By Joel Popoola
“On the internet, nobody knows that you’re a dog”.
So went the caption of one of the internet’s first ever memes, American cartoonist Peter Steiner’s iconic 1993 cartoon of a dog using a computer.
In those days, the message was empowering – the digital age allows you to create an entirely different persona online, expressing yourself in a way which was previously impossible.
But today people claiming to be something they aren’t, potentially threatens Nigerian democracy.
The international cliché of the “Nigerian Prince” online scammer is at best a grotesque symbol of our national squandering of a creative and digitally-confident youth, and at worst a national embarrassment.
But Nigeria increasingly has a similar problem at home, with the troubling rise of new public groups who are also not who they claim to be – and who exist only to mislead.
Global think tank, Carnegie, have recently released research highlighting the rise of “at least 360” new non-governmental organisations in Nigeria who “masquerade as authentic civil society groups, singing the praises of top officials and attacking their critics.”
The researchers state that these groups have created “a substantial fake civil society” which is “both corrupting and corruptive, compounding the country’s downward democratic trajectory”.
Researchers highlight how “fewer than 7 percent are listed on the country’s corporate registry as is legally required”, “murky financing” and most alarmingly of all that the vast majority of these groups seemingly exist only to “defend Nigeria’s most abusive and corrupt officials”.
The report alleges: “It may also be the result of a deliberate but unspoken strategy on the part of a handful of ruling party and military elites to…dilute civil society and international criticism.”
The research even highlights one such group who recently hailed President Buhari’s “excellent performance” when it comes to security, publishing a report stating “the President has frenetically tackled the insurgency with so much vigor, energy and resources. It stamps that [he] has made the difference in counter-terrorism combat and [is] deserving of loud accolades and commendations.”
Even President Buhari’s strongest supporters would have to admit that this is a very “glass half full” assessment of the current security situation in our nation.
Nigeria’s vibrant and extensive civil society is one of our greatest strengths and is crucial to sustaining democracy in our nation. We cannot allow it to be contaminated with corruption.
As the Carnegie research states, Nigeria’s civil society encompasses “religious bodies, ethnic and subethnic associations, village cooperatives, occupation-based groups, student and alumni entities, charities and foundations, as well as a broad range of advocacy and development-focused NGOs, both international and domestic.”
It is the space where we come together to decide what Nigeria is and where as a nation we are going. As Carnegie researchers put it, it is these groups who have a vital role to play in “pushing for better governance, greater accountability, and respect for human rights.”
This cannot happen if this space is dominated by sycophantic surrogates.
So what is to be done in the face of this tidal wave of misdirection and misinformation?
We must create an internet where information comes only from verified sources, who at least must clearly identify their vested interests.
This may sound easier said than done, but I believe that it is possible.
At the digital democracy campaign I lead, we have created a free app called Rate Your Leader which gives verified voters direct access to verified local politicians.
Rate Your Leader lets people put their ideas, comments, complaints and issues directly to the people who have the power to do something about them – while also allowing politicians to better understand the needs and wants of the people who elect them.
The Rate Your Leader app also allows users to rate local leaders for accessibility and transparency, showcasing to local voters that their local leaders are worth voting for.
With Rate Your Leader, you aren’t speaking to a middle man – you’re speaking to the politician direct.
Technologies like these ensure that there is always public access to sources of political information who are demonstrably who they say they are – and at least have to be transparent about their allegiances and interests.
If we are to revive our democracy, we need a beating heart of people-powered movements.
If these people are in fact just one or two individuals with a vested interest in preserving the status quo, democratic revival and renewal will remain out of our grasp.
Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur and digital democracy campaigner. He is the creator of the Rate Your Leader app, and can be reached via @JOPopoola
Safeguard the Nation or Be Removed, NSCDC Boss Tells Zonal Commanders, State Commandants
In view of the prevailing security situation in the country which has made it imperative to redouble effort towards ensuring effective delivery of the Corps mandate in the enforcement of peace and development of Nigeria, the Commandant General of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Ahmed Audi, PhD, mni, has charged all Zonal and State Commandants to function optimally by stepping up their operational activities in securing the nation and safeguarding critical assets and infrastructure.
A statement signed by the Director of Public Relations, DCC Olusola Odumosu, noted that the CG made this known during the Commandant General’s Conference at the Corps National Headquarters, Abuja, where he emphasized the need to justify the confidence reposed in the Corps by the Government through concerted effort and by making significant impact in the protection of Critical National Assets and Infrastructure, Disaster Management, supervision of Private Guard Companies and the protection of farmers and farmlands.
According to the CG, the wave, dynamics and sophistication of crisis such as terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, militancy, ethnic agitation, kidnapping, oil bunkering and so on has led to very serious devastation particularly on the economy, hence, the need for the corps to develop strategies that could best address this social menace.
Speaking further, Dr Audi decried the spate of Insecurity in Nigeria which has recently assumed an alarming Asymmetric dimension and affected every facet of Nigerian life, thus, leading to severe unimaginable social consequences across the six geographical regions but particularly the North-East, North Central and South-South.
He gave a stern warning to all zonal and state commandants to resist any attempt by criminals or any group of individuals to unleash terror and destroy the peace of Nigeria. ‘’The only way to justify your existence is to carry out your duties beyond reasonable doubt; our mandates are very clear, so, we must resist any attempt by criminal elements to subvert our peaceful coexistence and be able to show to Nigerians that we are collecting government salaries’’ Audi said.
He directed all the state Commandants to renew and strengthen their anti-vandalism drive by closing down more illegal refineries, arrest and prosecute oil thieves, illegal bunkering suspects and tankers loading, reloading and transloading crude oil across borders. Reiterating that, safeguarding the nation’s critical infrastructure is a task that must be done as it impacts directly on national prosperity, human capital development and survival of the people.
Therefore, any state commandant that perform below expectation would be removed immediately without delay.
The CG reminded the Corps formations of his vision to rejig, reinvigorate, revitalize, reengineer, refocus and reposition the Corps towards building a strong, virile and proactive organization that is knowledge driven, bearing in mind the need to improve on quality of service, productivity, professionalism and operational efficiency.
That one of the focuses of his administration is training and manpower development, bearing in mind the need to enhance the capacity of personnel to effectively deliver on its mandate and every State Command have been mandated to key into this policy.
He promised to introduce career development progression courses for each category of officers which will be the main determinant for their promotion and progression in service. In his words, the CG said ‘’What this means in essence and as a matter of policy is that you must have passed a prescribed career development course before you can be considered for promotion to the next rank.’’
Dr Audi encouraged the managers of affairs of the Corps to continue to sensitize the public on security consciousness and to seek their cooperation in getting credible information that could help in nipping crime in the bud.
Food for Living: Time As Man’s Most Precious Gift
By Henry Ukazu
Dear Destiny Friends,
Time is one of the most precious gifts available to man. And one’s time unarguably is one’s time. Note that one of the greatest ways to know a man/woman is to study the way they invest their time and what they spend their time on. It’s easy to say you love or care for someone, but the effort or measure you put in will determine how valuable the person is to you. It is also instructive to note that we are not too busy for anyone we care about. You can never be too busy for your family and close friends. In the same way, if you cherish a commodity like gold/diamond you will treat it like a priceless jewel or asset.
Time is largely underrated. Sometimes we think we have all the time in the world, especially when you are young or have no project at hand. If you want to know you have no time, start a project or vision that is bigger than you. Sometimes, we think we can always have a second chance to make a first impression; that may be true but that’s not always the case. The phrase time waits for no man is simply another way of saying that the passing of time is unstoppable, and it will march on regardless of what anyone says or does. So, if you are still thinking of the time you will invest in any project, you will be surprised to know that time will come and go, and the task will remain undone. Moral: Don’t look at the time you will spend if you’re passionate about a worthy cause. You can explore options to know what’s reasonable and attainable.
When you host events or training, people are not merely paying you because they like you, they are paying you for your experience which is your time. The same principle is applicable in any job, employers are always concerned about your experience and what you have done to prove you love the opportunity in addition to being the best for the position.
Attention is the price you pay for value. According to Gary Chapman in his book “The Five Love Language”, the five love languages are words affirmation, gift, services, time and physical touch. Any creative man who knows how to use this five-love language will not have a hard time getting a lady of his choice. Of interest to me is the value of time. This is because when you lose money, you can easily get it back if you play by the right rules, but if you lose your time, you can never get it back.
Time is more precious and valuable than money. When you spend your time on any lady, it has a way of showing your attention and in most cases, that’s what love means to you.
In the journey of life, we will never have the perfect time to do the needful, but we will always have time to do what we want to do. To know how to use your time, the best question to ask yourself is what is the best use of my time right now. If we are honest to ourselves, good things don’t always come easy, if you desire to be a published author, you have to put in the work, if you desire success in your academics, business, relationship/marriage, profession, spirituality, politics etc., you must invest your resources into it, but most especially your time is what will make the ultimate difference.
The question we should be asking ourselves is what is my attitude to time? How do I spend my time? Who do I spend my time with? How intentional are you with your life? And most importantly what legacy will I like to be remembered when I depart this sinful world? As a rational and progressive being, it is always important to examine your life by taking stock and evaluating the progress you have made every day, week, month, year or decade. By doing so, you will come to the sublime realization that we don’t really have time to do the needful. You will also realize that you may have made mistakes by investing your time in projects and endeavors that didn’t yield much fruit. Some of which can be regarded as frivolous.
Whatever is the case, we always have time to reset our lives. According to an African proverb, ‘whenever a man wakes up from sleep, that is when his day begins’. This adage simply means, you are never late when you begin to live your life on purpose. So, it doesn’t matter how old you are, it doesn’t matter how far you may have gone out of your path, it doesn’t matter what your past may have been, you can still hit the reset button if you are intentional about living a life of authenticity. It doesn’t matter if you have been fired from your job, if you are divorced, or whatever your situation might be, if you can look past those challenges and setbacks and ask yourself what lesson did I learn, what is it I should have done better, and how can I move from here. This is a healthy way of living and learning from life.
Trust me, time runs faster than light. If you really want to make an impact with your life, set a timeline for a vision your dream of or have in mind. By the time you set your calendar by drawing the plan on what is needed, you would wish you started early to engage with the right people, association, in addition to doing the needful which entails your own personal effort because before anyone can raise his/her finger to assist you, they will like to see the effort you have invested in yourself.
By the time you are done doing the numbers, you will release that indeed, time waits for no man. It is on such occasions you may begin to have regrets, and once regrets begin to set in, you may begin to lose the inspiration to be fired up. But like I mentioned earlier, you are never too late to live a life of purpose. Whenever you wake up from your slumber, that’s when your day begins. You can move with your determination, and time which is the arsenal you need. If late President Nelson Mandela can spend 27 years in prison and still win an election, that should ring a bell for you. You might say, his case is different, but the point and message I want to emphasize is that he was determined to fight for a cause he believed in and it paid off.
In conclusion, as you move along in life, ask yourself, what is the best use of my time now? It is only by doing so you’ll truly realize how valuable time is.
Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He’s a Human Capacity & mindset coach. He’s also a public speaker. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator. He’s the author of the acclaimed book Design Your Destiny – Actualizing Your Birthright To Success and President of gloemi.com. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
Wonders of Wisdom, Grace and Positivity
By Tolulope A. Adegoke
“As you walk in God’s divine wisdom, you will surely begin to see a greater measure of victory and good success in your life.” – Joseph Prince
As the Scripture says, “wisdom is profitable to direct” (Ecclesiastes 10:10). Just as this is especially apt in activating the hero within. I have to point out that in seeking to activate and maximise the seed of greatness that God has deposited in you, wisdom and the leading of God’s Spirit are vital – so that your efforts will not be in vain.
A revered man of God once told the interesting story of two different individuals who activated the hero within them but got different results. One emerged a hero, while the other remained a zero. Here is what happened. Just at the time that the idea of an external elevator was about to be transmitted to the world, a man got inspiration. It was meant to be his avenue to greatness, but he missed the opportunity.
Here is what happened. There was a specific structure owned by a large company in one of the major cities in the United States of America at the time. The owners of the structure had installed internal elevators but, soon after opening the place, the number of people who used the elevators had exceeded the owners’ projection. It was obvious that disaster was looming and the managers of the building began to frantically think of how to salvage the situation.
Days passed by and the managers hadn’t been able to find a solution. However, one day, as they deliberated, a man who usually served them tea and had heard of the burning issue, surprisingly told them: “There is no big deal about what you have been discussing. The solution is very simple. Go outside the building, break down the entire wall of a section from the top downward, then fix an elevator inside it. You will have enough room for people to queue and then the problem will be solved.”
Just like that, the tea server ignorantly shared the multi-million-dollar idea, which the company implemented; but he didn’t receive much for his idea – just because of the careless way he presented it. He obviously lacked wisdom.
On the other hand, there was a janitor, whose highest qualification was a high school certificate. He worked for a toothpaste company, whose Board of Directors had been looking for a means of increasing the sales of their product for almost a year. One day, the janitor approached the Board of Directors and told them he could guarantee a significant increase in the company’s sales. He added, however, that he would only release the idea on the condition that the company signed an agreement that clearly stipulated that he would be entitled to a certain percentage of the company’s profits on the product and that he must be a member of the Board. After some consideration, the Board agreed to his request.
Now, what powerful idea did the janitor have to share? Well, at that time, the orifices (or mouths) of toothpaste tubes were so tiny, making it difficult for consumers to use large quantities at once. So, the janitor simply told them, “Expand the orifice of the paste tubes and there will be so much wastage by the consumers. This will make them buy more.” The company’s directors were all stunned at this idea and wondered why it hadn’t occurred to them earlier.
As soon as the company implemented the idea, what followed was a massive increase in their sales. The janitor, therefore, was promoted and made a member of the Board of Directors of the company. He also soon became rich as a result of the percentage of profits that he got from the product.
The interesting thing is that he himself had got the idea that changed his and the company’s fortunes by listening to the complaints of the buyers and users of the product who passed through his gate every day. He simply maximised the information that he had and that took him to the top.
This is why you need divine wisdom and guidance to know what to do with your vision and ideas. We often pray to God Almighty to meet our financial needs and turn our lives around for the best, but the truth is that, most times, God does not send money. If He were to send money, what currency would he send? What God gives are ideas that can transform our destinies, if we can apply them with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you all for reading.