Sunday, October 5, 2008

OJ Simpson: Karma's A B_itch

Who can forget that memorable low-speed chase of OJ Simpson’s white Ford Bronco by LAPD officers in the summer of 1994?His ex-wife, Nicole and her close friend Ronald Goldman had just been found murdered in her apartment and OJ was the prime suspect. I easily recollect the lengthy televised trial that had millions around the world following the daily goings-on in the high profile case. The late, well-respected Johnny Cochran was the head of Mr. Simpson’s defense team at the time and was largely responsible for getting the celebrity off the hook. The main swaying piece of evidence that helped the jurors reach their ‘not guilty verdict’ was the dramatic moment when the defendant, OJ tried on the black gloves that was central to the prosecution’s case. And the outcome: the gloves didn’t fit.
So on verdict day that October of 1997, the 12 members of the jury found Mr. Simpson not guilty of both murders, basically because there was reasonable doubt.Many across America and in many parts of the globe felt the U.S justice system had helped save a murderer. Some were of the opinion that yet another rich celebrity had being let off the hook because he could afford the best lawyers who capitalized on legalese to aid their popular african-american client.However,I had told a friend after the verdict that OJ had to watch his every step afterwards as most law enforcement officials would want payback in some way, based on the general view that he carried out the horrific stabbings of both victims.
So when I heard the news, in September last year, of Simpson’s arrest in Vegas for alleged kidnapping and robbery in a Palace Station hotel room, I told people he was screwed. Even though he repeated claimed that he was only trying to retrieve sports memorabilia that belonged to him, I had a gut feeling that it was possibly karma in motion. I agree with a good friend who feels that he was to blame for making such a silly move that day, especially when constantly aware of the controversy his acquittal caused across his home country. I was further convinced of the severity of his legal problems when I read that none of the 12 jurors was black.Yes,the absence of a fellow ’brother’ or ‘sister’ meant, for me, that chances of a potentially hung jury were quite unlikely.So after a far less popular 4-week trial than the Nicole/Ron Goldman case 13 years earlier, the Las Vegas Jury (made of 9 ladies & 3 men) found the controversial ex-football star guilty of all 12 counts of kidnapping and robbing two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint on that fateful September day. For some, this was justice finally catching up with a criminal who was only fortunate the last time.On the other hand,it's expected Simpson's team would start making moves for an appeal of the verdict.
For me,at least 3 people know for certain what happened that June night at Nicole Simpson's Los Angeles condo in '94. Sadly, 2 of them are long deceased while the possible third witness could be ordered to spend the rest of his life behind bars,come sentencing day on December 5th.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Our Political Office Holders:Synonym For Mediocrity

I’ll admit it straight away,dear friends. With Nigeria, I’m a cynic most of the time.Why? Well,I guess most of us know the answer to this. It’s simply because so many times I’ve seen the same thing happen over and over again, as far as the type of leaders we churn off the production line, and our government in general, is concerned. Be it those dressed in uniform or trad, there doesn’t seem to be any sincerity and/or ability of majority of our political leaders to right the ills of our beloved nation.’ Man Know man’, mediocrity, corruption and disregard for the masses consistently seem to be the order of the day as far as our politicians are concerned. And deep down, I’m sure many of you agree.However, the particular reason why i, as at this moment, remain deeply cynical was already mentioned a few lines earlier: MEDIOCRITY….of our leaders. And that, my fellow Nigerians, is a fundamental hindrance to significant progress being made in the so-called ‘Giant of Africa’. Have you had a conversation with, say a Director of a FG parastatal, a special adviser or an average House of Reps member? I understand if you haven’t, but I’m sure you’ve seen them speak on TV or read their interviews/comments in magazines or the national dailies. I don’t know about you, but I normally nod my head in equal measure of disbelief and sadness. These are people empowered to carry out very important & sensitive duties in their various areas of public office & they don’t seem to know ‘what’s up’. That’s my honest assessment of most of them. The more painful thing is that they seem stuck in their attitude/perspective & yet, feel strongly they are competent enough to perform.
Just to help buttress my standpoint, I’ll share with you what I saw (with my own 4 eyes) on NTA yesterday during one of my regular channel-flipping moments. It was a recorded session of goings-on in the National Assembly. While an ex-military colonel who’s presently a Senator was discussing a bill meant for consideration by his peers in the Senate, I noticed the place seemed a bit disorganised. Courtesy of the camera angle, I noticed some senators in the background gisting and laughing amongst themselves. I was surprised because I logically assumed that they would have been a bit interested in what the honorable senator was saying about the bill. As these jokers behind him kept on gisting, one brought out his cellphone and was apparently checking or sending a text. I also observed that the noise in the background was distracting me from audibly hearing what the Senator who had the floor was trying to say.Thankfully,the Senate President(I presume) had to smash his gavel on his table, while at the same time shouting ‘ORDER..ORDER’ at his colleagues. This action helped to bring some sanity. Now,can you imagine such behavior??. In the nation’s ‘revered’ Senate. An assembly of ‘honorable’ grown-ups, not kindergarten.We all know that most of these members of the exalted Assembly were fortunate to being ‘elected’ because they had either had money or political godfathers...or most likely, both.How many of them can impressively discuss the economy, social welfare issues, global events or even political history in Nigeria? Without any statistical study, I’m sure the answer is close to zero (give or take the few learned ones).While I admit that some of our public office holders have tried by bringing in bright young people into their administration to help move us forward, the problem still remains as majority of these leaders are either archaic in their reasoning, incompetent or below par in the ‘smartness’ arena.
On a related note, I remember hearing, some months ago, someone say to his gathering of friends that he voted for Pat Utomi at the 2007 Presidential Elections. The laughter this assertion brought from his friends was in proportions regularly attained at a Julius Agwu event. No kidding, guys. As if, Mr. Utomi wouldn’t beat most Nigerian politicians hands-down in the ‘brains, knowledge & manifesto’ departments. Or isn’t brightness an ‘unofficial’ prerequisite for political office seekers? Or was it because he could never have won in this corruption-filled country we call home, where one being in the right ‘setting’ is absolutely compulsory for success? Wonders would never cease, indeed.Sometimes I wish the private sector were responsible for guiding this nation’s development. At least there are ‘modern’ thinking, intelligent and hard working men & women there.
On a serious note though, I honestly feel things can’t continue this way for ever and inevitably things are bound to get better across board. My worry is this: with the leaders we keep having, we may never get to experience it in our lifetime.