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Life as a Southpaw

images  As a child, I picked up objects at random with my left hand. When I wrote, I would turn the notebook at an angular shape to enable freedom. Many times, I struggled with the pencil grip on the right hand; I had the best motor control in my left hand. My left-hand seemed wrong, and my right-hand was right.

It was awkward as a boy being clumsy and learning slowly. I grew up feeling I was born into the wrong world, my hands didn’t just fit. They said my head twisted my hands. Writing, playing, socializing felt awkward. I was different, and the world could not deal with difference. My conventional mother, stringent schoolteachers, my spiritual pastor, they all struggled to convert me to a righty; hence I felt there was a sin in my hand. Perhaps if any of them was forced to perform the basic tasks with their antipodal hands, they may understand my struggle.

In the world we live in, it is either black or white, there is no grey. It is either good or bad; hence people’s construction of the left-handed people was ‘bad’ while they associated right-handed gestures as “good”. Leftie was not a penchant; it was my nature, one that for many years made me lonely. Over the years, I met my fellow Southpaws; it was a relief to know that I was not alone. Then I happily found an affiliation that liberated me. As I got older, I met more antipodal paw users. It was there with the woman that could not use the sewing machine; it was same with the man that could not use the pressing iron without having a burn. They looked clumsy and awkward in their efforts to make the right tools work in the left hand.

I wondered why the left hand seemed such a slow hand. Then, I realised that almost all tools and machines are built for right handed people; the scissors, keyboards, pressing irons, doors, computer mice, etc. Thousands of people die yearly of mishaps emanating from their struggle to adapt to controlling conflicting tools designed against their nature.

Southpaws make up about 10% of the world’s population. Yet they are discriminated and marginalized with the prevalent idea that all tools are universal. The society in general does not show any accommodation or special consideration for southpaws like us. In schools, teachers force children to hold pencils in the right hand, they do not encourage children to hold the pencil in their most comfortable hands. It is evident that there is a huge knowledge and skill gap among teachers in assisting southpaw kids too. This Leftie discrimination comes from a Right-handed bias, and very few people have an idea of the damage this can have on a child.

Democracy has been good, it helped make we Southpaws feel better away from an autocratic world that idealised the righties and victimized the lefties. We vote left handers. President Obama, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, James Garfield, Harry Truman and more, were southpaw presidents. Sports was also good, Rafael Nadal the tennis ace, Golf legend Phil Mickelson, Oscar de la Hoya the boxing champion, all made us worthy being fellow southpaws. These role models finally tell me every day that I could thrive with my left hand. Where confidence and self-esteem was compromised as a child, they were my boosters.

Come August 13, 2014, it will be International Left-Hander’s Day. On this day, we celebrate our right to be and to remain left handed. I speak today asking you to join in giving our difference a better worth. I stand today, to validate the little child like myself who may be traveling the path I traveled then with struggle, the men and women who are still struggling to conform to the right world. They are not alone, I am with them. Together we can make the world recognise and appreciate our difference better. According to the words of Herman Melville – “To be hated cordially, is only a left-handed compliment.”

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Between Greed, Hunger, Contentment

You are hungry cos someone else got greedy. Greed is good because without Greed there would be no hunger and definitely no contentment.

But if I were content then greed wouldn’t exist. May be I am not sure about the hunger Greed relationship

Question is does the absence of one of them eradicate the existence and purpose of the other? Now I am more confused than I started.

However The rich would have to eat money if the poor did not provide food says a Russian proverb.

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A man’s future. . . .

A man’s future should not be a subject of spiritual mediocrity. It is permissible to blame your upbringing for your childhood failures but no one but yourself should take responsibility from now onward.

Fate! is for those too weak to determine their future and you owe humanity more than you owe any single Man.

Give a voice to the knowledge that you have on the inside as your words will always overshadow the flow of negative thought.

God will not stop blessing you because of the evil confessions of men. He does not consult with or take permission from any man before he blesses.

In the end remember that nothing is as strong as a made up mind. No tyranny of circumstance can hold it back.

May God grant you the desires of your heart…

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Governance in an Occupied Generation

On a cool sunny afternoon in England, I had hopped into my car for a short ride to the city centre. The street was colourful with red and green decorations and large size banners beneath the glass frames of most shops announcing huge discount sales. The Shoppers dragging their huge buy from the Xmas sales was another amusing sight. I glanced sometimes in admiration as I drove by. Suddenly I was pulled over by a Police officer who requested for my driver’s license. My heart beat skipped as I had a fast trip down memory lane; I have failed my UK driving test three times in a space of two years.
I handed the officer my particulars along with a Nigerian International driver’s license issued to me a year after my departure from Nigeria; it was my second year living in the UK. In an organised society like that, he could determine in a blink of his eyes who I was, my status in the country and how long I have been around. Upon examination of my documents, this conversation ensued:
POLICE OFFICER: Do you realise that this license is only valid within your first year of staying in the UK?
ME: I didn’t know that.
POLICE OFFICER: I am afraid I am going to have to issue you a producer as ignorance is not an excuse for breaking the Law.
ME: what is a producer office?
POLICE OFFICER: It’s a warrant to produce a valid UK license at your local police station in 7 days or face a court action.

I took the warrant knowing that I do not have a valid UK license, I was expecting the worst; a court summon. My friends advised me wait for it and just plead guilty on paper so there won’t be need to hold a court session. In a period of weeks I got summoned with a subpoena, to either plead guilty or not guilty. If I signed under guilty the maximum punishment will be melted upon me without me having to turn up in court. However I pleaded not guilty and consequently was summoned in court in a fortnight. Decision not to plead guilty was just so I can get a chance in court to explain myself. Did I forget to mention that I have been driving in Nigeria 9 years before this?
Then came the day, I turned up in court at the stipulated time, my case was called and my charges read. Once again I pleaded not guilty. Minutes later, I was given a chance to explain why I was not guilty in such a glaring case. This is my testimony:
‘I came into this country with no intention of driving about two years ago; however considering the very cold weather, I decided to get myself a car for warmth. Following to my decision was the advice to get an International drivers license which will be valid for a year during which I should have taken my driving test in the UK and secured a UK drivers license. I did exactly that and here is the License’. I tendered my Nigerian international Drivers License to a court that was obviously amused at my headiness and anxious to see how my testimony could turn the case around. Boldly written on the cover of my license was “VALID FOR ONE YEAR FROM THE DATE OF ISSUE”. Convinced that they observed the validity advice on my licence, I continued ‘The Police Officer had understood that the one year validity on my Nigerian Licence started counting on the date I entered the country and not the day the driver’s license was issued. If you consider my case based on his understanding, I will be guilty as charged as I have lived in the UK for over a year; however my home country has provided me a license which counts from the date of issue’. Continuing with my address to the court, I drew the attention of the court to my desire to be law-abiding. I said ‘since I started driving I had tried to be in good standing with the law by making efforts to secure my UK licence, I had unsuccessful attempts as I failed a few times but have not lost hope. I am tendering a provisional licence, theory test certificate and three (3) practical test failed results to support my claim’.
The jury looked at all my evidence and said ‘the court will reconvene in 15 minute to give a judgement on this case’. We all left the court room and returned promptly. I was highly tensed at this time but decided within me that whatever decision the court takes, I know I have given it my best shot.
The Judge read his judgement, ‘we have considered all the evidence tendered to the court both by the police and the accused and have reached the following verdict: Mr. Nkeokelonye is a victim of a gap in the law; as a Nigerian visitor leaving in the UK, he has complied with all the law as given to him by his home country. However this law does not align with what is acceptable in the UK and as such has put him in the position he is today. He has also shown willingness to transit to a full UK licensed driver by taking driving test some of which he is yet to pass. Considering all testimony and evidence here today I declare the accused NOT GUILTY!’
I was shocked at the verdict, ‘did I just avert a possible 2 year ban from driving and a possible fine? I could not wait to tell everyone that cared to listen about my escapade with the Law; that was a day I will never forget, Yes! I felt like Denny Crane all week.

Lesson learned.
As the excitement settled in, I travelled down the sweet memory lane to reminisce my victory; the way I managed to pull it off tickled me. ‘Could the Judge have been faced with two huge challenges? To either ‘do the right thing or to do things right?’ I wondered. Fortunately for me she chose the latter as she would also be right if she had pronounced me guilty as charged.
Doing the right thing or doing things right?
These two paradigms have longed influenced leadership, administration and governance styles for years. While both set out to achieve the same goal, they most often end up with divergent results. You must be wondering what the difference between these two is?
Doing the right thing; is a decision matrix which is administrative in nature meaning the choice of right and wrong is based on a set of predetermined rules. It does not give room for any mitigating circumstance and would not consider same in its judgement. On the other hand, doing things right is a more dynamic decision matrix which takes cognisance of pre-existing rules while considering mitigating circumstances and the role of process in its judgment. It’s a deep and responsive alternative which utilises the full change management procedures in executing its judgment.

Better put, capturing and killing the leader of boko haram is ‘doing the right thing’ capturing and interrogating with an intent to identify and bring down the network and then prosecute is ‘doing things right’. Banning the importation of textile and furniture in a bid to empower local industry is ‘doing the right thing’ doing the same thing after creating enabling environment and adequate capacity building for local industries is ‘doing things right’. Most importantly paying off our national debt by Olusegun Obasanjo and Okonji Iweala in the past administration is ‘doing the right thing’. Furthering on that by using the same fund to perfect our poor powers supply system, empower the middle class through job creation, improving overall national productivity and increasing output to service our debt would have been ‘doing things right’.
Efficient and responsive leadership is characterised by the ‘doing things right’ model. The question to our leaders then is: ‘in your good intents, are you looking to ‘do things right’ or to ‘do the right thing’?

A dimension in governance
When applied to Governance, this paradigm difference creates a visible parity between the performances of elected government office holders. “ In essence, political governance is about managing the state, establishing transparency and accountability to the people, and promoting a sense of nationhood. In ensuring responsiveness and accountability to the people, good political governance institutionalises fair, equitable and transparent electoral, political and public oversight systems and practices. Political representatives are elected to office and held accountable for the affairs of the state, leaders are encouraged to adhere to a code of ethics, and oversight bodies ensure that the rights and interests of the people are always safeguarded” – Pacific 2020 BACKGROUND PAPER

I have watched with great amusement and deep regret at the death of people oriented governance in the top leadership of this our country.
The issue of the ‘Lekki toll’ as sensitive as it is, is a classical example of a government which has adopted the [doing things right] approach to political governance. Tolling did not commence until a considerable amount of work had been done and we all had a taste of things to come. This made it possible for road users to appreciate the work done and even helped the government at the negotiation table. As palliative measure, an alternative route was created for those who cannot afford the toll. A similar example is seen in the Lagos state waste disposal model; it has slowly creeped in on the people with many not even knowing the price of this service. Some day the government is going to stamp its foot on collection of waste disposal levies however unlike fuel subsidy, the response would not be that of rejection but rather that of affordability. Little wonder the romance between the people and the Government.
Many modern societies all over the world have adopted the ‘doing things right’ model as growing trend. I personally witnessed the abolition of smoking in public place in the UK; the government published a set date almost a year in advance and continually communicated this to the populace over time. Within this period, offices, high footfall areas, bars and restaurant where fitted with either a smoking shed or a smoking section as a complimentary alternative for those who cannot do without. All this happened amid huge media campaign against smoking in totality.
I think it is ludicrous for any government that claims to be people oriented to attempt changing a bad system without first carrying out detailed impact analysis, working out an acceptable alternative and engaging a robust change management process to helps ease the impact on its citizenry.
I listen today on NTA international as Ngozi Okonjo Iweala responded when asked, if she thinks the communication and timing of this removal could have been handle a lot better? She just kept rambling about how they do not have a choice but to go this way.
The governor of the apex bank Sanusi lamido Sanusi is a Nigerian I respect a lot in his commitment to sanitisation as seen in his handling of the Banking sector crises. We all know he is currently championing an intervention of creating a cashless economy which he has created so much awareness about. He has engaged all the banks and service providers to bring required infrastructure up to scratch and went even further to select a pilot location (Lagos). May I ask why did he not effect the daily withdraw cap on personal and cooperate banking first while the banks and other stake holders continue pursuing infrastructure and capacity building?
Why would a government take a decision that promises to benefit me in the long haul when the same decision will ensure that I would not survive to see this glorious day? Why would we inflict excruciating hardship on our young and vulnerable in the name of trying to save a future they might not grow up to see because of our wrong decisions today?
There is no better definition of Incompetence than that of a government which decided to work around a 1% corrupt Cabal and punish the 99% vulnerable who had no role in bringing the economy to its current position. President Barack Obama preaches taking from the wealthy 10% to empower the struggling 90% poor but our president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan “who had no shoes” has decided to go the other direction while making the same promises that characterised his corrupt predecessors.
Minister of finance Ngozi Okonjo Iweala in one of her interviews made reference, to Ghana’s removal of fuel subsidy on the 29th of December 2011; she forgot to tell us why there was no protest or demonstration by the Ghanaian populace. Could it be that the Ghanaian government adopted the ‘do thing right model? It has now clear that the administrative governance of ‘doing the right thing’ at the expense of any consequence has become completely unattractive to the occupied generation that has suddenly found their voices thanks to alternative media.
As stupid as it may sound I am beginning to find the collapse of the Nigerian Economy an attractive alternative as this will mean that there is nothing left to be stolen. Maybe then the untouchable cabals will give room for those who have the interest of the nation at heart to come into governance.

Nkeokelonye Godson Madu