[ Masterweb Reports: Dr. James C. Agazie reports ] - My former student and I had a heated discussion over "Why are we Igbos falling behind in Nigeria?" Dr. O and I are Igbos of Anambra origin and have had the knack of bantering over the progress of our people. This time, Dr. O disputed every argument I presented since he believes Igbos in Nigeria and abroad are faring rather poorly in every aspect of human endeavor.
ME: "What of Igbo progress in education?
DR. O: "No, Igbos are making no strides. In fact, they are regressing educationally".
ME: "Don't Igbos have money?"
DR. O: "Not at all. Their money is useless without doing anything for their community. They build castles in Northern Nigeria and then are chased away while their home states remain largely undeveloped."
"What else?" I asked in desperation.
Dr. O: "Nothing else, Doc, You see, Igbos may end up being the underclass in Nigeria as they are hated by all the other tribes ".
He went on to discuss the exploding numbers of non-Igbo (Yoruba and Hausa) physicians, engineers, scientists, mathematicians, bankers, politicians, billionaires, and manufacturers scattered in Nigeria all over the world. Throwing my hands up in desperation, I asked my assailant: "Do you know that without Ndiigbo pioneers, Nigeria would not be where we now are educationally?" I repeated the question much to Dr. O's amusement. He thought I should know better than that. I am tempted to concluded that Ndigbo are falling behind because they are not interested in helping others and all this is happening while Igbos are neglecting some important personality issues that might be stunting their progress. That happens when Igbos are so busy chasing after "toro na afu" (pennies), just as the old proverb used to say "penny wise pound foolish".
Many Igbo professors I have known to be working at various American institutions of higher education have recently been dismissed before attaining tenured positions of full professorships. But there are scores of Yoruba Deans, Vice presidents, Vice Chancellors, and Provosts. I called two Yoruba men I know, a Vice President on the east coast and Associate Vice Chancellor at a large community college system on the west coast to ask "What are you doing right that the Igbos are doing wrong?" More Yoruba professors and professionals in the USA appear to be quieter, less troublesome, and get along better with spouses, colleagues, and the Americans in general. Some Igbo professionals appear to be louder, more quarrelsome and argumentative, more ostentatious, self- aggrandizing, and showy when displaying material stuffs like vehicles and houses. One Igbo Department Chairman had the habit of arguing with his university President at staff meetings until he was replaced with another mathematician. One Igbo physician had the engine of his Rolls-Royce running on display outside his office while attending to his patients. This doctor was more interested in acquiring best automobiles than in providing best patient care. He had to quit his practice in America and move to Nigeria when old patients moved away and new ones weren't forthcoming.
On US college campuses, Nigerian professors tend to look down on students, comparing them to Nigerian students they had taught much to the annoyance of faculty and staff. Though Nigerian professors are considered to be very intelligent, the Igbos tend to be held to lower esteem than the non-Igbos due to personality issues, including infighting. I saw this happen to three Igbo young men who obtained their PhD's from the same university in the same discipline and taught at the same university. They were from Enugu, Imo, and Anambra States and got on well in graduate for four years, often entertaining white faculty at their Nigerian parties to which they invited their white professors and other Nigerians. Trouble started after the Imo man graduated first and was hired as Department Chairman of a State school, and he hired the other two as Assistant Professors. The first two years of working together were fine until hell broke loose in the third year. The chairman turned autocratic, becoming openly confrontational, and being accused of bearing tales to the Dean to engineer dissent among the Department employees and have his friends fired. "Watch out," he told the Americans, "these Africans may take over the Department." He was right because the Nigerians were plotting to hire other Nigerian professors to form the majority and gain promotions and tenures through each other's recommendations A bitter war ensued, culminating in the Chairman's inability to function and eventual resignation. When I tried to mediate since I knew all three of these Igbo men, the Anambra man warned me to keep out. What happened was the Enugu professor relocated to Florida after former Chairman from Imo escaped to a quieter Texas city, leaving the lone Anambra professor to figure out the cause of bickering. I told him he was the fool and chief instigator of palaver.
Incidentally, I am tempted to initiate a blithering indictment of NdiIgbo and their leadership at home and abroad as cause of why Igbos are falling behind . Igbos do not get along in any organization. Bitter infightings are the order of the day. Petty jealousies, love of money and obsession with chieftaincy titles add up to render Ndigbo further disunited. We condemn the Igbo governors for failure to take care of the rest of us at the difficult times in our history as the Yorubas and Hausas have done for their people. We denounce Igbo parents and elders for over-emphasizing the pursuit of money over and above respect, education, and igwebuike (community unity) as instruments for Igbo nation-building. We accuse Igbo religious leadership of its unfaithfulness in abandoning their calling and prostituting (being akwunakwuna) after prosperity. We condemn Ndigbo in general for their excessive pursuit of "ebe onye si bia" (where one comes from). Ndiigbo have excessive clannishness (Abiasm, Enuguism, Imoisn, Anambraism, Ebonyism). We fault Igbo people in general for their abandonment of technical education that generates employment, and we condemn Igbos for their fixating on excessive use of defeat in Biafran War as unwarranted excuse for developing the inability to form relationships across tribal boundaries and for being lazy and remaining in deep stupor, trance, coma, daze, state of unconsciousness.
Having said this, why are Ndiigbo falling behind In Nigeria and in the United States? Are the Igbos discouraged in their circumstances? Are they brow-beaten as a result of losing the Biafran War? What is the cause of their feelings of being trapped, downtrodden, subjugated, broken, oppressed, demoralized, or exploited? Can we trace the demoralization of Ndiigbo to post traumatic syndrome (PTS) suffered from defeat, or atrocities of Biafran War? It is safe to believe the Igbos didn't suffer a defeat in war; they simply gained the opportunity to regroup, rethink, re-strategize, and return stronger and more resilient. Igbos have always bounced back. There is nothing shameful about falling down from time to time; but it is discreditable to remain on the ground after a fall. Isn't what seems to keep us Igbos down for 44 years since the Biafran War ended is that we are not united? Are we Igbos less likely to lift both ourselves and each other up after a fall? Are we carrying unnecessary baggages consisting of guilt, "mmegbu" (oppression); "anya ufu" (jealousy), "anya ukwu" (greed), and "obi –ojoo" (bitterness)?Let's look at some of our glaring problems.
In education, fewer Igbo children and adults are going to schools than they once did, than the Yorubas. More Igbos are interested in making money and dreaming of becoming billionaire Dangote or politician President Goodluck than they are in acquiring education for the love of it. More Yorubas are acquiring higher education to the PhD level than the Igbos. There are fewer Igbos in SEM (science, engineering, and mathematics) and technology (plumbing, air conditioning, airplane mechanic, etc) than there are in the other Nigerian tribes. In employment, more Igbos are unemployed and unemployable than the other tribes because Igbo employers are quite unwilling to employ other Igbos, and when they do employ, their Igbo employees would be robbing the business owner or doing their own businesses within the master's business.
Do the Igbos get along? No. Igbo States are more likely to be hot-beds (or boiling pots)of dissent, with strings of Ngiges, Ubas, and Rochas, Chimes vying for power in the midst of "esem okwu" (troubles). If you are Igbo Nigerian running for dear life from boko-controlled North, you are more likely to be denied employment in Igboland and asked to go to your state of origin than if you ran to Yorubaland. You are more likely to be robbed, kidnapped, or even killed if you venture into Igbo majority places than if you seek refuge in Igbo minority areas. If you were one of the 72 destitute Igbos in Lagos that Governor babbatunde Fashola deported to Onitsha bridge, other Igbos would most likely ignore you and not come to your aid, or you might end up being a bloated corpse floating in Ezu River. Self hatred, hatred of others and wickedness seem to be the hallmarks of the tribe Hausas refer to as Anyamiris. Igbos are drinking large quantities of Star lager, Heinekens, Extra Stout, palm wine, and burukutu to self-medicate. Igbo men are developing large onyeagba pot bellies that make men appear to be pregnant. More breweries are being built in Igboland and Ndigbo are likely to deaden their frustration through becoming alcoholics rather than they are to nourish their bodies with proper diets and exercise.
No one can compellingly argue against the fact that Ndigbo of Nigeria are a force to be reckoned with. Though Ndiigbo did amazing exploits before Nigeria became the Nigeria it is today, long before the granting of self-governing in 1960, today's Igbos are now as dormant as inactive volcanoes under the seas. Though Ndigbo did achieve tremendous, "forward ever" strides during the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's, the happenings among today's Igbos reflect "backward ever" syndrome. Think of the schools and cathedrals the Igbo did construct throughout Nigeria. Do you remember how Igbos provided the early manpower Nigeria needed as she marched towards sovereignty; the teachers, merchants, administrators, health workers, and miners? And if you add the fact that the Igbos have always loved education and are skilled in the accumulation of wealth, you'll begin to appreciate these people's indomitable spirit and adventurism. Indefatigability seems to be a better choice of words. To be indefatigable is to be incapable of being tired out; to be tireless, unflagging, unrelenting, unfaltering, remorseless, tenacious, resolute, inexorable Isn't it true that, all things being equal, some animals are more equal than their neighbors? It seems the Igbos are steadily becoming less equal in a country of 170 million souls.
Money alone cannot give Ndiigbo needed predominance. The question is : how much of Nigeria's money is controlled by Ndigbo? Let's say Igbos control over N930 trillion. A trillion (or a million million) is 1 followed by 12 zeros. A trillion is 1,000,000,000,000 to be exact. It's fair to wager that Nigeria would not be Nigeria without "ego Ndigbo" (Igbo wealth). My former student Dr. O wasn't impressed when I attempted to amaze him with a breathtaking estimate of Igbo wealth from the internet; it fell off his brain like water rolls off the back of a thickly feathered duck. Igbo investments are" hugomongous": not less than N600 trillion in Abuja; N10 trillion in Kano and Kaduna each; N5 trillion in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa States each; N15 trillion in Plateau State; and there is no Nigerian state where Igbo investments do not exceed 5trillion.
Read: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/07/the-igbos-have-more-at-stake-in-nigeria It is said that no Nigerian State or town can survive without Igbo economic contribution. What does it mean in terms of nsopulu (respect) and ako na uche (commonsense)?
Granted Igbos have so much Naira it comes out of their ears and mouths. The question is: what have they done with all that money? Economic power without political power to accompany it is as good as soup without salt. In conclusion, in order to overcome feelings of marginalization or of falling behind the Ndigbo must prioritize goals in the order of significance. Time is running out. School should take greater priority in Ndiigbo scheme of things than emphasis primarily on trading and acquiring naked cash. Child development should include training in self-respect, respect of others, working in unity, humility, honesty, and unselfishness. Education should focus on scientific and technical education aimed at full employment of the youth. Strengthening Igbo families would have the advantages of preventing crimes and violence as well as creating a secure environment.
Dr. James C. Agazie ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ), retired college Professor with educational backgrounds in law (JD) education (Ed.D, MA) counseling,( MS) and and mathematics reports.
*Photo Caption - Map of Igboland
[ Masterweb Reports: Interview by Philip Probity, Raima Khan & Babaji Halilu ] - Preamble: In our discussion with Dr Kusum Gopal, who has served as an UN Expert and is also a Technical Expert on governance and conflict had stressed on the extreme urgency-- for the Government of Nigeria at all levels to act with immediacy to implement inclusive measures towards providing citizenship, guaranteeing social security and civic facilities in all regions to redress the extreme poverty, built in-injustices and the recurring violence of vigilantism. She observed also that the military action by troops and air strikes without these curative measures have fuelled further carnage, alienating citizens and spreading into neighbouring regions involving armies and civilian populations for example, Niger and Chad. ISIL, Racism were also addressed: see below for some excerpts from our interview in Kathmandu.
Q: The massacres by the Boko Haram have increased tenfold, and now they are pledging obedience to the ISIL! What is the way forward?
Unless we understand the ‘why’ question, that is undertake a holistic analysis, evaluating lessons learned, persistent failures will continue to result. We are confronted by profound ethical dilemmas intensified in recent months by the appalling bestiality of ISIS, Prophets of Un-Truth, whom even influential leaders within Al Qaeda’s splintered factions have scathingly denounced, cautioning their brethren to distance themselves from its Pulpit. We cannot engage international blue prints or Road Maps, it has to be region specific.
Yes, their leader Mr Abubakr Sekhou has avowed allegiance to the leader of ISIS dazzled by the prospect of the Caliphate. But the Boko Haram and groups or individuals claiming to be operating under its banner, it must be emphasised are manifestations of wider culture, home-grown vigilantism specific to Nigeria. We know why the Boko Haram has been able to strike successfully—it is not so much fragility of the Nigerian state as it is in its hesitation to introduce reforms -- The true test of "good" governance is the degree to which it delivers on the promise of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. The key question is: are the institutions of governance effectively guaranteeing the right to health, adequate housing, sufficient food, quality education, fair justice and personal security? Nigeria has the wealth and resources to help all Nigerians and thus vanquish the Boko Haram and other vigilante groups.
In sharp contrast, the western initiatives for regime change, extraneous help in the removal of powerful dictatorships, for example of Mr Saddam Hussein and Col Gaddafi has dismantled the administrative and military apparatuses which had sealed the borders, kept the populations united and controlled these regions for over half a century, naturally with calamitous consequences. Thus, ISIL has emerged in the wake of the occupation and regime change; it simply could not have happened or grown as it has otherwise. Alarming as it is to witness such bonds of allegiance proclaimed across vast swathes of territory by armies and militias that have no regard for the sanctity of human life, or humanity, its ties with the Boko Haram cannot but be tenuous.
Q; Could you explain how ISIS has come to be?
ISIL or ISIS as it is now called– ‘Islamic’State of the Levant came into existence in early 2003 -04, as Jamaat al Tawhid wa al-Jihad or IS after which Zarqawi the erstwhile leader pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda --its name changed to Tanzim-e-Qiadat al-Jihad fi Bilal al-Rafidayn. It was formed from the Iraqi Sunni groups Ansar al-Sunna and Iraqi Army fighting the Occupation under the leadership of Abu Masab al Zarqawi .Comprised in part of Saddam’s former soldiers with disparate groups of volunteers and mercenaries-- committed ‘soldiers of faith, well-armed with captured high- tech military equipment left behind by the US army for the Iraqi army. The military equipment captured by the ISIL fighters is reported to include AN/PVS-7 night vision goggles, MI6 rifles, M4 carbines, M203 grenade launchers, M60 and 240 machine guns, RPGs, surface to air stinger missiles, MI98 Howitzer artillery guns, Ack Ack guns, SP guns, scud missiles, T-55 and T-72 tanks, AMZ Dziks, MT-LB, Humvies, Helicopters, MII3 APCs, recovery vehicles. Indeed, substantial currency conservatively estimated to be in possession of over $2 billion was seized from Mosul, and their coffers are growing. Since 2010 Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi has been in-charge and declared himself the Caliph Ibrahim in an attempt to hark back to the times of the Caliphate.With oil fields under their control, the Peshmerga and other armies are being overcome. Many groups of committed fighters comprise ISIL such as Jaish al-Fateheen, Jund al-Sahaba, Katbiyan Ansarul Tauhid wal Sunnah and Jaish al Taifa al-Mansoora regard themselves as mujahedeen reminiscent of the Afghan mujahedeen fighting to liberate their peoples and land of’ all infidels’ as they put it – however, they are in truth, alienating the vast majority of their own people.
And, now with all these armies on the rampage we witness genocides in that ancient cultural terrain, the cradle of human civilisation despairing each day at the bestiality towards fellow human beings as we also witness the destruction of sacred archaeological sites. To cite a few: bombing of the holiest Shia shrine the tomb of Imam Hassan al-Askari in Samarra in 2006 and since then, destroying the holy shrine of Prophet Yunus, the Nabi Shees shrine in Mosul with dynamite, Nimrud . Such developments and the Occupation forced Shi’ia armies to be formed along with Sunni armies, and revered leaders such as Moqtada Al- Sadr have given a call to arms in self-defence. Further, on the ISIS list are Najaf and Karbala. It is extremely disturbing and, they must be stopped, sectarian conflicts have engulfed this region in flames.
It must be emphasised that these are new happenings. It is significant that the Levant experienced the benevolence of the Ottomans who governed successfully for over six hundred years, allowing freedoms of worship and conviviality: minorities of all descriptions lived together. Ottoman Sultans were Sunnis and built Shi’ia mosques, by and large permitting freedom of religious practice, allowed funds for churches and synagogues. Unbeknownst to most people is that until Islam had a well-defined Church and State (politics and religion) divide, much more so than Christianity. As theologians enlighten us, under the Ottomans, the Mughals, the Safavids as also other contemporary rulers– while the Badshah or the Caliph were seen to be imbued with divine writ for legitimacy, they did not legislate or control over religion and its practice, they did not give sermons on it either. Religion had no formal control over them and none of their subjects expected them to pontificate on spiritual matters. Islamic traditions during the medieval times, indeed until the Ottoman empire was desecrated, it maintained a palpable distinction between the civic/administration and religious matters—contributing to the success and enrichment of the Empire. The Caliphate commanded considerable support and respect, it also knitted together not just Sunni and Shi’ia but also minorities, Kurds, Druze, Coptics and so forth, employing special efforts to accommodate various, diverse cultures. In the Indian Subcontinent –an important pre-Partition agitation was the Khilafat movement supporting the Caliph in the 1920s; it was a people’s movement – all faiths. Islamic scholars and theologians also point out that the present fundamentalism is new and has garnered support because of the vacuum created by what they perceive to be the corruption and greed in their countries , which includes pre-revolutionary Iran. Arab cultures are extremely hospitable, egalitarian, democratic, indeed, tolerant since earliest times. While Jews were being persecuted in Europe for several hundred centuries in the Levant, they were treated as equals and occupied important posts: these cultures do not need to be taught democracy, it is embedded in their lifestyles. In sharp contrast, despite the immeasurably rich contributions, indeed assimilation by Jewish peoples to European civilisations and culture, they were deprecated and always made aware of their unequal status, their separateness. Not only the interpretations from religious texts including the New Testament condemned them, but nearly all European rulers passed Edicts and other laws to banish those of Jewish faith from their kingdoms or forced them to convert despite the immeasurably rich contributions they had made in various spheres of human endeavour. These discriminations has not ended as anti-Semitism is not subterranean in Europe despite the Holocaust! European nations indeed, the MENA region would benefit from learning from Ottoman wisdom: there is need to resuscitate these traditions of governance. It is only by embracing ancient wisdoms with inclusive forms of governance: these Prophets of un-truth can be vanquished.
To my mind, the Sykes-Picot lines destroyed the heimat in this terrain, trapping them into narrow ways of thinking by separating them from familiar taken-for granted habitats; it prevented natural, unconscious flowering of these cultures. Nation states were carved out without local involvement unlike as in Europe where various countries happened by naturally detaching themselves gradually over three hundred years. And, indeed, this is to my mind the roots of the angst, raison d’être of the present conflict. Brutal dictatorships which overthrew monarchies set up during the Mandates came into being such as that of Saddam Hussein who deemed the only way to govern was to annihilate all opposition. Further disquiet has been triggered by the punishing embargo which caused civilian populations to suffer, followed by the Gulf War and then, regime change: all this adding to the tensions simmering underneath for almost a century. These armies are being funded generously be they governments/ others: it is these funding interests who must reflect on the horrific slaughter of human lives and genocides to decide firmly on a peace plan. To solve these problems we need to weigh these tensions to establish forms of governance that would appeal to the people. Perhaps learned, religious representatives meet and decide with respected community representatives, and religious leaders, Sunni and Shi’ia leaders to come forth with a proposal to end this carnage.
Q: You say there needs to be greater reflection on the Sykes-Picot agreement. Can you elaborate on its connection with ISIL?
Although it happened almost a hundred years ago, these are moral fault lines, harbingers of human tragedies. The Sykes-Picot agreement sought to partition the Empire even before its demise, capriciously– the French and the British secretly drew lines: it was not done with the consultation of the peoples or their learned men. For example, the Mandates French in Lebanon and the British in Iraq carved out geographically were masks for colonialism—all the previous laws were declared null and void; the promulgated new utilitarian laws transplanted in this syncretised terrain became the source of divisiveness between Arabs, between Arabs and Turks, others. Indeed, separating peoples who were once united in conviviality and sociality; living in vilayats and sanjuqs had encouraged a freedom of expression and movement. For example, if one studies the Document, there appears to be no respect for the people nor any attempt to understand their heritage, habitats, their cultures. To illustrate: At a Downing Street meeting of 16 December 1915 Mark Sykes had declared "I should like to draw a line from the e in Acre to the last k in Kirkuk." Naturally only strong arm tactics and brutal regimes had to come into being –as traditional forms of governance were submerged. And, ill-advised events of the last century, indeed the present are a testimony to this ‘meddling’; it has now boiled over. The influence of ISIL cannot be underestimated - Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq have been overrun and the lines that divided these regions have been declared null and void. Unsurprisingly, In a video titled ‘End of the Sykes-Picot’ an ISIS spokesman noted: “This is not the first border we will break, we will break other borders"; Pointedly, their leader, Dr Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed in July 2014, "this blessed advance will not stop until we hit the last nail in the coffin of the Sykes-Picot conspiracy. What is extremely worrying is their motto to remain and to expand-- Bāqiyah wa-rg –-they have disciplined armies, funds and administrative apparatus in place.
The ISIS proclamation of a new Caliphate under Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi is a dangerous one, justifying their brutal actions as harkening back to what they interpret to be the time of the Prophet. It has attracted support, all age groups, both idealistic and disaffected- the deep-rooted desire for the Caliphate that all disparate groups and individuals, some as young as 15 years to travel, to serve to obey, an allegiance that cannot be broken, as sacrifice and faith motivate these people. And, the Prophets of Un-truth preaching an interpretation of Islam that has no resemblance to the Holy Qur’an. However, the majority of religious leaders, Muslims and non-Muslims are unequivocal in recognising that their promulgations and actions bear very little resemblance in spirit or in thought to what is in the Holy Qur’an, if anything it is a travesty, in contempt of the basic tenets of Islamic teachings.
Q: Could you explain further?
I am not an expert of Islam or an authority on fiqh, jurisprudence, but it is generally known that taking a life is not sanctioned, indeed, innocent lives cannot be simply taken be they Muslim or non-Muslim, And, as a scholar has noted, Anas bin Malik, Allah's Apostle stated:"O Abu Hamza! What makes the life and property of a person sacred?" He replied, "Whoever says, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah', faces our Qibla during the prayers, prays like us and eats our slaughtered animal, then he is a Muslim, and has got the same rights and obligations as other Muslims have." ISIS cannot be understood in the context of Islam but rather as an appalling aberration, in part a consequence of the pernicious colonial legacies, replaced by violent regimes in these regions-- its peoples have been forced to persevere with since the last century. Driven by deep rage, the immeasurable cruelty and bestial behaviour in violation of the codes of war is being reported each day-be it the beheading of Kurds, Syrians by ISIS or the revenge torture of ISIS by these armies- they are using chemical weapons. The worst affected are the civilian populations-- women and children, and certainly, minorities in these regions: to the ISIS and, to the Boko Haram they remain expendable. We now have to contend with fragmented armies indeed, militias fighting each other amidst populations of displaced civilians – a significant proportion who cannot abide by the ISIS: among them are not just religious minorities, such as the Yazidis and Shi’ias but also Sunnis. For example, in Samarra, Sunni Ulemas and Sunni groups who refused to pledge allegiance to the Caliph were murdered brutally in July 2014 and, all opposing them continue to suffer the same fate.
Q: Western military Intervention has led to mixed reactions. Is it the only solution?
It cannot be a solution. Top army generals and commanders have stated unequivocally that continued military assaults cannot guarantee success. And, more recently, Mr Prescott, the former British Deputy PM has accused Mr Blair for the radicalisation of British Muslims by waging what he described as “bloody crusades”. He is not completely wrong as there is so much anger within Europe’s minorities who grow up feeling discriminated and bullied: racism at home needs to be addressed more effectively, more inclusively.
There also exists at another level, a phenomenal mendacity, indeed, irresponsibility: an enduring unwillingness to reflect on the past hundred years of meddling. One such consequence was the destruction of the Ottoman polity- there is a German word, totschweigen, wilful denial, by an ignoring silence. We must resuscitate traditions that remain submerged specific to this region they have symbolic power and emotional appeal whereby diverse communities lived together in relative harmony: no local community exercised sovereignty over any other. Euro-American governments are able to acknowledge why but policies need to be put into place: only then we can defeat these groups be they armies or militias with ease! There needs to be more research on the politics of oil and its impact on developments since the 1920’s, as also translations need of important texts need to be re-evaluated by scholars; begin inter-faith discussions.
Q: Finally, shall we discuss race and racism?
In India there is so much discrimination also and attacks on Africans, white Europeans are not attacked! What can be done?
Racism needs to be acknowledged as a pandemic—these erroneous beliefs which wound the human spirit and humanity. In the Indian Subcontinent, we need to educate people about race. Indeed, even in Africa there is racial discrimination and there appears to be a gauge about various shades of blackness! Indeed, in India there is a very powerful misconception in India about race – indeed, these erroneous theories about Aryan invasion and about south Indians being Dravidians. The term Dravidian was conjured by Henry Caldwell a rather incompetent administrator and crept into official and thenceforth academic discourse—without being questioned! Race and colour theories emerged with European colonisers specifically German Max Mueller and British governance informed by HH Risley. A scale was drawn and anthropometric measurements undertaken to grade populations—those that were lighter skinned were deemed to be of a different race to those darker—Indeed as Frawley has demonstrated, "For example, Arya was a term of respect and not about ethnicity: it was invented as a race. There was no Aryan invasion of India and there is no divide between the north and the south—people interacted, migrations and intermarriages was extensive. We still rely on colonial translations . Translators require not just grammatical understandings but deep knowledge of the culture and metaphors- so much of colonial and post colonial published texts fall short of these requirements. Whether they are inadequate translations of Sanskrit, Arabic or indeed, Persian texts, they remain suspect. Fresh scholarship is required to reclaim history and current comprehensions re-examined.
Unconsciously people at large remain deeply ignorant and are informed by colonial ways of thinking; they measure themselves and others that way-- it is deep rooted ignorance and only education from the earliest levels can eliminate such prejudices fostered by racial profiling. The rather revolting advertisements on TV must end and actors endorsing such products need to be chastised!
We must reiterate that race constructions or tribe constructions did not originate from the existence of 'races' or tribes. It was created through European colonialism which institutionalised processes of social division into arbitrary categories fixing racial profiles independent of people’s somatic, cultural, religious belief systems. Applying the Stammbäume (charting family trees) model (not as used by Darwin) to grade levels, how superior to inferior races were governed by selection, regardless of historical evidence, reciprocal influences between scientific thought and species discusses how orders and levels came to represent an ascending staircase of social-cultural evolution, all non Europeans natives occupying the lowest rungs graded by skin colour. Certainly this ludicrous evolutionary scheme has been discarded since ---the entire race grading of people is indeed, unscientific and fallacious. We have to reject outright colonial anthropometry ---the cephalic index, the bigonial diameter, the bizygomatic diameter as indeed, all the rest. At any rate, there has always been so much interbreeding between human populations that it would be meaningless to talk of fixed boundaries between races in most parts of the world. Also, the distribution of hereditary physical traits does not follow clear boundaries. In other words, there is often greater variation within a region or groups than there is systematic variation between two geographically apart regions. Institutionalising such thinking has led to the hardening of inward-looking attitudes which formed the basis of classifications leading to continuous wrangling, and prejudice.
Whatever our colour, religion, language, status, indeed gender, the Indian Constitution states we are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. Indeed, we know these rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. And, in India given the ancient wisdom which fostered our diversity—we have eight hundred and sixty or so languages (including dialects), accompanied by different cuisines and attire, it should be possible to correct colonial ways of thinking. Indeed there is no such thing as race just to celebrate the human race by being humanitarian in our actions.
Thank you very much Dr Gopal.
Above interview of Dr. Kusum Gopal by Philip Probity, Raima Khan & Babaji Halilu.
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Uchendu Precious Onuoha, Masterweb Special Correspondent reports ] - The story of Helen Mukoro, the Nigerian born Spanish lawyer, politician and writer fits in as the stone the master builders rejected which became the chief corner stone of the building. The same place she was rejected and thrown out due to the color of her skin has equally turned out to be a place she has gained acceptance and is in the path of making history to become the first Afro-Spanish mayor in the kingdom of Spain. And the first Afro-Spanish to form and float an approved and registered political party, Union De Todos, in Spain. A country where Africans don’t have a voice.
But for Helen Mukoro, she has chosen to tread a path where even the Angels are afraid to walk. According to Shakespeare; “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. But in ourselves, that we are underlings”. Helen Mukoro has caught the fire of the wheel set in motion by Obama for other Africans who aspire to follow in his footsteps to stay the course, light a star, and change the world wherever you are. She is daring, learned, intelligent, dynamic, versatile full of gait and energy, and has a sharp grasp of issues. Helen is on news in the Spanish media, and the Spanish press is going after her to have a clue of the black woman who has become the rave of the moment in Spain. Below is an interview she granted to our foreign correspondent in Spain.
Could You Please Tell Us About Yourself?
Helen Mukoro is my name. A Spanish Legal Consultant, Writer, Forensic Expert and Politician. I was born in Delta state, Nigeria to Mr. Anthony Mukoro (the late Director General of the Defunct Bendel state Government Treasury’s Cash Office, and Mrs. Mary Mukoro and Apkomudjere (a retired Civil Servant Governor’s Office, Delta State, Nigeria). A niece to Dr. A.G Onokhoraye (ex -Vice Chancellor of University of Benin. A step daughter to Hon. Justice Emmanuel Akpomudjere (the late Chief Judge of Delta State, Nigeria). I attended College of Agriculture, Anwai, Delta State, Nigeria, where I obtained a Diploma Certificate in Agriculture. And Left the shores of Nigeria to Spain in 1992.
Studied Law at the Spanish National University Alicante, and holds a Master degree in Criminology. Masters degree in Social Education, a Post Graduate Certificate in Tax and Labor Management, a Post Graduate Certificate in Forensic Psychology, and a Post Graduate Certificate in Immigration and Domestic Violence. Worked as a legal Consultant (immigration department) at the Red Cross Society, Spain. Owner of a legal firm. President at the African Europe Chamber of Commerce. And founder of the party, Union De Todos, Spain.
Why Did You Decide To Go Into Politics?
I went into politics because; we have to become more involved in decisions that affect us as citizens. And we have an obligation to ensure the legacy we leave to future generations: Politicians, we all are. I saw the need to go into politics as a means to making our own explanation of political leadership that suits the interest of the people and is ready to listen and care for the needs of its constituents.
You Are The Founder And Leader Of The Party, UNION DE TODOS, When Did This Party Come Into Existence?
Yes, I am the founder and leader of the Party, UNION DE TODOS, which means in English, We All Together, or Together We can. This is a new Political party in Spain that was born in 2014.
As An Afro Spanish, How Were You Able To Gain Acceptance Into The Spanish Society?
When you talk about being accepted, it is said that “when you are in Rome, live like the Romans” Being accepted in Spain is for you to know how to live in Spain. You don’t go and stand on the road naked, and you expect people to accept you, or you go and do drugs, and you want people to accept you. Another factor is Education, 90% of African community in Spain don’t have basic Education. All these have to do with knowing how to live. I know where to go, when to go, and whom to go with and stay out of crime. By that way I was able to integrate and gain acceptance.
You Are Running For The Mayor Of Denia- Alicante, What Motivated You To Go For That?
Denia- Alicante is a very beautiful place with about 45,000 inhabitants. What motivated me to run for the seat of Mayor of Denia is the situation Spain is now. It is even enough to make a dead man to wake up and say, I am back to my feet again. The Politicians that ruled between the past 8-10 years did more harm than good. There was corruption, and a lot of things went wrong. People could not afford to pay for their basic needs, not that the country is poor, but because money is being taken away. Spain is no longer that super country that used to be everybody’s dream. I felt that, Spain has to come back to be what it used to be, Spain has to stand on its feet, Spain is not a lazy country, Spain is not a doomed country.
How Is Your Popularity And Candidacy Among African Immigrants And Spanish People?
I start with the Spanish, because in my city Denia, we have just a few Africans. The Spanish knows about us. The Media has given us a very good coverage. The power of the Media, that’s where the campaign is. Because it’s an advanced country, they like information, they love to buy newspapers before they buy bread because they want to know what is happening. We have been on the news, everywhere I go on the street, I hear Mayor, Mayor, and the tide is high.
What Support And Assistance Do You Need To Actualize Your Dream?
What we need at this moment is that, the Nigeria and African Governments should come forth and support us morally and financially, because if it happens we win, not just me, it’s a victory for Africa. I am the first to found a political party here, and heading for the Mayor of my city, tomorrow it will no longer be news. As the first, let it not be the last, let it be the beginning and not the ending. That is the reason I need to break the ice, and now the ice has been broken, and they need this push. My aim is that, in a few months and years from now, you begin to see a lot of candidates from Nigeria and Africa all over the place. Therefore, I call upon all Africans in Spain to go for the same party and start using the name of the party to aspire for any level wherever they live, if they decide and like what we do. Because the victory will be a history that will never be erased. They can say that Nigeria is the first country to produce a black leader in Spain. That will be a pride to Nigeria and Africa. If we get there, Nigeria and Africans in Spain will begin to be respected in a different dimension.
Nigerians And Africans Don’t Have a Voice In Spain, How Will Your Party Help Africans To Gain Recognition?
I have begin to notice that the group of Africans, and Nigerians coming into Spain lately are different from the first group of people that came to Europe earlier, the Nigerians that migrated first to Italy and Europe spoiled their names everywhere. There is a different group of people coming in now, those that have the value for Education, a lot of them starting churches etc. When the people see these things, gradually, it makes their mentality and concept to change as they begin to see that they are organized towards positive things. If we win, I will convey to the National Government that the Universities here should be bi-lingual, because the language is a barrier that prevents African immigrants to acquire University Education as it is in United States of America and Great Britain. Also, I will ask that Africans should be given bursary and in addition, finance their housing facilities as rents are high and it is difficult for African students to meet up with the high cost of accommodation during the cause of their studies, because I believe that the best way to integrate into a society and gain acceptance is through Education.
You Are Multi-talented, Lawyer, Politician, Writer, And I can Say, You Are, a Child Of The Universe, Please Tell Us About Your Forays Into Writing?
I crawled into writing because of what happened to me, which made me feel, it is good to write to keep records, create awareness, and write for people to know their rights. I have launched into world history with these books: ‘The Case That Bruised My Heart, Eight Thousand Miles, A City Of Two Umbrellas, Another Will Open, Make Wealth Everywhere, The Reward Of A Good Man, What Good Is Happiness, High Level Of Effectiveness, Leadership, A Thorn Rose, and ‘In A Closed Business Growth.
*Photo Caption - Helen Mukoro
[ Masterweb Reports ] - In March 2014, Prophet T.B. Joshua granted a rare interview to Nigeria’s New Telegraph newspaper in which he made several revealing statements concerning the February 2015 elections. With the date of elections steadily drawing closer and tensions arising around the nation, the clerics words appear even more pertinent now than they did nine months ago.
Here is the transcript of the interview:
General Overseer of The Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN), Prophet T B Joshua, warns politicians not to derail the nation’s democracy. He spoke with TAI ANYANWU.
There are so many troubles in Nigeria today - problems of insecurity, threats to national unity, political manoeuvrings by rival political parties. What are your comments concerning these troubled times in the country?
It is a normal thing for a country that has a bright future, God’s promise. A bright future always attracts persecution, condemnation and enemies who realise that the future is bright - you see a lot of pressure and threats. The country is on the path to greatness; it will compete with any Western nation in the future and the Western nations know that Nigeria is going to be a giant. That is why there support in these trying times is needed. There is no country that has not passed through this.
All the countries that have become great today all passed through turbulence that nearly consumed them. How we manage the situation matters. If we don’t manage it well, we will not witness the greatness. It is not that the greatness would not come but that would not be for our generation. The greatness will still come but for the coming generation.
With the turbulence being experienced in some states of the federation and the election around the corner next year, how do you think this will play out?
Elections will not happen in some states because of the frequent attacks. This could affect between three to four states. The states would be a no-go area due to violence and elections would not take place in those states unless we move closer to God. We must intensify our prayers. This is what God has showed me and you can imagine what would happen if elections don’t hold in those states. It would have a great implication for our democracy.
How should we manage it?
We should not allow the politicians to politicise all the areas of our lives. For example if you want to enjoy anything, you have to be part of their party. For example, unless you are part of their party, you cannot benefit from things that should be available to you as a citizen. Look at electricity, health etc - they have politicised everything. Religion has been politicised. Even Christianity has been politicised. They go to church; the pulpit is where they campaign now.
Now they go to churches and mosques to bomb them. These are people in church who had gone to pray for themselves. Must everybody become a politician? How we handle the situation at hand now matters. If the situation is not well managed, we will find ourselves postponing the great Nigeria. In other words, we would not witness it but it would be witnessed by our children.
Don’t let us politicise every area of our lives. Let us carefully play our politics with keen decency because 2015 matters in the history of Nigeria. It is either we cross the bridge successfully or it collapses. A good Nigerian that wants this greatness should be able to pay whatever proper price that is needed to be paid to make this dream of a great Nigeria possible. If your being in politics will make this greatness come, then join. From now to 2015 is a very important period in the history of Nigeria and if we don’t manage the situation well, our democracy would be rubbished.
What do you mean by 'our democracy would be rubbished'?
A situation where there would be lawlessness in the sense that the law would not be capable of guiding us because of the pros (for) and cons (against) as contained in the law. That would now take so much time which would lead Nigeria to a discussion table. Where would you and I be at that time?
What can you say about APC and PDP?
In body we can call it APC and PDP but in spirit, they are one and the same thing. I am yet to see the difference. I am looking forward to seeing the difference.
With the situation in the country today and the agitation on 2015, what advice do you have for politicians not to create more tension in the polity and what is the way out?
The advice - many of us need to leave politics while many others need to join in order to inject fresh blood. The people that need to leave politics are not the common people. This is in order to avert the disaster that could rubbish our democracy.
*Photo Caption - T. B. Joshua
[ Masterweb Reports: David Onwuchekwa reports ] - In a recent interview, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh allegedly called the former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi an empty bag. Some journalists tracked down Obi’s aide, Mr Valentine Obienyem for an
interview with his boss, Obi. Obienyem insisted that his boss only responds to issues that would contribute to national development and does not have the time to exchange words with men he described as ‘political irritants’. After much prodding, Obienyem ended up speaking to the press himself, with the warning that the views he expressed are strictly his. Excerpts:
Welcome back to Anambra State.
Thanks. I always visited with my boss, only that it’s been more of sneaking in and out.
Why do you have to sneak in and out?
When I say sneaking in and out, I only mean coming in quietly and leaving quietly.
How has life been outside government?
Well, I think it has been busier. I was lucky to serve a man who is adjudged to have performed excellently as governor of Anambra State. We are all proud of him, because he served so well to the point that institutions that worked with him are all trying to celebrate him. We are now busier, traveling from one part of the state to another and from one part of the world to another.
In the last three months for example, we have been to the USA and the UK three times. We attended the 69th United Nations General Assembly session during which he spoke at one of the side events on the post-MDGs agenda, because he was the best governor on mainstreaming the MDGs in Nigeria. We also attended the World Bank Spring meeting. Obi also spoke in one of the sessions because they recognize his expertise in financial management. One can go on and on.
Locally, institutions beg him to come and speak to them basically by way of sharing experiences on what made him succeed as the governor of Anambra State. What is interesting is that most of these institutions offer to pay for his trips, accommodation and honorarium. He often agreed that his transportation and accommodation should be taken care of, but not honorarium, on the basis that sharing experiences is a way
of contributing to the progress of the country without demanding anything in return.
Of course he has other activities that occupy his time. He often solicits assistance from institutions with which he assists churches to set up faith-based revolving micro credit schemes and for the rehabilitation of schools, especially those in the remote parts of the state.
What can you say about his recent defection to the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP)?
As far as I am concerned, that is a non-issue. When has exercising one’s right to association become a subject of inquisition?
Some think it’s normal, others see it as betrayal. What can you say about this?
We shall soon know who betrayed who. I have watched with amusement the wry humour some people have made out of it. Some are showing videos, others visit Ojukwu’s grave to dance, others speak in tongues and I ask is it because one man decided to exercise his right of association? In fact, I celebrated the reactions, because to me, no defection elicited such reactions in Nigeria perhaps since the evolution of parties with the exception of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s membership of NPN. It shows how important Obi is in Nigeria. To have elicited such
reactions means that the man is an institution, a colossus.
I sympathize with APGA people for crying and rolling on the ground on the loss of a man regarded as the face of APGA in Nigeria. The implication is that since this man has left, APGA is as good as dead, but it is not like that. Being his own person, he left alone and that means APGA can still reinvent itself. Moreover, they should understand that he left APGA because he was not wanted, and because the party had
since lost track of its advancement because of the greed of one man.
The chairman of APGA, Sir Victor Umeh was quoted as saying that Obi should not be called the face of APGA, because APGA made him and not the other way round. Do you agree?
If Chief Victor Umeh wants, let him declare that the sun rises from the west and people will merely laugh at him because he cannot change existential truth by mere mortal pronouncement. Why worry yourself about what Victor says when the other 99% believes that Obi was the face of APGA in the world?
As for Obi making APGA or APGA making him, Obi has not thought along that line. It’s Nigerians, based on what Obi did for APGA as a political party that submitted that he made APGA, so Victor’s point is laughable as it is baseless.
Umeh even claims that he also contributed in making Obi. He shares the faults of garrulous people everywhere. When you encounter people that talk a lot, you will see that they do so without circumspection.
Before Obi went into politics, he was chairman of many quoted companies, including two banks. Obi succeeded in APGA not because of wolves like Umeh who are perpetually after their selfish gains, but because of his inherent character which his pedigree before he became governor would substantiate. Obi is good, Obi has character , he is humble and trustworthy. He did not learn these virtues , because he was an APGA member and will certainly not depart from them because he
joined the PDP.
Each time Victor talks, his purpose is not to pass information, not to instruct, not to correct inexactitudes, but to diminish Obi. How can he say that APGA made Obi? Between him and Obi, who would we say that APGA made? The other day, I was in London with Obi, and he was trying to pack into one of his buildings in London from another one. He acquired both before he became the governor. As we were going through documents, he showed me one document that contained the amount he used to secure Victor’s first international passport for him, and the one covering
his first overseas trip. I know that his first car, a Mercedes Benz V-boot, was bought for him by Obi’s younger brother. I knew the two-room apartment where he lived before he built mansions all over the place and now living like a king. Gentlemen, you can judge who benefited from who.
He said it himself that without Obi’s faithfulness, APGA could not have reached where it is now. I remember the day he presented the Most Trustworthy Party Man Award to Obi, and said if not for his consistency in going to court and fighting his impeachment, APGA could not have succeeded. Juxtapose it with what he says today and your only conclusion will be that the man is only guided by the dictates of the time and not by truth.
In his last interview, I even read where he chronicled what he did for Obi to return to power after his impeachment. I was at the centre of it all and, I can tell you that the only man that believed in Obi was Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. If not because of Obi’s tenacity or if he depended on people like Umeh, he would not have come back. I remember during his impeachment, some people went to meet Umeh and he told them that their brother was gone for good. It was when the first judgment restoring him was delivered that Umeh started to lean towards him again.
I remember the day the Court of Appeal delivered judgment, I came back from Singapore that morning with Obi and had to board a 7 am Sosoliso flight from Lagos to Enugu to be in court. The moment the judgment was delivered, Umeh asked us to wait at Enugu that he would come there with Dim Ojukwu who was paying a condolence visit to the Akpamgbos in Enugu-Ukwu. On a second thought, Obi decided to call Ojukwu himself, who asked to know the wordings of the judgment. Obi told him the judge said he should take over immediately, and Ojukwu said if it was so, he should move to the Government House. That was how he left, contrary to Umeh’s own position, from Enugwu-Ukwu to the Government House, and that was
how Obi eventually was reinstated. So, in all his travails, the only man that followed him and not motivated by lucre, was Ojukwu. In fact that was why Obi was touched over the lamentations of Ojukwu’s wife, Ambassador Bianca and decided to explain to her what happened, and assured her that a change of platform is not change of principles. That is also why Obi said he would not reply to any other person on his
reasons for leaving APGA, because others are not sincere at all.
What would you say is APGA’s problem?
I think APGA’s problem is 90% caused by Chief Victor Umeh. He is not a good party man. APGA started dying the day he was made the chairman. We wished that Chief Chekwas Okorie continued. As Mrs Ojukwu said, the dismissal of Chekwas Okorie and the appointment of Umeh is like chasing away a cat to bring in the tiger. Dim Chukwumemka
Odumegwu Ojukwu saw this coming, because he actually advised against the
empowerment of Umeh and warned that the party should monitor the “little tiger being fed with milk closely to know when it grows teeth.” Look at the party and its history and you will discover that his idea of leadership of a political party is to expel anybody that dared question him in any way. Look at the national chairman of the PDP, he has been able to win those that left the party back and even more people for the party because he understands what party leadership is. The man is like a chief priest, appeasing different gods with what they need. On the contrary, Umeh sees himself as a god residing on the Olympian that should be appeased by many chief priests. This is why he always celebrates people leaving APGA.
When Obi was forced to leave the party, what Umeh said was that 7,000 others entered the same day. What is amazing and wicked about Nigerians is that while all attention is directed at Obi, nobody remembers those 7,000 that he boasted he received into APGA.
Umeh is the problem of the party because he has not allowed internal democracy to work. He is the chairman, the publicity secretary and everything of APGA. When the party went to the national conference, he was the delegate. As chairman, he is also the senatorial candidate. I mean, how can a party that tolerates such a circuits show survive? I am sure that deep inside him, he does not believe in APGA and whatever it
represents. He is a nihilist who only sees APGA as a means of livelihood and amassing wealth.
Since he is not contented, APGA would continue to lay on the ground under him.
Are you aware that the same Victor Umeh aspires to be a senator?
That one is not my business. If the people of Anambra Central, having known his character, feel that he is fit to represent them, so be it.
Could you comment on your boss’ successor, Chief Willie Obiano?
No word on him. He does not need to be distracted.
*Photo Caption - Chief Victor Umeh
[ Masterweb Reports: Gbenga Akinfenwa Interviews Mr. Theo Nkire ] - The burning need to promote harmony, ensure equity, fairness, and justice are some of the reasons Abia South senatorial zone should produce the next governor of Abia State in 2015. The president of Ukwa-Ngwa Professionals in Abia South, Mr. Theo Nkire stated this in an interview with Gbenga Akinfenwa. Nkire, the first Attorney-General of Abia wants the governor to come from Ukwa-Ngwa community. He says power shift is normal and natural in power sharing politics.
WHY has the Ukwa-Ngwa Professionals been silent on where the next governor of the state should come from?
It is not true. Ukwa-Ngwa people have remained united and determined in their quest for an Abia governor of Ukwa-Ngwa extraction in 2015. This is not to say there will not be dissenting voices. There surely will be. For example, there may be people to whom Ukwa-Ngwa interest is synonymous with self-interest. Such people are for Ukwa-Ngwa governor in 2015 provided they are the candidates. If they are not the candidates, then no Ukwa-Ngwa governor. Such people abound in every community and the Ukwa-Ngwa nation has her fair share of them. Luckily for us they constitute a very negligible minority; but even as we speak, we are still wooing them to our side. We have no reason to antagonise them. After all, this is a democracy and they are entitled to their opinion.
We at Ukwa-Ngwa Professionals are at the forefront of the movement for the actualisation of the dream. We lead the way even though a large majority of our members are from Abia Central. They agree that what is fair is fair. They understand it and they agree that power should shift to Abia South. Such is the nature of our struggle.
Why are so many Ngwa people opposed to the governorship being zoned to Abia South Senatorial District?
So many? It is not true. They are not many. They are very few; a negligible few. To be fair to them, quite a good number of those who at first were fizzled by the announcement are now back in our fold. They now understand that it is only fair for power to shift to Abia South. Do not forget that these are very intelligent people. As the days go by, we shall continue to plead with them and I am confident that before the party primaries, we shall all be singing with one voice again. Such is the beauty of democracy; you must respect those who disagree with you today for they may be your greatest supporters and allies tomorrow. All our people are coming together. We are not sleeping. We are working very hard to bring all dissenting voices back.
Some have argued that the division among Ngwa people on zoning could cost Ukwa-Ngwa the governorship.
No, it cannot. Ngwa people have never been as united as they are on the issue.
Why then is there confusion among Ngwa people about the zoning?
There is no confusion. It is not easy to build a consensus.
How could the Abia Charter of Equity which pre-dated the creation of the state ,still be relevant to 2015?
The beauty of the Charter is that it is eternal; it is forever. It is founded on equity, justice and fairness. So it can never grow old. This is because a cardinal principle of justice is fairness and as you know, equity follows the law. It is and so shall it remain for generations to generations. Fairness and justice are the guiding principles of all relationships; whether it is between spouses or friends, communities or nations what is fair is fair.
Those opposed to zoning say it is unconstitutional, undemocratic. Is zoning of political offices peculiar to Abia State?
Zoning is not peculiar to Abia. The governorship position in 2015 has been zoned in Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, and Ebonyi, indeed, in almost all the states of the federation. More recently, at a meeting with the President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja, Adamawa PDP leaders reached an agreement and zoned the governor in 2015 to Adamawa Central.
Why is zoning important for the 2015 governorship race in Abia State?
Zoning is important because zoning is fair; zoning is just and zoning is equity. Zoning will reassure the people of Abia South that they truly belong; that they are not second class citizens. Abia North has been governor. Abia Central has been governor. Why not Abia South. Equality is equity!
Zoning will bring harmony. Zoning will bring more understanding. Zoning will bring peace to Abia people.
Fears abound that zoning could deny the race of quality candidates.
What a shame! Those who say so do not know the stuff of which Ukwa-Ngwa people are made. Here is a short list of what we offer Abia people and indeed, the Nigerian people:
Does Governor T. A. Orji still support the ambition of Abia South producing the next governor?
Governor Oji is a gentleman. He is solid in his resolve to support Abia South. There are no doubts about his determination to ensure equity, fairness and justice in this matter. Those who doubt his resolve are unfair to him. As recently as August 27, during the Abia Day celebration, he repeated his support for Abia South to produce the governor in 2015 in line with equity, fairness and justice. We salute his steadfastness.
How is Abia South generating support for its cause in 2015?
We cannot reveal our strategy on the pages of newspapers. Be sure that we are winning more support as Abia people understand the principles of equity, fairness and justice.
*Photo Caption - Mr. Theo Nkire
[ Masterweb Reports ] - I met him in Nigeria. And it was through a friend of mine that worked together with me in my place of work and later went back to Nigeria. It happened that he was living in the same house where Kingsley lived, and he helped her. It was in that process that my friend informed me that there is a young man who saw your pictures and said he would like to talk to you. She connected us and from there we started interacting on phone until 2008 we met and got........ Read More.
*Photo Caption - Mabel Mark After Acid Attack by Husband
[ Masterweb Reports ] - Call her Misses glamour, charming, she will fit in; the presence of this bursting lady arrests the attention of her environment. She is the first Nigerian lady that gives laser treatment under beauty care in the kingdom of Spain as a professional aesthetician, cosmetologist and skin consultant. She is a role model, women leader for Nigeria and Igbo women in Spain where she resides. Recently our foreign correspondent in Spain was opportune to have an interview with her in Madrid Spain in an occasion where she provided answers with ease to questions posed to her.
Madam, could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Mrs. Jennifer Alawari Okechi Diorgu, the daughter of late chief A.W. Diorgu, held from Akwete Ukwa L. G. A. Abia state. Akwete villa is well known in the history of Nigeria for their clothes weaving being used all over the world for rich traditional weddings.
I am married to Hon. Charles Okechi from Udi L. G. A. Enugu State with four children and have produced two graduates in this kingdom of Spain. I came with my husband after my career in Nigeria and my stay in London. We are among the first Nigeria immigrants to Spain.
Please tell us about your profession?
I could say I have finally acquired what I have passion for, which are Aesthetician, Cosmetologist and skin consultant.
What are these about and how did you obtain the training and education?
These are the millennium trend that gives exit to job creations anywhere in the world. I started my first year role in cosmetics and aesthetic in 1991 at Desiree Professional Academy in Valencia Spain, where I obtained my professional national degree Diploma. I went for one year practicals and later continued intensive studies with another professional academy. Really these are off and on studies because of new research for our own good health and a healthy skin. Aestheticians must have a complete training program that is accredited by the state board of cosmetology.
Is there many aestheticians job opening available?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics ( BLS ) there are about 47,000 aestheticians and medical aestheticians employed in the United States. The BLS projects more than 11,000 new jobs to be added, which is a strong 25 percent growth rate in their country as well as here in Spain too.
What are the duties of Aestheticians?
Depending on experience and training, aestheticians provide a wide variety of services and procedures. They will meet with clients or patients by appointment, and consult on skin care needs and will examine the patient’s skin and recommend a skin care regimen and products.
Provide pre and post-operative skin care and help manage effect of diseases or skin condition such as rashes and other out breaks.
Help patients to minimize the appearance of various skin imperfections such as acne, also reduce the effect of aging on the skin.
On treatment like peelings, facial scrubs, laser treatment, Botox injections, cosmetic filler to reduce lines and wrinkles. Katie Patton, a licensed medical aesthetician says, “Be Tenacious, Believe in what you are doing”. Aesthetician career is quiet interesting but have long process. I love it with passion.
As a role model, how have you coordinated women in Spain?
Well there is a saying that where you live is where you thrive. I am proud to be an Igbo lady and a Nigerian woman, and to be precise I have contributed in my own small world. I started the meeting issue through my husband, when he was the vice president of Nigeria association and later became the president of Igbo improvement union Valencia.
So when I went to meeting, I saw a lot of women, they were like the sheep without a shepherd and I saw how uncomfortable they were in the mixt of men. The ladies saw how vibrant I am and made a clarion call to have me as their women leader and I accepted and became the pioneer president of women wing under Igbo Improvement Union Valencia. And later I was appointed as National president of Igbo General Assembly (IGA) Spain women wing. As ex-president, I still remain a board member. Then presently still the chairlady of Enugu State Association women wing Valencia.
How many dignitaries have visited during the conferences that took place in Spain?
In one of the conference hosted by my husband as the president then, I invited the former third citizen of Nigeria, Hon. Chief Adolfus Wabara and the beautiful wife. And he honored the invitation and came to Spain with the wife and the occasion was groovy. My greetings go to him and the wife for making me proud and Ndigbo as well.
Another dignitary came through Charles Oguchi. He brought Hon. Oke Nze Odu Obi and his beautiful Lolo with Hon. Shegun, all based in London. Hon Nze Odu Obi is the first Nigerian dentist, hails from Owerri. He is like a father to Ndigbo in diaspora. May God bless him and family. This occasion was first of its kind and we really felt at home and after the whole event, I was satisfied that they had lunch in my house. My thanks to all of them.
You were National Coordinator of Good luck Jonathan campaign in the last election?
That was in 2011 when I visited home, Nigeria I came back with certificate of National coordinator of Good Luck Jonathan election campaign through Hon Alabo Graham Douglas the ex-four times minister. May God bless you sir, first time to meet a down to earth man as a Nigerian man who has tasted power and still remain humble. I will explain, when a Nigeria man test corridor of power or affluence, he or she looks down on everyone, but in the case of Douglas, he is a friend of children, youths, old and young and always give you answers to your questions when needed and at any given time.
Please our Nigerian men and women learn this good behavior and stop asking who your god father is. The god father of everyone is our Lord Jesus Christ, thank you.
You have been outside Nigeria for long and may have seen a lot of the outside world?
Yes, sometimes is good for us to travel out as to have more experiences and courtesy. In my own case, I have lived outside for about 26 years and have lived and visited about 8 countries, London, Italy, Swiss, Portugal, Holland, Paris and New York, “I am done”
Are you doing any charity job?
Yes of course, life is give and take, as the Spanish people has impacted knowledge of language on me, so I ‘m giving back English class to the low (I.Q) children of age 14 to 20 years under protection of European union services. And I am happy with what I am doing, thanks.
What is your dream and future plans with all these experiences you have acquired and as a cosmetologist?
Well to accomplish my dream, I will like to have a cream and cosmetic sets in International market on my name. Also I am waiting to impact my experiences to others, when we start having steady light supply in our country Nigeria.
*Photo Caption - Mrs. Jennifer Alawari Okechi Diorgu
[ Masterweb Reports: Dr Okonjo-Iweala Interviewed by Katie Couric of Yahoo News ] – Katie Couric: Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala is Nigeria’s Finance Minister named recently as one of Time’s most influential people. I know that Abuja as we are talking is hosting the World Economic Forum on Africa right now, are you concerned about how the image of Nigeria is being projected all around the world at a time when you are trying to encourage Western investors?
The WEFA has just ended and it has been a success for the girls. Over 1,000 participants were in attendance – world leaders as well as global business leaders as well as African business leaders. And they came to show that they would stand against terror. That they will not accept that people can abduct girls and stop their education.
Specific initiatives also came out of the WEFA. There is a Safe Schools Initiative where Nigerian businesses have come forward in collaboration with Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of Britain, to set up an initiative supported by business to set up safe schools for the girls and they said if the government matches them they put up 10 million dollars immediately, they will use it to launch this initiative. The president of Nigeria has announced that he will match that immediately.
That is over and above all the efforts of the government so far to try and protect the schools better. So a specific initiative, solidarity of the international community and global business, with the girls and a very large turnout. This is the second largest World Economic Forum turnout outside of Davos, according to WEF itself. So it has been a success for the girls and solidarity for Nigeria.
Katie Couric: Let’s talk about the more pressing matter of the nearly three hundred girls who are still missing. There has been a tidal wave of criticism about the Nigerian government’s response to these kidnappings, are you confident that President Jonathan’s administration has done or is doing all it can to rescue these girls?
The President has openly pledged his commitment to do everything to rescue these girls, and what I said before on CNN is accepting that the government did not communicate what it was doing previously, because there was some element of reticence so as not to cause harm to the girls. That should not have been the case, it should have been that there was communication so that the Nigerian public and the parents of these girls know that action is being taken. Since that time the government has stepped up action, has appealed to the international community for help and is accepting help from the US, France, the UK, China and they are all coming in. The government has stepped up the number of troops that are working there and is working with countries that have satellite imagery to do more.
Katie Couric: Are you confident that the girls will be found, where are they, because it’s been rumoured that many of them have been taken across the border to Chad?
Katie, no one can answer that question. There is no one who can tell you with confidence. What we can tell you is that every single possible resource will be used to track these girls. You are dealing with people who are irrational. It is unacceptable that girls should be taken anywhere in the world, and they do not represent any religion, as you have heard many muslims have rejected what they have done. You have heard Prime Minister Cameron said this is not a Nigerian problem, it is a global problem. You have heard President Obama said we should stand against these terrorists. This is a global problem, we need to come together and fight against it and Nigeria is accepting any help it can do with.
Katie Couric: How trustworthy is President Goodluck Jonathan? Why do the families seem to know where the girls are but the government does not?(Question from tweets)
I’m not sure that characterization is correct, I think we should view this in a much more complex manner. The President said they searched in the Sambisa forest, they were not using aerial surveillance, they were not able to find the girls. This is a large area and it is not clear whether they are still together in a group or whether they have been split up, and the whole idea is that nothing should be done to harm the girls. In the past, the country has used some aerial surveillance but you can’t do that because you don’t want to end up harming the girls.
So the characterization that the parents know more than the government, I don’t want to enter into that because I have to tell you I’m not a security expert. But I can only tell you that much that I know and that is to share with you the commitment of the government and the country and the solidarity of the people coming together on this issue of bringing back the girls.
Katie Couric: Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala do you have daughters?
I have a daughter, I have four children. That is why I came out to say it is unacceptable, it is unimaginable that anyone would take these children. Anyone who has children, sons or daughters, one of the most unbelievable thing is the agony of not knowing where your loved one is. My mother was kidnapped in mid December 2012, and for five agonizing days we did not know where she was. I have actually experienced it; this is not from theory, it is one of the most terrible nightmares you could dream about. So, for me, it is deep pain and depression to know that for their mothers who are waiting, these are our daughters and we have to get them back.
Katie Couric: As Finance Minister I know that this week your ambition is to promote vast growth and current economic opportunity that exists in Nigeria, in fact the nation now leads the entire African continent in terms of GDP, but an estimated 62% of the population live in extreme poverty, do you believe this income inequality and lack of resources particularly in the North is contributing to the rise and recruitment power of Boko Haram?
First of all the problem of inequality is something that the entire world is struggling with. There is this new book by Thomas Piketty Capitalism in the 21st Century. That is the whole thesis, that there is the problem of inequality all over the world. 95% of the recent growth of the US was captured by 1% of the people. So this is again a global problem that we all need to learn from each other. Inequality is a major challenge in the growth story of the whole of Africa and Nigeria. And that is what we are working at, we do not want to grow with leaving more people behind, we want to change the quality of that growth. And I think the crux of that matter is creating jobs, people here do not want handouts, they want us to create decent jobs. The government is really working hard at improving agriculture, studies have shown that if you improve agriculture you are able to tackle poverty three times better and faster.
We are working on that; we are turning around agriculture and we are launching the housing sector to create jobs. We need 1.8 milllion jobs in the country, we are still creating 1.6 million; we are still falling short plus we have the pool of the unemployed. The biggest focus in alleviating poverty in Nigeria is creating jobs. The second is improving human development indicators which are not very good. Maternal mortality, infant mortality rate, children out of school these are things we are focusing on to get our resources to the level where we use them effectively to deal with these problems.
Katie Couric: I know you also deeply believe in the importance of girls’ education. Just last year the World Bank released a study on the importance of women to the growth and vitality of the African continent in general. Though the majority is small farmers, trade merchants, healthcare workers, educators. So how are you going to stop these extremists who want women to stop going to school and getting jobs?
Katie we are going to stop the extremists with a multi-prong approach. It is not a simple thing; there is the military angle, the insurgency angle, the political angle that has to be pursued and also there is the development angle where we have to give our young people hope and make sure that their school is not interfered with, that they feel more secure. All these things have to be done. But it is not easy fighting these acts of terrorism, if it was easy you will not find them cropping up all over the world. You will not see Afghanistan, or Pakistan or even the recent bombing in the US, the Boston Marathon. You will not see two or three decades of the Irish Republican army fighting in the UK; they were not able to defeat them despite the sophistication of the UK at the time. And it took a long time and political negotiation for it to end.
This kind of warfare is not standard, it’s not the kind you move soldiers and then go and face the people face to face. It is a war of attrition and opportunity, it can crop up in any place in the world, and that is why President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have well articulated it by saying this is a war for all of us. So we have to join hands and join resources. I think we need the help of modern technology, human insurgency and intelligence experts to also help us. This is not going to be won by conventional means.
Katie Couric: Finally, before we go, on the streets of Nigeria as you well know and all around the world, people are posting #BringBackOurGirls. As a representative of the Nigerian government and a female global leader what would you say to the millions of people who are so frustrated and upset by the situation in your country?
I would say we in Nigeria are also frustrated and upset. A friend of mine tweeted me holding #BringBackOurGirls. We need to move beyond that into more action, that is what the world is asking for.
I think we should focus on what Nigerians are asking for. We are deeply frustrated, all of us are. We have to move beyond that to not let the work of the terrorists paralyse us. What I want to say to the world is don’t let the work of the terrorists create division. Criticize, but do not let it create division.
This is a time that we need to come together as a world community to stand with Nigerians and Nigerians to stand together not apart in order to fight. This is what the terrorists want, they want criticism, they want names to be called, they want frustration, they want people to be divided and then they will win. If we stand together as a world community and focus on the girls and bringing them back and we show the terrorists that terror will not win and then they will fail.
*Photo Caption - Nigeria Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
[ Masterweb Reports: From Anambra State ] - The Immediate Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi left office on the 17th of March 2014, after serving as two-term Governor of Anambra State. When he was “ambushed” at the Intercontinental Hotel, Lagos, were he received the Champion Newspaper Award of the “Outstanding Igbo Personality of the Decade” , he refused to speak to the Press insisting that any issue about Anambra should be addressed by the new Governor, Chief Willie Obiano. When Journalists, including ………. insisted that he should talk to Nigerians about his legacy, life after being a Governor, APGA and other issues not connected with government, he gave up. Here are the excerpts.
Press: Sir, Congratulations on the successful handover of the reins of Government to your successor.
Obi: While thanking me, I must also thank all those that collaborated and assisted us in all that we did, especially the Press. Without your guys, it would have been difficult for us. I cherish the good relationship I enjoyed with you and I am inclined to say I was very fortunate to have a Homer (You People) as the herald as our work in the State.
Press: May we start by congratulating Your Excellency on Anambra State coming first in WASSCE and NECO examinations in the country
Obi: My attitude to news like this is that the new Governor should actually be congratulated. I have done my own part, he is now in charge. Henceforth, he should take credit for the successes and failures of the State. But our prayer is that Anambra State will never fail again.
Amen! (Chorused journalists present)
Press: Your Excellency, we believe it is right to congratulate you because it was the one of the many manifestation of your investment in education. Barley a month in office, the new Governor is even yet to settle down. May we know how you succeeded in turning education around in the State.
Obi: If you recall, ten years ago, Anambra schools were closed for over a year. At that time, things were really bad. The problems confronting education in the State were legion, from lack of teaching materials to non-payment of teachers’ salaries. When we came on board, we took time to study the factors militating against the progress of the State. At that time, many people accused us of being slow, but I argued that a person taking over the governance of the State ought to, first and foremost, understand the State before embarking on actions. I argued that it was better for a man planning to fell a tree to take time to sharpen his machete and do it in minutes than use a blunt knife and take days to do the job. I went on to say that even if it were a twig that should be felled, the need for a sharpened machete was imperative. All I was emphasising was planning. Having discovered that the State had no Ministry of Planning, I set up one.
In Education which is your specific question, we returned schools to the original Missionary owners. In doing this, we did not abdicate our responsibilities of paying the salaries of the teachers and providing needed facilities. We followed it up by granting billions of money to them to rehabilitate the schools already ran down by Government. Today, if you visit schools in the State, you will marvel at the level of transformation.
One unique thing we did was to take money directly to the schools rather than go through intermediaries with their accompanying toll gates. Contractors frowned at this, but it achieved the desired results.
We also committed billions of Naira to buying and distributing about 30,000 computers and laptops to schools in the State at various times. We connected the schools to the INTERNET, we bought generators for them, equipped their laboratories, provided them with Microsoft Academies, Sickbays, Libraries, among others.
With what I have said, you would agree with me that Anambra State coming first in 2013 WASSCE was not by accident. In fact, considering the efforts we put in to revive our schools, what we should be talking about is the margin with which we overtook other states.
In saying this, May I say with all humility that a lot still needs to be done by the present Governor. If we scored 67% in WASSCE examination, it means we still have 33% left to be conquered and he is now leading that army of conquerors.
Talking about coming first in WASSCE, may I happily let you know that it has become the same thing in all external examinations. For 2013 NECO organised National Common Entrance Examination, an Anambra indigene came first . I think her name is Agbasi Praise Chinemelum. Anambra as a State also came first among the States in Nigeria. While our cut off was the highest – 159- some states were 2. You can see for yourself that we are on the right path to regeneration.
Press: Sir, after eight years of being the Governor of Anambra State, how would you rate yourself?
Obi: I have never rated myself because I believe it will be self-indulgence. Nobody marks his papers after examination. Even in Universities, they invite external examiners now and then. For the sake of objectivity, it is better for others to do the rating.
I recall when some people came from the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic studies on study tour to Anambra State. They asked me to convey people from the State to a particular place for interactive session with them as to know firsthand the peoples’ feeling about our Government. I insisted they should rather go to the markets with me and we did so, without security. I think what they saw marvelled them. The responses from people about activities in the State were most cheering. This is how people are assessed. If I had conveyed people to them, the chances were that it would be party supporters without respect for objectivity.
Press: Why did you place emphasis on education?
Obi: Because your question centred on education. Though we believe that education is the most viable currency for competition in the world, we did not neglect any other sector. I have often told people the story of the Philosopher Zeno, who, upon seeing an uneducated man sitting on a stone, said “behold a stone sitting on another stone.” When asked to differentiate between the educated and the uneducated, Aristotle said it was as the differences between the living and the dead. What these people said many years ago is still the truth today. Education is very important but other sectors are equally important.
We fashioned our vision for the State along the Millennium Development Goals. We came up with Anambra Integrated Development Strategy, by which we developed all sectors simultaneously and we did this faithfully. Beyond education, there is no aspect of the State that we did not touch.
In health, we built the first Teaching Hospital for the State, built new hospitals, rehabilitated selected General hospitals. We collaborated with the Church and massively rehabilitated their hospitals – St Charles Borromeo, Onitsha; Holy Rosary, Waterside, Onitsha; Our Lady of Lourdes, Ihiala; Iyienu Hospital, Ogidi; St. Joseph Hospital, Adazi-Nnukwu; Diocesan Hospital, Amichi; among others. We also bought and distributed close to 100 ambulances in 8 years. Some are life saving ambulances that cost close to N30Million Naira apiece. We did this because those hospitals are in the State and offer medical care to the people of the State. We built healthcare centres in all the communities in the State.
By the time we left, Anambra which had no accredited hospital or health institution, had about 14 accredited hospitals and health institutions.
In the area of road construction, today, without fear of contradiction, I can say that Anambra State has the best road network of roads in the entire country. We constructed over 800Kms of roads. This was collaborated by the Federal Ministry of Works. We built roads in places that had none since creation, such as at Umueze-Anamb, Nmiata. We built, completed and some on-going, about 30 bridges some of which are Odo, Oghomili, Ebenebe, Agulu lake, Okpuno.
In the area of the environment, we worked on many erosion sites and at the same time kept soliciting external assistance because of the enormity of the problem in our State.
In the area of Commerce and Industry, we worked closely with manufactures. We attracted Fortune 500 companies to Anambra State. Today SABMiller has completed their facility and is expanding. Distell is building theirs, Galxo Smith clime is building theirs, Niemeth Pharmaceutical Company is building theirs, among others. Go to Harbour Industrial Area of Onitsha and see our own contribution by way of providing infrastructure- roads. We also provided roads as a matter of policy to places where industries are located.
In the area of Agriculture, we have also done a lot. We got the Federal Government to Transfer the giant Omor Rice Mill to us. We are partnering with Rainbow Chicken to come to the State. We secured and distributed loans to farmers.
In the area of provision of public utilities, we did our best. Within our eight years in office, we bought, distributed and installed over 1000 transformers in communities in the State. We took electricity to parts of the State that had none. We are partnering with a foreign company on Independent Power project, for which we had contributed about N250 Million Naira.
There is no area that we did not touch. Beyond the tangibles, we also did a lot. We succeeded in clearing the areas of pension and gratuity owed the State workforce since 1999. We spent over N35 Billion Naira on this. As at the time I left, Anambra State did not owe arrears of pension and gratuity to any category of workers up to December 2013.
Talking about the intangibles, we made value re-orientation part of our policy. Over the years, our people’s values had been bastardized. People now take despicable things for the measure of values. People look up to characters of questionable pedigree as role models. We tried through various ways to change this. We honoured those that really merited to to be honoured, the Achebes, Chike Obis Chimamamdas, those that made first class in universities, among others. This is how it should be. People should be measured in terms of ennobling values and not in terms of how many private jets they were able to acquire, as any fool who came across money by mistake can buy those things.
Press: You keep referring to the Millennium Development Goals, how did Anambra key into that?
Obi: I said it earlier that we modelled our vision after that. For instance, the first goal is the eradication of extreme poverty. In this regard, we did Poverty Mapping and were able to determine the poorest parts of the State. This informed our intervention. Realising that most of those poor areas had the problem of access, we provided them with roads. The first road I flagged-off as Governor on the 1st of May, 2006, was the 43-Kilometre road traversing the entire Anyamelum. With that, we connected them to the rest of the State and their situation changed. Today Ogbaru area that was accessed in hours can be accessed in 15 Minutes. You can ask Prof Ben Nwabueze, he is from Atani, he can confirm this to you.
Press: Your Predecessor recently organise Security Summit. As the immediate past Governor, how would you access security situation in Anambra State.
Obi: On the 17th of March, a journalist met me at the Akanu Ibiam Airport and wanted to know the secrets of our relationship with International Development partners. I merely told him to go to the rising sun, His Excellency, Gov. Willie Obiano, as my gubernatorial sun has set. I am no longer the Governor, Obiano is and it is appropriate you go to him for such questions.
Press: Sir we ask the question because during the Summit, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Abubakar Muhammed, advised the new Governor to follow in your footsteps on security, He went….
Obi: I also listened to the IG. He did not say you should come to me for questions on security in Anambra State. He merely commended what we did, the over 500 vehicles we purchased for security agencies in Anambra, the cordial working relationship, He linked all of them to the low crime rate in the State. I remember he talked about Anambra State not experiencing any bank robbery in five last years. I think if the same cordiality is maintained Anambra’s safety is guaranteed. I am particularly happy over the Summit. If nothing, it is early signs that the present Government in the State have security at heart.
Press: Sir, while Nigerians are applauding you for a job well done in the State, some people published in the newspapers that you did not leave the money and investment of about $86 Billion you claimed to have left. How would you react to this?
Obi: I often say that there must be the lunatic fringe in all reform movements. People told me about the publication, but the only thing is that I refused to read it because they are minor distractions intended to snare the lowly minded. As far as I am concerned, I should not comment on such inanities.
Press: Sir, pardon our disagreeing with you. It is not about the publishers of the advert, but about clarifying issues to Nigerians.
Obi: My brother, on the 8th of March, I called Nigerians from all walks of life and presented want I called my “End of Tenure Report”. I explained where I met Anambra State and where we are leaving her. I made it clear that we did not borrow a dime neither did we issue bond. I mentioned our investments and savings in Banks. For example, I mentioned that we saved $156 Million Dollars through buying local and foreign denominated bonds. The manging Directors of the banks were these money are- Fidelity, Access and Diamond Banks- were present. It baffles me that some people would come up to cast doubts on people’s mind just to pull Peter Obi down. All I can say is that what we said we did, the money we said we left and all that were properly documented and certified. With the Freedom of Information Law, one can actually apply to those institutions to know if the money are there.
Let me take this opportunity to clear one misconception, I did not say I left all cash in the banks. I made it clear that some were by way of investment. For example, Anambra State invested money in some of the companies we attracted to the State.
It is important to let you know that we were able to save money in the State because we made a law that Anambra must save the minimum of N100 Million Naira monthly and I obeyed it religiously.
As a Governor, I supported savings by the country. Look, no matter the situation, one must save even if kobo kobo every month for the rainy day. Unfortunately when one says so, one is reminded by some people that it is already raining here. The irony is that the same people saying this have private savings? When one witnesses the mindset of some of us, one shudders. Many of us are only interested in the next post and not what the future holds for us as a country.
Press: You were noted for financial prudence, “stinginess” some say, but towards the last days in office, you donated money to many organisations. Was it a strategic move …
Obi: (cuts in) Those who know me over the years will tell you that I am allergic to money being spent wrongly. It is not about being stingy. Some even have the good sense to call me “araldite” to my face. All I request is that money should be spent properly. Not just money, we have the moral obligation to do things properly. The other day, I was at the airport and a cleaner offered to carry my bag. I refused. I made it clear to her that she was paid to clean the airport and not to carry people’s bag. By carrying bags, she hoped to be given tips, but in the course of doing that, her work suffers. All I do is to insist she should do what she is expected to do. As a former Governor, I was not expected to be sharing the money of the State to people who would not utilise it to add value to the State. I am finically responsible and not stingy.
Talking about donations, I have even seen newspapers used it for cartoon. Immediately I started my second tenure, we entered into collaboration with the Churches. Having returned their schools to them in 2010, we started offering them support in the form of grant. We also supported their health institutions as well as organisations that contribute one way or the other, to the development of Anambra State. It is wrong to call those support “donations”.
I am happy that the effect of what we did has presently led the Federal Government to consider direct support to institutions, the Coordinating Minister for Education, Barr. Nyesom Wike said so when he visited Anambra State and witnessed the generators and computers we distributed to schools in the State. Even the World Bank commissioned a team of experts in education led by Prof. Paul Collier to visit Anambra and study what we were doing. They recommended other States to do the same, having taken the fruits it is yielding into cognisance.
It has become a tradition for past Governor to go to the Senate. Are you nursing such ambition?
I have said it repeatedly that I will not go to the Senate. Those aspiring to go have their reasons much as I have mine.
Press: What of taking up a Ministerial appointment as is widely rumoured?
Obi: Let me start by saying it loud and clear that I am not looking for Job. However, I believe that public service remains one of the highest callings because if one is genuine, through it one will serve humanity. Nigeria belongs to all of us and we owe it as a duty to support the President in the task of governance. If I am appointed a Minister or directed by the President to assist in any way possible, even at Local Government level, I will answer the call.
Press: How would you rate the Presidency of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan?
Obi: I Pity him
Press: Is that all?
Obi: Each time I remember him I am reminded of what Niccolo Machiavelli said about introducing a new order. He said that those introducing new orders are never popular, because they will have opposition from those that benefitted from the old order and lukewarm defenders in those not sure of his success. President Jonathan took over this country when she was laying prostrate on the ground. He is making a lot of efforts to revive her. Today, under Jonathan, our roads are changing. Our Airports have completely changed. He is particularly beholden by my people for making Enugu airport an International Airport and starting the second Niger Bridge. We today witness the commitment towards providing power to the country.
Under Jonathan, we see the rule of law in operation. We now have a democracy properly so called. Today, everybody says what he fancies without anybody harassing him. Today, we no longer link deaths to politics. Jonathan has introduced decency into governance. It is not in the best interest of the country when people criticize him unfairly.
Press: How do you mean? Perhaps he should not be criticized?
Obi: If you look at Nigeria today, one is appalled by the quality of the opposition. The aim of opposition is to make the ruling Government awake to her responsibilities and not to pull her down. In Nigeria, most of what passes for opposition are pure ill-will that end up hurting the country and not the President. China is a good example of what parties should be. During electioneering, parties in China are opposition parties, but once elections are over they become supporting parties, offering advice even if in the form of criticisms on how the State would be properly governed. In Nigeria, what we see is parties opposing the most noble of decisions because they want to be seen as the opposition. This is political recklessness and immaturity rather that encouraging political behavior.
Press: What is the situation in your party APGA? Would it support Jonathan’s bid?
Obi: APGA is much more than a party. It is a mass movement. Like all organisations founded by fallible sons of Adam, we had our challenges. At a point I disagreed with the Chairman, but following the judgment of the court, we all came together and forged ahead. There is no doubt that Chief Victor Umeh remains the Chairman of APGA. As for supporting Jonathan’s bid, it is not a decision I would take right now. All I can tell you is that our party will meet and collectively take decision on that.
Let us go off from politics and ask you what life has been outside Government.
I am one person who had never missed any post I occupied in the past. Life itself is transient so is everything else. It is those that see only permanence in appointment that are disturbed once they are relinquished of that either through efflusion of time or any other means. All I have tried to do is to leave my normal life wherever I found myself such that on leaving I will not miss anything.
When I was the Governor, I did not use Sirens, I carried my bags, checked into hotels myself, bought my tickets and did my bookings. I queued like other Nigerians and flew business and economy classes. Now I am no longer the Governor, basically the sane life style goes on. There is nothing to miss. I am one person who does not eat as if I would die tomorrow or build edifices as if I would leave forever.
Press: Recently, against your principle, you took the title of Okwute and received award from Champion newspaper. Was this change of principle or what?
Obi: First of all, let me say that no principle is cast in iron. Events dictate principles at all times. Having said this, let me set the records straight, I have never been against granting honours and dignities to people. All I said was that I would not suffer the epidemic of receiving awards whilst I was the Governor as I believe that genuine honours come when one is out of office. Thus, I had to reject hundreds of awards that came by my way. Occasionally I received some. However at the end of my tenure, all the Traditional Rulers in Anambra came together and say they would honour me with the title of “Okwute” for my service to the State. I accepted it. I also accepted the honour from Champion, because, coming after my tenure, it was evidently not informed by any consideration. This is my stand.
Press: What is your relationship with your Successor?
Obi: It is most cordial and will remain so as far as I am concerned. My only interest is in his success and I am happy he has started well. In Igboland, fathers pray that their sons surpass them and that is my prayer for him. If you do not know, I am one of his guarantors and no guarantor wants the object he guaranteed to fail, because the guarantor will be held responsible.
Press: How would you react to the “Rebasing” of the Nigerian GDP?
Obi: The problem with Nigeria, again the opposition in Nigeria, is that they do not try to understand issues at stake before commenting on them. A lot of people write on rebasing without even understanding what it meas.
Simply put the rebasing of our GDP means there were some critical factors ought to be taken into consideration to get our GDP, which we omitted. In Rebasing, those factors were put into consideration. Many countries of the world did so in the past such as the USA, UK , Australia, Canada. It will help us in turning around of our economy and attract investors to the country.
Press: What is your advice to your successor?
Obi: I will only appeal to him to remain focused on the Job. As a Governor, many tendencies would be perambulating around him. Many people will be holed up in different hotels writing one empty proposal or the other. Some will be close to him with the aim to be given an opportunity to loot the treasury. Once he remains focused, he will get it right.
*Photo Caption - Immediate Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi