Thursday, May 03, 2012

Ode to Ed Fiberesima

Ed a towering young man bustling with ideas but calm on the surface.
Gentle giant you were who was well spoken of and liked among his peers.
Shame we shall never again share a pint but I am proud to have made your acquaintance.
Proud son of Fiberesima sleep with the sages and smile as the stars upon your mother's house.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Nigeria Immigration Service - living up to a name

Every now and then I rant about a topic that is close to my heart. Not that I assume anyone is listening but just because I find that blogging can be therapeutic. Sometimes.

Today's spot of bother is the Nigeria Immigration Service. As you may have noticed, customer service is a subject that is close to my heart. Whether it concerns coffee, developer support, mobile telecommunications etc.

I happened to have business at the Nigeria High Commission in London today and was not satisfied that the Nigeria Immigration Service took the Service part of their name very seriously. From the lack of information regarding the visa application process to the customer experience on the ground at the consular section of the embassy, it was a trying process.

The first thing you notice once you get to the embassy is the queues. They may be unavoidable but some effort should be made to reduce them. I personally find them dispiriting. The next issue you are confronted with is the way the front-line staff address customers. Condescending in some of the cases I witnessed. I believe the higher-ups need to take a step back and consider the benefits of friendly customer service and the fact that customers appreciate it and would sometimes pay a premium for it.

Some questions came to mind: What would the customer service be like if they had competition? Why can't there be competition? What is the complaints procedure? How would customer service be affected if front-line staff knew their bonuses depended on customer satisfaction?

The other thing I had to contend with was a lack of information access points. The website doesn't have all the information required to get an application from start to finish. On-site information from front-line staff is patchy and conflicting in some cases. The whole communication package for the service needs to be revisited, as it is missing a few tricks.

My experience entailed filling out a form online, making payment and then turning up on the day and having to fill the same form out yet again, because I didn't bring a printed copy of the online form. All this is in addition to being chided for daring to turn up without a printed copy like other good citizens. The other soul-destroying part of the saga was making the trip (and braving the queue) thrice to the post office about 5 minutes away because the service refuses to streamline its processes. Cards are permissible online but one still needs to pay some 'admin' fees in person via postal orders. Why not simplify the process for the customer so that both payments can be made online as a single transaction? Why even use postal orders in 2012?

I hope someone is listening. If not my ranting has helped restore my usually zen-like calm. Now all is well with the world.

Till the next rant...

Cobertura Goodness for Groovy code in Gradle builds

Was trying to measure code coverage on a Groovy side project and tried a number of Gradle plugins for Cobertura. Settled for this one from Val Kolovos (thanks dude :)), as it just worked out of the box.

By default it doesn't drill into Groovy files to show the line coverage on source files. To get it to do so you need to add the following convention setting in your build.gradle:

cobertura {

coverageSourceDirs = + sourceSets.main.groovy.srcDirs



Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gradle Grails Plugin for Grails 2.0.x

I love the Grails Framework but sometimes I prefer to build my Grails projects using Gradle. I am just happier that way.

I have just started upgrading one of our projects to Grails 2.0.x and thought I would share what our build.gradle looks like.

Full build script can be found on Github. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Retort to Paul Collier

Hi Paul,

Nigeria's current administration might have received a legitimate mandate but their actions since their ascent has been anything but.You only need look at the budget and its constituent executive and legislative expenditure which has incensed the masses, and is anything but responsible, to give you an idea of the reasons behind Nigerian's mistrust.

All we have heard from the government are the same tired platitudes of how our biggest problem as a nation is the subsidy. No problem however straight-forward has a single solution and at times the march to durable solutions begins with critical and radical reasoning. What we need are creative solutions but our leaders seem to be unwilling to solicit them or even consider suggestions all in the hope that the people will soon be distracted so they can get their way. Well, democracy is about listening and inclusion and Nigerians have begun to talk. Shouldn't our elected government listen?

The government claim to have offered palliatives but how does more buses after a hike in fuel prices help with the consequent price increase of everything from food, to power generation costs? Just so you can process and contextualise it, a fitting analogue to what the Nigerian government has done by artificially hiking the prices of petroleum products would be the UK government deciding without consultation and alternatives to scrap a service as vital as the NHS. Such an action would understandably be met by resistance, as its effects would be far-reaching. Fine-tuning the mechanics of the current subsidy regime with a view to increasing accountability and then working on solutions to fill the vacuum once it is eventually removed might have been the place to start.

As a Nigerian who has seen both sides of the coin I know the pangs of Nigerians and understand the mistrust. I have benefitted from appalling roads, the epileptic and largely DIY power supply and the abysmally funded education and health-care systems. Oh and did I mention the non-existent social security? To crown all this Nigerians have increasingly and of recent been served incessant helpings of violence by politically motivated mercenaries. In the years past there has been trillions spent on white elephant projects only for those funds to be trousered by the ruling elite and their cohorts so is it any surprise we don't trust them? If they couldn't deliver with all those trillions what good will a paltry $8bn a year do?

At a time like this what we would love to hear from intelligent media isn't that Nigerians are being manipulated. It is patronising but also lazy reasoning to think that Nigerians who have had to contend with 50 years of suffering and smiling are incapable of articulating how they feel. I think what good folk like yourself need to be doing is actually gaining a firm grasp of the issues at play and, if you are so inclined, proffering solutions.

Nigerians are among the most resilient and resourceful people I know. It is time our leaders stopped taking advantage of that great trait and started doing their jobs.