Sunday, 4 December 2016

(79): The Reign of Bigotry, Disunity and Provincialism in Nigeria

Muhsin Ibrahim
@muhsin234

This is a compilation of the 2 posts I made on Facebook on December 3rd, 2016 on two related and burning national issues. Enjoy:

On the Deaths of Corps Members

There was a furore in the news Friday (02/12/2016) that a female corps member, Ifedolapo Oladepo, died in the Kano orientation camp. No doubt, her death is unfortunate and very heartbreaking especially for her loved ones, but how the story was/is told left me dumbfounded and shocked. The whole saga was territorialised, regionalised, and localised as if the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme was a state business. Thus, Kano is blamed. It’s, after all, Nigeria, and the North is almost always portrayed in bad light. To some southerners, nothing comes out of this ‘Almajiri-populated’ enclave.


My suspicion was corroborated with the reaction ‘generated’ by yet another death of another female corps member identified as Miss Elechi Chiyerum. This occurred not in the North but at the Bayelsa orientation camp. There was/is silence; no uproar, no condemnation of either the state or even the federal government. Rather, the deceased is blamed for “non-disclosure of ailment”. The NYSC officials in Kano said the same as the cause of Miss Ifedolapo’s death, but her mother, sister and largely the public disagreed. Therefore, many, including some highly educated people on the social media, are blaming the state, and, technically, the people of Kano.

I believe such myopic look at national problems will not help us a bit. If there is a broken health care system in the Kano camp, the same is very likely to be obtained in all other camps. I served in Katsina in 2011. I swear the camp felt a lot like one was in Enugu, or Rivers or any other southern state for, we, the northerners, were the significant minority. Likewise, if it’s the drills given to the Otendos (the new corps members) by their soldier-trainers, the same/similar is what others all over the country go through. And, if, as also alleged, it was the absence of a doctor to attend to her at the local hospital she was rushed to at Gwarzo LG was the cause, it’s a general, even normalised practice, a wrong one though, that doctors don’t stay in the rural hospitals except during work hours, etc. There is no rationale, whatsoever, to shift the blame squarely at the state. Let us, rather, talk about the overall problem bedevilling the nation, and seek for ways to address them squarely.

Friday, 18 November 2016

(78): Rationalising the Trump Phenomenon

Muhsin Ibrahim
@muhsin234

This is a Herculean job. I have read and listened to several political commentators saying that Donald Trump’s triumph is a logic-defying, demystifying puzzle and a record breaking event in the political history of not only the US but the world in general. For those not very familiar with this character, Trump is a bigot, a racist, a protectionist, a misogynist, an Islamaphobic, and, above all, a very ignorant billionaire businessman. That is why, perhaps, almost all pre-election opinion polls indicated that his opponent, Hillary Clinton would win the election, but he did.

A particular disgruntled analyst, Tom Freeman, has gone to the extreme in his quest for meaning of Trump’s victory. He wrote an article that contains only a word all through: F**k. The writer couldn’t be more descriptive and rational, for this is just it. Yet, curses, yells, despair, etc. cannot change the reality that Trump is the president-elect of the world’s super power, the mighty United States of America. Needless to mention, the US is a country more than a country. The value of its currency, the dollar, for example, affects the lives of billions around the world; thus, its politics is the world’s politics. What goes on in the US does not only stay there; it spills over into your room, your market, your school and virtually everywhere else.

But, is this victory accidental, coincidental or incidental? It is, as far as I can see, incidental. In other words, the victory was due to a number of things, some of which I will discuss below. 

Monday, 14 November 2016

(77): ABU, Zaria Titbits

Muhsin Ibrahim
@muhsin234

I was at the prominent Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria for a 7-day internship on Radio and TV Production Process from 25th Sept. to 1st October, 2016. As a budding writer, critic and a public commentator, I have seen and observed plethora of things sufficient enough to write a book on. I have already chronicled some of these on my Facebook page. This article consists of at least two such status updates. Here you go.

On Self-Reliance
There is a centre under the Department of Theatre and Performing Arts of the University called Centre of Excellence. A lady sells snacks, soda and other fast food stuff in its entrance. She dresses well, smiles at her customers and other passers-by who care to say hi. I often did that and she friendlily responded. I doubt if anyone among us, both the staff and the students, had ever bought anything from her, and that was where most of the internship lectures were conducted as it houses the non-broadcast studio for TV for practical, and classes for lectures.


There was a session that was supposed to be handled by a staff of the Department who was however absent. All the other staff members there present were hesitant to give the lecture, for one or another reason. The exercise was temporarily stalled. And then, one of them said okay, let’s call Miss Mariam. She could do it, he assured me, for she has recently finished her master’s degree, he further explained and sent for her. I didn’t know who that was, but I know she wasn’t part of the program.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

(76): Girl-Child as ‘Endangered’ Human in our Society

Muhsin Ibrahim

“Muhsin”, Shamsiyya (not a real name) called my attention. I answered, and listened. “Come and marry me”, She finished, retorting my allegation that she was still unmarried not because she lacks suitors, but for her being too choosy. It was later that I pondered on our lengthy conversation and realized that I was wrong. Many men are afraid of successful women like her. She is from a wealthy family, has two degrees and works with an international organization. She also confided to me that she could not stretch the cultural perception and norms to seriously ask anyone to marry her. She would rather continue to wait for Allah’s choice. I was left in a daze.

I came back home, sat down and ruminated over our chit-chat. I then recalled Dr. Muhammad Tahar Adamu aka Baba Impossible’s lecture back in our freshman year in the university. He one-day spent many minutes of his period admonishing the ladies in the class on relationship and marriage issues. He was upfront, as usual of him, while warning them that they should accept any marriage offer from any serious-minded suitor even during their studies. Once they finish, their certificate intimidates prospective husbands. The irony, which he also stressed on, is that: without the so-called Western education, they lack much value, at least in some instance. Baba Impossible cannot be more correct, for I have witnessed several such cases.


Mardiyya (not a real name) is a girl from a poor family. Both her immediate elder and younger sisters are married, while she is not. As could be expected in a traditional setting, pressure is mounting on her that she should bring forth a suitor. But fact be said, there is little or nothing she can do save to respond to whosoever comes and says he loves her. A few months ago, she nearly fell into the trap of two different men: a young, posh guy who borrows cars to come to her house, and a man who is old enough to be her father. At the initial stage of the latter’s courtship, he told her that she was voluptuous. After hearing about that, her sister cautioned her seriously and told her to be extra alert. He alas, the next day, attempted to grope her in the name of love, and that was the end of it. 

Monday, 29 August 2016

(75): On the Proliferation of English Learning Centres in Kano

Muhsin Ibrahim
@muhsin234

The trending entrepreneurial business in Kano used to be the so-called Computer Learning Centres a few years back. There is, nonetheless, a remarkable shift today to the so-called English Academy, English Learning Centre or other variant names. I am not against the idea in its entirety, but I am not happy with the vogue for some solid reasons.

If you can remember, at the noontime of computer centres in the state, many a times a student would obtain a certificate, a diploma or even an advanced diploma on computer without knowing, or knowing very little on, how to use as simple as the Microsoft Word, Excel and other elementary computer applications, for the business was hijacked and stalled by quacks. They plunged and polluted it for their desire was just to make one thing: quick money. In no time, many people realised that they were indirectly being largely duped. They stopped their patronage. Nowadays, several people are self-taught computer literates. Computer Centre business is significantly dead and buried.

The English centre business, too, faces a similar existential threat. I am neither an owner of, nor a teacher at, any such centres. But I have been actively involved in learning and teaching of the language for approximately a decade. That's why most, if not all, proprietors of the earliest centres around Kano are my teachers, relatives, friends or students. That is why I have been, for long, following what is going on with regards to the centres. It is a commonplace fact that their number is rapidly on the increase – typical way Kano people do business as I will explain later. 

Saturday, 16 July 2016

(74): Terrorism: A Deadly, Doomed Battle

Muhsin Ibrahim
@muhsin234

The world has consistently, for the past few weeks, seen carnage. The yesterday’s one in Nice, France has particularly left me very appalled, for it engulfed the lives of small children. The earlier one in Saudi Arabia, especially the one near the Prophet’s mosque in Medina, has had effect on the collective consciousness of the Muslim faithful more than whatever words can describe. Baghdad’s deadliest attack since the American invasion a day or two before was no less devastating, for more than 250 innocent souls were summarily murdered by a lone suicide bomber. Dhaka’s, too, deadened minds and shattered dreams, for it was unprecedented in the country that has already been going through a lot with the rise of the filthy, nihilistic doctrine of “kill whosoever professes different ideology”. Syria’s genocide shows no sign of ending. Libya has long become a den. OMG!

I am not here to defend Islam again. I have done that one hundred and one more times already. Although I am not tired, it is of little or no relevance here, for some ignorant, prejudiced individuals will never stop aligning the religion with every single act of terrorism. I wrote thus in one of such litanies in 2014 after the Kano Grand Mosque attack:

Is terrorism part of Islam? No. Yes. The religion is wholly against terrorism; Jihad, the concept always attached to this wanton, aimless war on all, is not altogether about murdering innocent people, abducting and enslaving children, robbing, plundering and the like. And yes; hundreds of thousands of Muslims are today engaged in those acts and they think they will be rewarded by so doing. I know this is a heavy fact to admit. But so it is. Islam today has largely been hijacked by terrorists and is thus becoming synonymous with terrorism. This happens in almost all corners of the world from Kano to Kabul, Benghazi to Baghdad, and London to Lahore. Whatever the causes, motivation, name it, Muslims, often, remains an integral part of it.

I have one expression to tell those lunatics: Allah ya isa! (Allah is sufficient for us!). This we say in Hausa, my mother tongue, when we are extremely helpless. There is nothing one can say, for the largest victims of this scourge are Muslims, yet we are every so often blamed for that. Imagine! One of the Muslims’ sacred places of worship was dastardly attacked by one of those people. Our mosques, schools, houses, markets, etc are also bombed. Nowhere is safe for us, and for all. They were hitherto found only in a few places, but they are now everywhere, and expanding. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

(73): June 1 Musings

Muhsin Ibrahim
@muhsin234

‘Personal’

In accordance with a pseudoscience called Astrology practiced and believed by many people, I should consider June 1 as a lucky day in my life. I don’t. I won’t. I don’t believe in superstition. But no doubt, the day stands unique in my life for at least two life-shaping, life-changing events: both my dream job and my dearest wife came to my life on this day in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Thus, I think the day, annually, deserves a particular remembrance and commemoration, even though in, strictly speaking, a non-ritualistic style. That is why I write to, among other things, thank the Almighty Allah. I generally have a lot to thank Him for, not only these days. Alhamdulillah.

This year is unforgettable, though quite tough. I and my wife returned to Nigeria from India after a two-year postgraduate study on June 24, 2015, less than a month into the new government of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB).  We couldn’t believe what we met here, for the prices of several basic food stuffs, even then, were higher than we were used to there. For instance, a crate of egg cost between Rs. 90 to 100 (i.e. N280 to N300) there, but it cost N800 in Nigeria! A kilogram of the Irish potato cost Rs. 10 (i.e. N30) in India, but it cost nothing less than N200 in Nigeria, etc. If we had our way, we would have gone back to India.