[ Masterweb Reports: Obinna Akukwe ] - Igbo leaders in the nineteen northern states of Nigeria have continued to condemn the manner the National Executive of Ohanaeze Ndigbo scammed President Goodluck Jonathan of N5 billion naira in return for second term endorsement. They have threatened to expose the successive culture of corruption and betrayal of Ndigbo for pecuniary gains that has made the national body a disgrace to the South East.
Speaking with the Director General of Igbo Mandate Congress (IMC) Rev Obinna Akukwe in Abuja yesterday, the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Kaduna State Chapter who is also the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the 19 Northern States, Barrister A.C. Amechi described what Ohanaeze Ndigbo National Body did to President Jonathan as scam. According to him “ it is wickedness to scam an innocent man( Jonathan) of billions of naira , share it among yourselves and not remit a single kobo to any Ohanaeze Chapter in the North, yet you tell the man that all is in control among Igbos in the north” The obviously infuriated Igbo leader in the north stated further that “ for Jonathan to get sizeable votes in the north, he needs the mobilization of Ohanaeze Ndigbo who are the grassroots leaders and not these people sitting comfortably in the East and Abuja” Barrister Amechi asked those who scammed the President to return back his money.
In his contribution, the President Ohanaeze Ndigbo Taraba State Chapter Chief Hon Timothy Nwadike said that “we are still waiting to receive what they said that Jonathan brought for us to use to campaign for him. The national body has not given us anything’. The Chairman Imeobi Ohanaeze Taraba State Chapter, Engr Emeka Chukwuegbo in his contribution told Rev Akukwe that “we hope they remit what Jonathan gave us. We in Taraba State have not received any money from anywhere and our people and other ethnic nationalities are already exiting the state”
The Chairman Imeobi Ohanaeze Niger State Chapter, Chief J.C Onuigbo told Rev Akukwe that “ Igbos in Niger State want to vote for Jonathan but it is disheartening to hear that the money brought for that purpose was shared among themselves and we in the north are not mobilized yet” Chief Onuigbo added that “ as at now Igbos in Niger State are contributing N200 naira each for security and mobilization for the election yet the parent body have shared billions of naira”
The President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Niger State Chapter, Chief Emmanuel Ezeudo condemned the heinous scamming of President Jonathan. He decried the attitude of the National body of Ohanaeze Ndigbo who are in the habits of taking decisions and sharing money among themselves without consulting state chapter presidents.
Igbo leaders across the globe have already condemned the scamming of Jonathan and situations whereby some single individuals took between N300 to N100 millon naira of Jonathan’s largesse while the entire north was not given a single kobo.
Chief Chekwas Okorie, founding member of Ohaneze Ndigbo and founder of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) while speaking to journalists in Enugu said that “They are now exposing themselves to public ridicule. They are now accusing them of collection N5 billion for an endorsement and they are denying they didn’t collect.
“But, definitely, they are dishing out some money to chapters of Ohanaeze. Where did that money come from?
“You now have an Ohanaeze that is drawing money outside Igboland to fight each other. So, I feel disappointed as a person, but I feel sorry for Igbo people because these people have betrayed them,”
Dr Dozie Ikedife, former President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in his reaction over the weekend told journalists that “Endorsement is done by these groups because of what they are given and these endorsements are purchasable
“In the politics of Nigeria, Igbo should always think of their group interest and then national interest. Many people have been wondering what will be the Igbo interest after the elections. For instance, if there is trouble in the north, the Niger Delta or any part of the country after the elections, how will it affect the Igbo”
The Chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Elders Council, Chief Mbazulike Amechi and Chairman Ohanaeze Caretaker Committee, Chief Ralph Obioha had already condemned the notorious nature of Ohaneze leaders collecting billions of naira from Jonathan without doing anything every election year.
Following the protest by State Chapter Presidents of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the 19 Northern States, the National body in order to cover the monumental embezzlement of Jonathan’s goodwill to the group, hurriedly assembled some Ezeigbos in the North at Abuja last Saturday where each of the Ezeigbo State Council present were given N50, 000 naira each to keep silent and dissociate from Ohanaeze Chapter Presidents.
The Igbo Chiefs who felt insulted by the N50, 000 gifts told Rev Akukwe and the leadership of Igbo Mandate Congress on conditions of anonymity that N50, 000 to twenty chiefs translating to N1 million naira cannot account for the missing N5 billion naira. They expressed sadness that what happened in 2011 under Ambassador Uwechue that is already under probe has repeated again under Igariwey. They promised to expose the scammers at the appropriate time if they fail to comport themselves honorably. They are of the view that those who collected money from the President and failed to remit accordingly are working for the opposition party.
Obinna Akukwe ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ) reports.
*Photo Caption - Chief Gary Enwo-Igariwey
[ Masterweb Reports: Obinna Akukwe reports ] - The richest oil blocks in Nigeria is owned by a few hundreds of persons while half of 160 million Nigerians live below S1 dollar daily. This injustice and wickedness must be corrected by whosoever wins the elections - whether Buhari, Jonathan, Interim Government, Boko Haram or civilian revolution. When I wrote the report titled ‘How Babangida, Abacha, Abdulsalami, Obasanjo Shared Nigeria’s Oil Blocks’ in April 2012, which was later rephrased as ‘20 Owners of Richest Oil Blocks in Nigeria ’ I had thought that the uproar and public condemnation that followed the report both nationally and internationally will precipitate an administrative correction of the criminality from President Jonathan. Nigeria needs to collect their collective commonwealth from persons who fraudulently took it. It is unfortunate that President Jonathan failed to revoke these illegal licenses to few criminals during his first tenure. Instead some more blocks and contracts were given to few other criminals under his watch. Had he taken such actions, the fear of defeat in the pols would have been non-existent because Nigerians from all tribes and faith enslaved by this bondage would have risen in his defense. It is not yet late for Jonathan, Buhari, Interim Government or even Boko Haram which soever succeeds in May 29th to revisit the disturbing sharing of Nigeria’s Oil Blocks to a few persons without recourse to transparency and those found to have transparently obtained theirs should not be victimized.
Below again are the 30 Facts about the Fraudulent Sharing of Nigeria’s Oil Blocks and those involved.
(1)The process of sharing Nigeria’s oil block national cake is as fraudulent now as when Ibrahim Babangida started the process of discretionary allocation of oil blocks to indigenous firms. Discretionary allocation of oil blocks entails that a president can reward a mistress who performs wonderfully with an oil block with capacity for cumulative yield of over $20 billion dollars without recourse to any process outside of manhood attachments. Babangida, Abacha, Abdulsalami and Obasanjo awarded discretionary oil blocks to friends, associates, family members, party chieftains, security chiefs and all categories of bootlickers, spokespersons and cult members without any laid down procedures.
(2)The recipients of such oil blocks will get funds from ever willing offshore financiers and partners to graciously settle the benefactors, the awarders, facilitators and the Commander-in-Chief through fronts. These settlements mostly paid into foreign accounts runs into hundreds of millions of dollars according to the potential yield of the block. Sometimes, the awarder (sharer of national cake and direct intermediaries) demand additional stakes in the bidding company. The awarder sends fronts as part of the directorship and management of the bidding firms without leaving a link to them. That is how the oil block national cake is distributed to a few Nigerians.
(3) Signature bonuses which are paid when an investor successfully bids, wins and signs agreement with the petroleum ministry, running into tens of millions and sometimes hundreds of millions of naira ,is often waived off. There is actually no waiver; rather a diversion of what would have been paid to government coffers is paid into private purse as appreciation gifts. That is why those in the Petroleum Ministry dread retirement as though it signifies going to hell fire. No matter how little your influence, something substantial must enter your hands especially in hard currency. The nation loses billions of dollars in diverted revenue whenever any round of auction occurs.
Some of these oil field has the capacity of between 300,000 -500,000 barrels of oil daily.
(4) OML 110 OBE given by Sanni Abacha in 1996 to Alhaji Mai Daribe under Cavendish Petroleum had estimated over 500 million barrels of oil. In layman’s language and using average benchmark of $100 dollars per barrel, translates to $50 billion dollars’ worth of oil reserve. This means that $20billion dollars’ worth of oil in the hands of a family or $170 million dollars’ worth of oil daily.
(5) OPL 246 was awarded to SAPETRO, a company owned by General Theophilus Danjuma, by Sanni Abacha in 1998. Akpo condensate exports about 300,000 barrels of crude daily.
(6) OML 112 and OML 117 were awarded to AMNI International Petroleum Development Company owned by Colonel Sanni Bello in 1999. Sanni Bello is an in-law to Abdulsalami Abubakar, former Head of State of Nigeria.
(7) OML 115, OLDWOK Field and EBOK field was awarded to Alhaji Mohammed Indimi from Niger State. Indimi is an inlaw to former Military President Ibrahim Babangida.
(8) OML 215 is operated by Nor East Petroleum Limited owned by Alhaji Saleh Mohammed Gambo.
(9) OML 108 is operated by Express Petroleum Company Limited is owned by Alhaji Aminu Dantata. Obasanjo , with the help of Andy Uba, awarded OPL 2008 to Tenoil Petroleum & Oil Services owned by Tony Elumelu and Jim Ovia
(10) OPL 2009 and 2010 were awarded to Global Energy Group owned by Chief Suleiman Onabiyi and Joseph Obiago . That is why a lot of major players in the oil industry owes Obasanjo and Andy Uba a lot.
(11) OML II3 allocated to Yinka Folawiyo Pet Ltd is owned by Alhaji W.I. folawiyo. Asuopku/Umuntu ( Egbema marginal oil fields) was awarded to Platform Petroleum in 2003 by Obasanjo.
(12) In 2010 Platform Petroleum (owned by Edmund Daukoru,a Bayelsa prince and Lulu Briggs among others) and Seplat ( owned by Prince Nasiru Ado Bayero, cousin to the Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi) teamed up in landmark partnership to manage the venture.
(13) Intel owned by Atiku, Yar’adua and Ado Bayero has substantial stakes in Nigeria’s oil exploration industry both in Nigeria and Principe and Sao Tome. AMNI owns two oil blocks OML 112 and OML 117 which it runs Afren plc and Vitol has substantial stakes in oil blocks.
(14) OML 112 is estimated to have 130 million barrels of oil valued with the current price of $100 dollars per barrel at S13 billion dollars with 25 year lease.
(15) Afren plc is operating EBOK oil fields in OML 67. Vitol lifts 300,000 barrels of Nigerian oil daily. Rilwanu Lukman, former OPEC Chairman has stakes in all these named three companies.
(16) OPL 245 was awarded to Malabu Oil& Gas Company by Sanni Abacha. Dan Etete, Abacha’s oil minister owns Malabu Oil. In 2000, Vice President Atiku Abubakar convinced Obasanjo to revoke OPL 245 given to Malabu Oil. Etete had earlier rejected Atiku’s demand for substantial stakes in the high yield.
(17) OPL 245 and it attracted the venom of Ota Majesty who revoked the licence. However, in 2006, Obasanjo had mercy on Dan Etete and gave him back his oil block worth over $20billion dollars.
(18) OPL 289 and OPL 233 was awarded during Obasanjo era to Peter Odili fronts, Cleanwater Consortium, consisting of Clenwater Refinery and RivGas Petroleum and Gas Company. Odili’s brother in law, Okey Ezenwa manages the consortium as Vice Chairman.
(19) OPL 286 is managed by Focus Energy in partnership with BG Group, a British oil concern. Andy Uba has stakes in Focus Energy and his modus operandi is such that you can never see his name in any listings yet he controls OPL and OML through proxies.
(20) OPL 291 was awarded to Starcrest Energy Nigeria Limited, owned by Emeka Offor by Obasanjo . Immediately after the award, Starcrest sold the oil block to Addax Petroleum Development Company Limited (ADDAX) Addax paid Sir Emeka Offor a farming fee of $35million dollars and still paid the signature bonus to the government. Emeka Offor still retains stake in ADDAX operations in Nigeria. Mike Adenuga’s Conoil is the oldest indigenous oil exploration industry in Nigeria. Conoil has six oil blocks and exports above 200,000 barrels of crude daily.
(21) The oil block national cake sharing fiesta could take twists according to the mood of the Commander-in “Chief at the particular time. In 2006, Obasanjo revoked OPL 246 which Abacha gave to Danjuma because he refused to support the tenure elongation bid of the Ota Majesty.
(22) In 2000, Obasanjo had earlier revoked OPL 241 given to Dan Etete under the advice Atiku. However, when the Obasanjo-Atiku faceoff started, the Ota Majesty made a u-turn and handed back the oil block to Etete.
(23) During the time of Late President Yar’adua , a panel headed by Olusegun Ogunjana was set up to investigate the level of transparency in the award of oil blocks. The panel recommended that 25 oil blocks awarded by the Obasanjo be revoked because the manner they were obtained failed to meet the best practices in the industry. Sadiq Mahmood, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum endorsed the report to then president with all its recommendations. As a result of the report YarÃ¡dua revoked eleven oil blocks.
(24) In April 2011 Mike Adenuga attempted to buy Shell’s OML 30 for $1.2 billion dollars. The Minister for Petroleum and Nigeria’s most powerful woman refused the sale of the OML30 to Adenuga citing national interest. This block was sold to Heritage Oil for $800 million dollars eleven months later.
(25) This oil block business is so lucrative that Danjuma’s Sapetro divested of its investment in Akpo condensate for $1billion dollars.
(26) This business is second to none in Nigeria. That is why any attempt to investigate the activities in this sector will always be futile. The money is so much that they give bribes in millions of dollars. A birthday gift or child naming gift from an oil block owner to a government official could be as paltry as $2million dollars, and if the official’s father died, the condolence gift could reach mere $3 million dollars. When they want to bribe legislators, it is in millions of dollars and any ongoing investigation ends within weeks. They are so confident that with excess money they can buy up Nigeria and they are succeeding.
(27) In the name of competitive bidding, which Obasanjo introduced in 2005, officials bring companies overnight and through processes best described as secretive and voodooist, awards blocks to party faithful, fronts and phoney companies. They collect gratifications running into hundreds of millions of dollars which is paid into offshore account and the nation loses billions of dollars of revenue to private pockets.
(28) During the third term agenda, Obasanjo was deceived that the allocation of oil block to party faithfuls is to fund the third term agenda. With the failure of the third term, the beneficiaries went home with their fortunes and thanked God or Allah for buttering their bread. Senator Andy Uba coordinated the award of the last rounds of oil blocks by Obasanjo in 2005 and 2007. The then minister of petroleum, Edwin Daukoru was a mere errand boy who took instructions from the presidential aide.
(29) The regime of President Goodluck is not showing any signs of changing the status quo. Controversies have trailed the activities of the Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Madueke and many players in the Industry accuse her of demanding stakes from every oil deal. Diezani Madueke had also soiled herself in different oil deals and also awarded oil contracts to fictitious companies.
(30) It is hoped that President Goodluck Jonathan will remember his transformational promise to Nigerians and endeavor to face the hawks in the oil industry. The angst in the air is so much that if this monster of illegal allocation of oil block is not addressed, the much touted revolution could begin all of a sudden and all who condoned this illegality at the expense of hungry Nigerians may have nowhere to hide.
The religious leaders should tell these oil block beneficiaries, awarders, fronts, brokers and all involved in short changing the Nigerian people to find means or returning all these back to the Nigerian people, through massive development projects. They should curtail their constant visits to Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem for prayers and attend to the poverty they spread in the land. They should build affordable secondary schools, universities, specialist hospitals, roads, silos, etc for the Nigerian people. They should fund talent development programmes and sponsor activities capable of alleviating poverty. The voice of impoverished Nigerians is crying daily and if care is not taken the God who delivered Nigeria from Abacha dark days will visit them with calamities untold.
With the rot in this oil block awarding system and other loot all over the Nigerian nation, something worse than revolution may happen. (This article was first published in April 2012)
Obinna Akukwe is the Director General, Igbo Mandate Congress (IMC)
*Photo Caption - Map of Nigeria
[ Masterweb Reports: Odozi Nwodozi reports ] - From days immemorial, the office of the priest has been viewed with much respect, reverence, and to a reasonable extent, feared. They are seen as the link between the spirit realm which is often regarded as immortal and the material plane where the mortals exist. In Igbo and Judeo-Christian circles, priests are seen not just as the link between the two prevailing planes but as persons with dual personalities who simultaneously inhabit the planes, hence the Igbo adage which states “Okala mmadu okala mmuo”; half” human, half spirit.” They also have the exclusive preserve of accessing the “Holy of Holies” and even eat the gifts brought to the beings they represent, hence the appellation “Oli ife aja”
In the catholic church, priesthood is a highly respected office and those who occupy it are well prepared in many areas of human endeavour, with a training that spans over fourteen years, a catholic priest is thoroughly groom in the order of Melchezedek. Trained in chastity, envowed unto a life of poverty and separated from the rest of humanity in celibacy, engrafted in the spirit of God through revelations and prophecies; media through which God relates clearly with those who He call His’.
Priests are truly in all ramifications “fathers of the faith”. Although well versed in the polity of their immediate societies and the world at large, priest prefer to most times steer clear from active participation in politics except where they are enjoined to participate due prevailing socio-political circumstances as in the cases of Rev. Fr Jean-Betrand Arisitide of Haiti and Rev. Fr Moses Adasu of Benue State. We have also seen critics from the pulpit in the order of Elijah like His Eminence Anthony Cardinal Okogie of the Lagos Metropolitan Church and John Cardinal Onaiyekan of the Arch Diocese of Abuja. While the Pentecostal enclave have the flamboyant musician-turned preacher cum politician Rev. Chris Okotie and former Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) Pastor Tunde Bakare as their modest contribution to the pack.
In country faced with enormous challenges, and a populace that believes so much that their lives are controlled by supernatural forces who determines their fate through the deposition of their faith in them and the their ability to adhere unquestionably to the dictates of their intermediaries (Priests), religious gatherings are often filled with people who flock there for miracles, signs, wonders, divine blessings, declarations and prophecies.
So it was little wonder when a certain Fr. Ejike Camillus Mbaka sprang up in the sleepy town of Enugu in the dying days of the twentieth century , precisely on the foot-ball field of the Government Technical College (GTC) Enugu for what Enugu residents then dubbed “Adoration” a programme that held every Wednesday. According to adherents, the man was a bulldozer to the gates of hell, and a present day Apostle Paul in the manner he wrath miracles, as he has the power to cure any type of disease that was brought to him; some even claimed he had the ability to raise the dead. However if i may remember, a former neighbour of mine named Ambrose (surname withheld) went to Mbaka’s Adoration, but did not receive his healing as he died shortly after.
With the popularity of his Ministry growing, Mbaka assumed influence. His weekly programmes became a key factor in determining the cost of transportation in cities in the East as most transporters prefer plying that route on Wednesdays in order to partake of the blessings of the multitude gravitating towards Enugu to seek the face of God. With the influx of followers seeking for solutions to their diverse problems, the Ituku-born catholic clergy began to court the envy of his ecclesiastical peers and a pocket of his superiors. Calls were made for the stopping of the weekly activities as it was becoming a threat to the congregants of the Mother church within the Ecclesiastical Province and beyond, but for the liberality of the then Bishop of Enugu Diocese His Lordship Bishop Anthony Okonkwo Gbuji who insisted that the young charismatic priest should be allowed to go on especially in an era when the catholic church is losing members to the rampaging Pentecostal movement.
As the congregation grew so also the economic base of the ministry, as the ministry delved into commercial activities that were laced with pinning of spiritual persuasions; such items like AQUA RAPHA: “the healing water” and its sister product RAPHA YOUGHORT chased other competitors out of the market due to the hype of their healing abilities. The Adoration Ministries Enugu Nigeria (AMEN) musical label also flooded the society with songs which had Fr. Mbaka as the lead vocalist.
With these surge in his popularity Mbaka ventured into the murky waters of politics with the then Enugu state governor Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani as his main punching-bag. The pulpit at Christ the King Parish G.R.A Enugu and the GTC adoration ground became the launching pad of verbal attacks on the Chimaroke led government house, the peak of it all being the sermon titled “Wicked Generation” that was used by the governor’s opponents during the 2003 elections.
With a populace that was religiously charged, soaked in the opium of unquestioned loyalty to their spiritual lords and psychologically tuned to seeing the government of Enugu state as an evil regime, it was easy for the catholic father to mobilise a huge crowd for a Eucharistic march round Enugu symbolical to the Israelites march around Jericho calling on the heaven to ensure the fall of Dr. Nnamani in the elections of 2003. Fr. Camillus Ejike Mbakaeven tried playing God by saying that if Chimaroke wins the elections; he will pull off his cassock. Well... Chimaroke won the election, was sworn-in for the second time and capped it up with a four-year sojourn in Nigeria’s National Assembly as a Senator. Yet Mbaka has not thrown away his priestly cassock.
With an antecedents that has been laced with partisan postulations, it was little wonder to those on the know the prophetic summersaults of Fr. Mbaka when he busted out in tirade against the government and person of President Goodluck Jonathan during the New Year service of his Adoration Ministry. The “man of God” who had less than one month ago prayed and prophesied for the President while calling the opposition APC “Boko Haram” confused his followers, while confirming the position of his critics that he is a prophet in the class of Balam whose prophesies can be bought with inducements (Numbers 22, Numbers 31:7, 8, 16; Deuteronomy 23:4, 5; Joshua 24:9, 10; Nehemiah 13:2; Micah 6:5; 2 Peter 2:15, 16; Jude 11 and Revelation 2:14).Many are of the opinion that Mbaka went berserk because the Presidency was slow in fulfilling a promise made to him. Thinking that his out-pour will spur the government into action; while another version has it that the multi-talented preacher has been gratified by reactionary elements, for him to speak from both sides of his mouth. Whichever way the public views it that Rev. Fr Ejike Camillus Mbaka has derailed from his prophetic calling since 2003 when he crossed the thin line between politics and religion.
In a country which is politically charged ahead of the 2015 general elections, peopled by strange-bedded ethnic cleavages, and engrafted in the vagaries of religious unquestionability Mbaka over-stepped his bounds when he hid under the banner of ecclesiastical immunity to insult the President of the most populous black nation, and reversing himself on statements earlier made and prophecies earlier delivered. While his voice sounded frustrated, his choice of word at that infamous sermon were rather pitiable, he once again exposed himself as a man of God who has lost the GOD in him and is left with emptiness of the frailty in humanity.
For the bloodshed in the North-East of the country, Mbaka poured vituperations on a leader whose regime has not witnessed any political killing for the six years he has been on the saddle, nor accused of victimising anyone as a result of their political affiliation. A leader who has exhibited unparallel humility and pacifism in handling the issue of the Boko Haram insurgency; an alien phenomenon which all and sundry know was initially an internal political machine created by local politician for the purposes of electoral victory, but which presently has been cornered by reactionary political elements who are using same to destabilise the that part of the country and consequently showcase the leadership as a weak one.
Without doubt the Nigerian military, under President Jonathan has been professionally repositioned both in morale and provision of modern combatant equipments backed with adequate training. Haaba Mbaka! You should have known better. Rather than blaming the current administration for the deterioration of our military, he should check the books to find out when last the time the military bought equipments, and those who were on the saddle when these decay started. Mbaka should exist beyond the pedestrianism he exhibited on the 1st of January 2015.
On corruption the entrepreneurial priest accused the President of running the most corrupt government in the history of Nigeria. What he failed to tell his congregation was that the current administration has changed the medication for the societal plague called corruption from curative to preventive. Today, free money is not in circulation among corrupt persons because systemic machineries have been put in place for the prevention of embezzlement and over inflation of government expenditures. For those who are caught in the web of corruption, the laws of the land have specifications for the procedures with which they will be tried and possibly jailed. Though it is a good system, it is slow in bringing the culprits to book, however the President should not be blamed, as he is not the one who made the laws. Nigerians are on the know that without much media hype or make-believe corruption trials, this President has dealt severely with those under him who has soiled their hands in the common wealth of our great nation.
To many Mbaka sang his Swan song with his tirade at the dawn of January 2015, while for others he has lost his taste in calling. As In the words admonition handed down to us, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ stated “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” Matt 5:13. For sure, the salt in Mbaka has lost its taste.
Odozi Nwodozi ( Email: email@example.com ) reports.
*Photo Caption - Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka
[ Masterweb Reports: Uchendu Precious Onuoha, Masterweb Special Correspondent reports ] - Nigeria is at war, and there is blood flowing in the land unknown to many, because the societal watch dogs are not blowing the alarm as supposed. Some have a false notion that it involves only a segment of the country, a dangerous and myopic impression. The Government's approach has been in-active, a mockery to its pledge and responsibility to protect the lives, welfare and security of her citizens. My colleagues in pen (the press) has not fared better either, as they have resorted to a journalism of convenience and have refrained from giving adequate coverage and meaningful on the scene report of the war. But I quiet understand their plights. He who plays the piper dictates the tune. How will they go except they are sent? As they are under the apron strings of their publishers and owners. And are afraid to report stories that would cost them their jobs even lives.
A colleague in Nigeria told me in response to my question, why is there no accurate report in the Nigerian media about the Nigeria-Boko Haram war? For any journalist to do that, he must have written his will because the forces that is, will not let you do that he said. Journalism profession stands on a threshold in Nigeria. But for me, knowing that death must come at best postponed, I have no property to will and write, my most precious property is my pen and paper which is for my daughter if I am killed or die in the cause of my job. Rather than writing a will, I have already bought my ticket to a destination unknown because I don’t know where I am going to after death. If it is heaven so be it, then I will fly in first class to take the front seat as to cover the event of the judgment day. Because for me to live is to write and to die is gain.
According to Lanre Idowu , Editor in chief of the Media review, talking about the Nigerian press reporting on the Boko Haram insurgents said, “No medium invests enough resources to report stories beyond the relative comforts of urban centers”. The media is indispensable in spreading information in a war situation; therefore the Nigerian press should arise to this challenge.
The Nigerian military like the Government seem to have something to hide as they have not shown enough seriousness to their avowed responsibility to protect the lives of all Nigerians and defend their territorial integrity from internal and external threats. Few Nigerians in low and high places have spoken out and expressed their reservations on the way the Government is going about this war and are not happy the manner our military that is acclaimed to be the best in Africa is losing grounds to the Boko Haram insurgents on daily basis.
General Gowon, the former military head of state in his message to the soldiers during the armed forces remembrance day said, “the government recently acquired a loan of $1 billion for fighting the insurgency, make demand for equipment from it… I have not lost confidence in our armed forces. I want you to restore your honor by reversing some of these lapses into success, losses into victories; negative opinions into positive opinions. I charge you to go all out to flush those insurgents out of our territories, all the way back to where they came from”.
To the rest of the world, irrespective of race, color country or continent, the war against terrorism is a war for all and goes beyond religious affiliations. It is a war against humanity; it’s a war against a peaceful existence of our world. If Europe, America and the rest of the world should react to the Boko Haram massacre of people in Nigeria on daily bases like they reacted to the terrorists killing of twelve people in France recently, Boko Haram would be put to rest. According to John Dunn, “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee”. Nigeria, Africa, America, Europe and humanity the death of thousands of Nigerians that have been killed together with the Chibok girls that have been forgotten, tolls for you.
The war against Boko Haram is not just for the North, if truly we are one Nigeria, what affects the North affects the south, west and east. The children, women, youths and elderly ones that are been killed in thousands in the Northern region are our brothers and sisters and fellow Nigerians if truly we claim to be one nation. I believe that Nigeria has all it takes to deal with the Boko Haram insurgents if they really want to. If they could react to the Boko Haram challenge the way they reacted to Ebola, the insurgents would be flushed out. Nobody played politics with Ebola because it was a matter of life and death, and has no respect for the leaders and their followers, rich and poor it had no boundary. All government arms, functionaries became very active and functional because nobody wanted to die.
If the Chibok girls, who today have been forgotten and left to their own perils were the daughters of the President, Senators, inspector general of police, Chief of army staff, Governors and Ministers, among others, Nigerian government would have found immediate solution overnight and win the victory over Boko Haram. Nigeria is at war, until all and sundry show true commitment towards that, soon or later, the Boko Haram fire will engulf the whole nation, Africa and the world at large.
*Photo Caption - Map of Nigeria
[ Masterweb Reports: Intersociety reports ] - (Democracy & Civil Liberties, Onitsha Nigeria, January 24, 2015)-The attention of the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law has again been drawn to the latest public statement made by the Chairman of INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega, blaming Nigerian registered voters for not coming out en masse to collect their PVCs and absolving his Commission of any blame associated with their poor distribution and collection. The INEC Chairman was responding to our recent letter to the Federal Executive Council of Nigeria, dated January 21, 2015 over the issue as well as a comment on the issue made by the National Security Adviser, Mr. Sambo Dasuki in UK, while responding to a question put across to him by a journalist, Mr. Theodore Damian over the issue of disenfranchisement of over 30 million registered voters based on non distribution of PVCs.
Mr. Sambo Dasuki had expressed same concerns and disappointment expressed by millions of other Nigerians particularly the registered voters numbering 30, 059, 085 including the Sultan of Sokoko, who, till date, have not received or been issued with their legitimate PVCs. He concluded that if it could take INEC one whole year to distribute only 38, 774, 391 PVCs, what is the possibility of the Commission receiving and distributing the remaining 30, 059, 085 PVCs less than three weeks to the all important February 2015 polls including 14, 491, 866 not yet produced and delivered to the Commission by its contractors/suppliers. On our part, while we did not call for the shifting of the dates of the polls, we insisted that all the registered voters must receive their PVCs. We proffered solutions as in how the problem of the massive disenfranchisement could be remedied including taking the PVCs to the homes of the registered voters or allowing the registered voters to vote with either their PVCs or TVCs (temporary voters’ cards).
However, despite these genuine, legitimate and justiciable national outcries, the Chairman of INEC is unperturbed and determined to disenfranchise millions of Nigerian voters particularly registered voters numbering 30, 059, 085. Reasons for his insistence are not farfetched. Our forensic evaluation of the Commission’s distribution of PVCs across the country clearly shows that the Commission, headed by Prof Attahiru Jega seems to have successfully put electoral demographic statistics hugely in favour of the North, which will allow it clinch the presidency of the country come February 14, 2015. This blatant electoral demographic scheming is the third out of three-stage designed strategy for the North to emerge in the country’s presidency. The first was botched creation of 30, 000 polling units with grossly lopsided geopolitical distribution and the second was the issue of strange preferential voting treatment for the Northeast IDPs said to be 918, 416, who are mostly of Muslim population. The mother of all these was systematic and careful extermination of Christian populations and settlements in the North by Boko Haram oiled insurgency to make the voting an all Muslim affair in the core North.
In the entire North, 24, 481, 487 citizens have received their PVCs and empowered to vote, whereas in the entire South, only 16, 151, 298 are empowered to vote having been issued with their PVCs. Owing to insecurity and other unsafe conditions created in the North, over four million Southerners mostly of Igbo tribe have fled the North and more three million will flee or leave the area between now and first week of February.
Out of these numbers, up to five million of them will not vote in the said crucial polls owing to absence of their PVCs. There are also those that were recently captured in various continuous voters’ registration exercises across the country particularly in the South, who have received only Temporary Voters’ Cards. Many others have not even received PVCs or TVCs till date. These, INEC said will not vote because they do not possess PVCs.
Our questions to Prof Attahiru Jega and his INEC are: If Nigerian registered voters are to be blamed for not coming out to collect their PVCs, numbering 15, 567, 219, which forms the number of undistributed PVCs; are they also to be blamed for 14, 491, 866 that are yet to be produced and delivered to the Commission till date? Are Nigerian registered voters responsible for 14, 491, 866 PVCs names that have not been captured till date only twenty days to the presidential poll? Is it also the Nigerian registered voters that should be blamed for those voters registered recently who have not been captured either in PVCs or TVCs? Are Nigerian registered voters also responsible for hundreds of thousands of missing registered voters from the INEC’s National Register of Voters such as in Ogbaru LGA of Anambra State where 9, 000 registered names are missing from the INEC’s manual and digital data?
It is our firm conclusion that the Jega’s INEC has already rigged the presidential poll demographically speaking in favour of the North. It is still shocking and magical as how the Commission effected high percentage distribution of PVCs in the troubled geopolitical zone of the Northeast to the extent that the State of Bauchi has so far received 1, 509, 255, out of the so called registered voters of 2, 502, 609. The statistical implication of this is that the PVCs recipients in Bauchi State alone equal the total PVCs recipients in Anambra and Imo States put together. While a total of 1, 544, 793 PVCs have so far been distributed in the two States (Anambra 862, 747, Imo 682, 046), total of 1, 509, 255 PVCs have so far been distributed in Bauchi State alone. While five States in the troubled region of Northeast have received 4, 886, 499 PVCs as of date, only 3, 944, 242 have received theirs in the entire five States of the Southeast.
Our further and final questions to Jega’s INEC are: what magic is behind such high percentage PVCs distribution in the troubled Northeast? Are they hoarded in the warehouses of some, if not many district heads/Emirs for onward transfer to Almajiris, infants and livestock on poll day? Were their owners located in the Cameroonian mountains, Adamawa hills, Sambisa forests, bushes and purdahs and issued or were they ferried from these hideouts to the collection centers via helicopters, horses and camels? In view of the magical distribution of PVCs in the troubled Northeast with high percentage, why thickened desperation to get the Northeast IDPs to vote at all costs, while disenfranchising millions of other registered voters in the South?
Emeka Umeagbalasi, B.Sc. (Hons.), Criminology & Security Studies
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
*Photo Caption - Prof Attahiru Jega, INEC Chairman
[ Masterweb Reports: Obinna Akukwe reports ] - The Enugu International Airport also known as Akanu Ibiam Airport is another 419 on the Biafran Igbo citizens of Nigeria because there is yet nothing international about the airport. It is instructive to note that late President Umaru Yaradua was the one who in 2008 approved the upgrading of the airport to International status in line with his administration’s policy that each geopolitical zone will have at least one international airport.
In 2009, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) under Yaradua approved the sum of N4.13 billion for work on the airport which would include extension, asphalting and marking of the runway. The old runway which is 2,400 meters long was to be extended by 600 metres to make it 3000 meters or three kilometers and the width extended from the existing 45 meters to 60 meter. In December 2009, the airport was closed temporarily for work to commence and those wishing to take the route were diverted to Sam Mbakwe Airport Owerri. This work spanned the period when Mr. Babatunde Omotoba was minister till when Fidelia Njeze took over. Therefore, the process of upgrading the Enugu International Airport was kick started by late Yaradua and N4.13 billion naira was approved by the FEC and released for the work to commence.
The Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Jonathan on October 19, 2010 reaffirmed the upgrade of Enugu Airport to an international facility and awarded a reviewed contract of about N6.1billion.With the reaffirmation of the international status of the airport, Igbo leaders started the process of unbridled sycophancy by praising the current regime to high heavens over an international airport that still does not exist.
Chief among the praise singers was the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremmaduwho said that ““For many decades, the people of the South East, the local and international business community have waited seemingly endlessly for the commencement of international flight operations at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, and the people of South East will remain ever grateful to President Jonathan for the breakthrough.”
When Stella Oduah moved from 'Neighbor to' Neighbor Campaign Organization' where she muscled out and overshadowed the Chief Tony Anenih owned 'Door to Door Campaign Organization', she was rewarded with Minister of Aviation for a job well done and she commenced upgrade of facilities in all the 22 airports in Nigeria. In the first phase eleven (11)airports including General Aviation Terminal (MMA) International Terminal (MMA), Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, (International Terminal ), Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, (Domestic Terminal), Kaduna Airport Terminal,Margaret Ekpo International Airport Terminal, Calabar, Benin Airport Terminals, Akanu Ibiam International Airport Terminal, Enugu,Sam Mbakwe Airport Terminal, Owerri, Port Harcourt International Airport Terminal, Yola Airport Terminal and Yakubu Gowon Airport, Jos were scheduled for upgrading.
Therefore it is absolutely silly for Igbo leaders to grovel before Jonathan for upgrading Enugu Airport as if it is the only one in Nigeria being overhauled. Completely silly and self-effacing!! For goodness sake the Igbos gave this man 90% votes and even zones that gave him 5% votes also got their airports renovated at amounts far higher than was spent at Enugu Airport. Julius Berger was awarded the N9.5bn contract for the Nnamdi Airport upgrade work, while Messrs Crew Construction Company in a joint venture with Itlay's Messrs Cremona Construction and Romania's Messrs Coffer Impex were to upgrade Aminu Kano at a cost of N12.8bn while Enugu got N6 billon and yet the Emir Ado Bayero of Kano did not leadthank you' praise singing troupe to Aso Rock.
The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), George Uriesi, even affirmed that the Federal Government had invested $870 million (N139,200,000,000) in airport infrastructure, which includes the remodeling of the terminals and other safety critical equipment. If the Federal Government invested N139 billion naira to upgrade 11 airports around Nigeria and Enugu Airport gotonly N6 bilion of it, then why the celebration.Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Jos, Yola, Kano, Calabar and Kaduna airports had more budgetary allocations than Enugu Airports yet Afenifere, Arewa Consultative Forum, Middle Belt Forum, South South Peoples Assembly have not kowtowed before any Jonathan. The Governors of the South West, South South, North East, North West or North Central have never led any delegation to over praise Jonathan for upgrading their airports.
President Jonathan had said that a new international terminal for the Enugu Airport will cost N13 billion naira. The question is, has any funds been committed to build the international terminal. Is there any budgetary allocation for the terminal for the year 2015?Therefore the Enugu Airport project is a 419.
What is the state of landing and safety equipment at the airport?This airport is a big risks to international airlines especially those from Europe, America, Asia, Middle East because it is international in propaganda and not in facilities. Egypt Air and South African Airways have rejected overtures to use the airport. The only airlines that had the magnanimity to use the Airport are Ethiopian Airline which operates three flights weekly to Addis Ababa and aids in connecting flights to some destinations. I thank the Ethiopian Airlines for having mercy on the marginalized citizens of Biafra.
The Turkish Airlines signed agreement in principle as announced by Vice President Sambo a year ago but fled back to Greece after inspecting the equipments on the ground. If that airport is truly international airlines like Virgin Atlantic Airways, Lufthansa Airlines, British Airways, KLM, British Caledonian Airlines, Oatar Airways, Emirates Airlines will ply the route, but for now all overtures from certain quarters to lure these carriers to Enugu have failed woefully due to what they termed poor quality infrastructure. As at January, 2015, no airline from Europe, America, Asia and Middle East have landed or taken off from Enugu International Airport
The airport lacks many safety landing facilities including the Doppler Weather Radar used for real time detection and tracking of hazardous weather systems such as thunderstorms, wind shear, turbulence, dust storms. This equipment was recently installed in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Maiduguri, Yola and none installed in Enugu.
What of the Low Level Wind Shear Alert Systems (LLWAS) and Synergy Satellite Image Receivers among others critical landing, navigational and radar enhancement equipments of international standards. They are missing at the airport and no foreign airline will risk a crash. The international terminal is not there yet.
The runway and aircraft hangers are always flooded whenever there is rainfall and many times passengers have to their shoes, fold their trousers to walk up the tarmac for boarding. This Enugu International Airport is another 419 on the Igbo nation and the foreigner airlineshave dismissed the international status of theairport as a scam.When the emperors decide to actually give us an l airport the volume of activities, flights and passenger traffic prove it- whatwe have is another International airport 419 onthe Igbo nation and some fools are still celebrating.
Obinna Akukwe ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ) reports.
*Photo Caption - Section of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria.
[ Masterweb Reports ] - My Good People of Abia State; It is with utmost joy, honour, sense of fulfillment and an inestimable gratitude to the Almighty God, that I welcome all Abians at home and in Diaspora into this year of our Lord 2015.
I therefore most affectionately wish everyone a very happy and prosperous New Year.
Fellow Abians, by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, which guarantees only two terms of eight years for State Governors, this is therefore my last New Year broadcast to you as Executive Governor of Abia State. It is, thus, imperative to reflect on where we are coming from, where we are today and the expectations for tomorrow.
On assumption of office in 2007, we met a state of insecurity where armed robbery, kidnapping and other illicit acts held sway. We met a state lacking in basic foundational infrastructure. We met demoralized and unempowered youths. We met a political class and elites in Aba State polarized into Abuja group, Umuahia group, Lagos group, etc. We met a culture of impunity where idolatry and oath-taking at shrines were the order of the day.
Today, we have not only achieved unity and peace among our hitherto polarized political class and elites but we have also restored security and placed our state as one of the safest states in Nigeria. Abians have also been liberated from bondage and returned to God and to God Almighty, we give all the glory. Our Government is building an ultra-modern permanent Government House and Governor’s Lodge to end the era of a Government House being in a makeshift or rented apartment in the state.
This Administration has also built an International Labour Organization (ILO) complaint Workers’ Secretariat and Abia workers have long relocated from their scattered rented offices to the new workers’ secretariat complex. We have built modern office complexes for the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA), Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA), Abia State Universal Basic Education Board (ASUBEB), the Abia State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ASOPADEC) and the Joint Accounts Allocation Committee (JAAC) building, which are all of international standard. This Government is bequeathing to Abians, a world class International Conference Centre with over 7,000 sitting capacity. My vision for this conference centre which has 12 robot cameras, 16 languages interpretations consoles, 12 hours power inverter and life satellite
transmission system is to launch our dear state into global tourism.
An International SPAR shopping mall and cinema with basement are also being constructed at the old Garki site in Umuahia and we have already built network of roads to ease envisaged human and vehicular traffic when these world class projects are commissioned.
This administration has also completed a digital electronic library, compartmentalized to accommodate both children and adults. This will greatly encourage the reading culture of our people. In the health sector, we have put in place functional diagnostic centres at Aba and Umuahia. We have also built and equipped dialysis and
ophthalmology (eye) centres for the good health of our people. The chest clinic has also been commissioned. We have built and equipped over 700 heath centres all over our communities. Work has also reached advanced stages in the 100-bed hospitals we are building in Obingwa, Okeikpe in Ukwa West, Osisioma Ngwa, Ugwunagbo, Abia State University Teaching Hospital in Aba, Amachara Hospital, Arochukwu, Ikwuano and in other parts of the state. We have continued to invite foreign medical
missions, at the expense of government, to give free medical services to our people, particularly in special areas.
Amachara Hospital has been upgraded and is now Abia State Specialist Hospital Amachara to specially take care of women and children. We had to build another international market with over 7,000 shops at Ubani Ibeku and relocated traders at the very old Umuahia Market. The space is now being developed as an event centre. We also had to build 5,000 shops Industrial Market at Ahiaeke and relocated the Timber Market in Umuahia. We are equally building Aba mega mall of international
standard in Osisioma Ngwa Local Government Area. The Geometric Power Plant in Osisioma near Aba will soon be commissioned and this will guarantee uninterrupted power supply to Aba, its environs and will further activate small scale industries in the area.
We have also built many housing estates for our people including the Luxury Apartments on Finbarrs Road, Umuahia, the Isieke, Amaokwe, Amuba, Ohobo and Ubani Ibeku Housing Estates. Our exploits in the housing sector are legendary.
Government is also working towards realizing the 300 hectares of land Abia International Industrial City located at Osisioma. This city will help to decongest the commercial city of Aba and also provide industrial clusters with modern machines for manufacturers in the area.
This Government established Liberation Farms to place Abia tops as a food basket state. We distributed One Billion Naira Agricultural Loan and provided agricultural inputs to our farmers to boost agriculture. We entered into agreement with a foreign firm to manage the oil palm plantation in Ukwa. It is now Shanid-Abia Oil Palm Ltd which immediately employed 1,500 Abia people as workers. The plantation is
now being turned around.
We have built modern court halls in Aba and Umuahia. We have also refurbished others. We have continued to provide free education and free school bus services at primary and secondary school levels in the state.
This administration has returned some schools to voluntary agencies to enhance discipline and morality in our children and improve the standard of our education. Let me state that the exercise will continue and shall include some primary schools.
We have taken steps to revive the moribund Golden Guinea Breweries Ltd, Umuahia. This brewery is almost ready to commence production and I shall commission it before leaving office as another parting gift to my people which will also create employment.
Our Youth Empowerment Scheme has become a reference point as we have
distributed over 2,000 cars to our youths free of charge. We also placed 4,500 youths who are not working on monthly salary. All these have helped to reduce crime and unemployment.
This Administration established free skills acquisition centres all over the state. The students who are paid monthly salaries are also given the necessary support to start their own businesses on graduation.
My Administration has also commenced action to realize Abia State Airport. The aerial survey has been completed and discussions with land owners, traditional rulers and the youths are ongoing to fast-track the project.
We have done many roads all over the State including Aba.
As a profound appreciation of my contributions to history and foundational legacy projects to the state, several groups and organizations honoured me with numerous awards. Some of them include:
· Best Governor on Security Matters by African Security Watch in far away Ghana;
· Best Governor in Agriculture by all Farmers Association of Nigeria;
· Icon of Democracy Award by Champion Newspapers;
· Man of the year 2012 by Daily Independent Newspapers;
· Best Governor on Health by Federal Ministry of Health;
· Housing Governor of the Year 2014 by Nigerian Housing group in Abuja, June 2014;
· Best Governor in Sports in the South East zone by Sports Writers Association of Nigeria;
· Governor of the Year 2014 by Nigerian Pilot Newspapers;
· 2014 Governor of the Year by Champion Newspapers;
· Won the Federation Cup under my watch through Enyimba three times.
Fellow Abians, these awards and honours, I rededicate to God and to you, my good people of Abia State. Without you and the Almighty God, I would not have had the privilege of positively impacting on my generation.
Though we have less than five months to the end of this administration, I pledge to continue to give my best in the New Year and equally work to fully realize on-going projects as our resources may dictate.
I am convinced that this administration has laid the foundation to realize an economically virile, strong, affluent and glorious Abia State of our dream. In this success story, I did not act alone. I did it with my party; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). I have always believed in equity and together with our party – the PDP, the governorship position was zoned to Abia South Senatorial Zone. The PDP
primaries have also produced a well groomed Ukwa Ngwa man of Abia South
extraction with impeccable character. That man is Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu. I call on you to support him to sustain our creative and enterprising Abia spirit and the desired path of irreversible development.
Indeed, I see a greater and more prosperous Abia State, made strong by their toil, triumphant in their travails, ever united as a people and determined never to go back to the dark days of impunity and idolatrous worship.
May the blessings and light of God the Father shine on all of us this 2015 and always.
Once again, I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.
*Photo Caption - Governor T. A. Orji
[ Masterweb Reports: Valentine Obienyem reports ] - The concept of granting dignities and honouring people who have distinguished themselves in their chosen fields has always been part of man in all epochs and cultures. Its inception might remain unknown to anyone. It probably belongs to the mysteries of origin about which all might guess and propound theories, but none might ever know conclusively.
In the years gone by, there were a lot of values that were applauded in Igbo land and beyond. Then, excellence was the norm; Igbos cherished and applauded it. Titles and dignities were conferred on, and granted to people based on merit and nothing else. As far back as a pry into Igbo history can reveal, it was not in vain that Igbos conferred names and titles such as Diji, Diochi, Dike, Dimgba, di this or di that on people. The bearers of such titles were experts in cultivation of yam, palm wine-tapping, wrestling, or would have performed some heroic acts in other endeavours. These people achieved excellence in their fields and were consequently honoured.
Today, title-taking, granting of honours and awards have been bastardized. Among many cultures today, it has been reduced to commodity that can be bought by the rich. Look around you and all you see is Ukwachinaka, Onwa this, Onwa that; Kpakpando this, Kpakpando that; Akuirighiri this and that. Other tribes have their own variants. These titles, like the Onuku in the masquerade genre, as masterfully interpreted by Dr. Okey Ikechukwu, actually represent degeneration as Ijeles are in short supply. Most often this new crop of title holders are men without noble pedigree. In the past, Igbos preferred a man without money; today they amazingly show preference for the money without the man. This ignoble passion mocks the wisdom in what obtained long in the history of man: many years before the birth of Christ, two suitors who wanted to marry the daughter of Peisistratus were presented to him to choose his preference; he said he would choose the " the man without money", rather than " money without the man." Today, many people will choose one Akuirighiri and Ukwachinaka for awards because of the lures of some wads.
The bastadisation of awards informed the refusal of same by Mr. Peter Obi when he was the Governor of Anambra State. He was frank about that: “I refused awards as the Governor because of my belief that the appropriate time for awards is when one has completed one’s tenure(s) and is thereafter adjudged as deserving of such awards and honours.”
Since March 17th, 2014, the awards have been coming in torrents and from organizations that do not play to the gallery. All of them are full of kind words for him for approaching governance from the point of view of service to the people and the community. If not being honoured for his unassailable efforts towards the renaissance of library culture by the Association of Librarians of Nigeria, or honoured by the Society for Corporate Governance for his innovation in governance, the association of all the Bishops in Nigeria would be honouring him for his giant strides in the rehabilitation of education in Anambra State as nobody has done in recent time. Today, Anambra State comes first in WAEC and NECO, as well as other external examinations. We owe this epochal achievements to Mr. Peter Obi
It is only those who lived in Anambra during the period of chaos who will understand and appreciate the various reasons everybody is desirous of honouring Mr. Peter Obi. In those days, Anambra carried on as if she was controlled by Bedlam. The Catholic Bishop of Nnewi, Most Rev. Dr. Hilary Okeke, who is in a position to judge those days has this to say: “Indeed, before Mr. Peter Obi became the Governor, Anambra State looked like a state abandoned by God. Many people in Anambra State really believed that Anambra State was abandoned. Political turmoil and turbulence generated by godfatherism halted development in the State. The little money that would come to Anambra State was used to settle the godfathers. An attempt to shake off the tentacles of the godfathers resulted in wanton and reckless destruction of government houses and property. Schools at all levels suffered abysmal neglect; public hospitals suffered the same neglect; life was listless as people in Anambra State were bereft of sense of direction and responsibility. One could liken the state of affairs in Anambra State to the situation in Israel at the time of the Judges, "In those days there was no king in Israel, and everyone did as he saw fit" (Judges 21:25). Lawlessness was the order of the day; gross indiscipline, general insecurity and lack of respect for human dignity and life, lack of development in most public sectors and loss of confidence in government.”
Indeed Obi became Governor when Anambra was faced by all manner of problems. His coming into power was equally turbulent. However, in his characteristic doggedness, each challenge he conquered brought out his essence to the people. He was the first person to unseat a sitting Governor through the courts; he was the first to come back from impeachment and to go for tenure interpretation.
Obi's sterling governance in Anambra State has made him not only the darling of the State, but a darling among Nigerians. In appreciating Obi, Bishop Okeke again has this to say: “We commend Mr. Peter Obi for his perceived determination to serve the people of Anambra State through his development strategy of Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS); for his courageous return to their legitimate Church proprietors (Anglican and Catholic) of schools forcibly seized by the Government of East Central State under Chief Ukpabi Asika, that destroyed education in our area; his determination to revamp education and health care by partnering with the Churches to reconstruct dilapidated schools, providing buses, computers, generators, laboratory equipment, funds for sports and other needs of the schools system to both public schools and mission schools; his investment in healthcare delivery by uplifting hospitals, maternities and health centres, and schools of nursing, midwifery and medical laboratory to provide suitable personnel in our health institutions. Anambra State enjoys one of the best networks of roads. Retired persons, the poor and marginalized of Anambra State are receiving government attention. Every aspect of life in Anambra State has benefited from the administration of Mr. Peter Obi, CON! Indeed, Anambra State under his administration is no longer an abandoned State!”
Because of what Obi is to humanity, his salient contributions to the Church, innovation in governance and his community at large, his Bishop, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor recommended that he be honoured with the Papal knighthood. Collaborating the reports through independent enquiry by the Holy See, the Supreme Pontiff, His Holiness, Pope Francis, through his Cardinal Secretary of State, signed a Bull by which the former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi became a Papal knight of the Order of St Sylvester on the 31st of July, 2013. This made him one of the few to be so recognized by the Pope and one of the first sets to be so recognised by Pope Francis.
We note that in Nigeria, we have Papal knights, but Obi was the first person to merit it through using the instrument of governance to serve God and humanity.
Papal Orders are not easy to come by, and it is not for sale. The holder of the highest among the five Papal Equestrian Orders, granted by the Pope as a temporal sovereign, known as the Supreme Order of Chris, died in 1993. Only one living person is holding the second one, Order of the Golden Spur. The third one, Order of Pius IX may be presented to even non-Christians. We also have the Order of Gregory the Great and Order of St Sylvester Pope and Martyr. There are other orders with religious connotation granted by the Pope such as the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and Order of Malta.
The Pontifical Equestrian Order of Sylvester Pope and Martyr granted to Mr. Peter Obi is awarded by the Pope directly, usually on the recommendation of the local ordinary, in this case, His Lordship, Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor. A person can also be nominated by the representative of the Pope, the papal Nuncio. The Pope’s Secretary of State can also recommend one for the award.
As the Governor, almost all group of Knighthood in the Church wanted Obi to join them, but he declined. The Papal award thus came to him by surprise, because he was completely unaware of that until his Bishop, Most Rev. Dr. Paulinus Ezeokafor, a prelate who possesses spiritual comeliness, delivered the Papal Bull to him. Each time I visited Bishop Ezeokafor’s residence, the modesty derives me to the conclusion that here is a man of God in fact and in name, just simply after the souls he will win for God as the major part of his apostolic triumph.
Those who knew about the award naturally urged Mr. Obi to roll out drums immediately, but he refused, saying that he preferred the investiture after he would have left office.
But why Obi should he be nominated for the Award among millions of Catholics in Awka Diocese? It is not because he was once a Governor. It is not because he is rich. It is not because his younger brother is a priest, while his elder Sister is a Rev Sister. Anybody who has been following the trajectory of Obi’s life even before he became a Governor will know the reasons he was considered fit for that rare honour. Yes, his stewardship as the governor was the major contributory factor, especially his partnership with the Church that benefited the people of the State in the area of education, health, among others, but there are much more to that.
Obi is one person who believes and lives out the biblical instruction that in charity-giving, one’s right hand should not know what the left is giving. Obi has continued to be part of building of Churches in many communities. Those who attended the dedication of St. Patrick’s Cathedral saw how the Bishop, in spite of Obi’s resistance announced that he was the highest donor towards the building of that Church, the Bishop made it clear that those contributions were even before he became the Governor.
I recall that when the earth shrugged her shoulders (Earthquake) in Haiti and submerged the Cathedral, he visited and offered them enormous financial support. He once told me that charity and philanthropy has the greatest reward when it is inconspicuous. Many politicians publicise their scholarship awards to indigent students, but hardly would one know that Peter Obi has been on that for donkey years.
In governance, he did not disappoint. He carried the Church as well as any organization desirous of the good of the people of the State.
Besides changing the psyche of the people of the state and the reconditioning it to once again think and act for the interest of the State, I consider his return of schools to their original owners as his most important achievement. Some may want to locate this at the number of infrastructure he built, but the fact remains that education, as he always said, is the most important legacy one can possible bequeath posterity. This assertion is not originally his, but has been universally ascertained. Thus, many years ago, when Aristotle was asked to differentiate between the educated and the uneducated, he said it was as the difference between the living and the death. Asked the same question, Aristophanes said it was as the difference between broken and unbroken horses. This informed Zeno’s reference of an uneducated man sitting on a stone as a stone seated on another stone.
For those circumscribing the award to what he did as the Governor, we note here that it transcends it. Obi’s opportunity came early in life even as an undergraduate. Between the time he left the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and the time he became a governor, he had attended some of the world most renowned management schools.
In his business, he put what he learnt into practice and rose so rapidly to become the youngest Chairman of a 25Billion Naira Bank. He has never mismanaged public property or funds entrusted to him; rather he has been consumed in the creation of wealth. He was not just on the board of companies that were successful, but was active chapter in the success stories.
If you study successful economies of the world you will see behind them both long and short-term planning. You will hear of projections to the year 2020 and all that. A wise man prepares for winter in summer’s time of plenty, but it is foolishness to encourage Epicurean indulgence, the lower animal’s philosophy of: "Let us eat today for tomorrow we shall die." This was the reason Obi, even when others crippled their states and sold the investments of the State for peanuts to their cronies, left over N75 Billion Naira for his successor in cash and investments.
Obi was neck-deep in the business world and has seen the world, but yet no story of gallantry or dealing dishonourably with anybody is told about him.
No doubt, Nigeria’s politics is that of intrigues, mud-slinging, divide and rule (divida et impera), parochialism, prebendalism, impeachment-scheming, and so on. Such politics has led to our retrogression. Obi has chosen to play it differently and those too backward to understand him call it timidity. Today, as anytime in the future, any political history of Nigeria will be incomplete without Obi as it will be without the Ziks, the Awolowos, the Ahmadu Bellos and the Ojukwus.
Today, Obi is a reference point on playing decent politics, belief in the rule of law and adherence to principles. These are edifying credentials of a true reformist. I expect Obi to suffer because as Machiavelli said, it is difficult to introduce a new order because the person doing so (Obi) will have opposition from those that benefited from the old order and lukewarm defenders in those that are not sure of its success.
In spite of paid critics and lukewarm defenders, Obi matched on and rescued Anambra State. The man is not a saint, but certainly with high moral standards. In the world of wealth, he may be among the first 100 Nigerians and yet he is unobtrusive about it. Obi has a happy family and can be called the man without cant.
When I recommend him as a role model to the youth, it is always after weighing the totality of his life. He is married to Her Excellency, Mrs Margaret Peter-Obi, a woman every inch as noble as nobility dares be. Endowed with physical beauty, her manners and morals are so magnetic that one feels drawn to her in spite of oneself. She shows everybody around her a mother’s surpassing love and care.
There two charming children, Amaka and Eloka will annoy other children of the rich by their simplicity, no airs attached.
If we can tremble before the work of nature, why should we not tremble before a man that exemplifies virtue as far as Nigerian politics is concerned? Though some of his brothers out of envy resent him, the awards he has been receiving from across the length and breadth of the world is a clear statement that he represents the best among men. The Knighthood coming from the summit of Christendom is yet another statement that Obi has become a star among which the scintillating brilliance of other stars pale into insignificance.
Obienyem reports from Abuja.
[ Masterweb Reports: Uchendu Precious Onuoha, Masterweb Special Correspondent reports ] - “Fading away like the stars of the morning, loosing their light in the glorious sun-thus would we pass from the earth and its toiling, only remembered by what we have done”. Horatius Bonar (1808 – 1889). When Horatius wrote this song, he deeply thought about death, the end and leveler of all men. There was a hero whom we remember today for the things he did. Three years has gone byesincethe demise of a great man who lived from November 4, 1933 to November 26, 2011. One of the greatest lgbo, and Nigerian ever to grace the planet earth. A man whose mere mention of his name could provoke lightning and thunder in the sky and could make the rainbow to appear in the cloud. He was the lion of the tribe of Igbo. A hero you would dare to enter into the lion´s den or walk into the valley of the shadow of death when you remember he was with you. The late Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ikemba Nnewi , Ezedioramma, and Eze Igbo Gburugburu was a hero of his people. In life he was the great Iroko tree. Even in death he towered above all. After death his greatness did not diminish as his name still rings bell.
Ojukwu was born with a silver spoon but he shunned to be dressed with the prince’s apparel and put on long robes and dwell in the palace of the king, but choose to identify with the poor and down trodden. His love and commitment for Ndigbo may never be equaled by any other. From 1966 -1969, Ojukwu,s love for Ndigbo compelled him to put his own life on the line to stop a genocide and annihilation of his own people, but endured a gruesome civil war when he would have lived in the affluence of his father’s wealth. Rather he stripped himself all these and sacrificed all to defend his own people. “Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friends”. (John 15: 13).
A fast moving intercity train full of passengers was on its way from one city to another. Not knowing the danger on the way. The bridge to its destination has collapsed. A man who saw the danger ahead of the train stood on the way before the hazardous point shouting and signaling the train to stop, but the train would not stop. The man was taken to be mad instead. Realizing the train wouldn’t heed to his warnings as it approached nearer, he threw himself on the railway and was crushed by the train. His action suddenly caused the train to stop. And the passengers came down wondering why the man should do that. But just few meters away from the scene, they sighted the collapsed bridge. They now realized they were headed to destruction if not for that man’s action. Those who realized that the man sacrificed his life to save them wept for their hero. They gathered his remains, each holding a piece saying, this is the remains of he who died for me. Ojukwu was to Ndigbo like the man in this story.
Heroes out of love die for the cause they believe in. And to say that Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, a man who studied history and made history was an Igbo hero who believed in the cause of Ndigbo and stood in the gap for his people until death is like stating the obvious. Permit me to use this medium to pay tribute to my hero, a man I subscribe to his ideals, vision, and philosophy. Though he is gone yet he lives in me. The late Eze Igbo Gburugburu was like a mustard seed that grew to be a giant tree whose large branches offered shelter and became a sanctuary for birds of the air. Many of today’s Igbo now people and politicians rode to greatness through his wings. But many have turned the other way and have shunned the stepping point from where they ascended, yet have not kept their promise and loyalty to uphold the legacy of the hero.
As the third memorial anniversary of one of the greatest Igbo hero that ever lived is recently been observed by his widow, family, and those who recognize and acknowledge what he stood for, I would like to recall some excerpts from his speech in commemoration of his 64th birthday at the main bowel of the prestigious National theater Iganmu Lagos. To those who may have ascended to greatness through him but now seem to dash the board and to the generality of Ndigbo here his voice saying;
“Because of you, I fought a three year bitter war
Because of you, I impoverished myself to buy you protection
Because of you, I stood while others crouched
Because of you, I endured thirteen years of bitter exile
Ndigbo I have paid my dues”.
Indeed Ojukwu paid his dues for Ndigbo, and you owe him no better honour than to immortalize him by upholding his legacy. There was a hero.
*Photo Caption: Chief (aka People's Servant) Charles O. Okereke( left ), Late Chief (General - rtd.) Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu( right ).
[ Masterweb Reports: Nosa Osazuwa reports ] - On Wednesday 10th December 2014, the presiding magistrate of the coroner court investigating the cause of death of persons in the Synagogue building collapse, Oyetade Komolafe, submitted that the court lacked the powers to hear the application filed by The Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN), through its lawyer, Olalekan Ojo, praying the court to stay proceedings pending the determination of the same application by the high court.
Magistrate Komolafe, citing various examples, observed that the coroner’s court was purely a fact-finding one that was not intended to witch-hunt any group or individual. He thereby dismissed the application and ruled that proceedings would continue on Friday, December 12, 2014: “I have said it several times that this court is purely on a fact-finding mission and is not intended to prosecute anybody or group. We are all here to find out the real cause(s) of the death of persons in the building collapse. I wonder why it being painted to look as if we are trying to prosecute anybody. The coroner’s court id different from the regular court and would not entertain any application that is not within its powers to do so. For this reason, the application brought by the counsel to The SCOAN is hereby dismissed. We will reconvene on Friday, December 12, 2014 to continue proceedings”.
Meanwhile prominent Nigerians have continued to storm the court premises in solidarity with The SCOAN and its Founder, Prophet T.B. Joshua. At least three traditional rulers were sighted within the court room. They included: BaaleOnipetesi, HRH. Chief Olusegun Akinola, BaaleAnifowose, HRH. Chief KayodeOkeyemi II and the Ologudu of Oguduland, HRM. Oba WaidiAyinlaFashola.
Many other groups were seen carrying placards and calling on the Federal Government as well as the Lagos State Government to leave Prophet T.B. Joshua alone and dig for the real cause of the building collapse. Prominent among these groups was the Osun State Youth Forum and a coalition of other youths from the entire federation.
Nosa Osazuwa ( Email: email@example.com ) was present during the court proceedings.
*Photo Caption - Prophet T. B. Joshua