Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Constitution amendment after the Senate's vote

With the votes in the Senate today for the amendment of the Nigerian Constitution, it is important for citizens to realise that there are still more steps to be taken to bring this to a logical conclusion. The House of Representatives will still have to vote tomorrow on the same proposed amendments.
It is safe to say however that for the clauses already defeated in the Senate, it would remain a mere academic exercise when the Reps vote. They could as well save time by skipping those ones...same way they had to abandon the Constitution amendment process in 2006, the day after the senate killed the bill and ended the notorious third term bid.
After the votes in Senate and Reps, the provisions agreed to by both houses will become the amendment passed. Those ‘passed’ amendments will still be sent to all the 36 houses of assembly to concur. When these are sent to the respective houses of assembly, every single amendment, to be validly passed must be agreed to by simple majority of at least two-thirds of the state houses of assembly (i.e. 24).
One area of interest is the amendment passed by the Senate today to reduce the age qualification for elective positions. The new proposal, subject to concurrence by the House of Representatives and at least 24 state houses of assembly, provides the following age limits: House of Assembly and House of Reps 25; Governor 30 and Senate and Pres 35.
If this scales through, I foresee a bit of a technical, albeit theoretical problem here though. Let us suppose that a 26 year old is elected into the house of assembly and becomes speaker. Now supposing events play out that the governor and deputy governor can no longer hold their positions. Then by the provisions of the Constitution, the speaker of the house of assembly shall become acting governor. The question then would be, can a person act in a position he/she is disqualified from holding in the first place, since to become governor, a person must be at least 30?

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Euphemisms are “unpleasant truths wearing diplomatic cologne”, says the writer, Quentin Crisp. The word, ‘euphemism’ comes from the Greek words, ‘eu’ which means ‘well’ and ‘phemi’ which means ‘speaking’. ‘Phemi’ itself comes from the root ‘phenai’ (to speak) which is also where the word ‘prophet’ comes from.
Several other English words start with ‘eu’ (meaning well). Thus ‘eucalyptus’ means ‘well covered’ because the unopened flower is protected by a sort of cap. 
To give a ‘eulogy’ is to speak well of someone. The ‘logy’ part of that word, as in many English words, comes from the Greek word, ‘logos’ which means ‘speech, word or reason’.
Something ‘euphonious’ is that which is pleasing to the ear; from the word ‘phone’ from the Greek root which means ‘sound’. 
What then is ‘euthanasia’? It means an ‘easy death’ as ‘thanatos’ means ‘death’ in Greek.
(Source: “The Origins of Words and Phrases” published by Readers Digest)

Note 2:
Origin of the word, ADMIRAL
I bet you never knew the naval rank of admiral has Arabic and Muslim roots. Okay, you are about to know now. Admiral was first recorded in the 13th Century as reference to an ‘emir’ or Muslim commander, which word itself is from the Arabic word, ‘amir’.
The Arab word was used in different titles and ranks such as ‘amir-al-bahr’, meaning commander of the sea and ‘amir-al-ma’, meaning commander of the water.
Western scholars, did not realise that the ‘-al-‘ part of the word merely meant ‘of the’ and in their ignorance believed that the ‘amir-al’ was a single word that meant commander. They then anglicised it as ‘admiral’.
The modern maritime use comes from the Arabic creation in Spain and Sicily as ‘Ameer of the Sea’. This was later adopted by the Genoese and the French and later by the English under King Edward III as ‘Amyrel of the Se’ or ‘Admiral of the Navy’. From 1500 the word had been standardised as ‘admiral’ and used as a rank in the Navy.
(Source: “The Origins of Words and Phrases”, published by Reader’s Digest).

(By Obo Effanga)
Note 3:
May, May Day and the other May Days…
May is the fifth month of the year in the Gregorian calendar (the modern and most widely-used calendar). The name comes from the word, ‘Maia’, believed in Greek Mythology to be one of the seven daughters of the Titan Atlas. In Roman Mythology, Maia was known as ‘Maia Majesta’, a goddess of fertility and of the spring who is believed to have given her name to the month of May.
May Day has three different meanings. It originally refers to the public holiday celebrated on May 1 to mark the ancient Spring Festival in many countries in the Northern Hemisphere. The celebration featured many events such as dancing, singing and cake sharing. The practice has existed since the 13th century. It also featured the election of a beautiful girl as May Queen or Queen of the May to preside over the springtime festivities.
In the late 19th century, the Socialists and the Communists adopted May 1 as Workers’ Day. Why was May 1 adopted as workers’ day? The answer comes from an incident in Chicago, USA on Tuesday May 4, 1886.
On that day, a peaceful rally was being held in support of workers insisting on not more than eight hours of work in a day. This call, known as the Eight Hour Movement had over the years insisted on "Eight hours' labour, Eight hours' recreation, Eight hours' rest". The May 4 rally was also a reaction to the killing of several workers by the police the previous day. In the process, an unknown person threw a dynamite at police personnel trying to disperse the crowd. This led to the death of seven police officers and four civilians. That incident was known as the Haymarket affair, Haymarket massacre or Haymarket riot.
There is yet another May Day, or rather ‘mayday’ which is a distress call by persons in danger or distress. A mayday signal is sent out from a ship or aircraft in distress, calling for urgent help.
Why is this called Mayday? It is a corruption of the French expression, “m’aider”, a short form of “venez m’aider” which means “come and help me”.

(By Obo Effanga)
Note 4:
From Burnsides to sideburns…
What do you call the style of keeping patches of facial hair grown on the sides of the face, extending from the hairline to below the ears? No prize for getting it. It is called sideburns! It is also called sideboards or side whiskers (or mutton chop, where they terminate at the corners of the mouth). Note however that once the facial hair extends from ear to ear via the chin they cease to be called sideburns. In such instance, it is called a beardchinstrap beard, or chin curtain.
But where did the name sideburns come from? This is where you would be amazed. Sideburns was originally referred to as ‘burnsides’.
Burnsides was so called from 1870s in reference to a certain American civil war general, Ambrose E. Burnsides (23 May 1824 - 13 September 1881). Burnsides spotted that style of facial hair, making it highly popular. General Burnsides actually spotted the hairstyle with moustache but with time and with changing fashion, the moustache no longer necessarily went with that facial hairstyle.
In the 1880s however, the name had become reversed from burnsides to sideburns.

(By Obo Effanga)
Note 5:
Paraphernalia refers to apparatus, trappings, appurtenances or accessories etc. associated with any particular position or office. It is often considered as superfluous though. But the word has a deeper meaning than that. It comes from the Greek word, ‘parapherna’ which refers to a woman’s ‘property apart from a dowry’.
Until the Married Women’s Property Act was passed in England in the 19th Century, the practice was that a married man became owner of all that the wife had. However, there was exception to this practice or rule. A wife was allowed to keep her personal belongings such as clothes and jewellery which she was allowed to keep after her husband’s death.
The word later translated to a person’s personal belongings and also to items needed for or associated with some activities, hence the expression, ‘paraphernalia of office’.
(Source: “The Origins of Words and Phrases” published by Readers Digest)

(By Obo Effanga)
Note 6: CAMERA
Smile, you are on camera! That’s a ubiquitous sign you see in many public spaces in countries like the UK, assuring you that a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera is operating to capture any possible incident. But guess where the name ‘camera’ comes from and what it originally meant?
Camera was originally a Latin word and referred to a vault or a chamber. Back in the years, in Italy and Spain, camera was the name of a council, legislative or judge’s chamber. This explains the expression, to see “someone in camera” which meant that rather than consider a matter in the open court, the judge did so in his/her judge’s private chamber, which usually adjoins the courtroom.
As you wonder what all these have to do with what we understand the camera to mean today, here is the answer. The use of the word, ‘camera’ in relation to photography comes from the name ‘camera obscura’ which means ‘dark chamber’. This was the Latin name of a device for projecting an image of external reality onto a flat surface.
So, smile, even if you are not on camera.

(By Obo Effanga)
Note 7: SLOGAN
Many of us will easily identify the word ‘slogan’ with advertising and more particularly, with campaigns, especially as they relate to politics and electioneering. However, like many words and expressions, ‘slogan’ has its own distinct history. It comes from Scottish Gaelic word ‘sluagh-ghairm’ which means a battle cry.
In the Scottish Gaelic language, sluagh translates to ‘army’ and gairm means ‘shout’. So sluagh-ghairm meant a shout meant to ginger the soldiers into action. It was not until the early 19th century that the expression gained a seeming global usage based on the literary works of Sir Walter Scott and later on came to refer to a short memorable motto or catch-phrase. By then also, it had become pronounced and spelled as ‘slogan’.

By Obo Effanga
Lesson 8: Comrade
What does the word 'comrade' mean?
If a companion is, literally, someone you share bread with, then a 'comrade' is someone you share a room with. The origin of the word is the Spanish word, 'camarada' which means a room mate. It comes from the Latin word, 'camera' which means 'a room'.
Your comrade was originally someone who shared the same room or tent as you, often a fellow soldier.

Source: "The Origins of Words & Phrases" published by Reader's Digest.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Goodbye is hard to say

Goodbye is hard to say…
So now I bid ActionAid goodbye
But between us we know it is mere pretence
Not after eleven years and six months
Of being an ActionAider
That long I seeped in ActionAid in many ways
That long I exuded ActionAid in many more ways
Now I realise profoundly so
That Goodbye is a difficult word to say and mean
So let me just say in few words
I leave the physical office, ActionAid
And continue living the ideals of ActionAid
Because those ideals had always been my life
Most assuredly I lived and believed those ideals
Even before my path and ActionAid’s crossed
So even though I am not on ActionAid’s roll
The chip is embedded inside of me
(Obo Effanga, July 14, 2017)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Let poetry flow on World Poetry Day

Today is World Poetry Day
Let those who can write
Let those who can’t read

Today, let's just do it
Let the words freely flow
And snowball into lines

Let the lines well up rhymes
Let the rhymes flow into verses
And verses mould us a poem

Let the poems illuminate our minds
And reveal the fecundity of the poet’s mind
While we celebrate what we cherish

Let humanity be entangled
In the labyrinth of our connectedness
As creations from a single source

(Obo Effanga, March 21, 2017)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Ode to my Hope Waddell

Sometimes just being me is being you
That I lived all of 11 years in your campus
Eleven years from childhood to adolescence
Five of those eleven, as student
I just live with traits of you in me

Then being my father’s son,
I could just but imbibe more of you
Because my father was also you
Having passed through your tutelage years afore
So, loving my father was loving you

Father was much more attached to you
Later teaching there 20 straight years
And he told me the tradition runs longer
His own father was also a traveller there
So I am just a third generation of tradition

Today it is 122 years long
Since you appeared on the Calabar firmament
And began shaping and changing lives
From far and near they came
And near and far their influence go

So whenever I reference you
When your name drops off my speech and writing
Whenever I put on a memento of you
It is not just because I choose to brag
It is that the Hope Waddell foundation in me is solid

(Obo Effanga, March 8, 2017)

*On the 122nd anniversary of Hope Waddell Training Institution.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Obasanjo's follow-follow presidential library

So the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library was finallly inaugurated today. Well, nearly 12 years ago, when the idea began, I wrote an oped piece in the NewAge newspaper to condemn it. I here share it again.
Follow-follow presidential library
By Obo Effanga Jr (NewAge Mon. May 23.05)
Someone has just observed to me that the artist’s impression of the proposed N7 billion Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) reminds him of the Basilica of Yamassoukro in Ivory Coast. I cannot agree more. The Yamassoukro structure is imposing, gargantuan, mind-boggling, yet soulless and bereft of the spirit that is supposed to dwell therein. In comparison to the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, which it attempted to mimic if not outshine, the brainchild and personal, private property of the now late President Felix Houphouet-Boigny was built from 1986-1989 and cost an estimated $400 million at a time when that country’s economy was being hammered by falling prices of cocoa, its chief export commodity.
Also known as "Our Lady of Peace" basilica, that white elephant towers over the rural village, brought to limelight by the community’s best-known citizen, Houphouet-Boigny. Yet, it is not only an eyesore but was a provocation to the millions of poor, wretched Ivorians. Today, anger against it must be worse, given the condition of war the country has slipped into, an offshoot of Houphouet-Boigny’s short-sightedness of not thinking that there would be a time the country would have to live without him around as its fatherly figure.
The Yamassoukro madness was in bad taste, not because Ivorians, nay, Africans are not religious enough, but because the cost of the project and the use of the palatial building did not accord with the reality in the land, the priority of the country or take to cognisance the sensibility of the people ditto the OOPL.
Like many other Nigerians, I was profoundly touched, penultimate Saturday, to see how big-hearted our men and women of wealth, as well as the big businesses in the land can be. On that day, the crème de la crème of the society lined up in Abeokuta to identify with the “commendable” venture of raising funds for the proposed Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library. The project is expected to cost N7 billion. Ordinarily in this country, fundraisers hardly achieve anything close to the target. But as we saw that Saturday, OOPL’s was simply “different from the rest”, like Ras kimono once sang of his (Kimono) style. Going by media reports, between N4 and N6 billion was raised at the event.
I agree totally with those who are not at ease with what transpired at Abeokuta that Saturday. In the first place, the whole concept of an Obasanjo Presidential Library, no matter how important it may be made to look, sounds to me as a case of “Mr. Follow follow” as sung by Fela many years ago. It was meant to copy from the $160 million Clinton Presidential Library, described by Clinton as “the symbol of a bridge to the 21st century” and by others as “the largest collection of presidential papers and artefacts in U.S. history.” But unlike our OOPL, which is being launched while the president is still in office, Clinton Presidential Library was commissioned only last year, four clear years after Clinton left office.
Apart from the Clinton Presidential Library, the Americans also have 10 other presidential libraries, including the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum which documents George Bush's public career as congressman, Ambassador to the United Nations, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in China, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Vice-President, and President. Other American presidents who have libraries named after them include Jimmy Carter, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
If, as it seems clear, President Obasanjo wanted to join the league of “owners” of such presidential institutions, he got his facts all wrong. In the jurisdiction he attempts to copy from, those libraries are owned by the state, not the individuals they are named after. There are in all, 11 such presidential libraries in the U.S. But here is the clincher, “This nationwide network of libraries is administered by the Office of Presidential Libraries, which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), located in College Park, Maryland. These are not traditional libraries, but rather repositories for preserving and making available the papers, records, and other historical materials of U.S. Presidents since Herbert Hoover.” That explains why the public is charged about $7 to enter any of those libraries and museums.
That being so, it is totally unnecessary for an individual to purport to raise funds for the establishment of a presidential library. It is even the more obscene when the fundraising is carried out while the president is in office. It only smacks of sycophancy and extortion of the public to caress the ego of the man in power. It would be irrelevant to say that the fundraising was organised by an independent group or board of trustees and that nobody was compelled to part with money. The truth is that, even if the project is a private initiative, it has all the support and cover of the presidency and a great percentage of the donations received could not have been made, were Obasanjo not the sitting president.
And if anybody should be the wiser in this case, it should be Obasanjo himself who knows how the present praise singers surrounding him, sang the same tune for the late dictator, Sani Abacha, while he held sway as head of state and Obasanjo was put in jail on allegation of plotting to overthrow Abacha. The president should ask himself, if he would have raised 10 percent of what has been raised today, were he not the president. Perhaps this is the time for chief executives to also take the kind of advantages their wives have over time appropriated by using their connections and goodwill in government to trap funds to themselves, i.e., doing private business at public expense.
Does Nigeria really need a presidential library at this time, and if so, is it a top priority? I don’t think so. By establishing a presidential library, it is to be presumed that there are enough functional public libraries covering general interests and disciplines and that the members of the public are adequately sensitized about using them. But that is far from the truth. None of the state governments that donated at least N10 million to OOPL can boast of a functional library with up to date books and facilities. Couldn’t the money they donated to this private venture have been better used to upgrade the facilities in their state libraries?
It is also doubtful whether any of the state governors had the mandate of the citizens they claim to represent, when they decided to part with the collective heritage of those citizens. Such money was certainly not appropriated in the budgets of the respective states. Neither can the fraud-prone Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), a public agency, justify its donation of $1 million. Under what budgetary head would the NPA classify that donation?
This fundraising event has the trappings of the one organised in 2003 by Corporate Nigeria. At that time, some captains of industries, railroaded by Mrs. Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, a federal government appointed head of Nigerian Stock Exchange raised funds in support of the campaigns of President Obasanjo, who was then seeking re-election. That political support was in total disregard for the country’s laws on the donation of money by companies to political parties.
Coming at a time his government has begun an unpredictable and not-completely believable war against corruption, the fundraising for the president’s library project casts doubts on the honesty of the administration in the anti-corruption fight. Couldn’t the donations coming from the various captains of industries and major contractors of government be seen as gratification for government patronage either past or anticipated? And like someone said, how much tax do these major donors pay? Very laughably, the OOPL claims to be founded on three philosophical cornerstones of leadership (giggle), transparency (chuckle) and agriculture (sneer). Perhaps the cornerstones and the foundation are indeed founded on the above principles, but what we have seen so far is that the ground on which the cornerstone and foundation is laid is less than edifying. It could only lead to a big moral burden for the president and his cohorts.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine and the Day After

Valentine and the day after
Pity the flowers that got plucked
And got delivered to express love
Pity the flowers that got crushed
In-between bruised lovers
Pity the ones that got thrown away
Or the flowers that got despised
Or the flowers abused
And the flowers lost
Pity the many lost for ever
And the many deflowered
Or those shaken down there
Whether unkindly or by choice
Or cut by deceit and subterfuge
After all the sweet nothings were uttered
And many meals downed in greed
Or sweet and red wines downed
Downed to blend with the Valentine colour
Downed to drown the voice of reasoning
And lead someone to ecstasy unimaginable
But passed off as love expression
Pity the ones who wake up today
Cursing yesterday and yesterday’s person
Praying yesterday never was
Wishing they could erase yesterday
Pity the ones who desire to rewind to two days earlier
And enter yesterday again with reasoning intact
Unfortunately yesterday is gone
And the events undoable
So let each one accept their yesterday
And live with the consequences
But if they still live long enough
Let them learn against the future
Valentine remains but a hype
Hyped by a capitalist world
To keep the business lines hydrated
But true love remains for all times
(Obo Effanga February 15 2017)