*Igbo Traditional Marriage
By Dr. Chris Chiwetelu
The south-eastern part of Nigeria is the home of the Igbo speaking people. They constitute almost 100% of the population of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States, and about 30 to 50% of the population of Delta and Rivers States. Because Igbo people are highly mobile and itinerant, they can be found in significant numbers in all major cities of Nigeria, as well as in other parts of the world. In North America, the population of Ndi Igbo is probably in the millions in the US, and in the thousands in Canada. The Igbo language itself is highly dialectical. Thus one can expect variation in certain rites and practices from one part of Igboland to another, and even from one town to another. Birth, marriage and death are rites that are held in great esteem amongst Ndi Igbo. This article is about Igbo traditional marriage. The Internet contains a plethora of articles, publications and even books written on Igbo traditional marriage. One noteworthy source is the book titled “Marrying Wealth, Marrying Poverty (2007)” published by Tafford Publishing, Canada and UK, and written by Dr. Patrick Iroegbu. A chapter from this book, titled “Stages, Strategies and Symbolism of Traditional Marriage in a Changing Igbo Society” was posted in Kwenu (www.kwenu.com) in 2007. Dr. Iroegbu described the key elements of Igbo traditional marriage using practices from the Mbano area of Imo State. This write-up will focus on the traditional marriage practices prevalent in the northern parts of Igboland, namely, Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi States. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Igboland (homeland of Ndigbo of Nigeria )
There are a number of principles that underpin Igbo traditional marriage that are worth reiterating. One of them is that marriage in Igboland is not between one man and one woman. Rather it is between families and to a great extent between clans or even villages. Another principle is that marriage is regarded as sacrosanct. Divorce or separation is not common. However in extenuating circumstances (which include flagrant abuse and neglect, promiscuity, acts likely to cause illness, death or embarrassment to member(s) of the family), the marriage may be set aside in accordance with rules and practices prevalent in the locality. The introduction and practice of Christianity in Igboland have helped to preserve the sanctity and reverence of Igbo marriages. A third principle of Igbo traditional marriage is that dating or any kind of relationship between the man and the girl before they get formally married is not encouraged.
Finding the Right Partner:
Both the man and the lady normally attain the appropriate age before they enter into marriage. Underage marriage is very rare among Ndi Igbo. For the man in particular, he needs to accomplish a number of well defined tasks before he is judged to be ready for marriage. In most parts of Igboland, there are defined rites of passage. These include initiation into the masquerade and age grade societies. In parts of Udi LGA in Enugu State, the rite of manhood called “iwa ogodu” was what a son and his father had to do to indicate that the boy has come of age. This ceremony involves the father buying a cow and the son parading the cow in the market place. At the right moment, the son being initiated would be expected to cut off the tail of the cow with one stroke of a well sharpened machete.
Following the initiation to manhood, the ready to be husband is expected to have acquired the infrastructure and the skills necessary to make a living for himself and his would be family. Such infrastructure includes a house for himself separate from that of his parents. His skill set would include the ability to successfully and profitably farm a sizable plot of land for crops such as yam, cocoyam, corn, beans, cassava, peanuts; and the ability to tend palm trees either for the wine or for the palm fruit. These days, farming, fishing or palm tree tending skills are no longer adequate to demonstrate the readiness of the young man for marriage. Getting formal education at least to the secondary school level, (but preferably to the post secondary level) is necessary, coupled with landing a permanent, good paying job. Another alternative is for the young man to undergo many years of apprenticeship and establish himself firmly as an artisan (carpenter, mason, plumber, painter, motor mechanic, electrician, welder, etc), or as a trader in a specialty area such as clothing, shoes, electronics, building materials, hardware, jewellery, foods, etc.
For the girls, the right of passage is not as well defined as for the boys. However, acquiring culinary, child care and home management skills is mandatory. In addition, most families these days would strive to educate their daughters to the secondary and even post-secondary level. Girls also strive to acquire professional skills through formal education, and some seek to establish themselves in trades such as dressmaking and hairdressing. For a girl aspiring to be married, she is expected to look her best and be of the best behaviour at all times. Some communities would go to the extent of organizing their marriageable girls into dance troupes where the girls do the dancing, while the men and the women provide the vocals and the instrument back up. Learning these dance steps usually takes several years and a great deal of hard work. The outing and showcasing of the dance troupe is widely advertised and takes place over several weeks and in several venues. The dancers are exquisitely decked up to orchestrate their femininity. Within weeks of the launching of the dance, most of the girls are often scooped up by eligible bachelors, some of the men coming from distant towns, but who might have seen or heard of the dance.
Igbo tradition does not encourage girls to go out in search of husbands. Regardless of the status of the girl, she must wait until the prospective husband approaches her family. Thus, it is the man who does the hard work of finding the right partner, while the girl and her family have the easier of task of saying yes or no. The common denominator here is that all members of the respective extended family are involved in this very important task. Often relations of the man identify the prospective bride and inform the man. Once he gives his consent, the relatives will carry out a detailed investigation of the girl and her family history. The investigation will dig into the background of members of the girl’s family going as far back as possible, looking for any incidents of recurring diseases, abominable acts, problems with bearing children, insubordination or other marital problems. Once the background check has been completed to the satisfaction of the man’s family, then the formal marriage rites will proceed. During each of the several steps and stages of these marriage rites, the family of the prospective bride will continue to check out the groom’s family looking for essentially the same undesirable traits. The key concern for the bride’s family would include the ability of the man to take care of their daughter and any children that she would have.
Initial Inquiry by the Groom (Iku Aka):
This is the initial and official declaration to the parents of the girl by the would-be groom that he is interested in having their daughter as a wife. The prospective groom is accompanied by a small group made up of close family members such as his parents, one or two uncles and aunts. The visitors come with kola nuts and a small amount of palm wine. Before the kola nut is broken and shared, the suitor’s party would state their intention to the bride’s family. The prospective bride would then be asked for her consent to accept the kola nut. If she fails to give her consent then the process comes to an end. On the other hand, if she consents, then the kola nut and the wine is accepted and shared. Further visits are then scheduled before the groom’s party leaves.
Second and third visitations (Mmanya Nne na Nna, Mmanya Ikwunne, Mmanya Umunna, Mmanya Isi Ada)
If the initial introductory rite (Iku Aka) is positive, the groom’s party will receive a list of what other steps are involved and what the requirements of the bride’s clan or town are. There are variations from one town to another. With each additional visitation, the size of the groom’s party continues to increase until the apex visitation which is the Igba Nkwu ceremony. The first visitation to the bride’s family is for the purpose of Mmanya Nne na Nna (wine for the bride’s parents). The groom’s party is limited to about 6 to 10 persons, and their gifts will include kola nut, palm wine, beer, soft drinks and tobacco. The bride’s family will prepare food and serve the visitors. The third visitation at the bride’s home is for the purpose of Mmanya Umunna, which is to inform the extended family from the bride’s father’s side that someone is interested in marrying their daughter. For this visitation, the groom’s party may number up to 20, and the number and assortment of gifts and drinks also increases. A goat is often a part of the gifts. The hosts will also prepare assorted meals for the visitors.
In some communities, the rites of Mmanya Ikwunne and Mmanya Isi Ada are also mandatory. The former is to inform the relations of the bride’s mother that someone wants to marry their daughter. The latter is for the first daughter of the bride’s father or family. The groom’s party is limited in both cases, and the gifts are identical in scope and size, but they must include kola nuts, palm wine, beer, soft drinks, heads of tobacco and snuff. The consent from all these distinct family members must be secured before the final marriage rites are agreed to and scheduled.
Bride wealth/Dowry Settlement:
This rite may be done as part of Igba Nkwu, but in general, it requires a visitation to the bride’s family. In the past, at the end of the lengthy negotiations which can take a whole night, money does change hands. These days the exchange of money does not take place, but the negotiations do still take place. Because of the difficulty in determining the value of a wife to a man, most families settle for a commitment from the groom that he would take good care of the bride and her children, and that he would assist the bride’s family with the training of the bride’s siblings. At the start of the dowry or bride wealth negotiations, the bride’s family will extol her virtues and accomplishments. Usually broom sticks are used to represent money. Thus, at the start, the bride’s family will present a huge bundle of broom sticks which is what they believe their daughter is worth. The groom’s party will then go out and consult with themselves and come back with a counter offer which is in the form of a much reduced bundle of broom sticks. The bride’s family will again go to their own meeting and agree on a slightly reduced amount. This back and forth session will continue until a final count (amount) is agreed to.
Igba Nkwu/Mmanya Nkute:
This is the final ceremony to consummate the marriage, and it takes place in the bride’s family compound. The guest list from both the groom’s and bride’s families is often unlimited. Depending on the resources of the two families, several hundreds or even thousands of people come to witness the occasion. The entire extended family system, going as far back as they know is invited. Both the groom and bride would normally invite their friends, colleagues and co-workers in addition to members of their respective extend families. As is the case with other rites that come before Igba Nkwu, some communities specify items that the groom must present to the bride’s family. These would include kola nuts, palm wine and other assorted drinks, heads of tobacco, snuff, cloths, jewellery, etc. For the bride’s family, it is also the occasion to show their love and care for their daughter. They would give her presents including cooking utensils for her new home. The bride’s compound is typically decked up for the event with extra chairs and tables brought in for the numerous guests expected. Oftentimes, dance groups and musicians are in attendance to entertain the audience.
The Igba Nkwu ceremony kicks off with the arrival of the groom’s party with their drinks and other gifts. They are led to the area reserved for them. Next the bride’s family comes out to greet their in-laws. Meantime, the bride and her maids are inside the house getting dressed. Once most of the guests are settled in their respective places, the bride and her maids make the first appearance. This is primarily to greet the in-laws. They dance regally around the venue while relatives spray money on them. Following the appearance of the bride, the groom’s party presents their gifts to the in-laws. Relatives of the bride will check the items to make sure that they are in accordance with their specifications. Any shortfall of omission usually means that the groom has to make up for it by cash payment. Once the drinks and other gifts are accepted, the kola nuts are broken and shared.
In some communities, the bride and her party will make a second appearance. This time they will carry boiled eggs in trays. They will give these eggs to the guests who in turn will put money into the trays as payment for the eggs. The significance of this ceremony is to show that the bride is capable of making money by trading. Before the drinks are shared, the bride and her party make another appearance. This time, the bride kneels before her father to receive his blessing. After the blessing, the father pours palm wine into a cup and hands the cup over to his daughter to give to the groom. The groom is usually well hidden among the crowd to make it difficult for the bride to find him. The bride and her party will keep searching everywhere until they find him. Once she does that, she will offer him the cup of wine, which he sips and hands back to the bride for her to sip as well all to the applause of the audience. Both the groom and the bride now go before each of their parents to get their prayers and blessing. Once the blessings are given, the newly married couple will dance together to entertain their guests. While the dance is going on, money is sprayed on them as well as on their parents and other relatives. Meantime, the bride’s family serves assorted food items that have been meticulously prepared to all the guests wherever they may be seated.
These days, Igba Nkwu also features the cutting of a cake by the newly married couple. Once the cake is cut, the couple then takes their seat at a conspicuous location in the compound. Relatives, friends and well-wishers then take turns to present gifts to the couple. The eating and drinking and general merry-making goes on till late into the night. As the party begins to wind down, the family of the groom will by way of a song indicate that they are about to leave, and that they have to take their wife with them. Most of the time there are no issues, and the parents of the bride will present their own gifts to her to take to her husband’s place. The parting of the bride from her family is always an emotional one, but in the end, the bride must join her husband’s party as they make their way back to their place.
Post Igba Nkwu Rites:
These days, the Igba Nkwu and traditional marriage rites are almost immediately followed by church wedding. Sometimes, the church wedding takes place the next day or within a few weeks of Igba Nkwu. This time, the groom’s family is responsible for organizing the wedding and the reception that follows the wedding. Depending on the resources of the groom, the reception party is often lavish and more gifts are showered on the newly weds.
Traditionally, the first night that the bride spends in her new husband’s home is the night of Igba Nkwu. The following morning, the bride is expected to be up early to sweep the entire compound of her husband’s family. Other women married in the family as well as Umuada will join in the sweeping. The men folk will shower the new wife with money as she goes from one compound to another. On the fourth day of her stay in her new home or shortly thereafter, the new wife makes her visit to her parents place. This is referred to as Nnalu. The husband has to give her presents to give to her relatives according to the tradition of the area. These would include toilet soaps, bar soaps, items of clothing, food items, jewellery, palm wine, and assorted drinks, etc. The bride will spend a couple of days with her parents and relatives before returning to her husband.
*Nigeria: Igbos Do Not Have A Good Chance In 2019, Let Alone 2015
If I were a parochial thinker or a good politician (the Nigerian way), I would be strutting for a President of Igbo extraction come 2015. It is not as if an Igbo cannot become the President of Nigeria. No, that notion is far from the truth. In short, at this critical moment in our history as a nation, an Igbo President would have waved the magic wand. My “provincial” thinking is that the Igbos in politics in Nigeria are not positioning themselves very strategically enough to command the respect that will give them that slot in the Nigerian politics of today.
One big problem with the Igbos is that they are politically (at least as it is practiced in Nigeria) naïve. If the Igbos feels strongly about anything, they go for it without diplomacy and that showed up when they felt that the Nigerian Project was dwarfing the Nigerian people about forty five years ago. And when the rest of Nigerians decided otherwise, the same Igbos came back and took the struggle for a united Nigeria to an awful dimension with their die hard resolve. Today, it is only the Igbos that can be found, in large numbers, in almost all nooks and crannies of the country with massive investments in all the localities as they move along. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map and Flag of Nigeria
It is unmistakable to perceive that the PDP is a “military machine” that guarantees any person from any group a stint in the apex political position in the country today. When I say a “military machine”, I say it in the real sense that PDP is dominated (not by numbers though, but) by the retired armed forces personals including the retired police and to some extent the Customs officers. Unfortunately, ex President Obasanjo has ambushed the rest of his colleagues to have a domineering grip on the intimidating apparatus of PDP.
He used the period of his eight years reign (1999 – 2007) to perfect the plot. He started by silencing all armed forces personals and other politicians who would have become a threat to his ambition. It would be remembered that he sacked all armed forces personals who have ever held any political office when he came to power in 1999. In addition, it is suspected that, he used the period to gather substantial dossiers (and you can just be certain that they are very dirty) on all present and past political figures. So with his grip on his own EFCC and with what he knows about every person that matters politically, he has been able to throw up the joker at very decisive moments. People like Atiku Abubarkar only exist merely in the political gambit of the country today. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo
To aspire to become a president in Nigerian politics today, two things have to be in your favour. One, you have to be a member of PDP and, secondly and more importantly, you have to be an ex armed personnel or you have to have the backing of the ex armed people. In the entire Igbo land (as far as I can perceive), the Nwodos were close to having the two features but unfortunately their benefactor – the IBB faction – lost out in the equation while the war raged between IBB faction and the Obasanjo loyalists. And we all know that Gen. Obasanjo does not accept 99.9% loyalty not even when his son is involved.
The almost moribund APGA, in the South-East, would have been the springboard for a genuine Igbo agitation for a slot at the apex political seat in Nigeria. But even at that, the nearest date will be 2019 in view of the fact that it is almost a ritual that every president must serve two terms and there is nothing that signifies that incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan will vacate that slot in 2015. Every person who is a good reader of political developments in our country would agree that the manner in which President Jonathan denied that there was no zoning arrangement within PDP denotes that he is not someone you would trust on anything. And even if he does, it is most likely that the ex army generals under the control of Obasanjo will tip Retired Col. David Mark for the job. It is pertinent to note that the inactivity of the upper legislative chamber is due to the fact that the leadership under the full grip of David Mark is not unmindful of the power flow and would not want to rock the boat. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Seal of The President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is the official symbol of the Nigerian President, first used in 1979 by President Shehu Shagari.
Why it has become difficult for Igbos to nurture and gyrate around a strong political unit as an effective political tool is still as surprising as it is embarrassing to me. The Igbos hover around PDP and yet they do not have a reasonable relevance in it. Compare this with the South-West that has used subtle opposition to corner a large chunk of the national wealth and political relevance to itself over the years. The south-West would foster their opposition and still give the picture of being in the big party while using their Afenifere as a moderating tool to galvanize their common goal. A case at hand is how their political structure in the last April 2011 presidential election was coalesced with PDP at the national level.
Compare Igbo style also with the South-South that has used the natural resources, in their soil, to attract political sympathy – and not respect – to itself. The common thing among the South-South and the South-East is that they are used as a pawn in the chess board. How else would one analyze the fact that the President comes from the South-South and the biggest achievement is that a construction company built a Church for him is his Otuoke village? The only East-west road from Benin through to Oron has been under construction since 2006 and completion may not come until the President uses it again as a political campaign tool in 2015. How else also would one reconcile the fact that, all the federal highways within the South-East have never had smooth face in all the over twelve years of PDP control of power but at federal and state levels?
The whole of the northern block, itself, is a political machine in view of the natural tutelage of the colonial masters. But for the incessant religious insurgencies from the Islamic world that has naturally pitched them against the Western culture, the Northern Nigeria would have been politically ahead of all the regions in the country.
The Igbo brand of politics would have been excellent if Nigeria is operating politics based on sound ideology or manifesto. At the moment, Nigerian politicking is still based, rather, on tribal and religious nepotism more than on ethical ideology. The time when the impact of political style of Ohaneze ndi Igbo will be felt in Nigerian politics is still away ahead. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Hon. Amb. Ralph Uwaechue, President General Ohaneze Ndigbo
The Nigerian state, with the assistance of some Igbo political elite (operating consciously or unconsciously), has progressively shoved the Igbos to an unenviable corner in the scheme of things politically. After the civil war, it would seem that, there has been a very subtle and conscious stride to set the rest of the South-South against the South-East so as to whittle down their strength towards any meaningful agitation for the position of the president. One thing is being the president; another is being able to operate as a president.
The unwritten convention has been, let the North rule then the South. The South is the political block that amalgamates the South-West, the South-East, and the South-South into a political divide. If we agree, like some narrow-minded people think, that the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates, of 1914 in Nigeria, has been the cog in the wheel of Nigeria’s growth, politically, we could even be more comfortable to postulate that the amalgamation of the three geo-political zones in the Southern part of Nigeria is the albatross that is holding the region down, politically, as well. But I think that is all a mirage.
But the stack truth is that all these political arrangements based on any form of rotation amongst the “political zones” and political units in our country has, unavoidably, engendered all forms of social injustices and corruption that has thrown up one form of social malady or the other. What obtains – in that vein – is that the worst people gather together, not because of clear and sound political manifestoes but, to loot the national wealth due to lack of ingenuity in tackling political problems facing the country.
We also see how zoning in PDP is only applied when it pleases the controlling group in the party and not as a standard that should be followed at all times.
In view of all the foregoing therefore, it becomes safer to deemphasize all manner of political grouping based on any form of zoning or rotation when doing a thorough diagnosis of the real courses of underdevelopment in the Nigerian state. President Obama did not emerge as the President of the World’s number one democracy based on any form of rotation. Not even on color. He emerged based, purely, on sound rendition of how he would implement his party’s core manifesto. True democracies emphasize political institutions rather than persons, tribes, zones or rotation.
When solid political institutions – such as entrenchment of constitutionality and obedience to the rule of law which guarantees electorates’ supremacy, establishment of core positive social values which denounces corruption in its entirety – are erected, it will be difficult for mediocrity to creep into the polity, even under any guise. Politicians would emerge under such platform by demonstrating sufficient understanding of the rules of the game based on sound rendition of their party’s manifesto – which would have been drawn up in line with the aspirations of the citizenry – rather than by application of brutal force or intimidation.
I feel ashamed that a country that attained independence in 1960 is still grappling with power generation and supply in 2012 while people who have saddled social and technological development all these years still walk tall within the society. I feel ashamed that past leaders do not have the courtesy of burying their heads in shame when it is glaring that their activities have dwarfed their nation. They do not seem to understand that it is the activities of leaders (both past and present) that have turned around nations such as South Korea, Malaysia, India, Singapore, etc into modern states and has sustained modern states such as USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, etc.
I feel ashamed that even as things are now, our current bunch of politicians are not mindful of their activities and its net impact in our country in a couple of years to come. These people do not understand development beyond allocating a good plush of the national wealth to them with little thought on what legacy they want to bequeath our generation unborn.
It is on this note that I see the presidential election of 2015 as yet another opportunity for Nigerians to redeem their country. And that opportunity gets widened when the caliber of past Military Head of state of Nigeria in the person of Alhaji Buhari offers himself one more time to Nigerians to be voted as their head of the central government.
What has been the ploy by corrupt rulers against Buhari is that he would Islamize Nigeria. They have also flaunted the issue of the 53 brief cases during his reign with late General Idiagbon in the eighties. But all these things happened under military hegemony and none happened for conscious personal or selfish gain.
But beyond that, no politician has established any corruption against this man. It is on record that General Buhari did not come out of government with affluence. Not even a good home was attributed to him when he was forced out of power by iridescent General Babangida, the “evil genius”. Today, General Babangida has also lost grip of the PDP to General Obasanjo. But maybe for the fear of reprisal from Buhari, he has chosen to be insulted in PDP than unite forces with Buhari to redeem Nigeria.
The worst I suspect will happen if Buhari comes to power will be direct confrontation with all corrupt rulers, past or present. He will go as far as recovering their loots both at home and abroad and he may even back bills that will sentence them to over hundreds of years of imprisonment and if all these would be done in compliance with the rule of law and in the interest of our country so let it be.
But this is where I expect true sacrifice from our past rulers if they have blood flowing through their veins. If their activities have led a great nation such as our country Nigeria into the precarious state she finds herself in even in view of all the natural and human resources abundant in our land, could they not give themselves up to be sacrificed if only that will engender a truly powerful country where our generations unborn will worship them as martyrs?
When I look back 20 years ago, I begin to wonder how we actually lived without substantial communication.
There was this joke about a guy who was deployed for his one year ( NYSC) post university service in one remote area in the North-East part of the country. There was no GSM network in that place at the time.
After the first two months into his service, he decided to communicate his parents back home about his experiences as a “corper”. For absence of any other means, he wrote a letter. The letter got to his home town one week after he returned from the one year service.
In the same vein, I am certainly sure, our generation unborn will marvel at how we survived with the daunting corruption and poor quality of ruler-ship we are immersed in at this moment.
Because of long exposure to military hegemony in Nigerian, most of us grew up to think that use of force and lawlessness is the only way towards resolving social issues. The psyche that the army bequeathed us democracy still runs fresh in our system. And it is evident that the armies of African states have not completely relinquished the warped notion that part of their constitutional roles is to interfere in social crises within the state. And because they have directly or indirectly influenced who becomes a president, most presidents still think that control of the army is more important than submission to the desires of the electorate. This is why our rulers resort to using armed forces instead of civil means to bring down common demonstration such as we witnessed during the fuel subsidy turmoil at the beginning of 2012 and the Odi saga in Bayelsa state during Obasanjo’s regime.
So in view of the foregoing my take is that every effort should be channeled on how to extricate Nigeria from the claw of PDP at the national level. What, in my opinion, should be done to actualize this is for all genuine progressives from all over the country to come out in unity in the war to liberate Nigeria from the strangle hold of PDP first, then thereafter institute a realistic electoral reform that will put the power of determination of who leads Nigeria in the hands of the electorate. If Buhari an Hausa Fulani (and an ex soldier) or any Igbo man or any Yoruba man or any Ijaw man or indeed any other Nigerian (without PDP mindset) can be used as the molecule that would attract followership that will have that capacity to withstand PDP’s crushing momentum, let all Nigerians shield their tribal or religious bigotry and follow that person.
So until we obliterate the military mentality from our psyche as a people, Nigeria and Nigerians will not know development and progress. And PDP, as it is constituted today, remains a very viable psychological component to that mind set. So when I say that Igbos do not have a chance, what runs at the back of my mind is that even if an Igbo becomes the president of Nigeria within PDP (against all perceivable odds), Nigeria’s predicament would not have still gotten a true solution.
Chris Onyishi (email@example.com)reports from Lagos, Nigeria.
*Nigeria: NDDC’s Foundation for Food Security
By Ifeatu Agbu
There is no doubt that the Niger Delta region is blessed with natural resources. Apart from oil, the region is also endowed with some of the country’s most fertile land. Ironically, inhabitants of the region are not reaping the fruits of nature’s bounties as much as expected because of years of environmental degradation. Thus, majority of its people are still living and dying in poverty.
Assessing the level of poverty among the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria in 2006, the Central Bank of Nigeria, observed that south-south geopolitical zone is the worst hit by poverty among the three zones in southern part of the country. Before the oil boom era, more than 95 per cent of the people in the region were engaged in agriculture. Since Shell first struck oil in Oloibiri in 1956, unquantifiable oil spills have continued to pollute the water and soil while dangerous gases from gas flares poison the air across the region, destroying the livelihoods of fishermen and farmers. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt
To make matters worse, the Nigerian nation had come to depend almost entirely on crude oil for economic survival. The result, of course, is inadequate investment in the agricultural sector. Indeed, annual production of both cash and staple food crops dropped significantly since oil money came into the economic matrix. For example, although Nigeria was the world’s largest cocoa exporter in 1960, cocoa production has since dropped to a dismal 250,000 Metric Tonnes per annum placing her behind Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire. Similarly, other cash crops such as rubber, palm produce, cotton and groundnuts, which were major foreign exchange earners before oil, have lost their export appeal.
Recognizing that Nigeria was once able to produce enough food to feed its people, as well as supply raw materials to local industries and still have enough for export, the Federal Government seems poised for a change of course. According to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the production of locally milled rice would increase from 2.21 metric tonnes to 6.4 million metric tonnes annually by 2015. To achieve this, he said that the government would attract 100 large rice millers into the country and form cluster rice farms around the mills. Obviously, the high rate of rice importation gives government officials the jitters, considering the country’s ever growing population. Nigeria is not only the largest consumer of rice in Africa; it also eats more than it produces. One can, therefore, understand the minister’s eagerness to turn things around. He has promised to make agriculture earn for the nation what crude oil does at the moment.
As part of the efforts to make good this promise, Nigeria recently sealed a deal with a US manufacturing firm, for the production of 300,000 tractors with a view to encouraging large-scale farming. The partnership, involving delegates from USAID and the U.S. Bureau for Food Security (BFS), is expected to attract an investment worth 60 million dollars into Nigeria’s agricultural sector. Dr. Adesina said that the ultimate goal was to create employment for our teeming graduates as it is estimated that roughly 4 .5 million youths were entering our already saturated labour market every year. Another country which has shown interest in the development of modern agriculture in Nigeria is Israel. This is a country that is exporting food and earning as much as $714 million yearly, while Nigeria is spending billions of naira on the importation of food. Interestingly, Israel that is reaping huge sums from the exportation of agricultural produce is in the heart of the desert, unlike Nigeria with abundant fertile land. So, the Jewish State owes its success in agriculture to the deployment of modern technology. They have demonstrated in various spheres of life that technology is the key to economic power in the modern world. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing some major cities, including the Federal capital (Abuja or FCT)
Last year, the Israeli ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Moshe Ram, said he was happy that Israel was collaborating with Nigeria to return the Niger Delta to a major food-producing zone in the country. He recalled that palm produce used to flourish in the region and expressed happiness that Israeli expertise would help to bring back those days of glory.
In fulfillment of the pledge, the Israeli embassy is collaborating with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to rejuvenate and modernize agricultural practices in the oil-producing region. The NDDC has also entered into partnership with other stakeholders in its efforts to reactivate the agricultural potential of the Niger Delta and empower farmers to reclaim their livelihoods.
The Managing Director of the commission, Dr.Chris Oboh, said it was very necessary that agriculture was revived to make it a major economic activity in the Niger Delta region. He made the pledge at a ceremony to formally welcome 11 trainees from India, who received specialised trainings on mechanised farming and repair of farm equipment. “We are focused on diversifying our local economy in a manner that will drastically reduce our dependence on oil,” Oboh said.
He said the commission would vigorously pursue programmes that would boost agriculture to make it rival the oil sector as a major income earner in the region. Oboh urged the beneficiaries of the training to use their skills and knowledge to further boost the development of agriculture in the region.
The NDDC had been running agricultural training programmes in conjunction with Songhai Delta, a reputable capacity building and youth empowerment centre based in Amupke, Delta State. The scheme aimed at training youths in Niger Delta in various aspects of agriculture, took off in January 2008. The NDDC said it has trained over 6,500 youths of the region in various agricultural practices.
The commission has promised to increase food supply by building rice processing mills across the oil producing states to produce rice in commercial quantity. According to Dr. Godspower Amadi, NDDC’s deputy director, agric and fisheries, “we started commercial rice farming as far back as 2007 with nine pilot farms in the region. Our giant rice processing plant at Elele Alimini in Rivers State will soon start churning out tonnes of high quality rice.”
Today’s farming cannot be anything but science-driven with the requisite technical sophistry. The NDDC is well aware of this fact, hence its contributions to the transition from subsistence farming to modern agricultural practices. Just last year, the interventionist agency donated 27 tractors to the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) group, for delivery to farmer cooperatives in their respective host communities. The OPTS is supported by the major oil companies.
Engineer Anthony Abolarin of Total, who received keys to the tractors on behalf of the OPTS members, described the event as unique and monumental. He said that the handing over of the tractors by the NDDC demonstrates the level of understanding and cooperation between the commission and oil companies.
It is only through this kind of intervention that the oil producing communities and indeed the entire country can be empowered to meaningfully engage in mechanized agriculture that would make Nigeria to become self-surficient in food production. It will also help the nation to reduce its ever-rising food import bills, which according to the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr. Dalhatu Tafida, stands at about 10 billion dollars annually.
This worrying situation is stirring some state governments into action. The Rivers State government is one of those that have taken up the challenge. According to the Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, agriculture would be made the mainstay of the state economy in no distant time. Thus, the government has put pen to paper with an Israeli-based firm, LR Group Limited for a multi-billion naira 2000-hectare farm in Etche Local Government. Governor Amaechi said the development was part of the efforts by his administration to shift emphasis from oil-dependent economy to an agro-based economy.
The administration of Senator Bukola Saraki and the present government of Abdulfatah Ahmed took Kwara State to a new level of commercial agriculture. Saraki cleared the grounds for agrarian revolution when he invited white Zimbabwean farmers in 2004 to introduce modern technology to farming in the state.
Apparently, the message is beginning to sink in. Technology is the key to the agricultural revolution needed to lift Nigeria from the status of a mono-cultural economy.
Mr. Ifeatu Agbu ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
*I See Biafra Here: Any Igbo "Zik" of Nigeria Is Doomed
By Ikechukwu Enyiagu
There was once an old man in a part of Igboland whose activities became the shame of his children, family and the entire town. As old as he was, he did not only indulge in drug abuse, he rallied hopeless and helpless youths to do same, thereby creating mass-insecurity in the town. He was given enough time and advice both by elders and relatives, enough advice to understand the consequences of the generation he was trying to raise even at his old age. As an elderly man, even the youths covered their heads in honor to tell him that “Okenye amaghi ekwu ezi okwu bu onye aru. Yet he ignored them all…until time overcame him and judgment descended. He was arrested by the town’s legally-instituted security outfit. He was arrested and tied to a tree in front of a tree in the town’s market for a day. The sun shined on him and the rain fell on him until it was night when he was released. To many who would readily condemn such steps, your motives remain questionable and dark before the eyes our maker and before a true government of the people, for the people and by the people. The intention to treat him this way was not only to deter him and others from doing such, it was carried out this way to get him to understand that he would not die if he stayed a day without abusing drugs, but that the town and its people would utterly perish if they allowed him to continue. The effect: he got saved and the society was rid of that evil foundation. Now, realizing that our elders and leaders and internationally-recognized persons of Igbo/Biafra origin have gone the way of this very old man, not by abusing drugs, but by abusing their eldership and leadership and by laying the foundations and sowing the seeds of a will-be utterly wasted Igbo of tomorrow, I am going to use this space to speak to them as one who speaks to the king/elder with his face covered; yet I’m going to speak it pointblank. However, after this piece of passionate and cautious advice and warning, they still fail to retrace their steps, it should be clear to them that, their public disgrace is in sight and that no part of the world will be safe enough for their evasion of justice. Furthermore, I write to remind them that “Ofu onye adighi akari ora.” They will be crushed by the Spirit and the passion of Biafra and of freedom.
Having said this, I would like to point to a few names of the so-called Igbo leaders and elders whom I remember now: All the five (5) South-East Governors (past and present), all the Tradition Rulers (appointed or inherited), all Senators (past and present), all National House of Assembly members (past and present), all State House of Assembly members (past and present), all Igbo/Biafra Ministers (past and present), all Igbo/Biafra Commissioners (past and present), all Igbo/Biafra Ambassadors (past and present), all Igbo/Biafra politicians in places of authorities, all Igbo/Biafra Human Rights activists, all Igbo/Biafra internationally acclaimed scholars, all Igbo elders (men and women), all Igbo Religious Bodies (Christianity and traditional), all Igbo “Ziks” of Nigeria, all Pro-Biafra groups, etc. I see Biafra here! One more thing I see is the death of Zikism (which true meaning and processes only amount to an extinct Igbo/Biafran race), whatever that means to other people. I see the doom of all Igbo “Ziks” of Nigeria. I see the shame of those who have always thought that their financial, gun-propelled and abominable political, traditional and religious powers are both the enslavement and the destiny of the abused, insulted, shamed, massacred, and disgraced; marginalized, denied, bound and compelled Igbo/Biafrans. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Map of Defunct Republic of Biafra
I see the Spirit of Biafra defying all injustices, all falsehood, all obstructions, all oppositions, and “all that money can buy,” to stand in the lead of the peoples’ desire for freedom, justice, peace and prosperity. I see Igbo/Biafran children/youths, who have endured the burden of the stranger so much so that they now preferred death (if destiny desires it so) than to keep drowning in unreasonable and senseless silence over the silence, wickedness, self-alone attitude, total abandonment, open insult, callousness, arrogance, pride and Godness of those who have made themselves/been declared Igbo leaders I see them rise up even as the locust upon a green field, to devour all trees of unrighteousness and silence all voices of the enemy. Like that old wicked man, who wasted the goodwill, love and respect of his people, I see our elders, who have ignored, neglected, abandoned, suppressed, threatened, and silenced the cries of our people for Biafra, our only freedom and peace, being held down and made so helpless, hopeless and ashamed right before all – young and old alike.
I see a man like Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State (The Eastern Heartland) being swallowed by his plots which he started even in the secret and tried to cover with his philanthropic veils. I see his desire to change the God of his people and to fully manifest as an Antichrist, right in the middle of a God-fearing people, being shattered, and all his nakedness being revealed to all - enemies and friends alike. I see him and all he has ever worked for being swept away by the flood of the anger of the Spirit of Biafra and His children. I see a man like Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, the man who erected a job-creating structure States away from his people, those he declared himself humble, loving and understanding enough to lead aright; the leader who chose his business interests over the salvation of his people, and who would sell, not just his family but his kinsmen to his taskmaster; I see him rot in the burning fire ignited by the spirit of the love of money. I see this man who is so deceitful and cunning enough to have declared himself a son to our father, late General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu; fatherless and childless. Then I see the Orjis of Abia, who have the blessed made Abia State worse than an European dustbin, and their people, beggars on the highways of Europe; I see these people being destroyed from within and by those they have stolen and killed and oppressed for. For the Elechi of Ebonyi State, who shouted that, “instead of a divided Nigeria, the Igbo should continue being killed in their numbers;” I see him as a man who enters his grave by stoning. I see a man who went home as a bat, usu na abughi anu elu ma obu anu ala. Knowledge abounds! When will men use it! I see a sick man who, like others before and with him, has been silent and has tried to silence the voice of the Spirit of Biafra, in Enugu government house. If the complacence of King Ahab over his wife who helped to bring the anger of God on the people of Israel was not enough excuse for innocence, those leaders who are silent will be silenced. I see those women who are being cheered by all nationally and internationally, who have grown proud and above their husbands and elders, who no longer understand that motherhood is the mother of all nor do they respect the Igbo/Biafra Spirit; I see them cry even for their own children. When a woman loses the child she loves so much, a greater part of her world comes to an end. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Igboland (homeland of Ndigbo of Nigeria )
For those who speak of “Offor na Ogu,” of Obi na Offala,” or Nze na Ozor,” yet would not do what the land says, I see men who the land kills with merciless anger. For some of our leaders who are so educationally all-knowing, internationally worshipped, who have decided that Igbo/Biafra freedom would be nothing but a history in books and movies, I see men and women in fine robes who suddenly find themselves disrobed, naked, and unknown. Worse off, I see men, who have begun and given all for the cause of Igbo/Biafra freedom, but who have suddenly turned back and surrendered themselves and those who believed in them to the very enemy; I see them wander the earth like the Cains of our days and I see men despise even bringing about their death. Those who claim to be the eyes and ears of God in Igbo/Biafra yet have only succeeded in defrauding my people and making matters worse for them, they are all left alone to their shame! I see them asked to prove their sources and I see their failure trigger mass exodus.
Like Amaziah unto Amos, many would say, “you seer, leave us alone, go to other place and see!” Well, I will answer them thus: To the men who would not want justice to reign, may justice be denied them. To those who hate the truth, let everything around them bring them messages of falsehood, deceit and death. To those who would rather that I be shut up, let everything that God has created and given freely, and all that man has made, deny you access of usage. To all the leaders who, after having seen the wickedness of Nigeria and its government on/against the remnants of Igbo/Biafrans, still looked the other way; to you may your sources of hope and joy be your sure sources of public shame and destruction. To the elders who have declared that Israel should rather remain in Egypt than leave, may your sons and daughters, whom you raised in the way of your abominations and under the foundations of your wickedness, be enslaved as men were in Egypt, and may you be unable to deliver them. To our elders (men and women) who would rather encourage their children into individual crimes instead of standing up as one voice to demand the future of their children from the hand of Pharaoh, the Lord remind you of Moses’ mother and of Joseph’s father. And if you will not repent and stand up as one, may you be judged as Jezebel was and disgraced as Herod. To all elders in Igbo/Biafra who have worked and continue to work, in any way, against the freedom of Igbo/Biafra, and against the realization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, away from Nigeria, by their silence, selfish and callous representations, let your children deny you and your wives/husbands divorce you. Let your family, kindred and town renounce you. And let children, all over Biafraland, use your names bywords and curse-words in their songs to remind the generations to come of how abominations were removed from Igbo and Biafraland.
I see Biafra here! I see it come. I see the Spirit leading once again and I see every true Igbo/Biafran sons and daughters following right behind. The days of ignorance are gone; the days of pity are gone. The days of silence and submissive slavery are gone. The chains of silence are broken and the people long-enslaved have seen the light of freedom. Who can stop them from being free! Let heaven and earth pass away if the peace that God has promised his people through His word do not come upon us who belong to Him. Let those who have made pacts with the devil to ensnare all of us ensnare only themselves. Let those who have made pacts and agreements with the enemy, using the lives of our people, be used as the sacrifice instead because our people are forever delivered. To all leaders/elders in Igbo/Biafraland who have worked in ignorance till now, but who would want to be on the side of good history, turn around now and face the Spirit of Biafra, the spirit of peace and freedom for the Igbo, for the Biafrans, and for all those oppressed and compelled to remain silent. No! I see Biafra here. I see the Spirit of Biafra, and He is here to stay!
Ikechukwu Enyiagu can be reached at
*Tribalism And The Nigerian Model of Racism
It was my first time in Europe, London to be precise, and I had gone to check this apartment that was advertised in the Loot weekly. At that time I was still living with a relation, and I was quite happy that the advertised apartment was no more than 100m from where I was staying. So, I walked up to the indicated address, rang the doorbell and waited for a response. After a few seconds the door opened and a male Caucasian appeared. I'm never going to forget the look on his face after he discovered that an African had come to rent the room. He didn't beat about the bush in informing the room had been taken the next day I had called as agreed. Well I had expected something like this from my encounter with him the previous day.
I never quite realised I was Black until that particular evening. Being a first experience I wasn't sure whether to be angry, sad, indifferent or simply laugh it off. I could have gone ahead to brand the whole White race as racists, but then I would have to account for the countless kindness and friendship I had met in many Caucasians that I have come across. A similar incident occurred about two years ago in Germany, when I had gone to (again) look up an apartment for rent. I had this time gone with my colleague and friend, an Indian, and the German owner bluntly stated she could not rent the apartment to foreigners.
I live in Europe, and issues like these boardering on racism are not far-fetched. And expectedly, I had received calls from friends in Nigeria wanting to know how I had coped with such. And in my quiet moments of reflection I have found it outrightly dishonest to put forth life within the Nigerian boarders as devoid of similar attitudes from fellow Nigerians. That is, being Nigerian and living within Nigeria is likely to expose you to similar treatment from other human beings who generally consider you as less deserving of certain considerations for no other reason than you belong to a different tribe. Or a different religion. I considered our national politics, where the Northerners famously claimed power belonged to them. Or should one now consider the Igbos and the Yorubas who, among others, would in many cases not give out their children to marry members of the other tribes?
This might appear trivial, but then it's in context: during my undergraduate education at Ife an Igbo boy had blantantly refused to sell an extra bedspace of his to a non-Igbo student. A Yoruba person close to me had also jokingly raised an objection to my having an Igbo female friend.
How about cases where only individuals from particular families are allowed to monopolise certain political offices?
We find the same pattern in corporate bodies, in sport, in education, in health,... in fact, in the entire social structure we've come to know as Nigeria. What right do I have then to blame a Caucasian, an Indian, or a Chinese for discriminating against me for being African? And historically speaking, what right do we have as a nation for speaking and standing against apartheid of South Africa? In my opinion I think we've spent so long discriminating against fellow Nigerians on the basis of tribe and religion that this pervertion has come to be viewed as normal in the Nigerian context. The picture becomes more deplorable when we consider that this tribalistic tendencies are daily being fuelled by the parents, and other respected members of our societies. How many Nigerians can confidently say their parents and persons close to them have never made malicious comments about members of the other tribes? And when they do this, do we not join in in laughing against the Hausas, Yorubas,and Igbos, as the case maybe? ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map and Flag of Nigeria
Our entire culture and subcultures have been founded on this tribal divisioning, how hyprocritical of us to stand against neo-apartheid in different countries around the world. Hardly would an unfortunate incident affecting most of the tribes in the country occur in some parts of the country and certain tribes not cry out that it's nothing short of a conspiratorial cleansing of their tribe. I allude to Boko Haram's murderous campaign that has seen countless Yorubas, Hausas, Igbos and other tribes and aliens slain, and yet some tribe fuelled by a tribal paranoia keep alleging it's an attempt by Nigeria to expunge them. This in their case is a a peculiar manifestation of the same tribalistic outlook.
I have been to different parts of Nigeria, and also to several countries around the world, and everywhere I have noticed that human beings are essentially the same, with both kind aspects and at the same time with a predisposition to maltreating other races and tribes of men. On a lighter side now, an Italian-American had once asked me in Philadelphia if there were actual houses in Nigeria. I suppose she thought we were living on some trees or inside some caves. Such stereotypical view as this, is usually not an evidence of a defect in the victim of such view, but on the other hand it is nothing short of a demonstration her shocking and shameful ignorance. And yes, that was just two years ago, not two centuries ago.
I have heard Yorubas who have never been to Northern Nigeria tell me things about the Hausas. The Igbos do the same, the same thing the Hausas. The sad thing is that such stereotypical and entirely ignorant branding of other tribes is not aways caused by illiteracy. When I was a kid I had been made to believe that education should liberate a people, in our case it seems to drive us further down the path of bondage.
Let's for a minute consider how it has affected every splinter of our national experience. Do you need me to write about the politics of blood and greed, where each tribe sees the privilege to serve the nation as no more than a golden opportunity to divert the nation's bleeding wealth to his own part of the country? And as a result of the competitive scramble for loot, no one cares that the nation remains stagnant, once the misguided politician is from your tribe. How many politicians do we have that can claim exemption to this? It has become a status behaviour for them to establish a university, a hospital , or any other such structures in their own states and villages once elected. And we all look away from the fact that such institutions could have better served Nigerians in some other parts of the country.
What of sport? Some weeks ago the whole world gathered in London to watch the open shame of Nigeria, the self-acclaimed giant of African (too sad being merely numerous isn't enough to merit such description). I am sure not many Nigerians were disappointed or shocked by the outcome, that we didn't leave London with a tiny medal. Had they included copper, or wood in the awarded medals I am not so sure we would have come home with enough wood to light our frozen national heart. One would then ask, how come such a country with so many people could not lift a single medal? Well, we are from a country where the last time we heard of merit spoken of was in the fairy tales told by our parents, in turn told them by their own parents. Instead, in the name of being faithful to some spurious Federal character, we ended up enlisting athletes who were below average. Should it really matter which tribe the athletes come from as long as they are the best the country could find? If for instance we have 15 slots to fill on a football team, and out of all the interviewd candidates 12 Igbos (or Hausas or Yorubas) possess performance superior to every other person, one should think it makes more sense to choose those ones rather than to push in members of the other tribes who have no competing chance, not even within our own country.
The educational sector and the principle, for instance, of catchment area scores. I wish I could laugh at this policy's silliness, but that it's a very sad phenomenon. That smarter candidates are turned away from an institution just because they are from different states: Then we go ahead and lower the pass mark for the indigenes of our own states. The sad thing is, that poor boy from another state who probably gave his best to writing the exam, is turned away empty-handed. And if such individual has no such institution in his own state, he though being a Nigerian becomes an education-destitute in his own country. But then you'd ask, shouldn't the state be able to actively enhance the education of its indigenes? By all means, it must. But then should it be by lowering the standard and thus prematuredly aborting the surviving notion of merit? Certainly not. Lowering the pass mark (catchment score it is called) for the state is analogous to Britain deciding its own sprinters would only need to run half track to qualify for a medal. But instead of adopting the Nigerian model, it spent billions of pounds in training its citizens so they had more chance of qualifying without having to selectively beat down the pass mark for the Britons. Any serious state interested in enhancing its indigenes education should be read invest in infrastructure acquisition and students' training especially at the the primary and secondary school levels. If a state invests in hiring exceptional teachers and in equipping the education at these indicated levels, it can then be expected that its indigines will have no problem meeting a unified entry qualification into the higher institutions. In addition, the state can also (and should) give worthy scholarships to exceptional and hardworking indigenous students, which should directly stimulate and motivate their interest in knowledge education. To round this paragraph off, I must say University of llorin is about the worst in terms of ambushing university education (a Federal university at that) for its own indigenes. Perhaps there are other universities like this within the country, and one only needs to interview more students to find this out.
Racism, tribalism, nepotism and all the other forms of negative human relational isms are a disease inhabiting the dirty crevices of the human soul. They are often symptomised by absurd stereotypes, fuelled by ignorance and thriving in the mind of the mentally, morally and spiritually stunted regardless of whether such predisposition is found in an illiterate person or an Emeritus professor. As Nigerians we need not look too far afield for a demonstration of its unfortunate effects, it's right here in our homes, in religious and educational institutions, and in governance. And until we shed this contemptible cloak of immaturity, we are going no where as a country.
Jide Olubiyi, Research Center Julich, Germany.
*GAAICOM, Ohaneze And The Race For Igbo Emancipation
Masterweb Reports - Friday, September 7, 2012: The quest for the Igbo race to be politically, economically and spiritually emancipated from all the conspiracies and betrayals bedeviling their existence since after the Biafra Genocide led to the formation of General Assembly of all Igbo Christian Organisations and Ministers (GAAICOM). This divine mandate was corroborated and adopted on the 4th of April 2002 by clergy men cutting across all denominations at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Enugu. GAAICOM comprising clergymen, church workers and leaders cutting across all denominations have been working since 2002 behind the scene towards idolatrous, cultural, social, political and economic emancipation of Igbos.
Presently in Nigeria, Igbos are allowed to fend for themselves. All the estates, businesses and industries that litter Igbo land are mostly due to individual efforts. The Nigerian state finds it expedient to use the intelligence and ingenuity of the Igbo but deny them the much needed federal presence. The activities of Igbo saboteurs who prefer the crumbs from the masters table are another source of self marginalization. The timidity and slavery mentality of Igbo Public Servants when opportune to attract federal projects and attention to Igbo land is another source of concern.
During the build – up to the 2011 presidential elections, GAAICOM decided to throw weight behind the candidacy of a South – South candidate in the person of Goodluck Jonathan with the understanding that after his tenure in 2015, the Igbos will be given the slot. In addition, GAAICOM requested, in a written document, that the constant killings of Igbos be terminated in the North. GAAICOM also demanded that the 2nd Niger Bridge, Onitsha seaport, Enugu – Onitsha Expressway, Enugu – port –Harcourt Expressway, and Enugu – Abakaliki Road be repaired to open up the region for commercial activities. The demand included an international airport in the South East, non – interference in electoral processes in the South East so that Igbos can hold their leaders accountable. The agents of the president agreed to all these and were on the verge of signing a written agreement as a reference point when the idea of involving Ohanaeze was mooted. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Igboland (homeland of Ndigbo of Nigeria )
In order to avoid the treachery associated with Nigerian political climate, GAAICOM took the documented requests to Ohaneze leadership under Ambassador Ralph Uwechue, who expressed his handicap on the premise that his tenure remained only three months, expiring in July 2010. GAAICOM decided to lobby and pressurize Ohanaeze Chieftains to grant the present leadership tenure extension to enable them complete the assignment of repositioning the Igbos for posterity. The Ohaneze Chieftains grudgingly yielded to the demands of GAAICOM.
Today it is obvious that the South East is yet to benefit much from this administration. Apart from the military high command under an Igbo man, the rest of the agreement is yet to be given attention. Book Haram Jihadists are killing Igbos all over Northern Nigeria and security agencies have not contained the situation. Igbos are out in the cold, wandering like sheep without shepherd. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map and Flag of Nigeria
Igbos cannot rely on the magnanimity of the North, West and South South before taking their rightful place. The progressive element in the North and South - West are creating formidable alliance for 2015. The South South is gearing for a second term; the Middle Belt is agitating for another chance while the Northern Oligarchy is positioning their candidate in the event of President Jonathan being pressurized out of the race using Boko Haram. Where is the place of Ndigbo in all these schemes and maneuvers?
Therefore, the leadership of the GAAICOM took far reaching decisions at the 2-day pre-convention meeting which held at the Ohaneze Ndigbo National Headquarters on the 12th and 13th of July, 2015 aimed at repositioning the Igbos politically, socially and economically. These decisions will be ratified by the Patriach Ecclesia Council meeting scheduled for the 15th of September, 2012. Therefore, all Igbo sons and daughters should stand behind this divinely mandated move under the leadership of Apostle Dr. P.C.J. Macjossy, Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, Rev.Fr Alphonsus Okoh ,Archbishop Austin Nwodika , Rev Obinna Akukwe , Bishop Obi Onubogu among others to ensure that Igbos spiritually strategize for total emancipation through the proposed "3 Day Walk into the Presence of God" or risk monumental consignment into the political dustbin of Nigeria.
All state coordinators should inform their chapters accordingly ahead of the Patriach Ecclesia Meeting.
Director of Media and Communication, GAAICOM
*Nigeria: NDDC And The Challenge of Abandoned Projects
By Ifeatu Agbu
Not too long ago, the Presidential Projects Assessment Committee (PPAC) set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to look into cases of abandoned federal government projects released figures that could best be described as shocking. Their report showed that an alarming eleven thousand, eight hundred and eighty-six (11,886) abandoned projects are begging for completion in different parts of the country. “One of the challenges we met when we came on board was the multiplicity of uncompleted and ongoing projects across the region [Niger Delta]. We are aware of stakeholders’ concerns and are committed to ensuring the completion of as many of such projects as possible within the limit of available time and resources.” That was how Dr. Chris Oboh, the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, explained the direction of his new Board. To give effect to the board’s dominant goal, the Managing Director is personally driving the process. He told members of the Presidential Monitoring Committee on the Niger Delta who visited the commission recently that “the 2012 budget would target completion of existing projects and they have all been placed on priority list. A lot of projects have been awarded since the establishment of the NDDC; we intend to focus on the completion of the projects.” True to the declaration of the NDDC boss, the board members undertook an extensive audit of all on-going projects across the oil-producing region. Dr. Oboh described the audit as a demonstration of the commitment of the board to the completion of projects awarded since the inception of the NDDC in December 2000. The monitoring committees constituted by the board have criss-crossed the nine NDDC states to see things for themselves. One of such committees has just concluded its inspection of projects in Delta, Edo and Ondo states. The monitoring groups made up of representatives of the various states on the board of the NDDC had inspected projects in all the states. The projects include roads, bridges, land reclamation and shore protection, flood control and channelization projects, as well as university hostel projects spread across the region. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing its composite 8 states.
Members of the first monitoring group visited Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom and they were led by Barrister Edi Orubo, representing Bayelsa State. Others were Prof. Ibitamuno Aminigo, representing Rivers State and Engineer Imaobong Inyang, representing Akwa ibom State. According to Orubo, their task was to assess what was on the ground and recommend measures that would facilitate the completion of projects placed on fast-track by the commission. The team leader said that the new board of the NDDC was poised to make appreciable impact on the lives of the people of the Niger Delta as quickly as possible. “The project monitoring team will work closely with the contractors to ensure that they deliver quality infrastructure and on time too,” he said. He said that some of the problems that had previously slowed down the pace of work on NDDC projects had been addressed, noting that “the process of payment has been streamlined and fine-tuned such that contractors are now paid as soon as they present their Interim Payment Certificates[IPC].” The team assessed the level of work done at the site of the 29-kilometre Ogbia-Nembe road, which the commission is building in partnership with the Shell Petroleum Development Company [SPDC]. This road with 10 long bridges and 99 culverts is described as one of the very challenging projects of the commission because of its very difficult terrain. For over 35 years when it was first proposed for construction, successive administrations could not muster the political will to execute it until SPDC and NDDC decided to take the bull by the horns. From Bayelsa State, the board members moved over to Rivers State where they inspected the hostel projects at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology [RUST] and the University of Port Harcourt. After that they moved to Buguma. Here, they inspected the Buguma-Edo-Abalama-Abonema road as well as the Buguma shore-protection and the reclamation of 150 hectares of land in Ogu-Bolo, all in Rivers State. While they expressed satisfaction with the massive land reclaimed at Ogu-Bolo, they were sorely disappointed at the poor performance of the contractor at Buguma. In Akwa Ibom, the board members inspected the hostel at the University of Uyo Permanent site and the one at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital. They also looked at some on-going NDDC roads and bridges in the state. The roads visited were the 30 kilometre Nsasak Junction-Okon Essien Udim road; the 33.5 kilometre Ikot-Akpan-Udoh road; Iko-Atabrikang-Opolom-Iwuo Achang road with a 600-metre bridge in Ibeno and the Uquo-Odoro Nkit-Ntak-Inyang road. According to Engineer Samuel Inyang, the contractor handling the Nsasak-Okon Road, NDDC’s new approach to project execution was commendable as it was result-oriented. “Since we started work on this road the support of the NDDC has been unprecedented,” Inyang who was a member of the pioneer board, representing the oil companies, said. The second monitoring group from the NDDC board took off from Abia State. The three-man team of board members, led by Barrister Alloysius Nwagboso, representing Abia State, included Barr.Peter Ezeobi, representing Imo State and Hon. Dominic Edem, representing Cross River State. Barr. Nwagboso said that the inspection exercise was aimed at ensuring that on-going projects of the commission were completed on schedule. He said: “If the NDDC is not on ground, building roads and bridges as well as other key infrastructure, we won’t be on this assignment,” he said. He charged all NDDC contractors to fulfil their obligations to the commission by working expeditiously to deliver the various projects on schedule and to specification. He warned; “Contractors that are not on site or fail to keep to specifications will have themselves to blame because the board will not hesitate to take appropriate measures to bring them to book.” According to him, “gone are the days when contractors collect money and abandon projects or go on an endless voyage seeking variations”, since as he puts it “the Commission is determined to handover erring contractors to anti-graft agencies”. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt
The inspection team was disappointed when they visited the site of the 25-kilometre Uzoukwu-Owaza Iguruta Road and bridge project. Barr. Nwagboso lamented that the bridge which would link Abia and Rivers states was being delayed by the contractor who was not on site to explain why the work on the bridge appeared abandoned. It was also a sad story at the site of the 132 KVA transmission line and substation at Ukwa-West local Government Area of Abia State. The N1.6 billion power line project, meant to serve Abia, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, appeared stalled as the premises of the substation was overgrown with weeds. “It is sad,” was Nwagboso lamentation. The legislator representing Ukwa-West in the House of Representative, Hon. Uzoma Abonta promised to assist the NDDC in holding contractors accountable. “it is in our interest to see that projects sited in our constituencies are not abandoned,” he said. The NDDC board members were, however, delighted with what they saw at Nsidung and Idebe communities in new Bakassi/Akpabuyo Local Government Area of Cross River State. Hon. Akwaedem commended the contractor for “doing a good job” on the 12-kilometre road with a short spam bridge and culverts. Commenting specifically on the hostel projects, Barr. Nwagboso said the progress of work at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri[FUTO] and Imo State University was encouraging. He, however, charged the contractors to keep up the pace to ensure that they were completed on schedule. Engr. Henry Onouha, the site manager for the FUTO hostel project, assured the board members that the complex would be ready for commissioning before the end of the year. The contractors at the other hostels in Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states gave similar assurances. The 176-room proto-type hostels are being built in 18 universities and polytechnics in the nine Niger Delta states. Barrister Orubo said that members of his committee were impressed with what they saw at the project sites. He said they would continue to monitor the progress of work on the hostels to ensure that they were not only delivered on schedule but done according to specified standards. He appealed to all the contractors to be on their toes because board members would visit their sites henceforth without prior notice. The last leg of the inspection took members to Delta, Edo and Ondo states. The team was led by Chief Solomon Ogba, the representative of Delta State on the board. He stated that cases of agitations would be reduced when the numerous projects being executed by the commission were completed and handed over to the people. He, therefore, charged the contractors working for the NDDC to buckle up as “the board will not entertain excuses for non-performance.” Chief Ogba said the board and management of the commission have a mandate to key into the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan by increasing the tempo of infrastructure development in the oil-producing states. To this end, he said, “the commission is now paying contractors as soon as they achieved specified milestones. We have also placed some key projects on fast-track to ensure that they are completed in the shortest possible time.” The inspection team, which included Barr. Henry Okhuarobo, representing Edo State and Mr. Omogbemi Oladele, representing Ondo State, expressed satisfaction with the pace of work at the site of an extensive flood control project in Ughelli. It has 29.6 kilometres of drain channels and nine boxed culverts criss-crossing Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State. The board members said they were happy with the level of work at one of the university hostel projects in Abraka. According to the contractor, the hostel would be ready by December this year. “Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the second hostel which appears to have been abandoned by the contractor”, Ogba lamented. The NDDC team also inspected the Obozogbe – Abudu 24-Kilometre Road in Edo State, which is almost ready for commissioning. According to Mr. Oladele, “this road is a testimony to the fact that some local contractors can deliver quality jobs. The contractor has done a good job on this road and it is marvellous in our sight”. In Ondo state, the NDDC board members expressed dissatisfaction with the quality and pace of work at the shore protection and land reclamation work in Ayetoro. Mr. Oladele regretted that the project which was supposed to save several communities threatened by high waves from the Atlantic Ocean was being treated with levity. “The endangered Ayetoro community remains endangered because the contractor is not living up to expectation”, he said.
Mr. Ifeatu Agbu ( email@example.com ) writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
*Ojukwu's Gateway In Onitsha Converted To Sodom & Gomorrah
A Joint Public Statement
Ojukwu Gateway& Statue In Onitsha Abandoned & Converted To Sodom & Gomorrah -A Joint Report By Intersociety, MASSOB, CLO, Human Rights Club & Human Rights Dev. Int’l
(Onitsha Nigeria, 9th September 2012) -The leaderships of International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law-Intersociety, Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra-MASSOB, Civil Liberties Organization-CLO, Human Rights Club of LRRDC-HRC and Human Rights Development International-HRDI in Anambra State and the Southeast Nigeria are alarmed and worried over the slowest pace of the reconstruction work at the newly renamed Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu Gateway at the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead. Apart from near- abandonment of work at the site, the sacred Gateway, adorned with the statue of Revered and Great Ikemba-Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, has practically been taken over by a bunch of criminals masquerading as government traffic control agents and revenue collectors. Others who constitute nuisance and pollute the sacred place are extortionist police personnel from Onitsha Area Command, Onitsha Central Police Station and Fegge Police Station; hawkers, Motor Park touts, thieves and those trading in the area. In other words, the statue of Revered and Great Ikemba is erected and abandoned in a filthy environment and den of criminals, a sort of Sodom & Gomorrah, where anything goes. Unlike the Wailing Wall in the State of Israel, which hosts Heaven and atonement-seeking wailers, the Great Ikemba’s statue has after August 30, 2012, when it was unveiled by President Goodluck Jonathan, received and continued to receive scores of wailers, psychologically and morally disturbed by its abandonment and disrespect by the construction firm, CCC Nig. Ltd., the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Government of Anambra State.
It is recalled that the Government of Anambra State under Mr. Peter Gregory Obi recently declared publicly that it has obtained an authority from the Federal Government of Nigeria, which holds the Onitsha-Enugu Dual Carriage Way in trust for Nigerians, to reconstruct at a speedy pace the Niger Bridgehead to Amansea portion of the Dual Carriage Way, in addition to its expansion into a 10-lane drive/gateway renamed Ojukwu Gateway, which stretches from the Niger Bridgehead to Lagos Park at Upper Iweka. But the pace of work at the Niger Bridgehead site is at the lowest and provocative pace. The disturbing situation is compounded by the poor and condemnable way and manner the Government of Anambra State handles the clearing and relocation of traders and transporters occupying the hitherto two unused service lanes, from which the 10-lane space will be carved out. The occupiers of the said lanes have over the years polluted the entrance into the State from western and northern parts of Nigeria and successfully warded off government’s efforts to relocate them through acts of bribery and whipping up of ethno-religious sentiments.
We have prior to President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to Anambra State, sent our field investigators to the Niger Bridgehead so as to investigate reported activities of government and individual criminals, which came to us in torrents. Part of our findings was the Intersociety’s letter to the Government of Anambra State over the criminal activities of its traffic control agency- ASTA. The letter was dated 23rd August, 2012. Apart from the criminal activities of the ASTA operatives, which remain untamed and include unofficial collection of sundry revenues for their supervising commissioners and other revenue merchants from Anambra and Delta States, police personnel from the Onitsha Area Commander, Mr. B.S. Wordu; the Fegge Divisional Police Officer, Mr. Roland Omotoje; and the Onitsha Central Police Divisional Officer, Mr. Yusuf Abdul are routinely seen hiding under the Niger Bridgehead, mounting illegal roadblocks, harassing and extorting private and commercial motorists as well as arresting those who refused to be extorted and intimidated. This is in spite of the IGP’s total ban on mounting of unapproved police roadblocks across the country. There are also a motley of other criminal revenue agents clutching sticks, planks, nails, metals and double edged knives parading thro and fro the said Great Ojukwu Gateway and unleashing terror on members of the public particularly the innocent visitors to the State. There are touts wearing the IGR aprons belonging to the Government of Anambra State, as well as commercial vehicle loaders, who constitute public nuisance with impunity along the sacred place. The worst of it all is that the Great Ikemba’s statue is now a dumping and resting spot for hawkers.
tally, the Great Ojukwu Gateway is also nothing to write home about. It is the worst environmentally abused and degraded spot in Anambra State. Apart from kiosks and shanties dotting the sacred place, traders, transporters and goat sellers pollute the place with utter alacrity, no thanks to the slowest pace of the road reconstruction work at the site and manifest weakness of the Government of Anambra State to strictly but humanely enforce extant environmental and space management laws/regulations. The Anambra State Government’s hit and run approach towards clearing the sacred place of shanties and kiosks as well as relocation and rehabilitation of the affected traders have worsened the already polluted environment and emboldened the said traders to re-erect such shanties and kiosks and re-occupy the places already cleared in a twinkle of an eye, on the justifiable excuse that Government is witch-hunting them unnecessarily because it is not ready to build the 10 lanes warranting their evacuation. Some top government officials particularly the officials of the Federal Ministry of Works- office of the Federal Controller of Works, have been accused by the traders, transporters and goat sellers in the area of demanding and receiving bribes to delay or discontinue the clearing/relocation exercise. For instance, some top officials from the Federal Works Control office in Asaba, who are in-charge of the Dual Carriage Way and other federal roads in Anambra State, were accused of receiving bribes from the said traders recently, after which they hurriedly approved the relocation and erection of electric poles at the middle of the Onitsha South LGA portion of the Dual Carriage Way’s service lane, instead of erecting them at the tail end. The hurried exercise was promptly stopped by some top officials of the Government of Anambra State when the information reportedly got to the Governor.
Further, when our investigators went back to the site at the Niger Bridgehead on Friday, 7th and Saturday, 8th day of September 2012, the Ojukwu Gateway was still in a sorry state. At the Onitsha South LGA’s portion under the Bridge, we saw three illegal police roadblocks and extortion points mounted by police personnel sent by the Onitsha Area Commander, Mr. B.S. Wordu; the DPO of the CPS, Onitsha, Mr. Yusuf Abdul; and the DPO of the Fegge Police Station, Mr. Roland Omotoje. At the Ogbaru LGA portion under the Bridge, we saw the operatives of ASTA and other touts working for the Anambra State Commissioners for Transport and Special Duties, harassing, intimidating, extorting, arresting and impounding commercial and private vehicles and motorcycles and their operators in the guise of collecting sundry revenues including Okada riders’ permit and motor emblems. At the Ojukwu Statue, we saw some hawkers dumping their wares and resting on top of its marbled staircase, while others hanged around it in utter disrespectful manner. We also witnessed the slowest pace of the reconstruction work in progress, with two worn-out caterpillar bulldozers and two ancient soil excavators stationed, out of which only one was in use. We saw transporters blocking the entire service lanes they asked to leave; shanties and kiosks were seen being rebuilt; water tanks were seen dotting the entire place; women petty traders, who initially relocated to a nearby empty spot, were seen re-occupying their former place in full force; and goat/ onion sellers and other traders were seen re-occupying their former places in the area. The criminal and other environmentally unfriendly activities of the IGR operatives, Motor Park touts, commercial drivers, etc were menacingly in full glare when we visited the sacred Ojukwu Gateway on the said date. The operatives of the Federal Road Safety Corps were also seen causing artificial logjam and extorting money from motorists.
While the erection of the Ojukwu’s statue at the prime entrance into the Southeast Nigeria and renaming of the entire area of the Niger Bridgehead to Lagos Park at Onitsha Upper Iweka after him, is very commendable on the part of the Federal Government and the Government of Abnambra State, it is utterly abominable and amounts to grave crime against the Ikemba, people of the Southeast Nigeria and Nigerians as a whole to erect his statue and name in a Sodom & Gomorrah. For records, the likes of the Ojukwu the Great in modern history are Mao Zedong of China, Shan Kai-shek of the Country of Taiwan, Vladimir Lenin of former USSR/Russia, and Fidel Castro of Cuba, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, Martin Ruther King Junior of USA to name but few. In places where their tombs and statues are situated, they are kept clean and sacred at all times. They also pump hundreds of millions of dollars yearly into their countries’ coffers from annual pilgrimages. They are idolized; worshipped and made freedom squares with immunity for free speeches.
Therefore, while condemning the present eyesore status of the Ojukwu Gateway, we call on the Government of Anambra State to as a matter of uttermost urgency and importance, address the problems enumerated above or remove the Ikemba’s statue from the site and return the area renamed to the status quo ante bellum if the State Government lacks the capacity of competence and urgency. Any project in Ikemba’s name and honor should defy any form of delay including excuses of rainy season. Besides, the mobilization stage of road reconstruction involving clearing of unwanted soil/sand, removal of obstruction objects such as shanties, kiosks and bricks, and construction/reconstruction of drainages, usually done at the heat of rainy season, have not been done and completed in this respect, not to talk of the reconstruction proper. From our detailed findings, the Government of Anambra State should swiftly ask for the immediate removal of the Federal Controller of Works for Anambra State as well as the site manager of the firm handling the reconstruction work; the CCC Nig. Ltd., Eng. Chamy. Our joint call for their immediate removal is premised on suspected conflict of interest, sabotage, selfishness and corruption.
If funds are responsible for putting the work at the lowest pace, the Government of Anambra State should provide enough funds immediately and seek for refund from the Federal Government later; if security is the problem, the State Security Council should post adequate security personnel to the site to be aided with human rights kits; if relocation of those trading and transporting in the area is the problem, the State Government should fully, forcefully but humanely carry out the relocation exercise and ensure that such exercise is environmentally and commercially friendly; and if the construction firm is the problem, the State Government should issue an ultimatum to the firm and in consultation with the President, revoke the contract and reward it to a more competent firm in the event of continuing slowest pace.
We further call on the Government of Anambra State to clear the entire Niger Bridgehead-Ojukwu Gateway of hoodlums including motley of government revenue agents, both fake and authentic. As a matter of fact, the ASTA office under the Bridge should be closed down permanently and the entire place ridden of thuggish IGR agents, Motor Park touts, Okada and vehicle riders/drivers’ permits and emblems’ revenue collectors, etc. The Ojukwu Gateway should be adorned with a befitting roundabout and a recreation facility. It should also be magnificently flowered, lightened and kept clean at all times. It should as well be declared a freedom square for free speeches with immunity from arrest and trial. The sanitization exercise should be extended to Lagos and Aba Parks at Onitsha Upper Iweka where fake and serving police personnel from Okpoko Police Station in Ogbaru LGA, who usually go in mufti, as well as touts and criminals are causing havoc by terrorizing the innocent passers-by on daily basis with impunity. The despicable attitude of the iron traders at Uga Junction/Atani Road, who heap tons of rods on the edges of the newly constructed gutters of the Atani-Ogwuikpere Federal Road, built by the present Government of Anambra State, should also be checkmated as a matter of uttermost immediacy.
On the issue of police brigandage, we call on the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ballah Nasarrawa to ensure that no illegal roadblocks and extortionist activities are carried out anymore by police personnel working under the trio of the Onitsha AC, the DPO of the Onitsha CPS and the DPO of the Fegge Police Station. We also call on the CP to declare the DPO of the Fegge Police Station, Mr. Roland Omotoje a disaster and unfit to continue to serve in Anambra State. The reported criminal activities of the DPO including mass arrest and serial extortion of the Okada operators in Fegge usually from 6.30pm, has risen to an apogee. Those who refused to pay huge bribes or could not afford them are ordered by the DPO to be charged to magistrate court with spurious felonious charges, from where they are dumped in awaiting trial prison custody.
If Ojukwu Gateway & Statue continue to wear an eyesore and a disrespectful look in weeks to come, we shall have no other option than to remove the sacred statue and detach the name from the area renamed-MASSOB leadership threatens today.
Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi
Chairman, Board of Trustees, Intersociety Nigeria
Comrade Aloysius Attah
Chairman, CLO, Anambra State Branch
Comrade Uchenna Mmadu
National Director of Information, MASSOB, Occupied Territory of Biafra
Comrade Samuel Njoku
Coordinator, HRC of LRRDC, Anambra State Branch
Comrade Peter Onyegiri
Zonal Coordinator, HRDI, Southeast Nigeria
Photo Above: Ojukwu Statue at Ojukwu Gateway
Photo Above: Ojukwu Statue at Ojukwu Gateway (Photo 2)
*Cynthia’s Burial Amidst Tears: The Burden of An Igbo Scholar!
(A Rejoinder On: “Cynthia Osokogu: The Girl Murdered By The Igbos? Who Is Qualified To Respond To This?”)
By Olugu Ukpai
I am aware that different reactions have trailed my pro- Igbo and anti-Igbo demonizing-derogatory article, titled “Cynthia Osokogu: The Girl Murdered By The Igbos? Who Is Qualified To Respond To This?” First, may I commend those who summoned the courage to speak their mind, as I had the opportunity to do so in the article. It is your guaranteed freedom of expression of thought and opinion. The Igbos says that “Uche bu akpa, onye obula nya nke ya”, which when transliterated into English read “Thought is like a goat skin, and everybody carries his own”. For the avoidance of doubt, let me make my position clear. I am a firm believer in challenging the status quo where this is warranted. Also, I love having faith in my own ideas even if everyone is getting on the band wagon, to borrow the phrase of Abraham Lincoln in his letter to his son’s teacher. To me, accepting something simply because it has always been that way is one of the greatest threats to progress. Although some would term my response below to the commentators as radical, my father once told me that, a man who does not have or is not known by any distinctive attribute-whether good or bad is a coward! I live that with history to judge. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Late Cynthia Osokogu
May I crave your indulgence for the very last time to respond to the thought provoking commentaries that have trailed the article? You do not speak about the issues of the living as though they were dead, a la the Igbos! “Aniga ekwu okwu onye di du dika nke onye nwuru anwu”, says the Igbos.
First, many merely reduced the article to feminism, describing my position a feminist orientation “you simply wrote to cover up the girl” one of them said. They have attributed my speaking out against Cynthia’s gruesome death to be, because of my love for women. If the only one condition of being a man is to perpetuate violence against women, by killing innocent women, I would rather prefer to be called a woman. I would friendly remind them that to conform and to follow convention is only an act of cowardice, but unpatriotic which the concept of masculinity detests. Real men do not abuse, let alone killing defenseless women. Rather, they love women unconditionally and protect them. If that is what they mean by feminist orientation, then, call me a radical feminist. If we must develop as a nation, we must love women and give them equal protection.
Second, others have been lenient enough and said that I have been brainwashed. They said that Western education has changed my thinking. But even if taken as a given their assertion, may I gently remind them that change is one of the greatest attributes of life. It was Heraclitus of Ephesus who averred that “nothing is permanent in this world, nothing is constant or stable, and everything is always in the process of change.” His student, Zeno was even more radical who propounded that; no one can step twice into the same river, even in stagnant water. Without unnecessarily being philosophical in orientation, without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transience, we suffer. Nigerian nation has refused to change their unqualified hatred for the Igbos. Igbo people have been and are continued to be gruesomely murdered needlessly in the illusion called Nigeria. They have been literarily cut off from Nigeria. No wonder the nation is moving anti-clock wise. Therefore for me, to change is natural because I am part of nature. ( Continues below..... )
Third, some have contended that there existed violence in pre-colonization era and argued that “macabre modus operandi” (violence in pre-colonization societies) would be the most appropriate perspective to explore violence in Nigeria. While there were undeniably some elements of violence in pre-colonial societies, evidence abound that the colonial and post colonial period’s violence has increased tremendously following globalization and neo-colonization. These concepts have turned the world into a global village. For instance, Facebook through which Cynthia made contact with her alleged killers is a good example of one of the fall outs of colonialism, post-colonialism and neocolonialism which have helped to increase violence. Had it been that Facebook is never in existence, perhaps, Cynthia couldn’t have made contact with her killers and could have probably been alive today. Thus, colonialism and its somewhat attendant-corresponding fall outs are very central to the increased violence in Nigeria, Igbo land, and elsewhere, and not the Igbos.
Fourth, some have simply termed the article tribalized, adjudging my perspective as not the solution. Unfortunately, those were a lofty rhetoric and warrant no response, though. To warrant my comment, my critics have the burden to put up a substitute theoretical framework antecedent of violence in Nigeria in general and Igbo land in particular. Notwithstanding the arm chair critics, I have no regret of my position. It was Biko Steven who signifies that “You are either alive or proud of where you belong to or you are dead, and when you are dead, you can’t even care anyway”. I am privileged to be a son of the Igbo. I am proud of my race. I have a lot of pride and dignity as an Igbo. If the concept of re-incarnation exists, I will re-incarnate as an Igbo man. Did God made a mistake by creating me an Igbo?
THE BURDEN OF AN IGBO SCHOLAR!
“The Igbo have a culture; they have also a history – an unwritten history which it is the task of the culture historian to piece together.” ~~ Professor Victor Uchendu
I am still wondering what I would tell my unborn children when they grow up to ask me, “but Daddy, what did you say when the Igbos were being demonized? Did you make any effort to put history aright?” Imagine the disappointment that would be written on their faces if my response is “No, I did not because of what people would say”. We can't just groan and shrug and remark to our like-minded friends that this is ridiculous, because this is a significant moment in this campaign to stop demonizing the Igbos in all ramifications. It is the collective responsibilities of Igbo scholars to re-write history. The truth is like medicine. It is always bitter, with some adverse effects, but it cures the disease and heals the patient.
Our illusion called Nigeria is sick and therefore requires large doses of a very bitter medicine-truth. Okowa writes:
“The desire to tell the truth is one condition for being an intellectual. The other is courage, readiness to carry on rational inquiry to whatever it may lead, to undertake ruthless criticism of everything that exists; ruthless in the sense that the criticism will not shrink either from its own conclusions or from conflict with the powers that be.”
Likewise, I agree with Wanye Boot when he said that: “the scholar is the only person charged by the society to carry the burden of thought to its extremes, even when thoughts hits back”.
Correspondingly, I agree with Amu Djoleto when he wrote: “I don’t say what I’m expected to say. I’m no Christ and I do not wish to be. There are enough Jews; but do you think if Christ had said what he was expected to say the church would have been in existence?” Of course not. The Christian Church, a symbol of change came into being because, Christ bitterly condemned a decadent Jewish society, and so do I against the demonizers of the Igbos. I am no Christ, but I owe to humanity, especially, the Igbos, their women (but not excluding Nigeria on one condition: as long as the concept of egalitarianism is enthroned and made paramount) an obligation.
What then is that obligation? – French philosopher, Albert Camus has the answer when he says that “the scholar should always remember that the “highest devotion we can give is not to our country as it is but to a concept of what we would like it to be.” Thus, I write to condemn in the most stringent manner, any act of a dehumanizing of Igbo culture, act of violence and blackmail against Ndi Igbo, in the name of ethnocentrism that violates human’s rights and perpetuate inequality in the leadership of the country, in the hope that those who encourage and support them may be compelled to change for something good. That is the only time we can achieve progress.
Therefore, I will not only criticize and condemn the concept of violence as an attributes of the Igbo culture, but would suggest what I would want to happen to that demonizing concept to be: to melt and fizzle like a wax before the fire.
No nation can develop when one half of it is enslaved, marginalized, demonized and killed unnecessarily with impunity. Professor Christiana Murray, a leading human rights lawyer once said: “No nation can be free [or develop] when one half of it is enslaved.” Development in the extant entity called Nigeria will remain a fantasy as long as the Igbos are continued to be demonized, killed needlessly with impunity and marginalized. I can do no better than to finish with the 1997 judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal (Enugu Division) as delivered by Chief Justice Niki Tobi, in Mojekwu vs Mojekwu condemning discrimination (paraphrased):
“…In my humble view, it is the monopoly of GOD to determine the sex of a baby [and his/her tribe] and not the parents. Although the scientific world disagrees with this divine truth, I believe that GOD, the creator of human beings is also the final authority of who should be male or female [Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa etc]. Accordingly, to discriminate against a particular sex [or tribe] is to say the least an affront on the Almighty GOD himself... LET NOBODY [Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba etc] DO SUCH A THING.”
Olugu Ukpai is a Ph.D Law student at School of Law at the University Of Reading, U.K. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Why are Nigerians in Thailand? Part 2 (Educational Approach)
By Emmanuel Nweke Okafor
I was so delighted for the various comments I got from various people across the globe both from Nigerians and non- Nigerians. I was deeply encouraged to keep on sharing my personal ideas on why Nigerians are in Thailand from the positive outlook. At this point, I have not got any contrary information that will make me change my position, namely, that many Nigerians are in Thailand for good reasons other than the negative positions of some writers in Thailand via internet postings.
Hence, in this PART 2, it calls for knowledge of the direction of the “good reasons” in which many Nigerians are in for, as against some of the internet blogs that drive joy in condemning Nigerians in Thailand as all criminals, scammers, and bunch of nuisance. In my opinion, I observed that an average Nigerian student in Thailand enjoys the university environment here in Thailand. Many Nigerian lecturers and teachers also enjoy the fact that their salary are paid at and as when due by Thai universities and schools. It is also unfortunate to note that a few Nigerians in Thailand also use their fellow Nigerians as bait in business net. It is therefore my view that all the Nigerians in Thailand irrespective of the field have a part to play in repositioning the image of the Nigeria and Nigerians as wrongly presented to the world by those who may be better described as “enemies of Nigerians living in Thailand”. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Map of Thailand
Limitations, intention and methods:
As I had said in my PART 1, this article is meant to rebuff the various internet websites that wrongly generalize the activities of Nigerians in Thailand to be only drug businesses and scamming activities. I do not also think that I am writing a pure academic paper. I am only presenting an observation from a lived-life by Nigerians in Thailand. My sole intention is to encourage my fellow Nigerians who consider Thailand as a country that will broaden their horizon and perspective in life to move on without fear of some of the internet’s wrong and misleading information about the activities of Nigerians in Thailand. I have always consulted many Nigerians in Thailand and hard even met with some websites that publish incorrect information about Nigerians in Thailand. The various comments from my previous write-ups were also considered.
It is not my intention to promote Thailand and demote my beloved country Nigeria. It is my intention to let all websites that see the only bad aspect of Nigeria and Nigerians in Thailand to do please review their positions and see Nigeria and Nigerians as a country and people in the process of development like other countries. It is possible that I could be in errors in my position if proven otherwise but for now, let the world know that many Nigerians in Thailand are also responsible, good-looking, talented, extremely well educated and destined to contribute positively to the world.
Ever before the establishment of Thai embassy in Abuja, many Nigerians had witnessed one form of trouble in one way or other by either being arrested for either traveling with a fake visa or passport that belongs to other countries. There were many cases in which some Nigerians were caught when they went to renew their visa on another country's passport. The results often lead to an arrest and a phone call. It all centered on the fact that, at that time, Thailand has no embassy in Nigeria which means that Nigerians have to go to London to get Thai visa. Those who tried to get Thai visa through the British embassy found it very hard. This resulted to the fact that many Nigerians and other agencies provided visa in some other ways other than the proper and normal channel.
However, this article intend to let all know that many stories about Nigerians living in Thailand are either exaggerated or outdated which means that there is need for more update of which I have preferred the positive/educational outlook. It is wrong to still maintain that many Nigerians in Thailand have fake passport or visa. As a matter of fact, the number of Nigerians entering Thailand of recent is mostly students and businessmen and women who follow the normal visa process in Abuja. I will personally share more ideas from the educational point of view on why Nigerian students are in Thailand for merely for educational purposes and not for drug, 419 or fraudulent activities. This is not to state that all Nigerian students in Thailand are saints or perfect human being. ( Continues below….. )
I am not in any difficulty to note that in some ways, the history of pedagogy in Nigeria was initially an apparent story of success. It was on record that in the seventies and eighties, the records of educational policies in Nigeria were seemingly satisfying. Formal education in Nigeria attained its highest point when schools were being managed by the voluntary agencies, namely the Christian mission. In those days, religious education was taught and practiced in schools. The morality of the teachers and students were not questionable. The missionaries equipped and maintained these schools. There were strong education policies and principles. The memories of Universal Primary Education (UPE) which later changed to Universal Free Primary Education (UFPE) were encouraging enough. Sequel to that, the abrogation of tuition fees and the reduction of boarding and lodging fees were all aimed at maximization of educational gains. With the introduction of UPE and the reduction of cost of education at all levels, thousands thronged to educational pursuit.
However, the 6-3-3-4 educational system was a welcomed development, but the present state of things shows that it is no more functional. The policy was introduced to give students technical skills and help them acquire both scientific and literary knowledge among other things as earlier mentioned. The past educational feats were not without their own problems. The clamor for more educational institutions came up because each state wanted its own University or Tertiary institutions. Those who did not get any felt cheated and of course, they can cry of being marginalized. This was the proverbial last straw that broke the Carmel’s back. The government of Nigeria took over the management of school in order to fund the sector directly because of the value placed on education. The take over was also to harmonize the system and foster national unity. But then this funding turned out to be the bane of educational institutions to date. Due to the negative attitudes which people have shown towards government work, the funds budgeted for education have all been embezzled and misappropriated.
Teachers were owed salaries for months which then resulted in incessant strikes, their moral became low and their input reduced drastically. It is good to note that because of the poor standard of living which the teachers were forced into, they lost their respect among students who openly abuse and attack them at will. The parents on the other hand, took the advantage of the teacher’s poor situation to insult the teachers when the parents feel that their children have been maltreated. Morality, discipline and honesty were thrown over-board. The dark perennial clouds that hovered over those years continue to cover our bearing coupled with the present chaos and face-off in our institutions. Amidst all the crimes committed in Secondary and Tertiary institutions are due to lack of discipline. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) protesting in Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria in 2010.
Click For Enlarged Photo
When Religious education was de-emphasized, morality began to suffer. The subsequent lack of morality resulted in riots, unrest, indiscipline, examination malpractices and mutilation of results. No single session passes in our campuses without student unrest of one kind or another. Also the lack of educational facilities and teaching aids is another problem that has crippled educational growth. The grievances of the lecturers and students in the existential also had all the time lacked adequate attention.
From my own point of view, all these called for a change with a more pragmatic and participatory learning style. Since these changes are no where to be found, some parents, students and concerned Nigerians have taken the decision on their own to search for a better place where the education of their children, family members and friends is not tampered with. Some of these Nigerians who cannot afford to study in the United States, United Kingdom, and European countries then found Thailand universities more attractive because it is cheaper and have no sign of strike actions irrespective of the political problems presently experienced in Thailand.
Therefore, many Nigerians who come to Thailand to study are purely doing so for educational purposes and not for drug, scamming or any form of illegal business. Many of these Nigerians in Thailand universities are just trying to ‘make do’ with what is available in order to avoid the frustrating situation some of them may have embraced at home either in a form of long years of waiting for WAEC or JAMB result. In order words, some Nigerians students are studying in Thailand for good reasons and not for bad reasons. I consider it as a commendable positive approach to life instead of doing nothing. Many of Nigerian students in Thailand understand that the importance of education lies in its ability to make man better and more fulfilled.
Without good governance, development in its true meaning will continue to be a mirage. It is only an ignorant man that feels comfortable when public funds that belong to all citizens are amassed by the public office holders. Education frees people from mental slavery and empowers people economically, socially, and politically. As Bertrand Russell says, education is to rear up the new man of excellence (Russell B, 1961, pp. 4-18). I will therefore argue that well-meaning Nigerians in Thailand should not be intimidated with the generalization of all Nigerians in Thailand as criminals. I do not think that Nigerians in Thailand should be singled out for malicious reasons and cheap publicity that is devoid of necessary international journalism.
Why some Nigerians enjoy Thai educational environment:
To every critical and even uncritical but perceiving mind which is abreast with our existential situation, it is quite clear that education in Nigeria is in a very pitiable state and needs revival. The issue of WAEC, NECO, GCE and JAMB may have alienated many Nigerian students directly or indirectly and have succeeded in keeping many students from furthering their education. There is seemingly a very low standard of education; hence we have become victims of the culture of mediocrity. Many factors are obviously responsible for this namely
The first thing that vitiates the progress of education in Nigeria is that teachers at all levels feel that they are not handsomely paid. This enables teachers to be less dedicated, to seek other avenues of making money to make ends meet, brain drain and incessant strike actions. How do we imagine the outcome of an educational system where universities are closed down for more than six months in a year? What do we expect from students at this period? A saying has it that “an idle man is a devil’s workshop” or “the devil makes work for idle hands”. It is indeed lamentable. I have not met any Nigerian student in Thailand that is worried of a strike action irrespective of Thailand un-ending political logjam. The common feeling is that most Nigerian students are very comfortable studying in Thailand and some are even inviting their cousins, brother, sisters and friends to do so. I do hope that the issue of teachers’ salary should be settled amicably so that Nigerian teachers should be enabled to do what they are trained for. An average Nigerian teacher in Thailand receives about $1000 (equivalent to about N158, 000. 00). Again, an average Nigerian teacher in Thailand gets this money and manages it very well without fear of armed robbers or any form of insecurity. This further explains why many Nigerians are in Thailand not necessarily for drug business.
The infiltration of ‘secret societies’ into our schools today is another debilitating factor with regard to education in Nigeria. In fact, ‘secret societies’ now have their headquarters on campus. Students prefer to attend the meetings of these societies than to do their class work. Through these odd societies, they commit a lot of crime and cause a lot of harm in the universities ranging from murder and rape to harassing of workers, lecturers and fellow students. Although Thailand had a similar situation in some of their universities but it appears that they are well-handled as the Thai police is in charge of the situation. Based on this, Nigerian students in Thailand are feeling relaxed as they face only the racial issues which are preferable to many of them than the threat of the “secret societies” in Nigerian universities. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: University of Ado-Ekiti (UNAD) students demonstrate against cultism.
The next is poor infrastructure which is a common problem in all educational institutions in Nigeria. Many of the Primary schools which are the base of education are still operating scandalously below normal. Hence it was once quoted “About sixty percent (60%) of pupils in our Primary schools do not have furniture, seats and desks to write upon. In fact, at all levels the problem persists. Decaying infrastructures have turned Nigerian Universities from Centers of academic excellence to ivory towers of shame” (Ugwu E. and Fola A, March 23, 1999, p.18). Research facilities have broken down and are too obsolete to produce any meaningful and tangible results. The collapse of most laboratories on campus has led to practical courses being taught theoretically (Ugwu et al, March 23, 1999, p.19). As a consequence, the universities turn out dry biologists, dry doctors from laboratories that have no water, no chemicals and equipment. This has exacerbated the problem to such an extent that many students graduate from schools full of words but as vessels empty of intellectual discipline. Today’s report if given cannot give a positive answer since there is no remarkable development since then. The education sector, which is the key to the development of any nation, has not fared too well either in Nigeria.
A recent ranking of the world's top universities did not locate any Nigerian University among the top 500, despite a reported increase in school fees and the establishment of private universities. Yet in the past Nigerian universities and their products were competing with the best from other societies in the world. For years, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was still embroiled in a strike over better welfare and improved working conditions, which has resulted in millions of under-graduates staying at home, and susceptible to criminal activities. Even the fact that upon reception of office new Ministry of Education changes what his or her predecessor has done raises a serious and troubling question. This simply demonstrated that the Nigerian government has always been struggling to provide herself with a befitting educational system that will benefit all and sundry but then the road to such has not been easy hence some Nigerians who cannot afford to pay for the USA, EU, UK education decided to study in Thailand irrespective of the fact that Thailand would not have been the desired option by some of the students. Can we then agree with some of the writers hovering around Thailand that Nigerians are in Thailand for scamming? My direct answer is NO!
Suggestions and conclusion:
Nigeria is blessed with abundant human and natural resources and this is reflected in some of the commendable policies that are being formulated on education. In all, it is very clear that the road has not been smooth and is still cloudy in the Nigerian educational system. It is clear that the present attitude of many Nigerians to education is not only uncalled for and unwarranted but suicidal. Now is the time to extricate education from any overture to which it has been lured into. As such, we must all rethink and change for the better by making education one of our priorities both as individuals and as a nation or state. Nigeria today is in a pool of confusion due to various problems: economic, social, political, religious et cetera.
And the first step to get over these problems is by giving education its proper place. This is why we must do something positive about education in our country now. It is not as if the country has had no educational policy. Nigerians have conceived and developed great policies alright, but they have been only peripherally implemented, with an inconsistency that suggests that we are merely sampling every conceivable policy without a clear goal in view. This has led to short term commitments to policy implementation with the obvious result of achieving nothing. What we need now is ‘pick and polish’ policies and curriculum that would accomplish the goals of illiteracy and development. The government should confine itself mainly to regulatory function in the nation’s education system by setting standards, encouraging compliance, providing supervision, giving incentives and scholarships, promoting infrastructural development, fighting corruption and misappropriation of the funds that cripple any working policy. These are direly needed to investigate and revamp the decaying structures and standards that affect the education system.
What the public read and see in the internet blogs about Nigerians in Thailand as presented by some writers were mere blame game that indeed employed dirty tricks to hide their callous acts in Thailand such as murder cases, pedophiles cases, sex with minor cases, fraudulent cases and many other related cases. Interestingly, they have good and responsible ambassadors that come to their aid.
I do not see any sign of intellectual maturity or morality among the self-serving writers whose aim is to the cheap publicity rather than public and for Thailand’s interest. I see some of their hasty generalization as a compensation for their lack of credibility and severe image problem by mounting strong internet attacks against Nigeria and Nigerians in Thailand, trying to drive a wedge between the Thai governments and the Nigerian government and thereby creating an atmosphere of distrust. It is another form of Neo-colonialist interference which Thailand even could not allow (The Nation, June 1, 2010). It comes in many forms sometimes covered with fig leaf of humanitarians concern. I see that as describe it as distortions, half-truths or outright lies. This approach is blatantly uncivilized, barbaric and not fashionable in this 21st century. I personally feel that the idea of these writers is to intimidate, harass an innocent Nigerians. It is a misplaced gesture of blind trust most Nigerians have for the writers.
In all, just as internet gives even an unqualified man or woman a chance to express his or her own opinion and make himself or herself heard, I believe that if enough Nigerians in Thailand should speak up, we will make an impart towards rebranding and reposition our destroyed image by both Nigerians and acclaimed enemies of Nigerians. There is no doubt that many Nigerians in Thailand are imbued with the highest level of integrity, impartiality, good-looking, talented, and extremely well-educated and patriotism.
Finally, Nigerian government should have appropriate curriculum and suitable teaching and learning equipment for each educational program; be able to build academic networks with other countries; provide teaching methods that enable students to become efficient citizens within the African community and the world at large. With this in effect, the Nigerian students will be happy and relaxed studying in Nigeria thereby avoiding the unnecessary insult and assault we receive from both Nigerians and the non-Nigerians.
Why are Nigerians in Thailand? Part 1 at -
Emmanuel Nweke Okafor is a PhD Student in Graduate School of Philosophy/Religion, Assumption University Thailand. He is presently a lecturer and the Supervisor in Language Laboratory Center, Siam University Thailand. He is a licensed teacher in Thailand. He also has his masters in educational administration in Thailand. He can be contacted vis his email address email@example.com
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