*Bakassi: Difficult Steps Toward The End
Masterweb Reports - Friday, August 24, 2012: With barely one month to the expiration of the ten-year window of grace allowed by the International Court of Justice for an appeal on the ill-fated judgment on Bakassi, hope seems to be dwindling by the hours as the Nigerian government is yet to make any categorical statement on the Bakassi problem.
It could be recalled that after the ICJ judgment in 2002, former president Olusegun Obasanjo had unilaterally signed what is today known as Green Tree Agreement (GTA) on June 12, 2006 with President Paul Biya of Cameroon, under the pruning supervision of representatives of United Kingdom, United States of America, France and Germany, transferring the territory.
Initial protest against the ceding:
In 2006 shortly after the signing of the Green Tree Agreement in New York, United States of America, some Bakassi indigenes, who foresaw the implications of the ceding, had protested and consequently challenged it at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The plaintiffs were Chief Tony Ene Asuquo, Chief Orok Eneyo, Chief Emmanuel Effiong Etene, Ndabu Eyo-Umo Nakanda, Emmanuel Okokon Asuquo, Ita Okon Nyong and Richard Ekenyong.
They had asked for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the federal government from expelling or removing them from Bakassi or handing their homeland to Cameroon. The court case was won by the Bakassi people but the federal government refused to recognize the judgment.
Apart from the rejection of the High Court ruling by Abuja, the litigants were also intimidated and threatened. Chief Etene and his partners have gory tales to tell about their experiences in the hands of Nigerian authorities. But, despite this, the struggle for the soul of Bakassi had continued. Many lives have been lost, one of which was that of Chief Tony Ene.
Investigations revealed that when the Nigerian government blatantly refused to honour the court injunction stopping the ceding, out of annoyance and frustration, Ene decided to form a militant group, known then as Bakassi Movement for Self-Determination. This was to press home the emancipation of his people, but he paid the supreme price for daring the government of the day in the early hours of August 22, 2006 in a questionable circumstance.
This writer gathered that Ene died along Calabar-Itu road at Odukpani axis while on a mission to petition the then Cross River State government for the release of Richard Ekenyong who was one of the plaintiffs in the Abuja case. Ekpenyong was detained by the State Security Service allegedly on the order of the government of Cross River State, coerced by Abuja. Eyes witnesses at the purported auto-clash site painted a gory picture of what actually transpired.
While bemoaning the fate of his people and the untimely death of Ene, Chief Eyo Nakanda who spoke with reporters shortly after the death of the Bakassi militant leader, had said “Tony is the first martyr of the struggle for the freedom of the Bakassi people”.
A government house source also disclosed to our reporter that “it was clear that activities of Ene and his group stood on the way of the purported N3 billion ‘largesse’, which was budgeted for the settlement of Bakassi”.
The ceding and the pains:
It remains a fact that despite all entreaties to convince the country’s leadership to change its mind, Nigerian authorities, on August 14, 2008 at the Peregrino Government Lodge in Calabar, finally transferred the territory to Cameroon despite the tears and groans of a people whose only strength was their voices which at that point was rendered useless by the high and mighty in Aso Rock.
That day, thick darkness of uncertain future had eclipsed that part of the world. Some Bakassi indigenes who witnessed the sober ceremonies had psychological and emotional break-down as they visualized bleak future for their posterity.
Old men in their respective villages received the sad tales with rude shock, instigated by fear of losing their heritage, culture, identity, source of livelihood, history, sepulchers of their fathers and indeed everything that matters in life. This shock led to sudden unexplained sicknesses and early graves. It was not a bad dream but an absolute reality; they were being given out cheaply without being conquered in war.
To some of them, the very thought of Cameroon had sent goose pimples down their spines but they were consoled with a promise that the federal government would look into their welfare and properly resettle the emotionally bruised people. Four years after, the assurance has tacitly become a mirage.
From August 14, 2008, many Nigerians have variously made several submissions on the Bakassi problem which gets complicated by the day. Factions with diverse interest have not also help matters. This is because, while majority of the Bakassi people are crying out for their homeland, others are groaning about the federal government’s inability to properly resettle the Bakassi people.
Expressing his frustration in a chat with our reporter in Calabar after being chased out of Atabong (now Idabato) by the brutality of soldiers of the Central African country, a 81 year old Chief Ita Asuquo noted with nostalgia that the federal government’s action on Bakassi reminds him of the story of Ikemefuna; the ill-fated lad from Mbaino as contained in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.
Chief Ita recalled that Ikemefuna had regarded Okonkwo as a father who, apart from playing the role of providing for his household, was destined to be a pillar of strength and protection to his family members.
“In that book, it was Okonkwo, Ikemefuna’s ‘father’ who unleashed on the innocent lad the final and fatal blow which killed him. If Ikemefuna must be sacrificed to the oracle of the hills and caves, must he be slain by his own ‘father’? Bakassi has been slain by a ‘father’ whose natural responsibility was to protect.
“Moreover”, he continued, “like Banquo’s ghost in Shakespearean classic-Julius Ceasar, the ghost of Bakassi has refused to go away and shall never go away. It daily haunts our national psyche, particularly when Cameroon’s cruelty on Nigerians is brought to the fore as narrated by some of those who are daily escaping from the peninsular,” Ita had submitted painstakingly.
The Chief-turned-refugee therefore warned Nigerian government to ensure nothing evil happens to the leader of the Bakassi Self Determination Front, Mr Ekpe Ekpenyong Oku over the recent development at the peninsular, stressing, “the sacrifice of Tony Ene is enough, and as they say, enough is enough”. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Bakassi Self Determination Front flag ( Flag of purported new 'Bakassi Democratic Republic' ).
Gory tales from Bakassi
Furthermore, Nigerians from all walks of life today believe that Bakassi’s sad tale is fallout of international judicial ambush against Nigeria, and which the country’s leadership in its warped wisdom fell into sheepishly.
It is also very true that the story of Bakassi cannot all be told in a hurry. Few days ago, international media practitioners from United States of America and Germany had visited Bakassi for an on-the-spot assessment of situations in the ceded territory. As part of their routine, they had audience with a cross section of the Bakassi people.
Those who spoke included a 24 year old Asuquo Nyong Okon, Mrs Arit Essien, Prince Edet Etim Okon amongst others. All of them spoke in agreement about their gory experiences in the hands of the Cameroon gendarmes.
Mrs Arit Essien, who betrayed emotion during her submission said, “Cameroon people treat us like animals and force us to pay plenty of money when their patrol boat accost us in the sea before we are allowed to pass to our villages which are now in their country.
“Whenever they visit your village, the people would run into the bush and those the Gendarmes would arrest in the village would have to pay a mandatory fee for Gendarmes’ welfare and transportation through a special contribution or they would beat you to a pulp. Some time, they would seize all the fishing nets and engines of our fishermen and would tell our people not to fish in their waters again.
"Bakassi is our ancestral home. We all know that the struggle for the soul of Bakassi is the oil, so if they want to take the oil, let them take the oil and leave our native home to us. If the Nigerian government is not ready to accommodate us, please help us stand on our own as a country.
“We are crying to the Nigerian government to help us because if they leave us at the mercy of the Cameroonians, they would kill us all. We all know how Cameroonians treat Nigerians. We are the Efiks tribes in our country home and we cannot abandon our land. If the Cameroon people want to kill us all, we have no option, we are ready to die”, she sobbed uncontrollably.
Furthermore, our reporter who monitored the happenings in the ceded territory submitted that the mood in Bakassi is that of disappointment, apprehension and annoyance. Majority of Bakassi people hope the ceding of their homeland would be reversed miraculously before October 12 timeline.
Chairman of Bakassi local government area, Dr Ekpo Ekpo Bassey told our reporter recently that all hope was not lost, adding “the Calabar Chiefs who signed the treaty of protection with the British did not tell the colonialists to give out part of Efik kingdom to the Germans. We were not colonized as such the Anglo-German treaty is not binding on us. We shall get back our land by God’s grace”.
In his opinion, amidst great annoyance, Etinyin Etim Okon Edet, paramount ruler of Bakassi , expressed unshaken believe that the peninsular shall come back to the real owners.
Addressing members of the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties and Agreement penultimate week, he had retorted angrily “Nigeria should leave us alone. There was a Bakassi before a political Nigeria and there was Bakassi before a political Cameroon.
“We have not been fairly treated by this nation and what we are looking for now is to go back to our area by any possible means. We don’t even want that so-called relocation or resettlement any longer. We have been left to roam in the streets for almost ten years now; some of our people who chose to remain in the ceded villages are now at the mercy of the gendarmes.
“Thousand of returnees were camped in an open field for months with their wives and children. Thereafter, the Cross River State government built for us a refugee camp. This camp could not contain influx of thousands of Bakassi returnee. I left my palatial mansion at Abana to the Cameroonian”, he stated.
Militants’ activities and declaration of independence
Furthermore, the Bakassi militants themselves have also been speaking from the creeks. The leaders of the militants group, Ekpenyong Oku said his people are ready to lay down their lives and that the boys have already taken over some villages in the peninsular, and added “we shall soon send video clips of our activities for all to see”.
In a message posted on the internet few days ago, Oku, who addresses himself as ‘Commandant-General’ said “the whole world should answer this question: if you own a land, and one inch of that land is taken by your neighbor without your consent and or approval, how will you feel?”
He thereafter went spiritual and said, “O Time, thou determine all things. If indeed this is the time, manifest thyself for all to see that thou have come. The people of Bakassi have been in bondage for about 10years with their land and resources taken away. They are homeless and some have died. Those who are now living have no hope for the future.
“Time, manifest thyself. If blood would be required to set the people free, take mine. As you confronted pharaoh, oh Time, do so now. Everybody here (militants in the creeks) has deserted food, Time, take this as a sacrifice and assist us on this onerous journey as we do not know when we shall return.
“Bakassi, land of our birth, we pledge to you, neither silver nor gold shall dissuade us from taking you back. We did not choose the land of our birth neither did we choose our parents, the Almighty placed us there, and we were uprooted in a broad-day light by a president who was supposed to protect us”.
Oku therefore disclosed that his group, apart from taking over Ine Ekoi village, “are now at Akpa Ukwak quite close to Akpankanya”, stressing “from our observations, no Cameroonian army is in Akpankanya. There is a satellite tower built at Abana, to monitor Akwa Ibom and Cross River with a mast. Firstly, we must bring it down and that will now turn to a full scale.... The Defence Minister at Yaoundé recently visited Abana and Akwa . We are yet to get full details from our intelligence.”
This indeed is the general mood in today’s Bakassi. A one-time Chairman of Bakassi, Chief Emmanuel Etene in an advice said, “Nigerian government for once must be proactive because with what we are hearing, whether one believes it or not, a big problem approaches”
The final step
There are myriads of questions about Bakassi –the small but rich island which has surreptitiously become a global centre of attention. Some of these questions are: what would be the fate of the Bakassi people after the October 10, 2012 timeline? What is the way forward?
Answers to these questions may not be forthcoming but this writer recalls that during the visit of members of the House Committee on Treaties and Agreements to Bakassi penultimate week, Chairman of the Committee, Hon Yacoub Bush-Alebiousu, had given a glimpse of hope.
According to Alebiouse “nobody can feel the pains of Bakassi people than the people themselves. I can really appreciate why you are so bitter. I have sat here and I have tried to imagine what you are passing through, but I haven’t been able to because I am privileged to have an abode, to have shelter and not to roam the streets.
“We have listened to you; we would like something in writing. Those things in writing are what we would use to show and tell everybody, look the agreement has already been breached at this point and if at this point the people are passing through such ordeal, what do you think would happen after that October date?”
He promised the resolved of Nigerian government/National Assembly to do everything within its power to protect Nigerian citizens, and with such assurance, hope was rekindled particularly as the discussion revolved around revisiting the judgment.
But in his reaction to this, a Calabar-based legal practitioner, Barr Okoi Obono-Obla described as ‘medicine after death” any effort at revisiting the ICJ judgment.
Obla posited “the Judgment has been unequivocally accepted by Nigeria with her signing the Green Tree Agreement on the 12th June, 2002 in New York, the United States of America. Nigeria cannot therefore be allowed to approbate and reprobate.
“The equitable doctrine of estoppels shall operate against Nigeria in the event that she makes any attempt to repudiate the Green Tree Agreement signed nearly six years ago. Generally when estoppels bind a party to litigation, he is prevented from placing reliance on or denying the existence of certain facts. Therefore from the point of view of the party in whose favour it operates estoppels, it could be regarded as something which renders proof of certain facts unnecessary.
“It is clear that Article 61 of the Statutes (ICJ’s) shall not avail Nigeria in the event she makes an application to the ICJ for the revision of the judgment delivered on the 10thOctober, 2002 in favour of Cameroon. It is certain that no Lawyer worth his salt will ever proffer such advice to Nigeria to gamble by making such a frivolous application to the ICJ”, he had posited.
Corroborating, Professor Akin Oyebode, renowned international law scholar and Head of Department of International Law and Jurisprudence of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Lagos, in an interview recently, submitted that the possibility of a review is remote with a very big proviso.
According to him, “there must be new facts. In law, we have what is called Res Judicata. It means that a decided issue cannot be re-litigated except new facts emerge which were not before the court when the case was decided”.
Towing that same line, a professor of law in the University of Benin, Professor Itse Sagay had, shortly after the judgment submitted “we cannot apply for the revision of the judgment as some laymen have suggested because we cannot meet the conditions for revision. An application for revision can only be made, when it is based on the discovery of some fact of such a nature as to be a decisive factor which fact was when the judgment was given, unknown to the Court and also the partly claiming revision, always provided that such ignorance was not due to negligence (Art 61).
“We cannot claim that we did not know that the Kings, Chiefs and peoples of Bakassi, did not give their consent to the so-called cession of Bakassi, or that the inhabitants of Bakassi are Nigerians. Indeed these points were canvassed before the Court and in effect, rejected. Can we or the Court claim not to know the indispensable nature of self-determination or even plebiscite? In any case self-determination is not a fact, but a legal principle,” he had stated.
This may have explained why the Nigerian government has been dragging its feet since 2002 when the judgment was given.
But the Bakassi people have insisted that they are in possession of unchallengeable fresh facts which shall help to repudiate the ICJ judgment, and that the government should exploit this last chance. They argue that if the Efiks/Bakassi natives were involved in the legal team that represented Nigeria at The Hague, the story would have been different.
In a stakeholders meeting at Ikang recently, they faulted the ICJ judgment which was based on Anglo-German treaty of 1913, stressing that at no time was Bakassi a colony of Great Britain, which should have given the Britons authority to enter into any agreement with the Germans on behalf of the Bakassi people, and that even at that, “the purported 1913 Anglo-Germans.
Treaty was not endorsed by the parties. This renders that document invalid and illegal”.
Besides, experts believe the situation is not completely hopeless as the Nigerian authorities could salvage the situation through a ‘buy back deal’.
On this, Professor Akin Oyebode said “in my honest view, the only way to reset the relationship between Nigeria and Cameroon is either we go to war and win the territory back by force of arms, which is not unheard of in history or we buy back the Bakassi Peninsula from Cameroon. After all, Alaska was sold to the US by Russia”.
Lending his voice, a former General Manager of Cross River State Newspaper Corporation and commentator on national issues, Pastor Daniel Ubi said “the best option open for Nigeria is to buy back at least part of the peninsular for the Bakassi people.
“If appealing the ICJ’s judgment has become a technical impossibility, Nigeria should diplomatically initiate a buy-back deal with Cameroon. At least Western Bakassi that stretches from Abana to the left hand flank of Atabong down to Atai Ema, Archibong Town and Akwa axis could be bought back for the Bakassi people.
“It is not out of place to employ the services of experts in international relations to begin a process of a buy back deal. If Cameroon wants to explore oil in the said area, well, there could be a deal on this. Why sent a people to war on an issue which they cannot directly be blamed?
‘Whatever amount Cameroon would demand could be paid within a stipulated period of time. This would help the Bakassi people return home since there is no place in the world which the people would now call their home, especially as the possibility of living under Cameroonian government is very remote”, he had suggested.
Furthermore, some Nigerians are of the opinion that since the GTA has been blatantly violated by the Cameroonians, Nigeria could exploit this loophole to its advantage.
Leading this group is a member representing Odukpani and Calabar Municipality in the House of Representatives, Amb Nkoyo Toyo who, last week, raised an alarm that apart from forcing the people of Bakassi to change their identity overnight and imposing strict taxation on them, Cameroonians are maltreating, maiming and murdering scores of Nigerians daily, against the terms of the GTA. She appealed to the United Nations to call Cameroon to order.
“It appears the Cameroonian government is trying to use excessive force to establish its dominance over the Bakassi peninsula. This violates the already illegal Green Tree Agreement, and is a perfect opportunity for Nigeria to renegade on that Green Tree Agreement, not only on the grounds of responsibility to protect her citizens, but also on the grounds of a void treaty which has already been violated”, Ambassador Toyo submitted.
Professor Akin Oyebode seems to be in support of this position when he opined that “the GTA provided for the protection of Nigerian residents in the Bakassi and that Cameroon should not harass them and they should be allowed to carry out their activities without fear or molestation peacefully and peaceably.
“So the harassment of the fishermen in the area constitutes a material breach of that agreement which authorizes Nigeria to withdraw from or terminate that treaty. Under the law of treaties, we have a provision on termination of treaties where there is what we call material breach. If you look at Article 60 of the Vienna Convention on the law of Treaties, there is a basis for Nigeria to either withdraw or terminate the Green Tree Agreement. These are loopholes for Nigeria to exploit and win back the Peninsula from Cameroon”, he had submitted.
But some Nigerians have variously raised objections to this, stressing that the said maltreatments are mere allegations and speculations which cannot be substantiated. To this, the Bakassi natives say they have good and tangible proofs to nail Cameroon, and as such have called on Abuja to give them a chance to prove their assertion.
It is against this backdrop that Nigerians from Bakassi to Badagry, Wuse to Dutse, Ondo to Sokoto are unanimously praying for a way out of the imbroglio. October 12, 2012 beckons for a decision which shall assist in wiping away the unending tears of the Bakassi people.
Joseph Kingston reports from Cross River State, Nigeria.
*Cynthia Osokogu: The Girl Murdered By The Igbos? Who Is Qualified To Respond To This?
By Olugu Ukpai
I have kept the desire to write on Cynthia’s unfortunate-gruesome murder in the deep freezer compartment of my heart for sometimes now. But after reading series of some media frenzy commentators that have persuasively linked her assailants to an inherent Igbo culture of killing, and because of the Igbos love of money and how Igbos kill themselves for monetary sake, I shifted this frozen desire to the heater compartment of my heart and commenced immediately.
My dear God, has it now become a crime to be an Igbo? The media frenzy commentators tell me so over and over again. “Cynthia, the girl murdered by the Igbos”, “Igbos why are you killing for money always? I hate Igbos …?” “Igbo like money too much. Ladies should avoid marrying Igbos!” “The Yorubas will be saying that Igbos love money, Igbos kill ...” “Igbos, Igbo why are you killing for money always...”?, to mention but a few. What would I tell their unborn children when they grow up to read such demonizing captions such as above? I was saddened to read such media frenzy reports, attributing Cynthia’s death and killers to the Igbos and Igbo violent culture, rather than tracing the historicity of violence and killing in Nigeria to British colonialism, the country that bequeathed violence on Nigeria in general and the Igbos in particular. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Late Cynthia OsokoguThis article calls for re-interpretation of history from colonial history by the Igbos themselves, because, realities exist, but the ways in which this reality is interpreted are decisive for the ways in which history is shaped. It was Deborah Gray, who signifies that, “history is supposed to give people a sense of identity, a feeling of who they were, who they are, and how far they come. It should act as a springboard for the future.” It is my hope that it will do this for the Igbos, who has been given more myth than history. The myths have put the Igbos in a position where they must prove their case and abhor quietness. Despite all that the Igbos has accomplished in the fantasy called Nigeria, the Igbo man and woman is still awaiting for an affirmative answer to the plaintive question asked over century ago: “Can anything good come out of the Igbos”?
WHO IS QUALIFIED TO SPEAK ON THIS ALLEGATION AGAINST THE IGBOS?
The question of agency stares me on the face. Who is qualified to tell the true story? I am not worried so much about what “outsiders” are saying, but what some of the “Insiders”, the Igbos themselves are saying. I am worried about our own brothers and sisters, who have joined the ranks of the “outsiders” and help uphold the Igbo cultural violence views. How can we fight when our own brothers and sisters are now amplifying the “outsiders” tirade about the Igbos, because they have been given powers and resources? They are now “insiders” that wept louder than the “outsiders”.
Our sincerity and vision are continually being impeded and beclouded by our own historical context and perspective, being told by “outsiders”. We are wise to reject the notion that the Yorubas and Hausas are the same like “us” and that we anything to share in common. “We” would be all too disservice to “ourselves” to assume that these “Others” are so exactly like us, such that their judgement can easily be substituted for “ours”, let alone speaking for “us”. Any approach without the “insiders”, the Igbos themselves, would be as refusing to see the sun in the middle of the day, and ignoring to tell the truth that the Westerners bequeathed on Nigeria whatever they are today. This calls for a different perspective besides the Yoruba and Hausa tainted media frenzy commentators.
MY POSITIONALITY AND ARGUMENT:
Thus, I write to condemn the Hausas and Yorubas hegemonic media frenzy commentators’ hegemonic internal imperialism and exceptionalism. By exceptionalism, I mean the tendency of hegemonizing and demonizing the Igbos as either “violent”, “killers” or “lovers of money” because Faruk Lawal, a man who has demonstrated his penchant appetite and love of money is not an Igbo, neither is the most violent known “killer” group leader of Boko Haram, Abu Muhammed Abubakar, popularly known as Imam or Sheik an Igbo. I condemn the tendency to assume that the Yorubas and Hausas are neither better nor more peaceful than other tribes in Nigeria, especially the Igbos. It is deceptive to assume that they are innocent of violence, who must now speak, condemn and take salvation message to the “Others”, especially the Igbos. When Umar Faruq Abdulmutallab’s failed attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner in December 2009, he was simply identified and referred to as a Nigerian, not as an Hausa man. Nigeria as a whole was demonized and placed on the list of 14 nations whose nationals were singled out for special checks if they want to fly to the United States. Let it be known that no single individual or ethnic group has caused more deaths by violence like the dreaded Boko Haram, and their leader, Abu Muhammed Abubakar. He has never even been arrested, let alone being tried.
I contend that the name calling and one-size fit all perspective, which tries to link up Cynthia’s death with the Igbos, simply because, her assailants supposedly bear somewhat Igbo names is a ploy to relegate the Igbos that lacks merit. Somebody I know very well from Kaduna relocated to somewhere in Igboland and changed his name from “Danfodio Usman” to “Derechi Umarachi” for some attendant benefits. Similarly, given the porosity of the Nigerian borders, many aliens are sneaking into the country; changing their names to obtain the Nigerian passport, and committing crime in the name of Nigerians. Channels TV’s 10pm network news on the 27th of August, 2012, reports that one of Cynthia’s alleged killers, who claimed to be a third year accounting undergraduate student at UNILAG is fake. UNILAG has refuted his studentship, saying that, they do not have such name in their record. How then are we sure that their purported “Igbo names” names are not fake? A one size fit all approach mentality will only ensure that we miss the right approach and similar threats in the future.
HISTORICITY, THE BEST APPRAOCH
How should we then deconstruct violence and how did it enter Nigeria? Violence is the product of the West, especially the British that colonised Nigeria. It is a product of globalization, Americanization and neo-colonialism. Nigerian state did not spring de novo from its environment. Rather, it has roots in the imposition of draconian forms of colonialism. The tragedy of contemporary state is that, it still fails to rise above colonial detritus of wanton disregard of people’s rights.
British colonial masters and those they handed power to, at independence, the Hausas, who have now turned to demonise the Igbos as “violent” and “killers” are the ones that bequeathed violence on Nigeria. Nigeria was peaceful in their struggle to oppose British colonial rule, even in Igboland. But they shot and killed Nigerians, including their women and youths who protested against colonial rule. This is evident and variously known as “the Women’s Riots of 1922” or “the Aba Riots”, but more correctly as “Ogu Umunwanyi”, women’s war in which the British colonizers spilled the blood of innocent women, just like the Cynthia’s innocent blood. It is on record that, gun salutes were a symbolic act of performance and part of the means by which the colonial power demonstrated their power of weaponry. They subdued Igbo women and even married the beautiful women by force. Some of them who could not be able to make love with women imported hard drugs to aid them. This act of drug and rape has continued till today. This was done to terrorise and instill fear and therefore paralyze the Igbo women, stopping them from rioting and overthrowing dictators in our peaceful, cultural fashion. Unfortunately, with repetition, these violence acts became a ritual. The Nigerian elite today use the same rituals of violence, gun salute, and drugging women to demonstrate their legitimacy. They are, when demystify, actually acts of violence. The fundamental structures have not actually changed. Nigeria swims in the ocean of British colonial legacies. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Late Cynthia Osokogu (Photo 2)Could the cause of male violence against women, such as in Cynthia’s case be as a result of the continues use of guns and hard drugs, which Nigerian politicians give our idle teaming youths, who are willing tools in their hands to continue to terrorise women, a legacy they learned from the colonial masters? How on earth do you, in your wildest imagination expect a drug addict, to have respect for human dignity, especially their female friends who they can stab, poor acid on drug, rape and kill at the slightest provocation? A person under the influence of hard drugs is animal, of unsound mind, precisely insane and a wayward child of British colonialism. Reiterating this fact, the CBN Governor insists that Nigerian state is a wayward child of British colonialism when he wrote: “We’re all victims of British colonization”, which was the caption of the PUNCH newspaper of Friday, November 20th 2009. Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said that the ills of the country (including, but not limited to murdering of innocent citizens, such as that of Cynthia) should not be limited to any ethnic group. According to the CBN boss, “every Nigerian [including the alleged killers of Cynthia] is a victim of colonialism”.
My heart bleeds that, sheding human blood, a taboo and “foreign culture” in Igbo land even before the arrival of the colonial masters, has now gradually being recorded in the Igbo cultural lexicon. “Tufiakwa!.” –God forbid!
Rather than apportioning blames, we should blame it on colonialism and the Whiteman’s brilliance, trick and manipulations in eroding our culture. He destroyed our peaceful culture and bequeathed his on us before leaving. Recollecting and lamenting on the wanton destruction of transformation of Nigerian virtue by the British, Chinua Achebe wrote:
“Does the Whiteman understand our customs…How can he when he does not even speak our tongue? But he says that our customs are bad; and our brothers who have taken up his religion also say that our customs are bad. How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? The Whiteman is very cleaver. He came quietly and peacefully with his religion. We were amused at foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers and sisters, and the clan can no longer ACT as ONE. He has put a KNIFE through the things that held us TOGTHER, and we have FALLEN APART”.
Indeed, what evidence do I need to present my case? Igbos love strangers unconditionally and innocently. We loved the British colonial masters unconditionally, but they did not love us back. They pretended that they did until they destroyed Igboland which is the task of Igbo historians to piece together. I contend that, rather than attributing the alleged Cynthia’s killers, whom I call wayward children of British colonialism to the Igbos, I will rather proudly identify late Cynthia, as a true, fearless Igbo young girl, who associated unconditionally, and who trusted unconditionally, because, such were the Igbos’ and Igbo women attributes, which they fearlessly exhibited even before the British colonial masters. But just like the colonial masters did to the Igbo women by mishandling and killing them, Cynthia’s killers did the same, and thereby repeating exactly what the British colonial masters did to the Igbo women. Ola Rotimi lamented on the Whiteman’s deception, in loving someone who does not actually love you, when he wrote:
“I said to him: White One, show me your hand. And he showed me his hand. White One, give me that hand. And he held out his hand. The right hand. Then, I said to him: White One, your face shows love, but does your heart? Because to love someone who does not really love you, is like shaking the giant iroko tree to make a tiny dew-drops…fall. I had opened my hand to the Whiteman. But minds do not meet like roads”.
Olugu Ukpai is a Ph.D Law student at School of Law at the University Of Reading, U.K. He can be reached at email@example.com
*Why President Jonathan is coming to Anambra State –Obi
Governor Peter Obi said that President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR was coming to Anambra to commission mostly projects executed by private sector and some of the projects his government did. He disclosed this yesterday during a radio programme on Silverbird radio, monitored in Awka.
Obi said that in line with the Transformation Agenda of Mr. President, that he would be in the State to commission the facilities built by Orange drugs, the SABmiller brewery as well as Krisoral Company, all of which were private-sector initiative. He said there were other facilities that were ready for commissioning as well as some that were ready for their foundations to be laid, but could not be accommodated because of time constraint. According to him, the President would also commission the Onitsha Ports, Orient Petroleum facility, the new Governor’s Lodge at Onitsha, over ten roads constructed within the Habour Industrial Estate, 500 buses for security in the State. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Gov. Obi laying the foundation for the construction of a hostel Block by Anambra Government at St Charles Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha. On the left is Archbishop Valerian Okeke.
Obi who commended the President for attention to the private sector, said it would go a long way in encouraging entrepreneurial spirit among Nigerians.
On the naming of Bridge-Head to Upper Iweka as Odumegwu-Ojukwu way, Obi said that the road was being named for the first time. He described it as one of the series of steps the State Government planned to take in the immortalization of Ojukwu. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria
Obi called an investors to take advantage of enabling environment in the State and the presence of large market to come and invest in the State.
He disclosed that part of the state's industrial/investment policy, which was drafted under his government to the effect that the State Government should provide road to industrial sites and name streets after the owners of industries where they are located would be observed.
*2015: Jonathan, Only Problem To Igbo’s Presidential Aspiration –Dr Ikedife, Ohanaeze chieftain
The year, 2015, when general elections will be conducted in Nigeria appears to be distant. Nevertheless, the truth is that time flies, which has prompted the immediate past President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, to articulate in specific terms the necessary conditions to be met ahead of time to actualise the Igbo Presidency, provided President Goodluck Jonathan is not going to run for a second term.
The elder statesman pinpointed unity and support of other ethnic groups as the unavoidable dynamics to achieve the Igbo Presidency project, “otherwise, it will be a pipe dream.” He took a swipe at people, who he said thoght the Igbo coud not produce Nigerian President of Igbo extraction.
He said they should stop insulting the Igbo “when we have many good presidential materials from the South-East geo-political zone.” Dr. Ikedife also talked about sudden increase in the prices of petroleum products and condemned it. Excerpts: For the Igbo to clinch the Presidency in 2015, there are certain things that must be put in place without which it will be a pipe dream.
One, the Igbo must be united. Number two, we must know what the Presidency is thinking: whether President Goodluck Jonathan has made a statement as to whether he wants to run in 2015 or not. You know you cannot underrate the power of incumbency. And if he is running, then the whole thing takes a different posture. I do not think that if he eventually decides to run again in 2015 that the Igbo would want to come out and oppose him in that respect. So, it should be known whether the seat is going to be vacant for new entrants or whether it is going to be somebody continuing from where he stopped.
But supposing that he says he is not going to run, then, of course, there are many Igbo, who are potentially good presidential materials and it doesn’t require rocket science to comb them out. They will come out. There are many of them. I can even begin to mention names but may be, it is too premature to mention names and, even now, you are focusing your mind on some of them in your search and thinking of the matter. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan speaking at funeral service of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Eze Igbo Gburugburu.
It does not take miracle. First of all, the Igbo must be united. They must know under what umbrella they are going to seek the Presidency of this country. The other members of the Nigerian populace are of course very important. If they are sympathetic towards the Igbo’s aspiration, it will make it feasible, possible and achievable. But if they vehemently oppose it, the task will become more difficult and the achievement will become tedious. But as for the desire, or having made a case that the Igbo should produce the next President after Goodluck Jonathan, there is no doubt about it.
The Igbo are very well decided on that and very well determined to work for it. Some other ethnic groups are said to be afraid that if an Igbo man is allowed to become the President of Nigeria that he might divide the country into independent segments. How do you react to that? Whoever is saying that is simply playing mischief.
Who are the people now fighting the division of this country? Is it the Igbo? Are the Igbo the people championing Boko Haram? Are the Igbo the people clamoring for Islamic State? Are the Igbo the people championing Oduduwa State ? This is a wrong accusation, mischievous accusation, uncomplimentary accusation. The Igbo certainly are not that way inclined.
They (the Igbo) have invested in Nigeria more than any other ethnic group, the Hausas, the Yorubas, the Ijaws, the Ibibios, name them. So, it is a mischievous accusation. If the country will be divided, forces that will divide it will make it divide. Don’t blame it on the Igbo. This is an extension of a mischievous thinking, wrong thinking that the Igbo wanted to divide this country to carve out the sovereign State of Biafra .
That is a wrong interpretation of the events of 1965, 66, 67, wrong interpretation because Igbo were hounded and killed in every part of the country and they decided and said, okay since we have been chased from every part of the country, let us go to our home land and look after ourselves. And the war was declared against the Igbo. So, the accusation is a continuation of wrong thoughts that the Igbo wanted to divide the country. The Igbo never wanted to divide the country.
And it is high time this thing was made as clear as possible to the rest of the population, anybody who cares to listen. Some other people are also of the opinion that the Igbo, because of love of money, can sell the Presidency to other ethnic groups if given the chance. Are you of the same opinion, Sir? I don’t know where you get these mischievous views and opinions about the Igbo. Who are the wealthiest people in this country today? They are not Igbo. Count the wealthy people in Nigeria ; they are the Yorubas, the Hausas or Fulanis.
The Igbo do individual lone range struggling. And when they struggle people say they love money. It is not true. Have you ever seen a Yoruba person, Hausa person, Jukun person or Ibibio person who goes to throw his money into the River Niger or into the Ocean? Have you seen one? Talking about the mischievous stealing in this country, how many of them were done by the Igbo? You read papers.
How many Igbo are involved in dirty dealings, money laundering and cheating? They are not many. The Igbo are just people who struggle from sun up to sun down for their daily bread. And people say they love money. Tell me the other Nigerian who will come and give you scholarship, give scholarship to your children and take your responsibilities.
They must stop that insult on the Igbo. It must stop. Let’s digress a bit, Sir. The pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) was recently pegged at N97 per liter away from its N65 former price after labour and government had haggled. Surprisingly, the price has pushed up again to over N100 per liter. How do you react to that? Well, it is true that in many patrol stations except NNPC mega stations they sell well over N100 per liter. Some sell even as much as N120 per liter. It is a little bit disappointing that after a lot of haggling, sweat and negotiations that the price could not be maintained at N97 per liter which the populace even thought was a little too high.
What I might ask is what is the government doing about it? Or is government not aware that petrol is being sold at N100 plus, N110, N120 in many parts of the country and they are doing nothing about it. Diesel is sold at N160, N180, a liter and they do nothing about it. Has the government succumbed to what you may call market forces, simple law of demand and supply? If demand is high then the government can do a lot of things to increase supply, beef up the refineries in the country, install new ones if need be.
It is not enough that you refine enough for local consumption and refine enough for export. It is still noticed that crude is being exported and the refined ones are being imported. It is totally negative; government will ensure that this is stopped as soon as possible otherwise we misapply our sense of economics. And whether you want to reduce the price or increase it you must know that market forces, demand and supply come to play.
So long as we have crude oil, we must try to meet the demands of domestic needs. It is only when you do that then you can regulate the price, otherwise it will be like it is a joke or a hoax or a deceit to say that you are pegging the price when you cannot control or regulate that price. It looks as if labour has compromised since it has been quiet over this continued price increase of the petroleum products. What are your comments? E-hm, I’m not a labour leader and I’m not a member of any labour union.
In many places you buy well over N100 a liter and diesel around N160, N180. I think attention should be called to it, so that they will see whether the prevailing price is what was agreed on or whether the laiddown is from people who may have been enjoying the subsidy and now that they understand that the subsidy has been removed then they are trying to get the subsidy from the public by increasing the pump prices of the petroleum products. It is something we have to understand well before we talk seriously on it.
Even the National Assembly does not react to that. Shouldn’t the general public read meanings to that? Well, I’m not a member of the National Assembly or State House assembly. I’m not a member of either of them. But I think now that you have said so their attention should be drawn to it so that if they are not aware, and I will be surprised if they are not aware, although they may be getting from mega stations at the official rate, that prices of the products have continued to be on the increase, then their attention should be called to this situation and let’s see how they will react to it.
*Nigeria – The Cost and Consequences of Coerced Amalgamation – Part 1
By Rev. Dr. C. Kingston Ekeke
Nigeria is in perilous times - an era of cleavages, of fragmentation, of radical violence, religious ignorance and intolerance, authoritarian and corrupt political leadership, secessionists and anarchists. Nigeria is also rapidly falling apart and disintegrating and the rulers care less about it. The truth is that Nigeria is faced with serious challenges of nationhood and that is something fundamentally wrong with Nigeria. And most Nigerians don’t want to hear it.
Since the return to democratic government in 1999, Nigeria has allowed itself to wallow in religious and sectarian violence, political leadership failure, economic crisis, moral crisis, and corruption and security challenges. The nation will not stand and cannot survive as currently constituted and governed. The ethnic bias and hatred, injustice and manner of governing at the federal level are evil and mischievous. And if the anomalies are not eliminated or curtailed through a candid dialogue of all the stakeholders, Nigeria’s disintegration will be just a matter of time. For Nigeria to remain a united, indivisible nation with its rich diversity, endowed natural resources and blessed human power, the anomalies and injustices in the system must be eradicated or rectified. The rectification of these anomalies is not going to happen by a bunch of greedy politicians behind the doors of the National House of Assembly amending the 1999 constitution. Frankly, the entire 1999 constitution needs to be re-written to accommodate the desires and aspirations of all the variant groups that make up Nigeria
Nigeria is rapidly falling apart and disintegrating, and if we are to go by the United States Federal Bureau Intelligence on Nigeria’s demise in 2015, one would agree that their prophetic pronouncement is eventually becoming a reality. Earlier this month, on August 2, 2012, the Ogni General Assembly declared for self government and political autonomy from Nigeria. Dr. Goodluck Diigbo, the leader of MOSOP said I quote: “By this declaration of political autonomy, we, the Ogoni people are determined to enforce the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, without fear or retreat,” He further said, “I am very delighted to announce that the Ogoni autonomy is irreversible.” Thousands of Ogonis marched and participated in the conference to celebrate their freedom from a tyrannical and evil government of Nigeria. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map and Flag of Nigeria
A week after the Ogni self-government, the Chief Press Secretary to Baysela State Governor, the home state of President Jonathan, unveiled its State Flag, Coat of Arms and Anthem, as a way to promote Ijaw integration and fundamental interest. Although many do not see this as a threat to secession, however, many questioned why now. Three days later, the oil rich peninsula of Nigeria, Bakassi Island, which General Gowon ceded to Cameroun in the 1960’s to punish General Ojukwu and the Southeast, also declared own secession from Nigeria. A group know as Bakassi Self-determination Front (BSDF) announced its secession from Nigeria, established its own flag and radio station. The Commander-General of the BSDF, Ekpe Ekpenyong Oku, said arrangements had been made with some international liberation groups to assist the Bakassi natives in the battle with Cameroun who is sending in troops to quell the declaration of independence by the group.”
Earlier this week, a splinter group known as Biafra Zionist Movement, BZM, led by Mr. Ben Onwuka gave justification why his group applied to United Nations (U.N) and African Union (AU) for recognition as a member group. This action he believes will lead to the actualization of Biafra republic, which Chief Ralph Uwazurike, leader of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, has been fighting for years. At the meantime, the Boko haram jihadist sect has not ceased to maim and massacre innocent Nigerians in the Northern part of the country. recent authoritative pronouncement by its leaders claims they are fighting not just to Islamize the North, but to Islamize the entire Nigeria and enthrone Sharia Constitution. This is clearly calling for the “Somalization” or “Senegalization” of Nigeria. They are clearly aspiring for Nigeria to become an Islamic state – although their vision is a “Mission Impossible.” God forbid! It will be “all-out” religious warfare never seen in human history.
IBB attempted this evil desire in the eighties when he enrolled Nigeria as a full- member of Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC). However, due to his poor foreign leadership, the political and economic benefits of that enrolment never yielded many results. Recently, the Central Bank Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, a radical Islamic scholar, who was smuggled in to head the Central Bank of Nigeria is largely pursuing the economic islamization of Nigeria through his radical Islamic banking polices and reforms. Time will tell, if Christians, animists and atheists will do business with those kinds of banks adhering to Islamic laws and principles.
But, let look back to history to investigate how and why Nigeria got to this perilous period of her existence. When nations around the globe – especially in this 21st century high technology world - are prospering, educating their young generations and motivating them to achieve great things, Nigeria is lagging behind and enemies of progress like Boko haram, ethnic jingoism, bias, and hatred, injustice, poor leaders, and corrupt politicians, looting of public treasury, money laundering and monumental corruption buffet every aspect of the nation’s life.
Brief History of Amalgamation – Variant Groups Were Coerced to Live Together
One cannot count the cost and consequences of amalgamation of Nigeria without looking briefly at the history. How did the variant and distinct groups of empires and kingdoms come together to become a nation known as Nigeria? It is an established historical fact that before the Europeans especially the British, French and Portuguese invaded the continent of Africa in search of slaves and mineral resources during the later 19th century, the kingdoms of Oyo, Bornu, Hausa, Benin, Bonny, Jukun, Idah, Aro and Ibo in the Western Coastline of Africa lived in peace and traded among themselves. These peoples and kingdoms had existed hundreds of years even before the coming of the Europeans. The peoples of these kingdoms and empires had deep political, social, religious, tribal and linguistic differences. By the later part of 1890’s when the British invaded and conquered these kingdoms; they created a monstrous nation for their political and economic interest and power rivalry with the French. And so, the peoples of Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri, Ibo, Yoruba, Kalabari, and Ijaw were forced to live together without a well-defined set of core values that addressed national unity, patriotism and parameters to discourage social, cultural, religious and linguistic differences between the peoples of this new nation. Flora Shaw, the wife of Lord Lugard, Nigeria’s second governor general, suggested the name “Nigeria” for these variant groups of kingdoms and territories around the Niger over which Britain had established a Protectorate.
Imposition of Indirect Rule – And Why the Nationalist Leaders Allowed It
After conquering these unique African kingdoms and empires, the British forcefully merged them together and imposed a system government and administration popularly know as “Indirect Rule” in which the local affairs were largely left in the hands of the traditional rulers such as the Emirs, Obas and Chiefs, while the national affairs were completely controlled by the British officials. Also, the political structure was intended to preserve the tribal distinctions in her new found colonial empire. The North without hesitation, accepted the “Indirect Rule, “ while some local traditional leaders from the West, East and South , who had managed to receive some education through British established missionary schools in the Southern Nigeria, began to challenge the British system of Indirect Rule.
Some years later, a good number of Southern leaders including some Northern leaders aspired to share in the national government, which was the exclusive preserve of the British. Those elected to the congress were all British officials and the nationalists thought that the national administration did not represent the Nigerian masses and therefore protested against the British government to revise the 1922 constitution to include Nigerians in the Legislative Council. Nationalist leaders such as such as Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Belwa, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Ernest Ikoli, H. O. Davis, Chief S. L. Akintola, Dr. M. I. Okpara, Solanke, and Eyo Ita among many others wisely challenged British style of government which was established for the people of Nigeria and most of Africa then. Through their struggle and pressure against the British colonial rule, Nigeria's independence was granted due to the activities of people like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello, who were the pioneers of the nationalist grievances against the British system of indirect rule. Nigeria received her independence from Britain in October 1, 1960, and became a Republic in 1963 under a British Parliamentary system of Government.
The Turbulent Period that Led to Nigeria’s Civil War and Ethnic Jingoism
Sir James Robertson became the first Governor-General of the Independent federation of Nigeria. While Alhaji Hon. Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sarduna of Sokoto, premier of Northern Nigeria and President- General of the Northern Nigeria People’s Congress, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the national president of N.C.N.C, was elected President of the Senate. Chief S. L. Akintola became the Premier of Western Nigeria and Deputy Leader of the Action Group, Dr. M. I. Okpara, Premier of Eastern Nigeria, and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Action Group. The nationalist leaders established the parliamentary system of government, in which Sir Abubakar Tafawa Belwa became the first Prime Minister of Nigeria and Dr. Nnamdi Azkike, the first indigenous governor general of Nigeria.
That arrangement did not last before tribal politics and religious sentiments led to the truncation of the parliamentary system. The first Nigerian military coup was planned and in 1965, Sir Abubaka Tafawa Belwa was assassinated. Major Agui Ironsi became the military head of State. Within six months, he was assassinated by a group of Northern military boys, who revenged against the killing of Sir Abubaka Tafawa Belewa. The activities led to the horrendous pogrom against innocent easterners living in the Northern states in which more than 300,000 Ibos were massacred. The events of that turbulent period 1965-9167 led to the political crisis, tribal and religious violence that led to unforgettable genocidal civil war of 1967-70 that decimated more than two million lives and left so much bitterness, anger and hatred among the peoples of Nigeria. Before the civil war, Nigeria had established three regional government regions – North, West and Eastern regions.
After the war, General Gowon became the head of State of Nigeria. In the 1970’s with the oil price at all time high, oil coming primarily from Eastern region, yet General Gowon through his finance minister, Chief Abafemi Awolowo, introduced monetary policies that were purely punitive and spiteful treatment of the so-called enemies of the Nigerian state, that kept the majority of the people from the Eastern region people poorer than they were during the civil war. Nine years of spite and punitive rule against the people of Biafra despite the end of War Slogan, “No Victor NO Vanquished”, and the military peacefully ousted him, but the short-lived administration of General Murtala Mohammed paved the way for General Obasanjo to head the government. Despite the excess external reserves in the billions of dollars from oil revenue during that time, General Obasanjo surprisingly introduced austerity measures and prudent fiscal measures which had severe effects on millions of people from the Eastern region. Poverty, pandemic diseases including quasiokor and other health hazards of the war era became rampant and afflicted many Southeasterners especially the children and elderly.
Look-out for Part-2 of this essay. I will be continuing with the consequences of Amalgamation discussing the Era of Military Juntas, the Return to Civilian and Democratic System of Government, the Rise of Political Hooligans and Lawlessness, Niger Delta Militancy, Boko haram Jihadist Sect, Insecurity & Internal Terrorism and the Way Forward – Remedies to remain as one indivisible Nation or separate into manageable Nation States.
Rev. Dr. C. Kingston Ekeke is a public theologian, author, and leadership scholar. He is the president of Leadership Wisdom Institute.
*Why are Nigerians in Thailand? (The Ambassadorial Outlook)
By Emmanuel Nweke Okafor
Introduction Leadership has been variously explained but the most satisfactory description of a good leader which is acceptable to all is the fact that a good leader has the ability and the power to unite others in order to freely achieve a goal. Almost all associations, organizations and communities of the world crave for a good leader for the simple reason that a bad leader brings sorrow and pain while a good leader brings joy, happiness and peace within a given community. Thus, Nigerians in Thailand have unexpectedly embraced peace, unity and affability which had eluded an average Nigerian in Thailand because of quarrels and various fractions which many Nigerians in Thailand have created. It is no longer a secret that various factions have been united by the present Ambassador to Thailand, His Excellency, Chukwudi Newington Okafor. Just within a month and few weeks this erudite scholar, seasoned and experienced career diplomat has enveloped all the various Nigerian groups with love and the spirit of good and a focused mission not only for the diplomatic relationship but also in the area of human relations. In all these, many Nigerians in Thailand have realized that nothing is as good as having a good leader with the following demonstrated disposition from the Nigeria Ambassador to Thailand.
Clear Vision: It is one thing to talk about a vision but another thing is to have a clear vision, explain it, share it among the people and create an atmosphere so that people are enabled to act on it. His Excellency, Ambassador Chukwudi N. Okafor has indeed demonstrated that the best way to connect Nigerians in Thailand is not only by talking to them individually but by creating a functional website where information can flow. It was as if Nigeria Embassy in Thailand was a blind alley in terms of getting befitting information but the coming of the new Nigerian Ambassador has given us another opportunity. Now both Nigerians and non-Nigerians can have access to information about Nigeria and its people via the www.nigeriaembassythailand.com . To some it should not be a new thing given the global (internet) epoch but to some of us in Thailand it is indeed a dream come true. It is a trend provided by a leader with good vision. We love it. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Map of Thailand
Assertiveness: The need to clearly state objectives and expectations is a great leadership ingredient to avoid unnecessary interpretations and misunderstandings. The ambassador has shown his assertiveness in his inaugural speech to Nigerian Community in Thailand. I see the speech as a means to get the desired results. To view the speech please go to this blog (http://www.nigeriaembassythailand.com/pe_08112012.php)
Fairness: The ambassador, among many other good qualities of a good leader he posses, entered Thailand at the point many Nigerians are fighting themselves via smear campaigns and poisonous gossip yet he has handled the situation with a great amount of honesty, fairness, consistency and justice. He checks all the facts, hears everyone out and listens to all before acting for the sake of harmony. Now most Nigerians in Thailand are in the process of regaining the lost trust on Nigerian Embassy Thailand because the ambassador has shown loyalty and dedication. It is now our own turn to be fair to one another.
Integrity: The ambassador has demonstrated that he trusted the Nigerian Community in Thailand through his Town Hall Meeting in Sukunvit Soi 101/1. For me, the meeting was a display of a high level of integrity which a good leader must show to the followers. He provided the time for Nigerians in Thailand to ask questions and through such questions answers were provided which enabled the community to understand the situation of things better. The great moral lesson here is that the ambassador is approachable and lovely. It is a great challenge to all of us. Nigerian students in Thailand are hereby called to move towards integrity instead.
Dedication: The ambassador has inspired dedication by example when he expressed forgiveness to the unacceptable incident that took place in Nigerian Embassy in Bangkok last year. He went further to outline the positive steps he has taken to properly settle the case in the court of law. He has continued the good steps of his predecessor, Ambassador Suleiman when he used the word forgiveness and called all the Nigerians to follow his step so that peace will reign.
Magnanimity: In all the steps taken so far to reach out to Nigerians from all sectors, he has shown that he is not a leader who knows it all. He consults all and sundry and calls for the best way to move Nigeria forward. Almost all Nigerians in Thailand right now feel good about one another and are now coming together to reason out how the apparently damaged image of Nigerians in Thailand can be corrected. Just like Mahatma Gandhi, the ambassador has chosen to pursue a "follower-centric" ambassadorial model. We must now avoid all sorts of illegalities.
Openness: Nothing motivates followers more than creating the atmosphere that suggests that you appreciate their ideas; that is what the new ambassador has done. He went as far as suspending all forms of judgment while paying greater attention to the needs of all Nigerians in Thailand. His approach builds communal admiration and confidence between the Nigerian Community in Thailand and the Nigerian Embassy in order to complement each other’s vision.
Creativity: The ambassador is gradually directing Nigerians towards the right path namely keeping to the rules and regulations of the country of residence; behaving in manner typical of those with the knowledge of international responsibility and fulfilling the pledges in our national anthem. For the ambassador to have achieved this most difficult task, one can notice that he has all that it takes to think differently or to think outside of the box. For me he is an ambassador with good sense of creativity. We pray that he will continue in this way.
The secret behind his good attitude: There is secret behind any successful leader. The new Nigerian Ambassador to Thailand has serviced successfully in various sectors and organizations. In order of education, he has a Master Degree in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, Georgia, Atlanta, USA, a Master Degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, a Certificate in International Relations, Law and Diplomacy, Foreign Service Academy, Lagos, Nigeria and B.Sc. Political Science (Second Class Upper Division), University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Conclusion: From the above qualities, it is very clear that what Nigerians in Thailand needed was nothing but a career ambassador and an experienced leader who will not only look at the problems from the diplomatic point of view but from national point of view. Nigeria is a country full of human resources but these resources have not been fully harnessed because of leadership mess. If all Nigerians in Thailand should use the past to plan for a better tomorrow as requested by the new Ambassador, we shall be on our way to rebranding, repositioning and correcting all the negative images we have allowed ourselves and non- Nigerians to place on us. We must embrace this marriage of reconciliation and unity or we will be ruined forever in Thailand. Let all those who thrive in illegal businesses like 419, drug related business and illegal visa issues stop! If we all cooperate with the new leader there is no doubt that Nigerians in Thailand will Smile in the land of Smiles.
Emmanuel Nweke Okafor is a Nigerian lecturer in Siam University Thailand. He is presently a supervisor in the Language Laboratory Center in Siam University. He is also a graduate student in Masters of Peace Studies and Diplomacy in Siam University Thailand. He can be contacted vis his email address firstname.lastname@example.org
*How Do You Talk to An Angel? The Plight of Parents Raising Disabled Child
By Chuks U.C. Ukaoma
"How Do You Talk to An Angel" was a one-hit wonder of the Heights musical group. It could also be a rhetorical question that enlists answers from various schools of thought. This article is not about music and musicians. It is not about heaven and paradise because it has "angel" in the title either. It is about real life events that befall real people here on earth. You may know some of the people very well. They may be your acquaintances, neighbors, co-workers, members of your place of worship; nevertheless, these are people you know. You might even be one of them.
Let me preface this piece by saying since no human is perfect, we all have special needs; we each have our own handicaps or disabilities, so to speak. The degree of specialness may vary.
I previously published this article on Yahoo and other websites.
When faced with one of life's complexities to the point mini juru nwa awo onu (one is rendered speechless), I resort to this statement: "life is something". In December 2010, I accompanied someone sick to a special medical facility here in Austin, Texas. What I witnessed that fateful day rocked my core. There were husbands helping their sick wives, parents attending to their stricken children, some as young as two years old, adult children helping their ailing parents. Then there were people who looked healthy on the outside but are in for the fight of their lives. All the sick people there were fighting cancer.
As I struggled to take in the strange environment while remembering to breathe so I don't pass out from nausea, I asked myself, could it be possible that a few city blocks from this treatment center, there are healthy husbands and wives engaged in all-out divorce battles? Couple these once-madly in love couples be wishing the other death and sickness now? Could a brother be so jealous of his sibling that he wishes him or her harm? Could arguments over irrelevances be robbing some families from treasuring today? Could these feuding folks witness this other hospital scene over here? Do we always acknowledge how precious and precarious life is? Life is truly something! ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Chuks U.C. Ukaoma, Article author
Whether you an agnostic, Atheist, Christian, Ethicist, Hindu, Jew, Moslem, Pagan, etc. you sometimes arrive at a point where you question your belief and wonder if the alternative is a better choice. It is at the point you could rhetorically ask, "how to you talk to an angel?", any angel of any faith that will give you answer to the pointed question you ask.
How does someone raise a special need child and remain sane? How? While you ponder that question, let me compound it by asking what type of higher power (Father, God, god, Allah, Buddha, Juju, Idol, Maker, Almighty) allows such hardship to befall mortal beings who have done nothing to be so deserving? Finally, if the parent(s) deserved it for whatever reasons that did not merit forgiveness, then why bestow such heavy crosses on innocent children? As the Supertramp put it, " There are times when all the world's asleep, the questions run too deep for such a simple man". Think about it; don't just brush it aside by saying "it's just part of it, that we've got to fulfill the Book", or the Lord will not allow you to tempted beyond what you can bear. To the naked eyes, some of these loads are pretty Sisyphean and are calling for any angel to come lighten these massively heavy loads
Sadly, some men and women of the cloth have taken advantage of the stricken at their weakest point. A good friend summed it up by saying, it is what is "behind" the place of worship that is more important: the kindness to others, assisting people you don't expect to return the help to you, standing up for people who cannot stand up for themselves, remembering your former teachers, helping people in need both here and overseas, aiding an employed person find work and hope, flashing smiles to brighten sad faces as you pass by, cleaning the windshield of the elderly woman or man next to you at the fuel station. Telling that embarrassed waiter/waitress who just dropped your food on the ground that it is OK and that you're glad he or she did not get hurt. Knowing, if you are in power, that "no condition is permanent". And being kind to people you meet on your way up because you will meet them on your way down where they will remember you by your record.
What makes this article more difficult to write is, I am a mere outsider looking in. I have not lived the life of caring (on a daily basis) for a special need child or parent or wife or sibling. While I am thankful for not being in any of those shoes, I do not feel those who are doing this true labor of love work are less fortunate than the rest of us. In every previous article, I start out stating a problem, discussing that problem, and tabling solutions the reader can use to solve that problem. In this case, I have no solutions. In fact, I am asking the reader how does one go about helping caregivers or parents of special needs children? While the Internet is full of what appears to be excellent information on this subject, only first-hand practical solutions will suffice.
If someone you know goes to a hospital to deliver a baby and comes home with a special needs child, how do you go about supporting that family in deed, not just with words, if you have not been in this situation before?
As often the case, families who have had to carry these extra heavy loads tend to have extraordinary powers and resiliency of coping. They develop Sampson-like strength of dealing with life without asking or wanting anyone to feel sorry for them. They seem to feel it is their cross and they are going to bear it with grace and without leaning on friends and family. And if you are that friend or family of the caregiver or parent, how do you get in a word in edgewise, so to speak....how do you begin to show you care and want to be of help without stepping on the toes of same people you want to aid? How?
Do you offer to help take care of the child while the parents take a break, albeit for a few hours? If the parents allow you to do so, would you know what to do and how to take care of the child? Is helping one day a week or a month good enough? Are you really strong enough for this task, in other words, can you handle it?
If you have not witnessed a snippet of how difficult it is to care for a special need child, next time you are in a public place (park, bus, hospital, etc) keenly observe what it takes to get that 8-year old child with Cerebral Palsy in or out of a vehicle just one time. Then imagine if the parents can't afford a vehicle as the case in many developing countries and here in the United States. To add salt to injury, Nigerian well-to-do parents who happen to have special need children are often accused of using their stricken children for black magic money machine (ogwu ego), due to sheer ignorance. Some Nigerians believe that stuff. Birth defects and cancer afflictions in the middle and upper income families were erroneously attributed to this money machine nonsense. This stereotype makes it possible for society to pile on these innocent people like they were the Witches of Salem instead of affording them the compassion they crave.
Imagine the unfortunate stare and shame of the whole situation day after day.
Think about what that parent of a down syndrome child was goes. Then imagine that scene repeated day and night, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year and years on end. Imagine being that parent, my friend!
The essence of the above vicarious exercise is not to create the misery-likes-company feeling of seeing people who are worse off; I totally reject this notion. Rather, the goal is to foster empathy and humility and gratitude and to treasure every moment we have because it could easily be worse. Also, we need to accept the fact we may not have done everything to deserve our good fortunate or the challenges in our personal lives. No, they did not bring these evils on themselves.
The simple act of going to the grocery store or the doctor's office or to the park entails Pentagon-War-Room logistics. The caregiver has to check off things on a long list. Some things will have to be planned way in advance with every t crossed and i dotted. Even normal fun-filled family vacation becomes another Mission Impossible for those who can afford to go on vacation. Then there are parents who have to do these things and still work demanding jobs outside the home. Some work for bosses who either have no clue or don't care about what these caregivers are going through in their home lives.
Then there are cases where the heavy load befalls a happily married couple and after bearing it for some time, one of them gives up and leaves because he or she can't take it anymore. Sometimes both decide their child is better of in a home or institution. Either way the parents live with the heavy hearts of thinking they did not do enough for their special need child. Who are we to judge any parent or situation, especially when we have no idea of how hard a road that is?
Parents of normal kids and special needs children have it tough too. The normal children may feel they receive less attention than their sick sibling. This may create the Prodigal Son-like jealousy. The normal children may also feel burdened by helping take care of their sibling or even the uneasiness or awkwardness some people feel being around people who are different. Parents can be caught in the middle of all these family storms with no escape hatch.
There are lessons we all can draw from this topic: treasure everyday and count your countless blessings. Regardless of how bad you think life is today for you, don't make it worse, because it could be worst.
I don't even know where to begin to write about parents who have had the unthinkable task of burying a child, especially parents in Diaspora whose children passed away. Whether the child was laid to rest here or in motherland, the child is resting in peace. It does not really matter where one is buried as long as the person is rested in peace. Either by choice or by circumstances, many of us (including the big wigs back home) will meet our Maker abroad. The big wigs will likely be on their last medical trip overseas when they kick their bucket. They could help themselves and the masses today by establishing in Nigeria the same first-class medical facilities they seek overseas. But would they?
For some of these parents whose only child or only daughter or only son son passed away, take heart! The parents can legally adopt another child or daughter or son, not to replace the irreplaceable one, but to help fill the void. If you have other children be they all boys or all girls, still count your blessings. Don't be so consumed in mourning the dead that you forget to be appreciative of the living. There are childless parents who want a child...any child in any condition.
Also, there perfectly normal parents with normal children who adopt special needs children, like the Orlando Magic Basketball General Manager Pat Williams. There are parents of dead children who wish their children were alive and severely disabled. There may be parents of critically challenged children who want to end it to save their children from the pains. There are perfectly normal families that have all perished in an accident or crash. This happens all over the world all the time to people who did not do anything to deserve such fate. Life's something.
So to parents and parent-to-be everywhere, be grateful for what you have. If you are blessed with only girls and you long for a boy to carry on your family name, can you (in the wise question of my friend Fidelis Okonkwo, M.D.) please tell me the first name of your great grand father who was a boy? And can you positively identify his grave? If you can't name (or ID the grave of) your all-important great grand father, then relax and be happy! Being male or female does not matter after a while after all.
If you have only boys and wish for a girl to care for you in your old age the way only a daughter can, chill out! Boys can care too. So what your child made A-minus instead of the A-plus you wanted? Big deal your child scored less points in a game than you expected? So your week or day has been too routine and boring for your liking because everyone is healthy and normal in your family? Well, do you know getting into a serious car-wreck or your child getting sick can really excite your life and get you jumping and your days hectic and less boring? Boring can be great!
So when your child comes home from school in one piece, but just hungry, I say, rejoice! When your wife comes home whole, overjoy! When your husband arrives home safely, forget any arguments of the night before and say a little prayer of gratitude. Should you make it a point to hug each member of your family the first time they walk-through the door everyday? Do we really have time to ignore, disrespect, and not smile at people we are supposed to love? Should one divorce the spouse because he or she has a chronic illness; or that one now makes more money than the spouse? Should one parent ever cause their child to disregard the other parent?
In the heat of the moment and the battle, it is easy to sometimes forget how good we have it. For a majority of us, what we term our bad days are better than some people's best days! Let us keep that in mind as we treasure the best times of our lives which is NOW. That might be how we talk to an angel of our faith.
Chuks U.C. Ukaoma and his family reside in Austin, Texas, U.S.A. He's from Abia State, Nigeria. Email:email@example.com.
Photo Above: Chuks U.C. Ukaoma, Article author (Photo 2)
*Nigerian Wounds 5 In US Walmart Store Shooting
Soloman Onwukaife, an 18-year-old Nigerian American teenager Sunday morning around 4.30 am at an Austin, Texas-area (Cedar Park) Walmart shot five people in an earlier dispute over a girl. Onwukaife and the gunshot victims after the dispute at a different location, agreed to meet at the Walmart store for a fight. "This stemmed from a party that occurred possibly somewhere either in Williamson County or Leander, in which there was alcohol consumed at that party," Henry Fluck, Cedar Park Police Chief said in a press statement. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Soloman Onwukaife in police custody
According to Cedar Park police, fight broke out in the Walmart parking lot and Onwukaife began shooting hitting five people. The incident took place at a time when there were few customers in the Walmart store parking lot. No Walmart employee nor customer was injured in the shooting. The store closed briefly (as police sealed-off the area conducting investigations) and re-opened at 9 a.m. "This morning at 4:30 a.m. I heard a 'pop, pop, pop,' like firecrackers. All of a sudden I saw police and ambulance," an unidentified woman told reporters.
19-year-old Shayne Davis, 22-year-old Leland McGlocklin, 19-year-old Zacharia Gietl, 18-year-old Cody McGrath and an unidentified victim were wounded and taken to St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center. Davis, McGlocklin and McGrath remain in critical condition. Gietl, was treated and released the same day (Sunday). Onwukaife who suffered facial injuries was treated and handed back to police. He has been charged in court with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the incident.
Gietl told police the dispute began when a man choked a woman at a nearby party earlier in the evening (Saturday) and several people agreed to fight at the Walmart parking lot. He said he was not at the party but went to the parking lot to stop his friends from continuing the fight.
*Nigeria Is Negotiable
Two retired generals and former heads of state stirred up a hornet’s nest recently when they proffered solutions to the growing insecurity and hopelessness in the country. Coming on the heels of a war of attrition between them, there was enough reason for Nigerians to be guarded about the intervention by Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida who ruled Nigeria cumulatively for 19 years.
The periods that these generals ruled (1976-79; 1985-93; and 1999-2007) were about the most glorious of the nation’s history, not in terms of development or genuine attempt to redefine the future of the country, but in terms of hope and desire on the part of Nigerians to lift up their country and make it a global contender. As it turned out, Obasanjo and Babangida made sure theirs were the years of the locust. Obasanjo and Babangida orchestrated perhaps the greatest despoliation of Nigeria, its wealth as well as human and material resources. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria
Obasanjo and Babangida talked about the greatness of Nigeria and Nigerians, but they did everything possible to undermine the country and its people. They had the opportunity to write their names in gold as true statesmen, but they botched it. Of course, on the personal level, both Obasanjo and Babangida have received adequate response to their unwelcomed intervention so I shall not dwell on that. I shall focus on the thrust of their intervention.
“Nigeria’s existence not negotiable – OBJ, IBB”, was how one newspaper headlined the intercession of the retired generals the morning after. The paper reported Obasanjo and Babangida as saying that “the worrying trend emerging from the violent attacks, bombings and mindless killings of innocent Nigerians was creating room for doubt about the end of the carnage, but that ‘the continued unity of this nation is not only priceless, but non-negotiable’”. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo (OBJ)
I wonder what our rulers really mean when they say the “unity of Nigeria is not negotiable”. If you hear this glib talk from people who actually did something to advance the unity of Nigeria, then it is understandable. It becomes worrisome when those who advance this proposition are those who have done everything possible to undermine the unity of the country. In simple terms, “negotiable” means “open to discussion; not fixed, but able to be established or changed through discussion and compromise”. Considering the current state of the nation, the social and political upheavals that go to the very core of national existence, only a masochist will deny that this is time to “negotiate” Nigeria.
A nation is usually united around a common national ethos, a set of values and principles that are abiding. Not so in Nigeria. For the ruling class in Nigeria, the only unifying factor is corruption, as one of their own, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, eloquently espoused in his speech at Chatham House, London, in June. For the majority of Nigerians, the unifying factor is a life of grinding poverty and hopelessness. No country sustained by corruption and the poverty and hopelessness of its citizenry can survive for too long.
In a sense, therefore, the real threat to the unity of Nigerian has come from those who have succeeded in dividing Nigerians through their pillage and misuse of our patrimony. Our rulers know that the country is not working because of massive corruption and that we can’t sustain the current system for too long. Yet, because our elite, and in some cases ordinary Nigerians, seem satisfied with the proceeds of corruption, they are blind to the danger we are all entrapped in. While we are nibbling at the seams of the nation, we willfully assume that the country will still hold together and that things will get better. It is this same false hope that led us to the London Olympics after just three months of preparation. The London games ended without any medal for Nigeria. Anybody who understands Nigeria will not be surprised that this may yet be our worst Olympics. Regrettably, our youths on whose shoulders the survival of this nation rests, appear to have imbibed the worst examples of the “wasted generation” before them. That is the real tragedy of our situation. Only recently, the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy held a lecture to mark the 2012 International Youth Day. It was meant as a sober occasion for our youths, the greatest resource of our nation, to reflect on their role and contribution to national development as well as the responsibility of the government to the youth. Many of the so-called youth leaders that came for this event arrived with much enthusiasm, with retinues of aides in tow. All someone close by could mutter was: “if these people ever come close to power, they will do worse than our current crop of rulers”. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB)
When I look at corruption in Nigeria, our dismal showing in London, the attitude of our dehumanised and traumatised youths, and the war mongering going on, it all makes sense to me. The conclusion I have arrived at is that it is necessary but not sufficient to do critiques of sectoral deficiencies of our problems as a nation. Nigeria has collapsed. It is imperative, therefore, that the systemic dysfunction in Nigeria is confronted and changed to cater to all in a truly law governed country. And the only way to do this is to “negotiate” Nigeria through a Sovereign National Conference (SNC), not just of so-called ethnic nationalities, but also of marginalised and pauperised people of Nigeria.
Part of the reason corruption thrives so much in Nigeria is the structure of the country. Political violence is rife, states and ethnic nationalities are threatening secession, yet there are people who still insist that it is forbidden to question the status quo. Those who are really concerned about Nigeria and genuinely fear that the country will break up if it goes the route of SNC, as opposed to those who mouth “the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable” should rest assured that it won’t happen without a very bloody war or wars. It is not exactly clear which ethnic nationality wants to embark on that futile journey. The greater prospect now is that of anarchy (as in Somalia) or the rise of fascism through what Edwin Madunagu describes as “a coalition of the most unlikely bed-follows’”.
What Nigeria needs now is a radical change that will redefine the country and create a new national ethos. It is for this reason that all those who have bled the country and brought it to its knees should be wary, not just of social media, but also the street anger of Nigerians.
This street anger must fester and yield positive results if we are to achieve a national renewal and end what a colleague has described as the hackers’ paradise called Nigeria.
Chido Onumah, Coordinator of the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy, Abuja, Nigeria ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org )
*Rivers 2015 Election: Is it really the moment for Princewill?
Though the 2015 gubernatorial election in Rivers State is a few years ahead, there has been palpable questions, discourse in the media, political and elite circles as to whether the former Action Congress Governorship aspirant in 2007, Prince Tonye Princewill, will contest for the governorship position now that he is an active member of the Peoples Democratic Party. While majority of political pundits who have been watching closely the political arithmetic and pulsations in Rivers State had expressed possibility of Princewill contesting for the governorship position, others are of contrary opinion. This view which is held by majority of political observers in the Treasure Base of the Nation may not be unconnected to the plausible, emulative and commendable roles he (Prince Tonye Princewill) has continued to play particularly in his home state since he joined active politics in 2006. In the course of this write-up such plausible, emulative and commendable acts which have made this scion of the Kalabari King popular and also endeared him to a cross section of Rivers people will be reeled out.
This acclaimed political enigma may not need any introduction to those who are familiar with Rivers State and by extension Nigeria politics, but for the sake of those who are not familiar with him, an introduction in two or more paragraphs may suffice.
Introducing this acclaimed political colossus cum enigma, this writer once wrote: Born a prince to the famous Amachree Dynasty in the Kalabari kingdom with its century-long history of bravery in war and gift of oral narration, trained as an aristocrat par excellence and bequeathed with a rare wisdom from God, this Prince hardly needs an introduction in any political gathering in Nigeria. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Prince Tonye Princewill
Though it was beyond him to be born a prince, it is however in line with his character, remaining at the apogee of his life's endeavour, through sheer hard work. The prince is calm, focused, intelligent, insightful and of humble personality. Known as Tonye to most of his friends; he is a professional engineer and a business magnate who did not take politics as a profession for lack of means of livelihood but as a result of his concern for his people and personal attempts to help them. Even as a private businessman, he has been a people-centered person and has always been critical of corrupt regimes in the state that wasted the enormous resources at their disposal on selfish desires, instead of the empowerment of the people. Before contesting for the governorship position in Rivers state under the Action Congress in the 2007 general elections, Tonye was a senior technical project manager and business analyst of the highest caliber as well as a strategic thinker with an excellent problem-solving ability.
In addition to his educational qualification and being the youngest member of the Economic Think Tank of Rivers State Government that counsels the state on investment and good governance, he is also involved in most key investment decisions of Amaechi Administration. He was member, presidential technical committee on the Niger Delta and was the chairman Niger Delta subcommittee of vision 2020 which he resigned because of government troops bombardment of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Niger Delta
This excellent communicator studied Petroleum Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. He is also a graduate of the Imperial College, London. He has a sound working knowledge of both ITIL and Change Management and has until quite recently, been a regular presenter on project management issues. In addition to his Information Technology and Oil and Gas interests, Tonye has a business empire that cuts across the aviation industry and haulage of petroleum products for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and OANDO, a major oil marketing company in Nigeria. But more recently, with his just concluded agreements with several strategic investors, his company is involved in strategic placement of resources with the targeted placement of investments from outside and within Rivers state. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing its 36 states (including Rivers State), and Federal capital (Abuja or FCT)
In an unemployment ravaging society and being an employment agent, Princewill has been able to employ women, youths and graduates through his investment initiatives and connections which cut across oil and gas, telecommunication, information technology, environmental sanitation etc. These women, who sweep major streets and roads and the youths in particular would have been unemployed, indolent or at worse dregs of the society. Princewill is the brain behind his father's Pet Project and Scholarship Scheme where commendable numbers of Rivers State natives are given scholarship to study one course or the other in the higher institution.
In addition, he has not relented in giving arms to the less privileged individuals, groups or organizations either morally, financially or otherwise. He had in the past donated a bus to the National Association of Ijaw Female Students NAIFS (an umbrella body of Ijaw female students both in Nigeria and in the Diaspora), set of computers and undisclosed cash to the Rivers State Chapter of NUJ, three laptops to the tide newspapers, sponsored twenty youths of Niger Delta stock, plus a few journalists to watch and cover the match between Portsmouth and Man U in Abuja in 2009 where cosy accommodation, feeding and daily allowance were generously provided for two days, sponsored the likes of Mr Valentine Ohu in Broadcast Journalism, Miss Crystabel Goddy in Acting, Mr Telema Senibo in 3D Graphics, Miss Mercy Akudo also in Acting and Mr Stanley Kotey in 3D Graphics to the Del-York Film Academy. The above persons are currently owners of million Naira worth of standard studio that will aid them practice all they were taught at the Del-York Film Academy.
According to the Prince, it is one thing offering scholarships to people and another thing providing them what to do after acquiring the training; that is why I have to go a step further by providing a Studio to make these youth's employers of Labour and not liabilities to the society. “I wish the Nigerian government, major multinationals, other businesses and blessed individuals will take a cue from this by providing jobs for most of the students enjoying support to acquire knowledge which cannot be channelled.
As one of the prominent facilitators and sponsors of the first movie (NNENDA) to be premiered in Port Harcourt, Rivers State in October, 2009, Prince Tonye Princewill ensured that the orphans in Port Harcourt were part of the great event. It was indeed a remarkable treat for different orphanage homes in Port Harcourt at the time, when the movie captioned “Nnenda” which highlighted the plight of orphans in Nigeria was unveiled. More than one hundred orphans who had resigned themselves to fate were given red-carpet reception and assured that the future is still bright for them. The orphans were drawn from Lifetime Caring Orphanage Home, Seventh Day Adventists Homes and Port Harcourt Children's Home and given a treat comparable to the one given to the elites' children by Prince Tonye Princewill.
In his additional attempt to reveal to the world the plight of the less privilege, the Melody Shelters Nigeria, a Prince Tonye Princewill backed brainchild with a mandate to raise awareness for the plight of the less privileged in the society especially orphans, set up its first TV Reality Talent competition for orphanages in the country, tagged the Melody Shelters Singing Talent Show. Melody Shelters Singing Talent Show, was a live-in reality programme, where participants were sheltered in a house for a period of one month, which featured singing groups drawn from eight orphanages in the country: Lifetime Caring Orphanage, Rivers State; Rachel Orphanage, Abuja; Susanna Homes, Abia State; Gidan Bede Orphanage, Benue State; Godswill Orphanage, Kogi State; Compassion Home, Abia State; Adonai Orphanage, Kaduna and Our Saviour's Orphanage, Delta State. The performance was judged by professional musicians and viewers at home.
The final event saw Godswill Orphanage of Kogi State clinching the coveted trophy and the Championship Prize of N10M while the Runners-up, the Lifetime Orphanage of Rivers State got the Prize of N5M. Rachael Homes, Abuja came in third carting home the N3Mprize.Five Hundred Thousand each was given to the other remaining five Homes as co-champions and what the Prince called “combined winners”.
Given all these good works that have endeared Prince Tonye Princewill and the political acceptance and popularity that he enjoys among his people, he has not yet come out publicly to declare his intention to run for the gubernatorial post.
While doing a comparative analysis on the strength and weakness of four likely aspirant who have not yet declared their intention to contest for the gubernatorial office in 2015 to wit; Engr. Tele Ikuru, Dakuku Adol Peterside, Sen. Abe and Prince Tonye Princewill one Mr. Bekee Anyaleweichi at the tail end of his piece captioned Amaechi’s fears for 2015 wrote: “Princewill is Amaechi’s friend but had not been in the governor’s caucus. Once the leader of the Action Congress, AC in the state, Princewill did a carpet-crossing prior to the last national polls. He had said he did so because his political mentor, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, had earlier done the same. At recent media events, the Kalabari Prince denied upped activities had something to do with the politics of 2015. However, his denials are familiar with men of his class".
"Yet Princewill stands the strongest contender for the governor’s office from the riverine area but Amaechi’s fear in Princewill, The Neigbourhood gathered, is that his core loyalists and associates would label him a traitor should he hand-over to Princewill considered an ‘outsider’ to the camp".
Prince Tonye Princewill may not be everybody’s ideal politician or business tycoon. This is because in the realm of active and or passive politics or entrepreneurship one must have stepped on allegedly perceived untouchables but touched toes who are believed to be kingmakers or installers of governors, state house of assembly members as well as their national counterparts, chairmen and councillors of council areas who can constitute an obstacle to those who are seeking elective posts. The above may be the challenge the Prince of Niger Delta politics as he is fondly called by his associates will surmount in the coming years if he declares his intension to vie for the governorship seat in Rivers State.
For now, the question on the lips of political pundits, analysts and observer in Rivers state is whether 2015 national polls with particular reference to Rivers State is really the moment for Prince Tonye Princewill. Time will definitely reveal.
Nwaorgu Faustinus writes from Port Harcourt. Email: email@example.com
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