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Tom and Jerry and Nigeria

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Tom and Jerry

By Prince Charles Dickson PhD

Tom and Jerry is a series of theatrical animated cartoon films created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, centring on a never-ending rivalry between a cat (Tom) and a mouse (Jerry) whose chases and battles often involved comic violence…

The series features comedic fights between an iconic set of enemies, a house cat and a mouse. The plots of each short usually centre on Tom’s numerous attempts to capture Jerry and the mayhem and destruction that ensues. Tom rarely succeeds in catching Jerry, mainly because of Jerry’s cleverness, cunning abilities, and luck.

A longtime television staple, Tom and Jerry has a worldwide audience that consists of children, teenagers and adults and has also been recognised as one of the most famous and longest-lived rivalries in American cinema. In 2000, TIME named the series one of the greatest television shows of all time.

The cartoons are infamous for some of the most violent cartoon gags ever devised in theatrical animation, such as Jerry slicing Tom in half, shutting his head in a window or a door, Tom using everything from axes, firearms, explosives, traps and poison to try to murder Jerry, Jerry stuffing Tom’s tail in a waffle iron and a mangle, kicking him into a refrigerator, plugging his tail into an electric socket, pounding him with a mace, club or mallet, causing a tree or an electric pole to drive him into the ground, sticking matches into his feet and lighting them, tying him to a firework and setting it off, and so on.

As a matter of me, I look at issues from the larger picture. I do not just dabble into matters, I think, I look beyond sophistry, anchored more on bare-face political partisanship, and ethnicity or group affiliation. I leave room for human frailties, but I think before I write or talk. Again, I am going to rehearse my take on a nation fighting itself in a quest to be a nation.

Let me start in this manner, Atiku and Okowa are largely keeping on the frame with one North, one South, one Christian, and the other Muslim. Peter/Datti, one Igbo, the other ‘trace’ Fulani (don’t ask me to explain) and finally, Tinubu/Shettima both Muslims, one South and Yoruba, the other North and Kanuri, all are situated in dichotomies, APC is a Muslim party, does it make PDP any Christian, how about the Labour Party?

It’s in this light I watched the federal and state governments fight each other like Tom and Jerry over who was responsible for increased poverty or, put succinctly, multidimensional poverty. They basically threw banters at each while citizens suffered and found solace in supporting their own ‘thief’.

Our dichotomy is not a subject within the shores of this nation that one talks about without understanding, it evokes a lot of passion from the heated arguments that it generates, everyone holding dear to their values and idiosyncrasies. A lot has been written, on old perspectives, likewise, new viewpoints.

Our propensity largely has remained to think as easterners, westerners, northerners, and middle belters, all depending on the turns of events.

Every nation has one dichotomy or the other; if it is not the north vs south, it is versus blocs, religion or even ideological dichotomies. There are several reasons why such dichotomies exist. Sometimes it is a function of creation or political correctness like we have in the Nigerian case.

In our sensationalism, we have, in every sense, approached most problems sectionally, thereby creating all kinds of unnecessary petty-culture-ethnic-religious-parapoism and bourgeois mentality in dealing with our national issues.

The dichotomy is one that is used by political apologists as a socio-economic weapon. Apart from the positives, our dichotomy has been used to exploit and bamboozle the masses without major consideration being given to the dynamics of the law of development which in essence deals scientifically with the unity and struggle of opportunities and opposites.

All the Tom and Jerry in our politics can only be solved by a social revolution. In this sense, we need more than a free, fair and credible election; what we need is the progressive element (Sadly, that progressive element today is largely on paper only) to come together as a striking force because they have a revolutionary duty to this nation to help in striking a balance, to disabuse the thought pattern that has been built.

There is an ideology of hatred, one that props up, again and again, Lagos in the West, Anambra in the East, North vs South, Muslims vs Christians. This is a factor that reactionary elements within the system used in battling the progressives. Like the first coup, or the IPOB saga, the problem still persists; our problems borrow a lot from bourgeois theories, which essentially is directed at confusing our intellect, like we try to argue within the parameters of “anti-class theory”, “theory of undevelopement”, “take off theory”, “theory of cooperation”, “theory of external push”, “end of ideology theory”, “convergence theory”, “the theory of the periphery in the periphery”.

Wonderful sociological concepts that do very little to help us shift in the way of progress because only a few theories work for us…”theory of corruption”, “theory of bad governance”, “chop I chop theory”, and “killing for god theory”, “blaba blu, Indonesia statistics theory, and unifier theory”, “bandits theory” and cross carpeting theory, “debate theory” and many more.

The dichotomy is everywhere; sometime last month, I was in Chemnitz, a part of Germany. It helped me appreciate and learn about Karl Marx’ Chemnitz and the dichotomy and differences. But when not managed, it only retards the conscious development of the people, creates inter-ethnic hostilities and allows for continued exploitation from and management of political power.

We end another year, having fought all kinds of Tom and Jerry without recourse to providing an answer to the question, are we a nation? We go into a general election without answering the national question scientifically in relation to the phenomenon of our socio-political, and economical development.

The national question “is a question of solving vital national problems of social development, abolishing national oppression and inequality, eliminating obstacles to the development of peoples, including achievement of factual quality and internationalism in national relations.”

Everything we have done so far brings to question the concepts of “national character”, “national culture”, “national consciousness”, ”national philosophy and psychology” all often used and discussed without carefully and critically understanding their contradicting class nature in antagonistic societies and their relative independence.

Nigeria should be a nation of a lasting historical community of people constituting a form of social development based on the community of economic life in combination with the community of language, territory, culture, consciousness and psychology. But are we?

Are we a nation of various ethnic groups moving towards a greater realization of cultural togetherness, peace and stability for all?

The summary of this admonition is both a warning and a challenge on the basis of what I have outlined; it is only fair and fitting to direct our critical analysis of the Nigerian political climate in the form of a serious warning that all is not well. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to do and say what is right and choose which battles to fight on the premise of parochial locus standi.

We need to come to grips with the realities of the moment, which point to the inevitabilities of the future, because time is running out, we cannot continue our Tom and Jerry stand if we are serious about initiating a hurricane of social revolution. Are we ready—only time will tell.

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2023 Presidency: Using Your Votes to Reconstruct, Reshape Nigeria

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Mike Owhoko May Nigeria Never 9th National Assembly

By Michael Owhoko, PhD

As Nigerians file out to elect a new president on February 25, it is imperative to remind electorates that a country’s future and destiny are shaped by the choice of personality they elect as president. Entrusting a country’s leadership and resources to someone with impaired vision and dubious national disposition will be a tragedy.

In context, the Nigerian President is one of the most powerful in the world, given the scope of responsibilities and powers as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution. With 68 items on the exclusive list and mere 12 items on the concurrent list of the constitution, the destiny and future of Nigerians are in the hands of one man – the president.

Since man is a product of his thought process, the president’s style of administration will be conditioned by his character. This means that the well-being of citizens, prosperity and wheels of development of Nigeria are contingent upon the demeanour and capacity of the president.

A president with integrity and a clear national vision devoid of materialism and ethnic prejudice can change a country, as we saw in Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew. The choice of Nigerian voters should be premised on this standard. Nigeria cannot afford to entrust its leadership and resources to a colourless personality to determine its destiny.

Nigeria requires a president that is capable of steering the country away from tragedy to optimism. Prosperous nations are not configured from heaven. They are products of the selflessness and commitment of those in leadership. Electing a person without vision, capacity, integrity and empathy as president will amount to sacrificing the collective well-being of the people on the altar of incompetence.

Therefore, as you vote for the president of your choice, let Nigeria’s overall national interest guide your decision. Your personal survival depends on it. Do not allow ethnicity, religion, emotions and primordial sentiments to influence your choice. A wrong choice at this critical period of Nigeria’s democratic journey will mean further erosion of citizens’ dignity, both at home and abroad.

Incompetence, ethnic nationalism, nepotism and greed, as evident in poor management of the economy, insecurity and corruption, are factors that have kept the country prostrate. These elements are responsible for leadership failure, stunted growth, and poverty in the country. It is, therefore, critical to vote for a candidate with the requisite capacity to deliver on the aspirations of Nigerians. Failure to do this will mean no lessons have been learned from the current widespread hardship.

As a voter, ask yourself this honest question. Has your living condition in the last eight years improved or dipped? Without subterfuge, Nigeria has been on a downward swing in all critical facets of socioeconomic space. This is evident in the increasing number of those falling into the poverty bracket, as reflected in the growing penury rate in Nigeria.

The 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index survey carried out by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), together with its partners, captured this vividly.

According to the survey, 63% of persons living within Nigeria (133 million people) are multidimensionally poor, out of which 65% of the poor (86 million people) live in the North, while 35% (nearly 47 million) live in the South.

The poor Nigerians under reference here are not politicians but a majority of the voting public. Unfortunately, the hope that Nigeria will get out of this mess soon was dashed by President Muhammadu Buhari when he asserted that he had done his best for the country, even in the face of a growing debt profile, inflation, unemployment, corruption, insecurity and capital flight. This is the mirror image of the country’s leadership capacity.

When this is juxtaposed with the recent report by the Debt Management Office (DMO) on the nation’s debt, then Nigeria is in big trouble. The DMO stated in December 2022, the country’s public debt had reached N44.6 trillion. When viewed against the backdrop of Nigeria’s revenue-to-debt service ratio, which The Economist Intelligence Unit described as the worst in the world, it means that Nigeria is in crisis. With a high debt-service ratio and dwindling revenue, the provision of infrastructure is relegated, compounding the woes of Nigerians.

Voters should, therefore, not repeat the mistake of the past. Those who voted in previous elections based on ethnic and religious lines had no inkling that their fortunes would plummet. Today, many of those voters have been humbled by the poor performance of the economy as depicted by the misery index, particularly inflation which has eaten deep into their pockets. They have become victims of their own decision.

Obviously, the wrong choice of candidates has been unhelpful to the future of this country. Check your conscience and reflect on the number of Nigerians that have lost their lives in the last eight years, either through insecurity or poor management of the economy or suicide.

Also, think about the number of businesses that have closed shop or the growing band of single parenthood resulting from broken marriages. All these have their roots in the poor handling of the nation’s economy.

As part of the consequence, there has been a mass exodus from Nigeria. Voters must note that to “japa” or flee abroad is no solution. Of all those leaving or escaping from the country to seek greener pastures overseas, only less than five per cent achieve their aspirations. Over 90 per cent of these Nigerians struggle to make ends meet, regretting the decision to relocate.

On one of my trips to London a few years back, I went to Kaycee’s Bar, a popular Nigerian joint in Holloway, where Nigerians hang out and where sometimes, Nigeria’s independence celebrations were held. While there, I met two Nigerians at the underground disco section. They begged for money, saying they were trapped and would like to return to Nigeria. I was touched and parted with a few pounds as support. This is just one of the tales and ugly experiences of Nigerians abroad.

Ironically, while the majority of Nigerians are reeling from the excruciating effect of poverty, the president, governors and other elected officials are swimming in affluence with high-quality life made possible by manipulative access to the public treasury, despite managing the economy aground. Politics in Nigeria is the surest way to break out of poverty.

Voters should know that the president and governors do not spend their salaries while in office. Their bills are borne by the government, including feeding at the government’s expense. Even members of their extended families are relocated to the Villa or government house to enjoy these privileges. This cannot happen in advanced democracies. Yet, in midst of this, the average Nigerian toil day and night to stay afloat.

At the last World Cup in Qatar, the President of Liberia, George Weah, watched his son, Timothy, play for the United States of America. It is most unlikely a Nigerian President will allow his son to play football games for fear of injuries. He would rather make his son a billionaire through the award of indirect contracts or presidential favours.

The underpinning motive of politicians is not to serve but to acquire the power to accumulate wealth. Without empathy, they multiply poverty through fiscal indiscipline and extravagance while fraudulently feeding fat on the nation’s resources. This is why voters must liberate themselves from this hopeless life of poverty and frustration caused by leadership greed and bankruptcy.

With 48 million youths out of a total of 93.5 million eligible voters, coupled with the poor, credible leaders can be elected, but politicians exploit their vulnerability, using ethnicity, religion and handouts as inducements to manipulate them. Voters should be reminded that these office seekers would move on to oil their profligate lifestyles, leaving the electorate to suffer the consequences of their choice.

Nigeria has the resources to pull the country out of poverty, but leaders are indifferent. As long as they can access good healthcare and send their children abroad for quality education, they care less about the masses who are left to contend with low-quality education, poor healthcare system, erratic electricity and bad road network.

If the resources of the country are effectively harnessed and deployed, particularly in a restructured political system which is best suitable for a plural society like Nigeria, the country will quickly recover from current economic woes. But leaders with entrenched interests are opposed to this arrangement, preferring the status quo for selfish reasons.

Voters must therefore rise in unison and vote out ethnic bigots and visionless persons without integrity and capacity as president, failing which, they have no other persons to blame but themselves. February 25, 2023, has provided another opportunity, so be resolute and courageous. Vote conscientiously to reconstruct and reshape Nigeria in order to restore its corroded dignity.

Dr Mike Owhoko is a Lagos-based journalist and author. He can be reached at www.mikeowhoko.com

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The Remittances Route Driving Sub-Saharan Africa’s Financial Inclusion

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Remittances Shahebaz Khan

By Shahebaz Khan

Remittances from overseas workers are a vital source of funds for many families around the world and are an area of payments where, for all parties involved, time is of the essence and every single cent matters.

Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) make up the bulk of receivers of these inflows, representing $605 billion of the total $773 billion of incoming remittances in 2021, according to the World Bank. Thirty LMICs received more than 10% of the GDP in remittances, with eight receiving over a quarter of GDP through these inflows.

However, a lack of access to traditional banking facilities means that cross-border payments can be slow, risky, and expensive.

World Bank data from the second quarter of this year shows that, on average, a $200 remittance costs the sender 6.01%. Cash-funded remittances, traditionally the most expensive means of sending money, are 6.52%, while digital remittances are 4.8%. Meanwhile, when consumers have access to sufficient information, the figure drops to just 3.35%.

The past six years have seen substantial progress in the transition from cash- to digitally initiated and digital end-to-end remittances. In the second quarter of 2016, 93% of remittances worldwide were cash-initiated – six years on; the figure had dropped to 66%, with digital end-to-end and digitally initiated transactions at 13% and 21%, respectively.

By launching two innovative products that make cross-border person-to-person (P2P) payment transactions significantly faster and cheaper, Visa has also introduced sub-Saharan African consumers to a global financial network of billions of users. In the region, Nigeria received the largest sum of remittances, at $19.2 billion, followed by Ghana ($4.5 billion) and Kenya ($3.7 billion) in 2021.

In Kenya, in a first-of-its-kind market solution in Sub-Saharan Africa, Visa has partnered with ABSA Bank Kenya to launch a domestic and cross-border remittance service via the Visa Global network that will allow seamless money transfers and payments to any of the two billion-plus Visa cardholders in over 100 Fast Funds-enabled markets, in near real-time with the complete security and reliability associated with Visa cards.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, meanwhile, it is estimated that in 2021, Congolese citizens received remittances valued at more than $1.33 billion – in an economy where only an estimated 26% of the population is part of the formal financial system.

Since opening an office in Kinshasa earlier this year, Visa has partnered with a range of stakeholders, including the central bank, financial institutions, fintechs, merchants, and mobile operators, to develop the country’s digital payments ecosystem and drive financial inclusion.

With around 650 million mobile phone users, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to some of the fastest-growing economies across the globe and is a leader in the adoption of mobile digital payments, according to the World Bank and African Development Bank. Africans are making frequent transnational payments related to trade, education, and healthcare, among other things, and this service is giving them a powerful, efficient new option for transacting across borders.

Globally, according to the World Bank, remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries are expected to increase by 4.2 per cent this year (2022) to reach $630 billion. In an increasingly digital and connected world, consumer demand for fast and convenient access to funds is driving opportunities for cross-border person-to-person remittances.

By building digitally-enabled infrastructure, driving digital enablement, and fostering an open, interoperable, and secure ecosystem, the rewards of remittance innovation on individuals, communities, and businesses can be realized – driving economic growth for everyone, everywhere.

Through our global platform, Visa Direct, we are helping facilitate this growth, powering a global and open money movement ecosystem and aiding financial inclusion.

These innovative new products in Africa are great examples of how Visa is seizing this opportunity by rethinking the traditional way we receive funds, transitioning from ‘pull’ – using a card almost exclusively to withdraw funds – to a ‘push’ model where cardholders can receive payments, as well as make them.

With these products, Visa is not just making the remittance process more efficient but is introducing millions of people to connected, global platforms and accelerating financial and digital inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa and around the world.

Shahebaz Khan is the Senior Vice-President and Head of New Payment Flows for CEMEA

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Wike and his Imminent Endorsement of Tinubu: Cain, Where is Your Brother?

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Nyesom Wike

By Okoro Chikaodiri Frank

As Governor Wike, the de facto leader of the G5, has reportedly decided to endorse the candidacy of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), one cannot help but evoke the emotions captured in Genesis 4: 9 when God asked Cain, where is your brother?

This emotion and question are understandable, considering the political and fraternal brotherhood between the South-South and South-East and between the Ikwerre in Rivers State and their Igbos from the South-East in particular. A brotherhood that Nyesom Wike benefitted from in his two successful bids for Rivers governorship.

It is paradoxical that Wike, who is still licking the wounds inflicted on him by Aminu Tambuwal’s choice of being his brother’s keeper against a one-sided friendship of convenience with him, will now turn back to betray Obi, whom he himself described as ‘my brother’ when Obi visited him in Rumuepirikom on September 30, 2022.  One would think he learnt a thing or two from the May 29, 2022, incident, but alas, he is still indulged in the opium of political rabble-rousing and comedy shows.

What could have made Wike go back to eat his vomit, you may wonder? Simple, hate and avarice. Wike is consumed by his thinly-veiled hatred for an Igbo man and/or his success. The Oyigbo massacre, the Ikokwu saga, his opposition to the zoning of the PDP ticket to the South-East and other clandestine anti-Igbo actions and inactions all betray his emotion and motive towards the Igbos.

Any right-thinking Igboman in Rivers State is not ignorant of the aforementioned actions, and I am sure he has been patiently waiting for the opportunity to tell him that we are aware of his antics.

It is an open secret that Wike has turned himself into the biggest landlord in Port-Harcourt all within the past eight years of his governorship. He might have been dreaming of becoming the “Jagaban of Rivers State” just like his newly found political mentor, Tinubu, who, through whatever means, has allegedly turned Lagos state into his personal estate and is now believed to be going for the jugulars of the economy of our country Nigeria. This quest for ‘jagabanism’ is why he is seeking a tenure extension through his accountant and boy, Simfubara, whom he believes will be pliant enough for him to continue and achieve his aim, God forbid. Rivers people, through the support of their Igbos residents in Rivers, must refuse and resist this agenda.

Wike has done his worst; what next for the Igbo man resident in Rivers State? There must be a concerted effort to marshal out plans to remind and sensitize Rivers people, indigene and non-indigene, that Rivers’ political future is NOT and is bigger than Wike’s political future. As Patrick Obahiagbon will say, “it is visible to the blind and audible to the deaf” Rivers people will support and vote en masse for Peter Obi and Labour Party in the presidential election because Obi is by far the best candidate in the race and the candidate that represents fairness and justice without minding Wike and his egoistic endorsement.

Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, the Professionals for Igbo-Excellence that I lead and other Pan Igbo groups must wake up to the task and pay Wike back in his coin by making sure that his stooge is stopped by all means necessary.

We must get ready to defeat his campaign of calumny, which he will deploy against Obi through different means and make Rivers people understand that the N20,000 he pays them monthly is their rightful entitlement and a peanut compared to the billions being allegedly squandered for his failed and failing political venture. On February 25, Rivers people will go ahead and vote for Peter Obi of the Labour Party and “Nothing will happen”.

On March 16, during the gubernatorial election, we will ‘obey’ Wike’s voice and vote for APC candidate, Pastor Tonye Cole, who, in sincerity, is a better candidate by all standards. (Emphasis will be thrown on why we need to vote for Tonye Cole in part 2 of this series.)

God told Cain in Genesis 4:12, “You shall be a wanderer and fugitive on earth”, for daring to go against the wishes of his people, against the principle of fairness and equity, which he deceitfully claimed to be fighting for and for going against Obi’s candidacy which obviously has divine backing, it is now clear that come May 29, 2023, Wike will become a political fugitive in Rivers state and Nigeria and as Cain exclaimed; “my punishment is worse than death”, that will be the political death of Wike and his selfish calculations. He will be looking for visitors in his Rumuepirikom mansion if he isn’t cooling down in the EFCC facility.

By Okoro Chikaodiri Frank, President of Professionals for Igbo-Excellence

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