Bola Egunjobi

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What Makes a Nation Rich? One Economist’s Big Answer

Posted by Bola Egunjobi on May 7, 2011

Say you’re a world leader and you want your country’s economy to prosper. According to this Clark Medal winner from MIT, there’s a simple solution: start with free elections.

By Daron Acemoglu

(In Esquire Magazine, November 18, 2009)

Read more:


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Today in England: Rain at last!!

Posted by Bola Egunjobi on May 7, 2011

Its raining at last!! Manna from heaven for the gardens.

Drink, grass, drink. Drink and be green again.

Nature is more powerful than a hose-pipe.

So put aside the bar-ber-ques and invite your friends indoors, or put it off till another day.

Today is for the grass to drink its fill and be healthy again.

The greener grass and brighter flowers will serve us well for many a future day.

So let it rain, oh yes, let it rain!

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What Makes a Life a “Good” Life?

Posted by Bola Egunjobi on February 23, 2011

Is a good life one that is enviable? Or one that is admirable?

An enviable life can be said to be a life that is good for the bearer. Consider all the qualities that might be enviable in a person: good health, wealth, happiness, comfort, a happy family, possessions, and the enjoyment of things. Is this then, a good life? Perhaps.

But lets also consider an admirable life. A person’s life might be considered admirable for the things he or she does, i.e. for the person’s selfless ACTIONS in the service of others. Perhaps some examples would best illustrate this: Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Gandhi. At the extreme, an admirable person would be one who completely devotes himself or herself to the service of others with no regard whatsoever for his own or her own personal wellbeing.

We envy the first life described above for the things he has. We admire the second life for the things she does.

Admirable as the second life is, not everyone aspires to live it, certainly not at the extreme of complete selfless devotion to the service of others.

And enviable as the first life might be, not everyone would want to live it at its extreme: a life of possessing without giving, a life of spectating and enjoying for ones own sake with scant consideration of the plight of others.

Therefore the “good” life must lie somewhere in between these two extremes. It will be a life in which we have empathy for the wellbeing of others and in which we act, sometimes selflessly, to improve the wellbeing of others. In that life, enabling us to help others, and as a consequence of helping others, we would have some of life’s enviable possessions ourselves: health, wealth and happiness, etc.

Yet the story does not end there. Because there is an interesting tension between the admirable and the enviable qualities in a life. The tension involves the consideration of to what extent one must do things for the benefit of others (the admirable qualities) and to what extent one must live for one’s self (the enviable qualities). This paradox cannot be resolved by analysis – it can only be implemented in each individual life through living.

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Extraverts Have More Fun!

Posted by Bola Egunjobi on February 21, 2011

Extravert persons experience and display more positive emotions, such as enthusiasm, interest, excitement and joy. Extraversion is also closely related to the number of close friends a person has and how likely he or she is to be selected for leadership roles.

Etraverts generally tend to be happier than their more introvertd peers. It is self-perpetuating: extraverts are gregarious and enthusiastic; these characteristics are attractive to others and create more opportunities for pleasure through greater contact with other people and with the surrounding world. Enthusiasm leads to a more fervent engagement with ideas and to an impassioned pursuit of interests.

In addition to experiencing more positive moods than introverts, extraverts also feel a greater intensity in such moods. Extraverts feel and perform better in stressful and challenging circumstances. And always, they are more likely to act, to move, to engage. “They lope, not amble, they fizz”.

– Taken from Kay Redfield Jamison’s “Exuberance – The Passion for Life”.

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What You Earn

Posted by Bola Egunjobi on January 25, 2011

“When you live in a rational society where men are free to trade, you receive an incalculable bonus: the material value of your work is determined not only by your effort, but by the effort of the best productive minds who exist in the world around you.

“When you work in a modern factory, you are paid not only for your labour, but for all the productive genius which has made that factory possible: for the work of the industrialist who built it, for the work of the investor who saved the money to risk on the untried and the new, for the work of the engineer who designed the machines of which you are pushing the levers, for the work of the inventor who created the product which you spend your time on making, for the work of the scientist who discovered the laws that went into the making of that product, for the work of the philosopher who taught men how to think…

“The machine, the frozen form of a living intelligence, is the power that expands the potential of your life by raising the productivity of your time. If you worked as a blacksmith in the mystics’ Middle Ages, the whole of your earning capacity would consist of an iron bar produced by your hands in days and days of effort.”

– John Galt, in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.


I find a lot to agree with, and much to disagree with, in Ayn Rand’s Objectivity and the way she expresses it. But the quotation above is one of the most eye-opening ascertions I have read in recent years.

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Posted by Bola Egunjobi on January 16, 2011

“Man’s mind is his basic tool of survival. Life is given to him, survival is not. His body is given to him, its sustenance is not. His mind is given to him, its content is not. To remain alive, he must act, and before he can act he must know the nature and purpose of his action. He cannot obtain his food without a knowledge of food and of the way to obtain it. He cannot dig a ditch – or build a cyclotron – without a knowledge of his aim and of the means to achieve it. To remain alive, he must think.”

– “John Galt“, in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

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Yar’Adua Missing the Action

Posted by Bola Egunjobi on January 6, 2010

President Umaru Yar Adua

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua

My comments on a recent BBC News Story:

(Nigeria.) Our erswhile president is under a lot of pressure at home. But I doubt that he is feeling any of it. His personal number-one priority is surely his own health.

But that does not help matters ‘at the office’, and is certainly no use to the rest of us. There is a real vacuum at the head of the Nigerian government.

I consider it irresponsible of any chief executive to be away from office for several weeks without leaving a clear leadership in place. In my opinion Yar’Adua should have formally empowered Goodluck Jonathan. And it does not say much for the Federal Executive Council (or whatever guiding principles they have) that they have not stepped in so far to declare Yar’Adua (temporarily) unfit to rule because of his ill health and given Jonathan acting executive powers.

What we are left with then is the predictable, inevitable mess:

(1.)  The Nigerian Bar Association asking the Federal High Court to compel the Federal Executive Council to do the right thing. (This is a good move, but why does it have to take the NBA to ask the FHC to ask the FEC?!!)

(2.)  Human Rights activists are asking a judge to annul cabinet decisions taken in the president’s absence; heck thanks Yar’Adua, now your cabinet is making unconstitutional decisions because you failed to put the right structure in place when you took sick leave – an outgoing chief justice is swearing-in his successor because the country does not have a president to perform the ceremony!

(3.)  And from the sublime to the absolutely riddiculous -the Human Rights Writers Association is asking for the president to be declared “missing”?!!! He is not missing, he is in a Saudi hospital with heart and kidney problems. But when the lion has made a kill even the rats and the maggots come out to play.

And what is this nonsensical excuse about shortening the north’s run if Goodluck Jonathan were to take over the Yar’Adua presidency? One of the roles of the vice-president is to be president-in-waiting. Did the fools who devised the ridiculous system of alternating power between north and south not consider this eventuality? What silliness made anyone consider that alternating the country’s executive leadership between north & south is an antidote for disharmony anyway? In my opinion this process only highlights the north-south divide more clearly and actually (God help us) writes it into our constitution! Rather, we should always let the ‘best’ person win – even if it means having a long run of northern presidents or a long run of southern presidents. And we should definitely not put ideological road blocks in the path of the constitution when it needs to empower the vice-president of the country to do what is right by assuming full executive responsibilities.

My call to our president Umaru Yar’Adua is this: please just raise yourself from your Saudi sick-bed long enough to do the right thing – formally devolve all executive powers to your vice-president until you are well enough again to resume duty. If Yar’Adua is too unwell or too unwilling to take this step, then the Federal Executive Council should take action – either impeach the president (if he is able but unwilling to do the right thing) or hand power to the vice-president temporarily (if the president is too unwell to make the decision).


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Shared Birthdays

Posted by Bola Egunjobi on October 16, 2009

I had a phone call from my friend Kazeem K. this morning. Kazeem is a great friend from my days at University. He called to wish me a happy birthday (which was a couple of days ago).

Talking to Kazeem, I remembered that I was wrong to think that no two people in my immediate acquaintance share the same birthday except me and my new nephew who was born this Wednesday. Kazeem’s son, now 16, was also born on 14th October.

Of course, I’ve always been aware of a few public people who also share my birthday, including Karyn White (the American R&B singer) and Steve Coogan (the British comedian – alias Alan Partridge) who were born in the same year as me, and others including: Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Roger Moore, Dwight D Eisenhower (34th President of the United States from Jan 20 1953 to Jan 20 1961), Usher Raymond (American R&B singer).

It is not surprising that anyone will share their birthday with many public people: there are just 365 days in a year, and 6 billion people alive today. So everyone of us shares our birth day & month with 100s of millions of others, and even our birth date (year, month & day) with a very lot of people. There are websites out there these days that will show you which public figures share your birthday.

The best one I found is History Orb which searches back to the year 1257(!) for 14th October and comes up with 240 results!!

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Happy Birthday

Posted by Bola Egunjobi on October 14, 2009

It’s 9:43

As I sat down to work this morning I listened to my voicemails. The first was from my mum, left at 4.30am. That’s quite early, I thought, even if she is calling to wish me a happy birthday.

She sang “Happy Birthday” down the line, just like I had tried to do in my unmelodic voice on her birthday a couple of months ago. Hearing her sing brought a warm glow to my heart and a smile to my face.

Then she dropped the other news: my sister has had her baby. It’s a boy, and he shares my birthday!

I couldn’t help it, tears welled up in my eyes. I had wanted it to happen, but in a way that you want something without imposing your own wishes on other people – like it would be a nice thing to happen. I had sent the email message to my brothers last night: “OMG my new nephews going to share my birthday!”  Because the dates were so close. I picked up my mobile to call her husband, and there was his text message from 1.49am confirming the news.

That’s how my day’s started. How will it progress?

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ADIEU Michael Jackson

Posted by Bola Egunjobi on July 7, 2009

Here is my silly Twittering while I watched the Michael Jackson memorial on TV today. I started watching just before Jennifer Hudson came on stage to sing. (I missed the Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie songs):

“Watching the Michael Jackson Memorial on TV”

“Quite sureal – hearing Michael Jackson’s music without Michael.”

“I just like how Brooke Shields mentions his favourite song, not an MJ song, and then Jermaine sings it.”

“The music is great – Jennifer Hudson, John Mayer, and now Jermaine J…”

“This is the last time I will stop to question why anyone should die at the time they die. What matters is the great moments they have lived.”

“Resolution to honour Michael Jackson to go before the house!! A world Humanitarian. Yes!!!”

“My birthday mate Usher – singing one of my favourites: “Gone too soon”. Singing it oh so well.”

“He will never be gone. He is going to live for ever and ever and ever and ever. Now Michael Jackson will never grow old.”

“Kenny Ortega brought many of Michael’s dreams to technical reality for us all to enjoy.”

“Michael’s childrens’ first appearance on a stage! And little Princess singing to ‘We are the world’!!”

“Now all three children are singing along to the words of ‘Heal the world’.”

“This memorial is really awesome. Very sad, but what a Good Bye – to the King of Pop.”

“Little Paris Jackson closed the show.”

So long Michael – You will remain forever in our hearts.

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