Monday, April 22, 2013

Chopsticks Chinese Restaurant: Not so Chinese afterall!

By Adejoh Idoko Momoh

I had complained to a friend earlier about my lack of a social life, his response was to write out a list of about 5 restaurants including Maitama’s Chopsticks and Chez Victor, Wuse 2’s Wakkis, 805 and Reno’s. He advised that every other weekend we would visit one of these restaurants, split the bill so we both didn’t feel the pinch of expensive dinning. I finally beat him at going to Chopsticks: my office had decided to host us to dinner. I believe my office managers exact words were ‘prepare for an evening of fine Chinese dining’ imagine my excitement. 

Carefully tucked off on plot 66 Missisipi Street Maitama and open from 7am -10pm every day, Chopsticks is an upscale Chinese restaurant that offers really spacious, fairly fine dining. The décor is suitably stylish: bright lights complemented by subtle Chinese features and a wall of slightly off white.

Even more impressive than the décor is the impeccable and timely service which is evident from the moment you walk in. A staff member politely welcomes you; shows you to your table if you have a reservation. One thing I noticed is that there were reserved signs on most tables, such that even paying customers had to wait for tables to free up before they got seating.

While the service was timely and impressive, it is the expected standard for every restaurant which caters to the class of diners Chopsticks caters to; in the space of about 30 minutes I saw 2 ex ministers and a serving governor.

As for the food, Chopsticks offers a contemporary spin on traditional Chinese dishes such that if you really want to eat Chinese it might really not be your best option.  I came with a group of about nine colleagues so we had a pre-ordered menu.  I had made a mental note to pick up a meal list complete with prices on my way out, but I didn’t. My reason, I would never with my money return to dine at Chopsticks.

The appetizer was spring-rolls served with pepper sauce which was really nice. The vegetables in the spring roll were fresh, nicely prepared and crunchy. The sauce oozed with flavor: doing what an appetizer really should do, it awoke my taste buds.
Done with that, we had a delectable chicken and sweet corn soup. Dinner was white rice and shredded beef in black bean sauce with extra options of chicken with green pepper and cashew nuts and prawn in hot Sauce.
The taste of dinner itself did very little good for my now ‘awake’ taste buds; devoid of the usual Chinese flavors everything tasted too sweet like a good helping of sugar was a primary ingredient. Dessert was fruit salad: pineapples, bananas, watermelon. Basic fruits all, for a restaurant of its clout, one would have expected more exotic fruits like kiwis, berries.

If you are like me and prefer fine dining at not very exorbitant rates this is probably not the best fit for you; when our bill eventually arrived, I thought

‘How so?’  Dinner amongst the 10 of us cost a hefty N110, 000 that would calculate at some N11, 000 per head! Not cheap, going by any standards.

My advice is ‘While Chopsticks was good, it was just that; good! The food was nothing more than decent generic modern Chinese food and not bursting with all the flavors and aromas Chinese cuisine is known for’

 Adejoh Momoh ( can be followed on twitter @adejoh

Thursday, April 18, 2013




1. History is upon us, asking something bold of us. Those who hear must respond to its call because history is impatient. If we tarry, history shall not. If we fail to act as the situation requires, history will still move forward and its pen will write an unanswerable verdict against us. All the prior achievements and feats we have recorded in the past will matter little unless we now answer the challenge now facing us.
We have come to the place where things must change or we shall sink. For the nation to continue as is constitutes nothing less than an invitation to doom. Such a fate we shall not abide.

2. The hour is late and our chance for national progress reduces with each idle moment. The way Nigeria is governed must change and change dramatically. This means the shape of politics must change. Nigeria must be a prosperous, secure, safe nation that helps weaker nations attain peace and stability. Instead we are beset by woe on all sides. Boko Haram falls upon our people in the North. MEND in the Niger delta falls upon us. Kidnapping and robbery encircle the nation as if we have become a training ground for criminal misconduct.

3. Rich in manpower and material resources, Nigeria should set the agenda for economic development and broadly shared prosperity on the African continent. Today, the opposite is the case. Instead of having a wealth of domestically produced goods in our manufacturing basket, we hold a virtually empty basket. As such, we have become a basket case.
More Nigerians than ever before suffer under the daily grind of poverty. Unemployment is so rampant among our youth that finding a job is no longer the natural progression of life. It is seen as a miracle.

4. Even then, upon finding work, too many people soon discover they labor for wages below the subsistence level. For them there is too many days left until the end of the month after the money is finished. With too little food and more tears in their eyes than drinkable water in their cups, they stare into the darkness of   despair on a constant basis.
This is not the way of a great nation. It is the way of heartless and mean governance that puts the interests of small elite above the interests of the common working man and woman who are the soul and backbone of this nation.

5. We should have a vast land transportation system that moves our active, energetic population safely and moves our goods and produce cheaply. Instead, our roads have become portals of death where people perish by the dozens -- one accident after another.
Yet, those in command do nothing for the average Nigerian who is forced to run this gauntlet of death for his daily crumbs of bread. Instead, those who could improve this situation for the good of all do just enough to make things better for themselves.

6. Where the road is bad, they budget for it, still the road gets worse off. Where the road is impassable, they offer excuses and empty promises. The touted improvement in electricity supply is now a mirage. In the midst of petrol dollars and abundance of natural gas Nigerians are without a commensurate standard of living. Our billions are embezzled and shared to cronies. The slogan of the ruling party is power, but corruption is the fuel that powers their government. In a prior age, an arrogant ruler reportedly once scoffed regarding her starving population, “let them eat cake.” Today, our rulers scoff at our people “let them face death.” The current way of governance makes nation building impossible.  What it does is make poverty and the erosion of a just society inevitable.

7. We have gathered at this hour and in this place to put an end to this national corrosion. We have assembled to bring a new day and a new Nigeria to our people. The Nigerian people are decent and hard-working people. They also are long –suffering.  Just because they are long –suffering does not mean they should be forced to suffer until death comes.Our people have had enough of having nothing. The current government’s trademark is to throw empty words and hollow action at our problems as if doing nothing will cause our troubles to leave from sheer boredom.  Instead, trouble mounts.

8. If this is the government’s idea of transformation, I will have none of it. It seems their notion of change is to go from slow motion to no motion at all. If they want to stand still, that is their right. However, they have no right to force the whole nation to stagnate with them. We have things to accomplish and progress to make for the good of the people.
If they have nothing to offer except the nothing they have been giving us, let’s join hands with others to sweep them aside. so that we can keep pushing through and move this nation upward and forward.

9. This is why we hold our convention today. This convention portends the coming of great political change. A storm is brewing. Don’t be frightened. It is a positive storm with a positive wind. Those things that have no roots and offer no solution to the plight of the people shall be swept away. This storm will change the political terrain forever.  I am not afraid of this storm. I welcome it because the storm is us- our new vision. Our new party.

10. I stand to tell you that for the good of Nigeria this must be the last and final convention of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.  As one of the national leaders of this party, I have dedicated myself to our political collaboration. I am attached to it in the strongest way. I am proud of what we have accomplished. Had we not held fast in the southwest against onslaught and intrigue, Nigeria would effectively be a one party state. When history rights its tale of the past decade, it will say the ACN preserved Nigerian democracy when it came under great threat.

11. But we must enter a new phase if poverty and want are to be lifted from the backs of our people. Given the destructive nature of PDP governance, we can no longer be satisfied with preserving democratic practice and with serving as the opposition. The first step in changing Nigeria for the better is to change government for the better.

12. Weighing all things in the balance, if I must decide between the existence of this party and the improvement of Nigeria, I must choose the improvement of Nigeria. That is our duty and responsibility. While it would be most comfortable to remain with our party as is, with its unique symbol, manifesto and constitution, we are not here to do what is comfortable. We are here to do what is right for our people and our country.We are here to answer to a greater, higher calling.  That calling is the love of Nigeria.

13. To rescue Nigeria from the blight of misgoverance, we must join hands with like-minded progressives in other parties and organizations. We must sacrifice our current partisan identity to create a larger one capable of assuming leadership at the national level. This and only this offers the best chance for Nigeria at this stage. We dare not miss this chance because we cannot be sure of another.

14. I ask you my brothers and sisters to take pride in what ACN has accomplished but to have the vision and courage to see that our national imperatives require us to enter a new phase of political maturity, sacrifice and cooperation in order to bring an era of progressive governance to the whole of Nigeria and not just part of it. If we must end the ACN identity to form a new party so that Nigeria can survive and our people can live better life and face a rewarding future., then so be it. We shall do this with serious yet happy purpose and no regrets.  May your chests fill with pride at what we have done and may your hearts fill with optimism at the better future that we shall create.

15. Join me today in voting to move our party into merger with the ANPP, CPC, other parties and organizations to form the All Progressives Congress, APC.
I assure you that the place we are going will be your house of political fulfillment. We shall have a meaningful voice in the APC. The principles of democracy, justice, visionary governance and liberty that shaped the ACN shall carry over into the APC. The new party will be as welcome a home as the ACN. It will just be a bigger house for a larger political family.
It shall be this family that saves Nigeria by bringing to the people the creative policies that promote wide prosperity, employment, infrastructural overhaul, education, health care, civil rights, peace, stability and justice.
Thus vote with me to close the historic and noble chapter on the ACN so that we can begin a new and bigger book called the APC.

16. For us this is not a sad ending, it is but the beginning of a great beginning. Let us do what is right so that when history writes its account of this day, it shall write that we lived up to our moral duties by doing what the moment required.

For a better Nigeria, the ACN must join with other parties to merge into the APC.
This is our last best hope. There is nothing else to do. Thank you and God bless this convention and God Bless Nigeria.

Adejoh Momoh ( can be followed on twitter @adejoh

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I was having drinks with fellow blogger and friend @sicily101 who blogs at when he very casually asked to see my version of 'Abiku' again. After then, a couple of Abuja Literary Society members have asked same. By demand, here is Abiku.  
From me something was hid:
Looking up to a mother so fair
yet troubled in an effort to
from death rescue an accursed son.

Her hand she placed upon my skin,
feeling for a fever:
her solemn expressions,
she replaced with false smiles.

In her voice as sheep, she said
'Remember this moment,
when your mothers hand
heals every trouble of your soul'

'For me lessen the pain,
let me go, as with the next season, I'd return'

Adejoh Momoh ( can be followed on twitter @adejoh

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Counting the Cost of Nigeria’s Water


BY Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai.

Not many Nigerians may know Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and fewer still would have any reason to. Born in 1772, he was an English poet who lived long before any notion of Nigerian nationhood was forged, but his most famous work, ‘The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’ which was written in 1798, aptly describes the Nigerian situation: ‘Water, Water Everywhere, Not a Drop to Drink’.
Through a press release on the 28th March last year, Sarah Ochekpe, the Minister of Water Resources said that the country would require some $2.5bn (about N396bn) to provide potable water for 75% of Nigerians. It is 2013, barely 2 years to the Millennium Development Goals target of providing water to the 75% of the populace and official release from the ministry puts the percentage of Nigerians with access to safe drinking water at only 32%.
If this picture is not bad enough, at a briefing in Abuja just before the Presidential Summit on Water, the Minister confirmed that Nigeria will not meet the MDG goal on adequate water supply by 2015 if the country is not willing to commit an annual budget of some N360bn for the next 3 to 5 years.
Consider the impact of the nation’s water situation on our health indices and you would see where exactly this government is taking Nigeria. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that about 361,900 people die yearly due to poor water and sanitation conditions in Nigeria, while the UNICEF estimates that 194,000 children under the age of five die from diarrhea yearly. Gruesome as they may be, these figures are the direct impact of federal, states’ and local governments’ continued neglect of this all important sector, and the Jonathan administration shows no signs of providing leadership that will turn the tide.
In light of these figures and the very little success that has been achieved in water provision, this column would today examine the federal budgetary provision for the water resources ministry with a view to addressing very pertinent questions like how much of the ministry’s N30.4bn 2012 capital budget was implemented? How much of Nigeria’s 267 and 92 billion cubic meters of surface and ground water respectively are currently targeted for the use of Nigerians? What were the gains of the much talked about Presidential Summit on Water? Has any progress been made in implementing the Water Road Map? What should the National Assembly be doing in this vital area of our national well-being?
In 2012, the ministry’s total allocation was N39bn or 0.82% of the Federal budget. N8.6bn (22%) was set aside for recurrent spending while N30.4bn (78%) was voted to capital expenditure. This sectoral ratio exceeds the 70% we have always advocated as the minimum for capital expenditure. The 2013 budget reveals an even better picture; the total allocation is N47.8bn consisting of a capital allocation of N39.8bn (83%) and a recurrent expenditure provision of N7.9bn (17%).
In an administration where costs seem to continuously escalate, the Ministry of Water Resources deserves some commendation as it is one of the few ministries with a reduction in its recurrent budget. The personnel cost for 2013 of N6.4bn is a reduction of about 6.2% from its 2012 N6.8bn figure. According to 2013 Capital Expenditure plans, some N17.9bn would be used to complete various irrigation projects across the country: 24 projects in North Central Nigeria, 21 projects would be completed in the North West, 18 in the South South, 11 in the South East, 9 in the North East and 7 in South Western Nigeria.
However, examining the figures closely, one notices that there is a 2013 provision of about N122.7m to complete the Zobe Dam in Katsina; there was a similar provision of the same figure allocated to the same project in the 2012 budget. Simply put, budgeting (and spending?) on this project in 2012 and 2013 would add up to N245.4 million. Incidentally, this same project was awarded at some N52m and was brought to about 80% completion by the Shagari administration by December 1983!
In February this year, the President announced the intention to host an overdue Water Summit with the theme ‘Innovative Funding of the Water Sector in Nigeria’. Unfortunately, Mr. President himself could not make out time to attend this all important summit; he was however represented by the much ‘freer’ Vice President Namadi Sambo. The highpoint of the occasion was the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the Bank of Industry which would enable private investors in the water sector access loans with very low interest rates. This is an interesting development, and it is hoped that the MoU will be developed further to provide another source of funding the implementation of the water road map which President Jonathan launched with much fanfare in 2011..
The water road map has as its main objectives a 75% water coverage by the year 2015 which would increase to 90% in 2020. This might lead discerning Nigerians to question, if between 2011 and 2013, we have not recorded an increase of even ten percentage points of coverage, what hopes do we have of achieving moving from our dismal 32% coverage within the next 2 years?
A more realistic forecast must be made. According to the Water Sanitation And Hygiene (W.A.S.H) 2013 report, at our current rate of progress, the water target of 75% coverage will be achieved in 2033, 18 years after MDG target of 2015.
When the decay in the nation’s water infrastructure is considered, neither the executive branch nor the federal government cannot be wholly blamed for this massive failure. The states’ and local governments bear most of the responsibility for the failure to ensure reticulation of potable water in our urban and suburban areas.  The legislative arms of the states and federal government must be held responsible for part of the failure.
The national and states’ assemblies have a substantial say in appropriation decisions, so must be held responsible for any under-funding of the water sector at federal and states’ levels respectively. The legislatures’ law-making powers have not been diligently discharged as well. For instance, the bill for the establishment of a National Dam Commission has since been presented to the National Assembly. This bill which would establish a commission whose sole responsibility is maintaining and upgrading dam infrastructure is worth revisiting, revising if need be, and passing into law. It is obvious that if a bill like this is passed and the commission set up, the pitiable state of Nigeria’s oldest dam, the Kainji dam would probably be reversed.
In spite of our combined 359 billion cubic meters, our inland water systems of about thirteen lakes and reservoirs both of which have a surface area of between 4,000 and 550,000 hectares, Nigeria is still classified as a ‘water short’ country. From all indications this government neither has the vision, nor the political will to bring Nigeria out of its present crisis. Thus, the sad reality is that more Nigerians may die from water related illnesses, while the ministry continues with its current budgeting practices.  For most Nigerians, the words of Coleridge, ‘water, water everywhere not a drop to drink’ rings true today, as when it did when it was first written over 200 hundred years ago.