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[ Masterweb Reports: Linus Effiong reports ] - The Vice-Chancellor of the Abia State University (ABSU), Professor Uche Ikonne Wednesday announced that 15 out of 4,472 graduands bagged first class honours.
Ikonne disclosed this at the main campus of the university, Uturu, during the pre-25th convocation ceremony press briefing, saying, "Out of 4,472 graduating students, I announce to you that 15 bagged first class honours, 1,098 made second class upper division, 2,145 got second lower class, while 653 made third class.
"One other important feature of the ceremony will be the collection of degree certificates by the graduands at the ceremony."
Professor Ikonne said the ceremony would also feature the conferment of honorary doctorate degrees on Senator Bello Hayatu Gwarzo, among others, and that the pre-convocation lecture would be delivered by the Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwukah on the topic, Nigeria and the Dynamics of Global Education.
*Photo Caption - As seen.

[ Masterweb Reports: Isiaka Wakili reports ] - Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday assigned portfolios to the two new ministers inaugurated three weeks ago. Professor Stephen Ocheni (Kogi State) was named Minister of State for Labour and Employment; and Alhaji Suleiman Hassan (Gombe), Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing.
The ministry of power, works and housing now has two ministers of state as Mustapha Baba Shehuri, who has been minister since November 2015, retains his portfolio.
Ocheni and Hassan were confirmed by the Senate on May 3 and inaugurated into the cabinet on July 26.
Ocheni replaced the late James Ocholi; while Hassan replaced Amina Mohammed who resigned as Minister of Environment to become the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General.

*Photo Caption - A plate of rice.


[ Masterweb Reports: Emma Elekwa reports ] - Umuatuegwu community, Okija, in Ihiala local government area of Anambra State, was at the weekend thrown into mourning following the mysterious death of five members of Ndenemu family after a meal of rice.
The deceased, Albert Ndenemenu, a commercial motorcycle operator, his wife, Nwanne and their three children were said to have died in quick succession.
There had been conflicting reports as to the likely cause of death since the incident happened.
While food poisoning was suspected, others linked the calamity to the handiwork of fetish relations of the diseased family.
Daily trust gathered that the mother Nnwanne, who was the last to die, had prepared rice for the family’s lunch, which all of them ate and shortly after, her husband and her children started vomiting blood.
"When residents of the village rushed into their compound following her alarm, it was discovered that they were already dead.
"The woman, on seeing the lifeless bodies of her husband and children, collapsed and was taken to Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital,NAUTH, Nnewi where she too died," the source said.
A resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the cause of death was yet to be ascertained, adding that efforts to prevail on the authorities of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, where the bodies were first deposited, to conduct an autopsy on the deceased were unsuccessful.
Daily Trust further learnt that three distant relations of the diseased had been invited by the police and were being interrogated at the Okija Police Station.
Confirming the incident, State Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Nkiru Nwode, said investigations had commenced, adding that an autopsy was being awaited.

*Photo Caption - A plate of rice.


[ Masterweb Reports: Isiaka Wakili reports ] - President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday commiserated with the governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, over the death of his mother, Saratu Aregbesola.
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, said Buhari, in a telephone conversation, expressed sympathy with the governor, describing his mother "as a great woman who was a pillar of discipline to her children.’’
Shehu quoted Buhari as saying that the matriarch of the Aregbesola family deserved great honour for "the sacrifices she made to bring up her children on the path of sound moral character and commitment to good reputation.’’
"President Buhari said the governor’s mother contributed immeasurably to the building of a respectable pedigree for her family by raising disciplined and humble children like Governor Aregbesola.
He prayed that Allah would bless her soul and reward all her good deeds with paradise, and also comfort the family she left behind," Shehu stated.
*Photo Caption - Flag of Defunct Republic of Biafra

[ Masterweb Reports: Special Report ] -"May St Yared continue to dance in Aksum square", Intangible heritage for Peace building in the Horn Region, Discussion with Dr Kusum Gopal, UN Technical Expert by Zaidyn Sikainga, Aamiina Faarax Caydiid, Bekele Habtom, Garem Afewerki, Abisimil Khalif Ghedi and Chanday-Gladness Warsama in London.
Q: Thank you very much for the fresh insights into our cultures, it gives us hope; we are from various countries of the Horn region. You lay great emphasis on the critical importance of intangible heritage, our region’s indigenous cultural traditions for removing poverty, for security of personhood and for peace-building. Please state again for our readers what is intangible heritage?
Certainly. The UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage and protecting cultural diversity 2003 is extremely relevant for our times.  For millennia, the Horn of Africa has nourished exceptionally rich and powerful traditions of conviviality, hospitality and tolerance, a template for embracing its intangible heritage, for peace building. We need to learn from, to appreciate and to disseminate such understandings for resolving innumerable disputes which torment humankind in various regions of the world. I am inclined to believe that an ethnographic blue print can be prepared for a pilot project with interventions to initiate dialogues and employ successful measures for conflict resolution, thereby supporting sustainable development, building local trust for good governance. To paraphrase the ICH Convention, “Intangible Cultural Heritage constitutes the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. Thus, intangible cultural heritage can be recorded but cannot be touched or stored in physical form, embodied through self-expression and beliefs transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.”Thus it includes, oral traditions and expressions; languages, symbols and behaviours;Performing arts; Social practices, rituals and festive events; Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe as also, traditional craftsmanship—all these aspects of human expression are regarded as vehicles of intangible cultural heritage which must be safeguarded in the interests of sustainable development.It must be mentioned that the democratic socio-cultural system, Gada of the Oromo has been inscribed on the UNESCO representative list last year, recognising the importance of indigenous knowledge.

Q: And, please give us other examples from the Horn Region.
Examples of intangible heritage? Well, for instance, let’s discuss, finaa,an important pre-colonial social institution, integral to culture of the Afar clans who have integrated with other communities in the Horn region and who like the Oromo’s’ Gadahave successfully relied upon of their traditional authorities for customary dispute settlement and, governing all other aspects of the social system including financial and livelihood support systems. As it is the unit that executes or enforces sanctions passed by clan leadership, it strengthens the authority of traditional leaders, the customary law (Afar-madaa) and Afar values guaranteeing peaceful relations not just within the communities herebut with all other communities. Also, what springs to mind is Erecha an ancient ritual ceremony witnessed recently performed by the High priestess on the shore of Lake Hora Arsedi, under a female Sycamore tree; it is said to renew spiritual energies - the environment, habitat of the ayana, the Waka, source of the indigenous life as we were informed. By the periodic enactment of the Erecha ritual, oral traditions/memory transmit ancestors’ wisdom and values; remembering and accessing, preserving, and transmitting ancient knowledge of etiquette farming, fishing, cattle rearing, weaving, and self-reliance from one generation to the next.  Most importantly, the Erecha ritual is inclusive, indeed, iterative, building on events through which Ethiopian devotees remember their histories of oppression in order to envisage a better life in the future experiences embodying knowledge of customs, of humanistic values for the preservation of region,the sanctity of personhood, communities and the environment- all of which is an embodiment, being Ethiopian. Similarly, another important indigenous form of learning is the Somali custom of Wadaado for priests, folk astronomy based on seasons for migration, but with instructions on timing of rituals to avert not just calamities from jinn and iftrit (spirit possession), but also applied for prophecies and healing. And, as in Ethiopia, the sophisticated forms of governance included financial institutions such as Iquib and Idir among the local communities which guaranteed security of livelihood and sharing of scant resources. There are innumerable examples shared by the communities, indeed, in every kebele!
Q: Yes, we do. Could we discuss specific understandings of our region with reference to Heritage? By our region we wish to include the entire Horn region.
This is indeed a rather challenging…let’s consider, in parts. Firstly, it is critical to draw from the composite elements that have shaped the cultures of this region for over three thousand years; seek to understand their distinctive histories, belief systems, languages and communities,their sense of time, of the many calendars, of customs of social interaction, traditional medicines, of attire, of music, of dance, of literatures, proverbs folklore, and of cuisines. But above all, by recognising the diversity and untrammelled spirit of co-existence we will begin to see so many similarities that span millennia that constitute a shared Biblical Hebraic Orthodox heritage.As the scholar, Dr Ayele Bekerie quotes an ancient Amharic proverb, 'Ishehye yebeltal kesheh which he translates as “to be agreeable is better than a thousand” illustrating how various communities and traditions coalesced, co-existed. For millennia Judaism, Christianity and Islam have been profoundly influenced by the indigenous philosophies, spiritual representations in these cultures underpinned by the region’s syncretic foundations. Take for example, the shared calendars which inform the pilgrimage of Zïqwala. Indeed, as Pankhurst has noted, these two pilgrimages occur side by side on the same occasions on different sides of the crater lake. The Oromo mainly attend the ceremony in the forest by the Sida stone, while the Amhara and some other groups including Guragé and Tigraway are devotees of the Tewahedo Church in the monastery. Although the two pilgrimages are in a sense distinct, in fact there is a remarkable degree of connectedness since they occur on the same mountain in close proximity on the same two annual days dedicated to Saint Abbo. Moreover, many adherents of the traditional Oromo religion also revere the Christian church, have children baptized on this occasion, follow the tabot round the Lake, buy tapers for the Church, receive blessings from priests, take home holy water, etc. Many of the Christian pilgrims likewise visit the stone “seat” and “bed,” some of them bowing to the stones and kissing them since they believe in their powers in a similar way to the Oromo worshipping of the Sida stone. in that “two religions exist side by side, sometimes at close proximity and on the same occasion, with some mutual influences,” but also that “this co-existence in no way precludes rivalry and competition.
Expressively, it was to here, a Christian kingdom that Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) in 615 A D instructed his followers among whom included eminent personages such as Uthman and his wife, Prophet Muhammad's daughter Ruqayah, Zubayr ibn Awwam, Mus'ab ibn Umayr, Abdurrahman ibn Awf, Abu Salama and his wife Umm Salama, to seek refuge from persecution by the Qurrayish in Mecca because the Aksum Empire was reputed to be a land of righteousness where no one was wronged. This flight of the Prophet’s followers was followed by more, thus Islam in Ethiopia is as old as the Hejaz region. Indeed, the sacred Negash Amedin Masjid is regarded as the second Mecca. The King gave land and protection to them upon arrival; he refused repeated requests from the Qurraysh who had pursued them to the return the followers. Indeed, it is believed that as a result the Prophet Muhammad declared exemption of this region from jihad--“Utruku-al habasha ma tarakukum.” Al-Habasha is the name applied in Arabic to the land and peoples of Ethiopia.
Recent scholarship discussing the Sahaba episode by Muhammad Sa'id Nawad's Iritriyd, Tariq Al-Hijrdt, records the names of more than a hundred companions who emigrated in three successive waves.
Elsewherein the south, the settled communities helped the followers to transform a long winding limestone cave – Holqa Sof Omar caves near Oriomia region into a sacred site of Islam. To this day, Muslims in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia attach unique symbolic importance to what is known in early Islamic Tariqa as the hijra al-ula (first emigration) celebrating the inter-connectedness with the Hejaz.
Also, the Judaic Falashas helped to build Orthodox Christian places of worship; they shared a common culture, spoke the same languages and indeed, shared livelihoods; they also chant from the holy books written by Orthodox Christian scribes. Such millennial associations and collective experiences have created memories and valuable traditions. Thus, when the late Emperor Haile Selassie stated, "Ayer YE GAVA new hajjmanot ye gel new," the nation is for all, religion is a private affair”, he drew upon such critical episodes which remain reposed in the regional narratives.
Q; We are extremely proud to belong to this shared heritage and we appreciate the unique role of the Orthodox church. Can we discuss this more?
I am not a scholar of religion yet the relations between different traditions remain ebullient. It is clear that the belief systems and rituals of the Orthodox church rooted in the syncretic traditions made possible inclusive literary and oral methods of transmission; entire texts and translations came to be assimilated through local motifs just as the Scriptures themselves. Ethiopians were profoundly influenced by the Hejaz and Egypt, even writing their state and geography into Bible stories. The source of the Blue Nile became the Gihon, one of the four rivers that flowed from the Garden of Eden. The 14th century C.E. narrative of origins connected Ethiopia’s rulers to the Old Testament and repeated in the Kebra Negast. We know how the deep rootedness of the syncretic traditions within Tewahedo Church from historical evidence; Tewahedo means Union --the complete union of the Divine and Human Natures into One Nature to accomplish the divine salvation for individual believers and also, for humankind. Opposed to these Immanent tradition precepts, during the 16th centuries the Portuguese actively sought to enforce their Catholicism for half a century. However, the conversion of the Atse Sussenyos led to mass uprisings and his abdication-  European Christian Missionaries were banned for 350 years; there remained a deep mistrust of the ferenj or foreigners– gold was paid to the coastal communities to prevent missionaries from entering-- illustrating the strong attachment to the immanent tradition in this region. Indeed, this was what prompted the Solomon Empire’s expansion to the Red Sea which began in earnest for greater protection of their heritage.
Interestingly, the linguist Zafer has elaborated on the East African influence in Biblical-Hebraic Orthodox Christianity and early Islam – the Christological vocabulary in the Holy Qu’ ran, for instance, he observes is in Ge’ez, an ancient language which has retained its pristine form and has not changed over time.So many common customs are shared by the three great religions such as lefafa sedeq by tying a parchment scroll to guide the body after death; or the tradition of wearing of amulets or hanging them on walls for protection by Muslims, Christians and Falasha Jews. Certainly, the distinctive lyricism and lexiconical expressions of the human condition—stages of love, of friendship and life itself reflect in the phonetics of Tizita, and of sacred ethos contained in  bati, ambassel, and anchihoy forms of music cherished widely in the entire Hornregion; devotional  expressions of sene qal sene tsehufy kine tibeb, senezema, and sene akal  Eskista dancing styles in Gojam, Gondar and Menjar,jumps of the Oromos, the chefaras of the Guarges, Hamars walking over bulls; great literary and aesthetic traditions, such as Zemma, Qene, and Semena Worq, oral traditions and so forth. Indeed, the guarded erudition of Temhertä Hebu’at or secret knowledge where the experience of the sacred and belief in magic is even today privileged over prosaic understandings of ‘religion’ founded upon the sacred doctrines of the Tewahedo Church;its profound hermeneutics in the exegesis and transmission of authoritative scripture cannot be underestimated. Such an immeasurably valuable shared syncretic heritage must be acknowledged as it contains the wherewithal for promising dialogues for unity, for co-operation, good governance and for prosperity.

Q: These connections make us confident about solutions for the Horn region on account of our shared heritage – Dr Gopal, what other connections do you see?
I am impressed by the diverse reckoning of time, indeed as diverse as the Ethiopians– the many calendars and the juggling of time systems. Ethiopian chronographers, it appears from scholarship managed to keep all these scales of time consistent with each other throughout the centuries. Most ancient cultures such as those of the Indian Subcontinent were guided by the moon and seasons- daily, weekly, monthly and yearly activities with a schedule of work, dietary restrictions, prayers, festivals, fasting as also to calculate, astronomical event of abeqte, a lunar cycle. Indeed, since 300 BC the Oromos have Gada system:A lunar-stellar calendar which relies on astronomical observations of the moon in conjunction with seven particular stars or constellations. Oromo months (stars/lunar phases) are Bittottessa (Iangulum), Camsa (Pleiades), Bufa (Aldebarran), Waxabajjii (Belletrix), Obora Gudda (Central Orion-Saiph), Obora Dikka (Sirius), Birra (full moon), Cikawa (Gibbous moon), Sadasaa (quarter moon), Abrasa (large crescent), Ammaji (medium crescent), and Gurrandala (small crescent).  And, in the south and northern regions of the Horn primacy is given to the Islamic calendar.
While the church determines the terrestrial and the spiritual rhythm of life, it choreographs ceremonial, and organisation of time continually which is seen to guarantee the longevity and strength of spirit of the Ethiopian nation. As I have also learnt, the Tewahedo conscription of time, Amate Mehret or Year of Mercy remains tied to the Zemene Firit –Era of Creation established the Ethiopian calendar as both religious and civil. Interestingly, this region ‘s stubborn attachment to its own received truths is an aspect that distinguishes its culture, celebrating Christmas on 06 January; the small but extremely well integrated Ethiopian Catholic community celebrates Christmas at the same time as the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  Some theologians believe that the Ethiopian way of counting time of the Incarnation is more accurate than the Gregorian Calendar. Rather than being seen as exclusively Christian, it is regarded as inclusive --sharing this "uniquely" Ethiopian time, a source of pride for the importance of the plurality of traditional institutions in peacemaking and governance. There may be numerous other ways of time reckoning in the country and they appear to have become incorporated into the collective sense of time. It also brings to mind what an Ethiopian scholar noted on the Millennium, Amaat or Isra Meet which embodied the ability of a people to define and control their time; those who control time, control their past; and those who control their past control the present and have vision for the future. There is a general consensus that what is being done is reasserting the honour (keber) of the community by honouring time. Honour complex, known in Amharic as keber includes patronage, hierarchy, affiliation, ceremonial behaviours such as homage, and maintaining spiritual purity, and a pride in ancient civilizations of the region, tentawi new.
Q: There has been for over three thousand years as you have rightly pointed out, uninterrupted” syncretic co-existence”. We are not in agreement about colonial ethnic divisions which have caused separatist groupings based on religion, race and languages.  We say, “qwanqa bəc a bäqi aydälläm”, one language is never enough!Could you discuss diversity continuing with insights into our heritage?
Yes, I agree. I am averse to using terms such as tribe or race- so much interbreeding of human populations makes it redundant usage and unscientific! Indeed, imposition of ethnic zones and other similar classifications in this region as also, the presumption of ethnicities, of tribes has been catastrophic. Undoubtedly such categories are rooted in Cartesian/Utilitarian logic derived from strains within European philosophies, as also, categories of race—anthropometry and narrow understandings of religion which imposed European ways of seeing, not just here but also, in rest of Africa, MENA region, as also, the Indian Subcontinent, indeed in all colonial territories.
Although lacking both local knowledge and the linguistic sensitivities, the intent of the colonial draftsmen/magistrateswas to promulgate a European demand for sameness/homogeneity which   invented taxonomies and separate identities while making these out to be ‘natural’ differences. Denominations establishing typologies of inhabitants were formally institutionalised as Ordinances with their varying and controversial provisions. When we reflect upon these terms/denominations, the way they were produced, and how they were co-opted into official laws and the administrative infrastructure, the raison d'être for the ongoing conflicts originate here! Gaim Kibreab in his perceptive study notes that in Eritrea, the British government aimed at establishing states on the "basis of conscious affinities of ethnic similarities and economic interdependence. . . This was expected to result in "a notably homogeneous and compact unit of population..."But this was not possible because as Kibreab notes, the population in the Northern hills comprised a complex variety of groups of people which defied any attempt of classification based on livelihood, religion, ethnicity, etc. They included the Habab, Mensa, Maria, Béni Amer, and several other Tigrinya and Arabic speaking groups immersed in a synergetic, complementary, inter-dependent relationships and also, of livelihoods- communities adapted and interacted to share resources; there was also in the past no definitive pastoral sedentary divide or a fixed community. Thus, interchangeability, the amorphous nature of linguistic, religious identity, of community has been a feature of the Horn region.
Q: Could you give some examples please for the entire region?
Take for example Djibouti-the Afar clans of the north followed transhumance migration into largely Afar and Issa areas ofMäräb Melläsh (now Eritrea) and Ethiopia, while the Issa Somalis grazed into present-day Somalia. They were loosely grouped into several Sultanates whose combined territory ran from the shore of the Red Sea in the east to the foothills of the escarpment in the west, the Dire Dawa region in the south, and the vicinity of Massawa in the north. Incidentally, Märäb Melläsh region was bound by the Marab, Balasa and Muna rivers comprising the Kabasa which consisted of three provinces Hamasien, Saraye and Akkal Guzay along with the great port of Massawa– all shared the rich culture including common religions and political organisations which they shared with Ethiopia for over three thousand years.Thus, prior to Italian rule, highlanders speaking Tegrenna identified with their kin in the south in Ethiopiatravelling to other parts."Ta Netjeru”, Land of the Punt original name for Djibouti have traded with these neighbours as well as those across the Indian ocean and the Arabian Peninsula for centuries. Also, the bilad al-Barbarregion, now known as Somaliaencompassed the geographical area between the Bab el Mandeb and Cape Guardafui. Here, the  Darod and other clan families, the Isaaq (Dir), the Hawiye, and the Rahenweyne, part of the Adal and Mogadishu Sultanates, indeed, Gulf of Tajdoura had  established very sophisticated forms of governance with successful trading posts, for instance, Seylac and Berbera on the Gulf of Aden and Marka, Baraawe, and Mogadishu.
The extent of inter-dependence of the inhabitants of the Plateau, highlands and the lowlands with the south and the coast was so intimate and powerful it was difficult to distinguish between the various groups who utilised resources and territories in common. Customarily, all communities sent their sons in all directions from their region; their children were received without any difficulty and sometimes children and strangers surpass them in numbers as a contemporary traveller, Muntzinger noted of the Afar. There was no need amongst the communities here for boundaries and social mobility of the inhabitants made for fluidity of identities; other communities who moved into these areas such as Menafere and Hazowerta learnt local dialects and assimilated. Alsonomadic herders, pastoralists and agriculturists change livelihood status at will. The Rasahida who were from the Yemen came to the Sahel region and east Sudan where they graze as pastoralists and speak Arabic. Co-operation and social interaction were and still are sine quo non for survival requiring the development of intricate informal institutions and enforcement mechanisms not only to ensure sustainable use of scarce resources but also to avoid conflict over such resources or to solve such conflicts. The institutional development process regulating access to, and use of scarce resources between neighbouring groups resulted from complex and dense formal and informal negotiations, as well as long-term interactions. Importantly, people’s explicit recognition of all human conditions and the intimacy with their environment, their beliefs and their existence are woven into these physiological associations and cultures.
Q: Currently all our governments have ethnic zones and it remains a burning issue--as you say catastrophic! And, such divisiveness has been co-opted into our Constitutions.Can we discuss this?
Yes, there are very strong parallels with the ancient cultures of the Indian Subcontinent and its immanent syncretic tradition, the divisive legacy of the Utilitarian/ Cartesian Ordinances. The late Emperor Haile Selassie was a nationalist and wanted the entire region to unite and worked for agreements with Djibouti and, Eritrea. He opposed ethnic and racial classifications and nurtured Ethiopia’s unique cultural syncretism. Indeed, he has become the symbol for Ethiopia's social and psychological integration as a nation, also inspired the African continent on account of his identification with the anti-colonial cause, his critical role in the founding of the OAU; indeed, also his promotion of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as a cultural bridge between Ethiopia and New World. And, he had lived through two world wars; he belonged to another era and, at the end was too frail to address the enormity of economic suffering which led to his overthrow ending 2000 years of the Solomonic dynasty which, given the Mengitsu regime that took over has not improved matters. We can begin with the Dergue regime which I think was forced to succumb to European classifications as the other regions surrounding Ethiopia were governed thus—political theatre and strategies! The 1992 Constitution for example, Article 39 of 1995 states explicitly: “A 'Nation, Nationality or People' for the purpose of this Constitution, is a group of people who have or share large measure of a common culture or similar customs, mutual intelligibility of language, belief in a common or related identities, a common psychological make-up, and who inhabit an identifiable, predominantly contiguous territory. Thus, these divisions: Afar, Amhara, Benushangul- Gumuz, Gambela, Oromia Somali Southern Nations and Nationalities, Tigray Harari and two cities of Addis Ababa and   Dire dawa, all this contained within 68 zones and 550 woredas classified  as eighty ethno-linguistic groups, the four largest deemed officially as Oromiffa, Amhara, Somali, and Tigrayans. Indeed, as one scholar has noted, it was indeed a paradox that when the Dergue decided to revitalise ‘ethnicity’, it was the Southern region that refuted outright such policy and resistance remains strong here; their role in the daily challenge to the politics of ethnicity can hardly be over-estimated.  He notes further, this region is the glue that has kept Ethiopia from falling apart.  We can discuss later with reference to recent developments.
Similarly, in Djibouti, the remarkable scholarship of Bezabeh and Imbert- Vier has shown how the emergence of ethnic identification, its use was created by French rule-- colonial administrative chronology. The French established through Ordinances fixed ethnic identities and, shaped the divide between the communities. Afar who comprised 40% of the population were privileged over the Issa Somalis and other Arabic speaking clans who were 60%; their sophisticated forms of governance by Sultans and cultural institutions by Sultans was wiped out by French in 1883 who also tricked the Emperor who had been promised Obock. Certainly, it was very difficult for the local populations; there was resistance to their rule and the Somalis were marginalised further. At the threshold of independence in 1977, Djibouti wasembroiled in bitter strife between the three main ethnic communities, namely the Afar, the Arabs, and the Issa Somali. Various claims were put forward as to whose nation this was, who constituted the majority, and who should be in power: it proved impossible to achieve a political and organisational consensus! Thus, French rule had successfully divided the Afar, the Issa Somalis and others. These representations establish the access rights to the country’s resources. Encouraged by France's favouritism towards one ethnic group, the gradation of citizenship in what was then referred to as the Côte Françoise des Somalis started as soon as politics was introduced in the domain of the sujet Françoise. Throughout the territory's colonial history France supported first the Arabs and then the Afars, and this eventually led to discourses of expulsion by those who were marginalized. This practice of calling for the expulsion of those who are favoured started with the first election for the conseil représentatif in 1946. Bezabeh notes that the sovereign power of the Djiboutian state through the Nationality Law allows the marginalization of its citizens; graduated citizenship emerges both from the practice of ethnic discrimination and also as a result of the Nationality Law. But as the scholars have argued, these two elements should not be viewed as separate, as they overlap considerably. An experienced Issa politician, Hassan Gouled, became President, but despite his calls to abandon ethnic differences in the early months of independence his government actively discriminated against the minority population. Notably, the national representation built within the single governing party explicitly includes representatives of different “national groups” the same way the colonial administration did.By the time of Djibouti's independence in June 1977, 3,000 Ethiopians of Issa Somali ethnic origin had already fled into the country from villages along the railway between the border and Dire Dawa. Within six months the number of refugees had grown to 8,000, three-quarters of whom were accommodated in primitive camps near the towns of Ali Sabieh and Dikhil. By the middle of 1980, when the Ogaden conflict had flared up again, the refugee population totalled 42,000, over 10 per cent of the country's inhabitants. These tensions continue, the Frud revolt of the 1990s mirrored the enormity of people ‘s suffering. As Bezabeh notes further, another application of identity categories occurred in 2003 with the expulsion from Djiboutian territory of 80,000 refugees called “foreigners in irregular situation,” nearly 15 percent of the country’s inhabitants. The Djiboutian identity, djiboutienneté invokesa national, and not ethnic, identity, but it is window dressing; the expulsions continue and the initial attribution of Djiboutian citizenship continues to be determined on the basis of criteria elaborated during colonial times. Clearly there is a persuasive need to resuscitate traditional forms of governance and conviviality, co-opt these customs into inclusive Nationality Laws.
Q: As Somalis we are particularly distressed by the current label of ‘failed state’. Also, piracy in the high seas and the bad press we get. What solutions can be offered to improve this situation in keeping with our heritage?
It took three hundred years for nation states to evolve naturally in Europe and even today the Westphalian state is still being negotiated. In Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and the MENA region moral fault lines were drawn by Europeans within weeks without consulting people by dispassionate cartographers fragmenting people and alienating them from their genealogies and their shared heritage; indeed, the way people related to each other particularly of livelihoods and sharing of resources. Professor Asiwaju's for example, shows that 103 international African boundaries cut through a total of 131 communities; Some of these groups are partitioned by more than one boundary. Undoubtedly, the destruction of the heimat of this region is the root cause for not just perennial conflicts and militarisation, but also for the grinding poverty, loss of livelihoods and governance.
In my view the nation state cannot be thrust onto people or populations especially when sophisticated, indigenous institutional forms of governance have gradually evolved and thrived for over three thousand years from the Red sea to northern Kenya. Let’ s begin with the various Sultanates during the 16th century - Ajuran Sultanate, the Adal Sultanate, the Warsangali Sultanate, the Sultanate of the Geledi and the Majeerteen Sultanate.The populations of Afar Somalis, Beja, Gallo, Dir, Hawiye and other communities were mainly engaged in pastoralism, agriculture with very successful trade both in Berbera, Gulf of Aden and other parts. They enjoyed great freedom, under this governance with communities assisting each other. The scholar Ebraib mentions the most important mechanism for post-crisis herd recovery is called iribu, a permanent gift of any species and of either sex, although female stock is usually preferred for the regeneration of the herd. It would be unusual for an Afar to fail to find such assistance, failure to provide assistance to others in turn can be severely sanctioned. As an ethnographer has noted -- Elders are responsible for enforcing the rules of iribu and ensuring that the appropriate assistance is provided from the appropriate donor. We give help to the people who are poorer. What a man doesn't need for his house, he shares with the poor man . . . We punish people who don't give help. We tie them up and also we kill his cattle ... If he refuses, we punish him. The punishment is called dinto seeasan. Ayrana is the slaughtering of his cattle, Dubukiria, Bargile.
Also, it must be stated that the influence of Islam was marginal among the nomadic pastoralists, they valued warrior like qualities although they venerated saints.  Here the main influences had been  Daraawish  inspired Sufism  derived from Ash’ariyah theology, Shafi’i jurisprudence. The  oldest being the Qadiriyah, the Idrisiyah, and the Salihiyah tariqas; within the Horn region Oromo and Afar and other communities were followers belonging to the jama’ah of one or the other of these orders; Daraawish or Dervishes wandered through the region singing and preaching mystical  beliefs, veneration of saints and also helping with agricultural practices. Thus, interpersonal linkages between communities existed in the Horn region. We know with the purchase of Assab by the Italians and the creation of Djibouti by the French and the British occupation of the Gulf of Aden the forms of polity introduced were coercive and discriminatory of the local populations who were pitted against each other. It was not surprising thator  Hajji Hafiz Sayyid Muhammad `Abd Allāh al-Hasan  of the Salihiyya brotherhood spearheaded a twenty year  guerrilla war against the British and called for a united Somalia. His father was from the Ogadeni clan, and his mother was Dhulbahanta. Indeed, he was a poet and regarded today as a nationalist stating that the British "have destroyed our religion and made our children their children." His wife Hasna Doreh was also a commander of his Daraavish army. Another one of his poems which I have been reading and here it is---“I have no forts, no houses, no country. I have no cultivated fields, no silver or gold for you to take — all you can get from me is war, nothing else. I have met your men in battle and have killed them. We are greatly pleased about this. Our men who have fallen in battle have won paradise. God fights for us. We fight by God’s order. If you wish war I am happy; if you wish peace I am also content. But if you wish peace, go away from my country to your own. If you wish war, stay where you are!” Such sentiments remain and urgently need to be reflected upon and peaceful solutions found for this region.
British Somaliland, (like Eritrea), had a colonial origin that was separate from that of Italian Somaliland, both of which constituted the Republic of Somalia at independence in 1960. The problems lay largely in the abysmal failure to consider the practical problems posed by an amalgamation of British and Italian administrative styles and methods, in areas such as taxation, judicial activity, local administration, and even the language of government. Thus Somalia from its conception as a nation state inherited an appalling fragile political structure which sealed its fate. How could a nation state ever take root? President Siad Barre’s scientific socialism attempted to improve matters; he argued it was in keeping with the Holy Qu’ran and religious sentiments. But as there were no changes done to the colonial infrastructure, none of the serious issues could be resolved. In a critical way, the collapse of the Barre government and the genocide which followed adversely affected the UN peace mission. UN Security Council Resolution 733 and UN Security Council Resolution 746 led to the creation of UNOSOM I, the first mission to provide humanitarian relief and help restore order in Somalia after the dissolution of its central government. United Nations Security Council Resolution 794 approved a coalition of United Nations peacekeepers in 1992. But in 1995 UNOSOMII had to cease operations. There is an imperative need to re-investigate the past colonial enterprise in the region—and its pernicious legacy needs to be discussed publicly and consensus from the local populations on the forms of governance that would be agreeable to them. There is also an even more urgent need to address matters of livelihood and security of personhood- resuscitate indigenous pre-colonial institutions that had worked well for good governance.
Q: The high influx of refugees into Ethiopia and neighbouring regions from Eritrea continues. As an Eritrean I feel disturbed by the politics in my country? What solutions can there be?
We need to recognise how the artificial creation of Eritrea by the Italians after their defeat at Adwa, a battle that inspired the resistance to colonization in many parts of the world in time has separated Eritreans from their own millennial syncretic heritage, their ties to other Ethiopian communities and, the Horn region. By the end of Italian rule Eritreans were divided into two main camps - those who sought unconditional union with Ethiopia under slogan of "Ethiopia or Death" and those who campaigned for unconditional independence, with a minor group in between opting for conditional union. During the thirty years' war (1961-1991), many Eritreans found themselves torn between the Ethiopian identity that they had either inherited from their parents or had been imposed on them by the Ethiopian ancestry, a matter that cannot be easily unresolved.
The British Military Administration’s military infrastructure which Eritrea has re-activated. Despite its small population Eritrea hosts largest militaries on the African continent Kibreab notes in active duty, with another 200,000 in militarised work and 120,000 strong reserve army; it is the highest producers of refugees as a percentage of the population. Since 1991, the meanings of self-reliance, scholars note has become integrated with militarisation, forced conscription and servitude to the nation; all citizens have to participate in order to identify themselves as a people and a nation. As Rignall observes, it has led to encampment, enclosure and mass imprisonment, in the face of waning sovereignty. The forced conscription of all able bodied men and women since 1994 explicitly combining military training, developmental labour and political "education-- including the shaping of other institutions," hierarchies, identities, and narratives in ways that legitimate military action. “All citizens work for  pittance to fulfil the labour needs of government-directed development projects, from the building of roads, to the digging of trenches at the contentious Ethiopian and Djiboutian borders. Kibreab states that since 2002 the Warsay-Yike'alo Development Campaign (WYDC) preoccupation with building walls and barriers has increased the refugee influx. This narrative of "self-reliance" and associated policies were core elements of the nationalist framework for self-determination throughout the struggle for independence.
This goes against the  lifestyle and belief systems, the Orthodox regard Aksum as their spiritual home and,  the Muslims, Negash. Eastern Eritrean Muslim traditions recall and still venerate Faqzh Muhammad, the Hijazi cleric responsible for the initial spread of Islam among their societies; there is  the upsurge manifested itself in the activities of Sufi brotherhoods deepening Islamic practices and piety. But none of these are allowed to be expressed. In all instances, there has been a gross violation of human rights abuses and, poverty and loss of livelihoods has caused immeasurable suffering. An increasingly militarised world magnifies the challenge of inculcating the values of non-violence and effective problem-solving.
The  border tensions need to be addressed urgently, Indeed, the government has isolated itself as it fiercely protects its territorial status with a discourse that runs against history contending that Eritrea had a separate and independent history of its own even prior to its creation by Italian colonialism, Nevertheless it has appropriated the Ethiopian victories against Egyptians in 1875 & 1876 Italians in 1887 on what was then Märäb Melläsh; they are now seen as Eritrean victories by General Ras Alulawho was Ethiopian. Thus, politics of attrition needs to be resolved through dialogue that would benefit not just Eritrean government and the people but also Ethiopia with whom they share the rich millennial heritage, communities, indeed, strong ties.
Q: Thank you Dr Gopal!
Bäṭam  amäsäggänallähun
*Photo Caption - As seen.









[ Masterweb Reports: Dickson S. Adama reports ] - Northern Christians under the aegis of Arewa Christians and Indigenous Pastors Association (ACIPA) have cautioned the agitators of Biafra to desist from further acts of provocation.
In a statement signed by its President, Rev Luke Shehu, ACIPA said the Igbo should employ civil democratic norm of lobbying and politics of give and take to achieve their goals rather than threatening the nation with secession.
"The Igbo leaders should refrain from provoking the psyche of Nigerians with the Biafra secession threat," the association said, advising the agitators to eschew the bitterness of not having produced Nigeria’s president.
"While agreeing that their demand could be legitimate, threatening Nigeria with another secession agenda is unacceptable," the statement said, urging proponents of Biafra to take counsel from Odumegwu Ojukwu who it quoted as having said, "I don’t think a second one (war) is necessary. We should have learned from the first one, otherwise the dead would have been to no Avail."
It said Nigeria’s civil war that lasted from 1967 to 1970 was regrettable and better avoided because of the millions of people that died and the valuable properties destroyed.
The group enjoined all Nigerians to pray for quick recovery of President Muhammadu Buhari and asked Nigerians home and abroad to resist religious bigotry.

*Photo Caption - Flag of Defunct Republic of Biafra



[ Masterweb Reports:Isiaka Wakili reports ] - The two ministers-designate, Stephen Ocheni (Kogi) and Suleiman Hassan (Gombe), have arrived the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja for their swearing-in.
They are to be seated at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa by 10:45am for the inauguration ceremony scheduled for 11:00am.
They are currently being checked in at the Pilot Gate of the State House. Ocheni and Hassan's nominations were confirmed by the Senate on May 3; four days before President Muhammadu Buhari departed for London on a medical ground.
*Photo Caption - As seen.

[  Masterweb Reports: Olalekan Waheed Adigun reports  ] - It has become a pastime for me to write about political parties and movements since I submitted my first degree dissertation, Political Parties and Democratization: The Effects of Party Politics on Nigeria's Democratic Experience (2003-2011) at the Department of Political Science, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in 2012. My fascinations with political parties and elections started when I worked as a polling clerk, in a ward at Itire (in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos state) during the 2003 general elections which gave me insights into the drama of politicians (then in the old Alliance for Democracy, AD, and People's Democratic Party, PDP) and elections. Writing about political parties and elections has become some sorts of hubby for me.
I gave this background against the request by someone who wondered why I am "always attacking the PDP" in all my write-ups. My response to him was that I never attack the PDP or any other political party for that matter unfairly at any time. I point out what they are not doing well for them to improve and commend when they are getting it right so that our democracy can thrive!
Before the "victory" (which I will call a Pyrrhic victory for obvious reasons) about a week ago, I was among the first commentators to warn PDP about making Ali Modu Sheriff its National Chairman. Understandably, blind party supporters who thought Governors Ayodele Fayose and Nyelsom Wike could do no wrong told me to mind my business which I did immediately after writing the article, PDP, WHO STOLE THY THINKING CAP? What happened later, as they say, is history!
After the "victory" I want to sound another warning. If the news making the rounds is anything to go by that Femi Fani-Kayode is interested in becoming the party Chair, I submit that things can only get worse, not better, for the crises-ridden party. Some people will ask or wonder why I made this point. Like Modu Sheriff, people like FFK, as he is fondly called by his supporters, are motivated by blind and unregulated ambition for power, money and in most cases, women. Femi does not hide the fact that a bowl of porridge is just enough to sell his birth right. Like Sheriff, he is a bad market for the already "brandless" PDP.
I am one of those who still maintain that one of the main reasons former President Goodluck Jonathan lost the 2015 presidential election is FFK. GEJ's appointment of someone like FFK to handle his media in a make or mar election like 2015 made things easier for the All Progressive Congress (APC) to unseat the PDP. It was goofing after goofing for the Ife man. He got nothing right and got everything wrong. The only thing he's good at is insults, which has never won any arguments. Let me make this clear that the APC 2015 presidential campaign was not spectacular in any way but was made easier by poor agents like FFK.
Also, FFK as far as I know him has never headed any responsible party position successfully. He headed the 2015 GEJ media team which led to disaster. The Aviation ministry he headed is better not talked about. His profile in party management is nothing to write home about. Let me not bring in his father, Remi Fani-Kayode. That's another story altogether!
Another candidate jostling for the position is Chief Bode George. I understand apart from his military career, he's played active roles in PDP for several years. He's also, from what I know, a loyal party man. Unlike FFK who can sell the party when its members are asleep if the price is right. George, was elected as PDP Deputy National Chairman (South) which makes him understand the internal workings of the party.
The greatest George's undoing is his conviction for Corruption. Even though he was later pardoned by GEJ after being cleared disappointingly by the Supreme Court, many still see him as integrity-challenged. This was why I posted some days ago that the difference between George and FFK is like trying to look for the eldest among puppies.
While I think PDP will struggle hard to convince most Nigerians that it's no longer the looting party it's known to be should it elect Bode George, electing FFK will bury the party earlier than predicted!
Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN ( Tel: +2348136502040, +2347081901080;Email: ) is a political analyst and an independent political strategist for a range of individuals, organisations and campaigns. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria.



[ Masterweb Reports: Linus Effiong reports ] - The Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Chikwendu Kalu has denied involvement in the shooting of two officers of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) along the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway.
Wife of the Speaker, Victoria, was at the weekend involved in an incident which led to the shooting of two officers of the FRSC at the Arungwa axis of the expressway.
Addressing journalists at Umuahia on the incident, Hon Kalu said his wife was travelling to Aba with her chief detail and a friend when they were accosted by FRSC officers manning a checkpoint. He said that from the account he was given, after his wife’s car had stopped, an FRSC officer hit the car repeatedly with a stick and then dragged the chief detail and his wife out.
The speaker said although it was evident that his wife was rough handled as she sustained injuries all over her body, he did not order the shooting of the FRSC men.

He said whatever transpired at the scene was beyond his knowledge since he was not there, and reiterated that he would not under any circumstance ask anybody to take or attempt to take another person’s life.

*Photo Caption - As seen.

[ Masterweb Reports: Eze Chukwuemeka Eze reports ] - Preamble: Former Governor of Rivers State, Rt Hon Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi a Nigerian of Ikwerre extraction, an international figure of repute, a recipient of the prestigious national award of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and an Associate Fellow of the United Nations Institute for Training & Research (UNITAR), Geneva, Switzerland; was born on May, 27, 1965; but due to exigency of his office as Federal Minister of Transportation, he was outside the country on this auspicious day of his birthday attending to issues pertaining to how to improve the nation’s transportation system. But Nigerians – particularly his political associates under the auspices of the Conscious Reformers Assembly (CRA), in collaboration with some other associations – gathered together in Port Harcourt on June 17, 2017 to honour this great son of Nigeria, whose love and zeal for his fatherland is legendary. The highlight of the occasion was the 52
nd Birthday Lecture and Symposium entitled "Amaechi: The Man Ahead of His Times".

I must confess that I was so fascinated by the arrangements for this epochal occasion that was beamed to the entire world through the Channels TV Network. The theme of the colloquium was ‘Amaechi: The Man Ahead of His Times’. The fact remains that the speakers, and those in attendance, did justice to the man, Amaechi, who is ahead of his time. But sadly most of the great views postulated by the Guest Speakers was not properly and widely published by the Organisers as expected of such a great event and as one of the authorities on the Rivers State politics particularly with biasness on the issue of who Amaechi truly is, I will be doing injustice to the world if I fail to appropriately address and present the issues that actually make Amaechi as a man ahead of his time in the proper perspective, which warranted this treatise. Apart from this, the need of this attempt becomes imperative at least to correct the erroneous impression been put across mostly by the PDP Chieftains with Governor Wike of Rivers State as the major culprit that Amaechi’s eight years as the Governor of Rivers State was totally a waste.
Amaechi’s Humble Beginnings:
The family of Amaechi in Ubima, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, was on May 27, 1965 blessed with the birth of a son who unbeknownst to all would become a force to reckon with in Nigeria’s political firmament even before his 52nd birthday. He was named Chibuike, which means ‘God is all Powerful’ and Rotimi, an abridged version of Oluwadurotimi, meaning ‘the Lord stands by me’, while Amaechi means ‘who knows tomorrow?’ Remember the popular phrase, what is in a name? One does not need to be a sage to know that all the meanings embedded in his name are playing out in the acts and arts of politics in Amaechi’s life. 
Rising from obscurity and state imposed persecutions to Limelight – the story of Amaechi
Amaechi, as he himself has unequivocally said on several occasions, was not born into opulence. As a child his family experienced real hardship and he admits going through several challenges that have helped to shape his perception of life. His determination to ensure equal access to education for every Rivers child and bridge the gap between the privileged and underprivileged children in the state is unprecedented. Whenever the occasion demands, Amaechi would not hesitate to point out that though he came from an underprivileged background, his was a modest family that inculcated in him the virtues of honesty, humility and sheer doggedness to succeed. 
To give an insight into some of the experiences he had to go through in order to be educated and which perhaps may very well be the reason behind his passion to provide free education for all children in Rivers State, rich and poor during his period as Governor of Rivers State, Amaechi said in an interview: “I grew up in Port Harcourt as a young boy, had my primary, secondary and tertiary education in Port Harcourt and so I can speak firsthand about this city. I was not from a rich home. I used to pick food from Olu Obasanjo road – ‘Man must wack’ as we called it then. I hawked at different times for my parents in this city. After God, I owe my growth to Port Harcourt. I don’t know how many people in my cabinet that could have experienced poverty like I did. I grew up at No.18, Chibu Street. I moved from there to Nnamdi Azikwe road. Later, I lived with one of my friends in one of the creek villages near Port Harcourt. And I knew that my parents suffered a lot. With tears, they were looking for money to pay for my school fees, buy me uniforms, bags and all that. When I was in the university, I used to tell the girls that ‘none of you looked at my face because I was wearing one shirt, one pair of trousers almost every day with a sandal’. On Fridays, we would wash it and we wouldn’t move out at all on Saturday to enable it dry; Sam Okah and myself. Then it would dry on Saturday, but on Sunday, we were back to life; wearing the same shirt and the same trousers. How many of those in the cabinet passed through that?” This is the pathetic story of the man that is driven by unquenchable passion for a better Rivers State and greater Nigeria. 
Amaechi: The Man Ahead of His Time and His Audacity
Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi a humanist, administrator par excellence, visionary, egalitarian, radical, respected, a pragmatist and exemplary leader is an alumnus of the University of Port Harcourt in Rivers State. He was the Rivers State Speaker of the State House of Assembly from 1999-2007; Chairman, conference of speakers of State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria (1999 – 2000), Governor of Rivers State (2007 – 2015), two time Chairman of the Governors’ Forum in Nigeria from 2011 to 2015. A winner of several awards including the Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON and is currently the Minister of Transportation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. These feats alone put him ahead of his time but read on to see other facts that truly mark him as a man ahead of his time.
What Men Who Were Ahead of Their Times said about Amaechi:
Men like Amaechi, who conquered their past and rose from obscurity to limelight, always survive to live their lives ahead of their times. This special specie of creatures have one common principle in life – selflessness in their services to humanity. This was expounded by former President of United States of America, John F Kennedy, in his famous quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Another great child of this world, D. Suresh, made a statement that was not too far from Kennedy’s. He said: “Don’t expect the government to find solutions for you. Assist the government in finding solutions.” In line with these patriotic statements by these great men who probably had Amaechi of Nigeria in  mind and the role he is to play in the political life of the nation, based on the fact that at a period Nigeria was at a crossroad, as regards her future in the hands of corrupt and visionless leaders and when it was risky to challenge the status-quo or the government of the day on any issue, Amaechi risked his life to team up with some other great leaders to rescue Nigeria from the dungeon she was, under the then PDP leadership. The pivotal role he played in bringing about the current political dispensation in Nigeria and the patriotic zeal and willingness to sacrifice his blood for a better and greater Nigeria, puts him among men who truly were/are ahead of their times.
Another man that lived ahead of his time was Booker T Washington. According to this great leader of leaders, with Amaechi in mind, he postulated: “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.” Like Amaechi who overcame rough and challenging obstacles to become what he is by today, Washington on the other hand was able to successfully rise above slavery to become a renowned educator, activist and Black America’s first power-broker. Although once a highly controversial figure, he was the most influential black leader of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Another man who lived ahead of his time was the former President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda and during his visit to Rivers State described the leadership of Amaechi as the Governor of Rivers State as a focused one. Dr. Kaunda noted that with the focused leadership of Governor Amaechi, Rivers State would continue to be of service to humanity for many years to come.
The Deputy Speaker of Ugandan Parliament and Chairperson of CWP, Hon Rebecca Kadaga, lauded the developmental efforts and policies of Governor Amaechi, especially those geared towards improving the lot of children and women, saying that the issues already canvassed confirm that what the CWP was set to achieve are already in place in Rivers State.
Another great mind who commented on what makes Amaechi as a man ahead of his time was the former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert and according to him: “The impression that I always get when I come to Africa is that these countries have enormous potential and your country and your State (Rivers) have enormous potential and I think that you happen to have at this time in history also, a dynamic, energetic and capable leadership that can make the dreams of building up the State into a reality of life for the 5.1 million residents in Rivers State that want their lives to be of much higher and greater quality.”
While to the then United States Consul General in Lagos, Mr. Jeffrey Hawkins, while exchanging ideas with some journalists stated, “I must commend Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State for embarking on numerous people-oriented projects and showing enthusiasm on Niger Delta issues. We are very appreciative of all that Amaechi has done. We are quite clear that addressing the issues of the Niger Delta, the challenges require focusing on things like education development, agriculture, health, all sorts of issues, and the governor was kind enough to show us”.
Some of the few landmark cases that truly put Amaechi as a man ahead of his time.
1.      The Judiciary And His most celebrated Supreme Court ruling
I must reiterate that the issue that actually catapulted Amaechi into the national limelight and marked him not only as an institution in the politics of Nigeria but one whose inputs can’t be swept off the carpet was when he encountered his major political challenge after convincingly winning the PDP Rivers State gubernatorial ticket in 2007 but was denied to fly the flag of the party for the 2007 general elections under a very controversial circumstance of the K-leg episode. This again afforded him the opportunity to demonstrate why he is a man ahead of his time.
For avoidance of doubt, despite Amaechi’s landslide victory at the primaries, where he clinched 6,527 of the 6,575 possible votes while seven other aspirants that included political heavyweights like Hon Chief Austin Okpara, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, late Senator Martin Yellowe, Pawariso Horsfall and Mr. Chris Orji shared the remaining 48 votes among themselves. Amaechi’s name was subsequently forwarded to the INEC on December 14, 2006 in compliance with Section 32(1) & (2) of the Electoral Act 2006. INEC, thereafter, duly published Amaechi’s name as the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State.  The story, however, took a different turn when, speaking at the presentation of the party flag to its gubernatorial candidates at the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt, former President, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd), declared that Amaechi’s candidacy had ‘k-leg. Amaechi after this sought legal redress for his travails. Suffice to say, Amaechi went on self-exile to Ghana, and the powers that be further showed their contempt for him by selecting his cousin, Sir Celestine Omehia, who neither purchased nor filled a form, as PDP flag-bearer in his stead. 
Amaechi’s vindication came with the October 25, 2007 landmark ruling by the Nigerian Supreme Court, declaring him as not only the authentic flag-bearer of PDP but also ordered that he be sworn-in immediately to replace Omehia, who had previously been sworn-in on May 29, 2007 as the Governor of Rivers State. Thus, Amaechi became the first and only person to occupy the office of governor in Nigeria without standing for election. In explaining the ruling, the Supreme Court has since stated that it is the party that contests elections and that the PDP won the gubernatorial elections, and that, consequently, Amaechi, being the rightful candidate, should assume power as the governor of Rivers State.
Explaining this great feat better  my good friend, Ken O.Olumati a legal counsel based in Port Harcourt in an article he titled, ‘Ameachi's Debt to the Law’ captured what Amaechi has done to improve the judiciary in Nigeria. He stated that, “It is noteworthy that the various decisions of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal in Governor Amaechi's case were reported in Parts 1040 and 1065 of the Nigeria Weekly Law Reports. In Part 1065 alone contains six decisions on Amaechi's case; three by the Supreme Court and three by the Court of Appeal. This in itself underscores the significance of Amaechi's battles through the courts. Few cases have enjoyed similar attention in the annals of Nigeria's legal institution. Some of them include the case between Amodu Tijani V Secretary, Southern Nigeria, and the late Oba Oyekan's legal battle for the Obaship of Lagos in the 1950's, which went as far as Her Majesty's Privy Council before a clear winner was installed. In recent memory, the case of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi against the Nigeria Bar Association as well as his numerous court battles against the Military Government of former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida are cases that can be compared to that of Amaechi”.
If this feat alone doesn’t put Amaechi as a man ahead of his time then I wonder what else is expected of a man to gain ascendance to this special class of people.
Another area that marks Amaechi as a man ahead of his time was the bold step his administration took to initiate and build a new brand and mega City that has one of the best modern stadiums and other edifices only obtainable in modern cities of Europe after every effort to rebuild some of the creeks and shanties in Port Harcourt proved abortive. This man who was ahead of his time on assumption of office as the Governor of Rivers State saw the challenges of congestion in Port Harcourt and in 2009, ensured that a law was passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly so that his administration can spread development to the surrounding communities as part of the effort to decongest the Port Harcourt metropolis that was founded in 1912 by Frederick Lugard the then Governor of Northern Nigeria Protectorate and Southern Nigeria protectorate name after the then British Secretary State for the colonies, Lewis Harcourt.
After the discovery of crude oil in Oloibiri in 1956, Port Harcourt exported the first shipload from Nigeria in 1958. Port Harcourt became the centre of the Nigerian oil economy and it subsequently reaped benefits of its associations with the petroleum industry by undergoing modernisation and urbanisation. Port Harcourt's growth is further due to its position as the commercial centre and foremost industrial city of the former Eastern Region ; its position in the Niger Delta; and its importance as the centre of social and economic life in Rivers State. Thus, to minimize consequences of rapid development, a master plan for Port Harcourt was produced with the primary task of providing the framework for physical planning, roads, housing, water system, electricity, drainage amongst others. Realising that the success of physical planning depends, to a very large measure, on the human factor, policies on health, welfare and productivity of its population were formulated ultimately for the development of the city’s total resources, as well as the country’s
Amaechi’s Greater Port Harcourt was to spread to eight local government areas that include Port Harcourt, Okrika , Obio-Akpor , Ikwerre, Oyigbo, Ogu–Bolo, Etche and Eleme with total population estimated at 2,000,000 as of 2009, making it one of the largest metropolitan areas in Nigeria.
Let us listen to what Amaechi said about his dream mega city; “The Mega City, also known as the Greater Port Harcourt City is one of the biggest most single construction project in this part of the country. The Greater Port Harcourt City dream is now real, despite slowing down due to dwindling revenue.
This project was planned an eight-year rolling budget knowing that the mega city is capable of growing the state’s economy by three per cent (GDP) through massive infrastructural projects such as the New Stadium, New UST, major roads, bulk infrastructure, sewage system, water, power, and housing amongst others.
Already, construction of the all-important M10 Road expected to be an economic highway from the Port Harcourt International Airport in Omagwa to Onne seaport which houses the world’s fastest growing oil and gas free zone. There is also the M1 Road expected to open the new city to the south. There are different housing schemes going on there including the 2500 unit housing estate as well as the 1080 Mixed Use Housing Units”.
Again, if this feat doesn’t put Amaechi in the class of men ahead of their times then we are not being fair to him.
3.      The making of Port Harcourt Book Festival
Another feat that marks Amaechi ahead of his peers was the making of Port Harcourt Book Festival, formerly known as Garden City Literary Festival remains one of the city's most important and popular events since its inception in 2008. Established by the government of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the yearly gathering improves local literacy levels, promotes reading habits among denizens, and benefits exhibitors seeking wider audience. Throughout its annual run, Port Harcourt Book Festival has hosted renowned publishers such as Heinemann, Learn Africa Plc, Africana First Publishers and EPP Books Services. The festival currently continues to draw writers, literary connoisseurs, booksellers and publishers from every walk of life to the city. In July 2012, UNESCO, IPA, IBF and IFLA named Port Harcourt the
World Book Capital for the year 2014, making her the 14th city in the world to be selected as World Book Capital and the first in Black Africa.
Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State of Nigeria under the tenure of Amaechi, played a historic role when it hosted the US-Nigeria Bilateral Commission on October 16 and 17, 2012, thereby becoming the first city outside the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to do so. This event is a top bill in international rating and the strategic relevance of the Gulf of Guinea area makes the meeting in Port Harcourt even more important. The United States Deputy Secretary of State and two Assistant Secretaries led the US delegation. On the side of Nigeria, the US-Nigeria Bilateral Commission is viewed with seriousness, especially by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) led by Amaechi.
It would be recalled that UNESCO, moved by the revolutionary feats of Amaechi in the education sector, crowned Port Harcourt the 2014 World Book Capital City in April 2014, beating ten other great cities that include Oxford in England and Moscow in Russia. For this to be achieved against all odds and challenges simply demonstrates that Amaechi was a visionary and focused leader who has received accolades in this regard by world leaders. His administration has, in addition, promoted overall United Nations activities in the South-South geo-political zone, through the provision of an outstanding facility that can house over 15 UN agencies in Port Harcourt. As a result, there are five UN agencies in Rivers State at the moment; and more are expected to follow in due course. 
Port Harcourt’s reign as World Book Capital 2014 began with the handover by Bangkok at an impressive ceremony at Hotel Presidential in the Rivers State capital. Dignitaries at the event included former Governor Amaechi, former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar; Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka; UNESCO Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova; former World Bank Vice-President, Africa, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili; wife of the former Governor, Dame Judith Amaechi; Engr Tele Ikuru, former Deputy Governor of Rivers State; Rt Hon O.D Amaechree, then speaker of State House of Assembly, members of Rivers State Executive Council, senators and members of the House of Representatives from the state. This feat by Port Harcourt in becoming the very first African city south of the Sahara chosen as World Book Capital based on public voting, beating ten other great cities that include Oxford in England and Moscow in Russia, is not only commendable but puts Amaechi as a man ahead of his time.
The remaining part of the feats that put Amaechi ahead of his peers will be listed in the concluding section two of this treatise to be released within the week.
EZE CHUKWUEMEKA EZE is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt and can be reached through, 08022049770
*Photo Caption - Rt Hon Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi