*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.
*Nigeria: Igbos Do Not Have A Good Chance In 2019, Let Alone 2015
If I were a parochial thinker or a good politician (the Nigerian way), I would be strutting for a President of Igbo extraction come 2015. It is not as if an Igbo cannot become the President of Nigeria. No, that notion is far from the truth. In short, at this critical moment in our history as a nation, an Igbo President would have waved the magic wand. My “provincial” thinking is that the Igbos in politics in Nigeria are not positioning themselves very strategically enough to command the respect that will give them that slot in the Nigerian politics of today.
One big problem with the Igbos is that they are politically (at least as it is practiced in Nigeria) naïve. If the Igbos feels strongly about anything, they go for it without diplomacy and that showed up when they felt that the Nigerian Project was dwarfing the Nigerian people about forty five years ago. And when the rest of Nigerians decided otherwise, the same Igbos came back and took the struggle for a united Nigeria to an awful dimension with their die hard resolve. Today, it is only the Igbos that can be found, in large numbers, in almost all nooks and crannies of the country with massive investments in all the localities as they move along. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map and Flag of Nigeria
It is unmistakable to perceive that the PDP is a “military machine” that guarantees any person from any group a stint in the apex political position in the country today. When I say a “military machine”, I say it in the real sense that PDP is dominated (not by numbers though, but) by the retired armed forces personals including the retired police and to some extent the Customs officers. Unfortunately, ex President Obasanjo has ambushed the rest of his colleagues to have a domineering grip on the intimidating apparatus of PDP.
He used the period of his eight years reign (1999 – 2007) to perfect the plot. He started by silencing all armed forces personals and other politicians who would have become a threat to his ambition. It would be remembered that he sacked all armed forces personals who have ever held any political office when he came to power in 1999. In addition, it is suspected that, he used the period to gather substantial dossiers (and you can just be certain that they are very dirty) on all present and past political figures. So with his grip on his own EFCC and with what he knows about every person that matters politically, he has been able to throw up the joker at very decisive moments. People like Atiku Abubarkar only exist merely in the political gambit of the country today. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo
To aspire to become a president in Nigerian politics today, two things have to be in your favour. One, you have to be a member of PDP and, secondly and more importantly, you have to be an ex armed personnel or you have to have the backing of the ex armed people. In the entire Igbo land (as far as I can perceive), the Nwodos were close to having the two features but unfortunately their benefactor – the IBB faction – lost out in the equation while the war raged between IBB faction and the Obasanjo loyalists. And we all know that Gen. Obasanjo does not accept 99.9% loyalty not even when his son is involved.
The almost moribund APGA, in the South-East, would have been the springboard for a genuine Igbo agitation for a slot at the apex political seat in Nigeria. But even at that, the nearest date will be 2019 in view of the fact that it is almost a ritual that every president must serve two terms and there is nothing that signifies that incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan will vacate that slot in 2015. Every person who is a good reader of political developments in our country would agree that the manner in which President Jonathan denied that there was no zoning arrangement within PDP denotes that he is not someone you would trust on anything. And even if he does, it is most likely that the ex army generals under the control of Obasanjo will tip Retired Col. David Mark for the job. It is pertinent to note that the inactivity of the upper legislative chamber is due to the fact that the leadership under the full grip of David Mark is not unmindful of the power flow and would not want to rock the boat. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Seal of The President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is the official symbol of the Nigerian President, first used in 1979 by President Shehu Shagari.
Why it has become difficult for Igbos to nurture and gyrate around a strong political unit as an effective political tool is still as surprising as it is embarrassing to me. The Igbos hover around PDP and yet they do not have a reasonable relevance in it. Compare this with the South-West that has used subtle opposition to corner a large chunk of the national wealth and political relevance to itself over the years. The south-West would foster their opposition and still give the picture of being in the big party while using their Afenifere as a moderating tool to galvanize their common goal. A case at hand is how their political structure in the last April 2011 presidential election was coalesced with PDP at the national level.
Compare Igbo style also with the South-South that has used the natural resources, in their soil, to attract political sympathy – and not respect – to itself. The common thing among the South-South and the South-East is that they are used as a pawn in the chess board. How else would one analyze the fact that the President comes from the South-South and the biggest achievement is that a construction company built a Church for him is his Otuoke village? The only East-west road from Benin through to Oron has been under construction since 2006 and completion may not come until the President uses it again as a political campaign tool in 2015. How else also would one reconcile the fact that, all the federal highways within the South-East have never had smooth face in all the over twelve years of PDP control of power but at federal and state levels?
The whole of the northern block, itself, is a political machine in view of the natural tutelage of the colonial masters. But for the incessant religious insurgencies from the Islamic world that has naturally pitched them against the Western culture, the Northern Nigeria would have been politically ahead of all the regions in the country.
The Igbo brand of politics would have been excellent if Nigeria is operating politics based on sound ideology or manifesto. At the moment, Nigerian politicking is still based, rather, on tribal and religious nepotism more than on ethical ideology. The time when the impact of political style of Ohaneze ndi Igbo will be felt in Nigerian politics is still away ahead. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Hon. Amb. Ralph Uwaechue, President General Ohaneze Ndigbo
The Nigerian state, with the assistance of some Igbo political elite (operating consciously or unconsciously), has progressively shoved the Igbos to an unenviable corner in the scheme of things politically. After the civil war, it would seem that, there has been a very subtle and conscious stride to set the rest of the South-South against the South-East so as to whittle down their strength towards any meaningful agitation for the position of the president. One thing is being the president; another is being able to operate as a president.
The unwritten convention has been, let the North rule then the South. The South is the political block that amalgamates the South-West, the South-East, and the South-South into a political divide. If we agree, like some narrow-minded people think, that the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates, of 1914 in Nigeria, has been the cog in the wheel of Nigeria’s growth, politically, we could even be more comfortable to postulate that the amalgamation of the three geo-political zones in the Southern part of Nigeria is the albatross that is holding the region down, politically, as well. But I think that is all a mirage.
But the stack truth is that all these political arrangements based on any form of rotation amongst the “political zones” and political units in our country has, unavoidably, engendered all forms of social injustices and corruption that has thrown up one form of social malady or the other. What obtains – in that vein – is that the worst people gather together, not because of clear and sound political manifestoes but, to loot the national wealth due to lack of ingenuity in tackling political problems facing the country.
We also see how zoning in PDP is only applied when it pleases the controlling group in the party and not as a standard that should be followed at all times.
In view of all the foregoing therefore, it becomes safer to deemphasize all manner of political grouping based on any form of zoning or rotation when doing a thorough diagnosis of the real courses of underdevelopment in the Nigerian state. President Obama did not emerge as the President of the World’s number one democracy based on any form of rotation. Not even on color. He emerged based, purely, on sound rendition of how he would implement his party’s core manifesto. True democracies emphasize political institutions rather than persons, tribes, zones or rotation.
When solid political institutions – such as entrenchment of constitutionality and obedience to the rule of law which guarantees electorates’ supremacy, establishment of core positive social values which denounces corruption in its entirety – are erected, it will be difficult for mediocrity to creep into the polity, even under any guise. Politicians would emerge under such platform by demonstrating sufficient understanding of the rules of the game based on sound rendition of their party’s manifesto – which would have been drawn up in line with the aspirations of the citizenry – rather than by application of brutal force or intimidation.
I feel ashamed that a country that attained independence in 1960 is still grappling with power generation and supply in 2012 while people who have saddled social and technological development all these years still walk tall within the society. I feel ashamed that past leaders do not have the courtesy of burying their heads in shame when it is glaring that their activities have dwarfed their nation. They do not seem to understand that it is the activities of leaders (both past and present) that have turned around nations such as South Korea, Malaysia, India, Singapore, etc into modern states and has sustained modern states such as USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, etc.
I feel ashamed that even as things are now, our current bunch of politicians are not mindful of their activities and its net impact in our country in a couple of years to come. These people do not understand development beyond allocating a good plush of the national wealth to them with little thought on what legacy they want to bequeath our generation unborn.
It is on this note that I see the presidential election of 2015 as yet another opportunity for Nigerians to redeem their country. And that opportunity gets widened when the caliber of past Military Head of state of Nigeria in the person of Alhaji Buhari offers himself one more time to Nigerians to be voted as their head of the central government.
What has been the ploy by corrupt rulers against Buhari is that he would Islamize Nigeria. They have also flaunted the issue of the 53 brief cases during his reign with late General Idiagbon in the eighties. But all these things happened under military hegemony and none happened for conscious personal or selfish gain.
But beyond that, no politician has established any corruption against this man. It is on record that General Buhari did not come out of government with affluence. Not even a good home was attributed to him when he was forced out of power by iridescent General Babangida, the “evil genius”. Today, General Babangida has also lost grip of the PDP to General Obasanjo. But maybe for the fear of reprisal from Buhari, he has chosen to be insulted in PDP than unite forces with Buhari to redeem Nigeria.
The worst I suspect will happen if Buhari comes to power will be direct confrontation with all corrupt rulers, past or present. He will go as far as recovering their loots both at home and abroad and he may even back bills that will sentence them to over hundreds of years of imprisonment and if all these would be done in compliance with the rule of law and in the interest of our country so let it be.
But this is where I expect true sacrifice from our past rulers if they have blood flowing through their veins. If their activities have led a great nation such as our country Nigeria into the precarious state she finds herself in even in view of all the natural and human resources abundant in our land, could they not give themselves up to be sacrificed if only that will engender a truly powerful country where our generations unborn will worship them as martyrs?
When I look back 20 years ago, I begin to wonder how we actually lived without substantial communication.
There was this joke about a guy who was deployed for his one year ( NYSC) post university service in one remote area in the North-East part of the country. There was no GSM network in that place at the time.
After the first two months into his service, he decided to communicate his parents back home about his experiences as a “corper”. For absence of any other means, he wrote a letter. The letter got to his home town one week after he returned from the one year service.
In the same vein, I am certainly sure, our generation unborn will marvel at how we survived with the daunting corruption and poor quality of ruler-ship we are immersed in at this moment.
Because of long exposure to military hegemony in Nigerian, most of us grew up to think that use of force and lawlessness is the only way towards resolving social issues. The psyche that the army bequeathed us democracy still runs fresh in our system. And it is evident that the armies of African states have not completely relinquished the warped notion that part of their constitutional roles is to interfere in social crises within the state. And because they have directly or indirectly influenced who becomes a president, most presidents still think that control of the army is more important than submission to the desires of the electorate. This is why our rulers resort to using armed forces instead of civil means to bring down common demonstration such as we witnessed during the fuel subsidy turmoil at the beginning of 2012 and the Odi saga in Bayelsa state during Obasanjo’s regime.
So in view of the foregoing my take is that every effort should be channeled on how to extricate Nigeria from the claw of PDP at the national level. What, in my opinion, should be done to actualize this is for all genuine progressives from all over the country to come out in unity in the war to liberate Nigeria from the strangle hold of PDP first, then thereafter institute a realistic electoral reform that will put the power of determination of who leads Nigeria in the hands of the electorate. If Buhari an Hausa Fulani (and an ex soldier) or any Igbo man or any Yoruba man or any Ijaw man or indeed any other Nigerian (without PDP mindset) can be used as the molecule that would attract followership that will have that capacity to withstand PDP’s crushing momentum, let all Nigerians shield their tribal or religious bigotry and follow that person.
So until we obliterate the military mentality from our psyche as a people, Nigeria and Nigerians will not know development and progress. And PDP, as it is constituted today, remains a very viable psychological component to that mind set. So when I say that Igbos do not have a chance, what runs at the back of my mind is that even if an Igbo becomes the president of Nigeria within PDP (against all perceivable odds), Nigeria’s predicament would not have still gotten a true solution.
Chris Onyishi (firstname.lastname@example.org)reports from Lagos, Nigeria.
*Nigeria: NDDC’s Foundation for Food Security
By Ifeatu Agbu
There is no doubt that the Niger Delta region is blessed with natural resources. Apart from oil, the region is also endowed with some of the country’s most fertile land. Ironically, inhabitants of the region are not reaping the fruits of nature’s bounties as much as expected because of years of environmental degradation. Thus, majority of its people are still living and dying in poverty.
Assessing the level of poverty among the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria in 2006, the Central Bank of Nigeria, observed that south-south geopolitical zone is the worst hit by poverty among the three zones in southern part of the country. Before the oil boom era, more than 95 per cent of the people in the region were engaged in agriculture. Since Shell first struck oil in Oloibiri in 1956, unquantifiable oil spills have continued to pollute the water and soil while dangerous gases from gas flares poison the air across the region, destroying the livelihoods of fishermen and farmers. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt
To make matters worse, the Nigerian nation had come to depend almost entirely on crude oil for economic survival. The result, of course, is inadequate investment in the agricultural sector. Indeed, annual production of both cash and staple food crops dropped significantly since oil money came into the economic matrix. For example, although Nigeria was the world’s largest cocoa exporter in 1960, cocoa production has since dropped to a dismal 250,000 Metric Tonnes per annum placing her behind Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire. Similarly, other cash crops such as rubber, palm produce, cotton and groundnuts, which were major foreign exchange earners before oil, have lost their export appeal.
Recognizing that Nigeria was once able to produce enough food to feed its people, as well as supply raw materials to local industries and still have enough for export, the Federal Government seems poised for a change of course. According to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the production of locally milled rice would increase from 2.21 metric tonnes to 6.4 million metric tonnes annually by 2015. To achieve this, he said that the government would attract 100 large rice millers into the country and form cluster rice farms around the mills. Obviously, the high rate of rice importation gives government officials the jitters, considering the country’s ever growing population. Nigeria is not only the largest consumer of rice in Africa; it also eats more than it produces. One can, therefore, understand the minister’s eagerness to turn things around. He has promised to make agriculture earn for the nation what crude oil does at the moment.
As part of the efforts to make good this promise, Nigeria recently sealed a deal with a US manufacturing firm, for the production of 300,000 tractors with a view to encouraging large-scale farming. The partnership, involving delegates from USAID and the U.S. Bureau for Food Security (BFS), is expected to attract an investment worth 60 million dollars into Nigeria’s agricultural sector. Dr. Adesina said that the ultimate goal was to create employment for our teeming graduates as it is estimated that roughly 4 .5 million youths were entering our already saturated labour market every year. Another country which has shown interest in the development of modern agriculture in Nigeria is Israel. This is a country that is exporting food and earning as much as $714 million yearly, while Nigeria is spending billions of naira on the importation of food. Interestingly, Israel that is reaping huge sums from the exportation of agricultural produce is in the heart of the desert, unlike Nigeria with abundant fertile land. So, the Jewish State owes its success in agriculture to the deployment of modern technology. They have demonstrated in various spheres of life that technology is the key to economic power in the modern world. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing some major cities, including the Federal capital (Abuja or FCT)
Last year, the Israeli ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Moshe Ram, said he was happy that Israel was collaborating with Nigeria to return the Niger Delta to a major food-producing zone in the country. He recalled that palm produce used to flourish in the region and expressed happiness that Israeli expertise would help to bring back those days of glory.
In fulfillment of the pledge, the Israeli embassy is collaborating with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to rejuvenate and modernize agricultural practices in the oil-producing region. The NDDC has also entered into partnership with other stakeholders in its efforts to reactivate the agricultural potential of the Niger Delta and empower farmers to reclaim their livelihoods.
The Managing Director of the commission, Dr.Chris Oboh, said it was very necessary that agriculture was revived to make it a major economic activity in the Niger Delta region. He made the pledge at a ceremony to formally welcome 11 trainees from India, who received specialised trainings on mechanised farming and repair of farm equipment. “We are focused on diversifying our local economy in a manner that will drastically reduce our dependence on oil,” Oboh said.
He said the commission would vigorously pursue programmes that would boost agriculture to make it rival the oil sector as a major income earner in the region. Oboh urged the beneficiaries of the training to use their skills and knowledge to further boost the development of agriculture in the region.
The NDDC had been running agricultural training programmes in conjunction with Songhai Delta, a reputable capacity building and youth empowerment centre based in Amupke, Delta State. The scheme aimed at training youths in Niger Delta in various aspects of agriculture, took off in January 2008. The NDDC said it has trained over 6,500 youths of the region in various agricultural practices.
The commission has promised to increase food supply by building rice processing mills across the oil producing states to produce rice in commercial quantity. According to Dr. Godspower Amadi, NDDC’s deputy director, agric and fisheries, “we started commercial rice farming as far back as 2007 with nine pilot farms in the region. Our giant rice processing plant at Elele Alimini in Rivers State will soon start churning out tonnes of high quality rice.”
Today’s farming cannot be anything but science-driven with the requisite technical sophistry. The NDDC is well aware of this fact, hence its contributions to the transition from subsistence farming to modern agricultural practices. Just last year, the interventionist agency donated 27 tractors to the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) group, for delivery to farmer cooperatives in their respective host communities. The OPTS is supported by the major oil companies.
Engineer Anthony Abolarin of Total, who received keys to the tractors on behalf of the OPTS members, described the event as unique and monumental. He said that the handing over of the tractors by the NDDC demonstrates the level of understanding and cooperation between the commission and oil companies.
It is only through this kind of intervention that the oil producing communities and indeed the entire country can be empowered to meaningfully engage in mechanized agriculture that would make Nigeria to become self-surficient in food production. It will also help the nation to reduce its ever-rising food import bills, which according to the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr. Dalhatu Tafida, stands at about 10 billion dollars annually.
This worrying situation is stirring some state governments into action. The Rivers State government is one of those that have taken up the challenge. According to the Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, agriculture would be made the mainstay of the state economy in no distant time. Thus, the government has put pen to paper with an Israeli-based firm, LR Group Limited for a multi-billion naira 2000-hectare farm in Etche Local Government. Governor Amaechi said the development was part of the efforts by his administration to shift emphasis from oil-dependent economy to an agro-based economy.
The administration of Senator Bukola Saraki and the present government of Abdulfatah Ahmed took Kwara State to a new level of commercial agriculture. Saraki cleared the grounds for agrarian revolution when he invited white Zimbabwean farmers in 2004 to introduce modern technology to farming in the state.
Apparently, the message is beginning to sink in. Technology is the key to the agricultural revolution needed to lift Nigeria from the status of a mono-cultural economy.
Mr. Ifeatu Agbu ( email@example.com ) writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
*I See Biafra Here: Any Igbo "Zik" of Nigeria Is Doomed
By Ikechukwu Enyiagu
There was once an old man in a part of Igboland whose activities became the shame of his children, family and the entire town. As old as he was, he did not only indulge in drug abuse, he rallied hopeless and helpless youths to do same, thereby creating mass-insecurity in the town. He was given enough time and advice both by elders and relatives, enough advice to understand the consequences of the generation he was trying to raise even at his old age. As an elderly man, even the youths covered their heads in honor to tell him that “Okenye amaghi ekwu ezi okwu bu onye aru. Yet he ignored them all…until time overcame him and judgment descended. He was arrested by the town’s legally-instituted security outfit. He was arrested and tied to a tree in front of a tree in the town’s market for a day. The sun shined on him and the rain fell on him until it was night when he was released. To many who would readily condemn such steps, your motives remain questionable and dark before the eyes our maker and before a true government of the people, for the people and by the people. The intention to treat him this way was not only to deter him and others from doing such, it was carried out this way to get him to understand that he would not die if he stayed a day without abusing drugs, but that the town and its people would utterly perish if they allowed him to continue. The effect: he got saved and the society was rid of that evil foundation. Now, realizing that our elders and leaders and internationally-recognized persons of Igbo/Biafra origin have gone the way of this very old man, not by abusing drugs, but by abusing their eldership and leadership and by laying the foundations and sowing the seeds of a will-be utterly wasted Igbo of tomorrow, I am going to use this space to speak to them as one who speaks to the king/elder with his face covered; yet I’m going to speak it pointblank. However, after this piece of passionate and cautious advice and warning, they still fail to retrace their steps, it should be clear to them that, their public disgrace is in sight and that no part of the world will be safe enough for their evasion of justice. Furthermore, I write to remind them that “Ofu onye adighi akari ora.” They will be crushed by the Spirit and the passion of Biafra and of freedom.
Having said this, I would like to point to a few names of the so-called Igbo leaders and elders whom I remember now: All the five (5) South-East Governors (past and present), all the Tradition Rulers (appointed or inherited), all Senators (past and present), all National House of Assembly members (past and present), all State House of Assembly members (past and present), all Igbo/Biafra Ministers (past and present), all Igbo/Biafra Commissioners (past and present), all Igbo/Biafra Ambassadors (past and present), all Igbo/Biafra politicians in places of authorities, all Igbo/Biafra Human Rights activists, all Igbo/Biafra internationally acclaimed scholars, all Igbo elders (men and women), all Igbo Religious Bodies (Christianity and traditional), all Igbo “Ziks” of Nigeria, all Pro-Biafra groups, etc. I see Biafra here! One more thing I see is the death of Zikism (which true meaning and processes only amount to an extinct Igbo/Biafran race), whatever that means to other people. I see the doom of all Igbo “Ziks” of Nigeria. I see the shame of those who have always thought that their financial, gun-propelled and abominable political, traditional and religious powers are both the enslavement and the destiny of the abused, insulted, shamed, massacred, and disgraced; marginalized, denied, bound and compelled Igbo/Biafrans. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Map of Defunct Republic of Biafra
I see the Spirit of Biafra defying all injustices, all falsehood, all obstructions, all oppositions, and “all that money can buy,” to stand in the lead of the peoples’ desire for freedom, justice, peace and prosperity. I see Igbo/Biafran children/youths, who have endured the burden of the stranger so much so that they now preferred death (if destiny desires it so) than to keep drowning in unreasonable and senseless silence over the silence, wickedness, self-alone attitude, total abandonment, open insult, callousness, arrogance, pride and Godness of those who have made themselves/been declared Igbo leaders I see them rise up even as the locust upon a green field, to devour all trees of unrighteousness and silence all voices of the enemy. Like that old wicked man, who wasted the goodwill, love and respect of his people, I see our elders, who have ignored, neglected, abandoned, suppressed, threatened, and silenced the cries of our people for Biafra, our only freedom and peace, being held down and made so helpless, hopeless and ashamed right before all – young and old alike.
I see a man like Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State (The Eastern Heartland) being swallowed by his plots which he started even in the secret and tried to cover with his philanthropic veils. I see his desire to change the God of his people and to fully manifest as an Antichrist, right in the middle of a God-fearing people, being shattered, and all his nakedness being revealed to all - enemies and friends alike. I see him and all he has ever worked for being swept away by the flood of the anger of the Spirit of Biafra and His children. I see a man like Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, the man who erected a job-creating structure States away from his people, those he declared himself humble, loving and understanding enough to lead aright; the leader who chose his business interests over the salvation of his people, and who would sell, not just his family but his kinsmen to his taskmaster; I see him rot in the burning fire ignited by the spirit of the love of money. I see this man who is so deceitful and cunning enough to have declared himself a son to our father, late General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu; fatherless and childless. Then I see the Orjis of Abia, who have the blessed made Abia State worse than an European dustbin, and their people, beggars on the highways of Europe; I see these people being destroyed from within and by those they have stolen and killed and oppressed for. For the Elechi of Ebonyi State, who shouted that, “instead of a divided Nigeria, the Igbo should continue being killed in their numbers;” I see him as a man who enters his grave by stoning. I see a man who went home as a bat, usu na abughi anu elu ma obu anu ala. Knowledge abounds! When will men use it! I see a sick man who, like others before and with him, has been silent and has tried to silence the voice of the Spirit of Biafra, in Enugu government house. If the complacence of King Ahab over his wife who helped to bring the anger of God on the people of Israel was not enough excuse for innocence, those leaders who are silent will be silenced. I see those women who are being cheered by all nationally and internationally, who have grown proud and above their husbands and elders, who no longer understand that motherhood is the mother of all nor do they respect the Igbo/Biafra Spirit; I see them cry even for their own children. When a woman loses the child she loves so much, a greater part of her world comes to an end. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Igboland (homeland of Ndigbo of Nigeria )
For those who speak of “Offor na Ogu,” of Obi na Offala,” or Nze na Ozor,” yet would not do what the land says, I see men who the land kills with merciless anger. For some of our leaders who are so educationally all-knowing, internationally worshipped, who have decided that Igbo/Biafra freedom would be nothing but a history in books and movies, I see men and women in fine robes who suddenly find themselves disrobed, naked, and unknown. Worse off, I see men, who have begun and given all for the cause of Igbo/Biafra freedom, but who have suddenly turned back and surrendered themselves and those who believed in them to the very enemy; I see them wander the earth like the Cains of our days and I see men despise even bringing about their death. Those who claim to be the eyes and ears of God in Igbo/Biafra yet have only succeeded in defrauding my people and making matters worse for them, they are all left alone to their shame! I see them asked to prove their sources and I see their failure trigger mass exodus.
Like Amaziah unto Amos, many would say, “you seer, leave us alone, go to other place and see!” Well, I will answer them thus: To the men who would not want justice to reign, may justice be denied them. To those who hate the truth, let everything around them bring them messages of falsehood, deceit and death. To those who would rather that I be shut up, let everything that God has created and given freely, and all that man has made, deny you access of usage. To all the leaders who, after having seen the wickedness of Nigeria and its government on/against the remnants of Igbo/Biafrans, still looked the other way; to you may your sources of hope and joy be your sure sources of public shame and destruction. To the elders who have declared that Israel should rather remain in Egypt than leave, may your sons and daughters, whom you raised in the way of your abominations and under the foundations of your wickedness, be enslaved as men were in Egypt, and may you be unable to deliver them. To our elders (men and women) who would rather encourage their children into individual crimes instead of standing up as one voice to demand the future of their children from the hand of Pharaoh, the Lord remind you of Moses’ mother and of Joseph’s father. And if you will not repent and stand up as one, may you be judged as Jezebel was and disgraced as Herod. To all elders in Igbo/Biafra who have worked and continue to work, in any way, against the freedom of Igbo/Biafra, and against the realization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, away from Nigeria, by their silence, selfish and callous representations, let your children deny you and your wives/husbands divorce you. Let your family, kindred and town renounce you. And let children, all over Biafraland, use your names bywords and curse-words in their songs to remind the generations to come of how abominations were removed from Igbo and Biafraland.
I see Biafra here! I see it come. I see the Spirit leading once again and I see every true Igbo/Biafran sons and daughters following right behind. The days of ignorance are gone; the days of pity are gone. The days of silence and submissive slavery are gone. The chains of silence are broken and the people long-enslaved have seen the light of freedom. Who can stop them from being free! Let heaven and earth pass away if the peace that God has promised his people through His word do not come upon us who belong to Him. Let those who have made pacts with the devil to ensnare all of us ensnare only themselves. Let those who have made pacts and agreements with the enemy, using the lives of our people, be used as the sacrifice instead because our people are forever delivered. To all leaders/elders in Igbo/Biafraland who have worked in ignorance till now, but who would want to be on the side of good history, turn around now and face the Spirit of Biafra, the spirit of peace and freedom for the Igbo, for the Biafrans, and for all those oppressed and compelled to remain silent. No! I see Biafra here. I see the Spirit of Biafra, and He is here to stay!
Ikechukwu Enyiagu can be reached at
*Tribalism And The Nigerian Model of Racism
It was my first time in Europe, London to be precise, and I had gone to check this apartment that was advertised in the Loot weekly. At that time I was still living with a relation, and I was quite happy that the advertised apartment was no more than 100m from where I was staying. So, I walked up to the indicated address, rang the doorbell and waited for a response. After a few seconds the door opened and a male Caucasian appeared. I'm never going to forget the look on his face after he discovered that an African had come to rent the room. He didn't beat about the bush in informing the room had been taken the next day I had called as agreed. Well I had expected something like this from my encounter with him the previous day.
I never quite realised I was Black until that particular evening. Being a first experience I wasn't sure whether to be angry, sad, indifferent or simply laugh it off. I could have gone ahead to brand the whole White race as racists, but then I would have to account for the countless kindness and friendship I had met in many Caucasians that I have come across. A similar incident occurred about two years ago in Germany, when I had gone to (again) look up an apartment for rent. I had this time gone with my colleague and friend, an Indian, and the German owner bluntly stated she could not rent the apartment to foreigners.
I live in Europe, and issues like these boardering on racism are not far-fetched. And expectedly, I had received calls from friends in Nigeria wanting to know how I had coped with such. And in my quiet moments of reflection I have found it outrightly dishonest to put forth life within the Nigerian boarders as devoid of similar attitudes from fellow Nigerians. That is, being Nigerian and living within Nigeria is likely to expose you to similar treatment from other human beings who generally consider you as less deserving of certain considerations for no other reason than you belong to a different tribe. Or a different religion. I considered our national politics, where the Northerners famously claimed power belonged to them. Or should one now consider the Igbos and the Yorubas who, among others, would in many cases not give out their children to marry members of the other tribes?
This might appear trivial, but then it's in context: during my undergraduate education at Ife an Igbo boy had blantantly refused to sell an extra bedspace of his to a non-Igbo student. A Yoruba person close to me had also jokingly raised an objection to my having an Igbo female friend.
How about cases where only individuals from particular families are allowed to monopolise certain political offices?
We find the same pattern in corporate bodies, in sport, in education, in health,... in fact, in the entire social structure we've come to know as Nigeria. What right do I have then to blame a Caucasian, an Indian, or a Chinese for discriminating against me for being African? And historically speaking, what right do we have as a nation for speaking and standing against apartheid of South Africa? In my opinion I think we've spent so long discriminating against fellow Nigerians on the basis of tribe and religion that this pervertion has come to be viewed as normal in the Nigerian context. The picture becomes more deplorable when we consider that this tribalistic tendencies are daily being fuelled by the parents, and other respected members of our societies. How many Nigerians can confidently say their parents and persons close to them have never made malicious comments about members of the other tribes? And when they do this, do we not join in in laughing against the Hausas, Yorubas,and Igbos, as the case maybe? ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map and Flag of Nigeria
Our entire culture and subcultures have been founded on this tribal divisioning, how hyprocritical of us to stand against neo-apartheid in different countries around the world. Hardly would an unfortunate incident affecting most of the tribes in the country occur in some parts of the country and certain tribes not cry out that it's nothing short of a conspiratorial cleansing of their tribe. I allude to Boko Haram's murderous campaign that has seen countless Yorubas, Hausas, Igbos and other tribes and aliens slain, and yet some tribe fuelled by a tribal paranoia keep alleging it's an attempt by Nigeria to expunge them. This in their case is a a peculiar manifestation of the same tribalistic outlook.
I have been to different parts of Nigeria, and also to several countries around the world, and everywhere I have noticed that human beings are essentially the same, with both kind aspects and at the same time with a predisposition to maltreating other races and tribes of men. On a lighter side now, an Italian-American had once asked me in Philadelphia if there were actual houses in Nigeria. I suppose she thought we were living on some trees or inside some caves. Such stereotypical view as this, is usually not an evidence of a defect in the victim of such view, but on the other hand it is nothing short of a demonstration her shocking and shameful ignorance. And yes, that was just two years ago, not two centuries ago.
I have heard Yorubas who have never been to Northern Nigeria tell me things about the Hausas. The Igbos do the same, the same thing the Hausas. The sad thing is that such stereotypical and entirely ignorant branding of other tribes is not aways caused by illiteracy. When I was a kid I had been made to believe that education should liberate a people, in our case it seems to drive us further down the path of bondage.
Let's for a minute consider how it has affected every splinter of our national experience. Do you need me to write about the politics of blood and greed, where each tribe sees the privilege to serve the nation as no more than a golden opportunity to divert the nation's bleeding wealth to his own part of the country? And as a result of the competitive scramble for loot, no one cares that the nation remains stagnant, once the misguided politician is from your tribe. How many politicians do we have that can claim exemption to this? It has become a status behaviour for them to establish a university, a hospital , or any other such structures in their own states and villages once elected. And we all look away from the fact that such institutions could have better served Nigerians in some other parts of the country.
What of sport? Some weeks ago the whole world gathered in London to watch the open shame of Nigeria, the self-acclaimed giant of African (too sad being merely numerous isn't enough to merit such description). I am sure not many Nigerians were disappointed or shocked by the outcome, that we didn't leave London with a tiny medal. Had they included copper, or wood in the awarded medals I am not so sure we would have come home with enough wood to light our frozen national heart. One would then ask, how come such a country with so many people could not lift a single medal? Well, we are from a country where the last time we heard of merit spoken of was in the fairy tales told by our parents, in turn told them by their own parents. Instead, in the name of being faithful to some spurious Federal character, we ended up enlisting athletes who were below average. Should it really matter which tribe the athletes come from as long as they are the best the country could find? If for instance we have 15 slots to fill on a football team, and out of all the interviewd candidates 12 Igbos (or Hausas or Yorubas) possess performance superior to every other person, one should think it makes more sense to choose those ones rather than to push in members of the other tribes who have no competing chance, not even within our own country.
The educational sector and the principle, for instance, of catchment area scores. I wish I could laugh at this policy's silliness, but that it's a very sad phenomenon. That smarter candidates are turned away from an institution just because they are from different states: Then we go ahead and lower the pass mark for the indigenes of our own states. The sad thing is, that poor boy from another state who probably gave his best to writing the exam, is turned away empty-handed. And if such individual has no such institution in his own state, he though being a Nigerian becomes an education-destitute in his own country. But then you'd ask, shouldn't the state be able to actively enhance the education of its indigenes? By all means, it must. But then should it be by lowering the standard and thus prematuredly aborting the surviving notion of merit? Certainly not. Lowering the pass mark (catchment score it is called) for the state is analogous to Britain deciding its own sprinters would only need to run half track to qualify for a medal. But instead of adopting the Nigerian model, it spent billions of pounds in training its citizens so they had more chance of qualifying without having to selectively beat down the pass mark for the Britons. Any serious state interested in enhancing its indigenes education should be read invest in infrastructure acquisition and students' training especially at the the primary and secondary school levels. If a state invests in hiring exceptional teachers and in equipping the education at these indicated levels, it can then be expected that its indigines will have no problem meeting a unified entry qualification into the higher institutions. In addition, the state can also (and should) give worthy scholarships to exceptional and hardworking indigenous students, which should directly stimulate and motivate their interest in knowledge education. To round this paragraph off, I must say University of llorin is about the worst in terms of ambushing university education (a Federal university at that) for its own indigenes. Perhaps there are other universities like this within the country, and one only needs to interview more students to find this out.
Racism, tribalism, nepotism and all the other forms of negative human relational isms are a disease inhabiting the dirty crevices of the human soul. They are often symptomised by absurd stereotypes, fuelled by ignorance and thriving in the mind of the mentally, morally and spiritually stunted regardless of whether such predisposition is found in an illiterate person or an Emeritus professor. As Nigerians we need not look too far afield for a demonstration of its unfortunate effects, it's right here in our homes, in religious and educational institutions, and in governance. And until we shed this contemptible cloak of immaturity, we are going no where as a country.
Jide Olubiyi, Research Center Julich, Germany.
*GAAICOM, Ohaneze And The Race For Igbo Emancipation
Masterweb Reports - Friday, September 7, 2012: The quest for the Igbo race to be politically, economically and spiritually emancipated from all the conspiracies and betrayals bedeviling their existence since after the Biafra Genocide led to the formation of General Assembly of all Igbo Christian Organisations and Ministers (GAAICOM). This divine mandate was corroborated and adopted on the 4th of April 2002 by clergy men cutting across all denominations at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Enugu. GAAICOM comprising clergymen, church workers and leaders cutting across all denominations have been working since 2002 behind the scene towards idolatrous, cultural, social, political and economic emancipation of Igbos.
Presently in Nigeria, Igbos are allowed to fend for themselves. All the estates, businesses and industries that litter Igbo land are mostly due to individual efforts. The Nigerian state finds it expedient to use the intelligence and ingenuity of the Igbo but deny them the much needed federal presence. The activities of Igbo saboteurs who prefer the crumbs from the masters table are another source of self marginalization. The timidity and slavery mentality of Igbo Public Servants when opportune to attract federal projects and attention to Igbo land is another source of concern.
During the build – up to the 2011 presidential elections, GAAICOM decided to throw weight behind the candidacy of a South – South candidate in the person of Goodluck Jonathan with the understanding that after his tenure in 2015, the Igbos will be given the slot. In addition, GAAICOM requested, in a written document, that the constant killings of Igbos be terminated in the North. GAAICOM also demanded that the 2nd Niger Bridge, Onitsha seaport, Enugu – Onitsha Expressway, Enugu – port –Harcourt Expressway, and Enugu – Abakaliki Road be repaired to open up the region for commercial activities. The demand included an international airport in the South East, non – interference in electoral processes in the South East so that Igbos can hold their leaders accountable. The agents of the president agreed to all these and were on the verge of signing a written agreement as a reference point when the idea of involving Ohanaeze was mooted. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Igboland (homeland of Ndigbo of Nigeria )
In order to avoid the treachery associated with Nigerian political climate, GAAICOM took the documented requests to Ohaneze leadership under Ambassador Ralph Uwechue, who expressed his handicap on the premise that his tenure remained only three months, expiring in July 2010. GAAICOM decided to lobby and pressurize Ohanaeze Chieftains to grant the present leadership tenure extension to enable them complete the assignment of repositioning the Igbos for posterity. The Ohaneze Chieftains grudgingly yielded to the demands of GAAICOM.
Today it is obvious that the South East is yet to benefit much from this administration. Apart from the military high command under an Igbo man, the rest of the agreement is yet to be given attention. Book Haram Jihadists are killing Igbos all over Northern Nigeria and security agencies have not contained the situation. Igbos are out in the cold, wandering like sheep without shepherd. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map and Flag of Nigeria
Igbos cannot rely on the magnanimity of the North, West and South South before taking their rightful place. The progressive element in the North and South - West are creating formidable alliance for 2015. The South South is gearing for a second term; the Middle Belt is agitating for another chance while the Northern Oligarchy is positioning their candidate in the event of President Jonathan being pressurized out of the race using Boko Haram. Where is the place of Ndigbo in all these schemes and maneuvers?
Therefore, the leadership of the GAAICOM took far reaching decisions at the 2-day pre-convention meeting which held at the Ohaneze Ndigbo National Headquarters on the 12th and 13th of July, 2015 aimed at repositioning the Igbos politically, socially and economically. These decisions will be ratified by the Patriach Ecclesia Council meeting scheduled for the 15th of September, 2012. Therefore, all Igbo sons and daughters should stand behind this divinely mandated move under the leadership of Apostle Dr. P.C.J. Macjossy, Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, Rev.Fr Alphonsus Okoh ,Archbishop Austin Nwodika , Rev Obinna Akukwe , Bishop Obi Onubogu among others to ensure that Igbos spiritually strategize for total emancipation through the proposed "3 Day Walk into the Presence of God" or risk monumental consignment into the political dustbin of Nigeria.
All state coordinators should inform their chapters accordingly ahead of the Patriach Ecclesia Meeting.
Director of Media and Communication, GAAICOM
*Nigeria: NDDC And The Challenge of Abandoned Projects
By Ifeatu Agbu
Not too long ago, the Presidential Projects Assessment Committee (PPAC) set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to look into cases of abandoned federal government projects released figures that could best be described as shocking. Their report showed that an alarming eleven thousand, eight hundred and eighty-six (11,886) abandoned projects are begging for completion in different parts of the country. “One of the challenges we met when we came on board was the multiplicity of uncompleted and ongoing projects across the region [Niger Delta]. We are aware of stakeholders’ concerns and are committed to ensuring the completion of as many of such projects as possible within the limit of available time and resources.” That was how Dr. Chris Oboh, the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, explained the direction of his new Board. To give effect to the board’s dominant goal, the Managing Director is personally driving the process. He told members of the Presidential Monitoring Committee on the Niger Delta who visited the commission recently that “the 2012 budget would target completion of existing projects and they have all been placed on priority list. A lot of projects have been awarded since the establishment of the NDDC; we intend to focus on the completion of the projects.” True to the declaration of the NDDC boss, the board members undertook an extensive audit of all on-going projects across the oil-producing region. Dr. Oboh described the audit as a demonstration of the commitment of the board to the completion of projects awarded since the inception of the NDDC in December 2000. The monitoring committees constituted by the board have criss-crossed the nine NDDC states to see things for themselves. One of such committees has just concluded its inspection of projects in Delta, Edo and Ondo states. The monitoring groups made up of representatives of the various states on the board of the NDDC had inspected projects in all the states. The projects include roads, bridges, land reclamation and shore protection, flood control and channelization projects, as well as university hostel projects spread across the region. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing its composite 8 states.
Members of the first monitoring group visited Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom and they were led by Barrister Edi Orubo, representing Bayelsa State. Others were Prof. Ibitamuno Aminigo, representing Rivers State and Engineer Imaobong Inyang, representing Akwa ibom State. According to Orubo, their task was to assess what was on the ground and recommend measures that would facilitate the completion of projects placed on fast-track by the commission. The team leader said that the new board of the NDDC was poised to make appreciable impact on the lives of the people of the Niger Delta as quickly as possible. “The project monitoring team will work closely with the contractors to ensure that they deliver quality infrastructure and on time too,” he said. He said that some of the problems that had previously slowed down the pace of work on NDDC projects had been addressed, noting that “the process of payment has been streamlined and fine-tuned such that contractors are now paid as soon as they present their Interim Payment Certificates[IPC].” The team assessed the level of work done at the site of the 29-kilometre Ogbia-Nembe road, which the commission is building in partnership with the Shell Petroleum Development Company [SPDC]. This road with 10 long bridges and 99 culverts is described as one of the very challenging projects of the commission because of its very difficult terrain. For over 35 years when it was first proposed for construction, successive administrations could not muster the political will to execute it until SPDC and NDDC decided to take the bull by the horns. From Bayelsa State, the board members moved over to Rivers State where they inspected the hostel projects at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology [RUST] and the University of Port Harcourt. After that they moved to Buguma. Here, they inspected the Buguma-Edo-Abalama-Abonema road as well as the Buguma shore-protection and the reclamation of 150 hectares of land in Ogu-Bolo, all in Rivers State. While they expressed satisfaction with the massive land reclaimed at Ogu-Bolo, they were sorely disappointed at the poor performance of the contractor at Buguma. In Akwa Ibom, the board members inspected the hostel at the University of Uyo Permanent site and the one at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital. They also looked at some on-going NDDC roads and bridges in the state. The roads visited were the 30 kilometre Nsasak Junction-Okon Essien Udim road; the 33.5 kilometre Ikot-Akpan-Udoh road; Iko-Atabrikang-Opolom-Iwuo Achang road with a 600-metre bridge in Ibeno and the Uquo-Odoro Nkit-Ntak-Inyang road. According to Engineer Samuel Inyang, the contractor handling the Nsasak-Okon Road, NDDC’s new approach to project execution was commendable as it was result-oriented. “Since we started work on this road the support of the NDDC has been unprecedented,” Inyang who was a member of the pioneer board, representing the oil companies, said. The second monitoring group from the NDDC board took off from Abia State. The three-man team of board members, led by Barrister Alloysius Nwagboso, representing Abia State, included Barr.Peter Ezeobi, representing Imo State and Hon. Dominic Edem, representing Cross River State. Barr. Nwagboso said that the inspection exercise was aimed at ensuring that on-going projects of the commission were completed on schedule. He said: “If the NDDC is not on ground, building roads and bridges as well as other key infrastructure, we won’t be on this assignment,” he said. He charged all NDDC contractors to fulfil their obligations to the commission by working expeditiously to deliver the various projects on schedule and to specification. He warned; “Contractors that are not on site or fail to keep to specifications will have themselves to blame because the board will not hesitate to take appropriate measures to bring them to book.” According to him, “gone are the days when contractors collect money and abandon projects or go on an endless voyage seeking variations”, since as he puts it “the Commission is determined to handover erring contractors to anti-graft agencies”. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt
The inspection team was disappointed when they visited the site of the 25-kilometre Uzoukwu-Owaza Iguruta Road and bridge project. Barr. Nwagboso lamented that the bridge which would link Abia and Rivers states was being delayed by the contractor who was not on site to explain why the work on the bridge appeared abandoned. It was also a sad story at the site of the 132 KVA transmission line and substation at Ukwa-West local Government Area of Abia State. The N1.6 billion power line project, meant to serve Abia, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, appeared stalled as the premises of the substation was overgrown with weeds. “It is sad,” was Nwagboso lamentation. The legislator representing Ukwa-West in the House of Representative, Hon. Uzoma Abonta promised to assist the NDDC in holding contractors accountable. “it is in our interest to see that projects sited in our constituencies are not abandoned,” he said. The NDDC board members were, however, delighted with what they saw at Nsidung and Idebe communities in new Bakassi/Akpabuyo Local Government Area of Cross River State. Hon. Akwaedem commended the contractor for “doing a good job” on the 12-kilometre road with a short spam bridge and culverts. Commenting specifically on the hostel projects, Barr. Nwagboso said the progress of work at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri[FUTO] and Imo State University was encouraging. He, however, charged the contractors to keep up the pace to ensure that they were completed on schedule. Engr. Henry Onouha, the site manager for the FUTO hostel project, assured the board members that the complex would be ready for commissioning before the end of the year. The contractors at the other hostels in Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states gave similar assurances. The 176-room proto-type hostels are being built in 18 universities and polytechnics in the nine Niger Delta states. Barrister Orubo said that members of his committee were impressed with what they saw at the project sites. He said they would continue to monitor the progress of work on the hostels to ensure that they were not only delivered on schedule but done according to specified standards. He appealed to all the contractors to be on their toes because board members would visit their sites henceforth without prior notice. The last leg of the inspection took members to Delta, Edo and Ondo states. The team was led by Chief Solomon Ogba, the representative of Delta State on the board. He stated that cases of agitations would be reduced when the numerous projects being executed by the commission were completed and handed over to the people. He, therefore, charged the contractors working for the NDDC to buckle up as “the board will not entertain excuses for non-performance.” Chief Ogba said the board and management of the commission have a mandate to key into the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan by increasing the tempo of infrastructure development in the oil-producing states. To this end, he said, “the commission is now paying contractors as soon as they achieved specified milestones. We have also placed some key projects on fast-track to ensure that they are completed in the shortest possible time.” The inspection team, which included Barr. Henry Okhuarobo, representing Edo State and Mr. Omogbemi Oladele, representing Ondo State, expressed satisfaction with the pace of work at the site of an extensive flood control project in Ughelli. It has 29.6 kilometres of drain channels and nine boxed culverts criss-crossing Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State. The board members said they were happy with the level of work at one of the university hostel projects in Abraka. According to the contractor, the hostel would be ready by December this year. “Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the second hostel which appears to have been abandoned by the contractor”, Ogba lamented. The NDDC team also inspected the Obozogbe – Abudu 24-Kilometre Road in Edo State, which is almost ready for commissioning. According to Mr. Oladele, “this road is a testimony to the fact that some local contractors can deliver quality jobs. The contractor has done a good job on this road and it is marvellous in our sight”. In Ondo state, the NDDC board members expressed dissatisfaction with the quality and pace of work at the shore protection and land reclamation work in Ayetoro. Mr. Oladele regretted that the project which was supposed to save several communities threatened by high waves from the Atlantic Ocean was being treated with levity. “The endangered Ayetoro community remains endangered because the contractor is not living up to expectation”, he said.
Mr. Ifeatu Agbu ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
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