[ Masterweb Reports: Hon. Ibegbu Speaks On Trump`s Victory & AFOT ] - Chuks Ibegbu is the Nigeria Coordinator of Africa Friends Of Trump (AFOT). In this no-holds-barred interview, he looks into some issues concerning the recently concluded USA elections.
Q. Sir, may we know the objectives of AFOT?
A. AFOT, which is the abbreviation for Africa Friends of Trump, was formed way before the US presidential primary elections, and borne out of the phenomenon which Donald Trump’s presidency represents for America in particular and the world at large. It is a group of like-minded Africans who, having followed the United States’ elections closely and especially on how they particularly often bear on Africa, came together and agreed with voices from America that the need for a presidential candidate who is from outside the box of organized and controlled-by-few political establishment now far outweighs every other need in the present political transition. The singular aim of this organization is to bring home to Africa the very phenomenon which Donald J. Trump’s emergence will entail for Africans: to be able to persuade the citizens of each African country to vote for electoral candidates who are not part of the corrupt systems which have kept Africa grounded despite the abundance resource deposits and, in doing so, bring true and lasting political change which will interpretatively enthrone true democracy all over Africa. AFOT is a body for all pro good-governance Africans, no matter their location, color or tongue. Our full descriptive objectives is seen on our Facebook page, https://web.facebook.com/groups/AfricaFriendsOfTrump
Q. What role did AFOT play in the victory of Donald Trump?
A. Just as our Facebook group page clears, Africa Friends of Trump (AFOT) did not set out purposely and solely to support the election of Donald Trump. We, having studied the American electoral processes and having also considered the time in which we are, firmly believed that Americans were fed up with the status quo and were, therefore, in dire need of change. Now, who would have been in the better position to be taken seriously where the need and push for a new America is concerned if not Trump? He is an already-made man, was never in the system, and calls a spade a spade. So, you see, we didn’t set out primarily to support his emergence; we knew he would win. The Trump we are for is a phenomenon emanating from Donald Trump because we believed he was going to win for what he stood for. However, we played a role in his victory through our members some of who actively participated in hundreds of pro-Trump pages and forums; Akindele Olayomi Peter was amongst them. Some resident in the USA took it upon themselves to candidly persuade many Americans and non-Americans from both color and political divide on the urgent need for the type of change promised in the person of Trump. We also have members, people like Henrietta and Charles O. Okereke who were members of Trump’s campaign organization (TrumpTeam). An American solidarity anthem was also released by one of our member, Chief Charles Okereke long before the primaries were carried out.
Q. How will Africans benefit from the Trump Presidency especially with the insinuation that Trump hates blacks, immigrants and Muslims?
A. AFOT firmly believes that if America does well the world will do well because he is setting an example that will be emulated throughout Africa. He was not part of the system but he was chosen by Americans to bring the long-sought-for change. So, in Africa, looking at Trump’s victory, if we want a change, we will have to vote for and elect people who are entirely out of the system, out of the mess. We will have to vote those who are not part of the system that have messed everything up. The reason for this is because, the case of voting for people who are not part of the system is that they will either do well and bring the change they promised or they do not do well, whereas in the case of the old stock, the result cannot be different from what it has always been: they will take us one step forward, two steps back because they are part of the mess. That is the starting point: getting people who are not part of the establishment into elected offices. Take for instance America’s economy: America is now the most indebted country in the world whereas the financial records of those who have led her down this drain remain sparkling clean. What does that tell you? The people have suffered long under the establishment and needed change. They also believed that Trump will bring that change, not only to them, but to democracies the world over. This is the vision we are selling to all Africans: let us change the way we do things and Africa will be great. On the argument that president-elect, Donald Trump, hates blacks, immigrants and Muslims, well, that simply and clearly holds no sand; it is unfounded. Just as the USA is trumped, every African country needs to be trumped far beyond and above the old blocks and establishments. That will be our benefit.
Q. Some supporters of Hillary Clinton have been protesting Trump’s victory in all USA cities calling for her to be declared winner. What do you think about that?
A. (Laughs). My friend, you know, that is the beauty of democracy. Freedom of expression is the rights of every citizen of a democratic country and, in fact, the right of every citizen of this earth. However, where that freedom becomes misinterpreted is when those expressing themselves begins to get violent. By the way, what are they demonstrating about? Did Hillary win? No! Trump won the election! Those who think that majority (popular) vote gives a candidate the win in America is uninformed about America’s electoral process. The United States’ electoral win is based on winning a majority of the states and not winning a majority of the votes (which could come from one or two states). So, you see, there is absolutely ignorance in their protests: Trump won, Hillary conceded defeat and even the incumbent president, Barack Obama congratulated President-elect Donald Trump on his victory and invited him to White House without delay. Trump’s supporters are all over the place and they are not doing anything to unseat the calm in the country. They have quietly carried out their patriotic duties and voted for a better America. The way I see it, if you don’t want Trump to be your president, simply leave the country until his time finishes. You are part of the establishment, part of the problem.
To be continued
Interview by Africa Media Network
*Photo Caption - Hon. Chuks Ibegbu
[ Masterweb Reports: Dr. Peregrino Brimah reports ] - Jamil Mabai's work cataloging the lives of Nigeria's abandoned children, Almajiri, as part of the AlmajiriProject, is beautifully heart-wrenching. As I spend time looking through the images, each tells a unique story. Every picture tells a bit more about the life of about 10 million abandoned children of Nigeria's north.
Today I was absorbed in the image of a little boy sleeping on hard concrete. Looking at his shirt, I couldn't help but think about his begging bowl tucked in under his bend-down boutique t-shirt. A begging bowl protected. Do I cry about the fact that this young child has been abandoned by his parents and forced to beg?, or do I cry about the fact that he has to protect his beat-up begging bowl and so he tucks it under his shirt?
I think about all the children who sleep on cushion beds in private rooms and who place their precious cell-phones on tables. As expensive as their cell-phones are, they do not have to tuck them in under their shirts and sleep in that state of inconvenience. These children do not have to work and perhaps do not know what work is. Then I look again at this boy whose name I do not know. This boy who is no more than a number in this life, one of 10 million. He works though I wonder if he knows what work is. He has to beg, not for himself but to pay his mualim. He spends most of his day begging and only learns Quran, the excuse for his being discarded, for an hour a day. The rest he spends begging.
Society does not care about him. The mualim does not care much either. His home is a shank roof of an abandoned building. He takes his nap on hard concrete under the hot sun in the middle of the afternoon. Break-time between begging. Protect your beat-up bowl or other comrades might steal it and then what will you use to beg? And if you do not beg and bring home a naira or two, you know mualim will beat your behind and the new sores will add on the old ones yet to heal. Abu just died of his sores, or perhaps something else, who knows, who cares. Did I say home? Dare I use such name to describe a place with no windows and no doors, with no mother or father? With 99 brothers and a mualim with a cane? A place where bellies grumble loudly, challenging the loud slaps of drops of rain on leaking zinc roofs. Home?
But then there is respite yet in the picture. Sleep. At least he sleeps. Society could not steal that from him. How beautiful is sleep. Dear little soul. Protect your begging bowl as you dream of a next life where you will be king and the society who abandoned you hug the bowl on the hard concrete.
Dr. Peregrino Brimah ( Email: email@example.com ) reports.
*Photo Caption - Almajiris protect their begging bowls while sleeping.
[ Masterweb Reports ] - Mr. Chidi Obisike, Chairman of Late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu`s Enugu Birthday Celebration and Secretary-General, Igbo Information Network (IIN) highlights the purpose of the event in this interview with Nigeria Media Network (NMN).
Q Sir may we know why the Commemoration of the birthday of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu is holding at Enugu on the 4th of November, 2016. What is the significance?
A The significance is to let Nigerians and Igbos continue having the memory of the great Ikemba in their consciousness.The man and the date of his birth is very memorable.
Q Why Enugu and Ohanaeze Ndigbo Secretariate. Was he born in Enugu.
A No, he was born in Zungeru, NIger state but hails from Nnewi in Anambra state. He lived most part of his life in Enugu. In any case where we observe it is immaterial . What is material is that we celebrated it.
Q What have you lined up for the programme.
A We have lined up a lot for the event such as a colloquium, film show , honour for some departed great Igbo men and women such as the ZIK OF AFRICA, M I OKPARA, AKANU IBIAM and others. WE shall also flag off the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Leadership Foundation which the Publisher of Nigerian and African Master web, Chief Charles Okereke is the BOT CHAIRMAN AND The well known writer and author ,HOn Chuks Ibegbu is the Executive Director.
Q How do you see the state of Ndigbo since the death of the icon.
A Well you know Ndigbo have collective leadership . However some leaders are so contributory that their absence create a lot of vacuum. I think Ojukwu's death created a deep vacuum but Igbos are adapting to it. He was a great Igbo man and Nigerian patriot. He was more patriotic than many Nigerians leaders that paid lip service to our unity.
THANK YOU MR OBISIKE.
A YOU ARE WELCOME.
INTERVIEW BY THE NIGERIA MEDIA NETWORK (NMN)
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Press Release For Immediate Release ] - Igbo Information Network (IIN) hereby congratulates the first lady Hijia Aisha Buhari for her uncommon patriotism and siding with the Nigerian masses. Her comment is a source of inspiration to Nigerians and we commend her for that.
We also condemns Mr President for his comments on his wife. Its an unpresidential remark and he should tender apology to Nigerians and Nigeria women.
We are therefore recommending Hajia Buhari for Award as an Epitome of Womanhood and Mother of Democracy in Nigeria.
We warn those people Hajia talked about to remove themselves from the scene or be prepared to be disgraced out of government.
Igbo Information Network (IIN)
*Photo Caption - Mrs. Hijia Aisha Buhari
[ Masterweb Reports ] - Hon. Chuks Ibegbu is the Secretary General of Nigeria Unity Forum (NUF) and Executive Director of War Against Poverty In Nigeria (WAPIN). In this inverview with Nigeria Media Network, he speaks on the oncoming Peace In Nigeria Project by NUF and the War Against Poverty Workshop in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria and other national issues.
Q Sir, how do you see the state of the nation vis-a-vis the economy, politics and agitations everywhere.
A Well, in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation you cannot rule out some of these centrifugal tendencies and crisis . It all depends on how the leadership is able to manage it. There is nothing happening now that have not happened before. I believe if the leadership and the followership in the country patriotically work hard, show discipline and fear God, all these challenges will be a passing phase. We need patriots in leadership positions.
Q The Nigeria Unity Forum is planning a PEACE IN NGERIA PROJECT and the War Against Poverty in Nigeria, WAPIN is planning a Workshop in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. What is the purpose of these programmes.
A The greatest challenge facing Nigeria today is insecurity , disunity and poverty. If these problems are tackled, other challenges will be taken care of. So the NUF decided to embark on a PEACE IN NIGERIAN PROJECT which will take it to all nooks and crannies of Nigeria to preach peace and unity to all Nigerians. Also the War Against Poverty , an NGO is organising anti-poverty workshop in all the geo-political zones of Nigeria with a view to eradicating the cankerworm in the country. Look, the resources in Nigeria is enough to take care of all Nigerians if well managed. We need to tolerate each other. Despite our diversity and challenges, Nigeria remains a better option to Biafra, Oduduwa, Arewa and Niger Delta republics. A working Nigeria is better than a working Biafra or Arewa, Niger Delta or Oduduwa. As for the poverty workshop, the gulf between the haves and the have nots is much. There is a lot of unemployment and underemployment in the country. Many Graduates are unemployable. The purpose of this workshop is to expose our youths and people to different opportunities that will enable them be self employed and live a better life.
Q Who are going to be the participants
A The participants will be youths, women, students and the general public.
Q How do you think the government can tackle the challenges of BOKO HARAM, BIAFRA AGITATION, NIGER DELTA MILITANCY, FULANI HERDSMEN AND THE SHIIITE PROTESTS .
A I think Dialogue remains the best way to tackle the challenges you have mentioned . Force can never solve the challenges. All human crisis on earth have ended up in the roundtable and the ones you have mentioned are not exception. I want to call on all agitators for one thing or another in Nigeria to embrace Dialogue. The federal government should not be obtuse and fixated in its stand on these agitations. The agitators are Nigerians and they have to be listened to no matter what they are talking.
Q The federal government is thinking of selling our national assets. What is your take on that.
A My take on that is that the National Asset of the country belongs to all Nigerians and should not be sold without a national consensus. Be that as it may there is also no doubt that most of these assets are not well managed. We have to strike a balance between privatisation and commercialisation within the ambit of the collective decision of Nigerians.
Q Some people are calling for restructuring of Nigeria and the implementation of the 2014 National Conference resolutions. What is your take on that.
A Personally to me I think we need to restructure our mindset first . Many Nigerians reason awkwardly so we have first to restructure our mindset and before physical restructuring. Yet , I believe that some resolutions of the 2014 CONFAB will leapfrog the nation if implemented. For instance the issue of Social Security for Nigerians, the cost of governance, local government creation and funding . rotation of power etc are germane to the nation among others. I believe at the nick of time the present regime will look into the report of the CONFAB and consider those worthy to be implemented.
THANK YOU MR. IBEGBU
A You are welcome
*Photo Caption - Hon. Chuks Ibegbu
[ Masterweb Reports: Press Release For Immediate Release ] - The Rivers State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has endorsed the Niger Delta Peace Initiative recently launched by South-South leaders under the leadership of the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. The party in a statement issued on Monday in Port Harcourt by the State Chairman, Chief (Dr.) Ibiamu Ikanya, praised Amaechi for assembling South-South stakeholders under the umbrella of the Initiative for Peace, Governance and Development of the South-South to proffer solutions to the current destruction of the oil pipelines and ecosystem of the region.
“This historical peace parley held at the Lagos Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, on 24th September, 2016 was a welcome development and should be supported by all true sons and daughters of the Niger Delta,” the party said. It added: “We are ashamed that some disgruntled elements can take pleasure in destroying the facilities that convey oil, the mainstay of our national economy. Apart from this, our environment is polluted, thereby making fishing and farming – the major sources of livelihood of our people – impossible.
“We urge those behind these unwarranted attacks against our region to have a rethink and save us from being looked upon as a people who are violent. Apart from destroying government facilities, their activities serve to scare away investors that are desperately needed in developing our region.”
Rivers APC said it is not surprised by the Amaechi initiative to restore peace to the Niger Delta considering the great initiatives he used in ensuring peace and security of lives during his eight years reign as Governor of Rivers State. “This peace parlay simply demonstrates Amaechi’s concern for the peace, development and emancipation of the Niger Delta region and we pray that our leaders will buy into this and allow peace to reign in our region,” the party said.
It commended all those working with Amaechi on this latest peace move, urging them to be guided by the biblical admonition found in the Gospel of Saint Mathew in Chapter 5 verse 9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
“We urge therefore all Niger Deltans to stop blaming others for our woes and get our priorities right in this government that has demonstrated commitment to develop our region,” the statement said. “In this vein, we admonish all the interventionist agencies such as the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to expedite action in the discharge of their mandate. We are convinced that if these agencies work accordingly and with the various State Governments in the region utilise the 13% derivation fund judiciously; our region will be developed, militancy will be eradicated as the reasons adduced for the blowing up of the oil facilities would no longer be exist.”
The communiqué issued at the end of the stakeholders engagement meeting under the auspices of the Initiative for Peace, Governance and Development of the Niger Delta Region on this 24th day of September 2016 was duly signed by these great Niger Delta Leaders.
1. PROF. BEN AYADE
2. SEN. VICTOR NDOMA-EGBA
3. MR. DONALD DUKE
4. SEN. BASSEY OTU
5. SEN. FLORENCE ITA-GIWA
6. HIS EMINENCE KING (DR) EDMUND DAKORU
7. HRM KING EBITIMI BANIGO
8. HRM FRANK OKORAKPO
9. HRM KING W.S. JOSHUA IGBUGBURU
10. HIS EXCELLENCY, CHIEF (NAVY CAPT) WALTER FEEHABO-AMAIN
11. REAR ADMIRAL FESTUS PORBENI (RTD)
12. PROF. T. TURNER ISOUN
13. SEN INATIMI R. SPIFF
14. CHIEF TIMI ALAIBE
15. SEN. E. W. T. DIFFA
16. OLOROGUN FRANK KOKORI
17. BARR. JUSTIN REWANE
18. NDUKA OBAEGBNA
19. DR. OGAGA IFOWODO
20. HON E. T. AGBONAYIMA
21. HIS EXCELLENCY, OBONG VICTOR ATTAH
22. RT. HON. EMAH BASSEY
23. RT. HON. BERNARD UDO
24. RT. HON. IGNATIUS EDET
25. OBONG BASSEY INUAEYEN
26. PROF. OKON EMINUE
27. CHIEF DON ETIEBET
28. OBONG UMANA O. UMANA
29. DR. AKPAN MICAH UMOH
30. H.E. NSIMA EKERE
31. MRS IBIM SEMENITARI
32. PROF. NIMI BRIGGS
33. PROF. B.B FAKAE
34. BARR. BOMA OBUOFORIBO
35. DR. I. N. IRAGUNIMA
36. PRINCE TONYE PRINCEWILL
37. CHIEF ANDREW UCHENDU
38. SEN. MAGNUS ABE
39. CHIEF TONY URANTA
40. HON. MENE L. DEREK
41. RT. HON. CHIBUIKE ROTIMI AMAECHI
42. HRM KING MALLA SASIME (EBENIBE OF EPIE)
43. HRM KING OKPOITARI DIONGOLI (IBEDAOWEI OF OPOKUMA)
44. OLOROGUN OTEGA EMERHOR (OON)
45. ENGR SAMUEL ADJOGBE
With over 150 other persons in attendance.
Long Live APC!
Long Live Rivers State!!
Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria
Long Live President Muhammadu Buhari
Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
SSA Media and Public Affairs to the State Chairman, APC Rivers State.
*Photo Caption - APC logo
[ Masterweb Reports: Jojo Kwebena reports ] - Professor of Islamic Eschatology and Director of Muslim Rights Concern, Ishaq Akintola, has spoken out about the controversies surrounding the recent visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Nigeria.
In an interview with The Sunday Punch, Akintola responded to the criticism of Kerry´s meeting with Northern Governors and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar by the Christian Association of Nigeria.
According to Akintola, Kerry “did not come with a religious agenda but a humanitarian one”, adding that his primary discussions were based on aid for Boko Haram victims.
“John Kerry came to assess the extent of damage in Boko Haram-ravaged North-East. To achieve his objective, it is only normal that he visited Northern governors and the Sultan as the rallying point of northern traditional rulers.”
He added that the influx of Western leaders visiting The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) in Lagos has never been criticized by Muslim leaders, who actually embrace the development such visits bring for the country and its image internationally.
“Why would the Muslim community raise any eyebrow if (John) Kerry or any other Western figure attends a Christian conference or night vigil”, he questioned.
“What have the Muslims ever said about Westerners and their leaders attending TB Joshua’s Synagogue? We see it as a good development, a foreign exchange earner and a return match.”
Akintola referred to statistics released by the Nigerian Immigration Service which revealed that six out of every ten foreigners visiting Nigeria are bound for TB Joshua´s popular Lagos based church, perhaps the most prominent Nigerian ministry that is not a member of CAN.
He further added that the issue was too ‘peripheral’ for Nigerians to waste time on. “I bet White House must be laughing its heads off over this,” he surmised.
The fiery Professor quoted the Bible in expressing his frustration with Nigeria´s foremost Christian body. “CAN is not upholding the tenets of Christianity… But most Nigerians know the truth and the truth has set them free.”
Jojo Kwebena ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ) is a writer with interest in religious matters.
Editor's Note: John Kerry's visit to Nigeria was a state, official or working visit and no such visit has been made to The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) by any political leader or figure in the world. Religious pilgrimage or tourism to SCOAN is not political and should not be compared to Kerry's visit which is political.
*Photo Caption - Professor Ishaq Akintola
[ Masterweb Reports: Due to its relevance to present day Africa, this interview of Sept. 2010 is republished ] - As Tanzanians face deep problems that need rapid solutions --- thus this interview with Dr. Kusum Gopal by Guardian Tanzania correspondent to share some of her insights on the Reduction of Poverty, Meanings of Gender towards understanding the political tensions, social inequalities and, endemic civil wars that plague our great Continent. Dr Gopal‘s expertise as a Gender, Health, Social Development and Conflict Advisor covers the Indian Subcontinent (all countries of South Asia), the MENA region, Vietnam, Northern Europe, West and East African region Tanzania. She was appointed as an UN Expert in 2001. Here she speaks independently as requested, and none of these views below represent any of the organizations.
Q. Shall I begin by asking you what are the most important criteria understanding a country such as Tanzania?
Well, knowing the history in all its facets is paramount to connecting with how ordinary people feel and think in any country or region. Well what they experience is true... But knowing history is not archival material or to read colonial Utilitarian write ups -- we need to feel and share with people of the country, the many dimensions of their country’s experiences going back three hundred years or more, and with that, their sense of time and space. For example in Tanzania, indeed for east Africa we need to keep in mind Swahili time and space. That is, in addition to the brutality of the colonial experience, to learn also about the pre-colonial history of Africa – in a wider sense-- because that spans millennia and we find in that it is syncretistic – much like the ancient cultures of the Indian subcontinent. That is to say people co-existed with each other, adopted each other’s beliefs and, race, or a distinct ‘ethnic’ identity of tribe did not exist-(that was introduced by the Europeans) but mbeyu or clan, not kabila was important as, most certainly, indeed, language. To illustrate, inter-marriages between different groups of people have taken place for millennia --and continue to happen. There are also powerful democratic and egalitarian traditions that present in ordinary every day interactions-- the symbols, languages, values and assumptions that are utilized in trust networks and norms of reciprocity? All these expressions are extremely important to learn from and to understand.
Thus, when Mwalimu Nyerere stated that all Tanzanians are one people – he was in fact invoking the pre-colonial understanding of what it means to be an African- umoja, hekima amani. And, that has firmly rooted Tanzania on the path of peace as people seek to avoid conflict in everyday interactions--a model for so many African countries and indeed, for the world also in some respects.
Q In Africa today we have so many civil wars that have caused genocides and continue to happen. Our leaders meet and discuss these issues but they happen. Any thoughts on this?
Yes, Land, water and natural resources are integral to human existence. One famous writer – Wole Soyinka observes that in addition to the ill-advised partition of Africa at the heart of current civil wars, struggle for lands, water and other natural resources have caused immeasurable trauma and, hunger. And, he advocates dialogues between all warring factions to banish the pernicious legacies and bring peace, as intolerance of people is antithesis to the African way of being. Also, great leaders such as Bishop Tutu and Nelson Mandela have spoken about indigenous cultural principles that underlie acceptance-The term ubuntu understood by most Africans, is the essence of being human or being a person. That is, every human being’s humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in another’s... to be open and available to others, affirming of others. Thus, one cannot feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed. Indeed, many parts of the world have much to learn from such ancient wisdom from Africa- “I am because we are” – and this is an entry point for dialogues… It is necessary corollary to assume that the local populations, not the outsiders are experts in their own social and cultural environment. Societies and cultures are best understood holistically. All societies are systematic, rational and, we need to value the integrity and worthiness of all human societies. That is also why cultures should never be viewed as barriers but always seen as enabling and contains the power to transform the lives of people through dialogues and discussions.
Q3 We are now discussing Mkukuta2 as the government is aware that what seriously afflicts our nation is Poverty and that is common knowledge. What are your thoughts on this subject?
Mkukuta 2 will necessarily learn valuable lessons. To me the most pressing problem in the developing world is that of livelihood. Each morning making a livelihood is important and to be unable to do so and earn money keeping one’s dignity and respect is an anxiety that is impossible to measure – because it leads to an acute loss of confidence and then without money people are forced to resort to survival strategies that cause harm to themselves and their families. I would say that in Tanzania – as indeed, in several countries of the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere a common feature that beleaguers post-colonial countries in the main is the insufficient indeed, adversity lack of being able to make a livelihood, shortage of food, poor nutrition and the add-ons—the conspicuous absence of indispensable civic facilities –- such as water on tap – as basic hygiene and cleanliness of the environment are paramount considerations -– for human dignity as indeed, social development to take place effectively.
Q. You spoke of the poverty of health in our discussion earlier. What do you mean by it?
In several countries as also India, despite the apparent success globalization - economic poverty is severe. Also there remain high rates of anaemia, helminthic infections, reproductive tract infections, maternal mortality and, share some of the problems that afflict women and men here. There is a general lack of knowledge of the body even shame – and women and girls hide within themselves – and find it extremely hard to discuss or talk about their health problems--women’s forbearance to prolepsis, lesions, miscarriages and continence is marked. In Vietnam, in contrast, women are much more open, for example, there are sixty common terms for vaginal discharges. These are important indicators on how women and men relate to each other in various cultures- and constitute a facet of human poverty that needs to be recognized.
Here, we need to bear in mind the Human Development Report 1997 that states that poverty needs to be conceptualized as ‘human poverty’ and it needs to be understood multi-dimensionally. According to this human rights based perspective the poor are those who are deprived of essential human needs and entitlements, resources and, opportunities such as education. It includes not just economic poverty but also, social and political exclusion. Thus while Tanzania is economically poor, it is sophisticated and rich in social terms– the spirit of egalitarianism is particularly marked – people understand each other be it the President or the farmer: the moral fibre of democracy is indigenous and deeply rooted. It is indeed an enviable situation that cannot be said for most countries of the world I would imagine. Also, programmes on democratisation should take note of this and work with these givens to succeed. And, that is why there are tremendous potentialities for success to overcome poverty because dialogues would be fruitful.
Also, there is a marked respect for the old and children; people greet each other and strangers are also embraced into the community, regardless of what they look like or where they come from. The mark of a sophisticated culture is respect of all people and acceptance of all people, regardless of colour, creed, age and so forth. That is why the ancient cultures such as those of the Indian subcontinent, Egypt, and certainly, the sophistcated cultures of the African continent have so much to teach the world.
As one travels through this country, young girls and women of all ages also dress as they wish and do not bother about size or shapes— and they walk confidently and appear to love their bodies – and that is extremely instructive – because what is being celebrated is to be female, no matter what. And, I find women here, in that respect have much to teach the world. All these issues need to be included in the measurement of poverty as the cultures and ways of seeing generated by such values or beliefs are integral to physical and emotional well-being of human beings in general.
That is why Gender needs to be viewed as a process rather than a category – the doing of gender rather than the being of it–Gruntdvig, a rather wise Danish philosopher noted, "Life is of a double nature, whole only in man and woman.
Q6. What about corruption, which is so widespread here?
Once again like poverty there are many kinds of corruption – but we can discuss economic corruption. Much has been said about greed and there is a lot of moral censure against such corruption. Rightly so, What needs also to be borne in mind that corruption in many developing countries exists mainly because there is no social security, no safety net that ordinary men and women can rely upon to secure free housing, a maintenance allowance, a free good quality national health service or live with the assurance of a good education for their children – all of which constitute benefits for themselves or their families in hard times. Perhaps provision of social security is something all developing countries need to take extremely seriously. It would ironically speaking, phenomenally reduce the expenses of the government, promote a savings culture, and, vastly improve the quality of every individual’s life.
*Photo Caption - Map of Africa
[ Masterweb Reports ] - Senator Theodore Ahamefule Orji, representing Abia Central Senatorial District at the Red Chamber, in this interview with journalists in Abuja, speaks on the just concluded PDP ward, local government and state congresses, the party’s forthcoming national convention, the candidacy of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, problems created by Fulani herdsmen, among other issues.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ward, local government and state congresses held without any rancour. As a good party man, what were your observations?
Well, as a good party man I participated in the congresses at the ward, local government and state levels. And my impression about it is that this concept we have about rebuilding PDP is working. You see that our own was peaceful, there was no fight, there was no rancor. I believe that that should be the spirit that should, at least, guide PDP, now that we want to rebuild the party. Because we have learnt from our previous mistakes. You cannot bring a candidate and insist it must be this candidate. No. You don’t do it nowadays because this is democracy. Even if you have a candidate in mind, you have to bring a candidate who is generally accepted, a candidate that will perform, a candidate that the people will vote for. That is what democracy is all about. It’s not about impunity, it’s not about imposition. So, I think we are learning now and we are learning very fast.
But PDP at the national level seems to be having some problems as some groups are calling for the cancellation of the planned national convention of the party. What is your take on this development?
These things are things that are expected in a party that has a lot of people with diverse interests. In PDP, we know that we now have an Acting National Chairman in the person of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. If he participates in the election for the party’s chairmanship position in the forthcoming national convention and emerges victorious and his victory is ratified, in accordance with PDP laws, he automatically becomes the National Chairman. When such happens I will implore all members of the party to support him, to move the party forward. If he doesn’t win, he knows the right thing to do, which is to hand over to the winner of the chairmanship position. So far, we have seen in him that he has the passion to rebuild the party. Let us give him the chance to try his best, especially now that he has agreed to be with the PDP. He has come with all his mind and heart, so we should accept him and give him all the support to rebuild the party. This is a time to rebuild and not to diversify. Therefore all I’m saying is that we should allow Sheriff to rebuild this party and let us watch him. If there is anywhere that he is not doing well, he should be cautioned and if he continues, the laws are there to remove him. But as at now, let us squarely focus on rebuilding the party and not creating different factions in the party that will divide us the more. All the factions should come together to build a united PDP.
What are the qualities that you see in Senator Ali Modu Sheriff that makes you think that he will deliver at the end of the day?
He has the experience. This is a man who has been governor. This is a man who has severally been elected senator and he has been in many parties. This thing they are saying that he has been to many parties, is an advantage to us in PDP, because he has garnered experience in ANPP and other parties. At least he knew and knows, as of now, the problems in those parties. And certain things will continue recurring in political parties as far as political parties are concerned. So if it occurs in PDP, with his experience he can handle it.
Now, a man who has made up his mind finally to come to the PDP, we shouldn’t seriously doubt his sincerity. And apart from having the capacity, the mental capacity and the experience to lead the party, he has the resources also to assist PDP now that we are no longer in the central government where people can help you out voluntarily because you are in central government. So I know he can help the party out to the extent that he can.
Recently, the Fulani herdsmen wreaked havoc in some parts of the country killing and destroying properties worth millions of naira. Some people are suggesting that grazing land should be allocated to the them. What is your position on this?
My position on this is guided by the position of my people where I come from. I’m a Nigerian, I agree, but I come from the South-east. And if you go around the South-east, you will know that there is no person who supports this issue of allowing cattle to come and graze freely because they come and destroy the farms. We are basically farmers and we guard our farms jealously plus the land, because land is very precious to us. We don’t have that expanse of land, so whichever that is yours, you guard it jealously. So it is very painful when you see cattle coming to graze freely on your limited, scarce farmland. And these cattle rearers come with impunity, carrying guns, threatening to kill you if you disturb them. That shouldn’t be tolerated in this country. Cattle rearing is a private business. Cattle rearing I know very well, when we were very small in Umuahia where I was born, there was one Alhaji Bako Mohammed. He lived in Umuahia, his business was selling cattle. He will go to Kano and buy a lot of cattle, put them on the train, because the railway was very efficient then. So, they will transport them straight to Umuahia, they will off load them in Umuahia Gariki. He had herdsmen whom he pays, who will now take care of the cattle. These cattle will graze and there wasn’t any trouble here. We lived harmoniously with them, and after grazing they can now transport them to Port Harcourt and sell and kill and the meat will go to every person. That was the system that time. Even if any cow strayed and entered any farm, you don’t start fighting with the herdsman. You just go to Alhaji Bako Mohammed, he will call them to order. Why is that type of thing not happening again? And the point I want to stress here is that these cattle are owned by wealthy people. They are not owned by these people who follow the cattle and take them to graze. Rich men own the cattle. Do you know how much AK47 costs? It’s wealthy men that buy these guns and give to herdsmen. So I don’t support the idea of free grazing. What I know is that cattle rearing is a private business; they should leave the private sector to drive it. These wealthy men who own these cows should go and buy land and develop ranches where these cattle will stay and feed and people will go there and buy thecattle for their use. Or if the government wants to come into it, then government should look towards the arid areas and import grasses to feed the cattle. It’s done in Israel. There are some deserts that are now fertile in Israel. Let them make those places fertile and grow grasses so that these animals can go there and graze. Let them not come to other areas that are peaceful, in terms of grazing, because we also graze in this part of the country. You know we rear sheep and goat and we know how to deal with such. You don’t allow them to enter the farm, you keep them in your house, in the morning,you take them to an open bush, not the farm, tie them to trees and allow them to feed. In the evening, you come and take them back. That one doesn’t cause any harm to any person. But, now, to allow your animal to go into another person’s farm to destroy his property and your own will be safe is unacceptable. Nobody will accept that. So my own suggestion is that private people should go and establish ranches.
But is it true that there is a grazing bill before the Senate?
There is no bill like that in the Senate. The senators were highly embarrassed when our numbers appeared in an online media outfit. So they picked our numbers from there and started bombarding us with insults. “Ah you are there and this type of bill is on and you are not doing anything. Okay finish and come home.” Some of them will say “okay you are there, we will recall you”. There were all sorts of insults and we started looking for the bill, but there was no bill like that in the Senate. The rumour was so much that Senator Abaribe had to raise the issue in one of our plenary sessions, which helped to douse the situation. And to those who were phoning me, I was explaining plainly to them without insulting any person. But some people on social media used that to castigate some senators, even myself. One girl called me one day and, while I was explaining to her, the woman charged. I didn’t know her. The next thing she did was to write my name that I was supporting the grazing bill, a bill that was nonexistent in the Senate. So that is part and parcel of the blackmail. Politicians are used to blackmail but eventually, one day, the truth will surface.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently signed the 2016 Budget into law. What are your expectations?
What we expect is that the budget should be religiously implemented, and it’s the executive that will implement the budget, not the Senate. On our own part, what we will do is to intensify our own oversight functions to help the executive to ensure that the budget is religiously implemented, to benefit the generality of Nigerians, especially the poor people. That is my expectation. Mr. President has signed the budget, the budget now is a legal document. The next thing is religious implementation. Let the executive implement the budget. The legislature will do their oversight function to assist the executive to ensure that the budget is well implemented for the benefits of all Nigerians.
You are the Deputy Chairman Senate Committee on Agriculture, what should Nigerians expect from this important sector of the country’s economy now that the budget has finally been signed into law by Mr. President?
Of course every person is now aware that agriculture is the Sector that hardly disappoints if well handled. The other day I was watching a programme where somebody mentioned an amount that is in the reserve of a country outside Africa and 80 per cent of that amount came from agriculture. If such a thing can happen in other countries why can’t it happen in Nigeria, where God has given us fertile land and also the human resources to cultivate the land, and the intellect also to do that. So we expect a revolution to start in agriculture from this budget. We should be in a position to feed ourselves without depending on imported food and the budget has taken care of some of those areas that can make this possible. Farmers at least will have facilities at reduced cost, where they can access finance and farm inputs provided it is put into agriculture. The government also has programmes to assist farmers by making farming attractive. Let’s feed ourselves first then if there is any surplus we can export. So this budget has, to a large extent, taken care of some of the problems we are having in the agricultural sector and I believe with proper implementation we will get the dividends.
As a governor you established what was called Liberation Farms in the three senatorial districts of Abia State. Are you thinking of introducing this policy to the national level?
Of course, when I was governor I made an impact on agriculture. For sure throughout my period as governor I produced the best cocoa farmer in Nigeria. Each time we went for agricultural exhibition, Chief David Onyeweaku will come first in the production of cocoa. And I brought this concept of establishing farms on senatorial zones. We called them Liberation Farms. We will go to one senatorial zone and the community will give us large hectares of land and people from that locality and zone will be employed to establish a farm, that will be in tandem with what that senatorial zone produces. We also got experts and trained manpower for those farms and they started working. I established one in Abia South senatorial zone, did one in Abia Central and did another one in Abia North. For that of Abia South we looked at palm, cash crops. In Abia Central it was cocoa, palm, cassava, rubber and vegetables. In Abia North we looked at rice, and rubber plantation, the farms were doing very well; it didn’t cost us a lot of money. The money it cost us was in terms of paying the staff and the agriculture inputs. So it’s an idea that could be sold to the federal government. And as we are there in the agriculture committee, when the opportunity comes, we will chip in such ideas and any other fresh idea that will, at least, improve agriculture.
Your Bill on Food Security was well received by senators. Can you throw more light on this bill?
Of course the importance of agriculture has made people to shift attention to that and you have to make laws that will at least make food production to be of priority. So that Food Security Bill that I sponsored is a bill that will ensure that food reaches every person. It will remove hunger. There are people who are hungry in this country. There are people who cannot afford two good meals in a day, the poor in the village. So the bill is aimed at making sure that they get what they can eat, including those who are disabled, including women who are mothers who are breastfeeding their babies. So it’s a bill that is very dear to me and I’m happy that it was received very well in the Senate and once it’s passed into law and implemented you will see the result. It will be for the benefit of every person both the rich and the poor.
You are a member of Senate Committee on Health. Recently the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile Ife, performed six successful open heart surgeries. How do you feel about this breakthrough?
It’s interesting but that is not the first time. I know that they have had open heart surgery in Lagos. That will show you that we have Nigerians who are ready to do very well in the medical sector. If you go to the US, to the UK, most of the Doctors who are working in those big teaching hospitals are Nigerians. They are using their talents to develop other countries and we want them to come back and help out. But those Doctors who are here need just the push, the facilities, the incentives and you will see that they will excel. That one in OAU is a typical example of that. Give them the little incentive, give them the equipment and make the environment very conducive for them you will see that they will perform. As it’s done in OAU, so also it will be done in Nsukka, done in Ibadan, done in Maiduguri, done in Kano or Sokoto where you have teaching hospitals. So we are happy with that because, you see, there are lot ailments nowadays. I know that Nigerians have tried to venture into areas of curative medicine. So if they have the conducive environment, if they have the incentives, if they have the facilities, they will excel. So I encourage them. When I was Governor of Abia State, I established a Specialist Hospital in Umuahia with the best diagnostic centres that extended to Aba. The Hospital is equipped with the most modern diagnostic equipment like MRI etc, a dialysis centre with five new dialysis machines, an eye centre with equipment comparable to the ones in Jons Hopkins Hospital, a Heart centre with the appropriate equipment and a children centre. This hospital attracted people from far and wide, and the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council inspected and certified the place as a training place for one year internship for new medical Doctors. Well-equipped hostels were also built for the fresh Doctors and allowances paid to them. This reduced the burden of fresh Doctors looking for a place of placement before proceeding for the NYSC programme.
As Governor, we built 712 health centres on the whole all to encourage health care delivery. Therefore every person should try in his capacity to encourage health care and the practitioners, Doctors, Nurses, etc.
*Photo Caption - Senator T. A. Orji
[ Masterweb Reports ] - The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has been thrown into confusion over who the real founder and leader of the group is, The Sun reports.
This comes on the heels of allegations by the former president-general of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife that Nnamdi Kanu is neither the founder nor leader of IPOB as he claimed.
Ikedife, in an interview stated that Kanu is only the director of Radio Biafra and adopted the acronym IPOB to operate.
He added that they were the people that founded IPOB as the Supreme Council of the Indigenous People of Biafra and has been used as the Bilie Human Rights Initiative.
But in a swift reaction to Ikedife claims, Emma Powerful, the media and publicity secretary of IPOB said the group under Kanu condemned Bilie Human Rights Initiative.
Powerful said: “The statement on the pages of newspapers that Kanu is not the leader of IPOB is not true.
“Bilie, meaning Biafra Liberation in Exile, now claiming to be a human rights organisation was formed abroad as freedom fighters in exile until IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu appointed Dr. Dozie Ikedife and other members of the elders forum of IPOB on advisory ground.
“When the elders forum and Ikedife started campaigning for APC in 2014, Kanu dissolved the forum and told them to stop using Biafra’s name to campaign for any political party. Ikedife is talking from both sides of his mouth.”
Kanu, director of Radio Biafra and the leader of the IPOB was arrested in Lagos in October 2015 on conspiracy and terrorism charges, which were later dropped. He is now standing trial on six counts of treasonable felony charges.
*Photo Caption - Dr. Dozie Ikedife