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No shaking – For now at least!

I HAVE recently, on two occasions, praised Mr President for his new Niger Delta initiatives. And I’ve been amazed by the number of sour comments I’ve received.

This topic has attracted more negative reactions from Vanguard customers than any other topic I’ve covered in this column. Several readers have gently chided or aggressively condemned me – via text messages, via emails, via phone calls and during face-to-face encounters – for daring to say that I think that Mr President is being sincere and can achieve great results if he implements his plans efficiently.

I have had all kinds of ridiculous and insulting allegations thrown at me. I have been accused of using this issue as an excuse for lobbying for a second term for Yar’Adua. Some folks have even expressed a suspicion that I have been bribed.

Ah well. Never mind. Life would be as dull as ditchwater and totally devoid of intellectually stimulating debates if we all felt the same way about everything.

My pessimistic detractors are as entitled to their opinions as I am to mine. And I continue, for now at least, to be unrepentantly upbeat about Mr President’s motives and chances of success…… and will no doubt further infuriate my critics by pointing out that if Yar’Adua is able to sustain the amnesty and suppress militancy for a significant period of time – and quickly goes ahead with his promise to invest substantial funds in hitherto neglected oil-producing areas – he will richly deserve a Nobel Peace Prize.

Uncharacteristic optimism

MY willingness to enthusiastically support the President’s Niger Delta strategy has surprised a lot of my friends because I don’t normally have faith in Nigerian VIPs.

Even when Nigerian VIPs are likeable and smart, I rarely believe that they possess the integrity or discipline to do their jobs well and serve their country honourably.  And it is almost unheard-of for me to jump up and clap loudly when they assure me or the world that they are going to perform wonders because – let’s be honest – they usually wind up performing woefully and disappointing folks who trusted them.

Another reason why a lot of my friends are surprised about my enthusiastic support for the President is that I am one of life’s perpetual complainants. While natural optimists describe glasses as half-full, I tend to describe them as half-empty. I was born to bellyache on a regular basis and love to go on and on and on about the many imperfections that are an integral part of the human existence!

If people ask me how I am, I hardly ever cheerfully say, “Fine, thank you” or “Not too bad”. Nine times out of 10, I answer this question by issuing a long list of complaints about my personal problems, my professional problems, the endless problems that beset all Nigerians in general (power outages, fuel shortages, etc) and the myriad injustices that have been inflicted on Niger Deltans in particular.

I’d even go so far as to say that I chose to become a journalist because journalism gives me the opportunity to earn a living from my penchant for complaining about societal ills and personal grouses. If you thoroughly enjoy grumbling, why relegate it to mere hobby status when you can be paid for writing your grumbles down?!

Anyway, let’s hope that my uncharacteristic willingness to be a Presidential cheerleader does not turn out to be misguided. It will be very sad if Yar’Adua doesn’t handle the challenges on his desk in a manner that will satisfy Niger Deltans and those who sympathise with us or just simply want this nation to quit being an underdeveloped disgrace and hotbed of totally unnecessary strife.

I will be exceedingly hacked-off if I am eventually forced to eat humble pie and admit that the scoffing cynics who are berating me now were right all along.

Is seduction a coping strategy?

THE other day, a male friend complained about a work colleague who specialises in sexual harassment and takes advantage of women in relatively weak positions by making it clear that he will only help those who agree to sleep with him.

I told my friend – who is very objective about gender issues, despite being a guy – that I’ve had similar experiences and shared his view that such behaviour was disgusting. But I also pointed out that females can be equally predatory…and often relentlessly target influential men, so they can extract juicy benefits from them.

My friend responded by saying: “You should pity rather than despise such women because they are victims of an unfair society in which it is extremely difficult to make progress without male protection. Offering a man sex is the easiest way of persuading him to assist. And seduction is nothing more than a coping strategy”.

This analysis blew my mind and I’ll be interested to hear whether you agree with it.

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