MICAH STEPHEN: Africa And The Globe. Part One

It is time to be bothered about fatherland. We might have coiled into a cave of denial just to escape from the corrosive effect of our malady: from the distasteful effect of colonialism on our psyche, the near impossibility of Africa to transform from a plundered, pillaged and thieved hemisphere, into a genuine modern state. Let us go the full cycle to acceptance, we are in a limbo. What she has as reality is a beehive of political bedlam, inter-tribal hubbubs caused by the forceful union of diverse empires into nation states. Unity achieved by the cudgel of force. But of more importance is the fate of this continent, in the hands of her former masters and their cohorts. We are being globalized, changed and short changed. They are the first world, we are the third world.

It must be noted that the largest chunk of the Third World is powerless and backward and will continue to be powerless and backward because it lacks the production of organic and indigenous knowledge to power its political, economic and technological development. Yet, the very notion of a huge chunk of Africa and some parts of Asia and Latin America as the Third World is steeped in remarkable ironies. Before it became a veritable and enduring marker of backwardness and underdevelopment, the radical and progressive leaders of these countries such as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Surkarno of India, proposed the term at the Bandung conference as a way of distinguishing countries within their spheres of authority – countries which pursued a middle road policy of mixed economy as against capitalist and socialist countries which belong to the first and second worlds respectively.

Yet after the collapse of the Second World and actually existing socialist countries, one would have thought the term “Third World” would itself disappear, but it has clung to these countries like an ugly limpet. Tataalo Alamu has opined that the fact is that if knowledge is power, the production of knowledge is the production of power. Those societies that cannot produce organic and authentic knowledge will only produce powerlessness and utter poverty. This is because poverty of knowledge cannot lead to knowledge of poverty.

This poverty of knowledge is at the roots of Nigeria’s and Africa’s abysmal poverty and its continuous production of powerlessness in all its dimensions and ramifications despite outlandish oil riches. So the question is why has Africa been unable to produce her own knowledge? An endless list of corruption, nepotism, tribalism and at the apex of this pyramid is globalization.

There is a general agreement that the history of mankind (as of the world) is a history of one world order or the other. As Popoola puts it, “man’s existence has been one continuous struggle for the maintenance of an existing world order or the search to create a new world order”. To begin with, even though, globalisation as Ohiorhenuan, Mowlana, and Oyejide, Grieco and Holmes respectively opined, is a positive or powerful force for the improved material well-being of humankind, that would aid developing countries to “create better economic environments”, to “leapfrog” into the information age; improve their access to technology; speed development and enhance global harmony”, its effects on the political, economic, social and cultural nerves of the weaker member states cannot be ignored without severe consequences. In other words, the seeming near-consensus on the agenda of globalisation, notwithstanding the unrelenting encouragement of its “uneven thesis” does not give room for comfort, as it is exorbitantly costly to the developing nations. This is particularly so. in that globalisation affects developmental thinking and actions of the developing polities; relegates ethical equity and social concerns behind market consideration and reduces the autonomy of the independence states. According to Ohiorhenuan , it challenges the mediative role of the state vis-à-vis external pressures. It threatens the discretion of the state everywhere. Not only this, globalisation encourages “decreasing National control and increasing control over the (Internal) economy (of the state) by outside players. In fact, the gospel of globalisation through its economic liberalism “has been elevated to the position of absolute truth, a sort of pensee unique (or single theory) against which there is no credible alternative”. Indeed, globalisation is an awesome and terrifying phenomenon for African countries.

Concretely put, the planetary phenomenon of globalisation is nothing but a new order of marginalisation of the African continent. Its universalization of communication, mass production, market exchanges and redistribution, rather than engendering new ideas and developmental orientation in Africa, subverts its autonomy and powers of self-determination. It is rather by design than by accident that poverty has become a major institution in Africa despite this continent’s stupendous resources. Indeed, the developing countries/world burden of external debt has reached two trillion dollars (World Bank, 1994). In the process, it has enlivened the venomous potency of mass poverty and, its accompanying multidimensional depravity of the citizenry of all the requisite essence of meaningful living. It has disintegrated or disarticulated the industrial sector of most, if not all polities in Africa. This has been particularly evident in the areas of cost of production which has become uncomfortably high in most of the developing countries (e.g. Nigeria); also in the lack of government’s incentives to encourage local production; subversion of local products through high importation, currency devaluation; and depletion of foreign reserves. This clearly raises the problems of marginalization which is in reality, the dynamics of under development – the development of under development by the agents of development, Akindele, Gidado and Olaopo have submitted.

Nation-states in Africa today, rarely define the rules and regulations of their economy, production, credits and exchanges of goods and services due to the rampaging menace of globalisation. They are hardly now capable of volitionally managing their political, economic and socio-cultural development. S.T. Akindele, Ph.D; T.O. Gidado, M.Sc; and O.R. Olaopo; Department of Political Science, Obafemi Awolowo University in their article; “Globalisation, Its Implications and Consequences for Africa” explain that” globalisation has imposed heavy constraints on the internal management dynamics of most if not all the polities in Africa (e.g., Nigeria) where the government now finds it difficult in most cases to meet the genuine demands of the governed on many issues of national urgency (e.g., the June 1st, 2000, 50% hike in the prices of petroleum and related products and its attendant crippling national strike by the Nigerian workers). The reality in Nigeria today, as it is for most African nations, is that globalisation has made it immensely difficult for governments to provide social insurance – one of their central functions and one that has helped many developed nations to maintain social cohesion and domestic political support”. Trends like this have been largely dictated by the asymmetry of powers that accompany globalisation (i.e., inequality in the status of the members of the “villagized world” and, their inability to resist imposed policy options). In fact, this asymmetry which is undergirded by a system of production where capital rules has been clearly amplified by Madunagu (1999) when he claimed that ; “the result of globalisation in Africa, is basically a competition between the palatial centres (Developed World) and the slums (Africa) of the village where a preponderant majority of the people daily sink deeper into poverty and misery.”

The transition of the world from a bipolar to a unipolar world particularly in the last decade or two of the 20th century, in reinforcing the dominance of the US in world affairs, means the dominance of liberal philosophy regarding the political or economic or even legal affairs of man- a necessary offshoot of the present globalization process. Consequently, development today seems to be the adoption of liberal processes (democracy, human rights and liberal (market) economics) especially with the “demise” of communist world led by Russia and the gradual assimilation of China in the field of liberal economics. This imperialistic cultural dimension of globalisation, particularly in the area of “internet connectivity” which has often been used as a bait for luring Africa and other developing polities into the villagized world, has recently been put into perspective; thus the world is gradually moving in a unidirectional manner and, the tendency towards uniformity has never been so appealing as it is now. Consequently, there is a serious concern that nations like Nigeria whose contributions to the internet pool are high may lose their identity. A sort of cultural imperialism which will seek to enslave the African mind, leaving in its wake a cultureless or culturally-disoriented people may become a permanent feature of Africa and her people.

Two issues, consequently, stand out for clarification here. The one as to the type of development necessary for the people of the developing economies (including Nigeria) and the other as to whether globalization impacts positively on these peoples so as to attain that type of development. This analysis is necessary if we are to have a better picture of how we should build our state.

First and foremost, globalization is understood in economic and financial terms, where it seeks to broaden and deepen linkages of national economies into a worldwide market for goods, services and particularly capital. With the revolution in telecommunications and information technologies, dramatic increases in trade linkages, cross border capital flows as well as changes in form, structure and location of production have been witnessed. Benedict Kanyip in the book, “Consumer protection in Nigeria: Law, Theory and Policy” explains that these national linkages have however brought two additional impacts. The first is that because of developments in media technology and communication, globalization brings with it a growing tendency towards the universal homogenization of ideas, cultures, values and even lifestyles. He explained further that the second is a corollary of the first, which is, given the homogenization of ideas and indeed the dominance of western liberalism as exemplified by the United States, it is now fashionable to the economic growth and development with liberal democracy and its attending imperatives such as human rights. Although good governance is stressed, the impression given is that a necessary fall-out of liberal economics which emphasises such imperatives as privatization, deregulation and commercialization of developing economies is indispensable if they are to come out of their relative underdevelopment. This is in addition to other imperatives like right-sizing and retooling the civil service, upgrading the standard of personnel management, decentralizing and rationalizing government structures etc

………to be continued

UDOFIA JOSEPH: Chop my money

DISCLAIMER: ANY RESEMBLANCE TO ANYONE DEAD, NEAR-DEAD OR UNDEAD IS AN ABOLUTE MYSTERY
“Chop my money, chop my money. Chop my money, cos I don’t care”
(P Square’s song plays in the background at the Villa, as Daskuki strolls in)

Oga Egbele: Colonel. How far naa. Chop knuckle. Please have a seat
(Egbele pauses the song and takes a sip of his Jack Daniels. Do you mind some)
Daskuki: Don’t worry Oga. I came to discuss business
Oga Egbele: Ok. Go on.
Daskuki: We have exhausted the little you gave us. We need to bless more people
Oga Egbele: The only money available now is the Arms money.
Daskuki: Oga let us use it like that. My men can manage the one we have on ground. Just speak Iwe Alla. We need enough money. You know AFeeCee is gaining grounds
Oga Egbele: No problem. It is sorted.

As Daskuki strolls out, Egbele returns to his song. “I don’t care, don’t care don’t care”

LATER AT NIGHT….
Oga Egbele: Madam Iwe Alla. How are you doing. Hope you still keep contacts with your IMF friends. We’d need them in the future
Madam Iwe Alla: (Iweala speaks big grammar): Trust me.  I am doing just what you have me do.
Oga Egbele: How about what we discussed – Dasuki’s money.
Madam Iwe Alla: I’d forward it to your office so u append your signature in the morning.
Oga Egbele: Welcome my dear. That is why I love you. If only Mama Peace can speak good English like you.
Madam Iwe Alla: (Stifling a smile). Mr President. It is a good thing. At least, she can connect with the grassroots.  One more thing, Lamide is giving me issues at the Central Bank. You need to do something about him.
Oga Egbele: Trust me. I have started looking for a replacement. We’d see in the morning, good night
Madam Iwe Alla: Good night

MEANWHILE, AT BAFANAWA’S RESIDENCE, SOMEWHERE IN ABUJA
(Pastors speaking in tongues. Deliverance session going on in the Parlour. Incantations are heard in another room)
Daskuki strolls in

Daskuki: As salaam wa alaikum
Bafanawa: wa alaikum salaam. Please have a seat. To what do I owe this pavour?
Daskuki: I see you are a very spiritual man
Bafanawa: Yes o. You know politics demand us to be closer to God. You can see all these religious leaders are seriously praying.
Daskuki: So what is God saying about the elections
Bafanawa: (Consults with the spiritual people) They’ve been fasting for a while. The latest revelation are that Buhari will win. We need to act fast.
Daskuki. Name the price
Bafanawa: We need to appease the Christian God, Muslim God and the God of our forefathers. For the Christian God, we’d do that in collaboration with Pastor Ayor. I think his God will be content with Gold chains. For the Muslim God, we’d send the Senior Imam some Tasbih and some slim ladies. For the God of our forefathers, they quite demand a lot. Let me get the list
(Bafanawa leaves to consult with the Spiritual head)
Bafanawa: Here it is. We need two coconut-white fowls with pepper-red combs, Two he-goats with ponmo brown skin, Cotton-wool white attire to be worn by seven 40-year old virgins, some palm wine. Everything should amount to N100m
Daskuki:  I’d send you the money tomorrow

DASKUKI RETURNS TO MEET OGA EGBELE THE FOLLOWING DAY
(A call comes in while in the waiting room)

Bafanawa: Thank you very much Oga. I have gotten the money
“I don get alert, na GodWin”, a line from Korede Bello’s Godwin,  is heard playing in the background
Daskuki:  Don’t thank me. It is our national cake. Just get the job done
Bafanawa: Yes Oga. Nagode

(OGA EGBELE’S SECRETARY USHERS DASKUKI INTO THE THE PRESIDENT’S OFFICE)

Daskuki: The last stop are the Party Chieftains. If we get them on our side, we’d crush AFeeCee.
Oga Egbele:  That’s a great suggestion.
Daskuki: Any suggestions. The AFeeCee is strong in the S/West.
Oga Egbele: Try Pa Ifalaye. He knows a lot about the Presidential Race. And lest I forget, arrange a dinner few days to the election. I need to appreciate everyone that is contributing to my re-election.
Daskuki: Yoo waa….

(DASKUKI STEPS OUT TO CALL PA IFALAYE)
Daskuki: Pa Ifalaye. How are you doing?
Pa Ifalaye: Colonel. I am doing great. To what do I owe this call?
Daskuki: I have a small parcel coming your way. We need your support against AFeeCee
Pa Ifalaye: Hehehe. I understand. You know the rules, rub my back, I rub your back
Daskuki: Correeect! 100 units is coming your way in a moment
Pa Ifalaye: Fee Dee Fee
Daskuki:  Power to the people

Minutes later, a black SUV arrives Pa Falaye’s office
A young man is ushered into Pa Ifalaye’s office:

Man: Good day Sir, We have the parcel

Pa Ifalaye: Thank you. My regards to your Boss.
(Man exists the office)

(He inspects the Ghana-Must-Go bag and begins to ruminate)
Ahh. I can’t tell them they sent 100 million. Ki ni ma s’ofun awon omo yii. These Yoruba people are smart. Errm.
Yes. I will stage a kidnap. I can say I bailed myself with N95m. I’d just give the kidnappers 10m to keep quiet and keep 85m. Hehehhehehehehhehehe

FEW DAYS TO THE ELECTION
Presidential Banquet. Iwe Alla strolls in on hot spaghetti with gele to match. Ladoje is adorned on faded Ankara. As Oga Egbele walks in on his Texan cap, the DJ plays “Stand up for the champion”
Daskuki: Oga Egbele. Truly you are a champion. Congratulations in advance
Oga Egbele: Thanks a lot. Hope you covered your tracks, else America will know

All present exchange pleasantries and dance into the middle of the night

DELE OMOARUKHE: WEEK 22 PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR V SUNDERLAND
(KICK OFF: SATURDAY 1.45PM, WHITE HART LANE, NORTH LONDON)

In this early morning cracker, two increasingly impressive sides go head-to-head in what is sure to be a thrilling game. An intriguing subplot is the return of in-form Sunderland forward and ex- Tottenham legend,Jermaine Defoe.

It is rare to see an ex-player receive a welcome with such fondness, at his old stomping ground. Such is Defoe’s legendary status that he is accorded so much respect. He is doing so well at Sunderland, reminding us how special a talent he has been over the years. His hat-trick against Swansea served as a timely reminder. His form would be the key to keeping a resurgent Sunderland outfit from the drop.

Their opponents however would be no easy a stroll (no match in this division is!) and despite their painful loss to Leicester, I expect this enterprising Spurs side to recover from their midweek setback and come away with a home win. Thus, it would be a challenge against this plucky Sunderland outfit, especially if “super Jermaine” has anything to say about it.

BOURNEMOUTH V NORWICH
(KICK OFF: SATURDAY 4.00PM, VITALITY STADIUM BOURNEMOUTH)

In a game between two sides who suffered painful defeats, i expect a tight game that will be rather difficult to call; these teams are versed in each other’s respective strengths and tactical setups from their games in the championship and their game earlier in the season.

I feel Bournemouth, despite being undone by an impressive west ham team led by the Genius and artistry of Dimitri payet, they lack the defensive spine to cope in this punishing league, and will struggle to retain their top flight status.

In Norwich however they still look a more balanced outfit and they seem to have been schooled on the importance of beating the teams around them battling relegation, yes they lost to stoke, but losing a talismanic figure like captain Gary O’Neil made getting a result difficult ask against an impressive stoke side. In this game, i expect both teams to huff and puff but more importantly i also expected a hardworking draw to be played

CHELSEA V EVERTON
(KICK OFF: SATURDAY 4.00PM, STAMFORD BRIDGE, WEST LONDON)

Last season, this was a title-defining encounter for the blues of Chelsea and their win set a marker for their subsequent 2015 EPL Title win. In contrast to last season, the extent of Chelsea’s decline is mirrored in that this game is only important in bridging the gap between themselves and the top 10.

I always felt this Chelsea side lacked balance from the beginning of the season and this fixture earlier in the season highlighted my fears greatly. Guus Hiddink has done an excellent job in steadying a once-sinking ship and restoring confidence and a feel good factor in the team, but this evident lack of balance looks like undoing their good work and i would advise him to make some good signings to take care of this.
He should cater to the lack of defensive spine due to the waning competence of Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry largely due to their age and also tell firebrand front man and star striker Diego costa to pick up good positions to score and not pick up fights. If this inconsistent Chelsea side are to make a push up the table. They might find the going tough against their opponents.
Everton typified by their goal keeper Tim Howard, were impressive against a good City side and they rubbished my opinion of them lacking defensive solidity, but they can be irritatingly inconsistent but so are this Chelsea team presently, so I expect no more than a draw but I expect goals

MANCHESTER CITY V CRYSTAL PALACE
(KICK OFF: SATURDAY 4.00PM, ETIHAD STADIUM MANCHESTER)

Sincerely, in this unpredictable season of ups and downs, it’s strange that this mighty inconsistent City side are still on with a genuine chance of winning the league title.

I claimed in my earlier match pack, that they were playing at second gear and this was laid bare against Everton and with misfiring star striker Sergio Aguero suffering mini slump, it does not bid well for a successful title challenge.

However,  a dint of luck has helped them keep in touch with other title contenders and this might just aid them in winning the title but only if their players play to their obviously high potential.

I feel the perfect opportunity presents itself against a recently inconsistent Palace side, which were looking increasingly impressive until recently where it looks like the wheels have fallen off in their previously impressive ride, and against a City side looking to recover lost ground; I see nothing apart from a home win.

NEWCASTLE V WESTHAM
(KICK OFF:SATURDAY 4.00PM, SPORTS DIRECT ARENA, TYNESIDE NEWCASTLE)

I was mightily surprised and embarrassed by my predictions and analysis of some games in mid-week, no less the Newcastle’s game.

This Newcastle side showed they definitely didn’t lack a spark and they played impressive stuff to  match the passion. Led by a great talent in Georgino “Gini”  Wijnaldum and armed with the signings of Henri Saivet and Jonjo Shelvey, they have the talent to stay up and if they produce more performances similar to that of Tuesday I won’t be surprised if they stay up.

However, they will find it a challenge to handle this impressive West ham outfit led by the awesome Dimitri Payet, my personal candidate for the signing of the season in Europe, and at 10.7 million pounds,he looks a bargain.
He is an awesome technician in every sense of the word, people are raving about Mesut ozil but i rank this awesome Frenchman alongside him – that’s how highly i rate him.

Undoubtedly, he deserves a better club and I will be surprised if he doesn’t move to the bigger sides. I also expect him to be an active influence in a good win to keep up their excellent away form.

SOUTHAMPTON V WEST BROM
(KICK OFF:SATURDAY 4.00PM, ST MARY’S STADIUM SOUTHAMPTON)

I was personally pleased seeing Southampton winning in midweek. Despite their struggles, Ronald Koeman remains an awesome manager and it never helps when you see your top players being troubled and unsettled by transfer rumours. Such is a manager’s hatred for the transfer window; just ask their opponents facing uncertainty with star forward Saido Berahino.

West brom surprised me with their resistance against Chelsea, but i seem to forget that they are coached by the symbol of “football resistance” in Tony Pulis, and due to his expertise I expect this Westbrom team to comfortably stay up but in this game, I expect the Saints to maintain momentum with a good home win.

ASTON VILLA   V LEICESTER CITY
(KICK OFF: SATURDAY 6.30PM, VILLA PARK, BIRMINGHAM)

It is a common phrase that sometimes “you make your luck” and it was the case in midweek for a struggling Villa side.

You will struggle to believe that this Villa side were on the brink of relegation in their game in midweek, they were organised, put a good Palace side under pressure and sealed a deserved win in the luckiest ways possible.

It is too premature to speak about a mini-revival but you feel this January transfer window is their last ticket to survival. In this topsy- turvy league, the signings of a good quality goal scorer (what they would get in a Jermain Defoe), and good wingers could bridge a great gap.

They should look no further than their opponents, to get the much needed inspiration.

Little over a year ago, Leicester was bottom of the league without a prayer, but a year after they are toe-to-toe with top sides atop the league. They are showing Champion’s form at the minute. They are known to be entertaining but they are learning to play and win ugly as seen in midweek. Arsene Wenger sees them as contenders and i also see them as such and I also see them having more than enough for this Villa side but i expect a tight game

LIVERPOOL V MANCHESTER UNITED
(KICK OFF: SUNDAY, 3.05PM, ANFIELD STADIUM, LIVERPOOL MERSEYSIDE)

In the latest instalment of this rivalry between eternal enemies, expect passion, fireworks and drama all in stock, no thanks to Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp.

This Liverpool side are buying into his high energy version of attacking football as evidenced in their pulsating game in midweek and a possible contender for game of the season so far. Klopp is instilling a never say die mentality into this team and getting the best of seemingly average talents, my belief in Klopp being a success on Merseyside is unwavering and Liverpool would be the better for his appointment.

I feel they can hurt this United side. I was surprised to see United play good attacking football, but they also showed their balance in defending goals and leads, typical Jekyll and Hyde stuff, but i expect a more controlled approach in this game of high stakes. I will be cautious and go for a safe draw but it will not be due to a lack of passion and excitement.

STOKE CITY V ARSENAL
(KICK OFF: SUNDAY, 5.30PM, BRITTANIA STADIUM, STOKE ON TRENT)

“Welcome to hell”, would be an appropriate slogan for this tea time slugfest.
This has been the scene of scorn and embarrassment for Arsenal fans and their faithful football fans. Despite the fact that Stoke have changed their philosophy in recent seasons this does not discount how dangerous an opposition they can be and how impressive their season has been, and with Arsenal you never know what you get from them on match day.

All eyes are on Mohammed El neny but I only see a capable performer if given time and perfect conditions to be a perfect addition in the short and long term. In this battle I expect Arsenal to end their woeful run of form on this ground but only just! I expect a close Arsenal win in this one.

SWANSEA V WATFORD
(KICK OFF: MONDAY, 8.45PM, LIBERTY STADIUM)

In their game against Sunderland, I found it a disappointing watch with the manner in which Swansea faltered on the night.

They are more talented than what they are giving at the minute and I feel the signing of a quality centre forward will spur them to maintain their top-flight status.

Against Southampton, an impressive Watford were unexpectedly limp and Coach Quique Sanchez Flores called it their worst game of the season. He demanded a reaction and I expect him to get one on Monday.

I still believe this Swansea side will produce a performance to aid their quest of remaining a top-flight club, come the end of the season, i expect points to be shared in this game.

DELE OMOARUKHE: Premier League Wednesday Preview.

CHELSEA V WEST BROMWICH ALBION (KICK OFF: 20.45, STAMFORD BRIDGE, WEST LONDON)

The feel-good factor is back and results are steadily improving- The players are responding to Guus Hiddink’s methods to positive consequences.

It is fascinating that a Chelsea team that were struggling to pick up results have suddenly developed a winning mentality, a lesson to all coaches that no matter how good you are, you must have good people management skills to get the best from a team.

This Chelsea team has been totally transformed in recent weeks, with players playing with broad smiles across their faces and performance levels seemingly raised. However, much should not be read into this mini-revival as one poor result could burst their bubble.

I don’t expect the wheels of this growing  Chelsea machine to fall off against an inconsistent West Brom team, who have not set the world alight this term, no thanks to the uncertainty surrounding the future of star forward Saido Berahino. As a punter, I will look no further than a comfortable Chelsea win
CHARMANT’S PREDICTION: CHELSEA 2- 0 WEST BROMWICH ALBION

MANCHESTER CITY V EVERTON
(KICK OFF: 20.45, ETIHAD STADIUM, MANCHESTER)

Almost every pundit’s favourite to lift their third EPL crown in five years. You still feel this Manchester City side have a lot more about them than they are offering.  Often times, it seems like they are playing on a second gear. One fears that this inconsistency may deny them glory when the top prize is given out in May.

I feel this city team will get into gear come the business end of the season, thanks in no part to their in-depth strength, and there is the belief that if they can get Kun Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva all fit for sustained periods, added to the obvious talents of Yaya Toure and Kevin de Bruyne, they have more than enough to lift the title.

Tonight, I also expect them to beat a highly entertaining but inconsistent Everton side, which guarantee great entertainment. In Romelu Lukaku, the league has the top flight’s in-form forward, but there are doubts that Everton have the necessary grit to see out this win and move up the table.

I expect a great performance tonight against this City side though. Expect goals and a City win.
CHARMANT’S PREDICTION- MANCHESTER CITY 3 – 1 EVERTON

SOUTHAMPTON V WATFORD
(KICK OFF 20.45, ST MARY’S STADIUM SOUTHAMPTON)

What a difference 12 months can make! At this time last year, we were toasting to a refreshing Southampton side, making all the right noises, challenging the so called “big boys” and refusing to be overwhelmed by their might, playing a fearless and refreshing brand of total football, and well-orchestrated by boss Ronald Koeman which culminated in European qualification. Fast forward 12 months and this Southampton side are struggling to regain their identity, no thanks to the sale of key players. Worse still, they are facing the ignominy of a relegation battle.

Their season has unravelled due to gross indiscipline on the field and transfer saga off it.  Ronald Koeman has a job on his hands but not that this Watford side will readily make it easy for him, as they have been highly impressive all season. Gritty, yet entertaining, credit should be given to Quique Sanchez Flores for masterminding their push for Premier League survival and probable European qualification.

His intelligence and calm nature had rubbed off on the side and in Troy Deeney and especially our very own Odion Jude Ighalo, they have a front line to trouble any defence, Ighalo has proven himself to be the real deal and better things are expected from him, including a move in the coming summer, to a bigger club.
In this game, considering the strength of both sides being equally matched and the stakes involved, I will go for a safe score- A draw
CHARMANT’S PREDICTION-SOUTHAMPTON 1 – 1 WATFORD

STOKE CITY V NORWICH CITY
(KICK OFF 20.45, THE BRITANNIA STADIUM, STOKE ON TRENT)

A battle involving two possible mid-table sides should make for captivating viewing. It’s been amazing to see the evolution of Stoke from the boring and irritating long ball side of yesteryearS (ask Arsene Wenger and Arsenal fans), to a thoroughly entertaining attacking outfit. This is credited to their recruitment and scouting processes, led by Coach Mark Hughes.

Stoke boats of 4 European Cup winners in the team, a feat hard to match, considering how hard it is to sign players these days. These signings have given them a fresh attacking impetus and a refreshing continental flavour, and in Bojan Krkic they have one of the top performers in the division.The only hindrance to their progression as a proper outfit, is their inconsistency, a trait Mark Hughes should cater for, if he wants this team to fulfil its great potential.

In their opponents tonight, they have one of the brightest young coaches in Alex Neil. His rise from Hamilton Academicals to taking Norwich to the Premier League while shocking the EPL big boys has been nothing short of outstanding. He has drawn parallels with another great Scot who ruled the EPL with his genius.

Norwich come across as a plucky side but are willing to play football if given the opportunity, and I expect them to give the survival battle a good go. Looking at the intimidating imitation of hell in the Britannia and also against this impressive Stoke outfit, I can only see one winner.
CHARMANT’S PREDICTION- STOKE CITY 2-  0 NORWICH CITY

SWANSEA CITY V SUNDERLAND
(KICK OFF 20.45, LIBERTY STADIUM, SWANSEA, SOUTH WALES)

It is a mystery how Swansea’s season unravelled after their impressive win over Manchester United. In the heat of it,  prodigious manager, Gary monk was axed. Credit to new manager, Alan Curtis, he has steadied the ship and halted the decline with some good results.

Swansea still have good players but they need their confidence levels to increase and they look a side short on numbers and on goals, and with the sale of Jonjo Shelvey to Newcastle they look increasingly light. They will struggle but I don’t expect them to be relegated, they are too good a squad to.
At Sunderland however, I can’t say the same about their survival prospects, but if they do survive, I believe their best transfer acquisition is the appointment of Sam Allardyce as their manager. His appointment has given Sunderland their best shot at survival because he is versed in the survival game, we all know what we get with ‘Big Sam’, the football might not be pretty but he gets the right results.

With him at the helm, I expect Sunderland to give the survival rat race a good fight but in this game of low scoring sides struggling at the wrong end of the table, I feel they will come unstuck at Swansea.
CHARMANT’S PREDICTION-SWANSEA 1-0 SUNDERLAND

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR V LEICESTER CITY
(KICK OFF: WHITE HART LANE TOTTENHAM, NORTH LONDON)

A prospectively thrilling game involving two of the stories of the season so far. These two sides have reminded us neutrals why we stay glued to a television set at pubs, viewing centres and in our homes. We were given an awesome audition of what we expect tonight, in their thrilling F.A cup tie over the weekend.

Tottenham, under Mauricio Pochettino have been a revelation, their high press- cavalier style of football built on a youthful side has won many admirers. His usage of previously discarded signings from previous managers like Moussa Dembele and Erik Lamela to distinction, coupled with his breeding of budding talents like Harry Kane and Dele Alli has made the Press tip him for greater things, Real Madrid or Manchester United, maybe?

They are on course for European qualification and with the unpredictability of a season, in line to be the lowest, in terms of points required to be Champions, don’t discount this Spurs team to be dark horses for the title.

But for every dark horse and genuine contender, there is a team for the romantics, the surprise package. The Foxes of Leicester are proving to be that, this year. They have been incredibly consistent for over a year now and despite changes in management, they have kept momentum going.

In Jamie Vardy, they have the tale of the season so far (a great advert for Drake’s Started from the bottom smash hit) and also in Riyad Mahrez, they have one of the division’s top performers. In this game between the 2nd and 4th, I will go for a draw, featuring lots of entertainment.
CHARMANT’S PREDICTION: TOTTENHAM 1 – 1 LEICESTER CITY

LIVERPOOL V ARSENAL
(KICK OFF: 20.45, ANFIELD STADIUM, LIVERPOOL)
In this game between traditional heavy weights of English and European football, pencil down and anticipate an abundance of excitement, passion, drama and energy.
In Arsenal, you have the division’s most consistent performers. While others have wobbled, the Gunners keep racking up important results and they have developed a harder spine to tackle the general criticism of having a soft mentality. No thanks to their master stroke in signing serial title winner and top performer Petr Cech, and in Mesut Ozil, you have arguably the division’s top performer. Credit for his upturn in form should be given to relentless support from “le Professeur” Arsene Wenger.
There is talk of lack of depth in key areas, but with the imminent transfer of a capable performer in Mohammed Elneny, that should be temporarily masked. Even without signings, they have trudged on and frankly, a fully fit Arsenal team should win this unpredictable league on a canter. Will their constant title race naivety resurface to haunt them?  Your guess is as good as mine.
For Liverpool, they made a shrewd acquisition in hiring world class quality in Jurgen Klopp and despite inconsistent results, I personally see him as the real deal. Owners and fans know they should be patient because he is suffering from the recruitment errors of previous managers and I feel with time a stronger Liverpool team will emerge. An emerging problem though this season, is that the players available are struggling to adapt to the demands of his “heavy metal” high press philosophy which has led to them having multiple injuries particularly hamstrings, evident by the amount of mileage they cover per game.
I expect this game to be tight, with  fireworks, entertainment and passion- Partly how firebrand ‘kloppo’ will like it and partly due to the philosophies of the respective coaches.
Due to the fact that this Arsenal team look more settled and Liverpool are undergoing a mini injury crisis and transition, I expect a close Arsenal victory on the night.
CHARMANT’S PREDICTION- LIVERPOOL 1- 2 ARSENAL

Uche Anichebe: Diary of the Ex-corps Member: A Tale of Desperation and Exploitation

 

Every milestone attained in life is accompanied with more projections. For a secondary school graduate, the expectation is that s/he would gain admission into a tertiary institution of repute. Upon graduation from the varsity, the typical expectation becomes that the youth in question will almost immediately commence the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme and ultimately bid farewell to the long years of dependence by carving a niche in the labour market. In a quasi-idyllic society, the last mentioned expectations would almost be routine, placing no cause of alarm for the corps member in question. However, in Nigeria, owing among other factors, to the paucity of institutions that can employ the teeming graduates churned out by the tertiary institutions, the completion of the NYSC program, offers no guarantee of getting gainful employment.

Given the unpleasant state of affairs, untold anxiety, desperation and frustration become deep seated in the minds of corps members as the service year crawls to an end. Consequently, a good number of corps members fall prey to unscrupulous recruitment agencies that get hold of their personal data and fabricate nefarious strategies of exploiting them financially.

It is not uncommon for corps members to receive recruitment invitation via text message and emails from faceless recruitment agencies shortly before the conclusion of their service years, and thereafter, shortly after the conclusion of their service years and few years thereafter. Most of these so-called recruitment agencies, aware of the teeming rate of unemployment in Nigeria and the consequential desperation of the Nigerian youths, devise means of robbing the youths in question.

It has been over a month since I completed my NYSC Program and since then, there is not a week that I do no not receive invites from scam recruitment agencies. Perhaps, I might have fallen prey to their deceitful devices had I not been forewarned to be wary of unsolicited recruitment text messages and emails. Two days after my passing out parade, I received a text message from a fellow who called himself Kenechi. He addressed me by my first name and claimed to have made my acquaintance at the Lagos orientation camp. According to him, there was a hushed internal recruitment going on in Shell Petroleum Development Company. He claimed that he had strong connections there and was willing to help me get full employment. He asked that I call him if I was interested so we could immediately commence the registration process and of course, that I should send Forty-Five Thousand Naira to him to settle one of his oga who was involved in the recruitment process.

I was shocked. I knew instantly that I had received my first scam message. The name the fellow had settled for is an overly common Igbo name and understandably so. He was trying out his luck with an Igbo name which he hoped would  ring a bell. I knew a lot of people, who bore that name, but the truth is, I was closely related to them, I knew them all too well and not one of them was a corps member. Also, although my call-up letter had indicated that I was deployed to the Lagos orientation camp, official plans changed and I eventually camped in a neighbouring state. Perhaps, I was deeply asleep when the fellow teleported me to the Lagos Orientation Camp and became my jolly good friend!

Few days later, I had course to interact with some ex-corps members. One discussion led to another and finally came to the issue of the scam employment messages. There was not one of them who had not received it. Some of them had been called and others received emails. The messenger had come up with names which were very common in the target’s tribe and also claimed to have met them at their orientation camps. Again, just as in my case, although the official call up letters indicated the Lagos Orientation camp, some of them had had to camp at the orientation camps of neighbouring states. In fact, some of them had used their preferred nicknames or middle names at the orientation camp and there would have been no way anyone would have gained knowledge of their first names without having skimmed through the pages of the record books kept with the NYSC or the so called NYSC ‘book of Life”. I would later learn that some ex-corps members fell prey to the employment scams. Owing to their anxiety or sheer naivety, they were deceived into parting with recharge cards and considerable sums of money for so called registration fees, identification fee, consultancy charges, examination fees, processing fee, and what-have-you.

Other related messages which most ex-corps members and I have received on more frequent basis are purportedly from the human resource managers of non-existent companies which go by likewise non-existent names. As part of their strategy, they claim that their target was recommended by an undisclosed person for a lofty position in their organization and request that the target comes on a scheduled day for interview/job briefing.  Some colleagues of mine who attended the so called job briefing reported that it was all a hoax calculated to ultimately rob them financially. So far, I am unaware of any good that came from those job invites.

From the foregoing, it will not be farfetched to presume two possibilities: that the personal data submitted by corps members to the NYSC are left grossly unprotected and permitted to get into the hands of unauthourised third parties, hence the many years of exploitation of corps members’ personal data by unscrupulous elements. The second possibility is that the Year Book which is published by the NYSC and contains the basic records of corps members are taken advantage of by contemptuous persons.

The legal regime for data protection in Nigeria is still evolving, hence there are no sector specific laws which regulate the collection and processing of data in Nigeria. However, the Nigerian Constitution guarantees and protects the right of privacy of citizens under Section 37. The language of the constitution is wide enough to accommodate and protect “personal data”, notwithstanding that same was not expressly mentioned therein.

With view to have a body of laws which would enhance data protection in Nigeria, the Draft Guidelines on Data Protection (“the Guidelines”) was enacted pursuant to the National Information Technology Development Agency Act (“the Act”). It is the only regulation which makes copious provisions relating to the collection, processing and protection of personal data and it seeks to apply across board, irrespective of the sector of the economy in which it is sought to be enforced. However, the National Information Technology Development Agency (“NITDA”) is yet to formally issue any instrument indicating the commencement of the Guidelines. Although the Guidelines are yet to be finalized, it will be prudent if the NYSC and indeed all data controllers (the “Controllers”) of personal data in Nigeria be guided by its provisions, as it sets out in lucid terms the best practice in data protection.

The Guidelines provide the general principles of data protection and the measures which Controllers must put in place in collecting, accessing and processing the information of data subject. It requires Controllers to process data in a fair and lawful manner and provides that data which is collected be used only for the purpose it was collected. It further requires the consent of data subjects to be obtained before their data are collected and processed and that that appropriate technical and organizational measures are established to protect the data and that the data collected be processed in accordance with the rights of the data subjects.

If the present regime of third party exploitation of data lodged with the NYSC must come to an end, the NYSC must imbibe the principles enshrined in the Guidelines. It must ensure that as a Controlller, all data of corps members in its custody are processed fairly and lawfully and kept away from the prying eyes of third parties who do not have the authority to process the data in question. Protective measures should also be put in place to ensure that the data is only accessible to persons/organizations which have proven record of competence and have provided sufficient justification to obtain and process the personal data. All transfer of data must be with the prior consent of the corps members and for their ultimate benefit. Also, the submission and onward publication of the personal information of corps members in the Year Book should be at the discretion of the corps members. The affirmative consents of the corps members must be obtained before their particulars are published to the entire public in the Year Book.

Furthermore, given the dire need of an instrument on data protection, the Nigerian government should take proactive steps to give the Guidelines the force of law and ensure that it is strictly complied with by institutions in the private and public sectors. Also, emphasis should be placed on drastically reducing the overwhelming rate of unemployment in Nigeria and providing an enabling socio-economic environment for small and medium enterprises in Nigeria.

 

 

Uche, a Lawyer, writes from Lagos.