By Morenike Taire
A cold hand of fear has crept over South West Nigeria in the way it has not done in a very long time. The cause: the attack by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) on Atlas Cove this week.

Before this totally unprecedented and shocking attack, uprisings and rumours of uprisings in the Niger Delta region had been, at best, remote. The rest of the good people of Nigeria had supported MEND and other similar organisations in the past.

If there has been anything Nigerians, North, West, South and East have been agreed upon, it is the fact that most Nigerians outside of the ruling class are agreed on the inability of our governments over the years to use crude oil and numerous other mineral resources for the common good.

There had been no real fears that the violence would ever come not to the back yard but the front yard of the South West.

But, to be honest, it has been long in coming. If there is anything to be said about the actions of the Yar’Adua administration as well as that of its predecessor, it is that it lacks a clear and robust idea of the issues that have been thrown up, over the decades, as a result of the rape of the Niger Delta.

The Obasanjo administration had been certain, in its naivety, that all it needed to do was visit a dirty piece of military action to throw fear into the people of the region, and then pacify them by increasing the percentages for derivation funds.

It worked for some time, because of the cash factor. Its successor was a bit more thoughtful, being so quiet at the beginning and all of a sudden unleashing terror with one hand and once again offering cash with the other. It was only a matter of time before it all burst at the seams.

Apparently, the insurgency in the Niger Delta region has, being so insulted about the amnesty offers, matured overnight.

They have seen the way the fall in crude production has set about crippling the government. The resulting insecurity of atmosphere and the way it affects the naira, budget and everything else can no longer be ignored.
Perhaps the militants saw it coming.

And so while the South West shivers in fear, there is jubilation in the MEND camp at its penetration of the unsustainable security of the Federal side. There is, at this point, only one way to go: The way of fiscal federalism and whatever vehicle that will convey us to it.

Otherwise, is this the beginning of the end? A house built on sand cannot stand. Or can it?

Music for good: The Jackson example

In his popular quest for world peace as campaigned for in his lyrics, Pop king Michael Jackson sounded like a beauty pageant contestant.

It is not to say beauty contestants and/or queens are necessarily dumb but let us face it: Watchers look forward to the question and answer session of beauty contests for the simple reason that you get some rather uninspired and unoriginal answers to the carefully prepared questions and the producers of Miss Congeniality, the year 2000 Box Office Hollywood hit starring Sandra Bullock, took advantage of this and played it to the hilt.

Now that he is no longer with us anyway, no one would be so politically incorrect as to refer to the King himself as dumb, particularly as he was not.

Rather on the contrary, while his lyrics’ themes sounded hollow, contrived and very clichéd, Jackson used technology- when the particular technologies were still new, expensive and rather experimental- to establish his role as one of the greatest cultural ambassadors of all time.

Jackson, in his musical videos (itself an invention of his team and himself), mixed his native American pop culture with European Western, East Indian, South American and North/East African. He used dance the way dance had never been used before, juxtaposing one culture over the other in such a way as to suggest there not being much of a difference between one and the other. He had, in one almost imaginably creative video, an Indian lady dressed in a Sari dancing like a New York trained professional dancer.

Jackson brought art and technology to new heights, and proved over and over that the concept of Art for Art’s sake does not exist.

Art, science and technology have the same roles to play in society, but art goes further to preoccupy in the way the others do not. It is safe to say that a people preoccupied by art are a people preoccupied by higher thoughts and arts and culture, not science or technology, remain the best measure of a people’s civilization.

Here at home, the popular music culture has hit us over the last few years in a way we had never thought imaginable, both on a cultural and business levels. There is a very thin line between culture and counterculture, though, and won’t it be great if this new wave begins a real renaissance.


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