Monday

Perceptual Organization - Making sense while thinking

Editor's Corner

In a recent article, I had stressed the fact that the human brain, in addition to being the most extraordinary creation of the human anatomy was also the epicenter of thought, conviction, emotions, consciousness and purpose. In this particular article, the subject/topic of perceptual organization will be the focus of my discussion.

It therefore seemed appropriate to start this discussion with a reference once again to the human brain as perceptual organization would ‘naturally’ be a part or component of the intricate but detailed functionality of the human brain. Knowing fully well that learning may play a significant role in perception, there is the school of thought that perceptual organization does reflect innate properties of the human brain. More recent work in perception seems to infer that studying perception is basically studying the human brain. In particular, there seems to be more and more, an alignment of such school of thought with physiological observations of the human brain.

What is Perceptual Organization and even more importantly, how does one organize raw sensory stimuli into meaningful experiences that would ultimately make sense (at least to a recipient of the experience generated by the said stimuli)? Furthermore, in the process of making sense of the ‘sensation’, is the thinking process an evolving one and subject to an individual’s perceptual organization of his or her experiences? Also, what set of mental activities are involved in this organizational process and how ’influential’ are they in the process? Perception involves organization and grouping as well as distinguishing objects from their surroundings.

I do believe and will state that the organization of raw (sensory) stimuli into experiences that make sense and are meaningful to an individual or larger society would normally involve some cognitive functionality. This cognitive functionality would comprise processes such as thinking, knowing, remembering and in some cases, forgetting. This would seem to be a logical sequence as it makes for an organizational process that would ultimately seek to incorporate that which is favorable while through the forgetting process, eliminate that which the senses deem unfavorable.

Throughout this process, the importance of knowledge and experience will ultimately be established as knowing as a result of thinking generates a learned experiential state which whether favorable or unfavorable would ultimately help develop a perceptive frame of reference for the individual concerned. Now, I am not sure if I am making that much sense here, but I am simply stating what I think is in essence the obvious based on my own perceptual organization.

In asking some of the questions I asked in the second paragraph of this article, I did not do that with the aim of necessarily answering the said questions. I did that in the hopes of asking even more questions by creating a forum for intellectual conversations as to what perceptual organization really is all about; without seeking to necessarily narrow down its definition. What seems to be rather clear however is the realization that knowledge and experience are probably the most critical components of the perceptive process since those two factors may in fact help us better make sense of the input to our sensory systems.

According to Gestalt laws of grouping, there is the school of thought that the whole differs from the sum of its parts (Ehrenstein, W. 1930). The Gestalt theorists for the most part in the 20th century sought to single out the brain processes that would ultimately be responsible for the organization of perception. They argued that while simple sensations essentially consisted of organized percepts, the percepts themselves could be said to be basic to experience. There are also various arguments out there that seek to identify whether or not these experiences are for the most part private (Ehrenstein, W. 1930).

As I had stated earlier, perception, in addition to involving organization and grouping, also involves the process of distinguishing an object from its surroundings (Ehrenstein, W. 1930). There is the notion that the moment we perceive an object, the surrounding area around the said object is then the background. Gestalt psychologists are the biggest proponents of this school of thought. That would seem to suggest a concept of separating the figure from the ground and according to the Gestalt school of thought, this process is replicated throughout the various experiences of the percepts themselves (Ehrenstein, W. 1930).

There is no question this is probably one of the most difficult (if not the most difficult concepts - perceptual organization) for me to chew on, but I am of the school of thought that a thorough understanding of the subject itself is an evolving one in as much as the knowledge and experience of the percepts themselves, as part of the complex make-up of the human brain.

References
Ehrenstein, W. (1930). Figure-Ground Segregation. Current Psychology of Cognition, 117, 339-412.

Sunday

The Party of Death II: Republican South Dakota governor Kristi Noem also continues with her own version of the GOP "killing spree....."

Kristi Noem (R) has religiously towed the 'herd immunity' line of the Trump administration

CC™ Politico News

By Connor Perrett

  • The South Dakota Department of Health on Saturday reported 54 new deaths from COVID-19, surpassing the state's previous record death total of 53.

  • The same day, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem encouraged state residents in a tweet to go shopping, writing that small "businesses are the lifeblood of so many South Dakota communities."

  • Noem, a Republican, has refused to issue a statewide mask mandate and has otherwise disputed science and calls to enact stricter measures to contain the virus in the state.

  • Over the past week, more than 42% of COVID-19 tests in South Dakota administered have come back positive, according to data analyzed by Johns Hopkins University.

  • The South Dakota Department of Health on Saturday reported 54 new COVID-19 deaths since Friday, the highest single-day increase in deaths of all time in the state as cases of the virus surge statewide.

  • The previous record, 53, was set earlier this month on November 14, the Rapid City Journal reported. As the outlet noted, there have been 942 deaths in the state from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus since the pandemic began, with more than half of those — 517 — occurring in the month of November. There were more than 800 new cases diagnosed in the state Saturday.

    But hours earlier, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, encouraged state residents to go shopping to support local businesses.

    "Remember, today is #SmallBusinessSaturday," Noem tweeted Saturday morning. "These businesses are the lifeblood of so many South Dakota communities. Please support them today and every day! #shopsmall."

    Earlier in the week, Noem, who has been in office since 2019, celebrated the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's restrictions that imposed limits on capacity at religious services to curb the spread of the coronavirus. "Another thing to add to the list of reasons to be very thankful today," Noem said in a tweet Thursday.

    In addition to refusing to issue a statewide mask mandate, Noem has also defended individuals who neglect to wear masks despite repeated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and health experts who have pleaded that widespread adoption of mask-wearing would curb the spread of the disease.

    A CDC study in Kansas reported last week reaffirmed that mask mandates are effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19.

    "We talk often about the government's role in a situation like this in dealing with a pandemic," Noem said on November 18, disputing that the lack of a mask mandate was responsible for a surge in cases, according to The Associated Press. "At this point, frankly, I'm getting more concerned about how neighbors are treating neighbors."

    Noem said that it was an individual's "personal decision" to wear a mask, refused to encourage residents to wear a mask or to practice social distancing, and claimed the most effective way to combat COVID-19 spread was through handwashing, according to the AP.

    There have been more than 79,000 cases of COVID-19 in South Dakota diagnosed since the pandemic began, per Johns Hopkins University data. Over the past week, more than 42% of all COVID-19 tests administered there have come back positive. That's more than four times higher than the 9.4% national positivity rate, according to the Hopkins data.

    Read the original article on Business Insider

Saturday

True American exceptionalism: Strength in real diversity as U.S. Embassy in Nigeria lauds Nigerian-born medical doctor key in development of COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, MBBCh, FACP
CC™ Global Square

By Editorial Team

The United States Embassy in Nigeria has lauded a Nigerian-born medical doctor, Onyema Ogbuagu, MBBCh, FACP, for his role in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine in America.

Earlier in the month, U.S. drug manufacturing firm, Pfizer announced that the vaccine has an efficacy rate (almost well within the standard 95% statistical confidence interval) of 94.5 percent, marking a major breakthrough in the fight against the pandemic.

“Nigerians contribute to the world in so many ways,” the U.S. Mission in Nigeria tweeted on its handle on Monday. “Our hats off to Dr. Onyema Ogbuagbu at Yale who helped develop a COVID-19 vaccine!”

Dr. Ogbuagu is an Associate Professor of medicine at Yale University. He is one of those leading the research at Pfizer for a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States.

In a series of Tweets on his official handle, Monday, the medical expert dispelled some misconceptions about the vaccine, explaining that misinformation about the pandemic may lead to loss of lives.

Friday

The Party of Death: Republican Florida governor Ron DeSantis accused of ‘killing spree’ after extending ban on cities from imposing own mask mandates

Two peas in a pod - President Trump (L) and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R)

CC™ Political News

By James Crump

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has been accused of overseeing a “killing spree”, after he extended a ban on cities in the state imposing their own mask mandates.

On Wednesday, Mr. DeSantis extended an executive order issued in September, which prevented local governments from fining residents who refused to wear face masks, or from closing restaurants not complying with coronavirus measures.

The decision on 25 September prompted the start of the state’s third phase of pandemic measures, which allowed restaurants and bars to open at 100 per cent capacity.

Florida Democratic officials criticized the governor for the extension of the executive order on Wednesday, amid a spike in cases in the state.

Chris King, the 2018 Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, quote tweeted a local news story about the decision, adding: “Alternate headline: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Continues Killing Spree.”

Miami-Dade mayor Daniella Levine Cava called the decision “deeply frustrating” in a series of tweets on Wednesday evening.

“Bipartisan governors nationwide are putting mask orders in place as one of the best tools we have to fight #COVID19.

“It’s deeply frustrating that @GovRonDeSantis continues to block local actions and make it harder for local leaders to keep our communities safe,” the mayor wrote.

Last week, a bipartisan group of Florida mayors pleaded with Mr DeSantis to allow mask mandates to be enforced in areas across the state, according to Forbes.

The governor rejected their plea..

Florida is the largest state in the US to have lifted a majority of its coronavirus restrictions and is one of only 13 that have not issued statewide mask mandates.

It has seen a spike in coronavirus cases over the last couple of months, as the number of Covid-19 infections reported in a week has tripled since Mr. DeSantis lifted restrictions, according to CNN.

Last week, the state recorded 53,000 positive tests, which was three times more than the week before Mr. DeSantis’ executive order in late September.

The governor has not addressed the increase in cases, and has only tweeted about Covid-19 five times since election day on 3 November.

Since the start of the pandemic, Florida has recorded more than 962,000 Covid-19 cases and at least 18,253 deaths.

According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 12.7 million people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached 262,266.

The Independent has contacted Mr. DeSantis’ office for comment.

Thursday

First family super spreaders: Donald Trump Jr. says he is 'all done with the Rona' and ends self isolation in violation of CDC guidelines

Like father like son - Trump Jr. (L) with the older Trump (R)

CC™ News

By Aylin Woodward

  • Donald Trump Jr. announced Wednesday night that he'd been cleared to end his COVID-19 isolation and celebrate Thanksgiving "the way it's meant to be."

  • On Friday, Trump Jr. announced that he tested positive for COVID-19.

  • It's not clear when Trump Jr. received his positive diagnosis, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend even asymptomatic COVID patients isolate for 10 days.

  • A spokesman for Trump Jr. told Business Insider that the president's son is asymptomatic and has been isolating since he received his positive test, which came in "at the start of the week" last week.

  • It is not known when he received his last negative test.

Donald Trump Jr. announced he'd tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.

Five days later, Trump Jr. announced he was cleared to be with his family for Thanksgiving: "I got the medical OK I'm all done with the Rona," he wrote on Instagram.

An Instagram video showed Trump Jr. with his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle in front of a turkey dinner Wednesday evening: "So I got cleared, happy to be healthy, and we get to spend Thanksgiving the way it's meant to be," he said.

The two bought enough food for "six or seven people," Trump Jr. said, and were eating it on Wednesday "as a little extra celebration."

He added that the meal in the video was their "back up plan." He added that they were "just going to double up on the Thanksgiving day feast," suggesting that couple will have a second Thanksgiving meal Thursday with other people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against any gathering that brings together people from different households for the holidays.

CDC recommends people sick with COVID-19 isolate for 10 days, even if they're asymptomatic

In a Friday Instagram video confirming his diagnosis, Trump Jr. emphasized that he was "totally asymptomatic" but would "follow the regular protocols."

He suggested it could have been a false positive test, and said that he hoped he could "test a couple times in a row negative before the holidays." 

According to the CDC, even people who have no symptoms need to isolate for 10 days following the date of their positive test before they can be around others (including household and family members). Experts also warn that a negative test is not necessarily a free pass to spend the holiday with family.

It's not clear when Trump Jr. first learned he had COVID-19.

A spokesman for Trump Jr. told Business Insider Friday that the president's eldest son had been isolating since he received his positive test.

"Don tested positive at the start of the week and has been quarantining out at his cabin since the result," the spokesperson said. "He's been completely asymptomatic so far and is following all medically recommended COVID-19 guidelines."

It also recommends against anyone attending or hosting a Thanksgiving gathering with a person who has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, which would include Guilfoyle.

Trump Jr.'s girlfriend did test positive for COVID-19 earlier this year.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Wednesday

Still on Constitutionalism: A wake-up call

Late Nigerian Dictator Sani Abacha

CC™ Nigeriaworld

By Abdulrazaq Magaji

Over the past several months, the restructuring debate has understandably been pushed to the front burner with opinions on the issue being as impassioned as they are divided. Expectedly, every Nigerian appears to have an idea on how, when and what to restructure.

That is the way it should be! But, with popular opinion in support of preserving the continued existence of Nigeria as one, united country, attention should be focused on restructuring to strengthen political structures. It is good that the ninth Senate has activated a nationwide debate on securing a people-oriented constitution.

It might not have been top on the agenda when then Head of State, General Sani Abacha, convoked the National Constitutional Conference in 1994, but, little did he know that he had surreptitiously set the country on the path of restructuring.  Had death not abridged General Abacha’s plans, it is safe to say that all the hot air over marginalization, more imagined than real, and some of the ills we are grappling with, would have been consigned to history.

Reference here is to stillborn report of the 1994/95 National Constitutional Conference. A review of salient provisions of the report shows that, had it seen the light of day, Nigeria would have transformed from a country of contending ethnic nationalities into a modern nation-state in a matter of thirty years! In a manner of speaking, the Abacha draft is the best effort at constitutionalism since independence in 1960.

Sadly, General Abacha died suddenly after holding the country together for five impossible years. Imperatively, survival instincts demanded that General Abacha be disowned by those who succeeded him. The national emergency then was to heal wounds and woo the aggrieved South-west geo-political zone back into the fold. It was, therefore, expedient for his stopgap successor, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, to distance himself as much as possible. The biggest casualty was the report of Confab ’94.

One of the committees hurriedly assembled by the new administration to explore the way forward was led by an eminent jurist, late Justice Niki Tobi. The Committee appeared to be in a haste to deliver; after all, it had its briefs well spelt out. The Committee took one hasty look at the Abacha Report and dismissed it offhanded as ‘anti-people’. Remarkably, the eminent jurist rationalized the decision to throw away the Abacha document by claiming it was the ‘product of a disputed legitimacy’. In its place, the 1979 constitution was lazily window-dressed and closed shop!

As things stand today, Nigeria continues to grope partly due to the lethargy with which the Abacha document was handled. The nation’s official six geo-political zones remains an enduring legacy of General Abacha. In any case, the zones were meant to be the building blocks for the fundamental changes envisaged by the 1995 draft constitution which made provision for the offices of president, vice president, senate president, house speaker as well as the position of prime minister and deputy prime minister. A five-year single-term for political offices. Public office holders were restricted to a five-year single-term tenure.

The ‘Abacha document’ had something for everybody. Had political exigencies not prevailed on General Abubakar into literally throwing away the baby with the bathwater, Nigeria would, by now, have experimented with the Abacha formula for twenty-two   of the ‘thirty-year transition period’ which aim was to ‘promote national cohesion and integration’, after which merit and competence would replace rotation in determining who gets what.

In strict adherence to the principle of rotation envisaged by the Abacha document, at no point in time would any of the six geo-political zones have cause to complain of marginalization since there was always going to be one ‘juicy’ office to be vied for by each of the zones every five years. What this means is that, in 2018, the fifth of the six zones would have produced a president for the country and, by 2023, all six key political offices would have gone round the six geopolitical zones on rotational basis.

Of equal importance is that the unique provision eliminates the incumbency factor and its attendant abuses. Since the draft envisaged its replication at state levels, the president and other principal officers as well as state governors and stand disqualified from standing election for the same office during their five-year single term incumbency!

More than two decades after ‘throwing away the baby with the bath water’, Nigerians are still playing the ostrich instead of sobering up and still living in denial.  overgrowing the prejudices of the Abacha era. As a matter of fact, the Abacha document was so comprehensive to have anticipated the untenable and wrong-headed agitations across the country and the hollow talk of marginalization that comes with it. Now, can and, should Nigerians continue to play the ostrich and allow lawlessness to dominate the political scene? Are we to allow a rambunctious few to continue to stampede us and dominate national discourse in the face of quick-fix solutions?

Of course, the talk of dissolving Nigeria is hot air that lacks substance. Yes, there is need to restructure and this should not be mistaken for a breakup as some have been programmed to believe. We need to restructure in a way every section of the country will, at all times, be appropriately represented in governance. The ‘Abacha document’ took care of these and more. The document suggested a five-year single-term for elective posts. To restructure in a way that lawmaking will be inexpensive and effective, the draft made provision for part-time lawmaking!

Of course, Nigeria should restructure in a way that treasury looters will not get dubious clean bills from regular courts or be shielded from prosecution. It may interest Nigerians and their elected representatives that there is no proclamation for the much-abused immunity clause for any public office holder in the Abacha draft for the president and vice president as well as governors and their deputies. The pestiferous eighth Assembly that canvassed for a dubious immunity for its principal officers was not expected to look at the document; it didn’t!

Nigerians should give the thumbs-up to the leadership of the current Senate for taking the bull by the horn. To achieve desired results, Nigerians must begin to look beyond General Abacha and ditch the prejudices that characterized his days. The task ahead may seem insuperable but it is not invincible. 

The task will be made easier if we tinker with report of Confab ’95. 

Tuesday

Laura Ingraham: An epitome of hypocrisy and a walking contradiction of privileged ignorance

Fox News Host Laura Ingraham aptly 'salutes' her fans 
CC™ Editorial - By Deji Fashola (Contributing Editor)

One of the most consistent things in life is time. Time never fails to tell the story. The story of the day, the story of your life and the events that have shaped that very life; but even more importantly, time never fails to remind us of our past, with historical and poignant markers that speak to how our past actions ultimately determine where and who we are, or will become.

For Laura Ingraham, a talk show host of Fox News and someone whom I had never heard of until she name dropped basketball superstar, Lebron James, a couple of years ago by telling him to shut up and dribble, time has essentially encapsulated the very essence of her being, as it relates to her place in the evolving but contentious conversation about Americas contract with people of African descent.

I am not a consumer of American news as a matter of principle, be it CNN, Fox, MSNBC or any other alphabet news organization, but one thing I will say having had a glimpse of Fox news in particular is that the latter (Fox news) is the most brazen attempt at instituting State-run TV in a country that is supposed to be the very epitome of democracy

Time and time again, we are inundated with the Republican mantra that seemingly serves to eschew the tenets and principles of so-called conservative values. But, what exactly do these values entail. 

According to Laura Ingraham, conservative values seek to:

a) Preserve the sanctity of life pre-birth but abuse and devalue it after birth, especially if the life in question is of the wrong hue.

b) Promote avaricious greed that encourages limitless profit by a very limited few to the detriment of the overwhelming majority.

c) Encourage and promote governmental interference in the lives of others with the exception of those who profess a divine following of a God whose commandments and ordinances they (the conservatives) never abide by, but project and force on others who merely seek to live and let live.

d) Bully, vilify, slander, defame, abuse and in some cases seek to intimidate with threats of violence those they disagree with, including defying constituted authority even though the latter's conduct and ordinances are within the framework of the laws and statutes of the land.

A perfect example of this vilification is the Republican messaging of referring to those who ask why the wealthiest nation on earth is one paycheck away from having more than half of its population without the most basic of human rights, basic healthcare, as socialists. These same conservatives (Republicans) have no problems though with the government giving away billions of dollars in corporate welfare to big corporations, deemed too big to fail. To them, the average American is too irrelevant and too small to succeed or be cared for, so long as Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Tom "the thug" Cotton and the "Calgary Stampeding" Rafael Ted Cruz (Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father and a supposed American mother but acts more Texan than a Texas Ranger) line the pockets of their corporate benefactors.

e) Extol the virtues of Democracy and civility when in the majority or win elections but then turn the same institution on its head, refusing to concede when you lose, and then seek to undermine and subvert the will of the people by judicial fiat.

The last four years of the Trump misrule of incompetence laced with brazen nepotism and racism, as well as unbridled corruption, has undoubtedly been egged on by State TV (Fox News) with Laura Ingraham et al as the unofficial spokespersons of this civilian junta. 

It remains to be seen if the emanating socio-political scars remain embedded in the mental and institutional psyche of the nation, for decades or even generations to come.

Monday

The art of managing people

Editor-in-Chief 

Organizations struggle everyday with the germane issue of what the effective management of people, an organization's most prized asset, actually entails. The effective management of people within an organization requires a thorough understanding of the following: 
  
  • Motivation - Whether intrinsic or extrinsic and the importance of positive triggers....
  • Job design and environment....
  • Company's rewards system and how it is structured and also possibly layered....
  • Group influence as a function of Group-think and other allegiances....
Motivation
Human beings are creatures of habit and by that, I mean it is natural to expect that individuals will have different triggers within their genetic and socio-cultural make-up, that ultimately control what their motivations are, where they originate from or worse still, whether or not they have any at all.
Of course, as a business owner or a leader, you would hope you haven't hired someone or lead a group of people on the bottom rung of the Motivation Trigger Index™ (MTI).
Usually, one finds that most people with intrinsic motivation tend to have a higher MTI. They are the high achievers and are usually not driven to succeed or excel necessarily as a result of positive external triggers, but do so because it is just in their make-up. It is however important to note that for these group, the Positive External Triggers (PETs) only serve to further elevate their MTI scores. As for those, whose Motivational Intelligence (MI) require external triggers, they tend to be either in the middle or the lower rung of the Motivation Trigger Index™. People in this category tend to require an appreciable amount of Positive External Triggers (PETs) and ironically, if they have quite a bit of this, they are bound to excel at their tasks, in some cases, even with distinction. However, unlike the first group, their MTI scores tend to vacillate between just above average to poor, as a function of the amount of PETs they are exposed to in their work and related environment.
Job Design and Environment
Over the years, scientific management has sought to strip workers of their initiative, thus ridding the work environment of key intangibles such as skill set diversity, autonomy and most important of all, feedback, constructive or otherwise.
A perfect example of empowering employees and creating an environment that engenders optimum productivity and creativity is to seek input from your employees, even when you, as a leader, know what the solution to a problem is. They may even suggest the solution you have in mind and you can give them credit for it.
Rewards System
The rewards system must be one that does not give rise to suspicion or insinuations of favoritism. While majority of organizations, big or small, insist on building a "team atmosphere", it is imperative that top performers, particularly those that most closely espouse the company's core principles within the framework of its corporate culture, are duly rewarded and recognized as such.
This process should however be carefully monitored and managed, so as to ensure that everyone (including the non-monetary contributors) feels a sense of belonging to the organization, through their own respective contributions.
It is a well-known fact that the successful execution of a company's business strategy must involve everyone on the ship.
Group Influence
This can either be a "good thing" or a "bad thing", but it depends on how you look at it. Now, while it can create a negative work environment due to its potentially divisive and mostly political nature, it is an unavoidable phenomenon.
Most organizations have learned to not only exist but also flourish with just the "right amount" of group-think, as it actually may engender a spirit of collaboration towards reaching the ultimate objectives of the organization.
The overriding attitude becomes one where the conclusion is that if the company wins, then everyone wins. 

© 2020 2CG MEDIA. Coker Confidential™

Sunday

Saturday

Nigeria was once an indisputable leader in Africa: What happened?

CC™ Opinion Editorial - By Sheriff Folarin

The traditional leadership and redeemer posture of Nigeria in Africa has, in recent years, been put into question.
Issues like corruption and infrastructural decay have held the country down from playing a leadership role in Africa. As have transitions from one poor leadership to another. A visionary leadership is lacking while public institutions are weak, inept and compromised. Decades of political patronage and nepotism have seen a corrosion of quality and performance in the public service.
In addition, the intractable problem of Boko Haram and Islamic State, coupled with kidnappings, have created a security crisis. All continue to shatter the myth of military invincibility and the might of the Nigerian state.
In the beginning, it was not so. From independence in 1960, Nigeria took upon itself the role of uniting Africa against western recolonisation. The continent, from then on in, became the centre-piece of its foreign policy. The fact that nations were living under foreign rule made it possible to galvanise them around a common cause. This led to the creation of the Organisation of African Unity  – now the African Union – in 1963 and Economic Community of West African States in 1975.
Nigeria assumed a leading role in these events as it forged a foreign policy with a strong Afrocentric posture. In fact, so frenetic was its involvement in this role that it sometimes paid little attention to the home front.
Nigeria’s leadership role on the continent was a product of the vision, dreams and, sometimes, whims of the founding fathers. They were nevertheless premised on real national capacity. Jaja Wachukwu, Nigeria’s first external affairs minister noted  in 1960 that:
Our country is the largest single unit in Africa… we are not going to abdicate the position in which God Almighty has placed us. The whole black continent is looking up to this country to liberate it from thraldom.
This defined the country’s behaviour and continental outlook and has continued to influence successive administrations – weak or effective.

Assuming a leadership role

The sheer size of Nigeria’s population – the largest on the continent which rose from 48.3 million in 1963 to over 200 million in 2020 — gave the country the idea that Africa was its natural preoccupation.
In addition, its colonial experience and the abundance of its oil resources and wealth have empowered Nigeria economically. This made it possible for the country to pursue an ambitious foreign policy. It also permitted Nigeria to finance its Civil War, strengthening its international independence. And oil made possible an unparalleled post-war recovery.
Nigeria has used its influence to good effect and to good ends. For example, it worked with other countries in the West African sub-region to establish the Economic Community of West African States in 1975. It went on to push for the prevention and resolution of devastating conflicts that engulfed Liberia in 1992. The conflict spilled over into Sierra Leone and other countries in the region. Nigeria spearheaded the cessation of hostilities and created the cease-fire monitoring group to bring a total end to the civil strife and restore democracy in both countries.
Many observers agree that the sterling performance of the monitoring group is unparalleled in the history of regional organisations the world over. It has now become a model to emulate for its operational efficiency and for giving regional actors pride of place in the resolution of regional conflicts.
shutterstock
Nigeria exerted similar efforts to ensure that democratic governments were restored to Guinea-BissauCote d’Ivoire and Sao Tome et Principe, after military take-overs in those countries.
It spent over US$10 billion in these peace campaigns and also lost soldiers in the process.
Nigeria has not limited its peacekeeping role to West Africa. It has also been engaged in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia-Eritrea.
The country also played the most important role  in fighting apartheid in Southern Africa and supporting liberation movements on the continent.

Disappointments

But Nigeria has not been immune to challenges facing countries on the continent. Corruption, misappropriation of public funds, electoral malpractices, insurgency and terrorism have devastated its capacity and weakened its moral fortitude to lead the continent.
Amidst enormous wealth, poverty in Nigeria is endemic . It could even become the poverty capital of the world, according to The World Poverty Clock. Nigerians have been reduced to the behest of the politicians that tie them to gridlock of “stomach infrastructure”. This is a new trend which reflects institutionalised and structural poverty. Deprivation puts people in a vulnerable and compromised position where the desperation for survival makes them sell their votes and conscience.
The slow movement of the current administration is also killing the Nigerian spirit and leadership posture. South AfricaGhana and even Madagascar have acted faster in continental and global politics, including during times of emergency such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. But Nigeria seems content with a spectator position.

What next?

Nigeria has been relegated to the background of international affairs. To turn this around requires a revisit to the roots – and mowing the lawns afterwards. Nigeria must take stock of its own performance and capacities and re-position itself – first from within.
If Nigerian leaders are increasingly determined to proffer African solutions to their problems, then political structures and institutions must be reformed to reflect conditions suitable for sustainable development. Without a formidable political base, the economy will remain weak and fragile. The political base is crucial, because, the state is the repository of all ramifications and dimensions of power – political, economic, technological and military. And the purpose of the state is to authoritatively allocate these resources.
There is also a need to empower people to mobilise their local resources and to use them for development. And, of course, public funds should not be concentrated in the hands of few individuals, who may be tempted to steal them. An accountable system is one in which money management has several checks.
Oil wealth has been the country’s nemesis, a curse that has promoted corruption and blatant bleeding of the economy. But it is declining in value and as source of national revenue. Now is the time for Nigeria to make good its repeated and well-advertised intentions to diversify the economy.
A de-emphasis on oil would open the door to smarter ideas about how to create wealth. It would also herald in getting rid of a great deal of the phlegm of corruption which has played such a central role in Nigeria’s infrastructural decay, eroded its influence and given it such a negative image.
Added to this is the succession of weak rulers since 2007.
African leaders do not look towards Nigeria anymore for counsel, inspiration and help. They think Nigeria has a lot on its plate already and needs help. The potential is still there for Nigeria to return to power; but it takes leadership to (re)build the auspicious atmosphere and to activate the country’s potential – the two steps required to regain that enviable frontliner spot on the continent.
This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Friday

Flashback: The GOP and the dearth of true conservatives

Reagan takes oath of office
Editor-in-Chief - Boyejo A. Coker

In an article I wrote three years ago, I touched on the debilitating frailties of the GOP as presently constituted and how they may have led to the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.

As we get into the decisive months of presidential politics in the U.S. general elections, one sees the same pattern beginning to unfold once again, as the GOP-led Congress (at least on the House side) would much rather play side-bar politics, that could ultimately re-energize the left to turn out in solidarity of what most observers perceive to be an under-performing president.

There is no question that the president is vulnerable and worse-still is the fact that he seems unsure of what he needs to do, in order to get the economy moving again.

For independent voters (they hold the "swing votes" in key elections), the two choices for the White House would seem to be a replay of 2008 all over again.

Then, most independents seemed to initially lean towards John McCain, as they respected his service to country as well as his penchant for reaching across the aisle, to get the business of the nation done, when it was absolutely necessary.

The fringe right of the GOP was however cool to the McCain candidacy and they eventually forced his hand into choosing someone that many felt became a liability to both his candidacy as well as the poignant message true conservatives were trying to send to the American people.

Key political watchers would argue that true conservatives never warmed up to Sarah Palin the minute they realized there was nothing behind the looks or between the ears.

For all the so-called Tea Party would like most Americans to believe, conservatism is not defined by a resentment for a sterling educational pedigree or impeccable intellectual acumen. Rather than see those with the preceding qualities as snubs, a true conservative views the composite as an invaluable asset; one that typifies a sense of ambition, responsibility and ultimately speaks to the crux of the conservative message of a commitment to excellence.

The reality is that this president is way in over his head, but the GOP leadership in the House of Representatives has consistently giving him a way out by stalling and styming his feckless efforts aimed at "reviving" the American economy.

And when they are not styming the president's "well intended efforts" they are busy issuing subpoenas to the Attorney General of the United States for a program that was actually started under a Republican president; it was then called Operation Wide Receiver and it was the first known ATF "gunwalking" operation to the Mexican drug cartels, beginning in early 2006 (under the Bush White House) and ran till late 2007.

Not to digress onto this matter, but what makes the Darrell Issa-led over-reach even more laughable and at best mis-directed, is the fact that under the Bush administration, there were no known reviews by either the DOJ or the Congress at the time. In fact, it was not until Barack Obama took office in 2009, that the Eric Holder-led DOJ started an intensive review into Operation Wide Receiver, with arrests and indictments subsequently made, as a result of the investigations.

Rather than focus on the key issues that continue to affect the generality of the American people, the ECONOMY, ECONOMY and the ECONOMY, key GOP leadership and their surrogates, would much rather play divisive politics and once again, give a much needed opening and life-line to a struggling presidency.

True conservatives are not blinded by their parochial and ideological idiosyncracies, but are instead commited to espousing the true values and ideals of transparency, accountability and responsible governance; doing so with dignity and firmness, as well as a sense of cordiality that belies their resolve and determination.

The message of individual responsibility, self-determination, personal discipline and accountability must not be lost in the abyss of incendiary vituperations laced with jingoistic redundancies.

The American people deserve much better this time around, than a default presidency as that may ultimately lead to a couple of plausible scenarios that could eventually obtain here. The first is that Barack Obama's "third term" is ensured (4 years from now) by the lack of purpose and direction currently being exhibited by the core GOP establishment. The other scenario is that an anti-establishment candidate may arise out of the ashes of the impending GOP establishment's implosion. That person would then become an unlikely but much welcome voice (at least to the far right) of parochial irredentism that may change the political landscape of the United States forever.

Editor's Note: This piece was written (ahead of the 2012 U.S. general elections) as a sequel to a preceding piece titled "Whither the GOP and true conservatism." Both pieces served to profess a prelude to the emergence of both Barack Obama and Donald Trump on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

Thursday

"Without consistency, you will never finish......"

CC™ Motivational

Please watch this video. You will never be the same afterwards.

Wednesday

The saga of transactional sex on the campus of Nigerian universities

CC™ Editorial By Oludayo Tade 

Transactional sex among female undergraduates in Nigeria is a social reality. The practice has been reported on regularly in the mainstream media and explored in various research papers

This cross generational relationship is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, and across the world where sponsors are commonly known as “sugar daddies”.

In our study on transactional sex in Nigerian universities, my colleague and I looked at the symbiotic relationship between some female Nigerian undergraduate students and aristos – wealthy, married or unmarried men. The students have transactional sex with the aristos in exchange for financial, social or educational support.

Because a great deal of these relationships happen undercover, there are no solid figures on the number of women involved in them. But there are many reasons that these relationships happen. It’s a practice that’s driven by economic hardship, a desire to network socially, and peer influence.
To understand more about these relationships we conducted 30 interviews with female undergraduates – commonly known as “runs-girls”.
We found that the students engage in transactional sex for pleasure and money. Typically, wealthy students would be with an aristo for pleasure, while those who needed financial support did it for the money. Most of the women we spoke to viewed it as a critical survival life investment strategy and rejected the “prostitution” label.
Although these relationships could offer the students economic, emotional, and political support, their effects can also be negative. The students expose themselves to sexually transmitted infections, physical violence and academic setbacks, because the relationships can distract from their studies.
Those with sexually transmitted infections risk of spreading these to their boyfriends, while also suffering economic losses seeking treatment.

Finding clients

Aristos are usually wealthy postgraduate students, lecturers, politicians, business people and military personnel. They are people with wealth and authority.
The students looked for these clients on and off campus, using connections and referrals. They then familiarized themselves with the potential client’s routine, aiming to eventually manufacture an encounter.
There’s usually a generational gap between the “runs-girls” and the aristos. The students often refer to their clients as “uncle”, “daddy” and, more recently, “aristo”. All of these bring connotations of the person’s expected role: to take care of the student.
If the students don’t have much financial support from their families, these relationships provide them with that security. Some started as a one-off “date”, for which they got a sum of money. But longer-term relationships also developed in some instances.
In return for sex, the women were given luxury possessions, like cars and mobile phones; investments for businesses they might start; or work placements when they finish their studies.
As one female student said:
The type of connection I have with politicians, lecturers, and military men cannot be purchased with money. At times, when I have problem, all I do is to make a call, depending on the nature of challenges…
In Nigeria, about 23% of young people are unemployed. These connections, with people of influence, may be a ticket to employment. As one “runs-girl” revealed:
One of my clients who happened to be a commissioner connected my senior sister to get a job at immigration even without any much stress…
Transactional sex isn’t limited to financially strapped students. We spoke to rich female students who engaged in it for sexual fulfillment. One 24 year old student said:
I am from a rich home, my father is even a Major (in the army), and my mother a nurse, but I’m involved in campus runs because of sexual satisfaction, although nothing goes for nothing, because sex is for enjoyment. I have a guy that I help financially, and on the long run he pays me back with sex.

Challenges

In this research we identified a few challenges.
Some “runs-girls” accepted offers of unprotected sex for better pay. This put them at risk of catching sexually transmitted infections and, consequently, the cost of treatment. As one student said:
I am always scared of having naked (unprotected) sex. Most times I use (a) condom because one can never know a man that has HIV/AIDS. Although sometimes some men always want naked sex and in that case, they will have to pay triple than what is earlier bargained. Part of the money realized as a runs-girl are used in revitalizing the body, in which I go to the hospital once in a month to examine myself.
Other risks are that the women could be physically harmed. This is particularly true if the clients choose not to pay an agreed amount.
Their education could also suffer as they may choose to engage in “runs” rather than go to class.

Action needed

Getting the government or even universities to take action will prove difficult because our evidence suggests that policy makers, politicians and the business class are involved, as aristos.
Nevertheless, given the risks associated, something ought to be done.
One possible solution might be to establish part-time jobs for vulnerable students, and to institute courses about running businesses so that young women can earn money independently.
In addition, institutions should put together and roll out communications campaigns that teach young people about the implications of transactional sex.