ARCHIVE

Welcome to an audio collection of some of my personal thoughts. Even with a busy schedule, I found time to muse about when to find time to put together my audio diary and so I did just that. From my thoughts about the place of social media in an eroding democratic order to the issue of my career trajectory, I’ve tried to address some questions from my audience. Thanks for listening!

-Yima

Blog

FOLLOWING THE TRAIL FROM SHARM EL- SHEIK

November 22, 2015
The Russian passenger plane which crashed on October 31, 2015 adds to a history of deadly accidents involving the Boeing 737 series. An Egyptian charter flight crashed into the Red sea shortly after take-off from Sharm el-Sheik airport. Russia’s security chief, Alexander Bortnikov insists that the plane was downed by a planted bomb given traces of explosives found on debris from the plane. The conclusion is that the bomb could have been smuggled on board the flight due to a compromised security system at Sharm el-Sheik airport. The trail goes from Sharm el-Sheik to Paris, the City of Lights. Terror returned to Paris for a second time with a series of terror attacks in 2015. On Thursday November 12, 2015 ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks. It is noteworthy that the Nigerian militant group, Boko Haram which continues to ravage Northern Nigeria has pledged allegiance to ISIS. This may not directly give leverage to either group due to the geographical distance between them, but it intensifies regional security concerns because of Nigeria’s economic relevance. The highest fatality of Bokom Haram’s attacks was in January 2015 on Baga town, Northern Nigeria. An estimated 2,000 people were killed in that single attack. The district head of Baga community in Nigeria said most of those killed were children, women and the elderly who couldn’t take cover when Boko Haram drove into Baga with rocket propelled grenades. These repeated violent attacks have triggered a humanitarian crisis in Nigeria. There is an estimated 24,500 refugees in Minawoa camp for Nigerian refugees in the far North East corner of Cameroon (European Commission for Humanitarian and Civil Protection fact sheet). In 2014, over 200 girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, drawing attention to the threat of the violent Islamic group. Yet, this isn’t a narrative about deadly terror groups or the burgeoning desire by ISIS or Boko Haram to establish caliphates in their regions of operations. This is a story about the environment, poverty, but most of all, people. Desertification in Northern Nigeria causes a loss of livelihood for many. Mass migration from the arid planes of the North down to the Middle Belt region of Nigeria informs the rise of violent social conflicts. Rising unemployment (and not just in Nigeria at that), sees to the frustrations and despair of what should be, a young working class demographic. The story is much the same in the Sahel region of Africa.Poverty drives migration from North Africa to Europe where young Africans struggle with integration into stratified European societies. This feeds profound disaffection in young migrants who often fall prey to religious extremism. UN’s Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, at the first ever formal UN debate on violent extremism noted that, “Young people drive change, but they are not in the driver’s seat”. The number of suicide bombings in the world surged in 2014 in the Middle East with a staggering 2,750 killed, according to estimates from the International Institute for National Security Studies program on terrorism and

YIMAS FIRST HIV TEST

August 20, 2017
‘Hello?’ ‘Yes?’ ‘Nurse it’s me, the lady who did an HIV test this afternoon. I’m calling about the result…Hello nurse can you hear me?’ ‘Oh, were you the one who called the other time? My dear your test result…’ and the line cut again compounding my exasperation. It was my third call to the diagnostic center. I’ll get back to this conversation but I had my first HIV test four years ago at a diagnostic center in Port Harcourt, Southern Nigeria. I had paid a visit to a gynecologist for a burning sensation in my bowel. The doctor recommended a few tests and inquired about my last HIV test. I am a part of the population in Africa which doesn’t undertake periodic HIV tests. ‘A number of studies conducted in Africa have also investigated barriers to testing…These African studies offer most direct evidence that the ‘fear factor’ operates as disincentive to test, on a peer group as well as an individual level’- aidsmap.com It’s not the fear factor that dissuades me from regular HIV testing. It’s just not a part of my routine especially as I have enjoyed really good health for most of my life. This is aside infrequent bouts of malaria. It still doesn’t explain why as enlightened as I imagine myself, I had never tested for HIV before my visit to the gynecologist. Anyway, I informed the doctor about this and without further inquiries, she scribbled HIV/AIDS on her note pad as one of the tests she required me to take. This attitude towards regular HIV testing presents a key challenge for the fight against the spread of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa. The World Health Organisation states that lack of an HIV diagnosis is an obstacle to implementing its recommendation that everyone with HIV be offered Antiretroviral.  Yet, consider that stigmatising attitudes and discrimination towards HIV carriers is still evident in parts of Africa. I remember walking into the diagnostic center, requesting for an HIV test, while a woman and two men who were making inquiries at the counter stole glances at me after I made payment for the test. I endured their stares as I ascended a flight of stairs to the second floor of the three storey building where a laboratory was located. At the laboratory a nurse in a lab coat asked me to take a seat and proceeded to draw my blood with a fresh needle. I asked when the test result would be available and she said it was her lunch break already; I would have to wait for another hour or so. I told her I couldn’t wait that long and asked if I could pick the result the next day. She said yes. On my way out of the premises, I asked the lady at the reception if I could call in later in the day for my test result and she gave me a contact line. Why couldn’t I wait till the next day and pick the result on

SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE EROSION OF DEMOCRACY

January 15, 2019
Human rights are under siege today, principally because third world governments are failing to uphold their primary international obligation to respect, protect, promote, and fulfill the universal declaration on human rights. Human rights are increasingly choked by impunity, erosion of democratic values, conflict, corruption, crime, war, inadequate laws, unwillingness and inability to enforce laws. These conditions persist in democratic environments because the meanings of democracy and governance are increasingly lost on political leaders. In Nigeria, elections are a ‘do or die affair’ as an instance because politicians in a bid to perpetuate their stay in power, subvert a right of the people to choose their elected representatives. This criminal politics ensures the unfortunate loss of lives and property before, during, and after election cycles. When and if the images are captured on Social Media, they expose the scale of atrocities and provide facts that can be of use in a functional criminal justice system. A corruption case detailing how billions of Nigerian Naira (millions of dollars) was diverted via an arms deal saw to a poorly equipped Nigerian armed forces and rendered the fight against insurgency in the country’s North East ineffective. The consequence was the Nigerian Government’s inability to guarantee the protection of its citizens which caused an increase in the number of internally displaced Nigerians in the North East of the country. Images from IDP camps captured on camera phones bear testimony to this. In 2015, the Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai vowed that there would be no violations of human rights under his watch. A day after his pledge, a group of Nigerian soldiers was caught on a camera phone, brutalising a civilian. Researchers like Ericsson predicted that a billion phones were expected to be in use in Africa in 2016. This growth to an extent was attributed to the rise of social media accessed from a range of cheap smart phones. The central argument is that in as much as Governments are primary duty bearers, everyone is a human rights duty bearer especially with the anticipated proliferation of affordable phones. Political leaders can be held accountable when potential and actual victims of human rights abuses act and prevent the violations from occurring. Social media in effective use (through the publishing of images of rights violations like abuse and violence perpetrated against citizens) can be a stimulated form of citizen journalism and an innovative way of reporting on and thereby preventing human rights violations. The thinking in most human rights situations is that those who act with impunity do so largely on the ignorance and general thought of powerlessness of the victims. Yet, the more enlightened citizens are of their rights and of how to expose the actions of the violators, the stronger they are. Social media is one of such tools that put power back in the hands of the citizen in a fledgling democracy like Nigeria’s.

THE DELTA’S DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGE.

January 20, 2019
The Niger Delta in Southern Nigeria is home to the direst cases of environmental injustice in the world. It holds the world’s third largest mangrove forest and pockets of some of the most environmentally devastated regions and ecosystems. The reality of coastal communities of the Niger Delta surrounded by water bodies yet without access portable drinking water, testifies to Nigeria’s fledgling attempt at democracy. Democracy in Nigeria has failed to serve its benefits to a mostly underdeveloped and impoverished Niger Delta due largely to political corruption. Political corruption thrives because political leaders increasingly play on fears that human rights are a Trojan horse. The central argument being that the patrimonial character of the Nigerian state enables a powerful leadership facilitate rights violations through corrupt practices as a means of self-preservation. The proceeds from the sale of Nigerian crude oil as an instance are shared between the three tiers of the Nigerian Government, with not much to show for in terms of development of the Delta region where oil is derived. Public funds end up in private pockets enabling conflict and agitation by the Niger Delta ethnic minorities against the Nigerian Government and Oil multinationals. Conflict by way of militancy, criminal tampering of oil installations (oil spills and further damage to the environment) leading to general insecurity, loss of lives and properties have turned the Niger Delta to an epicenter of environmental injustice and human rights violations. The current thinking that the Niger Delta will continue to be a hotbed of rights violations and by extension, a snag to the Nigerian body polity (given its history of conflict and agitation) is misplaced. The Nigerian Government is presently implementing anti-corruption laws. However, it must be a genuine attempt to punish offenders, and invest the proceeds of recovered loot in development projects that impact citizens like the ethnic minorities in the impoverished Delta region who suffer disproportionately from human rights violations.