If they'd had the chance, the majority of French-speaking Africans would have no doubt voted against Nicolas Sarkozy at the last French presidential elections. It's not that his rival of the time, and even less the Socialist Party, had anything particularly convincing to say about Africa, or that the Socialists' past practices demonstrated any desire whatsoever to radically change relations between France and its former colonies. The new French president would have simply paid a high price for his attitude to immigration when he was Jacques Chirac's Minister of the Interior, his alleged collusion with the racist extreme right-wing and his role in sparking the riots in France's deprived suburbs in 2005.

If Obasanjo can demonstrate that he managed the feat of turning around his business fortunes without resorting to corrupt means, then he deserves the most prestigious endowed chair at the Harvard Business School. The rest of the world should drink from the spring of his business genius. But if he can’t account for the startling rejuvenation of his businesses, then he may deserve a different kind of endowed chair—back in the hole where Abacha put him. And there are, I hazard, millions of Nigerians who won’t mind seeing that happen—sooner rather than later.

Let’s examine other ways through which the civil society could effectively be engaged in the Nigerian Project. First, it should take a cue from the youth’s standpoint that getting involved is a smart idea and could be a potent catalyst in the development curve. But to be effective, the civil society must transform latent opposition to effective pressure for reform. This is a difficult goal to achieve as pressure for public good is often seen as ‘everybody’s business,’ translating to ‘nobody’s business.’ What is more, civil society tends to allow procedural process disagreements to divide and dissipate their reformist agenda. Such disagreements tend to give government a weapon for the usual tactics of divide and rule.

But, we need to ask ourselves: which is the greater vice? The prostitution engaged in by one individual (for reasons best known to themselves) or the pillaging of state treasury by the governor and his wife leading to poor social welfare services, including education, health, and job creation, which produce more prostitutes. The first ladies who eagerly accepted the stolen loot from their husbands are at least guilty of moral decadence (which is not punishable in law) and at worst of receiving stolen goods; and the latter is certainly actionable. Unless we call the “First Ladies” to account for the funds diverted their way, we would not have pursued the war on corruption to its logical conclusion. That is the goal; the next thing is: how do we reach it?

Fela was a singer-composer, trumpet, sax and keyboard player, bandleader and politician. He was a presidential candidate on the platform of Movement of the People (MOP), a political party he founded in the 1980s. He was greatly influenced by his parents particularly his mother, Funmilayo, a leading figure in the nationalist struggle. Fela was known for his outspoken attacks on the Nigerian government, which earned him several brushes with the law. He was clamped in detention several times, but always emerged more resolute than ever. The one that readily comes to mind was the infamous invasion of Kalakuta Republic on February 18, 1977. The ensuing battle resulted in his 78-year-old mother being thrown from the second floor, which hastened her death in later years.

It seems that these days, wracked by guilt at the humanitarian crisis it has created in the Middle East, the West has turned to Africa for redemption. Idealistic college students, celebrities such as Bob Geldof and politicians such as Tony Blair have all made bringing light to the dark continent their mission. They fly in for internships and fact-finding missions or to pick out children to adopt in much the same way my friends and I in New York take the subway to the pound to adopt stray dogs.

To see the knighthood as "belated" endorsement by the British establishment is to miss the point entirely. Until, and even after, the vicious death sentence pronounced by Ayatollah Khomeini, Rushdie could not possibly have been endorsed by an establishment he had committed himself to undermining in merciless prose and brilliant satire. Rushdie wrote powerful essays about institutional racism, cultural condescension, Thatcherism, anti-immigrant legislation, Raj nostalgia and a sham multiculturalism where a "black man could only become integrated when he started behaving like a white man".

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