Sunday, August 26, 2007

Is it it a lack of Ideas or Vision?

Today Mr President in Abuja you gave a detailed explanation of the reason for stopping the Central Bank Board from pursuing the so called 'New Naira' policy. The briefing Sir, is eminently logical, the evidence is absolutely convincing and the position you took is fundamentally sound. It is clear that the Central Bank through its Governor overstepped its legal boundaries and in fact by not consulting with key stakeholders especially the Presidency acted in a very unwise manner. All government executives serve under the primacy of the office of the President and irrespective of their opinion serve at the pleasure of your office until your tenure ends legitimately. So sir, you have formal authority over the Executive governance of Nigeria. Your position would have greater credibility if this press release was your governments first and only public utterance on the matter but your triumphalist AG could not help responding like a bull in the China shop. He expressed your position with the sensitivity of a sledge hammer against the ridge of a hook nose. As a result the CBN Board and Governor as well as the AG have created the perception that this is a turf war undermining confidence in Macro economic management and organization of the country's affiars. Unfortunately perception that the CBN is independent is far more important for this purpose than that the Presidency is right. This should have been handled discretely and with wisdom. But we are where we are.

Sir. on the basis of where we are and my reading of the statement from the Presidency we are confronted with your own failure so far. Like any talented and driven member of any team Professor Soludo has enthusiastically laid out an economic vision of which the new Naira policy is an element but by no means its only plank. It is bold, coherent and in fact inspirational in my opinion. If your only response to it is to challenge it on the basis of its financial efficiency and its compliance with due process as well as rule of law then, these are areas where with remedies. It means you have no problem with the vision but with the methods for achieving its result. I suspect this is not truly the only problem here. Is it possible that part of the problem is that you are yet to set out anything as bold and imaginative as this CBN position? That if you have set the agenda for your administration it has not generated the same level of passionate debate and engagement. Is it possible that it is something you are slowly working your way towards and this might have stolen the thunder?

Nigerian needs you to step to the plate . Rule of law and due process are key processes but they are not inspirational vision that motivate the talented to go beyond the call of duty . We need to be inspired as Nigerians and even if did it in a wrong manner the CBN got people out of complacency and towards dialogue with passion. We will not wait forever and hiding behind due process et al will not suffice. We are waiting for you to move us beyond the duty to respect your office towards the excitement to live for your vision. You do not have a lot of time left. Your credibility depends on it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mr President what do you stand for

I have to admit that there is something emerging in the early days of the new regime in Nigeria that sends alarm bells ringing in my head. The first was the reversal on the sale of the Refinery's, the second was the attempt to curtail the freedom to prosecute that the EFCC has had under his predecessor, the third is the recent decision to stop the denomination change of the naira. What is most disturbing is that in all cases there has been an excuse to use form or technicality to stop something that appears likely to be more effective. On the other hand of the policy reversal balance sheet is the fact that the boldest thing the President has done is to declare his personal assets publicly and even then he did not prevail on his Vice president to do the same. It took the press and opposition extracting this information through a public war of attrition.

Professor Soludo the head of the Central Bank of Nigeria has shown himself to be a deft and adept steward of an Independent Central Bank. His judgement even when controversial has proven to be effective and in fact, an act of world class foresight, decision making and execution. Many forget the vilification he faced during the initial phase of Bank consolidation policy from the banks themselves , the press and the Nigerian legislature. The fact that the very same people now benefit and celebrate the phenomenal success of the policy and its expansion of the stock market should make the President pause for thought. But alas it looks like this is the new Attorney General again in pursuit of 'Rule of Law'. It amuses me that a country which has had over five constitutions and has at least three or more legal orientations that is part of its body of laws can be so pedantic. I have seen this in my practice as a leadership educator, mentor and consultant where the mixture of turf wars, the need for a new authority to establish credibility as well as make a name for themselves means lessons learnt prior to appointment are jettisoned for the pure purpose of making their mark. In its worst extremes especially in the British Civil service the same department recruits new people to the very same innovation that their predecessors had successfully completed after a process of pain and sacrifice.

The real question for Mr President is what does he truly stand for? If he has asked for the new Naira policy to be reviewed then why does he need the grand pronouncement from his AG. This is the same AG who did not declare the fact that he has a track record of clients who are confronted by EFCC cases before seeking the veto power. At best these are public relations fiascos, at the very least it makes the Presidents 'team' look like a group of individual opportunists and careerist who pursue personal competition at the cost of National paralysis. The only person who can harness, coordinate and represent this in a holistic way is the President. The alternative is sub optimization or silo mentality in which each department act like live crabs in a boiling pot. All people that serve his administration must know his vision and drivers on at least the level of principles. He need not micro manage as it is alleged his predecessor did.However even this self styled servant leader has to be able to motivate and inspire his team with a coherent set of meaning and principle that makes them understand they are working for the same administration.

It seems the Presidents only abiding driver based on the decisions that are most eye catching so far is to prove that he is not his predecessor. If this is a blanket position, it is a shame because it should only be about what is substantively in the interest of Nigeria. In that case his Presidency becomes a missed opportunity, to be hijacked by those who dress up their personal interest or sectional aspiration as a rejection of perceived Dictatorship of Obasanjo. He has to have the clarity of insight, the broadness of foresight and the discipline of decision and execution to be able to be both eclectic as well as original. His choices has to be purely on the merit of the policy or situation. For example his position on Lagos Mega city and releasing funds to the Local Authorities in Lagos is a commendable position. Being different from Olusegun Obasanjo is not a vision at least not enough to inspire support and motivate Nigerians to cooperate for a better future. He will be better served by at least having clarity about decision, defining his position before reversing what appears to be a better thought out direction from an institution that is building a track record of world class performance such as the Central Bank of Nigeria.

I am becoming a sceptic of his leadership from the position of open desire to see him succeed. Unfortunately this affects all my decisions even my own investments. One thing was sure about Obasanjo he might have suffered from a Messianic complex but he was unambiguous about what he stood for. Please Mr President lets know from you before we sell houses and move homes we need to know what direction you want to take the country. For now I temper my optimism.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Interview with Chief Akinyele

Click the image above to watch the video

Friday, August 17, 2007

Olubadan Oba Samuel Odulana (Dr) His Highness Odugbade 1

Today he ascends to the sit of Olubadan from all commentators an honourable man with a clear vision to restore the dignity and aspiration of the people of Ibadan in their transition from a warrior dissident people to the promise of Intellectual beacon that the city has evolved to become in modern times. As I post these comments my colleagues in Vivid Features headed by the excellent leadership of Taizir Ajala and researching skills of Jide Smith accompanied by a excellent crew are interviewing as well as taking footage of the coronation as part of a feature programme called Afrolution. A partnership between myself and Vivid headed by my brother Tunde Oyekunle we are putting African solution and evolution on a platform for the world to see. We believe that the only sustainable modernisation will be true Africanisation and ours is the vision to capture this revolution not just for television but on all digital platforms. As we evolve this I share with you an eloquent piece of historical and contemporary analysis of Ibadan written by Chief T. A. Akinyele O.O.N . It is a powerful introduction to Ibadan and its special place in the evolution of modern Nigeria. There is no better placed person to give such an insight so I commend the article below by Chief T. A Akinyele the Bobajiro of Ibadan.



Each time an Olubadan is to be crowned many people who do not know the background history and the nature of the chieftaincy system in Ibadan have always wondered why Ibadan people choose to have very old men to lead them as their Oba and consequently almost every ten years a coronation ceremony occurs. As all Ibadans proudly and joyfully celebrate the coronation of 93-year old Oba (Dr.) Samuel Odulana, Odugade 1 as the 40th Olubadan of Ibadanland on 17th August, 2007 such questions are again likely to be raised. The purpose of this short article is to enlighten the general public about the traditional system that produces the Olubadan of Ibadanland; its peculiarities that confer a fascinating uniqueness on the process in the context of Yorubaland and the prospects that exist in the future for its modernization without affecting its rancour-free nature.

Apart from mythical stories of some ancient rulers in Yorubaland who were reported to have reigned for over seventy years some living for over 120 years, we have recorded factual cases of an Ooni ( Oba Sir Adesoji Aderemi) who reigned for 50 years or an Olowo of Owo or Deji of Akure for similarly long years on their thrones. But the systems of ascension to the throne in these places are markedly different from the Ibadan system, which by its very nature produces old men who must be content with short reigning tenures.

Ibadan’s Unique System

The traditional chieftaincy system that produces the Olubadan of Ibadanland essentially consists of two approved lines—OTUN and BALOGUN lines; each line having a 23-step rung on either ladder in a promotional system that abhors supersession unless there is an exceptionally grave circumstance. Originally the Otun line is the civil line while the Balogun line is the military. There is a truncated line of the SERIKI expectedly a short line (now elongated) reserved for the young militants forming part of the BALOGUN line. This aspect of the matter is sub-judice and can therefore not be elaborated upon. There is in addition a distinct IYALODE line created to take care of the interests of the women folk in the community. This female line has also grown to have a 23-rung ladder. However, the system does not permit a woman to aspire to become the Olubadan. Persons in the two male lines must go through a step by step system of chieftaincy promotion to reach the throne of Olubadan of Ibadanland as shown in Table 1 hereunder :-

The following most senior chiefs constitute the OLUBADAN-IN-COUNCIL, the pre-eminent advisory council of the Olubadan who also constitute the Kingmakers upon the demise of a reigning Olubadan. Usually this council meets weekly to consider issues of tradition, customary and lesser chieftaincy matters. The council operates on the basis of consensus but the Olubadan has the final say on most issues.

For a person to be entitled to move on either line, he must ab initio be the recognized Mogaji of his Idile (homestead) or Agbo-ile (Compound). Thereafter, subject to vacancy, good report and good standing among the kingmakers of Ibadan (12 in number) and the Olubadan the person concerned gets promoted on his chosen Chieftaincy line until definitely by the grace of God he finally reaches the pinnacle after an arduously long journey climbing the 23 steps with alternating chances. If one should take recent examples, it took the late Olubadan, Oba Yunusa Bankole Ogundipe, Arapasowu 1, a total of 35 years from being Jagun Balogun in 1964 and becoming Olubadan in 1999. Similarly, the present Olubadan. Oba (Dr.) Samuel Odulana, Odugade 1 started the journey as Jagun Olubadan in 1972 exactly 35 years ago. It is generally true to say that except for Oba Yesufu Kobiowu (under 60 years of age) who unfortunately reigned for only 6 months in 1964, most Olubadans are usually about 80 years of age on ascension to the throne. Table 2 below shows the list of 39 Traditional Heads of Ibadan since the third settlement of the City put at about 1820.

It will observed from Table 2 above, that 39 Traditional Rulers have reigned in Ibadan since 1820, out of which 23 were titled as “BALES” and the remaining 16 were called “OLUBADAN”. If the theory of averaging is anything to go by, it will be observed that in the 183 years of fairly recorded Ibadan History, the Traditional Rulers reigned for an average of 4 years. However, if we break the period into two, the BALES (1820-1929) and the OLUBADANS (1930 to 2007) eras, it will be seen that the Bales reigned for an average of 3 years, while the Olubadans reigned for an average of 6 years, double the period of the average Bale. Can it be inferred that the hazardous nature of the military enterprise of the earlier traditional rulers has anything to do with the differentials? However, it is ironical to observe that the most pathetic picture of stunted regimes occurred during the Olubadan era when between June 1946 and June 1952 – a period of 6 years there were 5 Olubadans with one of them (Oyetunde 1) reigning for less than 1 month!

In other words, 23 Bales ruled for 70 years while 16 Olubadans reigned for 91 years. In examining the various factors responsible for the differentials, cognizance must be taken of the fact that the current promotional/ rotation system already described above came into vogue around 1930. Before then the Ibadan warlords decided on the basis of “might is right” such that most of the rulers were military men. The new system itself was a form of diarchy with the “Otun” line reserved for the old men left at home while the war enterprise of Ibadan flourished and the warlords returned home with booty and chieftaincy titles of their choices in the “Balogun” line, waiting for them. However, that line of divide has since been blurred as the years rolled by. With the virtual end of Ibadan military exploits in 1893, Ibadan war leaders began to adjust to peaceful preoccupations. Consideration of military prowess started to give way to an assessment of success based on limelight in education, commerce, the professions, wealth and occasionally political clout. Nowadays, the choice of line adopted is often a personal decision often influenced by the antecedents of previous traditional chieftaincy holders within, the given family. In other words, if your predecessors in the family chose the Balogun line, you often feel more comfortable to follow suit. Occasionally calculation based on the average age of the persons in the line may come into play on the assumption that when there are many old chiefs on a particular line, progression may become faster.

Causative Factors of Longevity.
The issue of longevity in this and other cases depends on several environmental and situational factors. Factors relevant in the matter include genetics, lifestyle, nature of duty, level of education, healthcare etc. Unfortunately, data on life expectancy in Nigeria are not reliable and in a Community where registration of births and deaths is still treated with levity and census exercises are more often than not politicized, it is difficult to make clear-cut assumptions. Even though the writer has witnessed the regimes of 16 Olubadans so far, I can only claim to be familiar with the detailed life history and style of living of only about three of them. What generally happens is that most of them became wearied out not too long after ascension to the throne. It can be assumed that there is something worthy of close scrutiny about the nature of the Olubadan’s daily work routine and work load. The existence of a retinue of personal staff usually hardly trained in the intricacies of management of time and human relations does not help in sharing the work load. The sedentary nature of holding meetings and giving audience to several people having various kinds of complaints some serious and others mundane is bound to make holders of the Olubadan title grow weary especially as they are usually too old for compensating physical exercises.

One would have expected that the level of Western education of any of the Olubadans would have positive effect on their management of available time, health care etc. From Table 3 below, it will be seen that the five Olubadans who had western education have an average reigning period of 5 years but for the youngest of them at the time of ascension ( Oba Yesufu Kobiowu) who unfortunately died within less than a year of becoming the Oba. On the other hand, one of the longest reigning among them was already almost 90 years old when he ascended the throne (No.4 below).

The intricacy of the business of being the Olubadan, the suzerain of the largest indigenous city in Black Africa with myriads of problems associated with underdevelopment is very onerous. One of the ingredients for the success of the system in spite of the old ages of the Olubadan is the amount of relevant experience acquired over the long years of tutelage experienced by most of them before becoming the Olubadan ranging from 15 to 20 years of becoming members of the 12-member Olubadan Advisory Council which also serves as Kingmakers when a new Oba is to succeed a demised one. In addition many of the Council members now styled “High Chiefs” would have served at various times as President/Member of Customary Courts as well as Chairmen of Traditional Councils of Local Governments in Ibadanland.

Areas of Reform
Much as the system has remained rancour-free serving the yearnings and aspirations of a highly volatile, republican and individualistic Community such as Ibadan, it has its many challenges loudly crying for reform. The system faces the challenges of blending the calculating old and the adventurous young, the rich in intellect but poor in financial resources all intermingled in a vibrant and restless megalopolis that serves as the commercial and administrative centre of Oyo State and the intellectual hub of Nigeria. In a short article of this nature one can only touch the fringes of the challenges. The Yoruba would say “ibi pelebe lati mu ole je” broadly interpreted to mean “to climb a mountain you must start from the bottom.” The ‘mogaji’ system which is the base of the traditional chieftaincy system needs a complete overhaul. At the moment there are over 200 approved mogajis most of who are not likely to have an early chance of joining any of the two lines because they do not have the wherewithal for a competitive edge. Over the last thirty years, consideration given to wealth and riches has overshadowed the criteria of a good pedigree and demonstrable inclination to offer selfless and patriotic service for the common good of the society. It is also gradually becoming clear that illiteracy has become a stumbling block to any aspiration to move forward in the system. The backlog of mogajis waiting in the lurch should be cleared while simultaneously introducing reforms that would establish stricter conditions including literacy, good family and personal backgrounds of honesty, integrity and commitment to public good. Each family should see it as a matter of enlightened self-interest to put forward young persons as “mogajis” by separating it from the concept of “baale” (head of household) who must invariably be the oldest male of the family. In other words, the mogaji does not necessarily have to be the oldest person if the family expects its nominee ever to reach the top. It is just time to consider an institutionalised arrangement to make productive use of the corps of mogajis if they are not to constitute a festering wound on the body politic of Ibadan. Similarly, the Association of Ibadan Honorary Chiefs should be accorded some sort of recognition that will facilitate their greater contribution to the development and progress of Ibadan. As many of the honorary chiefs are not indigenes of the City and since the city’s anthem includes a prayer for the good fortune of both indigenes and non indigenes alike, it behoves all persons resident in Ibadanland to reciprocate by seeking the welfare of the City and its environs and support the yearnings and aspirations of the indigenes for restoration of the glory that belongs to Ibadan by supporting the call for the creation of Ibadan State which every Olubadan in the past fifteen years including the new Olubadan have always made a persistent clarion call.

Consideration should also be given to the need to reduce the number of steps on each ladder from 23 to 10. Deliberate effort should be made to reduce the influence of money in chieftaincy affairs so as to accord recognition to merit in the selection processes.
Finally, the impasse over the Seriki should be settled once and for all, otherwise its existence will continue to be the Achilles heel of the system.

Given the pressure of rapid urbanisation and modernisation on the fragile fabric of Ibadan’s cultural and traditional institutions, it is imperative to consider the kind of advice on the importance of delegation, division of labour and appropriate utilization of high-level human capital given by Jethro to his son-in-law Moses in Exodus 18, verses 21–22 in respect of the future administrative management of the traditional institutions of Ibadanland.:-

“Moreover thou shall provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all seasons, and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge; so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee”.

A Bright Horizon Ahead
With the ascension of the new Olubadan, Oba (Dr) Samuel Odulana, Odugade 1, there is a feeling of renewed hope of a rejuvenated system in the Olubadan Chieftaincy of Ibadanland. As a person combining political adroitness with administrative sagacity, a bold, courageous leader who has always been on the side of truth and justice, as an encourager and motivator of the young in pursuit of education and progressive commitment, a lot is expected to be changed for good in the traditional affairs of Ibadan. My prayer is that God is His infinite mercy will endow him with more years to be able to carry out some of the lofty ideals of patriotism for which he has been widely known in Ibadan in particular and Nigeria as a whole.

(Chief T.A. Akinyele, OON)
Bobajiro of Ibadanland and Chairman Olubadan
Coronation Planning Committee, 1994 and 1999

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Representing the Jewel between Seven Hills

In the coming days the ancient city from whence I came will be crowning a new King. For those who are not in the know the name Okebadan comes from one of those hills. Okebadan is a unique day when we celebrate the spirit of dissidence that is the soul and essence of Ibadan, I am Ibadan my great great Grandfather Balogun Ibikunle was the Bale of Ibadan in 1864/65, he built the ancient city walls and till date my Clan home still sits in Ayeye. Ibadan is not only part of my biology especially Oyo descendant in Ibadan, is my epistemology, the essence of my spirit. In the next few weeks my postings will focus on a regeneration agenda that not only captures the smile of my ancestors but projects it into the dreams of posterity. I honour my Balogun below:

Balogun Ibikunle

Osuba , lion of Onibudo
The one and only who made Kakanfo stink that is women rushed into the bush
The Sly fox whose strategy made Ogedengbe dress as a woman
The roar of Agbagbanse made maidens wet their Tobi

It is his smile that made the Alara cry
It is his languid stretch that sent the people of Ijeero into stampede
He stepped on the Ijesha
The palms and trees of Ijaiye tell of his offense
Balogun the owner of the hills of Agbangbase

Iba whose frown turns Efunsetan to a girlish wreck
Husband of Iyalode who owns all the farms in Ogere and Odo Ona
If I knew you wanted to twinkle my abetiaja would capture its essence
Should you choose to spit I offer the gully of my throat
How dare they praise the hunter of animals in the face of the tracker of men
The Iroko tree who holds Shango's messenger in his armpit
Ologun whose mind bewilders the Fulani

It is said when Osorun Ogunmola loses reason at the full moon
Only Iba has the etutu to cure is malady
Many may forget how you lived and led
Till date the Ijebu scare their children with tales of your approach
The silence of the streets of Ijaiye Ile confirms your prowess

Ire O Balogun, Sun re

Thursday, August 09, 2007

US/UK crumbling infrastructure and lessons for Africa

The recent crumbling of a bridge over the great Mississippi in the United States killing a few people was another of many recent warnings about the fraying edges of the incredible edifices that has been the backbone of the US phenomenal economic and social success. The bursting pipes in Manhattan, the flooding Levees in New Orleans, the crumbling dams across the land and the America society of civil engineers says this is only the tip of the iceberg. In the UK the recent floods and the profound effect on the counties of Gloucestershire, Worcestershire amongst a few others reflects how any shift in the weather exposes the decay in the infrastructure. Trains with leaves on the line in autumn, the airport in constant state of chaos and flights grounded, the roads in permanent traffic backups even the tube over-congested and overheating. Any time it snows the country grinds to a halt. We are now used to irregular or even regular burst of electricity black out. We have reached this position because the incredible engineering fits of the past such as Brunel's have been taken for granted for far too long.

In Africa many will say we do not mind even if it is crumbling give us any infrastructure. If the west is in this state with its well established culture of maintenance what is going to happen in our beloved continent with even our limited infrastructure. All you have to look at is how we treat either our cultural heritage from the ruins of ancient Zimbabwe, Old Oyo, Sungbo Eredo amongst many others to even the family houses where many of us grew up. We are so interested in new and shiny things that we watch many run down without any backward glance. I wonder when was the last maintenance check done on the 3rd Mainland bridge in Lagos or any other similar engineering structure. I remember the wonder of seeing the very old Chryslers and Cadillacs in Havana looking crisp and roadworthy. They have become icons for the city and part of its unique selling point. Even though this is a product of the blockade and driven by necessity it still reveals a culture of maintenance. In Lagos the newer the better. The worry is what happens in Lekki when the next generation moves to building newer, bigger and plusher mansions rejecting the dated carbuncles with their Greco- Roman pillars? Is Lekki not going to become the worlds most expensive Ghetto ? Does anyone remember what happened to the middle class houses in Surulere?

There is a need to develop low tech infrastructure that is easier to replace and evolve that are built with locally renewable components. We need to redefine consumption to include after care culture . Also education should focus on practical hands on skills that allows us to build a workforce capable and ready to engage in reviews and maintenance of our emerging infrastructure. Most importantly we need to move beyond aspiring for Western style sky scrappers and bridges to redefining our focus towards a more sustainable approach to our requirements. For example take the power problem in Nigeria which is also becoming a crisis in South Africa, rather than just building additional central capacity and talking about Nuclear power why not divide each local government into small networks and provide support for developing a mix of energy solutions which can then be pulled together into larger aggregation. Supporting larger generators per street with a public, private and civic partnership. Using wind and solar generators to supplement where possible. It will increase accountability, improve cooperation and has built in sustainability. The alternative is a range of large prestige projects that like the refineries will not deliver. It is time to break out of all our boxes.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Barracking Barack

Aside from a bout of food poisoning my weekend in New York ended the month of July with some wake up calls.The most prominent is that those of us who ignore the ongoing primary race for presidency in the United States should not complain if we are saddled with Bush/ Cheney Lite. Winning is such a strong driver of US culture that anyone anointed a winner especially by the brace of nattering pundits that fill TV studios has quite a head start. Therein lies the ongoing coronation of Mrs Clinton even amongst African Americans who one expects to know better. They should at least recognize that at her best Hillary is no Bill Clinton. Mr Clinton at his best only flattered to deceive African Americans remember Professor Lani Guinier (If I got the name wrong forgive me) and her nomination to Department of Justice civil rights office or the unceremonious dropping of Dr Joycelyn Elders, Surgeon General who spoke about masturbation publicly. There is something even more calculating about Senator Clinton without the empathy of her husband that suggests to me that her possible presidency will be worse than Bush. It is not only her voting for the war in Iraq but that she never actually showed any concern for the death of Iraqi civilians as a result of a war she supported. Cold!

We are on the edge of another press driven coronation and the American public as shown by the polls are buying her tale of experience and organisation over Senator Obama's change and authenticity. There are glaring questions we should all be asking since the choice of the next American president affects all our lives profoundly as we have seen in the past nearly 8 years. Leave aside whether the US electorate can be trusted to choose on merit who should be the next president. The questions I would like to ask of the Democrats are:

1) What is the basis of believing that Senator Clinton has any Executive of Foreign policy experience other that she married to a President? Because my wife, a professional in her own right has moonlighted on a few of my workshops does not make her a leadership educator or expert in change facilitation.

2)How effective is current conventional wisdom that the US Presidents should not engage in dialogue with leaders of so called rogue states? Is it possible or even probable that a proper dialogue with Saddam Hussein could have cleared up the misunderstanding about WMDs? Thousands of lives afterwards is it not irresponsible of leaders to posture rather than resolve problems before using the lives of others for prestige games?

3) What is the real consequence of the policy of retaining the option for using Nuclear weapons against US enemies? Is it possible that this choice increases the desire of other countries to gain access to similar weapons creating an inevitable Nuclear race especially with States that feel vulnerable to such threats?

4) In always voting into power candidates who believe in American Exception or the uniqueness of the US experience amongst the community of nations is it not a guarantee that these leaders will always be dislocated from the perception and experiences of the rest of the world?

5) How meritocratic is the US as a country when it has been ruled by two families in the past two decades with promises of another 4 to 8 years more of the Clinton/Bush dynasty?

As I watch Senator Obama hit the wall of US tolerance for change I wonder whether the rest of the world is truly ready for another few years of a Super Power that is prisoner to its fears and crippled by possibility of failure that it runs from trying anything new even when it can improve effectiveness. The shame is that even though we cannot vote we are all likely to suffer for this choice.