillors of my local government are. I have no idea who the chairman of my local government is. In-fact I have no idea which political party forms my local government. This stark reality is rather sad. It’s sad for me, and even sadder because I have no doubt that there are so many more like me out there. One of the biggest reasons that we continue to experience bad governance in Nigeria is because we continue to allow the wrong people to be selected. Note – not elected. They are so easily selected because the only people that can ensure transparency, fairness and credibility (you and me) have decided to completely abandon and ignore the political process. So long as we continue to ignore the political process we will continue to have the wrong people in government.

Let’s not allow the words ‘but this is Nigeria’ to enter our minds. Yes, this is Nigeria. Yes, the political system is fraught with corruption, violence, deceit and rigging. But the change must start from somewhere.

I’m sure the words ‘but this is America’ may have filtered into the minds of black liberation and civil rights activists in America in the 1960s. But they didn’t allow those words to deter them. They didn’t allow intimidation and oppression to deter them. They kept their faith. They kept hoping, and the kept going in their fight against racial inequality and oppression. They paved the way for Barack Obama to become America’s first black president.

The change must begin with us. Politicians will only start to behave when they realise that the have to. The right people will start getting elected only after we start making it a lot more difficult for the wrongs ones to be selected.

Pledge

I’ve decided to make three pledges to myself.

1. I will find out who and of what political and social bearing my local government is; then find out whether or not it is actually doing anything.

2. I will register as a member of a political party by December 2012.

3. I will inform and teach people about the power of the electorate as often as I can.

I believe that we all need to make personal pledges and commitments with regards to our various roles in the future of this nation. I hope this article inspires you to make your own personal pledges.

The future prosperity or otherwise of our country is up to us; whether or not each of us is willing to play our God given role, using our God given talents to help our beloved Nigeria to fulfil her potential.

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A LETTER TO DR. GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, THE PRESIDENT OF FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

Dear Mr. President

I voted for you during the general elections of 2010. Therefore I sincerely hope and trust that you will take this letter / document in good faith. It is not a criticism of yourself or your government.

Actually, to be honest, it is.

But I do so with respect and love.  More importantly this is a document of advice.

I believe that the three of the most important elements of governance are;

Love                   – For the people

Service              – Serve the people

Communicate   – With and to the people

Everything – all policies and decisions that a government makes must always stem from the three elements above.

LOVE

A government must always be seen to be compassionate towards the people it is governing.  It must not be seen to be aloof or contemptuous towards the people.

Unfortunately the words and general attitude that flowed from ministers and governors during the week beginning 9th January 2012 were not only cold hearted in nature but also displayed an awful arrogance and an almost wicked contempt for the people of Nigeria.

Government must be sensitive to the plight and the financial welfare of the people at all times. When government negates to do this it is simply alienating itself from the very people who elected it into office.

The large turn-out of the 2010 elections was the beginning of the re-awakening of the Nigerian polity. The fact that so many people turned out to vote  was a clear sign  that the Nigerian populace is now becoming more determined to vote into office those that they believe can best serve the interest of Nigerians.

The recent protests we witnessed across the country is simply the next step in the re-awakening of the Nigerian polity. The Nigerian people are now finally beginning to recognise that democracy means ‘power by the people, for the people’. Your government needs to take serious note of this development in the maturity of the Nigerian electorate.  No longer will the public tolerate governments that are insensitive to their needs and their plight; not to talk of the governments that harbour or accept excessive expenditure by its’ dignitaries.

Government must show its love for the people by;

  • Governing in their best interest
  • Accountability
  • Reducing excessive government expenditure by at least 50%
  • Communicating with the people and to the people in a manner that is humble and respectful

The biggest lesson that all serving governors and ministers must learn from the past few days is that they are only in their various posts because the people put them there. You are only president because the people elected you to be president. Senators and House members are only in their posts because the people put them there. Hence, you and the members of your executive council  are not our ‘masters’ but are in fact our ‘servants’ – you are there to serve the people.

Your Excellency – Please be assured that the Nigerian electorate finally understands this. You will need to take this very seriously if you are to fulfil your true potential.

SERVICE

A government is there to serve the people. Unfortunately in Nigeria this notion seems to be entirely upside down. Ministers and governors roam around the country with their various displays or largess and arrogance as if they are the masters and we are the servants. This is WRONG.

As long as this attitude continues, Nigeria will never make any real and sustained progress. As long as this continues the Nigerian populace will never trust or feel any kind of care or compassion towards its government.  In short, your government is largely seen to be one that treats its electorate with disdain and contempt.

The whole of government needs to be re-programmed in the following as follows;

  • Who am I
  • Why am I here
  • Who and where is my constituent
  • How can I help my constituent

Government needs to be thoroughly mentally re-programmed so that it starts serving the people rather than itself.

The mentality and attitude of most government officials is completely wrong. The biggest threat you face right now is the fact that the Nigerian polity has finally woken up. Therefore the status quo will no longer be tolerated.

COMMUNICATION

Communication is key Mr. President.

Communication between the government and the people was poor in the months preceding the implementation of the removal of fuel subsidy and even worse during the strike.

The greatest show of respect a government can give its people is to communicate with them.

Communication is key. Interestingly the most important and powerful way to communicate is to listen – both with your eyes and with your ears.  The man that does not listen is the worst kind of communicator.  I coach and train members of staff of large corporates’  and multinationals. The courses I facilitate include Effective Sales, Communications Skills and Negotiation Skills. Before commencing the actual training I like to spend at least 45 minutes chatting with the delegates in order to ascertain exactly what their roles are, whether they like what they do and what they hope to be doing in the future. By doing this I am able to discern the levels of the competences as well as their mind-set; how they see themselves; what they think of their current job and position, and also what they want to be doing in the future. I must point out that this first one hour is probably one the most important parts of the course. Why?

  • It enables me to show them that I care about them
  • It enables me to gain their trust
  • It enables them to feel free with me
  • It enables me to discern where they are week and where they are strong in terms of the various competencies
  • It enables me to know which sector of the course I should focus on more

Communication is Key: Listening is Key

There are some key points that a government should always communicate to the people.

  • Vision                 –  Vision of the government for Nigeria
  • Mission               –  what the government wants to achieve
  • Policies              –  policies that will help to achieve the mission and the vision
  • Methodology       –  the methods that will be used to ensure that the policies work
  • Results               –   the desired results as well as interim, yearly and on-going results

Yes – it does sound a little like running a corporate entity.  But this in effect, is what running a country is all about – being the CEO of a major blue chip organisation.

You need a Communications / PR Minister. The person will effectively be your ears on the ground as well as the people’s voice within government. He or she will communicate government’s vision and policies to the public. Remember – the most important aspect of communication is ‘listening’. Therefore the Communications / PR Minister must continuously find ways to listen intently to the mood and views of the public. He or she must be their trusted friend as well as your voice and ears on the ground.  The person cannot be arrogant or proud. He or she must be humble – a man / woman of the people.

In short, the Communications / PR Minister will be the ‘go between’ – the connection between the government and the people. What will this do for your government?

  • Keep it in tune with what’s going on
  • Enable it to relate with all segments of the public
  • Endear the government to the people
  • Create and develop trust
  • Enable it to implement policies effectively

The commercial / PR Minister will also be the main point-man during times of crisis.

During the past few decades the electorate has slowly but steadily lost trust in Nigerian Governments.

Credibility has been lost. Confidence is saturated, and trust no longer exists.

Finally Mr. President, I urge you to read through this document again, and if nothing else simply remember these three key words.

LOVE                             SERVICE                                      COMMUNICATION 

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