Thursday, November 07, 2013

My 29th Birthday: Reflections on Books, Countries and People that Shaped my Individuality

Toronto Eaton Center (7/11/2013 4pm)
Gazing at the freedom birds inside Eaton Centre on Yonge St, Toronto my imagination is drawn to the magnificence of modern day architecture put to display in Canada's largest mall in downtown Toronto. My last one year has witnessed many travels across continents from Ghana in West Africa to Jamaica in the Caribbean. Yet having two years residence permit in the UK and 10 years entry permit into the United States, my decision to remain in Canada is inadvertently a prove of my acceptance of the country not only because it’s now my country of procreation since my wife is from here but due to the many reasons I will be talking about shortly. I am sure you will be wondering by now that 'this man as really travelled around the world.' Just as you are wondering, I myself am wondering. It amazes me how a boy from a village in Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria has eventually pitched a tent over 5500milles away from his origin. This is a short story of my life. Born exactly 29years ago today, I have been shaped by many experiences influenced by people, places, things both seen and unseen and I can be described as one of the product of our truly globalized world.
Of the books and literatures and their authors that have shaped my thinking
Recently read books: Reforming the Unreformable (Okonjo-Iweala),
The Accidental Public Servant (El-Rufai), Son of Hamas (Yossef),
Touching Godliness (KP Yohannan)
Straight Talk to Men, Night Light Devotion for couples,
Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide (Dr, James Dobson)
John Perkins book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman, was an eye opener for me. It showed me the entire corporatocratic ideology that shaped our world pointing clearly how we found ourselves in the global mess in the first place. Although he raised much dust, it’s interesting that all the names mentioned in the books till date couldn’t prove him wrong, everything he wrote about seem true. I give him a lot of credit and continue to follow him on twitter as he preaches the message of "transforming the world into a sustainable, just, and peaceful place where all beings thrive". The Son of Hamas holds both the spiritual account (of Mosab Hassan Yousef) and an historical documentation. It’s a book I do cherish that provides detailed information of the issues in the Middle East between Isreal and Palestine. I have spent a lot of time reading literatures that has strengthened my knowledge of spiritual and family life. K.P. Yohannan's book on Touching Godliness is pristine. My leading author and speaker in family life are Dr. James Dobson and Richard Smalley respectively. In terms of understanding developmental challenges facing growing nations in Africa, I have read the book of people I have come to admire for their work Nasir El-Rufais Accidental Public Servant (I recommend his oral interview session with Graeme Blair and Daniel Scher in Washington DC in 2009 as a first, good read), Dr. Okonjo-Iweala's book on reforming the unreformable is golden to understand the complexity and difficulty of the structural transformation in Nigeria and the depth of corruption the country witnesses. The list still goes on…
Of Nigeria and Her many developmental challenges
A worker at a makeshift production camp in Nigeria’s swamps
processed crude oil at an illegal oil refinery site near the river Nun in Bayelsa.
Many have always referred to Nigeria as giant among nations but taking baby steps. I wonder if Lord Lugard had committed an error in amalgamating the Northern and Southern territories into one Nigeria in 1914. But he couldn't have made a mistake if the people decide to make their case better by working together for a collective growth. Diversity can be a tool for sustainable growth. Toronto for example has been referred to as the world’s most multicultural society and living there for a few months I completely agree with that statement. People come from different walks of life, different countries, to strengthen a system they believed worked for them. I wonder where Nigeria missed it. Growing up in a public high school we learnt both the Surat Al-Fātiĥah and the Lord's prayer and till today people like myself reflect on the glory of those golden good old days. I wonder where Nigeria got her model of divide and rule and the ideology of placing religion and tribal conflict on top of pressing national issues. But I see tremendous hope for the nation. I have two reasons to justify that: one is in the angle of freedom of information and the growth in technology and the second is the hope that the younger generations will get it right. As one of the indicator for technology in a country is the internet, Freedom On The Net 2013 showed Nigeria has fared quiet positively. Although there's is still much to be done, progress recorded so far is good and Nigeria is just at the verge of moving to the freedom domain; many thanks to the tireless efforts of people like Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria. I have hope for the younger generations also. Here is a quote from the 2013 Commonwealth Youth Development Index "A country like Nigeria, for instance, has high teenage pregnancy, low levels of education, high youth unemployment, yet has a higher levels of civic participation than New Zealand. This suggests that although the youths have limited education and employment opportunities, Nigerian youth are looking elsewhere for active engagement". It may not look like a lot but that statement is one of the very few positive feedback Nigeria has gotten in international reports. As a nation, there must be concerted framework (putting together all the policies) that leverage youths capacity in civic participation for nation building. We hope that will be implemented in the future.
We cry against oil theft and vandalism reaching crude oil barrels of between 100,000 (Chatham House) to 250,000 (Nuhu Ribadu Report). We cry against Boko Haram, shedding of blood and the killing of innocent people, we cry against corruption and bribery in Nigeria. I hope it will not be too late for us to see the true price of oil as explained in The Price of Oil Organization report and see a need to pursue economic diversification with earnestness. I hope we will manage diversity for prosperity and ensure inclusivity for all people. And I hope we uphold the dignity of labour.
Of the people who uphold the dignity of labour and whose works are profoundly touching 
Hon. Michael Coteau and myself

Uzma Shakir

Sam Malvea
It’s rare to find people who are committed to your progress and even more rear to find people who work tirelessly to ensure social justice. To the former, I celebrate people who have been with me over the years; my teachers and mentors who despite growing up in their hands have given me the opportunity to exercise leadership and be a man of my own. To the latter, the first is the Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Hon. Michael Coteau, whose softspokeness, open door policy and down to earth attitudes makes him someone extremely approachable. I can’t but appreciate my patient teacher and mentor, Sam Malvea who takes extra hours to look into my paper works and ensure I’m doing well. Uzma Shakir remains a symbol of social justice and having heard her speak to me it was clear that her moving from an activist to a role as the Director of Equity, Diversity and Human Rights in the City of Toronto was to ensure that we continue to build an equitable society. Her message of demographic and socio-economic reality of the City of Toronto to her motion on inclusivity remains profound: "When a society is able to care for the less privileged, the women, children and handicapped in particular, then that society would have achieved its entire growth objective because it would have been successful in also taking care of those who already have privileges…"
Of people whose culture of excellence transcends international boundaries: Lamido Sanusi, Obiageli Ezekwsili and many others who are taking their job seriously and creating the culture of excellence both in their official, spiritual or secular lives. And thanks to Cher Jones, my personal brand professor who gave me yet another reason to remain on social media.

Of friends, family and life in general
Myself and Wife's Hand of Love
Although I was dubbed to be a medical doctor, I am now happy tolling the path of an economist which has given me the opportunity to reason rationally, devote thoughts to developmental issues and a desire to want to contribute my own quota to making things better. Some have always concluded that the bane of economics is unrealistic forecasts, but the beauty of being an economist is this same ability to forecast. It allows us to imaginatively predict scenarios and make deductions and recommendations. And when you have a spiritual edge to being an economist its provides an amazing combination, it’s a God plus factor I can’t emphasize enough. It’s a spiritual experience of knowing the truth. This truth shapes thoughts and opinions exactly as demonstrated in people like Martin Luther King.  I'm may be termed religious, but with respect for those who live their lives for other belief, a higher sacrifice, and for a higher purpose than I can ever do myself, I only hope they will find the truth that I now know in Christ Jesus. I'm not white, but I do know it is certainly wrong to judge others by the shade of their skin, the slant of their eyes, the waviness of their hair or the accent in their speech. I'm educated, but I do not disavow others for not having the same opportunities, life situation, or privileges as I. I'm not gay, but I do know that common rights guaranteed to citizens by their representative government should be rights inclusive to all citizens, even as we pray for their change. I am rational enough to realize that although I may not be on the wrong end of injustices, I am empathetic to those who are. I'm not poor, but I do know that it is in our common decency to help our neighbours and our friends when they need it more than us. I live as a social being and grateful for all the good people that surrounds me. Most of all I am grateful that I have friends, family, a wife and a mother who loves me dearly and prays for me constantly. Surely, many great things are bound to unfold in the coming days ahead and we will all have course to celebrate together. Lets keep holding on and believing!