*Nigeria: NEITI Releases Audit Reports in the Oil and Gas Sector
Masterweb Reports - Tuesday, September 25, 2012: The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has recently carried out physical and process audits of Nigeria’s petroleum industry from 1999-2008. NEITI is the national version of the global multi- stakeholders’ initiative to promote transparency and accountability in the management of extractive resources with the view to aiding sustainable development with specific target on poverty reduction, elimination of social conflicts and creation of peaceful business environment.
The Audit reports showed that the federal government earned a total sum of 269 billion USD from the oil sector between 1999-2008. Within this period also, 92billion USD was received from oil specific taxes, the sum of 5 billion USD from non-oil specific taxes from oil companies while 172billion USD was received from the sales of government equity crude. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Workers at work in a Nigerian oil rig
However, while this height was achieved, losses were also witnessed. The audit showed that Nigeria lost 2.6billion USD due to leakages in the system. Also, a whooping sum of 9.890billion USD which came from the failure of some companies to cooperate with the audit reports was lost.
NEITI Chairman, Ledum Mitee said that the significance of this loss which is equivalent to N1.373trillon was capable of wiping out the current fiscal deficit in the 2012 Federal Government budget financing. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Nigerians queue up to buy fuel at a filling station.
Speaking on, he stated that the potential revenue loss due from under assessment/under payments has remained outstanding not just out of the refusal of the companies and covered entities to pay but also, the insufficient efforts of the concerned government agencies to recover the funds which the country desperately needs especially at this time.
He therefore pleaded with companies and stakeholders in the extractive industries including other relevant agencies of government to always cooperate with NEITI in order to ensure that transparency and accountability which it aims at is achieved.
Victor Igiri ( email@example.com )
*Igbo World Assembly (IWA) Holds 4th Convention In Asaba, Delta State
Igbo World Assembly (IWA) in collaboration with the apex Igbo socio-cultural body, Ohaneze Ndigbo reserved the 26-27 day of September for the IWA Convention as part of the Igbo Remembrance Day program of Ohaneze Ndigbo, 26-30 September.
This has been a yearly activity by Igbo World Assembly, an umbrella organization for all the Major Igbo Diaspora organizations.
IWA believes in the principle of focusing on development in the entire Igboland.
The theme for this year is "Actualisation of Igbo Agenda & Youths Empowerment. All roads lead to Nelrose Hotel Complex, Government House road, Asaba, Delta State where the event is now taking place. The choice of Asaba for this Year's Igbo Remembrance Day tells a lot about Igbo unity. Many people have the erroneous believe that Igbo has disintegrated as planned by our detractors, but what many do not know is that the plan to disintegrate Ndigbo will only work for a given time, because Igboness is a factor embedded in every igbo child, and it will always rear up its head no matter how down it is down pressed. This is why our elders say "Agwö apughi imu ihe di ogologo"
Ndigbo, Anioma Nine, Anyi Ekeneeo!
By Valentine Obienyem
The wise one says that education comes one-forth from others, one-forth from experience, one-forth from travel and one-forth from the classrooms. Should we agree with him, it means that any time we travel is an opportunity to broaden our knowledge about the world and its peoples. If we are critical, it also offers us the opportunity to compare our country with others in terms of progress and development. This experience is many times magnified when we venture into alien states/countries that do not share the same culture with us.
I have had the opportunity to travel to over 20 countries. I must confess that apart from Haiti, I have always felt dejected and a certain sense of regret on coming back to Nigeria from any of these trips. I cannot here talk about Arab countries. The last Arab country I visited was Bahrain and the common observation is that these people are busy deploying their oil money in building their countries. Even Bangladesh, with poverty written all over her, is much more organized than we are. Though lacking in natural resources, countries like Ethiopia and Kenya are busy building and perfecting those little things that generate income for them. All over Kenya, one sees flowers that are exported to Europe. These countries National Carriers: Kenyan and Ethiopian Airlines are study in patriotism even when we could not sustain ours. But whatever one observes about Nigeria is a call for all of us to sit up and contribute our quotas to make it work in a positive, healthy manner for it remains our country. A certain Moroccan traveler, on returning from a visit to Europe, exclaimed: “What a comfort to be getting back to civilisation.” The man, like us, had no other country and is affected by provincialism. ( Continues below..... )
If we want to be truthful to ourselves, many things are wrong in Nigeria. I am one of those who regret the timing of our independence. Events of today have shown that we were not psychologically prepared for that momentous event in history. Many of our nationalists evidently did not even understand what independence means. What was supposed to be an epochal liberation of Nigerians from shackles of slavery ended up enslaving us all the more! Let us face it, what have we achieved since independence? Colonialists, without oil money, succeeded in providing some basics things of life for our people in the spirit of the times. Look at the railway, for example, rather than build on their legacy, we succeeded in killing that institution. One can go on and on.
When one travels out, the inadequacies of our country stares one on the face. The moment we arrived Atlanta Hartsfield Airport for immigration formalities, I said to my colleague, that if any of our airports were to handle 1% of the traffic this airport handled, that it would be catastrophic for the country. One noticed over 50 immigration clearance cubicles that are professionally handled. On the contrary, on entering the Murtala Mohammed airport, one is confronted by faulty mechanized staircases, acute shortage of spaces, air conditioners that are not working and annoying cathartic reaction to situations. One notices about three or at most four cubicles handling immigration matters amidst a host of immigration officers busy prancing all over the place looking for those they will support to breach the rules for pittances. In other climes, on arrival at baggage claiming points, the luggage are already at those points, but in our own case, one is compelled to wait for hours! ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Disgraced and Jailed Delta State Governor, James Ibori
I have even forgotten to start from check-in formalities at the point of travel. I have not witnessed any country where today, one sees combined forces of Immigration, Customs, NDLEA and many other unidentifiable bodies, gloves in hands, searching one’s luggage menacingly. Does it mean our screening machines do not work like those of other countries?
We must at this juncture commend the present Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Odua. In her one could see the efforts of one who was equally disenchanted with the State of our airports. If other past Ministers individually or collectively did 20% of what she is doing now, that sector would have not been a problem today.
We also commend the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Muhammed Abubakar for showing signs of preparedness to reform one of the most problematic institutions in Nigeria, the Police Force. The abolishing of road blocks is one necessary step he has taken that he will for a long time be remembered for. It signaled to observers, the first step towards the return of professionalism to the Police, which Nigerians perennially yearn for. Nigerians do not know that all those AK 47 that Nigerian Police carry are meant for war. In many countries of the world, the presence of such weapon on the street will only signify a state of war. The IG should strengthen the intelligence arm of the force since crime is better fought through intelligence than display of raw force. If not for intelligence deployed in the arrest of Ofe Akwu, at whose compound military ammunition were found, that contingent of Police that arrested him would have been over powered by the array of ammunition in Ofe Akwu’s superior amoury . ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Tafa Balogun, Nigeria's former Inspector-General of Police in cuffs being taken to court by EFCC April 4, 2005, after arrest for corruption.
One of the problems of fighting crime in our country is that our security personnel talk too much. The Americans prepared for the storming of Bin Laden’s abode for almost a year and yet nobody heard of it. What are the gains of telling us that the confession of Ofe Akwu led to the arrest of another armed robber at Ihiala? If there are other armed robbers connected to him and they hear this, would they not run for dear life always believing that he may have also confessed about them as well? The police would achieve more results if they even told us that the man became deaf and dumb the moment he was arrested, while secretly making use of information they got from him.
As I fiddled with my computer, light did not go off and all amenities seem to work. But vis-à-vis our country, one is bound to be angry with the system. The energy we should by now be deploying in other areas is now deployed to those things that we ought to have taken for granted. What is painful is that when quantified, you will see that Nigeria had actually sunk in more money into those areas than the countries where they are working ever did. Our critics, rather than consistently point this out, forget criticisms once a carrot is dangled before them.
One of our greatest problems is lack of genuine critics in the country. In Anambra for example, we have many armchair critics some of who have not visited the State in 6 years and analyses events only by synthesis. The more the State has a Governor ready to do the right things the more the criticisms are mounting. Those people do not devote a moment’s reflection on the future of the State. They are ready to bring down the roof on everybody once they are not benefiting, directly or indirectly. Today, rather than point out the infrastructural deficit to those that govern states, we have some who want us to believe they are critics labouring in vain and amusingly to stop the President from visiting Anambra State to lend support to obvious efforts to emancipate the State. I think that all in all, they do not actually know what they are doing and deserve our sympathy. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map and Flag of Nigeria
From a State where bedlam, rape and rapine reigned, Obi has returned it to civilization through tortuous efforts that almost consumed him as he had to fight against Principalities and Powers. Today, rather than a subject for dinner jollity, Anambra has become a changed state used as an example when one intends to discuss good and focused leadership, but the opposition he gets is from the home front. This is tragic!
Today, we also have a President who is truthful to the country and to himself. You can only appreciate him if you have followed his policies. Sometimes he treads carefully because the monster that has been created in Nigeria needs a Hercules to deal with it. Take the issue of petroleum subsidy and you will shudder at how a clique steal our common patrimony and are infinitely ready to deploy it to fight any person that challenges them. So far, the President is doing well, we only ask that he does not relent nor give in to the pressure from these buccaneers.
I laugh when some people associate timidity or naivety with our President. I was in France when he met with the President of that country. I remember that answering one question posed to him, he spoke about Nigeria in a manner that made me to be proud of him. He talked about Nigeria, including her different vegetations, from Sahel through Guinea/Savannah to tropical rainforest in a manner that made us proud of him. His comments about Nigeria are devoid of pretences. We have a President that acknowledges that Nigeria has problems created over the years and is genuinely committed to our getting it right.
We cannot solve Anambra or Nigeria’s problems through protecting our narrow interests as most Nigerians do. If you have followed development in Anambra, you will agree with me that what we need is not a Chudi Offodile, who is busy doing trubom trubom ka amaru onye o ga ato be ya with me, but genuine critics who should be ready at all times to criticise and commend, as well as offer ideas without looking at their cash values for they are priceless. Obienyem is based at Awka.
*Ndigbo Celebrate Igbo Day September 29
By Chuks Ibegbu
On Saturday the 29th of september 2012, Ndigbo from all works of life will gather at Asaba, the Delta State capital to observe the 2012 edition of the Igbo Day ceremony. This event which started in the days of the Igbo State Union as a day for the commemoration of our Igboness, took other connotations in addition to the former objective. This connotation included the remembrance of our people who paid the supreme sacrifice in the cause of nation building among others. On this day, Ndigbo take stock of the past, meditate over the present and project unto the future.
That this 2012 edition is taking place in Asaba, the capital of Delta State is doubly significant. The Igbos of Anioma extraction never shirked their responsibility and call to patriotism when it mattered most. In the dark days of our history, their courageous men stood to defend their Fatherland. Many of them died in that episode. Since the end of that era , it appears the center could not hold as it used to until recently. The leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo by an Anioma son, Ambassador Ralph Uwechue is a clear indication that Anioma people have never and will never shirk their responsibility to Igbo cause. The Igbo family tree is pervasive and the Anioma stock is gregarious, industrious and forward looking. In their God given natural abode they have co-existed peacefully with their neighbours which is the hallmark of Igbos everywhere. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Igboland (homeland of Ndigbo of Nigeria )
We are not unaware of the tremendous developments in Asaba, the capital of Delta State, a phenomenon achieved by the Uduaghan led regime in the state. It is hoped that this progress will continue in leaps and bounds. The history of Anioma Igbos will not be complete without mentioning some of their great men of the past and present. The Former Premier of the defunct mid-west region and one of the founding fathers of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Dennis Osadebey was an Anioma son. The great Chike Ekwuyasi, Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu, Chief Onyia, the legendary Col Joe Hannibal Achuzia, Professor Chike Onwuachi, Prof Edozien, Asagba of Asaba, Chief Sonny Odogwu, the legendary J. J. Okocha, Prof Pat Utomi, Nduka Obaigbena, Tony Elumelu, Jim Ovia, Emma Okocha, the Azinges, and several redoubtable military officers of the pre and post war years are great sons of Anioma land. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Igboland (homeland of Ndigbo of Nigeria ) - Map 2
This Igbo Day holding in Anioma soil on 29th of September 2012, is historic and has shown that the Igbo family remains one irrespective of geo-political, geographic and geo-economic circumstances. Whether in the west, north, east, or south the Igbo nation is one in the larger Nigerian family. As this event holds with fanfare, the historical importance must never be lost to Ndigbo.
*President's Visit Excites Mbadinuju, Commends Obi for Investing over N4b in Orient Petroleum
Former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju has commended Gov. Peter Obi for the successful one-day working visit of Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to Anambra State. He made this commendation yesterday through a statement made available to the press.
Mbadinuju said it was a thing of joy that Anambra State had achieved such stability that our people were now happy hearing good news coming out from the State, especially the recent presidential visit to the State. "I believed most Anambra State indigenes are that happy because of many projects, mostly private-sector driven that were commissioned by the President showing that Anambra is on a serious path of economic recovery and is happily expanding her economic base", he said. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju
Mbadinuju is particularly happy with the exploration of petroleum and gas at the Inland Water Basin of the State that has made her qualify as an oil producing State.
He recalled the pioneering efforts of his Government towards the achievement of this feat. He also gave kudos to all those who supported his government efforts in this respect. He particularly commended Gov. Peter Obi for his dogged commitment to the project which made it succeed particularly given the whopping sum of over 4 billion Naira of Anambra money which he invested to make the whole project a reality.
He says: "One lesson those who govern our people should learn is the value of working for the common good of everyone. When I left office, those that came after me were pre-occupied with trying to dismantling the foundation that I laid. For example, they attempted to re-locate the Anambra State University to their home towns. However, when Governor Obi came to office, rather than follow the path of destruction, he recognized that governance is a continuum and he began to build on the foundations laid by his successors, including myself. For example, he continued developing the university and erecting more structures on the campuses. He also continued supporting Orient Petroleum that is now a success story."
Mbadinuju continue, "Governor Obi is also known to have followed in my security build-up and initiatives in Anambra and our State is good for it despite occasional hiccups. The Governor has also tried to open up, allowing former Governors and Anambra leaders and stakeholders to freely visit the Government House and Governors Lodge as occasion warrants." ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Governor Peter Obi
He called on all Anambrarians and men of goodwill to support good governance rather than play to the gallery because of interests that are far from altruistic.
commenting on the improved relationship between Awka and Abuja, Mbadinuju said, "To the credit of Gov. Obi is breaking the jinx of a Governor "fighting" with President as against what we now have of our Governor working together as friends with the President. This friendly relationship has brought good gains for the good people of Anambra State."
Finally, the former Governor advised those coming after to try to build on the good foundation left behind, and continue "as in a relay race. Let there be no strife, for are all brothers."
*Re: Crisis Rock Ohanaeze Ndigbo Over Diversion of Funds
The attention of the Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo has been drawn to a recent Internet posting on http/www.momentng.com/enflashnewsflash7687 with the caption “Crisis Rock Ohanaeze Ndigbo Over Diversion of Funds” which purports to be a summary of some happenings in the National Executive Committee (NEC) of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
For the avoidance of all doubts, Ndigbo worldwide are hereby informed that the Internet publication is not (repeat, “not”) from Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
The National Executive Committee and the generality of Ohanaeze Ndigbo have absolutely nothing to do with the publication and request all well-meaning Ndigbo to ignore it. Ohanaeze Ndigbo has a procedure of making its stand public.
The Solidarity of the current National Executive Committee of Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by its President-General Amb Ralph Uwechue OFR remains unshaken.
NDIGBO NDEWONU IGWE BU IKE
Chief Nduka I. Eya fcipm
Secretary-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo
Copy to: The President-General
“ “ All Members of the National Executive Committee (NEC)
“ “ All Chapters/Branches/Affiliates of Ohanaeze Ndigbo
Photo Above: Chief Nduka I. Eya, Secretary-General (SG), Ohanaeze Ndigbo
*Anambra And Governor Obi’s Monument
By Okechukwu Anarado
It might surprise some watchers of Anambra State politics to begin to read about Governor Peter Obi’s monument; and for the less endowed in the white man’s language, particularly those of them resident in Anambra State, passion might run wild in defense of the Governor’s current mandate. While the first group might merely be confounded by the speed of time, the second just would not see their Governor and his Government as issues that are at the threshold of history – at the verge of being permanently reported in the past. Why talk of a monument whose making is unfolding still? There is yet a third interest-class; cynics who would bite, claw and shout in efforts to attain their sworn conclusions to emasculate the novel patterns adorning the political space of Anambra State. ‘What monument?’, they would ask. But in all of these dispositions, the reality of passing time and its compelling dictates in sifting the bedrock of history prevails.
Before the end of March, 2014, Governor Peter Obi would have served Anambra State the maximum statutorily allowable period of eight years, representing two terms of four years each. This is an uncommon privilege unprecedented in the State where the political landscape is replete with ‘men and women of timber and calibre’, who in deference to their high sounding (many a time bizarre) aliases, very often jump into a fray merely for the satisfaction of drawing blood. Even in fights they could neither sustain nor win. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Governor Peter Obi
Having taken a token look at the peculiarities of Mr. Obi’s Anambra, one begins to appreciate better the value of the Governor’s resilience, doggedness, ruggedness too. How else would one explain Mr. Obi’s stubborn resistance of the monster that President Obasanjo’s the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) foisted on and sought to perpetuate in Anambra State? Indeed, the PDP nausea, exemplified by the stolen mandate, seemed a blessing for Ndigbo as it exposed the post war conspiracy of clannish pretenders who not only sought to subdue Ndigbo physically but to kill their spirit. Even ‘in the very before’ of the totem of Igbo consciousness (apologies to Chika Okpala, Chief Zebrudaya Okoroigwe Nwogbo Alias 4.30) the people’s mandate was stolen by impostors to the people’s cause.
What would have been left of Ndigbo if Mr. Obi failed to lead the battle for the rescue of the heartland of the Igbo nation? The Governor’s clear headedness, his sublime understanding of the character of the deprivation and his utmost commitment to resistance, made the unyielding Ikemba of blessed memory to declare uncommon support for a young man whom he identified as fighting hegemony against an endangered nation. Mr. Obi stood, fought and conquered the marauding bunch whose resolve was a systematic emasculation of Ndigbo, using Anambra State as a pilot scheme. This early struggle signaled the relevance of Mr. Obi among Ndigbo; added to this is his seminal managing of human and material resources both in governance of Anambra State and in other spheres of leadership wherever duty calls.
Having served Anambra State for over six of an eight years stretch, and judging from the transparent structure of his government, Governor Obi’s scorecard could be reviewed with reasonable degree of accuracy. The indices for measuring success or failure are located in the responsibilities of government and to what extent government fulfills or neglects such duties.
Anambra State is one of the States in Nigeria that hardly go without press reportage. Its prominence derives from its huge pull of human resources and the inputs of Ndi-Anambra, dead or living, in the making and sustenance of the country. But for a greater part of Anambra’s 21 years as a political entity, it recorded greater negative publicity owing to loss of direction among the crop of leaders that ran its affairs. This deviation manifested in the collapse of the system while very few individuals got so robust they could sustain parallel structures that mocked the institution of government. That was why the ‘Eselus’ for instance could boast of installing what served as government in the state between 2003 and 2006, just as the ‘Offors’ did, years earlier. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Map of Anambra State
While the strains over the ownership of government raged, the entire gamut of the responsibilities of the state went prostrate: education was abandoned, the health sector was comatose; there was comprehensive infrastructural decay and unrest of every kind marked the sociopolitical clime of the state. It remained largely so until the unprecedented judiciary intervention that nullified the celebration of absurdities and declared Mr. Obi of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) as the authentic governor of the state in March, 2006. From the date of that epochal declaration till date, Anambra State, under Governor Obi, has persisted in its march to recover the lost years and firmly situate itself among the comity of states with both vibrant economy and civilised polity. Pointers to this growth are identifiable in the resuscitation of all the sectors of the State’s economy through the vehicle of Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS), which ensures a comprehensive and effective design, budget and implementation of simultaneous development in all sectors of the state’s economy.
The health sector for instance now has some government as well as private owned hospitals and institutions accredited by relevant censor organisations. Onitsha General Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Ihiala; Anambra State School of Nursing and Midwifery, Npor; St. Joseph’s Hospital, Adazi-Nnukwu; Iyi-Enu Hospital, Ogidi and Charles Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha are representational of such interventions in the health sector. The construction and inauguration of Anambra State University Teaching Hospital, Awka, is also a phenomenal entry in the credential of Governor Obi’s government.
The Civil Service has its own gains from the current government of the state. Apart from workers’ increased pay package which compares favourably with what obtains in some rich states, an imposing new State Secretariat (Chief Jerome Udoji State Secretariat) which today represents the pride of Anambra State workers, stands to the credit of this administration which conceived, constructed, equipped and effectively put it to use. Today, the operations of government are run from a single pool of ministries which makes for speed and efficiency. Today, government ministries have necessary enablement like vehicles for optimal performance.
The education sector too has recorded enormous gains from the present State Government. Both primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the state have variously benefited from the commitment of the government to sanitise the sector in a bid to preserving the future of the society. Over one hundred and fifty secondary schools have received brand new buses; many more schools have received computers and internet facilities, water boreholes, power generating set, sports equipment and many other items to enhance acquisition of knowledge. School buildings have been reconstructed, new buildings erected and school compounds fenced. Missionary schools forcefully acquired from the owners have been returned to their original owners with grants to facilitate the rehabilitation of dilapidated structures.
If today one seeks the monument of Mr. Peter Obi in Anambra, the new look Anambra State where reputable donor agencies jostle to identify with the success story of Mr. Peter Obi’s administration beckons.
Okechukwu Anarado writes from Adazi-Nnukwu
*Nigeria – The Cost and Consequences of Coerced Amalgamation – Part 2 Concluded
By Rev. Dr. C. Kingston Ekeke
Today, we see a renewed interest and courageous fight for self government, regional autonomy, secession, sovereign national dialogue, fiscal federalism, etc. The reason for this frustration, anger and fights is not only because of the economic and political injustice but lack of coherent national core value system that gives sense of patriotism and empowers the peoples of Nigeria to believe in themselves and their national leadership. Since Nigeria gained independence in 1960, she has had many kinds of government – unitary, parliamentary, Military and for the last thirteen years, a democratic presidential system. Yet, despite Nigeria’s enormous human potential and abundant natural resources, the promise of these various governments has been a dismal failure. The nation’s leaders have not kept their promises but floundered and left the Nigerian masses worse than when they were under their slave master, Britain.
Let us review compactly the history.
The Era of Military Juntas
In October 1975, General Gowon was overthrown in a coup, on the anniversary of his ninth year in office, after he could not keep his earlier promise to return power to a democratically elected government in 1976. He announced an indefinite postponement of a programme of transition to civil rule. The late Murtala Mohammed, the new head of state promised a 1979 restoration of democracy. On February 13, 1976, Murtala Mohammed was killed in the traffic on his way to work. On February 14, 1976, General Murtala Mohammed was succeeded by General Olusegun Obasanjo who pledged to pursue his predecessor’s transition programme. In 1979, Nigeria adopted and approved a new Constitution.
On October 1, 1979, Nigeria momentarily returned to democratic system of government. General Obasanjo handed over power after completing the remainder of three years of Murtala-Obasanjo military regime to Alhaji Shehu Shagari as first elected Executive President and the first politician to govern Nigeria since 1966. Five parties had competed for the presidency, and Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was declared the winner. The other parties were: Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), National People’s Party (UPN), Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP), and People’s Redemption Party (PRP). The conduct of the general elections was criticized by opposing parties and the media. Violence erupted in some parts of the west. On September 1983, Alhaji Shehu Shagari was re-elected president of Nigeria. Three months later, following a coup d’état on December 31, 1983, the military returned to power. Major-General Muhammad Buhari was named head of state.
From August 1985 to May 1999, Nigeria was basically ruled by various military dictators and corrupt civilian politicians – namely military dictator Ibrahim Babangida, Ernest Shonekan, military dictator Sani Abacha, and Abdulsalam Abubakar. It was an era of decrees, indiscipline, ethinc cleaning, visionless economic programs that destroyed the nation’s currency-Naira and basically rubbished the Nigerian economy, which actually elevated greed, bribery, and corruption and enthroned most of the crooks, cronies and pathetic personalities we have today as political leaders in the nation. The military despots looted the national treasury and left the Nigerian economy with a horrendous national debt. During these various regimes most of the nations’ institutions collapsed.
The Return to Democratic Governments, Political Hooligans and Lawlessness
The cancellation of the 1992 democratic elections won by Chief M. K. O Abiola and his sudden demise in prison provoked riots and civil disobedience by thousands of human rights activist, pro-democracy activists, media and ordinary citizens. The return to democracy at point was non-negotiable. The political wrangling and maneuvering of that period eventually led to the surprising win of a former military ruler, Olusegun Obasanjo, a prisoner of Sani Abacha, from Southwest and same state with MKO Abiola. Many have written that Obasanjo’s civilian presidency 1999-2007 was a compensation for Chief Abiola’s mysterious death and denial of his rightful winner of the 1992 presidential elections. In 1999, Nigeria returned permanently to a democratic presidential system of government, however, political instability, poor leadership, religious ignorance and intolerance and violence, ethnic hatred, moral degradation, corruption, injustice, indiscipline and irresponsibility quickly marred the nations’ prospect for development and progress. Until today, Nigerians have not really enjoyed any genuine freedom or political peace and national prosperity, despite abundant natural and human resources God endowed but business as usual – a vicious circle of myopic, incompetent, and irresponsible politicians as leaders. In a nutshell, Nigeria has been ruled by fools and idiots as IBB and OBJ revealed to Nigerians during their squabble last year.
During the 8-year presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo, corruption, political thuggery, godfatherism, political assassinations, Niger Delta militancy, armed robbery, kidnapping, religious intolerance, radical Islamic fundamentalism and lawlessness reached its zenith. Before he completed his two-term reign, he began to campaign for Alhaji Yar’adua, the then governor of Katsina State, and surprisingly handed the presidency to a sick man, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, another Northerner to be the president of Nigeria. President Yar’Adua took office in May 29, 2007 and in his inauguration messianic speech , he admitted that Nigerians were going through hell and promised to create 40 million jobs within 10 years, lower interest rates, reduce inflation and achieve realistic exchange rate for Naira. His seven-point agenda was crystal clear, but then he reversed all the Economic agenda of his predecessor, refused to support the CBN monetary policy which was the second phase of PDP economic agenda. He reversed most of the economic reforms and most laws of his predecessor and re-deployed Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the anti corruption czar to the Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Kuru, Plateau State, Nigeria and finally sacked him. Nigeria returned to the same vicious circle of incompetence and lawlessness. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo
During Yar’Adua’s watch, Nigeria entered into a state of hopelessness, until his demise in May 2010. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, his VP and a civilian from oil rich South-south finished the term and then in April 16, 2011 overwhelmingly won the presidential election, which has been adjudged to be the freest and fairest election in the nation’s history. However, since his inauguration on April 29, 2011, the country has been besieged with radical Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. Hundreds of innocent citizens have been killed and thousand displaced in several Northern states.
President Jonathan styled his leadership as transformational unlike his predecessor, the late Alhaji Yar’Adua, who called himself a servant leader. Within months into his presidency despite the challenges from opposition regarding the election, President Jonathan rather than focus on the security challenges, economy and other social problems confronting the nation, embarked on constitutional amendment with a concocted six-year single tenure for the president and governors. Public opinion fumed against such insensitivity and just within weeks, the National Assembly tossed out that part of the bill, saying it is untimely and suspicious. Just this week, the president promised that the Constitutional Amendment will be ready in June 2013 and that it will be people’s oriented constitution. The President has not performed despite that he brought in technocrats in his cabinet including Nigeria’s pride in the likes of Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former World Bank president, Prof. Barth Nnaji and others to focus on the nation’s comatose economy and ecliptic power supply. Shockingly and surprisingly, Prof. Barth Nnaji resigned last week as Minister of Power due to conflict of interest in the privatization of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria as was insinuated. His resignation shocked millions of Nigerians including nations around the world. His resignation and forced out of office will be reserved for another article, but I suffice to say that Prof. Nnaji is not a crude politician but a scientist, an innovator, inventor and scholar of international repute. Many who he knew him, trusted his expertise and leadership, but also had fears whether he will survive in an environment filled with conflict, irritation, abuse and corrupt people.
Prof. Nnaji before his courting by President Jonathan was a professor and researcher at one of the finest universities in the U.S. – University of Massachusetts (UMASS) and a consultant to NASA. In less than one year, he assumed office; Nigerians began to see some “LIGHT” now I’m afraid, we are going back to our routine “DARKNESS “again. It’s sad that decent people can’t be good politicians and leaders in Nigeria. He was sincere and honest to declare his business interest in the privatization of the power sector. After all, it is an area of his expertise. A typical Nigerian politician will find a way to hide such business interests and continue to dupe and siphon the government and the public. During the so-called privatization exercise during Obasanjo’s administration, most of the federal business entities were auctioned off to family members, friends and to businesses where some of the ruling politicians had enormous interest in. In Nigeria, it is not a secret that many of our leaders built their private businesses with public funds while serving in government. Prof. Nnaji is an exception and now shows our corrupt politicians how to separate personal interest from public service.
And so, since the return of a democratic government 14 years of ago, Nigeria has not had good leaders but hooligans and military gangsters masquerading as politicians that piloted the affairs of the country. Nigeria as a nation has not really enjoyed any genuine political peace and national prosperity despite enormous blessings that God endowed on her but violence, bombs, terrorism and irrational killings of innocent citizens. Today, Nigeria is ruled and governed by military and political dictators that continue to deny the people of Nigeria security, order, peace and basic needs of livelihood. For fifty-two years, Nigeria has had military dictatorship, political hypocrisy, and extravagantly indulgent corrupt judicial system that oppressed the poor, women, young people, children and minority members of the nation. Despite her enormous human potential and abundant natural resources, the promises of democracy have been a dismal failure. After 13 years of democracy, people are yet to see the so-called “Dividends of Democracy”.
Niger Delta Militancy and Oil Pollution
It is because of the injustices in our nation that led some courageous men to form peaceful groups and unfortunately some militant groups to battle against the biased, discriminatory and satanic system that they live in. Today, we have MASSOB, OPC, MEND, BAKASSI, and Niger Delta militants fighting against injustice in the federal system. Today, we are witnesses of the renewed fight and courageous call for self government and peaceful division of Nigeria.
Let us forget about the 1960’s butchery of the Igbos and fast forward to the 1980’s. Military despot Sani Abacha persecuted, arrested and imprisoned many notable Nigerians including Ken Saro Wiwa, leader of the Movement for Salvation of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), for treason and punishable by death for criticizing his government. Sani Abacha carried out ethnic cleansing in Ogni, Okirika, and Adoni - oil rich Delta regions of River State. On October 31, 1995, Abacha’s civil disturbances tribunal found the writer and environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other MOSOP leaders guilty and sentenced them to death by hanging. Despite appeal for mercy from the human rights organizations, statesmen, religious leaders, international governments and world leaders including the Commonwealth and iconic figure like Nelson Mandela, on November 10, 1995, all 9 MOSOP leaders and activist were hung. Ken Saro-Wiwa, a writer, playwright and environmentalist was hung simply because he called the government’s attention to the oil spillage and environmental pollution and degradation in his hometown, Ogni. The military despot, Sani Abacha and his cohorts were so ignorant and visionless, that they refused to listen to the world renowned environmentalist. Few years ago, the United Nations (UN) carried an investigation and confirmed of massive oil pollution in Niger Delta region. The report from the United Nations Environment Programme, the first of its kind in Nigeria, was based on two years of in-depth scientific research. It found that oil contamination is widespread and severe, and that people in the Niger Delta have been exposed for decades – the report said. The report provided irrefutable evidence of the devastating impact of oil pollution on people's lives in the Delta - one of Africa's most bio-diverse regions. It examined the damage to agriculture and fisheries, which has destroyed livelihoods and food sources of the Niger Delta region and its environs. One of the most serious facts to come to light is the scale of contamination of drinking water, which exposed communities to serious health risks. Amnesty International Global Issues Director, Audrey Gaughran, who has researched the human rights impacts of pollution in the Delta Region, also said, "This report proves Shell has had a terrible impact in Nigeria, but has got away with denying it for decades, falsely claiming they work to best international standards." The UN and Federal Government of Nigeria reported that it would take about a $1 billion and up to 30 years to clean. We now know it will take 50 years or more to cleanup and restore normalcy to the area devastated with oil pollution and ongoing oil spillage. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt
Eye witnesses report that the Niger Delta oil pollution is much worse than the 2010 British Petroleum (BP) oil leak in the Gulf Coast, which affected the ecosystem and fishing businesses of those that live around the coastline of Louisiana State, USA. The business owners and citizens fumed and when it is all said done, BP paid out nearly $750 million to compensate businesses, fix the leak and cleans their mess. Until today, BP is still faced with litigation, lawsuits, reparation and compensation for oil spillage in the Louisiana coastline. Oil pollution has been going on in the South-south and some Southeast communities for years. The BP oil spill was rated the worst oil spill in US history even though it was just about 7 month’s oil leak. The Niger Delta region oil pollution is been going on for 50 years. When will the Nigerian government clean the Niger Delta regions? When will the president and his environmental Minister push for reparation from Shell as well as enforce stringent laws and policies on multi-national oil companies operating in Nigeria to protect the environment? This is a challenge of this and future governments which demands a lot of capable and skilled hands as well as calls for compassion of the health and well-being of the citizens of those regions.
Boko-haram Jihadist Sect and Insecurity
Since the return to democratic government in 1999, there have been ethnic, religious, economic, and political motivated violence and conflicts that have decimated thousands of innocent lives in Nigeria. Since the last decade, we have witnessed rash of rampage and despicable acts of violence, looting, killings and wanton massacre of innocent Nigerians by Boko-Haram sect in many cities and states in the North. This ignorant, intolerable, irrational rampage and despicable acts of killings and massacre are getting worse each day. From 2007 till date, an estimated 3,000 or more Nigerians have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced and their means of livelihood shattered. Since 1999, an estimated 14,000 innocent Nigerians have been massacred while the Federal Government, State, Local and Security agencies remain incapable of stopping the murderous sect. The government and security agencies –especially the police have failed in their basic duty to provide security and protection of innocent human lives. They all should resign and give way to competent and capable hands – including international community to handle the security and terrorist challenges that are confronting the nation.
The wise and great Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark recently spoke truth to power, when he called on IBB and other Northern leaders to speak out against Boko-haram. Nigeria needs wise, courageous and compassionate leaders like him. In the last two years, check the record, go and read public statements made by many Northern politicians, religious leaders and elders – no one has had the courage and temerity to condemn the murderous activities of Boko Haram. Rather, they blame it on poverty and their past leaders. If there were any courageous politician and leader in the North, the Jihadist and murderous activities of Boko Haram would have been curtailed –if not out rightly stopped. By the way, Boko Haram is the religious-political army of the Hausa/Fulani Oligarchy. Boko Haram did not start in 2009 as stated; it has been in existence since the history of Nigeria. Boko Haram mushroomed into this militant movement to fight for return of power to north and without question there are politicians and powers behind them. And they won’t stop until power returns to the North. I wrote a few years ago, that Nigeria must brace up for the murderous activities of Boko Haram. Boko Haram is our “intifada” and their ultimate desire is to impose the “Rule of Allah” in Nigeria. This is the universal teaching of Islam worldwide – to make Islam worldwide religion. And I don’t have any qualms about Boko Haram establishing an Islamic/Sharia State, but I have serious problem about “Islamization” and “Somalization” of Nigeria and imposing Sharia and the Rule of Allah upon Nigerians who disagree with them. They should know by now that Nigeria is a multi-religious nation. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing Bakassi peninsular and parts of Cameroon
I ask, when will this despicable and wanton killings of innocent Nigerians stop? When will the Federal Government take action about these lecherous killings of innocent Nigerian citizens in the North? When will the Federal government bring to justice the perpetrators and the sponsors of these heinous killings and cowardice acts against innocent Nigerians? When will this foolishness stop in our nation? When will all Nigerians stand together, unite, and condemn this immoral and satanic massacre of innocent citizens and God’s children? When will Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) engage in serious Ecumenical and interfaith dialogue with Islam and Muslim leaders not just a council meeting with Catholics, Protestants and Pentecostal but ecumenical –interfaith dialogue with Islam and the Imams? The leadership at CAN – especially the Pentecostal pastors and bishops shave failed woefully in their calling and divine mandate to build the kingdom of God. For decades, they had focused on prosperity and materialistic message rather than preaching the adulterated gospel of Jesus Christ – the gospel of the kingdom of God on planet earth. For years, they had been after their own selfish and worldly interests while their sheep and flocks of God are dying and perishing everyday.
Way Forward –
Amend the Constitution to Address the Injustices in the Federal Government
It is an acceptable fact that the 1999 Constitution is over due for review and amendment considering the inadequacies and anomalies in our society. Despite my skimpy knowledge on matters of constitutional matters, I have always argued that the constitution that we have today is not only deficient to the ethos of presidential and democratic system of government that we clearly copied from the United States of America, but, additionally does not accommodate the true aspirations of all Nigerians. The current political, social, economic and religious turmoil in the nation can be checked and minimized based on the quality of our constitution, patriotic legislation and honest enforcement of those laws. In fact, many Nigerians are clamoring for Sovereign National Conference to address the inadequacies and injustices in the Nigeria Federal Structure. Even, some are calling for true federalism rather than amendment of the constitution. However, the constitutional amendment can give the people an opportunity to revamp and fix the injustices in the federal structure, in order for the nation to make progress.
I also think that amendment of Constitution should not be left solely into the hands of the Legislative body. The Constitution Amendment Committee should include constitutional lawyers, judges, liberal scholars, thinkers, leaders of thought, historians, traditional and religious leaders, ex-presidents, governors, senators, diplomats and frankly fewer politicians and legislators. The current political, social, economic and religious turmoil in the nation can only be checked and minimized based on the quality of the constitution, patriotic legislation and honest enforcement of those laws. Nigeria should rethink of her current political culture and figure out the best methodology the nation can tailor and construct its constitution and political systems in order to produce credible candidates, knowledgeable electorates, build strong democratic institutions and entrench patriotic values that are capable of yielding the expected progress and dividends of democracy.
Educate the Citizens and Develop a National Core Value System (Patriotism)
The culture of learning which was strong and admired by Nigerians has eroded due to weak educational leadership and corrupt government leaders. Since the return to democratic government in 1999, the portfolio of education has been held by corrupt and incompetent politicians. Moreover, most of the governors of the various states in Nigeria have been visionless and myopic. The university campuses have become centers for raping young girls, gang activities, cultists, in addition to constant strikes, poor lecturers and lack of funds. Everything nowadays is driven by money even the university admissions are now bought by rich people for their sons and daughters. The schools are also dilapidated and teachers who cannot write simple correct sentences or speak it are teaching our children.
The picture is evidence of lawlessness and purposeless education in present day Nigeria. That is why many young Nigerians are dying to leave Nigeria – even to the nearest neighboring countries like Ghana or South Africa to attend university. Those of them who are extremely lucky to travel to the European Union and United States are excelling in their studies and academics. Why would the young people live in a nation that does not care for them, recognized as the future leaders of the country, receive proper training, developed and prepared to take over the running of the country at some point? Why would they live in a nation without job after their university education and unemployment roaring at almost 80%? President Jonathan must declare state of emergence in the education sector. Nigeria needs a massive educational restructuring. The government must find ways to tap into the uncommon Nigerians scattered around the world – by seriously fighting insecurity, providing basic infrastructure , setting up attractive incentives and conducive working environment to be able to attract some of these Nigerian geniuses in Diaspora back to Nigeria. Nigeria does not lack the brains, but the political will to galvanize and harness her God given resources - human and natural. However, I'm afraid to say that the new wave of suicide bomb blasts in Nigeria may be a clear indication that Nigeria is becoming a terrorist pariah state. The cabals – the ‘satanic cult” and "powers to be" that are so entrenched must be destroyed in order to restructure the society. The state of education sector in Nigeria today clearly points that Nigeria has become a lawless and disorderly nation. To fix these anomalies, will take some form of revolution. There cannot be strong and great leaders without massive education reform and restructuring.
Also, there cannot be strong, moral and courageous leadership without a well-defined set of core values that will shape the lives of those called to lead. Core values are constant and passionate beliefs that drive lives, business decisions or nation’s priorities. Core values determine and shape daily actions of people, business or government leaders. They are hidden motivations that dictate every decision and determine life’s priorities. Vision, passion and purpose are driven by core values. Without core values or code of conduct, people, families, businesses or even nations will have a broken focus? Dr. Mike Murdock, one of the great wisdom teachers of our contemporary time said, “The passion of our daily routine is the hidden secret for our success, people fail because of broken focus.” Daily routines are core values or value systems that drive and determine life’s success. Daily routines determine and shape our daily actions.
The same is true of a nation. Core values ask the question, why do I do what I do? Developing national core values and the passion for why we as a nation will be the secret to our nation’s success. Well-defined strong national core values will not only contribute to our nation’s success but also will also inspire people to reach their fullest potential, embrace good change, communicate what is important and enhance credible leadership. Core values are not only applicable to individuals or business organizations, families or churches, but also to nations, states and cities. Without a strong national value system no nation can flourish and be successful.
There has to be patriotic decisions and passionate actions that determine and drive our nation’s priorities. The problem is that the framers of the first Nigerian constitution were not Nigerians but slave masters. Nigeria's first constitution was written by the British people in 1922. These are people who did not understand our culture or value systems of the myriad groups that make up Nigeria. Since then, the constitution has been revised a few times without the constitutional experts but dictators and stooges of a gangster government, who evaded radically revamping the constitution to accommodate the social, cultural, religious and tribal norms of all the variant groups that make up Nigeria. The fundamental rights as defined in our constitution today does not contain defined set of core values such as character, honesty, genuine integrity, discipline, character, trust, truth, commitment, dedication, patriotism …that are capable of producing patriotic citizenry, credible leaders, spur nation building, promote good business culture and inspire people to embrace good change in-order to reach their potential.
I am convinced that in order to build a respectable and prosperous nation that we aspire and dream to have, there must be first of all a set of well-defined core values or code of conduct that will help to create an environment in which government, businesses, investment and people can thrive and prosper. Trust, integrity, honesty and sincere character are seriously lacking in our society in all levels. How can a nation make progress without trust? Trust is lacking among Nigerians. Ijaw, Igbo, Yoruba , Hausa-Fulani, etc., do trust each other instead they hate each other with passion. How can a nation make progress in such a hateful and mistrust environment?
I think the time is now for Nigerians to have a serious dialogue and discussion on how to move forward as a nation. There is too much suffering and hopelessness. There is anger and frustration everywhere in Nigeria – the Boko Haram, MEND, Niger Delta militants, MASSOB, CPC, Bakassi people of the oil rich island, and then unemployment, dilapidated infrastructure, death-trap roads, religious ignorance and intolerance, insecurity, corruption and so on. Nigeria is at a tipping point. These frustrations and disagreements must be handled courageously through national dialogue and debate.
Last year, the Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka made a direct call to the political leaders and warned of people’s anger and frustration concerning the senseless killings, corruption, and incompetent political leadership. He called for dialogue and discussion on how to move the nation forward. The former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar in an interview that month also called for all ethnic groups in Nigeria to sit on the roundtable to renegotiate their continued co-existence. Those calls are sincere, honest, and courageous calls.
The nation needs a dialogue – sovereign national conference or national dialogue, no matter what it is called; all the people groups of Nigeria must sit down to chart their destiny. The dialogue and agreed ideas must be documented and cherished as the basis of democratic system government. Any document produced from the dialogue should be used to govern the affairs of the state and its people. It should provide defense, administer justice, and order, in which people could go in safety about their business. It should have checks and balances that provide more realistic safeguards – constraining absolute power of the federal government, security of its citizens and welfare of all Nigerian people. The documents must set a well-defined set of core values that will shape the lives and especially those who are called to lead.
A lot has been said and written about the amalgamation of Nigeria as a nation. The late visionary leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo once observed that Nigeria is not a nation, but merely a geographical expression. Many notable visionaries and leaders of thought have also referred the Nigerian nation as merely a political expression for the economic and political interest of the colonial masters. The amalgamation of Nigeria as a nation is an issue that must be addressed if we really desire to live in peace and fulfill our destiny. I believe that without genuine forgiveness and reconciliation, there cannot be order, unity and peace in our country. We cannot move forward as a nation and fulfill our common purpose and destiny until ethnicity, tribalism and injustice are addressed in our country. We truly need a national identity that harbors ethnicity but promotes national identity entity, if not we break the Union. The amalgamation of Nigeria has been costly. The impelled amalgamation of the variant groups that make up Nigeria today has been problematic and costly to manage due to ethnic jingoism and diverse dynamics of interests of the various groups. In essence, our challenges clearly shows that we have not grown-up as a people, but still immature in our way of doing business with each other and with outside world. The tendencies and acts of childishness are still evident in our everyday life and living. Since Nigeria gained her independence in 1960, she has had only turbulent periods of political crisis, religious violence and ethnic warfare that led to unforgettable genocidal civil war of 1967-1970 that claimed more than two million lives and left her surviving citizens with so much bitterness, hatred and rage against one another. At fifty-two years of self-government, Nigeria continues to flounder due to bad leadership, culture of impunity, culture of callousness, covetousness, greed, money worshippers, egotism, avarice, hatred, and rage. I think it is time for Nigerians to genuinely forgive one another, bury its tumultuous past and fractured history in-order to live together and peacefully again. Without genuine forgiveness and reconciliation, there cannot be unity, peace, and prosperity. The declaration for the end of the war slogan: “No Victor No Vanquished” should be revisited and properly implemented, otherwise Nigeria will continue to flounder and not reach its full potential.
Rev. Dr. C. Kingston Ekeke is a public theologian, author, and leadership scholar. He is the president of Leadership Wisdom Institute.
"Nigeria – The Cost and Consequences of Coerced Amalgamation – Part 1" at => http://nigeriamasterweb.com/blog/index.php/2012/08/24/nigeria-the-cost-and-consequences-of-coerced-amalgamation-part-1
*Japanese To Appear In Court For Cooking And Serving His Genitals
Mao Sugiyama, a 23-year-old Japanese man would soon appear in court for “indecent exposure” for cooking and serving his genitals to guests at a Japanese restaurant. Sugiyama (aka HC) who describes himself as an "asexual" illustrator, could not be charged for cooking or selling his genitals as there is no law against cannibalism in Japan. The same applies to those who ate his genitalia meal. In March this year, shortly after his 22nd birthday, Sugiyama had his penis and testicles surgically removed by a physician. They were certified free of infections after removal and frozen until served at a banquet in Suginami, a residential area in western Tokyo. Sugiyama cooked the genitalia himself under the supervision of a chef.
Guests were charged £160 each for a plate of meal garnished and spiced with mushrooms and parsley. Diners were made to sign a waiver so he could not be held responsible if they became sick. Sugiyama is to be charged along with three others who helped him organize the event, according to Tokyo Metropolitan Police. Tokyo's Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) said criminal papers against Sugiyama and the three collaborators had been forwarded to the Tokyo district public prosecutors' office. If convicted of indecent exposure, Sugiyama, who also had his nipples removed, faces up to two years in jail and up to 2.5 million yen fine. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Seaweed that looks like penis.
Sugiyama advertised the genitalia meal event on Twitter. Broadcasting (twitting) the event on Twitter, he offered to cook his penis for guests for 100,000 yen. Sugiyama twitted: "I am offering my male genitals (full penis, testes, scrotum) as a meal for 100,000 yen. I'm Japanese. The organs were surgically removed at age 22. I was tested to be free of venereal diseases. The organs were of normal function. I was not receiving female hormone treatment. First interested buyer will get them, or I will also consider selling to a group. Will prepare and cook as the buyer requests, at his chosen location. If you have questions, please contact me by DM or e-mail."
A total of 70 people attended Sugiyama’s event, but only five ate his genitalia dish while others ate beef or crocodile meal.
*Igbo Traditional Marriage
By Dr. Chris Chiwetelu
The south-eastern part of Nigeria is the home of the Igbo speaking people. They constitute almost 100% of the population of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States, and about 30 to 50% of the population of Delta and Rivers States. Because Igbo people are highly mobile and itinerant, they can be found in significant numbers in all major cities of Nigeria, as well as in other parts of the world. In North America, the population of Ndi Igbo is probably in the millions in the US, and in the thousands in Canada. The Igbo language itself is highly dialectical. Thus one can expect variation in certain rites and practices from one part of Igboland to another, and even from one town to another. Birth, marriage and death are rites that are held in great esteem amongst Ndi Igbo. This article is about Igbo traditional marriage. The Internet contains a plethora of articles, publications and even books written on Igbo traditional marriage. One noteworthy source is the book titled “Marrying Wealth, Marrying Poverty (2007)” published by Tafford Publishing, Canada and UK, and written by Dr. Patrick Iroegbu. A chapter from this book, titled “Stages, Strategies and Symbolism of Traditional Marriage in a Changing Igbo Society” was posted in Kwenu (www.kwenu.com) in 2007. Dr. Iroegbu described the key elements of Igbo traditional marriage using practices from the Mbano area of Imo State. This write-up will focus on the traditional marriage practices prevalent in the northern parts of Igboland, namely, Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi States. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Igboland (homeland of Ndigbo of Nigeria )
There are a number of principles that underpin Igbo traditional marriage that are worth reiterating. One of them is that marriage in Igboland is not between one man and one woman. Rather it is between families and to a great extent between clans or even villages. Another principle is that marriage is regarded as sacrosanct. Divorce or separation is not common. However in extenuating circumstances (which include flagrant abuse and neglect, promiscuity, acts likely to cause illness, death or embarrassment to member(s) of the family), the marriage may be set aside in accordance with rules and practices prevalent in the locality. The introduction and practice of Christianity in Igboland have helped to preserve the sanctity and reverence of Igbo marriages. A third principle of Igbo traditional marriage is that dating or any kind of relationship between the man and the girl before they get formally married is not encouraged.
Finding the Right Partner:
Both the man and the lady normally attain the appropriate age before they enter into marriage. Underage marriage is very rare among Ndi Igbo. For the man in particular, he needs to accomplish a number of well defined tasks before he is judged to be ready for marriage. In most parts of Igboland, there are defined rites of passage. These include initiation into the masquerade and age grade societies. In parts of Udi LGA in Enugu State, the rite of manhood called “iwa ogodu” was what a son and his father had to do to indicate that the boy has come of age. This ceremony involves the father buying a cow and the son parading the cow in the market place. At the right moment, the son being initiated would be expected to cut off the tail of the cow with one stroke of a well sharpened machete.
Following the initiation to manhood, the ready to be husband is expected to have acquired the infrastructure and the skills necessary to make a living for himself and his would be family. Such infrastructure includes a house for himself separate from that of his parents. His skill set would include the ability to successfully and profitably farm a sizable plot of land for crops such as yam, cocoyam, corn, beans, cassava, peanuts; and the ability to tend palm trees either for the wine or for the palm fruit. These days, farming, fishing or palm tree tending skills are no longer adequate to demonstrate the readiness of the young man for marriage. Getting formal education at least to the secondary school level, (but preferably to the post secondary level) is necessary, coupled with landing a permanent, good paying job. Another alternative is for the young man to undergo many years of apprenticeship and establish himself firmly as an artisan (carpenter, mason, plumber, painter, motor mechanic, electrician, welder, etc), or as a trader in a specialty area such as clothing, shoes, electronics, building materials, hardware, jewellery, foods, etc.
For the girls, the right of passage is not as well defined as for the boys. However, acquiring culinary, child care and home management skills is mandatory. In addition, most families these days would strive to educate their daughters to the secondary and even post-secondary level. Girls also strive to acquire professional skills through formal education, and some seek to establish themselves in trades such as dressmaking and hairdressing. For a girl aspiring to be married, she is expected to look her best and be of the best behaviour at all times. Some communities would go to the extent of organizing their marriageable girls into dance troupes where the girls do the dancing, while the men and the women provide the vocals and the instrument back up. Learning these dance steps usually takes several years and a great deal of hard work. The outing and showcasing of the dance troupe is widely advertised and takes place over several weeks and in several venues. The dancers are exquisitely decked up to orchestrate their femininity. Within weeks of the launching of the dance, most of the girls are often scooped up by eligible bachelors, some of the men coming from distant towns, but who might have seen or heard of the dance.
Igbo tradition does not encourage girls to go out in search of husbands. Regardless of the status of the girl, she must wait until the prospective husband approaches her family. Thus, it is the man who does the hard work of finding the right partner, while the girl and her family have the easier of task of saying yes or no. The common denominator here is that all members of the respective extended family are involved in this very important task. Often relations of the man identify the prospective bride and inform the man. Once he gives his consent, the relatives will carry out a detailed investigation of the girl and her family history. The investigation will dig into the background of members of the girl’s family going as far back as possible, looking for any incidents of recurring diseases, abominable acts, problems with bearing children, insubordination or other marital problems. Once the background check has been completed to the satisfaction of the man’s family, then the formal marriage rites will proceed. During each of the several steps and stages of these marriage rites, the family of the prospective bride will continue to check out the groom’s family looking for essentially the same undesirable traits. The key concern for the bride’s family would include the ability of the man to take care of their daughter and any children that she would have.
Initial Inquiry by the Groom (Iku Aka):
This is the initial and official declaration to the parents of the girl by the would-be groom that he is interested in having their daughter as a wife. The prospective groom is accompanied by a small group made up of close family members such as his parents, one or two uncles and aunts. The visitors come with kola nuts and a small amount of palm wine. Before the kola nut is broken and shared, the suitor’s party would state their intention to the bride’s family. The prospective bride would then be asked for her consent to accept the kola nut. If she fails to give her consent then the process comes to an end. On the other hand, if she consents, then the kola nut and the wine is accepted and shared. Further visits are then scheduled before the groom’s party leaves.
Second and third visitations (Mmanya Nne na Nna, Mmanya Ikwunne, Mmanya Umunna, Mmanya Isi Ada)
If the initial introductory rite (Iku Aka) is positive, the groom’s party will receive a list of what other steps are involved and what the requirements of the bride’s clan or town are. There are variations from one town to another. With each additional visitation, the size of the groom’s party continues to increase until the apex visitation which is the Igba Nkwu ceremony. The first visitation to the bride’s family is for the purpose of Mmanya Nne na Nna (wine for the bride’s parents). The groom’s party is limited to about 6 to 10 persons, and their gifts will include kola nut, palm wine, beer, soft drinks and tobacco. The bride’s family will prepare food and serve the visitors. The third visitation at the bride’s home is for the purpose of Mmanya Umunna, which is to inform the extended family from the bride’s father’s side that someone is interested in marrying their daughter. For this visitation, the groom’s party may number up to 20, and the number and assortment of gifts and drinks also increases. A goat is often a part of the gifts. The hosts will also prepare assorted meals for the visitors.
In some communities, the rites of Mmanya Ikwunne and Mmanya Isi Ada are also mandatory. The former is to inform the relations of the bride’s mother that someone wants to marry their daughter. The latter is for the first daughter of the bride’s father or family. The groom’s party is limited in both cases, and the gifts are identical in scope and size, but they must include kola nuts, palm wine, beer, soft drinks, heads of tobacco and snuff. The consent from all these distinct family members must be secured before the final marriage rites are agreed to and scheduled.
Bride wealth/Dowry Settlement:
This rite may be done as part of Igba Nkwu, but in general, it requires a visitation to the bride’s family. In the past, at the end of the lengthy negotiations which can take a whole night, money does change hands. These days the exchange of money does not take place, but the negotiations do still take place. Because of the difficulty in determining the value of a wife to a man, most families settle for a commitment from the groom that he would take good care of the bride and her children, and that he would assist the bride’s family with the training of the bride’s siblings. At the start of the dowry or bride wealth negotiations, the bride’s family will extol her virtues and accomplishments. Usually broom sticks are used to represent money. Thus, at the start, the bride’s family will present a huge bundle of broom sticks which is what they believe their daughter is worth. The groom’s party will then go out and consult with themselves and come back with a counter offer which is in the form of a much reduced bundle of broom sticks. The bride’s family will again go to their own meeting and agree on a slightly reduced amount. This back and forth session will continue until a final count (amount) is agreed to.
Igba Nkwu/Mmanya Nkute:
This is the final ceremony to consummate the marriage, and it takes place in the bride’s family compound. The guest list from both the groom’s and bride’s families is often unlimited. Depending on the resources of the two families, several hundreds or even thousands of people come to witness the occasion. The entire extended family system, going as far back as they know is invited. Both the groom and bride would normally invite their friends, colleagues and co-workers in addition to members of their respective extend families. As is the case with other rites that come before Igba Nkwu, some communities specify items that the groom must present to the bride’s family. These would include kola nuts, palm wine and other assorted drinks, heads of tobacco, snuff, cloths, jewellery, etc. For the bride’s family, it is also the occasion to show their love and care for their daughter. They would give her presents including cooking utensils for her new home. The bride’s compound is typically decked up for the event with extra chairs and tables brought in for the numerous guests expected. Oftentimes, dance groups and musicians are in attendance to entertain the audience.
The Igba Nkwu ceremony kicks off with the arrival of the groom’s party with their drinks and other gifts. They are led to the area reserved for them. Next the bride’s family comes out to greet their in-laws. Meantime, the bride and her maids are inside the house getting dressed. Once most of the guests are settled in their respective places, the bride and her maids make the first appearance. This is primarily to greet the in-laws. They dance regally around the venue while relatives spray money on them. Following the appearance of the bride, the groom’s party presents their gifts to the in-laws. Relatives of the bride will check the items to make sure that they are in accordance with their specifications. Any shortfall of omission usually means that the groom has to make up for it by cash payment. Once the drinks and other gifts are accepted, the kola nuts are broken and shared.
In some communities, the bride and her party will make a second appearance. This time they will carry boiled eggs in trays. They will give these eggs to the guests who in turn will put money into the trays as payment for the eggs. The significance of this ceremony is to show that the bride is capable of making money by trading. Before the drinks are shared, the bride and her party make another appearance. This time, the bride kneels before her father to receive his blessing. After the blessing, the father pours palm wine into a cup and hands the cup over to his daughter to give to the groom. The groom is usually well hidden among the crowd to make it difficult for the bride to find him. The bride and her party will keep searching everywhere until they find him. Once she does that, she will offer him the cup of wine, which he sips and hands back to the bride for her to sip as well all to the applause of the audience. Both the groom and the bride now go before each of their parents to get their prayers and blessing. Once the blessings are given, the newly married couple will dance together to entertain their guests. While the dance is going on, money is sprayed on them as well as on their parents and other relatives. Meantime, the bride’s family serves assorted food items that have been meticulously prepared to all the guests wherever they may be seated.
These days, Igba Nkwu also features the cutting of a cake by the newly married couple. Once the cake is cut, the couple then takes their seat at a conspicuous location in the compound. Relatives, friends and well-wishers then take turns to present gifts to the couple. The eating and drinking and general merry-making goes on till late into the night. As the party begins to wind down, the family of the groom will by way of a song indicate that they are about to leave, and that they have to take their wife with them. Most of the time there are no issues, and the parents of the bride will present their own gifts to her to take to her husband’s place. The parting of the bride from her family is always an emotional one, but in the end, the bride must join her husband’s party as they make their way back to their place.
Post Igba Nkwu Rites:
These days, the Igba Nkwu and traditional marriage rites are almost immediately followed by church wedding. Sometimes, the church wedding takes place the next day or within a few weeks of Igba Nkwu. This time, the groom’s family is responsible for organizing the wedding and the reception that follows the wedding. Depending on the resources of the groom, the reception party is often lavish and more gifts are showered on the newly weds.
Traditionally, the first night that the bride spends in her new husband’s home is the night of Igba Nkwu. The following morning, the bride is expected to be up early to sweep the entire compound of her husband’s family. Other women married in the family as well as Umuada will join in the sweeping. The men folk will shower the new wife with money as she goes from one compound to another. On the fourth day of her stay in her new home or shortly thereafter, the new wife makes her visit to her parents place. This is referred to as Nnalu. The husband has to give her presents to give to her relatives according to the tradition of the area. These would include toilet soaps, bar soaps, items of clothing, food items, jewellery, palm wine, and assorted drinks, etc. The bride will spend a couple of days with her parents and relatives before returning to her husband.
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