Monday, 25 July 2011

How To Boost Your Luck, by Bayo Ogunmupe

 MY inquiry into luck had involved a large number of experiments, pages of interviews and thousands of testimonials. I managed to uncover the true secrets of luck. Luck was not a magical ability or a gift from the gods. Instead, it was a state of mind: a way of thinking and behaving. People are not born lucky or unlucky. They create much of their own good and bad luck through their thoughts, feelings and actions. The revelation was that a lucky life could be explained via four psychological principles.

The first principle explained how lucky people’s personalities help them create, notice and act upon chance opportunities. Principle two revealed how their successful decisions revolve around a willingness to listen to their intuition and trust their lucky hunches.

The third principle explained how lucky people’s expectations about the future posses the power to become self-fulfilling prophecies and make their dreams come true. The fourth and final principle concerned how lucky people’s resilient attitude and behaviour can change bad luck into good.

According to Richard Wiseman in his book, The Luck Factor, research revealed that there are four main differences between the lives of lucky and unlucky people.

One, lucky people constantly encounter chance opportunities. They accidentally meet people who have a beneficial effect on their lives. They come across opportunities in newspapers and magazines.

Two, lucky people make good decisions without knowing why. They just seem to know when a business decision is sound or someone shouldn’t be trusted. Whereas, unlucky people’s decisions tend to result in failure and despair. Three, lucky people’s dreams, ambitions and goals have an uncanny knack of coming true. However, unlucky people are the exact opposite, theirs remain little more than an elusive fantasy. Four, lucky people also have an ability to turn their bad luck into good fortune. Unlucky people lack this ability with their bad luck causing them ruin.

Some writers have speculated that perhaps lucky people might be using psychic ability to create good fortune for themselves. However, after painstaking experiments, results affirm that luck wasn’t due to psychic ability. Other researches also showed that being lucky or unlucky isn’t related to intelligence.

Here is a summary of the four principles and twelve sub-principles of luck:

One, maximize your chance opportunities whereby lucky people create, notice and act upon opportunities in their life. Its sub-principles are that lucky people build and maintain a strong network of luck.

Lucky people have a relaxed attitude towards life. And thirdly, lucky people are open to new experiences in their life.

Principle two: Listen to your hunches, culminating in lucky people making good decisions by using their intuition and gut feelings.

The sub themes of principle two are that lucky people take steps to boost their intuition. Lucky people’s expectations of the future help them fulfill their dreams and ambitions. Lucky people expect their good luck to continue in the future. Lucky people attempt to achieve their goals if even their chances of success seem slim. They persevere in the face of odds. Lucky people expect their interaction with others to be lucky and successful.

Principle four: Turn your bad luck into good, wherefore, lucky people are able to transform their bad luck into good fortune. Through this principle it was discovered that lucky people see the positive side of their bad luck. They are convinced that any ill fortune in their life will, ultimately work out for the best. Which is why lucky people do not dwell on their ill-fortune. Lucky people take constructive steps to prevent more bad luck in the future.

Here are some tablets for your consideration.

One, a vision is God given, no person can give you your vision. Two, every person was created to accomplish a goal that no one else can accomplish.

Three, your gift will make a way for you, enabling you to fulfill your vision. Four, vision is foresight with insight based on hindsight. Five, if you have no dream, the people who are supposed to help you won’t know where to find you. Six, when you begin to act on your dream, it will stir up both your helpers and those who want to hinder you.

Seven, the law of association says that you become like those with whom you spend time. Eight, choose friends who are going in the same direction as you. Nine, vision wakes up opposition. 10, opposition often proves you are doing something significant with your life, 11, marry a spouse that supports your life goals. 12, get to know those whom you want to emulate. 13, prosperity does not mean tomorrow’s need is met today. But today’s need is met today. This concept is in the Lord’s prayer: Give us today our daily bread. 14, those who are willing to work hard, to go the extra mile, are those who get deep into wealth.

Our champion for today is Diosdado Macapagal, the Filipino reformist president of the Republic of the Philippines from 1961 to 1965. Born in September 1910 at Lubao, Philippines, Macapagal died in April 1997.

After receiving his law degree, he was admitted to the bar in 1936. During World War II, he practised law in Manila and aided the anti-Japanese resistance. He continued to practice law after the war. In 1948 he served as the Second Secretary at the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. United States. The following year, he was elected member of the Philippine House of Representatives. He served there until 1956. Thereafter, Macapagal became the Philippine representative to the United Nations. From 1957 to 1961 Macapagal was a member of the Liberal Party and vice president under President Carlos Garcia.

In the 1961 general election, he ran against Garcia, forging a coalition of the Liberal and Progressive parties. Making a crusade against corruption as the principal element of his platform, Macapagal was elected President by a wide margin.

While president, he worked to suppress graft and corruption. He stimulated the economy of the Philippines. He placed the peso on the free currency exchange market, encouraged exports and sought to curb tax evasion. He forced the wealthy to pay tax, the evasion of which cost the treasury millions of pesos yearly. Macapagal’s reforms however, were crippled by a parliament dominated by the Philippine Nationalist Party. And he was defeated in the 1965 elections by Ferdinand Marcos. In 1972, he chaired the convention that drafted the 1973 constitution only to question in 1981 the validity of its ratification. In 1979, he organized the National Union for Liberation as an opposition party to the Marcos dictatorship. He died in 1997.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Democracy as a way of life

 By bayo Ogunmupe

AS we celebrate the third anniversary of our fourth experiment in democracy, it is pertinent to ruminate about democracy as a way of life. From the facts of history, we can confirm that democracy as a form of government evolved over time. It did not appear suddenly somewhere, complete and perfect. It is always a matter of the degree of democracy extant at a particular point in time. Was ancient Athens a complete democracy? No, because Athens permitted slavery in much the same way the Magna Carta could not guarantee total democracy in England, since serfdom persisted and many rights were still denied the commoners. What then is complete democracy? The answer lies in the fact that democracy is more than a form of government, it is a way of life. This is so because democracy should be at work everywhere in our lives; not just in politics and government, but in our everyday habits and customs. We must exhibit democracy in our treatment of people of other tribes and differing religions'. We must show democracy in our attitude towards our fellow workers and neighbours.

A country may have a high degree of democracy in its form of government and yet a very low degree of democracy in other aspects of its life, such as ethnic relations, religious tolerance, equality of opportunity to find a job or attend college of one's choice. The form of government is an important part of democracy but that is not all. Often the most suitable governmental form for a democracy is a republic. That is, a form wherein the holding of office depends on voting rather than on hereditary succession. But if you stopped to think, you can probably name a country where the government was and still is a monarchy rather than a republic. The nation nonetheless has made great contributions to democracy.

We have just been discussing the case of England in the Middle Ages and in the 17th century. It is called Great Britain today. Also, it is interesting to recall that the democratic republic of ancient Athens did not elect representatives. The number of citizens had chances to fill officers in rotation or by lot. This arrangement is known as pure democracy because all voters were included not merely represented in the law making assembly. It is important, however, to be mindful of the things the majority tells the government to do. Would it be democratic if the majority started telling the government to persecute non-indigenes or certain ethnic groups or some religious minorities? In other words, in addition to having their way, a democratic majority must foster the desire to give everyone equal rights and opportunities.

It so often happens that a group captures the will of the majority at a point in time in a democracy. In the regime of President Shehu Shagari, the aristrocracy captured the will of the majority and ruled Nigeria until the Armed Forces took over. The bourgeousie ruled the United States in the administration of Ronald Reagan. And the plebians in turn wrested power from them through Bill Clinton. That is what happens in democracies. Perhaps you can now see why we must put democracy to work whenever and wherever we can. A complete democracy brings ever increasing opportunities of betterment to the whole people, not only in politics, but in education, ethnic relations, healthcare and all that goes to making a good community in which people are happy to live.

Historically, it is not easy to make great progress in every field of democracy at once. Let us reflect on the fact that the United States started with the fullest, political democracy which had existed up to that time, yet it did not abolish slavery until more than 85 years later and then only as a result of a bitter civil war. However, we must remember that there are honest differences of opinion about forms and aspects of democracy. For instance, many Nigerians sincerely believe that under the present circumstances it is more important to have an Ibo president than to have a great president. You cannot be sure of the truth about any political issue. Thus, your opinion must be given in humility. If you are inflexible, you close the door to learning more truth. One person can be right in a group and others wrong. Voting does not determine the truth, it determines the line of action the most people want in the full spirit of democracy. The French sage, Voltaire once wrote to his more radical friend, Helvetius: "I disagree with every word you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it." Even though we cannot attain a goal as full and quickly as we would like, it is good to have a goal to aim at. The best tribute we can pay to democracy is to put it to work.

Published in the Guardian Newspapers

Justice Is a Soul of Democracy

By Bayo Ogunmupe

THE most famous definition of democracy was given by the former U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln. While adducing reasons for taking up arms against his own kinsmen which culminated in the American civil war in 1860, President Lincoln said he had to wage war so that "government of the people by the people and for the people may not perish." This Lincoln quotation has come down as the authentic definition of democracy for more than a century. In cognisance of the celebration of May 29, a memorial for the election of Moshood Abiola as president in 1993, it is pertinent to augment efforts to make democracy work by reviewing the ideological foundations of our society.

Democracy, which is the best system of government in my view, consists today of mutually incompatible ideas which originated with the Greeks. These contradictions after two millennia were reasserted either as precursors or as ex post facto justifications for the revolutions in England, America and France. What space and time have been to nature, liberty and equality have been and still are to democracy. More than any others, these two ideals serve as the basic concepts of democratic government. By compressing its meaning: democracy has been summarised as the form of government which combines for its citizens as much freedom and as much equality as possible. Albeit, liberty and equality are mutually exclusive and therefore incompatible. In fact, it is the inherent contradictions in these ideals which make for much of the problems of democracy in the developing world.

Europe and North America have successfully nurtured liberty and equality to be able to domesticate them. However, liberty or freedom, its synonym, is in opposition to equality. Therefore, when equality and freedom are combined, their contradictions are compounded. Discussions on freedom are often negative. Freedom to act. But action affects another person, sometimes harmfully. If so, is not the person harmed justified in demanding that society should restrain or punish the wrongdoer? In the illustration of this dilemma, it is said that the freedom to swing my arm ends where another person's nose begins. Thus, others have the right to be protected from the injury which the reckless swinging of my arm could cause.

Like liberty, equality has varying connotations. Examples of this choice abound in the field of tax policy. Osun State of Nigeria charges car owners an annual registration fee proportional to the market value of their vehicle. Hence, the fee reduces every year where you continue to own the same car. Some states, however, prefer to charge a flat rate for the privilege of operating a vehicle which is the same for everyone and does not diminish as the car's value depreciates. Which version of equality is appropriate in this context?

Thus far, the exploration of the contradiction between freedom and equality leads us to their resolution in the common phrase 'equality of opportunity'. Here, the two concepts are yoked together in a framework of equalised liberties. We often hear it said that all should start equal in the race of life. If so, what follows as a consequence? Do not the different runners display their inequalities? And is not the winner who demonstrates the most superior skill? Or consider what takes place in an election. Everybody we insist, has the right to seek office. In this respect, all are equal, all are free. More precisely, all are equally free. But since one candidate wins, by so doing that person becomes unequal.

Our new democratic concept of equality of opportunity appears most visibly in the economic sphere. Assume a condition of perfect competition, which we do not now have and which contrary to the projection of Marxists, we have never had in history. Under this model of classical economics, all would be equals initially and would be competing freely on the same footing. What would happen?

The manifest superiority of some, due to their skill, cunning, energy or luck - will result in their outdoing the rest. It follows that they will accumulate disproportionately, large shares of wealth. Not only does this gain enhance their status in society, but it augments their power. Power is a capacity to act, unrestrained by others. It is freedom manifesting itself. In other words, freedom becomes a function of power which a materialistic society translates into monetary terms. What is then left of the equality of opportunity proclaimed with fanfare at the beginning? Indeed, it is because of the contradictions inherent in democracy that in contemporary party politics, the Left has appropriated to itself the virtues of equality, while the Right identifies itself with freedom. The process of achieving democracy therefore, is to seek to attain justice in the society. To do this is to strike a mean, harmonious fusion of the two concepts of equality and freedom.

Now, the Left representing or leading the underprivileged, has sought radical changes in the society. It hopes to reduce the inequalities of wealth and social status, employing the powers of the democratic state both to raise the minimum and to lower the maximum. Its philosophy, intended to appeal to the masses, has viewed the individual as a particle within the social nucleus. On the other hand, the Right reflects the attitudes of conservatives who are well satisfied with unequal privileges which they wish to retain. Their emphasis is on the liberty of the individual which they consider threatened by free this, free that, and the graduated taxes needed to finance them. Early in the history of political philosophy, Plato identified justice as the supreme virtue of an ideal state. This identification is very true. But Plato's particular formulation of justice, built as it was, around inequalities maintained by authoritarianism is objectionable. What distinguishes the others, is that justice consists in the pursuit of equality and freedom.

Ordeal on Ibadan Road

First armed robbers and now those in search of miracles make Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the main artery to Nigeria's economic capital, hell for motorists

By Bayo Ogunmupe

TIME WAS WHEN LAGOSresidents travelled to and from Shagamu without much hassle. It might take a day or two to get through because of the bad conditions of the road. But then came the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Sanity prevailed for sometime after the new road was commissioned.

Then came the armed robbers. Even then, the expressway was a big relief. But suddenly came the report that some deranged businessmen had taken to stealing the metal railings, which demarcated the dual carriageway. Some street lights disappeared. Later, villagers started selling bush meat, fruits, vegetables and drinks by the road side. Snack bars, petrol filling stations started springing up. Then, the churches came with redemption camps, mountains of fire, pilgrimage sites where lost souls looking for peace and prosperity go to receive miracles.

The Redeemed Christian Church of God sets aside the first Friday of every month for a night vigil at the Redemption Camp. The vigil usually lasts until Saturday morning.

At the beginning of these pilgrimages, sanity prevailed but not anymore. The Redemption Camp site on the Ibadan Expressway has become a “detention camp” for motorists.

Fasco Kusamotu, a retired bank executive went to look up his children in Ibadan with the intention of returning early enough to attend a wedding on June 8. He was trapped at the Redemption Camp for that day. “There were so many worshippers seeking relief from the church than the parking space could accommodate. The road was thereby jam-parked with cars that there was not enough space for us to pass to Ibadan or vice versa.”

On July 7, Michael Oladosu, a teacher travelled to Ibadan for a wedding scheduled for 10 a.m. He thought he was early when he left home at 6.00 a.m. He was wrong. He did not reach Ibadan until 7.00 p.m. that Saturday. Worse still, he travelled with the master of ceremony.

On the same day, a programme scheduled for TCC, Ogere at 9.00 a.m. could not hold because participants could not get through from Lagos even though they left home as early as 7.00 a.m. That was a journey that would have lasted only thirty minutes.

Also, there was the case of an ambulance rushing a dying patient to the UCH, Ibadan for medical attention. The patient died because the driver could not get through the traffic. Segun Osoba, governor of Ogun State, caught up in the traffic, abandoned his car.

The traffic jam started at the police-checkpoint before the Redemption Camp where the road was reduced to one lane. That encouraged commuters to multiply the lanes thereby causing a hold-up. According to Moses Otolorin, “from the checkpoint, we could not determine the road because of the multiple lanes. We later saw an exit through a village by the road and took it. The villagers quickly set up a toll-gate demanding fees which we paid gladly. It was total madness.”

Enoch Adeboye, general overseer of the church has warned worshippers to desist from parking their vehicles on the expressway. Despite parking spaces provided by the church, the chaotic traffic situation has become a major problem on the expressway.

Published in the Newswatch Magazine

A socialist's View of Human Rights

By Bayo Ogunmupe
Published in the Daily Independent Newspaper. Tuesday, April 8, 2003.

In these days of electioneering campaigns it is usual in modern politics for candidates to emphasise their ideological persuasions. Unfortunately, our politicians have not obeyed these rules of democracy. Instead we have been exposed to tales of the El Dorado their tenures will bring.
For us the people, it is better to set an agendum for the incoming administration to follow. To show that the political, the economic and the social systems in any society are intricately interrelated.  That is the central insight of socialism and it is the basis of a socialist view of human rights.
Indeed, it is arguable that this socialist perspective arose in the course of the struggle over human rights.
Socialism developed, first in Europe as a militant critique of the 19th century bourgeois revolutions, above all, the French Revolution which proclaimed the universal rights of man and then, in practice, deferred them to the rights of private property.
In its 19th century origins, socialism began as a human rights movement, more than an economic movement.  Its initial focus was upon winning minimal liberties for the working class: universal suffrage, trade union right, first and foremost.
In England, the great surge of the people was in the chartist movement, with its demand for universal suffrage.
In Belgium and Sweden, the battle for the vote required general strikes to gain success.  In other places notably in Germany, the fight was directed against a discriminatory voting system.
So it was that Karl Marx – wrote in 1848, in the communist manifesto, that the first step in the emancipation of the working class was in winning the battle for political democracy.
Indeed, I have often thought that one of the reasons for the failure of socialism as a movement in Nigeria and elsewhere is that universal suffrage meant that labour did not undergo the critical phase of the fight for the right to vote.
To socialists, the terms human rights, democracy and socialism are synonyms. All pre-existing societies, Marx wrote in the manifesto, had been based upon the rule of minorities. Socialism was seen as the first movement of the majority in the interest of the majority. It sought not the establishment of a new form of authoritarian property right, but the creation of the first system of truly democratic ownership.
Where the means of production are socially controlled and the people have the fullest right to decide the policies and the personnel of that social ownership, there is democratic socialism. Human rights, the liberty to speak, to organise, to oppose-are thus not merely the prerogatives of the individual in a socialist society, they are the essential mechanism of the social and economic power of the population as a whole.
Without them, socially owned property becomes the private possession of the bureaucracy which runs it and human rights are critically diminished.
To the socialist, the current concentration of corporate power in the advanced industrial democracies is a matter of deep concern.  Yet, as Marx and other 19th century socialists understood, political freedom offers the means, the possibility of transcending those economic and social influences that are exercised by the modern day corporation.
In contemporary industrial society, with its drive toward centralisation and bureaucratisation, democratic freedoms are the only mechanism by which the people can exercise control through their elected officials. Political rights are not merely individual freedoms, important as they are, they are the only means to the social and economic power of the people.
These inter-relationship of the political, economic and social are also relevant to us in the Third World. However, it is only by the United States aiding economic development in the Third World that the US can also further the growth of human rights.
But the American record has been mixed. The response of the Nixon Administration to the former Salvador Allende government in Chile will always be a bad chapter in American foreign affairs. In Southern Africa, however, the American record changed for the best soon after the Carter administration took office.
There was a positive development within the United States with regard to apartheid South Africa. The factor in that change was the human rights movement of American blacks. That movement made it possible for an African American to become the US representative at the United Nations. The civil rights activities of African-Americans forced the passage of AGOA by the Clinton Administration and caused the eventual appointment of General Colin Powell, an African-American as the US Secretary of State, a position only second to the presidency in terms of power and influence.
The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured people organised the Black Congressional caucus, which has been a major force for a democratic foreign policy on Africa. From here, one can clearly see the international aspects of the fight for human rights.
The socialist view of human rights also applies to the former Soviet Republics. Modern history clearly indicates that property is neither right nor left. Nationalisation was employed in the “revolution from above” by Bismarck in 19th century Germany. It is widely used today by military dictatorships. But that isn’t state ownership of production. Even then, who owns the state?
There is only one way for the people to own the state, it is by the right, freely and without fear, to change the policies and the personnel of the state. That power to change personnel is offered by the elections. When the people are excluded from the exercise of these democratic rights or when human rights are denied, that does not simply mean a violation of personal liberty, it is a mechanism for maintaining the class rule of the bureaucracy.
For the socialist then, human rights are both individual and social because the political, economic and social form a whole in the modern world.  In the opinion of Marxists, human rights are the basis of social and economic results and they are the goal of socialism itself.

Allah-De... Grapling with Realities of life: A book Review

 By Bayo Ogunmupe

THIS book, Winner takes all, is a collection of essays, written as newspaper columns, by a veteran journalist Alhaji Alade Odunewu. In it, Odunewu was trying to grapple with the realities of life at the time he was writing the columns. Thus, Winner takes all, concerns itself with events of public interest between 1963 and December 2000. This means that the subject matter of the book is Nigerian politics and society in the 20th century in general and the Republican era in particular.

Odunewu's pen name is Allah DE which means God exists, by innuendo it means God is the final judge. By the book, Odunewu has made his timely comments immortal essays as a new art form. Indeed, journalism which is the report of journalists had to endure the disdain of certain critics who in recent times, believe they are insulting a writer when they describe his work as journalism. Such criticism has aroused writers all over the world to take up arms against destroyers of creativity in historical documentation. This rebuttal led to the emergence of New Writing, a journalism based exposition now prevalent in Europe and North America.

Winner takes all belongs to this classical tradition of exposition as a literary form. Each of the essays has two parts: the leader, arising from the topic sentence and the adjunct which is an elucidation of the topic sentence. Odunewu wrote his essays with style.

Moreover, the author made classical allusions in his pieces. Examples are: "A place of Elysian happiness," which is an allusion to the Elysian Gardens i.e, the Garden of Elysium which in Greek mythology is a place in paradise for the repose of good people. Another allusion is: "The law of Medes and the Persians." This refers to the laws given by ancient empires of the Medes and Persians. These are stories of events which happen in a period before the Christian era.

Indeed, Allah De's prose style or use of language isn't without its charm, his frequent use of innuendoes is particularly entrancing. Alternations and assonances make his style glitter like gold i.e.: "all strut and show," "fussy and foppish," "Paul Pry" and the play on the title of the play: "Look back in anger" on page 144 of the book. Odunewu's essays reminds one of episodes, images and language of Eric Blair, alias George Orwell's book: 1984.

Also, the author's style encompasses the copious use of humour. His use of humour evince perpetual surprise. He causes you to lauch which is the hallmark of a good book and forms the credo of journalism: to inform, to educate and to entertain. Winner takes all is very entertaining.

From this collection, you can imagine Nigeria as a nation of downs and buffoons. Which in my view it is. Imagine presidents who rig and annul elections in the name of Allah, and those who keep saying: "It is no business as usual" and who are more corrupt than their predecessors. Odunewu mocks, ridicules, lampoons and satirises subject after subject or victim after victim.

Indeed, if there is a feature that deserves a niche in history in this book, it is its engaging funniness. In a book like this, it is a mater of priority to seek to find the message of the author. Also, you would want to locate or situate his ideological stand. That task is a little difficult in this case. The book is a reflection of the Nigerian reality, no consuming passion, no ideology: a spirit of live and let live.

Winner takes all contains no explicit ideology, except the expression of opinion demonstrated in its title. Which is a correct assessment of governance in Nigeria since Independence. This title also suggests an age of greed and excess, an age of deception and betrayal in high places.

There isn't any visionary speculation in Winner takes all, the author is profoundly simple, calm and sceptical. He laughs at our politicians and public officials, he does not take their claims seriously. The greatest value of the book is as history. It is a good eyewitness narrative which makes it more authentic as a criticism of the age. In the book, we are guided about an era of history which are very critical in the development of our nation and continent.

These engrossing columns take us through momentous events with wit, calm and an abundance of laughter. It is an effort deserving our attention and perusal. Winner takes all has 476 pages, five pages of index and each column is given the date it appeared in the papers. Winner takes all contains a selection of articles reflecting the range of the thoughts of Alade Odunewu, who hails from Ikorodu in Lagos State. The epitome of his journalism career was as the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Times. His training included a year in the school of Modern Languages in London, United Kingdom.

HE emerged from the school with the Commonwealth prize donated by The New Statesman for the best student. In Nigeria, Odunewu worked as Editor of the Sunday Times and the Daily Times, maintaining their reputation as quality tabloids with the largest circulation figure in the country. In the 1960s, he enhanced his reputation as a critic with the column. The thoughts of Allah De. Then he became the chief executive of the magazine division of the Daily Times.

In the 70s, from 1973 to 1975, Alade Odunewu became Commissioner for Information and Tourism on the Lagos State Executive Council. In 1976 he was appointed a Federal Electoral Commissioner. Odunewu returned to the Daily Times in 1979 as Group Publishers Controller. He was appointed Ombudsman in 1984. He is now chairman of the Nigerian Press Council and a trustee of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence.