“Formerly we suffer from crime. Now we suffer from laws.”

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“Government takes from the needy and gives to the greedy.”

“Formerly we suffer from crime. Now we suffer from laws.”

(As seen on a signpost along the road between Chikasha and Oklahoma City on 24-Nov-2014)
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The road was caked in snow and the drive along the sleet covered slippery iced up road was slow and particularly treacherous for me and my co-worker (who assisted me by driving me from Duncan to OKC). New though he was to driving on an icy sleet covered road terrain, he was able to handle the car effectively, all the way from Duncan to OKC Will Rogers World Airport. We had to maintain such a very slow  speed (average 40km/hr or less) that I was able to read both sides of the billboard captioned with the two messages above. I smiled to myself as I reflected , “You these Americans, come to Nigeria and witness what we are suffering from. If you people go through 1% of what we experience in Nigeria, you will know that your country with all your real and imagined problems is indeed as close to Utopia here on earth as any nation can be.”

Here in our beleagured one and only Nigeria, what are we suffering from? Not very much different from the  lamentations expressed in the billboard captions above.

What are the ills that bedevil our corporate existence as a nation from the hands of our rulers, nay, conquerors and all the powers that be. We suffer from executive lawlessness and the abuse of power in high places, lack of foresight and concern for the future of oncoming generations. Countless. The politicians and rulers delight in making laws that make life miserable for the ordinary honest and law abiding citizen. Where do we start from. Where do we end. When will we even see the light at the end of the tunnel?

That something is legal doesn’t mean that it is legitimate. Yet, the “conquering” rulers who govern us as if our country is their vassal state delight in making and enforcing illegitimate and inhumane laws. Take the case of vehicle re-registration as an example. What happened to the old vehicle licenses that have been in use these past several years? They were “computerized” right from the begining, so we were told. Now hapless law abiding citizens are required to fork out amounts in ecess of N35,000 to have their vehicles re-registered. Drivers and vehicle owners who fail to meet the obligatory deadline for this exercise will be compelled to pay excessive fines or be jailed for 6 months. Meanwhile, getting the new “computerized” vehicle licenses from the authorities is a harrowing experience for law abiding citizens. Take the case of Port Harcourt and Rivers State, there is essentially only one office (to my knowledge) in the whole state where people can go and register their vehicles and get hold of new or renewed driving licenses. Just go to Abel Jumbo Street in Old GRA, Port Harcourt. The throng of crowd you meet there any day and the painful hassles they go through will make you shed tears for our people. Where is the heart and conscience of the authorities and government officials and their agents who are supposed to be responsible for this  simple exercise that ought to be straight forward?  They don’t need to invent new computers. Neither do they need to build their own printers, design databases or other IT infrastructures from the scratch. Yet they prefer not to implement systems and technologies that work with effortless ease in other places. Why? All these bottlenecks were deliberately put in place through corruption. And such designs allow corruption to infamously flourish through all the ranks of the agents who are supposed to make things work. Haba! From all intents and purposes, this new vehicles re-registration hanging as a sword of Damorcles over the head of hapless law abiding citizens is designed to fleece vehicle users of their hard-earned money. And all these are being done in the name of government orders without considerations for how this policy will and is affecting people.  Where are the voices of the people? Who speaks for the common man? 
In a society where the government respects the rights and the freedom of the citizens, this type of policy will never see the light of day.

People should have the right to use any type of tinted glass for their cars so long as such doesn’t constitute hazards to other road users. Tell them to stop making laws of “ever shifting goal-posts”. Tinted glass today, no tinted glass come tomorrow. OK, tinted glass come next tomorrow. We are in big trouble here because most of our rulers and law makers choose to burry their heads in the sand.  Another point of concern is the issue of new vehicle license plates and the renewal of driving license at FRSC office. It’s like going through the eyes of the needle to get either of these documents. This type of condition makes it possible for all form of malpractises and corruption to grow an multiply unchecked.
Does anybody care? Is anyone listening? The society grows and make progress when people plant trees knowing fully well that they may not be around to partake of its fruits or seek solace under the shade such trees provide when thise trees mature. For the sake of our future generations, let’s start planting trees today.

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“Afterall, books don’t fill the belly…”

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Here I am,  at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, with a haul of three more thick books for my already overstuffed carry on bags. Do I hear you say, ” … books don’t fill the belly?” Think again. Onward and forward bound for Lagos. See you in PHC come Tuesday – by God’s grace.
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My baby. My girlfriend. My encourager.

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TODAY

“Daddd, you should be a writer. You are so creative. I like the way you make up the stories. They are so interesting to read.”
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YESTERDAY

Thank you my sweet baby.
Your comments are highly encouraging. I will try to work harder on the blog. At times when I read what some of my good friends write, I feel as if I’ve not started at all.  A lot of people said that I write well. Indeed, I dream of becoming an author in the future. But I must confess, I don’t even know where to start from or what subjects or issues to write on. May be, you will teach me how. I’m not joking at all. After all, you are the first author in our family. All I want for now is to write a more “perfect” blog that will attract thousands of readers and followers. May be we should arrange and meet our favorite writer Ngozi Chimamada Adichie, so that she will teach us. Hey, who will take my humble lowly message to our illustrious Professor Ngozi Adichie?

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TODAY
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  YESTERDAY

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The Sum of All Fears

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Standing on the queue, while we were checking in at Houston airport, one of the officers a lady (of Indian descent, I guess), cautioned me to stop taking pictures so that the airport security officers will not seize my Note 3. It’s so funny because the picture (the only one I took there was harmless and posed no security risk at all – imho). I quickly complied.
Morale: Always ask for permission, before you take pictures in a place you are not sure of especially where you have many officers around. My God with all the millions of camera phones and digital cameras being bought every year, what do these people expect people to be doing with them anyway?
The  picture, flags of various nations beautifully arranged to welcome visitors checking into George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston was iressistible to me. I always ask for security officers permission before taking pictures at such places. I just kind of felt since I did not see any poster warning against the taking of pictures, I just could go ahead and do it. I was not the only one that took pictures there, I told the woman this. The lady said “Just don’t do it again or your phone may get seized.”

Talking about the Sum of All Fears.

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My computer locked me out again

This evening, my laptop locked me out again. “O my God don’t let this happen to me again. Here I am in this far away America. How do I review or research my training lessons? if this laptop fail to boot me up to the desktop screen I will be in a big mess.”
Hope.
As I silently muttered a prayer, I tried to retrace the steps I used to recover from this mishap the last time it happened to me in Port Harcourt.
No. I did not misspelt my user profile password (the one you type to open & have access to your desktop). I’ve used the same password as recently as yesterday in the office before I commenced the trip to Duncan, Oklahoma. This time around, the PC stubbornly refused to boot up to the desktop.

Here are the steps that I followed to recover from the near disaster.
1. I tried the password again and again. No results.
2. Restart the system and pressed F2 to take me to the  BIOS settings screen. The BIOS screen asked me for a password. I entered the wrong password and the system gave me WARNING about this. That means, I must not even guess the last password I used on this BIOS screen again. Doing so may put me at the risk of completely locking myself out of this system with no hope of recovery. You certainly don’t want your computer to be turned into a brick.
3. Again, I rebooted the system while pressing F4. This enabled me to start the computer in Safe Mode. Safe Mode boot up completed, I clicked on Accessories, –  System Maintenace, – Backup & Restore, – Restore.
Happily enough, the system recently performed and saved two System Restore points as recently as on the 11th and 13th of November. I selected the older of the two dates and anxiously while muttering prayers, “My God, please let it work ….” And it did. The system took me back to the last used profile of two days ago. Yes, I sighed, a relieving sigh it was. Nothing loss.

I don’t know if this problem is peculiar to my laptop. The first time it occured, I googled up the web for a solution. As expected, there are millions of articles, but how do I fish out the solution that will fix my own particular problem now, now, now? Searching for a needle in a barn of hay.
OK, people. This is not a problem that occur everyday. You might have been using PCs all your life without encountering this type of hiccups. So be it. Amen. The steps above may come in handy if you ever need to rescue yourself from a situation where your laptop lock you out from getting access to your data.

FINALE:
(1) If you use System BIOS password, make sure you record & keep it safe for that particular laptop.
(2) Always have records of at least two or three of your most recently used passwords. Yes. I know the universal advice “Do not write down your password.” Well, I have devised a way of writing down my passwords on paper in such a way that I am the only one that can decipher them. Of course, NSA and all the “no-good-goons” of the cyberspace can still break in and do their mayhem on my computers, but no average PC   user can make away with my data just because of a sloppishly written unimaginative password. (Yes, if you get hold of my uncoded password, it will work for you in a snap.)
(3)Finally, backup. Backup! Backup!! Backup!!! Don’t wait until you are faced with nerves jarring and potentially heart attack inducing experience of data loss “wahala” before you begin to think about setting up a Backup System. The stress and heartache you will go through is never worth it in these days of dirt-cheap storage.
(4)Now, add your own suggestion here.
(5)Yet more suggestions from you.
(6) …..
(7) ……
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“Daddy, I’ve seen it! ” – Join me in Willy’s eureka moment.

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I got home yesterday to see a map of the USA sprawled on my bed. The map was part of an old edition of the National Geographic magazine. The last copy of the magazine was received over 2 years ago. I could not renew my annual  subscription after the last one ended. The reason, upon inquiring from National Geographic Society was that they no longer mail their National Geographic and other magazines to Nigeria directly. I was advised to direct my subscription to a USA address from where the monthly magazine can then be re-mailed to me. As we Nigerians will respond to these type of issues, I said to my self, “These American people self. …, is it a given that everybody must have a friend, relation or an acquaintance in the USA?” And so, I no longer receive my monthly brown envelope containing the treasure throve of the National Geographic. The skies did not fall, neither did the earth stop rotating when National Geographic stopped sending me their magazines. Not that we (my kids and I) expect or want our terrestrial globe to suffer such unimaginable catastrophe anyway. But Oh, how we (the kids, I and the entire household) love that magazine. 
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And so, our touring the world and places with the ever enchanting and unrivalled hardcopy pictures from National Geographic  was sent into limbo. And so, “the difussion of geographic knowledge … ” to this lowly family in the Niger Delta using the medium of the National Geographic magazine will be checkmated for a while (or so it seems). The children all love the National Geographic magazine and they all implored me to keep on buying it. I had to explain the reason why they couldn’t get hold of their much loved National Geographic again. Back when I was a child, I recall seeing old copies of the National Geographic used as wallpapers in my grandfather’s rustic old building. Back here in Port Harcourt, I used to patronize the old books sellers, specifically scouting for old copies of National Geographic. Back in my university and later in my early working days, on the few occasions, when I travel to Lagos, I always have a rendezvous with the old books sellers at CMS in Lagos, hunting for old National Geographic magazines. In the early 90s I used to get them from my  expatriate co-workers who frequently travel in out of the country. So it was a great setback and more of a loss when National Geographic Society failed to renew my subscription.
And so I had to console myself and the kids. “Well, let’s just wait. May be another day, another time …” I had wanted to write to the NGS about this dilemma, but has never got to doing it until now. Needless to say that my interest began to wane because of this glaring snobbery (or so it seems) from them.
I got back home earlier from work this afternoon having got permission for me to leave the office earlier and prepare for my trip to USA the following day. The boys were driven in shortly afterwards, Just back from schol, indefatigable Willy walked into the bedroom. “Daddy did you see the map of the US? It is very big.” To which I replied, “Yes, I saw it. It came from one of our old copies of the National Geographic magazine.”  Relentless, the young chap continued, oblivious of his making a “mess” of his dad’s much needed afternoon reverie. “I know the name of the largest state in USA, the state is Texas.” To which I, his seemingly “knowing-it-all” dad replied, “I think the largest state in the USA is California. Now let’s locate the two states on the map.” Pouring over the map with him, I retorted, “Son, you are right, Texas is actually bigger than California. That is obvious now as we can see from the space, it occupies on the map. Boy you are really smart. Now , I will show you the name of the US state I am travelling to. I will also tell you the name of the city I am travelling to.” Now, you try and fish out the city on the crowded map and show it to me.”
Not long afterwards, an exhilarated voice rang out from the sitting-room. “Daddy, I’ve found it! See it. Duncan! Here is Duncan. Duncan city is not far from Marlowe and Lawton.” To which I replied. Yes. Lawton is a bigger city and I learnt that the Goodyear Tyre company has a big factory there.  Marlowe is a town between Duncan and the capital city of the state of Oklahoma – Oklahoma City. 

Willy among other things love to read and draw and draw maps. He draw maps of Nigeria (+ the states) and Africa (including the countries). The other time, he came to me and said, “Daddy, I know the name of the largest country in Africa. The country is Sudan.” To which I replied, “I don’t think that Sudan is the largest country now. The country has splitted and there is now another country called Southern Sudan. The map you are looking at is an old one.”
Of course he does as well all the antics and stuffs you will expect from a 10 years old chap.
And so, here I am, keenly watching and waiting for other serendipitous moments with my adventurous kids, before they all fly away. Nay, rather, before we all fly away. Shouldn’t you my friends and I anticipate and watch out for these moments of discovery with our kids before we all fly away?
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SERENDIPITY:
Talking about serendipity. I was putting finishing touches to this post while waiting to board the flight at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos when the Director of the Nigerian Centre for Space Transport and Propulsion research walked in on me. The cerebral Dr. C A Osheku and I both schooled together at Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife in the 90s. The last time we met was over 18 years ago in Port Harcourt. The world is smaller than you thought. We will meet again. Serendipity.
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