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02/24/11

Permalink 12:36:15 pm, by zekwueme, 2290 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News
*The Future of Nigeria belongs to the East

-Earmark $200 billion Dollars to rebuild the East

By Azubuike Ekwueme

Be bold and resolute, and mighty forces will come to your aid - Basil King, on overcoming fear Since the end of the civil war, I've prayed for this moment. A moment when God and providence, have heard the prayers of the Easterners in Nigeria. Today, the presidency is in the hands of a another capable Easterner since Ironsi's regime. Indeed, it is fantastic to be alive in 2011, the year of the East. The exhilarating thing about all this, is that all the former members of the former Eastern Region is in full support of the this presidency. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, the owner of the barn, has the yam as well as the knife. Folks, this is our time and it is here to stay.

With good luck and a president named Goodluck, and with the sun still rising from the East, this is the time, our time to tackle our most pernicious and vexing problem - disunity. This aggressive cancer has been left to metastasize and grow since the end of the civil war. We need an equally aggressive treatment to curb it and get rid of it entirely. Therefore, Truth and Reconcilliation summit of all the Eastern States (former Eastern Region) is urgently needed. The heavens could not have aligned itself any better for this august event. With a transformative president, a member of the former Eastern Region, GEA Jonathan, - the Obama of Nigeria, what else could the East be waiting for. President Jonathan will give us his ears, if we ask it of him. ( Continues below….. )

Azubuike Ekwueme

Photo Above: Azubuike Ekwueme (Author of article)

Our Eastern ethnicities, the Igbo, Ibibio, Ijaw, Efik, Oron and others, this initiative is for you. We must rise and come together to implement this peace project. In this bid to repair the damaged Eastern third let of the Nigeria tripod, we must never be seen to be afraid or perceived to be afraid. We, the Eastern democrats are not alone, and will never be alone. We need to listen Basil King, when he advised that; Be bold and resolute, and mighty forces will come to your aid. The East being natural democrats, should entertain no fears whatsoever. Democracies all around the world are waiting for us to begin, waiting for us to just say the word. They do understand that East has been hurt in Nigeria, that Niger Delta had been robbed, decimated, poisoned and irreversibly harmed. They understand that the East had been eviscerated, mocked and dumped. We have friends, we have to have our nerves and our thoughts. Fixing the East

The future of Nigeria could have belonged to the East. But the civil war robbed the East of its future. With its ebullient and hard working citizenry, economic drive, a natural democratic DNA, the old Eastern Region could have become the Dubai of Africa, even without OIL. We could have become the shinning region on a hill. However, that was not to be, we have been robbed. Instead of becoming a Dubai, we've became an Ajegunle conclave. When compared to the Western or Northern Nigeria, Eastern Nigeria has returned to the bush. We were and are still defeated, marginalized and robbed. The East has been denigrated, divided and poisoned. Nigeria milked our OIL and decimated our land. They stole from us and allowed us die hungry in the midst of plenty, in our marshes and creeks. So, they deliberately kicked in the eastern third leg of the stool, and dared us to say a word. Soon, they are down in delta to kill and destroy our villages. Now, we are going to address these problems with a view to fixing the East. This clear-sighted epiphany was imbued in us by our creator, when he made us natural democrats. We have the imprints of Democracy in our DNA. It is a fact.

The time has come for the Igbo ethnic nation to hold hands with Ijaw ethnic nation, Ibibio ethnic nation as well as Efik ethnic nation across the East. Our purpose is to each send a powerful delegation for the unity of the East. Our brother the president, GEA Jonathan will be listening. It is time to fix the broken third leg of our national tripod. This is the time to rebuild the East, all the East. This is the time to uproot the evil tree planted by the last war. Folks, this is what the doctor has ordered. ( Continues below….. )

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

The Delegation

Delegation members will include all the constellations of stars and great men and women of the East. Great names like, Ambassador Uwechue, Pat Utomi, Donald Duke, Rotimi Amaechi, Oyibo Odinanmdu, Gov Akpabio, Gov. S Chime, Gov. Obi, The Obi of Onitsha, The Obi of Asaba, Obi of Agbor, Sen. President Nnamani, Jim Nwobodo and our Catholic, as well as our Protestant Bishops. Let us point them to the reconciliation bar. Let us send these people to President GEA Jonathan to talk unity, unity of all the East. We will fix the East. If necessary, Obama people might be able to help. Fixing the damaged third leg of our tripod is job number one. Tam David West, Edwin Clarke could be invited if they promise to be statesmen in good behavior.

A necessity

Take a look at the INECS statistics of registered voters below. South West Nigeria 15 Million; North East Nigeria 8 Million; North Central 8 Million; South South Nigeria 8 Million; South East Nigeria 7 Million; Total 64 million.

What do you see in the statistics below?

Northern and Western Nigeria are absorbing population from the S/South and S/East at an alarming rate. That is intentional policy to under develop the East, to depopulate the East, and make them inconsequential as a conquered region. The people that fought the war are still paying for it.

Why is fixing the East vitally necessary at this point in time? With respect to time, there can be no better time than now. Jonathan is key. With regards to why, we must uproot the evil tree planted by the defeating army. It has held the East down from real power. This evil has forced us to become second class citizens. We must refuse to become thirsty in a stream of flowing natural water. Nobody has the right to break up the East. They do not have that right. We will take our East back. Nigerian army destroyed the Eastern region and handcuffed our cohesion. They did this not because of the coup majors, but for the sake of OIL. When they got our OIL, they did nothing for us. Instead they built Abuja, and they built Lagos, and nothing in the East. They took the golden eggs from the Eastern goose. As far as I know, before the war, there had been no major instance of misunderstanding between the ethnic communities of the East region. If there were any, they would be very minimal indeed. The East has got be fixed for the future of the East and its people.

$800 BILLION FOR EASTERN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR The people of the East are going to ask the president, Jonathan to literally, drop $800 billion dollars to rebuild the East from the ravages of the civil war. Eastern region has paid an inordinate price for the war it did not cause. This initiative is vitally important for these two reasons;

1. The quickest way to redevelop Nigeria is to help Lagos with its aggravating population density. If we effectively develop the Easter part of Nigeria, the crowd of unemployed youth will evacuate Lagos or Abuja and head for the East. Employment seekers will have another alternative other than Lagos or Abuja.

2. All Southerners and Middle Belt people in the danger zones of Jos, Plateau state, may now relocate to the East, to jobs and to businesses without fear. Depopulating Lagos and Abuja is vital for wider economic development of the nation. High unemployment index in the East, makes "kidnapping" attractive. This initiative will manage our problems and keep it to acceptable levels. Eventually, problems will go away as the things of the past. The East would then bounce back as the beacon region again.

SENEC (Southeast Nigeria Economic Commission) has its work cut out for it. SENEC, hopefully will have done its job of articulating the infrastructural needs of the East. It will have the opportunity to present the EASTERN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR initiatives. These initiatives are for all of the former members of the Eastern Region. You may read more about this initiative in the link below. http://www.nigerdeltacongress.com/oarticles/opening_up_the_nigerian_eastern_.htm ( Continues below….. )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing its 36 states and capital (Abuja or FCT)

This commission will advise and persuade president Jonathan's administration to give the East a much needed infrastructural development. The northerners and Westerners had this odious policy of starve, and humble the East. They blatantly refused to build any infrastructure in the East. Take for instance, the much needed second Niger Bridge at Asaba-Onitsha. This is a federal project for interstate commerce. Because if connected Igbo people across the Niger, it was denied. It took an Easterner, an Ijaw man to make Enugu and international airport. The ethnicities that won the war, that had ruled Nigeria since after the war are bad for the East.

So, from the Onitsha river port to Onne port, from Port Harcourt port, to Calabar port, all the ports in the East will have to be re-developed to the same level as the Lagos ports. Tinapa to a world class destination must be revived. Akanu Ibiam International must be rebuilt to reflect the new status. Enugu Coal mine will have to be resuscitate, and made to provide alternative power source. Mega Mall of the East will replace Onitsha market. Second Niger Bridge, which ostensibly had been a federal neglected project will have to built.

Let us then, ask GEA Jonathan for the first time, to look eastward, and then let it rip. It is time to spend $800 billion dollars, not Naira, to develop the patched, hungry, and marginalized Eastern peoples. The Eastern Airspace, and Eastern ports must be completely up-developed. The north has got theirs. The West has got theirs. It is the time for the East, all the East.

Minorities not to fear

One of the great things that emerged after the war is the 36 states structure . This state structure of Nigeria shall remain inviolable. It gives every ethnicity the sense of belonging. They can now better manage their own people. It has to remain sacrosanct. The states has made each ethnic minority masters of their own domain. There no longer a question of the majority riding rough shod over them. Having own state frees up the East for political, economic cooperation. Such venture will be in the task of creating a fresh ideological based polity. What we are talking about is willful participation in an arbiter summit, to bring the people of the East back together. The East is the fertilized soil from which true Democracy should rise and flower to all Nigerians. We remain the only proto-Republican region in all of Nigeria. We'd hone in on our DNA and become a sub regional Democracy. This is a matter for another day.

A Plea to the Igbo

Umuigbo, in God's name, please do not ridicule this article, or tear it to shreds, do not call anybody any names, do not insult anybody. Let us remember that if the Igbo ever expect to reconcile with our minority brothers and sisters, we must be seen and understood as "not threatening" either with our words or deeds. We, the Igbo must show the world that we are a compassionate people, as the older George Bush will have it, "kinder, gentler" Igbo people.

The Igbo will find it harder to prosper without Port Harcourt, so reconciliation is extremely vital.

Let the Igbo understand that " a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still" . So, verbally beating an unconvinced Ikwerre man or Ibibio man over the head repeatedly, will never make him or her see things our way. The opposite is the truth. It'll drive them further and further away from us. Let us become more adroit, more compassionate, less confrontational, and while doing this, keep our site on our goal. Our goal is or should be, establishing the Eastern Economic Corridor with Port Harcourt, Calabar, Onitsha as key ports. On the internet, please let us hold back our fire and become less pugnacious. Think of it this way - Ndigbo must understand the burden of being a big brother, a prudent big brother, with the knowledge of how to handle intra-ethnic human relations.

I have said it before, I'll say it again. Let the Igbo become a kinder , gentler big brother, to the Ijaw, Ikwerre, Ibibio, Efik and other minorities of the East. It is in our vital economic interest. Imagine if your brother or sister runs away from home, and says he or she no longer belongs to the family, what'd you do? Prudence will will demand that we go the "kinder, gentler" route. Dragging them by their hair, slapping them, cursing them is definitely NOT the way to go? That is illogical. A thinking person will choose his or her words carefully, obviously. Ndigbo gee nti.

There is no better time than now to rebuild the East. 2011 is the year, our year.

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02/22/11

Permalink 08:23:00 am, by ifeatu agbu, 1300 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News, Niger Delta( SS ) News

*Boosting Local Content in Nigeria’s Oil Industry

By Ifeatu Agbu

A refreshing wind of change is buffeting the shores of our oil industry. While it is soothing to the oil-producing communities, the multi-national oil giants that explore and exploit the black gold are not sure whether it would do them any good. Nonetheless, the pursuit of the reforms that is now within grasp must continue. Such is the profound effect of the Petroleum Industry Bill [PIB], which is expected to be passed into law very soon. The International Oil Companies [OICs] are jittery because the locals would be empowered to reclaim a part of what belongs to them. This is already taking shape as a vigorous push is on to enhance the human capital development of the oil-producing region.

The reform of the petroleum sector is expected to result in the genuine participation of the people from the region at all levels of the extractive activities from prospecting to drilling. The people of the region should be key players in the upstream and downstream activities. Flowing from this, the youths from the region should reap bountifully from this through employment and economic opportunities.

However, in order to take full advantage of the expected reforms, there is need to set up the structures that would effectively build the local capacity to empower the people of the oil-producing communities. Surprisingly, the oil companies appear not to be keen to assist the government in this regard. This is understandable because they have over the years taken advantage of the loopholes in our legal system to rip off the nation in terms of huge profits. They did not bother much about the plight of the communities which benefitted little or nothing from their God-given resources. They naturally wanted to maintain the status quo to the detriment of the nation.

Virtually all oil companies, indigenous and multinational have raised alarm over some of the PIB provisions. While affirming their support for the proposed reforms, they fear that some of the provisions of the bill could impede growth in the sector. They argue that many provisions in the bill "are unclear and open to multiple interpretations which would substantially increase investment risk, comparatively placing Nigeria at a disadvantage for inflow of foreign investment". ( Continues below….. )

Workers at work in a Nigerian oil rig

Photo Above: Workers at work in a Nigerian oil rig

Nobody should be taken in by this self-serving rationalisation. No matter its shortcomings, Nigerians should support the bill which will enable them have greater control of the resource that produces over 90 per cent of its foreign exchange earnings. After over 55 years of oil exploration in this country, we should be poised to take substantial control of the industry.

Sometimes, it is difficult to understand the contradiction in the behaviour of the IOCs. These are companies that have over the years given scholarships to Nigerians to hone their skills in playing key roles in the oil and gas industry. Yet, they are also unwilling to genuinely allow Nigerians to actively run the companies.

In recent times, they seem to be reluctant in supporting programmes that would promote our local content policy. An evidence of this is their apparent uninterested attitude in the post-amnesty programme. In spite of the numerous gains of the amnesty granted former militants, all that the various oil companies have offered towards its success is a meagre 30 million dollars. As one would expect, the Federal Government promptly rejected the contribution, describing it as completely unacceptable. The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Matters, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, said the $30 million clearly showed the companies were not committed to government’s plans to rehabilitate and re-integrate about 26,358 ex-combatants who gave up arms and embraced the amnesty option.

He also said the amount cannot bring about any meaningful development to the region which has suffered perennial degradation. Kuku explained that the figure does not show a proper appreciation of the over three trillion naira loss that the government suffered throughout the period of hostilities in the Niger Delta. At the height of the crisis, there was a significant drop in the quantity of crude oil exports from 2.3 million barrels per day to 7000,00 barrels per day.

“We are not happy with oil companies’ plans to train only 3,000 ex-militants and worse still, they said they are not sure if they will absorb them when they complete the training.” In order to checkmate the relative reluctance of the IOCs, in boosting the much needed local content of their operations, the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, stepped in. The commission has through the well accepted Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan quickened the pace of development in the oil region. Currently, it is playing a commendable role in preparing the youths of the region to take maximum advantage of the local content policy of the Federal Government. The commission, for instance, recently kicked off a Petroleum Engineering/ Drilling Graduate Training Programme with 65 indigenes of the region. ( Continues below….. )

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

An elated Managing Director of the NDDC, Mr Chibuzor Ugwoha called on all stakeholders in the region, particularly the Oil and Gas sector to join hands with the commission to make the local content policy a reality. He pointed out that the policy which is fully backed by law demands that considerable effort should be made on the part of stakeholders to ensure the utilization of Nigeria’s abundant human and material resources. “This underscores our determination to undertake this specialized petroleum technology programme” he said. Mr. Ugwoha said that the trainees would among others be equipped with fundamentals of oil and gas exploitation, well site safety, both onshore and offshore, basics of hydrocarbon, well-logging with special emphasis on abnormal pressure evaluation.

According to him, the second segment of the training would take place on the rigs, both onshore and offshore, where trainees would be trained on the practical aspects of petroleum and drilling skills. “The good news about this programme is that all participants are engineering graduates of tertiary institutions and the trainers are experts brought in from the oil fields in the United States and beyond” Ugwoha said.

The commission works in partnership with training and financial institutions to enhance the skills of the youths to enable them to take advantage of the opportunities available in the region, particularly in the oil and gas industry. The training for petroleum engineers is only one of such programmes targeted at the youths of the region. Others include the NDDC Graduate Computer Training Programme. So far, a total of 2,500 graduates of Niger Delta extraction with various academic and professional backgrounds are being trained under an intensive programme designed to prepare candidates for relevant International Certification Examinations.

Again, the commission is collaborating with the Nigerian Maritime And Safety Agency (NIMASA) to train at least 1,000 youths from the area as seafarers to take advantage of the over 50,000 vacancies in the nation’s maritime industry. Similarly, a total of 1,920 welders have so far been trained by the NDDC under its Human Capacity Development and Empowerment programme. The NDDC boss said that the commission’s target was to produce 5, 000 professional welders certified by the International Institute of Welding in the next three years.

Ultimately, the nation can only achieve its lofty local content objective if our higher institutions should put their acts together to produce internationally competitive graduates. Nigeria can no longer tolerate the excuse of some international companies that they import personnel from abroad because most of our tertiary institutions ‘graduates are unemployable. We should return our universities to their golden era, which lasted to the late 1980s, when they ranked among the best in the world.

Mr. Ifeatu Agbu ( ifeatuagbu@yahoo.com ) writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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02/18/11

Permalink 01:11:00 pm, by kali Email , 582 words   English (Nigeria)
Categories: News

*Nigeria: Problems of Poor Distribution of National Wealth

By Kali Gwegwe

The problem of poverty in third world countries is mostly as a result of poor distribution of national wealth. Nature has designed life in such a manner that every nation is appropriated enough resources with which to service her economy and polity. The major hindrance to effective distribution of national wealth is poor political leadership culture. In Nigeria, the nation's faulty political leadership culture has given birth to high rate corruption and ethnicity- the two mountains standing between the most populous black country on earth and the comity of developed nations.

Effective distribution of national wealth will reduce the gap between the various social brackets in the country. This will mean that every Nigerian citizen will live above poverty line and indirectly discourage the culture of graft. Most cases of graft have foundation in the inability of citizens to meet the basic needs of life. ( Continues below….. )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing its 36 states and capital (Abuja or FCT)

There is no doubt that the deep culture of ethnicity has robbed Nigeria of quality political leadership. It is almost a taboo in Nigeria to oppose a fellow kinsman or kinswoman in government. Everything possible is done to dominate other ethnic groups. This is done even if it amounts to walking on the head of justice and fair play.

The issue of zoning that nearly weakened the foundation of Nigeria's democracy is most unfortunate. For very good reasons, a greater percentage of Nigerians came out for the first time in the history of the country to either condemn or ignore the rantings of the few apostles of ethnicity. The bold message is that most Nigerians will care less about the ethnic root of the nation's president provided the aims and objectives of government is achieved.

President Goodluck Jonathan therefore has a huge opportunity to prove the apostles of ethnicity wrong by being a national leader as against that of his native Niger Delta. While he has demonstrated enough of this, more has to be done in terms of even distribution of national wealth so as to reduce the menace of poverty that is ravaging the pockets of most Nigerian masses. ( Continues below….. )

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria (2010 - present)

The best ways to evenly distribute national wealth are through the provision of quality and affordable housing, transport, education, and health care services. This cannot be possible in the midst of high level corruption in the business of government. This is the more reason why EFCC and ICPC must be reorganized to meet the challenges that comes with fighting graft. The activities of these anti-corruption agencies are clearly too shallow and narrow to face the task before them.

Furthermore, government must cut down on her recurrent expenditure and stimulate economic growth. Towards this end, the issue of electricity and access to funding for new businesses should be given all the attention they deserve. Government must provide compelling incentives to lure citizens back to the farm. This are some ways citizens can be discouraged from depending on government for almost everything.

Kali Gwegwe writes from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and can be reached at kali.gwegwe@nigerianfootballpost.com ( 0806 407 4810 )

*PMM says "We Must Change Nigeria" - (1). Click here to listen to National Call To Action (2). Click here to listen to Election Rigging Riot Act audio clip

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02/16/11

Permalink 04:24:14 pm, by lateef lawal, 201 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News
*Nigeria: AIB To Purchase Flight Data Decoder

-Signs $5.5m Contract Agreement With CAE Flightscape of Canada

By Lateef Lawal

Flight Recorder Playback and Analysis Laboratory worth $5,587,000 is being purchased by Nigeria’s Accident Investigation Bureau {AIB}. An agreement to this end was jointly signed yesterday between AIB and CAE Flightscape of Canada-the manufacturer of the equipment.

The Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of AIB, Engineer Sam Oduselu signed on behalf of Nigeria, while the representative of Flightscape, Mr Mike Poole endorsed the document on behalf of his company. The Canadian High Commissioner in Nigeria, Mr Chris Cooter witnessed the ceremony held at the head office of AIB at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos. ( Continues below..... )

Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos

Photo Above: Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Nigeria.

The components of the Flight Recorder Playback and Analysis Laboratory, popularly called-Flight Data Decoder is expected to be shipped to Lagos and installed before the end of the second quarter of this year. Training of the technical staff of AIB to take charge of the laboratory is part of the contract.

Lateef Lawal (NigerianAviationNews)

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02/15/11

Permalink 04:12:00 am, by kali Email , 313 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News

*Nigeria Court of Appeal President Should Resign

By Kali Gwegwe

The recent revelation by the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami that the Chief Judge of the Federation, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu asked him to compromise the Sokoto State gubernatorial appeal is a huge dent on the judiciary. Irrespective of the truth surrounding the heavy allegation against the head of the nation’s judicial arm of government, the most honourable option left for Justice Ayo Salami is to resign his position as president of the Court of Appeal.

This is so because; he has overtly proved that he would be ready to hide filth as long as his personal interests were protected. From all the information volunteered by Justice Salami, he would not have spilled the beans if he had not been recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court. Definitely, persons with poor judicial spirit are threats to democracy and the wider society and should therefore be asked to leave the scene for cleaner hearts. ( Continues below….. )

Justice Ayo Salami

Photo Above: Justice Ayo Salami, Nigeria Court of Appeal President

Attempts by Justice Ayo Salami to win the sympathy of the public should be ignored. The appropriate time to raise alarm is immediately an attempt is made to bend the back of justice. Nigerians should join voices to compel Salami to resign immediately. He has stained the white heart of justice with the blood of personal interest.

Nevertheless, the allegations thrown at Chief Justice Katsina-Alu must never be swept under the carpet. The CJN should be given the opportunity to clear his name. Let him face appropriate sanctions if found culpable. This will be in the interest of democracy and peace in the country.

Kali Gwegwe writes from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and can be reached at kali.gwegwe@nigerianfootballpost.com ( 0806 407 4810 )

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02/14/11

Permalink 12:34:00 am, by admin Email , 4397 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News, South East News

*Ojukwu, The People’s General Lives On!

By Sakhos Silas Ejiofoh

While reflecting on why Biafra lost the war against Nigeria, some non-Igbo critics of Ojukwu are of the view that he led his own people tactlessly into what was clearly a foreseeable disaster. Others claim that due to his passion for power, he paid more attention to the politics of the war than to the one basic question of security. Yet, there are others who blame him for not securing the support of any of the world super powers before going to war with Nigeria, etc. Though, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu who, like every human being, may have his weaknesses obviously must have made some mistakes in life, given a lot of reasons.

Unlike the typical corrupt African politicians averse to steadfastness, Odumegwu, for instance, did not betray the Germany educated Chuba Okadigbo who engineered his return back to Nigeria from exile in the Ivory Coast. As a one-time special adviser on political affairs to the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) Dr. Okadigbo advised the Shehu Shagari government that granting Ojukwu a state pardon would ensure appreciable level of Igbo support for NPN, which prior to that time, was seen by Igbos as a `Hausa-party` and therefore had feeble presence in Igboland. How people connected with Ojukwu was evident in the hero’s welcome he got when he set his foot in Nigeria after 13 years of exile. Prominent politicians from various political parties in the land wanted to tap into the NPN investment, holding out before him some goodies, promising to add the heavens to the earth being dangled by the NPN, if he could throw the NPN pact into the nearest dustbin. Indeed, he was tongue-lashed by some of his Igbo people, who felt he had broken ranks, and might cut into the Nnamdi Azikiwe-led Nigeria Peoples Party’s (NPP) electoral advantage in the East. NPP which controlled the Igbo states of Anambra and Imo, and another outside Igbo land. Therefore, NPP was where much of Igbo loyalty lay. But Ojukwu firmly stood his ground, as he dutifully maintained the political-pact with the second republic government. ( Continues below….. )

 Ojukwu and Okadigbo

Photo Above: Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu( left ), Chuba Okadigbo( right )

Ironically, he found himself being the centre of intrigue by the NPN, which had a capacity to trivialize even the most serious issues. Concerned about Ojukwu`s enigmatic influence, they did not only abandon him, but rigged him out of a senate seat to a little known state commissioner called Dr. Edwin Onwudiwe, who was in then Governor Jim Nwobodo’s cabinet. The path home was laced with treachery, as he was, for instance, restrained by successive military governments from laying down his head in his father’s house at 25 Queens Drive Ikoyi, Lagos. The government had used the excuse of rebellion against the state of Nigeria to confiscate the property. Nigerians stood by him out in the open, and with the awkward walls within which he had anything being an old rickety bus, all that in the rainy season. It was from there that he fought to reverse an eviction. According to him, as an old soldier, he could adapt to any condition. The military government’s arm was eventually forced by public anger it couldn’t stand any longer to let go of the man’s property, but not after series of court rulings. Even, Ojukwu’s military pension which was also one of the conditions for the state pardon didn’t start coming until 41 years after the end of the civil war.

Ojukwu has held many important positions in the country. His first job was to oversee colonial affairs as a district officer in the town of Udi. He had also worn the UN helmet as a peace keeper in the Congo-Kinshasa war of the 1960s. Ojukwu was to hold forth as the first Quarter-Master-General of the Nigerian Army, and discharged himself satisfactorily as the commander of the 5th battalion of the Nigerian Army in Kano. His next posting was as the Military Governor of the old Eastern Region in Nigeria. He moved with the circumstance in Biafra to become a four-star general and head of state of that country. He threw his heart into the political arena once again in 2003, founding the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and contesting the Nigeria presidential elections as the party’s flag bearer.

At no time in his public service has Ojukwu been swayed by corruption, something to which his contemporaries look kindly. This is an excellent record in a country like Nigeria. It is believed that part of his father’s wealth was channelled into the Biafra war effort. Ojukwu is guided by the principle of contentment. You don’t look any further for a true and astute leader. When he was once addressed as a chief by an interviewer, he replied, saying, “I am not a Chief; it rhymes with thief.”

Intellectually, and among his contemporaries, Ojukwu is one of the brightest. Not surprising, Ojukwu’s father was Sir. Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu, a Hope Waddell Institute educated-parliamentarian in Nigeria’s first republic. Ojukwu senior was a business mogul and reported to be the richest man in Nigeria in his time. He was also founding president of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, as well as president of the African Continental Bank {ACB}, and was in the boards of most of the powerful British companies in Nigeria at the time. The senior Ojukwu made no mistake of what he wanted his son to be, sending his son to the elite Kings College in Lagos. At 13, Ojukwu was on his way to Europe to enrol at the elite Epsom College. Ojukwu proceeded to the famous Oxford University, where he obtained a Bachelor’s as well as a Master`s Degree in History. But Ojukwu would downplay these academic acquisitions, and tell you that “Education is not elitism, education actually, to me, is more a question of sharpening one’s choices and consciousness. The value in it is the effect one has on one’s people.” ( Continues below….. )

Charles O. Okereke interviewing Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu

Photo Above: Charles O. Okereke( left ) interviewing Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu( right ) Click Adjourning Link For The Interview Encounter:- http://www.africamasterweb.com/AdSense/OjukwuVisionaryStatesman.html

Ojukwu is a highly talented man who can strike it out with you in various Nigerian languages. The English author Frederick Forsyth recollects that Ojukwu made the atmosphere in the flight that brought him back to Nigeria from exile very cordial, as Ojukwu freely cracked jokes and interacted with all the delegations sent to receive him in their original languages of Yoruba, Hausa and, of course, Igbo. He also interacted in French with the Ivorian delegation sent by his host president late Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Ivory Coast.

Also, unbeknownst to many people, Ojukwu learnt how to speak Yoruba language first before his own native Igbo language. The early sign that Ojukwu would not grow up to become a weakling but the defender of people against injustice and oppression started when he was only 11 years old. He was briefly imprisoned by the colonialists for assaulting a white British colonial teacher, who had humiliated a black woman at King's College, Lagos. The incident generated widespread coverage in local newspapers. The second incident was at the age of 13 at Epsom College in surrey, United Kingdom, where a naughty white boy caused Ojukwu’s African accent to make his colleagues shake with laughter. One day, at the hallway to the chapel, he heard one of them call him `monkey` and another tripped him and his books were all scattered on the floor. The boy had no idea they have been provoking a sleeping lion by always fondling at its tail hence he got the beating of his life and a three-day admission in the hospital to go with. Ojukwu would be among those who would eventually be at the boy’s bedside, and they became friends thereafter. These incidents serve to prove the Igbo adage which says that “the sign of a pear that would darken to maturity starts with a dark spot at the head.”

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was born on November 4th, 1933 in Zungeru. Mysteriously the same month and town Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe also came to earth. Dr. Azikwe the first president of independent Nigeria and the famous “Zik of Africa” was also born on November 16th, 1904 in Zungeru. Zungeru located in the modern day Niger state of Nigeria was the capital of the British colony of Northern Nigeria from 1902 to 1916. As one of the detribalized leaders in Nigeria Ojukwu played an outstanding role in neutralising the first coup in Nigeria, even though he had to confront the coup leader and a fellow Igbo officer, Major Chukwuma Patrick Nzeokwu and other officers from mainly southern and, especially eastern Nigeria. It weakens the argument of people determined to justify an assault on a people by claiming it was an all-Igbo coup. The coup was largely seen as successful in the North and partly in Lagos as Lagos was then the seat of power, and both the prime minister of the country and the premier of the North had been killed. But it lost momentum as Ojukwu refused to the coup plotters in the North and pitched loyalty with Gen. Aguyi-Ironsi, the legitimate commander of the Nigerian army, who ensured the coup plotters wouldn’t accomplish their aims in Lagos. Then, came the unrestrained killings in the North led by mainly northern military officers among whom were, Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, Lts ADS Wya, Ibrahim Babangida, Garba Duba, Lt. Col. Murtala Muhammed, Lt Col. Shehu Musa Yar`Adua, Capt. Ahmadu Yakubu, Capt. Daramola, Lts. Buka Sukar Dimka, Lts. Shelleng, Hannaniya, Muhammadu Jega, Sani Abacha, Saleh Dambo and many others. Over 20 Igbo officers were executed at the Brigade HQ on 29 and 30 July 1966. Some of the eastern and southern officers killed during the first batch include Major OU Isong, Major Ogunro, Lt. Col. I.C Okoro, Capt L.C. Dilibe, Major CC Emelifonwu, Capt. I.U. Idika, and Major A. Drummond – a mixed Igbo-Scottish. In accordance with the spirit goading the killers, Lt. Col Mohammed Shuwa, the commandant of the 5th battalion would preside over the massacres of Igbos at both the Kano airport and the railway station in Kano. ( Continues below….. )

Late General Aguiyi-Ironsi addressing the nation in his 1st press conference as Head of State.

Photo Above: Late General Aguiyi-Ironsi addressing the nation in his 1st press conference as Head of State. *In photo - sitting from left to right are Hassan Katsina, Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, David Ejoor, J.E.A. Wey and Yakubu Gowon. Click Adjourning Link For Enlarged Photo:- http://www.nigeriamasterweb.com/Etc4/AguyiIronsi1stNationAddressLarge.jpg

Click Adjourning Link For Aguiyi-Ironsi Video:- http://www.itnsource.com/shotlist//BHC_ITN/1966/01/19/X19016603/?s=nzeogwu

Earlier, on July 29, 1966 in this on-going northern counter-coup, Theophilus Danjuma, Sani Bello, Martin Adamu and other Northern military officers had taken General T Umunnakwe Aguyi-Ironsi the military head of State of Nigeria and his host Col. Francis Fajuyi to a location outside Ibadan and shot them to death. In the face of the madness, Ojukwu pursued a peaceful course. He had held onto the concept of one Nigeria. It caused him to make the tactical mistake of asking Igbos to return, after the first killings, to their former stations in other parts of Nigeria, following assurances by various individuals and groups. But the northern and other counter-coupists couldn’t resist a second round of bloodletting. Igbos killed in the two waves of attacks had totalled about 50,000. This is coupled with the fact that Ojukwu and Lt. Col. David Ogunewe for days had been pushing back against Igbos who wanted to go into and cut down northern soldiers at the barracks in Enugu. According to Nowa Omoigui, quoting Lt-General JS Jalo, the same “Northern soldiers who left Enugu unmolested got themselves involved in molesting departing Igbo refugees and looting their property in Ikeja barrack. The Igbo were going away and looting set in and some senior officers, I must confess, encouraged this to happen." In fact, 90% of officers from the East and some from the West were massacred in the North. Just a handful escaped to their home regions.

Regrettably these killings in the North are still continuing nearly 50 years on, though modified as religious riots. It is unfortunate that the Nigerian youth today would need special education to remove the image of death associated with the North, a place where petrol is poured on homes, fire lobbed in and the occupants consumed by raging fire. Where innocent people, including infants, are hunted and hacked to death with flimsy excuses. If it is not Zango-Kataf massacres, it would be Kano Maitatsine, numerous other Kano, Kaduna riots, Gombe Riots, Tafawa Balewa Riots, Kafanchan Riots, Bauchi Riots, Bulumkutu Riots, renewed Maiduguri Riots aka Boko Haram, Abuja Bombings, then the festering Jos Riots and Bombings. The list is endless, killing, killing and killing, every now and then! Interestingly, the culture is to keep your mouth shut and not openly frown at these silly acts, otherwise you would be seen as fanning the embers of disunity in a nascent democracy. Long live one Nigeria! May Allah and God help us all. Hey, what set off these two names simultaneously from my mouth? I digressed. ( Continues below….. )

Scene from Abuja MEND Nigeria golden jubilee independence celebration car bombing.

Photo Above: Scene from Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) militants' Abuja bombing of Nigeria golden jubilee independence celebration. In the photo, security, paramedics and emergency personnel stand beside a damaged car following the blasts.

Following the slaughters in the North before the war, steps were taken to revert to normalcy. However, after series of meetings, including the one in Aburi, Ghana, some northern elites and Britain instigated the Gowon government to renege on the Aburi Accord. Gowon unilaterally split the Eastern Nigeria into three states contrary to the federal structure agreed upon in Aburi, while Ojukwu, after consultations with leaders in the East, responded after three days by declaring the whole Eastern Nigeria as a sovereign state called the Republic of Biafra on 30th July 1967.

Ojukwu’s War Effort

For effective results, natural resources are relied on in the prosecution of wars around the world. For example, Kuwait pays America with oil. In the Angolan war, UNITA traded in diamonds to obtain weapons, MPLA exchanged oil for weapons. See http://www.diamondfacts.org/conflict/background.html. Also, see www.worldbank.org/afr/wps/wp13.pdf. The Taliban fighters and Al Qaida in Afghanistan are handing out raw, hard drugs for weapons. Even Charles Taylor of Liberia traded raw diamonds from neighbouring Sierra Lone with weapons. See http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/05/video-of-naomi-campbells-blood-diamond-testimony/ Likewise, Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon are supplied with weapons by Iran and Syria. For the weapons it got, a country like Nigeria has an arrangement in which some advanced countries own and suck the oil in the country till it perhaps runs dry. Foreign countries are given the free hand on projects like the sport the Russians made of Katsina, Itape, Jos and Ajaokuta rolling mills. It was only the Ojukwu-inspired Biafran scientists and inventors, led by Ugah-Aguata-born science genius Engineer Roy Umenyi, Ben Nwosu, Godian Ezekwe, Emma Osolu, Sam Orji , Njoku Obi and so many others who during the Nigerian civil war, continued to dazzle with invention and manufacture of their own weapons. They wouldn’t stop at pulling off weapons like surface to surface missiles, ground to air missiles, rocket launchers, rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles, but kept the world gaping with gun boats for amphibious attacks. There was also the famous Biafra Bomb popularly known in Igboland as either `Ojukwu Bucket` or ‘Ogbunaigwe,` meaning the mass killer. The Biafran Shore Battery easily devastated marine craft, like the Oguta feat masterminded by Ojukwu. In Biafra, lorries that rolled into underground warehouses rolled out as armoured vehicles. Refining crude oil wasn’t a preserve of any refinery. It got domesticated, and was plentiful. What is interesting is that all this was achieved in the midst of the chocking hold on Biafra through blockade by the advanced countries, including the neighbouring Cameroon and Nigeria. That was also the time Nigeria signed off the oil rich Bakassi Peninsula which was on Biafra territory to Cameroon for their kindness in starving infants in Biafra. In fact, the Nigerian Santa Claus did really come to town after its victory over Biafra, throwing largesse anywhere one looked. ( Continues below….. )

Biafran war plane

Photo Above: Biafran BB-905 war plane ( popularly known as Biafran Baby )

The feats by Biafra under Ojukwu definitely were some of the reasons why Nigeria became deserving of assistance from most advanced nations in the world, especially with the Civil Rights movement in America being a front burner issue worldwide. Were these spectacular stories coming from Africa? observers wondered. According to Major Abubakar A. Atofarati, a former Student of US Marine Command & Staff College, Ojukwu’s Biafra “established Research and Production Board and they researched and manufactured rockets, mines, tanks, grenades, launchers, bombs, flame throwers, vaccines, biological and alcoholic beverages, textile factories which produced military uniforms, and so forth.” Also see http://www.africamasterweb.com/BiafranWarCauses.html. It is known that after the war the British and American military intelligence confiscated all Biafran classified research and production documents and files which the British and the Pentagon are using today to manufacture and modify both their military weapons and other technological devices, some of which military and weapon specialists confirmed they have used against the Iraqi forces and in the current Afghanistan conflict. A clear example is the cluster bomb used by the Americans for the first time in Iraq and which the Americans held up as one of their greatest inventions. Biafran agricultural engineers had a gift for their people, and the nation was going to hold out, trying to capitalize on disquiet in 1968/69 in the British parliament. It was the attempt to mass produce foods in the vast fields of the Afikpo area. But this place, including the facilities therein, thanks to sabotage, British intelligence and help, was taken out by the enemy. The splendid Biafran paper currency is of an unrivalled quality. The Biafran communications system was sustained throughout the war. Air tarmacs were being reconstructed on nightly basis in the face of intense bombardments.

One man was surrounded at table by his technocrats. According to Frederick Forsyth, this man, Ojukwu, who has never been given the credit for risking his life against Nzeogwu, Ifeajuna, Okafo, Ademoyega, Onwuatuegwu and co, and foiling their coup, was involved in the training of the Biafra military intelligence, which then rated second only to the Israeli Mossad. Again, as the Biafran forces mobilised to retake Owerri, the UK government and the Russians doubled their military aid and direct involvement, which enabled Nigeria to unleash over 120,000 troops against Biafra, thus leading to the final fall of Owerri, which was regarded as the Igbo heartland. What Ojukwu told the London Times correspondent James Wilde, can best explain the reason for the Nigerian-Biafran war. He said, "What you are seeing now is the end of a long, long journey. It began in the far north of Nigeria and moved steadily southward as we were driven out of place after place. Now this path has become the road to the slaughterhouse here in the Ibo heartland."

Ojukwu`s Mantra

The elder statesman’s benefit to the country and Igboland in particular is even becoming more and more invaluable by the day. For example, his APGA has succeeded in giving Anambra State headed by the resourceful and amiable Governor Peter Obi a democratic, stable and meaningful government. Apart from the ex-Nigeria Information Minister Prof. Dora Akunyili who has resigned from both her office and her party PDP and joined Ojukwu`s APGA to contest a senatorial seat, there are many other prominent Igbo politicians who are abandoning their parties, mainly PDP, to join in the APGA queue. In Imo state, for example, the man who emerged runner-up to late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua in the run-up to the 2007 PDP presidential primaries, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, and his chief of staff the Achi-Mbieri-born Prince Eze Madumere and his group have also decamped to APGA from PDP. And Okorocha has declared his interest in the Imo State governorship election this year. With this trend, I foresee Ojukwu‘s APGA taking over all the Igbo states in Nigeria. And, with the success of APGA so far and given the current situation on the ground, it appears that what Ojukwu could not achieve militarily, he has succeeded in achieving through democratic means, by giving the Igbos a party they can call their own, at least in Anambra State and, with time, this will happen in all states in Igboland. Only time will tell. Also, see http://www.nigerianelitesforum.com/ng/politics-and-politikings/4333-apga-targets-imo-abia-adamawa-in-2011-polls.html

It is believed that once APGA becomes the ruling party in majority of the Igbo states, definitely, that will no doubt change the whole political equation in Nigeria. This is because some of the Igbo neighbouring states hitherto classified as South-South geo-political zones will gradually become APGA. I foresee APGA playing the role of Christlich Soziale Union (CSU) in Germany. In a country like Germany, Edmund Stoiber’s conservative CSU, a regional political party, has been ruling the state of Bavaria for decades. Bavaria is described as one of the richest, influential, and conservative states in Germany. The CSU is so powerful that with the Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands (CDU) they have once ruled Germany for 16 uninterrupted years under Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Confederation, which Ojukwu advocated in Aburi, a fact missing in discussions among Nigerians, and which they would swear never happened, is what a country like Nigeria with many different ethnic groups needs. Most European nations that have attained economic sufficiency and good democratic governance were able to achieve all that through confederation. Switzerland is a very good example. The original ethnic groups that came together and formed the Swiss confederation in 1291 were the Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, and the last units that joined the union were the Valais, Neuchâtel and Genéve in 1815. The CH in the country’s official records means Confoederatio Helvetica. "Confoederatio" stands for "confederation." "Helvetica" is taken from Latin "Helvetier." And, in order to maintain the original language of their ancestors, they adopted four different official languages, namely, German, French, Italian and Romansh. In the case of Nigeria, a weak central government and stronger states that would manage their natural resources and send the agreed percentage to the weak federal government would ensure strong economic growth through healthy competition between the states, as the states would be trying to emulate each other. This would reduce the political tension in the country among ethnic groups. It will also make Nigeria’s Aso Rock less attractive, as there would be no more `National-Cake` at the centre waiting for any person/group to cut up and chew. Agreed, it will not remove completely the sectarian violence in the country, but will reduce it drastically. ( Continues below….. )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing its 36 states and capital (Abuja or FCT)

This is what Ojukwu has tried unsuccessfully to effect in Nigeria and for the betterment of the life of the average Igbo. Definitely, from the foregoing, one could see that the man`s life is tied together with the Igbo history in Nigeria. According to his wife, Bianca Onoh, a University of Nigeria Nsukka educated lawyer and the daughter of a former Anambra state governor – late Christian Onoh in an interview granted the Daily Sun on 10 April 2010, Ojukwu has “done nothing but live and breathe the Igbo cause. Sometimes he would hear of some injustice somewhere and he would stay awake all night, trying to find how it can be redressed.... Any time an Igboman suffers any form of injustice, it makes his blood boil, even in situations when he feels helpless.” Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State described him as “a unique personality that will always advise on what will be for the good of the Igbos without seeking, as many other people do, his entitlements or any form of gratification.” Obi goes further to say that the “last thing he said to me, when he was already down with the current sickness, before it developed further, was to remain an Igboman in all its ramifications and to continue to do whatever is possible for the ultimate good of Igbo people. Do them without expectation of payment, but out of love for the Igbos.” Before he boarded a flight from the Biafran-built Uli-airstrip that took him to exile the American `Newsweek` quoted him to have sworn that “Whilst I live, Biafra lives."

Conclusion

The world has seen that Chukwemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu is a wonderful man who has risked his life, including his family’s wealth for the unity of Nigeria and for the defense of his oppressed Igbo people, which is why they love him so much. Recently, Anambra state honoured him with his last request which was for them re-elect the incumbent governor of the state. The appreciations he receives and the crowd that follows him anywhere he goes is unimaginable, which is one of the reasons why where he is currently hospitalised in the UK is still a top secret the UK and Nigerian government are not ready to divulge. Again, according to his wife, an ex beauty queen who won the 1988 edition of the most beautiful girl in Nigerian pageant as well as Miss Intercontinental beauty contest in 1989, at a time during a trip at in the city of Aba, a market was dismantled to make way for Ojukwu’s motorcade. She says, referring to the man, that people believe it is human to make mistakes. Therefore, he has been bestowed with extraordinary titles never ever given to any person in Igbo history. For example, his Nnewi town of origin gave him the title of Ikemba Nnewi (the strength of Nnewi), while the entire Igbo nation calls him “Dikedioramma,” (beloved hero of the nation) and also the Eze Ndigbo Gburugburu (the maximum ruler of the whole Igboland).

I doff my hat in salute to Odumegwu, One of the giants of Afrika. To you, I say I fall where you fall, and I stand where you stand. The people’s General continues trudging on! I wish you a good recovery!

As a soldier, academic, historian and head of state and commander in chief of the defunct Republic of Biafra, his much-awaited memoir is going to be one of the most important books in the history of the “Giant of Africa” Nigeria. This is because it is going to straighten the records and uncover the mysteries surrounding many events that took place on both sides. As a Biafra survivor myself I cannot describe how much I am craving for it too.

Sakhos Silas Ejiofoh ( irokoafrika@yahoo.com ) writes from Wiesbaden, Hessen Germany.

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02/13/11

Permalink 12:52:00 am, by lateef lawal, 1163 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News, South West News

*Nigeria: Lagos Governor Lambasts Jonathan, PDP Over Comment

-Fashola says PDP Federal Government Bereft of Ideas, Lack Planning

By Lateef Lawal

The Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) controlled Federal Government has been described as an administration bereft of ideas and planning to develop the country and move it to greater heights. This was how the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola responded to the statement of the president, Goodluck Jonathan during the flag off of his party’s campaign in Ibadan, Oyo State early in the week where he referred to opposition controlled sate governors in the Southwest as "rascals".

Speaking with journalists last Wednesday on his return from Abuja, Fashola noted that the statement by the president was unbecoming of the person of Jonathan who was presently occupying the exalted office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He told the president to channel his energy towards addressing the infrastructural decay that dotted the country’s landscape such as bad roads instead of engaging in cheap diatribe and name calling which was unbefitting of the exalted office of the President. ( Continues below….. )

Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, Nigeria

Photo Above: Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, Nigeria

Expatiating on his challenge to President Jonathan, Governor Fashola asked the president to come to Lagos and see lots of abandoned federal roads adding that if governors qualify as "rascals", Jonathan himself is a "president of rascals". Fashola went on: "I think that I am happy that you have put the remark in its very appropriate perspective. The office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a very high office and I do not think that that kind of language coming from the PDP presidential candidate is unpresidential.

"And it is interesting that these remarks are being made from outside Lagos, so I hope that when they come here they would be able to call us rascals again. And if we are rascals it means that some of the other governors he has been presiding over are in a republic of rascals." He added: "But I leave him to decide his own choice of words. Why should they be worried about our success in Lagos? If it(our success) gives them sleepless nights and it makes them uncomfortable, I make no apologies, that is why I am in government, to succeed here, to improve the quality of lives of people as best as I can."

Governor Fashola pondered: "Look. This party, PDP , has spent 12 years trying to provide electricity. We have provided three major electricity plants in Lagos, the next one will be completed in a few weeks. And clearly therefore they are deficient in ideas, they are deficient in planning. They spent four years trying to build 400 meters bridge in Ota, Ogun State and on the day that they finally came to open that bridge instead of apologizing to the people, Lagosians, they inundated us again, they were fighting themselves about who will cut the tape." ( Continues below….. )

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria (2010 - present)

Said Fashola : "Meanwhile the road that leads to the bridge is not completed. We built Okota link bridge in 18 months. It is longer than that bridge in which they were fighting. So, that is what we expect them to come and talk about. Apapa-Oshodi-Oworoshoki express road their road, is potholes ridden. The road, leading to the biggest airport in the country is a national embarrassment.

“We cleared Oshodi, asking them to finish their roads so that Nigerians can even begin to change our image to foreigners who come here. These are the issues that we expect them to come and address our voters about. We are waiting for them. But Lagosians will have to be determined to see clearly the pattern of the candidacy of the PDP candidates who seek to continue to lead this country into poverty, into inefficiency, into insecurity. But having said that I think that I have asked myself whether the president is more concerned about who is governor of Lagos or about becoming president."

The governor continued, "I think that if the PDP wants to swap candidates for the governor of Lagos I will be ready to face him because their candidate is not talking about what he wants to do in Lagos. Why have federal roads in Lagos not been fixed? Why do Lagosians not have electricity? Why do Lagosians have to bear the cost of their own security in spite of the enormous votes every year in the federal budget?

"These are the issues that concern Lagosians and those are the issues about which their votes will be cast. Lagos voters will not vote on the basis of luck. I did not win this office on the basis of luck, it was won on the basis of very clear manifesto of the ACN, very clear ideas about how to propel this economy, very hard work that we have done since 1999 as a people, progressives who have shown our common touch with the people."

He further said: "Elections will not be won by resulting to derogatory language and by claiming luck, elections require those who seek elective offices to focus on the people over who they plan to exercise authority and to communicate to them in a very clear and practical manner how they intend to improve thier lot. I think that the PDP led federal government has a lot of questions to answer in Lagos."

On the controversial elevation of the president of the Court of Appeal into the Supreme Court, Fashola said: "Seriously, I don’t have all the facts, and you know that until I have the facts it is dangerous to make conclusions, more importantly I think I read somewhere that there is now a court action so I more than anybody should respect and not make the work of the court difficult in this matter.

"Except of course to say on a general basis that I know as a fact that the president of the court of appeal has opted on occasion not to be elevated to the supreme court, he made that choice. And therefore many of his colleagues some of whom were his juniors have been elevated to that place. And it is common knowledge in our profession that if we were colleagues or classmates on the day that I get appointed to the court even if I were your junior, on the day I get appointed to a court and you come after me, you become my junior in that court.

"So, if his colleagues and juniors have gone to the Supreme Court ahead of him and we are promoting him, is there a real promotion there? Because he is going to take a queue behind them. If it is a promotion, is that a real promotion to go and queue up behind those you presided over?"

Lateef Lawal (NigerianAviationNews)

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02/11/11

Permalink 12:04:31 pm, by hyeldajoe, 615 words   ng-NG
Categories: News
*Adamawa State, Nigeria: Land of Beauty or Bitterness?

By Hyelda Joseph Fomnya

Adamawa State was created in 1975 from the old Gongola State. There have been a lot of setbacks in the development of the state due to the fact that most of its leaders since inception were military men who in most cases were imposed on the masses.

After Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, we thought Adamawa state will at least claim its slogan “LAND OF BEAUTY” because we were privileged to have an elected governor along side the number two citizen (Vice president) of Nigeria. Although some progress was made in transforming the state, government efforts were infinitesimal as a result the impact of development in the state was insignificant. ( Continues below….. )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing its 36 states and capital (Abuja or FCT)

In 2007, eight years after Nigeria’s return to democracy, we expected by right, that we will be allowed to vote our leaders as it ought to be in a democratic setting, but unfortunately a military retiree was brought in a military way to govern the state. The effect of this unfortunate, inhuman and crazy act of selection instead of election is visible in the state today as poverty level is the same if not worse than that of Niger and Chad republic. There was no capital project in Adamawa state that has direct impact on the life of the common man in the last four years, in-fact Adamawa state is the least developed amongst the states created in 1975…Beauty or Bitterness?

This article is by no way political because if you have had the misfortune of taking a trip to Adamawa State you will appreciate what I am saying. It is regrettably lugubrious to note that instead of dwelling in the land of beauty we are dwelling in the land of bitterness!

The most pitiable happening in Adamawa state is the employment of illiterates and political thugs (mostly) in the name of Special Assistants (SA’s) in a state where hospitals look more like a prison in the 21st century, where ninety five (95) percent of the people do not have access to portable drinking water. I thought SA’s, and what have you, are meant to advice and assist the Governor in developing the state? Quote me; “seventy percent (70%) of the SA’s in Adamawa state cannot advise themselves”, they are just appointed to help in embezzling the state funds. ( Continues below….. )

Map of Adamawa State, Nigeria.

Photo Above: Map of Adamawa State, Nigeria.

Let me inform the general public that the credibility of the Foundation for Transparency and Accountability is questionable or that the association is political for awarding the governor of Adamawa state an award for transparency, believe it or not there is no transparency in the governance of Adamawa state! Please let us stop deceiving the world by giving awards to undeserving people. I hope this article will get to those concerned.

Greatest concerned Nigerians I know there are many other states with similar issues, we have to do something! please let us open our eyes and shun political thugrey and gangsterism let’s work towards electing people with vision to transform our states and country at large, people who can turn around our economy; not people that will embezzle our funds in the name of running state affairs. LONG LIVE ADAMAWA STATE, LONG LIVE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA!

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Permalink 12:09:48 am, by ifeatuagbu, 1389 words   ng-NG
Categories: News
*Nigeria: Niger Delta & Avoidable Legal Tussle

By Ifeatu Agbu

It is rather unfortunate that the Federal Government has not quite lived up to its billing in dealing with the developmental challenges of the Niger Delta region. For some inexplicable reasons, the central government has consistently failed to adequately meet its statutory obligations to the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, since the inception of the interventionist agency in 2001. This has now forced the traditional rulers from the region to run to the courts to get the government to comply with its own laws.

In spite of the provisions of the NDDC Establishment Act, which says that the Federal Government should contribute an equivalent of 15 per cent of the total amount accruable to the nine oil-producing states from the Federation Account, the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, unilaterally decided to pay only 10 per cent. The difference between what the law says and what Obasanjo decided to pay was what accumulated to N244 billion at the time he left office.

This was the genesis of the problem that has now pitched the government against the royal fathers. The current lawsuit has revealed that the disregard of the law continued during late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration. As at 2009, the withheld funds had ballooned to a staggering N484, 450, 551, 137.91 billion.

In a way, the traditional rulers cannot be blamed for going to court because in addition to being the custodians of their people’s culture, they are also expected to take care of their well being by supporting development efforts. Since most of the other development agencies, such as the oil companies, local and state governments have not lived up to expectations, the people have come to place their hopes on the NDDC. The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, which was set up ostensibly to add fillip to the activities of the NDDC, has more or less proved sceptics, who saw it as an unnecessary duplication, right. Rather than attract more funds for the development of the region, the ministry has ended up sharing funds that would have ordinarily gone to the NDDC. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt

Since the Willinks Commission report of 1958, several interventionist agencies have tried with little success to change the fortunes of the region. The performances of these agencies, starting from the Niger Delta Development Board [NDDB] set up in 1961 to the Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission [OMPADEC] inaugurated in 1992, were nothing to write home about. It is no secret that one of the reasons for their failure was inadequate funding.

It was against this background that a better legal foundation was laid for the NDDC when it was set up. A deliberate effort was made to ensure that the funding of the commission was grounded in law. It is regrettable that the current administration, which prides itself as having enormous respect for the rule of law, has continued to perpetuate the injustice brought about by Obasanjo’s action. In fact, it is an embarrassing contradiction for the Federal Government to refuse to obey its own law.

As if to add salt to injury, the late President Yar’Adua said that the debt had expired. It was inconceivable, since the same President had said in September 2007 that “I have directed that all the funds for the NDDC be released in conformity with the law.” One wonders, therefore, why he reneged on his promise which was applauded in the Niger Delta and beyond. ( Continues below….. )

Nigeria Ex-President Umaru Yar'Adua

Photo Above: Nigeria Ex-President Umaru Yar'Adua (2007 - May 5, 2010)

The injustice inherent in that denial rankled many people in the Niger Delta. The former Petroleum Minister, Prof. Tam David-West described the claim that the money had expired as preposterous. He said: “Money that is statutory cannot expire as long as the Nigerian state continues to exist”. Speaking in the same vein, the leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force [NDPVF], Alhaji Mujaheed Asari-Dokubo asked: “How can our money expire when our oil has not expired?” Weighing in on the vexed issue, the President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Mr. Ledum Mitee observed that “one of the cardinal programmes of this government is to remedy the wrongs of the past administration by complying with the law. ( Continues below….. )

Nigeria Ex-President Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo

Photo Above: Nigeria Ex-President Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo (in office 1976 - 1979 & 1999 - 2007)

An administration that claims to be guided by the rule of law should try to comply with the law by remedying those wrongs; otherwise you will just be rubbishing your claim to be dealing with the Niger Delta issue”. Now, the agitation for the development of Nigeria’s oil-rich region has shifted to the courtroom as 21 monarchs from the oil producing areas sued the Federal Government to press for the release of N484, 450, 551, 137.91 billion meant for the development of the region. According to them, the amount represented the difference between the statutorily generated 15 per cent total figure from the Federation Account, as prescribed in the NDDC [Establishment Act], between 2001 and 2009. ( Continues below….. )

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria (2010 - present)

The monarchs, who commenced the legal action on behalf of themselves and their communities under the platform of the Traditional Rulers of the Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON), stated that their action was a consequence of years of foot-dragging on the release of funds meant for the development of infrastructure in the oil-rich region by the Federal Government.

Apart from this case, the NDDC is also being short-changed in the disbursement of the ecological fund. This is in spite of the fact the commission spends huge resources on combating ecological problems such as coastal erosion, flooding and shore protection. Sadly, the NDDC has been denied this fund which it is constitutionally and legally entitled to, since its establishment. The Ecological Fund, which was set up by Decree 36 of 1984 and the amended version, Decree 106 of 1992 was meant to ensure that adequate provision was made to address environmental problems in all parts of the country. ( Continues below….. )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing its 36 states and capital (Abuja or FCT)

These cases of underfunding could be attributed to the unwillingness of the executive to do what is needful in the troubled Niger Delta region. Many have blamed the central government of not showing that it has the will to right the wrongs of the past. The resort to legalism is not in the interest of the long-neglected people of the Niger Delta. Now, more than ever before, all stakeholders need to collaborate to lift the region from the throes of underdevelopment. The challenges of developing the Niger Delta are such that all the stakeholders must sincerely partner to achieve the desired goal.

Is it not double jeopardy for the deprived people of the Niger Delta to spend their meagre resources in prosecuting an avoidable court case? It is tantamount to what Senator Uche Chukwumereije once referred to as “an arrow on the conscience of the nation” In the light of the moral burden hanging over the Federal Government, it is only wise that it invites the aggrieved traditional rulers to negotiate so that the matter could be settled out of court. In other words, the government should bite the humble pie and release the withheld funds of the NDDC. If this happens, then of course, the royal fathers should withdraw the matter from the court and set up a monitoring process to track the utilisation of the funds.

The money involved is huge and as such should be released in installments over a period of five years. It should also be tied to the execution of mega projects, which all Niger Deltans will see and appreciate. That is the best way to make posterity applaud the efforts of the traditional rulers to retrieve what legally belongs to the people of the region.

Obviously, a negotiated settlement is by far in the best interest of the government and the people of the Niger Delta than a wasteful engagement in litigation that may drag on for several years at great financial cost to all concerned.

Mr. Ifeatu Agbu ( ifeatuagbu@yahoo.com ) writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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02/10/11

Permalink 03:02:57 pm, by obaro, 1382 words   ng-NG
Categories: News
*Beware! Fraudulent Qatar Work Visa

By Felix Obaro

The attention of concerned Nigerian Professionals resident in Doha, State of Qatar has been drawn to the activities of some unscrupulous agents in Nigeria, with collaboration of some Nigerian elements in Doha offering Work Visa to unsuspecting Nigerians to work and live in Qatar. This practice has been on for some time but of recent has reached a dimension that is portraying the image of Nigeria and Nigerians in Qatar in a bad light. It is based on this development that concerned Nigerians are putting up this information to alert the Nigerian public on the need to take caution and not to fall into the deceit of these individuals.

Qatar as a country is rich in oil and gas resources which have fueled the infrastructural and economic development of this Arabian peninsula nation over the past decades. This economic boom has seen the migration of people from South East Asia, Europe, America and Africa to this small Gulf State. The local Qatari people are also friendly and receptive to foreigners of diverse languages, cultural and religious background. In anticipation of the influx of economic migrant to support the Nations growth, the government of the State of Qatar has an effective immigration system that has been designed to ensure that only legal immigrants are allowed to live and work in Qatar.

While Work Visa as it’s currently being secured for Nigerians by Local Nigerian agents in Qatar and their collaborators in Nigeria did grant you the right to live in Qatar, there is no job attached to this Visa. The impression given is that once you arrive in Qatar, Jobs are waiting for you as there are opportunities everywhere. This is not the truth as there are many Nigerians on the streets of Doha today seeking employment without headway for months and in some cases over a year. ( Continues below….. )

Map of Qatar

Photo Above: Map of Qatar

Some have returned home disappointed after borrowing money and selling properties to secure Qatar Work visa with high expectations of better life. They lived in harrowing conditions in slums and labour quarters before finding their way back to their motherland. The Agents, who procured the Visa disappeared and live these individuals to the mercy of friends and fellow Nigerians to assist to the best of their abilities. The saddening thing is that most of these unfortunate migrants left paid employment behind in Nigeria, to seek “greener pastures” as painted by this Work Visa Agents.

While we must state clearly that, there are indeed job opportunities for qualified professionals in Qatar, and many Nigerians are gainfully employed and practicing their professions in Qatar, it is important to highlight the danger posed by the activities of these nefarious individuals not only to law abiding Nigerians in Qatar, but also the image of the Nigeria Nation. In addition, because of the bad publicity this has generated in government circle, stricter restriction on the issuance of Visa for Nigerians is in place. Most hotels do not process Nigeria tourist Visa as applicable to Nationals of other countries willing to come to Qatar on holiday.

The implication of this is that, Nigerians with genuine business/holiday interest are refused entry visa. This was not the case five years ago, as you can apply for Visa for anyone by approaching any of the hotels in Doha. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria

This article is aimed at educating Nigerians about the facts surrounding Qatar Work Visa and for them to review their plans based on the information provided below on the Work Visa in Qatar. What You Must Know about Qatar Work Visa.

• Any genuine employer of labour in Qatar will not ask prospective employees to pay a Visa fee. The employer will also be responsible for the flight ticket from Nigeria to Doha.

• The pretext of the people involved in the work visa racket is that they are providing opportunity for people to travel. This cannot be true as this is rather for their economic gains. The actual cost of work visa in Qatar is about N30000 equivalent, however charges for this Visa in Nigeria ranges between N500000 and N600000. This clearly shows that this is for economic gains of individuals

• The Qatar Visa is issued in different categories depending on the job being offered. The category of the job/title is written on the Visa in Arabic language, thus many are not aware of the job category that has been indicated on their Work Visa. The implication of this is that, an experienced graduate can be given a visa indicating his level of job is a Laborer without his knowledge as he cannot read nor understand Arabic. This individual will come to Qatar looking for a professional job, not knowing that by his Visa status, he cannot use his credentials to work. There have seen cases of graduate that are denied employment to qualified positions, after long term search for job because of the limitation posed by their visa category.

• As applicable in all countries of the world including Nigeria, trainee positions are reserved for Nationals of the country. Just like it will be difficult for any employer of labour in Nigeria to employ a Non–Nigerian without any demonstrable experience, while young graduates in Nigeria are looking for jobs, Qatari government also has the policy of recruiting young Qataris to development position in both private and government institution. Thus, as a prospective expatriate in Qatar, you need to be able to demonstrate skill in a particular area that cannot be resourced internally. A fresh Nigerian graduate that has no working experience, and is promised job in Qatar should have this understanding. You need to have a number of years of experience before you can be considered for position. It is better you develop yourself to that level before you look out for international opportunities. Then, employer will source for you and you do not need to pay for your visa and flight tickets to Qatar

• Within three months of entering into Qatar on work visa, you will be required to complete the process of your residence permit. This information is usually not mentioned by these unscrupulous agents to their clients. Work Visa grants you access to the country as a legal immigrant, but without the residence permit, you cannot stay in Qatar. You will still need to pay for the processing of the residence permit. Before the permit is issued, you need to undergo a medical test, anyone that fail will be deported to his home country at his own cost immediately. There have been cases of deportation based on this requirement.

• Another deception by these agents is that the Work Visa issued is a freelance Visa and you do not have to work with the company that issued the Visa. This is being economic with the truth. The fact is that, if you are lucky enough to get a job before you complete your residence permit process (Note the time limits in point 5 above and the restriction posed by visa type in point 3), it may be easy to process your residence permit under the new employer. However, if you are not able to get a job within three months, and you have to do the residence permit under the company that processed your visa to Qatar, then you cannot change job or sponsoring company until after one year. The implication of this is that you will be in Qatar without any paid employment for the next one year. That’s a whole year wasted and many in that condition are very much dependent on relations from Nigeria to send money for their upkeep or rely on the benevolence of other Nigerians in Qatar.

With the issue of the hosting right of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar, the activities of this Work Visa agents has stepped up with promises of lofty jobs on arrival in Qatar. This is nothing but a fleece. Nigerians should be guided by the information provided above in making any decision about paying through their nose to procure this “freelance work visa”. Beware!!

Felix Obaro can be reached at obaro_felix@yahoo.com

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