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May 30, 2005

Behold, Goje State!

by Kyallu M. Ashafa --- Common democratic practice the world over is to separate as much as possible public and private life. The state is not treated as if it were a personal property. Unfortunately in Nigeria, public officers hardly distinguish between public and private pockets. That is why we have reprehensible things like the launching of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s library project, which elicited so much deserved criticism. Here we are with public officers behaving as if they were synonymous with the state.

The situation is more pathetic in the states, where wanton disregard of ethics and values of democracy is perpetrated. How I wish a fraction of the media search light beamed on Obasanjo will come to Gombe state! The president’s sin regarding the library would be dwarfed compared to the recent wedding ceremony of Governor Danjuma Goje’s two daughters. It was an opprobrious squander of public funds on a purely personal project, an event that literally brought the business of governance to a complete halt for several days. It was, to use Soyinka’s words, an executive extortion of the first order.

For weeks running, the machinery of governance was deployed to executing projects relating to the wedding ceremony. Every other thing was at a complete halt. The state ministry of works was said to have built a brand new residence for one of the grooms. The eleven local governments were bled through a deduction at source from the state joint local government account. Government contractors also had to contribute. They were said to have donated generously to the wedding fund. To make a private function more official, part of the activities of the wedding was a two-day working visit by the vice president. The event culminated with Atiku laying the foundation stone for the white elephant airport project. Is it not curious that in a state where people are desperately trying to keep the wolf from the door government is busy spending stupendous amounts on what is purely personal affair?

But the media decided to look the other way. It is only when Obasanjo is at fault that the press wildly shouts, as if he controls all the nation’s resources. We seem to forget that the federal government merely controls just over half of the federation account. The state governors spend the other half, comprising state and local government allocations, and of course, their internally generated revenue. But I digress.

The flamboyant wedding event was held in the government house, not in Goje’s private residence where he is living for the past two years. Though it is a norm for governors to stay in the government house, my own governor wants to be different. He rented his private home to the government and continued to live there. In a furious reaction to criticisms that trailed his decision to lease his residence to the government, Goje told the BBC Hausa that the government house was too small for a family man like him to move in. He would stay put in his house despite the criticism. But, of course, he denied collecting any money from the government for that. That was in December 2003. Till date the governor is living in his private residence in Bolari area of the state capital, at an expense to the state coffers. Whether it is morally right or wrong to live in your house and collect rent for it is a matter for the public to judge.

But one and a half years after the justification for the stay of the first family in private residence, the wedding ceremony of Goje’s two daughters in the same government house that has never been extended, with thousands including Vice President Atiku Abubakar in attendance. One wonders what kind of extended family Goje has, that cannot be accommodated in the government house though the house can contain such a crowd.

Back in 2002, the Tell magazine’s famous graffiti featured a caricature of then governor of Kogi state, Prince Abubakar Audu busy naming public institutions after himself and his father. In the illustration, Audu was featured, after exhausting all institutions, painting a billboard bearing ‘Audu State’. It looks like Gombe will soon have a new name, but in a different manner. Unlike Audu, whose personalization of the state may have stopped at naming institutions after himself and his father, Goje’s antics portray a man who wants to be and remain the most powerful individual in the state for life. Where else, besides Gombe, are people banned from pasting posters other than those of the governor or Atiku? Huge billboards with Goje’s portraits adorn the border posts leading into the state through the highways, in all instances dwarfing the usual ‘welcome to Gombe’ billboards. We are yet to hear the naming of public institutions, but it is doubtful if they come without the Abubakar Audu-style.

The crescendo of terrorism in the state is still rising. The sordid experience of the state NAPEP coordinator Hajiya Bibiye Sadiq is still fresh in people’s minds. Thugs were sent after her because she was perceived as potential political threat to the powers that be. Before Gombawas recover from the shock of that attack, the new Accountant General of the Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo was similarly attacked by political thugs believed to be state-sponsored. Though the state government recently disowned all thugs terrorizing the people, its difficult to believe that thugs who are known to be bankrolled and protected by government cronies and officials can thrive with so much impunity without the complicity of the state government.

The message in the Bibiye Sadiq and Dankwambo episodes is that no new star is welcome in Gombe state. With the level of political intimidation increasing, the state resources cornered to run private projects; Gombe may soon have a new name—Goje state.

Kyallu M. Ashafa is of Project 007, Jekadafari, Gombe, Gombe State.

Posted by Administrator at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2005

Does Obasanjo Really Mean Well for Nigeria or is he just an Obtrusion?

by Peter Eze --- If few Nigerian men and women less than 20 in number or simply put it this way, members of Nigerian Contract Inflation Inc, NCI for short, could put together more than 4 billion naira in less than 4 hours for Obasanjo’s private shrine, which civilized society will ever take Obasanjo seriously with cap in hands, kneels on ground begging for debt forgiveness?

Some few months back, this man went on the air asking Nigerians whether it was morally right for a sitting governor to establish an airline while in office. The same man not too long ago went to the tube, accused, tried, prosecuted and convicted professor Fabian Osuji and the entire National Assembly over 55 million naira. When the nation began to point out his hypocrisies and selective war on corruption, he quickly asked his black mail bureaucracy EFCC or ICPC to arrest Alhaji Mustapha Balogun, that stinking corruption infested former IG who could have been better come to the world as corruption rather than as human being. If this so called former IG could spent only 18 months and associated with more than 12 billion naira in corruption, I wonder what time he had to police the nation. Even after Balogun’s arrest and arraignment, the same Obasanjo caused his release. Mrs Ojomo the erstwhile minister of housing was involved in high profile corruption in the gift of the federal government houses in highbrow Lagos, she was simply fired, because Obasanjo was very much aware of the give away even though he pretended otherwise. Nigerians are wiser than that. Besides, she is a Yoruba woman. Every one expected him to cause the re-arrest of Dr. Julius Makanjuola another Yoruba.

Every Nigerian expected him to shed him self of “Yoru-oil-nization” of Nigeria’s oil concern and “Defamily-ization” of Nigeria’s industrial and corporate properties through NCP. The barrage of accusation against him on the employment of his children and the “Gbenga-nization” of many Nigeria’s industries through BPE, if Obasanjo does see it as corruption, then he is a fraudulent president. If Obasanjo does not see his establishment of a private university while a sitting president as corruption, if he does not see the use of Nigerian government resources to enlarge and reconstitute an almost bankrupt farm to a situation it now rakes in more than 30 million naira a month as corruption, if he does not see his persistent attempt in total extrusion of the most viable race in a black world (Ndigbo) as criminal and corruption, if he does not see the employment of Nigerian government machinery to exhort billions of naira from federal government contractors fronting for him and his family as corruption, if he refuses to make public his asset declaration to the code of conduct bureau while causing same to investigate and prosecute Orji Uzo Kalu, section 308 of the Nigerian constitution notwithstanding, using Turaki of Jigiwa and Ladoje of Oyo States as decoy just as he did in Slok airline issue when his target was Orji Kalu, but included one or two northern owned airliners just to deceive himself thinking he was deceiving Nigerians, if he does not know he is abusing and desecrating the Nigerian constitution on daily basis, if he does not know he is a lawless president who has no regard for the nation’s highest court’s –(the Supreme Court) adjudication, a president who has no regard for an Act of the National Assembly, a president who has no regard to the meaning of his personal signature or a presidential signature, a president who is morally and spiritually challenged and want to emulate the profile (only) of an American president or be like an American president only in profile which he is not, and cannot and would not be, not even in his dream, a president who lies to his country men and women and believes his lies to be true even before he makes lies public is nothing but an obtrusion.

One reality is that Obasanjo is very angry for his imprisonment and still being malicious against Nigerians. This man will put Nigeria in a situation where the country will be in turmoil after his departure from Aso Rock. By his malicious and divisive administration of Nigeria, he has already created too much confusion in the country. Never in the history of Nigeria has the north and south been more pronounced in the negative than this Obasanjo’s tenure. If he is not prodding and inciting the Ijaws, the Calabaries, the Ibibios or the Ogojas against Ndigbo by blowing the civil war trumpet, he is inciting Jukuns against the Tiv’s or the Fulanis against the Lantangs. There has been more negative gap between the Muslims and Christians in Nigeria under Obasanjo than any other time in Nigeria’s checkered history. The nation’s political field contains more land mines than the war field. Nigeria is more defined as a killing field than She is known as a nation. Corruption is more endemic in Nigeria under Obasanjo. Injustice has since replaced equity and fair play in Nigeria under Obasanjo. Igboland has become Obasanjo’s political laboratory with Ndigbo as beaker and tubes where he experiments social, political and economic injustice before it becomes national policy.

It is obvious that Obasanjo will be the last man to relinquish power to any other Nigerian because he does not want to live to witness what will be his retribution, given the mess he has and is going to leave Nigeria with. Obasanjo has really hut Nigeria and Nigerians in this process. The issue of his impeachment will never be taken seriously by any sane Nigerian, given the type of Nigerians that constitute the National Assembly. Any attempt to bruise him politically will always elicit the tribal coronation.

With the nation’s oil dollars at his disposal, and with the Yorubas always evoking tribalism whenever Obasanjo’s constitutional conflagrations come up, Nigerian citizens will always be treated with political fiction. However, the real impeachment of Obasanjo comes on how he is being perceived by the majority of Nigerians. Obasanjo has already been impeached by the Nigerian court of public opinion, not the National Assembly Nigeria does not have. Obasanjo’s administration of Nigeria is knotted in black box and when untied after his inglorious exit, it will explode like a bomb whose effect will spell a disaster for Nigeria. Obasanjo will choose to die in the office than to face the international court of justice for numerous crimes against Nigeria and Nigerians. The Odi military massacre, the Zaki-Ibiam military pogrom, the persistent emasculation and persecution of members of harmless MASSOB, the high profile political assassinations, and the economic and social injustice being meted to Ndigbo. The family of those politically fallen heroes will never let Obasanjo off the hook. When he exists from Aso Rock his use and abuse of the nation’s security forces will cease. He will be made to answer for his emasculation of Nigerian people and his ravages of executive despotism.

Chidi P Eze

Posted by Administrator at 05:55 PM | Comments (2)

May 25, 2005

Tony Ogiamien: Lurking in Omo Omoruyi’s Shadows

by Okechukwu E. Asia ---

But when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away” and “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:10-11)

I should have ignored Tony Ogiamien’s rejoinder to my article –In search of the Real Professor Omo Omoruyi, (see and Vanguard newspaper, April 26, 2005) but for many telephone calls and email messages I received from my readers all over the world urging me to respond. And for opening himself up in this manner, the world will know who Tony Ogiamien really is. But I am not going to attack Tony Ogiamien, as he attacked me in his response. I will, however, tell the truth.

For those who do not know, Tony Ogiamien is the flamboyant and corrupt former acting dean of the faculty of law from the University of Benin, Nigeria, whose tenure was, infested with corruption, embezzlement of student body and scholarship funds. Not only that he allegedly embezzled the university’s fund but also he expelled two law students for questioning his interest in their scholarship fund. In the United States, Tony Ogiamien is perfecting his financial management skills with the opening of an online-only University – the so-called Heritage University in California. Ogiamien is the president and CEO of this University, his wife is the treasurer and his elder son is the provost - a kind of family affair University.

If Omoruyi was looking for someone to defend him and help to polish his image he hired a wrong man for the job. Tony Ogiamien has his own image problems; it is no surprise that Ogiamien and Omoruyi are blood relatives. So you know, Omoruyi that Ogaimien performed poorly in his attempt to defend you in his rejoinder to my article. Instead he used his three-page essay to attack me. Nowhere in the entire essay had Ogaimien defended the issues I raised about Omoruyi rather he called me names and lectured me on Igbo culture.

In the first paragraph of Ogaimien’s rejoinder he wrote: “The objective of any public discourse or exchange of views is, or should be, to present unambiguous ideas designed to inform or educate, persuade, and convince in an effort to provide truth.” Ogaimien failed in his effort to provide truth; rather he strengthened the truth in my own essay. Ogaimien’s rush to respond to me on behalf of Omoruyi was not out of loyalty but to quickly control the perceived damage my article might cause him and his master (Omoruyi), which would threaten their job-hunting exercises in Minna, Niger. But he did a good job in hiding the truth and presented an unambiguous denial of Omoruyi’s unwholesome and overbearing public intellectual shenanigan, pranks, tomfoolery, and cunning.

In Igbo culture, we do not prostrate for an elder who poured ashes on himself, rather the children will use the broom to dust off the ashes from his body. Omo Omoruyi has poured ashes on his body when he stoop too low to beg for IBB’s forgiveness as a ploy to influence IBB to appoint him the chairman of contact and mobilization committee of the IBB presidential campaign.

In the erotica Omo Omoruyi wrote to his one time estranged lover Ibrahim Babangida which he (Omoruyi) described how he managed to reestablished contact with IBB: “I called and he (IBB) was not available as he had gone to his village, Wushishi; he returned my call and I too had gone to school. When I came back I called and he took the phone; the rest is history. All within 24 hours.” This kind of love letter is yet to be written in the “lovers first night out” movies. His passion, the caress and the scorching orgasm are all hidden around and behind every comma and period in Omoruyi’s lover letter to IBB. Legends do not write this kind of love letter, but a sycophant and a job seeking worn-out professor who wants to launch himself back to relevance.

The shame is on whom whose brother is a bad dancer. In the case of Ogiamien and Omoruyi, it is the children who are sitting down and seeing things Ogiamien and Omoruyi could not see while standing up. While the new generations of Nigerians and indeed most Nigerians are sick and tired of being sick and tired of worn-out and irrelevant public intellectuals like Ogiamien and Omoruyi, you could not notice. All the mis-educated graduates of Omoruyi’s so-called Center for Democratic Studies have taken refuge inside our government and have refuse to go away while raking havoc in our polity. But Ogiamien and Omoruyi did not notice.

As a Nigerian citizen I must be concerned about what happens in Bini and to Bini people or elsewhere in my country. The spirit of “One Nigeria” must guide me to be concerned about the welfare of other Nigerians irrespective of their nationalities. Ogiamien and Omoruyi should have learned this while mis-educating Nigerians at their Center for Democratic Studies.

We cry foul about Obasanjo’s atrocities in the Niger-delta region because if unchecked it could trickle down to Imo state and indeed the whole of Igboland. Niger-delta today, tomorrow could be Imo state. Ogiamien, you can see why I am concerned about what happens in Bini. Indifference is a nursery where inhumanity germinates. There is no greater destructive force on earth that is stronger than indifference. You are much more neutral if you clap for the powerful or kick the powerless than when you opt to be indifferent.

In a world where virtually everyone has heard the lamentation of Rev. Martin Niemoeller it is surprising that Ogiamien advises me to opt to be indifferent. Rev. Niemoeller learnt the hard way and thereafter said: “First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.” Ogiamien, if you are indifferent to the Igbo destruction agenda of Obasanjo’s administration and the plight of the Ogoni people, I must question your spirit of “One Nigeria” and your claim of intellectual wisdom.

As to the use of Igbo proverbs in your essay, you should do more research on Igbo culture before you find yourself struggling to explain your half-baked Igbo proverbs that you pasted all over your article. You should do more homework to understand the complexity of Igbo proverbs and how and when to apply them. Or you will be called
an “efulefu.”

Okechukwu E. Asia
Boston, MA, USA

Real Beauty is My Aim - Mahatma Gandhi

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May 20, 2005

Francis Kizito Obeya and Biafra

by Peter Opara --- Obeya - Why you are so pissed off about Biafra and those that desire it is beyond me. First, you were astounded to encounter a Biafraland on the Internet, now you know that a great many, Igbo, in particular desire and talk about Biafra, and that enrages you...talking about an entity separate from what you deem a perfect arrangement - Nigeria.

Sure you can find every argument to counter those who desire Biafra, but something is clear, and that is your lack of basic understanding of what drives the desire for Biafra.

But first, you note as follows - Biafra, not "illusory" republic, but a sovereign nation, in which people like yours truly habited as a citizen. Biafra, not "illusory" republic, but " a great experience" to quote Richard Akinjide, a major Yoruba figure.

Now, what drives Biafra even now, is beyond good or bad road What drives Biafra and every other Nigerian nation tribe that live and thrive on chicanery against each other goes back to the erroneous, rather miscast quote you had in your article thus: "So the Nigerian President and some Briton said that our marriage was a MISTAKE".

No, Francis Obeya, it was not a Nigerian president and some Briton - though one has just so stated - that deemed Nigeria a MISTAKE. It was Sir Ahmadu Bello, then undisputed leader of the north. The truth of Sir. Bello's assertion is evident to this day, even as an authoritave voice has just been added to this evident truth - that of the British Secretary who actually sat in on the arrangement of the fundamentally flawed Marriage of the totally disparate peoples that make this Nigeria.

Further more, shortly after the death of Sir Bello, another northern leader, Yakubu Gowon declared that the basis of (Nigerian) unity does not exist. In the same vein, a young northern fellow, Ibraheem Waziri, continue to remind those like you Obeya, that it is written nowhere in the Koran that Nigeria was made by God.

Even the man who moved the motion for Nigeria's independence, Anthony Enahoro, who himself saw to it the sovereign state of Biafra was terminated, is today talking about self-determination as right that must be inscribed in a Nigerian constitution.

Obeya, Biafra is about self-determination...for Igbo!

Obeya, you come across so much as one that is ignorant of the reasons why Biafra came about in the first place. I dare say that your people, you must come from present day Benue, contributed in no small measure to the evolution of Biafra that now troubles you. If you want to know how that was, you must ask some of your relatives how many Igbo they hunted down and killed in your part of Nigeria when Nigerians all embarked on operation Igbo Kill.

Were you too young then, or are you now stricken with selective amnesia? Or the Igbo experience then that repeats itself yearly matters not to you, since you think every tribe in Nigeria has lost one of its own in the incessant bloodletting for which Nigeria is now known, and as such Nigeria will be broken into tribes, if on this basis only every tribe demands a country.

By this you are arguing the prepondenrance of victims of Nigerian bloodletting dating back to the 50s to present, being Igbo? Are you? Or do you not know? Can one not be fed up being slaughtered even in your home, Obeya, each time there is a some little fracas? Must constant bloodletting be the price the Igbo has to pay to keep your Nigeria one?

Since your response to this must be in the affirmative, judging by your mindset, the Igbo say NO. They have had enough and want out. Now how does this trouble you, except if you cannot kill enough Igbo!

Now, for your information, Biafra must not include any who feels not up to being part of it, and that includes those that you Obeya have interviewed and they said to you, the hell with Biafra. You, Obeya and those that think like you, must have to deal with a phenomenon, Biafra, that is part and parcel of a people, the Igbo. You cannot ban thinking of Biafra; you cannot outlaw thinking and talking of Biafra; you cannot wish it away..Biafra.

Biafra is both a reality and a symbol of freedom for a people that are caged in an entity that has not only contaminated their uniqueness, but is also bent on stifling the ghost out of them. You Obeya can go on and on about how many senate presidents, Obis, who chops money for Igbo roads etc., but those are the contamination that I talk about - if you understand, and they have nothing to do with Biafra.

In any case, to help you cast your sight off Igbo and their desires, there are other groups in Nigeria demanding self-determination. Would you keep your eyes on them and leave the Igbo alone? Have you heard of Oduduwa Republic? They have flags made, anthem recorded. They are also somewhere in the Internet.

Peter Opara, author - Understanding the Nigerian Nation Tribes - Why they Boil.

Posted by Administrator at 09:40 PM | Comments (1)

May 17, 2005

Self-Determination of Nations

“All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development….” ~~~ Article 1.1, The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966.

Many civil wars are provoked by secession crises in which minority groups seek to secede from existing States. Assuredly, for obvious reasons of political, economic and cultural dominance and accruing benefits from such inequities, the ruling ethnic, racial and economic class group(s) in government object to these secession bids and often violent confrontation is the result. Human history is replete with such contemporaneous political events despite its common features of attrition, destruction, and tragedy. The cases of Eritrea, previously an annex of Ethiopia in the horn of Africa, East Timor formerly in Indonesia, Cabinda in Angola, South Sudan, Kurdish region in Iraq, Kashmir between India and Pakistan, and so on remain a few of the myriad cases interspersed around the globe. Though each case bears its peculiar properties that spot their distinct nature, they all point to the fact of political arrangements that attest to forced amalgamation of true nations – a nation of natural birth and creation. That naturally entails a people bearing a collective history, language and culture. In some cases, additional factors of geographical contiguity contribute to acquiesced unions.

Since the right of peoples to self-determination exists as such in modern international law and is an internationally recognized principle, why does it not apply to the people of Tibet, Kashmir, Kurdish region, Tamils of Sri Lanka and other territories? All too often, self-determination is a right to be defended in lofty terms when it is politically advantageous and to be rejected when it’s not. Many consider it a stunning fact that the United States, France, England, Germany, Russia and Italy rolled their troops and tanks into Kosovo (former Yugoslavia) to preserve the peace and secure human rights and self-determination, but they may not be in support of such in other developing nations. There are various reasons for that wrong and right as often perceived by the parties involved to their advantage. But one thing is certain. As espoused in International law, peoples as individuals have the right to self-determination in order to guarantee for the future better global security and stability. The long way to go have been so for these factors:

1. International Law is political and in some cases wears a myth that with law we enter the secure, stable and determinate. In reality we simply engage in discursive political practice that often ignore the underlying factors that plague human relations and cause enduring friction within distinct cases of conflict.

2. Peculiarity of cases that demand unique applications to resolve as in the provision on internal autonomy suffer complete neglect or insufficient attention.

3. States do not encourage the breakup of other states because virtually all states are vulnerable. In today’s world, there are more than 2000 thousand ethnic groups but about 210 States.

4. As more and more newly independent States took their seats in the United Nations, the balance of voting power within the organization shifted in their favour. It was in their interest to regularize de-colonization, and law followed reality. The UN General Assembly Declaration 1541 on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples of 1960 took positive effect to the political freedom of most nations particularly in Africa and Asia. But colonization was only defined as forced rule on these nations by European governments. A perspective that gave selective recognition on the malformation of multinational states created through the now-discredited historical right to conquest and domination. The domestic rule of Ethnic nationalities on one another and the coerced foreign amalgamation of these groups were still lost in the context of the colonial experiment. The dominant States whose collective interests were variously shaped in the embodiment of the declaration limited the right to Statehood to the context of external de-colonization, that is, independence for each colonial territory from each colonial rule.

5. Historical and conflicting subterranean factors between and within dominant groups and minority groups.

Again, the causes of agitation for self-determination remain a political order where the detrimental effects of public policy are imposed upon national minorities in multinational states, leading frequently to their incorporation into the lower caste or underclass of the dominant majority, a position that leaves them at a permanent disadvantage in competition for wealth, status, education, and all other socio-economic needs. When dominant ethnic groups ignore the socio-economic and cultural identity needs and rights of other peoples as security of lives and property, equal socio-economic opportunities, resort to legal redress and fair dispensation of justice in respect and protection of the rule of law within the same state, self-determination becomes an attractive alternative. Even cases of political representation at the center are often unsatisfactory when the group(s) does not identify with the center or want to be part of that political community. Worst case-scenario are when discriminating policies lead to inequities, poverty, intolerance, friction and ultimately destruction of lives and property.

Nations like Eritrea, East Timor, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and old Soviet Republic are ready experiences that point to peaceful and violent dissolution of nations within states. States like Czechoslovakia dissolved peacefully. But most attained their objective of self-determination neither by consent of the dominating ethnic, racial or class groups nor by their acquiescence to international accords but by political agitation and military pressure that arose as a natural resentment of extended perpetration of oppression and a desperate longing for freedom. Self-determination, it is important to note, is not a concept born of an objective in political destabilization but of freedom and security. Self-determination is even in harmony with democracy. If democracy means the rule of the people, by the people, for the people, then the principle of self-determination secures that no one people may rule another.

Critics argue that the principles embodied in international policy induce the actors in secession crisis to engage in violent conflict to further their goals rather than seek peaceful resolution of their differences. But such arguments are not supported by reality. As often as in myriad cases there are peaceful appeals, demonstrations and conferences that demands are often turned down repeatedly by the ruling State. To accuse those who support freedom or self-determination of encouraging separatism, is as foolish and hypocritical as accusing those who advocate freedom of divorce of encouraging the destruction of family ties.

The United Nations historic conference on the right to self-determination in August 15 2000 in the unanimous adoption of its resolution affirmed the UN General Assembly Resolution 48/93 of December 1993 in which was recalled;

The relevant resolutions regarding the violation of the right of peoples to self-determination and other human rights as a result of foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation, adopted by the Commission on Human Rights at its 36th, 37th, 38th, 39th, 40th, 41st, 42nd, 43rd, 44th, 45th, 46th, 47th, 48th, 49th, sessions. …

and also reaffirmed its

….resolutions 35/35 B of 14 November 1980, 36/10 of 28 October 1981, 37/42 of 3 December 1982, 38/16 of 22 November 1983, 39/18 of 23 November 1984, 40/24 of 29 November 1985, 41/100 of 4 December 1986, 42/94 of 7 December 1987, 43/105 of 8 December 1988, 44/80 of 8 December 1989, 45/131 of 14 December 1990, 46/88 of 16 December 1991 and 47/83 of 16 December 1992.
These are basic pointers to the global legitimacy of the cause for renegotiation of relations amongst groups living together in multinational states. But, an overall fact remains that whether self-determination takes the form of creation of a state, federal entity or a confederation of states, ethnic power-sharing arrangements must be explored. Modern nations can in the least grant real autonomy to various ethnic nationalities or at the best total sovereignty as new nation-states.

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May 12, 2005

Operation Declare your Assets or Forfeit your Surplus

by Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa --- Please let us stop chasing the ghost, cut the chase and go after the individual surplus. Every Nigerian knows where the money is. We know there is even more money outside the Country, foreign Governments have been sensitized to the source and they are now embarrassed as receiver of stolen properties. The problem is those conspicuous spenders who are spending the money in our face, living it in our face and no one can query them. Actually, Obasanjo had to negotiate with one to keep some stolen millions to avoid lengthened litigation, only to renege on the terms of his release.

Once upon a time, a Nigerian would take ten percent kickback from the central Government contract, but never from the local area where everybody knows everybody. Time has changed. Conspicuous spenders have taken over. They are encouraged by praise singers who eulogize them. There are two ways to dislodge their ill gotten surplus – 1. By revolution or 2. By due process.

There has to be due process. It has to be done with human face so that it does not become a class or an ethnic thing. I do not think Jerry Rawlings is better than those he killed in Ghana in the name of revolution.

Many of us are copy cats. If it is done in American and Europe, fine. If that is the only way to catch the fat cats, I will tag on. Well, the best way to catch a drug dealer, a spy, a terrorist and a rogue in these countries is to demand accountability for any conspicuous spending. Can you imagine a Nigerian oppressor without conspicuous consumption?

Conspicuous spending is a major part of our moral bankruptcy. It sends a powerful message to the have-nots to make money by any means possible. The armed robber, Oyenusi confession did not teach us any lesson. They always return to the crime scene.

Oppressor, for fear of dying, has to spend his money sooner than later. Watch out for his cars, his houses, political donations and funding of privileged organizations. We have a tax system in Nigeria but we have deliberately not used it to catch the oppressors. We are on the right path though. If anyone needs Government service, they ask for three years income tax receipts. Great! Let us move a step further. If you under-declare, explain how you are going to finance your proposals.

Some Nigerians inflate their earnings when trying to bring relatives and friends to Europe or America. Some swear to Affidavits about their earnings and properties. They have to present these to convince the Embassies of their capabilities to care for those sponsored. Little did some of them realize that Uncle Sam was taking note. At the end of the year, the tax man knocks based on the earning declared!

It is one thing to live like a pauper in Europe or America trying to help a relative, it is quite another to live like a king in Nigeria spraying dollars and pounds claiming to be a pauper, on record. We know the salary of head of Governments, head of the Arm Forces, head of corporations. If we multiply it by two, taking “fringe benefits” into consideration, oppressor would still have a case to answer. The allowance the politicians award themselves these days is nothing short of legalized looting, while the masses groan.

The story these days is that some individuals who are not well connected are being turned into scapegoats, to make anti corruption bodies look good or bad, only to be discharged by our court of law. They must be chasing ghosts to come empty handed. If cash is seized, properties seized, cars are seized and video camera showed conspicuous spending in Europe and America, who will discard those as evidence? These are stronger evidence than the reports of committees. It is used in the countries we mimic and copy to death.

American CBS 60 Minutes showed us how easy it is for foreigner on a visit to get Nigerian passport, how children of African dictators spend money overseas. Our Press has lived up to their reputation in Africa, as the most vigorous against all odds.

I have been investigated by a manager in the Central Bank myself. Before my family joined me in Nigeria in 1981, I had to send them some percentage out of my modest salary to help pay mortgage and my student loan. Niara was mighty then. I never had Federal or State scholarship just like many of us. I had to work and go to school, so it was no brainier that I had student loan. Nevertheless, he decided to investigate me because I did not “cooperate” and the result of the investigation solidified my application. What about those who “cooperated” and were left uninvestigated, while wasting time on me? I now realize how lucky I was, he could have gotten vicious.

Poor Nigerians have been asked to show proof of any money anywhere and anti corruption bodies would go after it. Haba! Asking the mouse to catch fat cats! I think it should be the other way round. Go after their cash and belongings and let them account for it. That is why these countries have laws against money laundering.

There are so many projects the loot could be invested in, other than being squandered.
If it is spent to open a business, we can say at least gainful employment is created. No matter what we say about Abiola, he created jobs, to his own credit.
That money could have been used to create first class hospitals and solid returns could have been made. Americans and Europeans are going to first class hospitals in Asia for elective surgery that are too expensive at home while Nigerians travel out for headache.
Private schools investment is not so risky to make them so expensive. One wonders what they teach and how any Nigerian could afford them. They all have foreign sounding names, and Nigerians can pay in any currency. Well if the market is there, share the loot! However, public schools have been reduced to daycare centers. Where is the balance?

We now have men of “timber and caliber” who have not stolen all their life. But wait!
All they did was deposit hijacked salaries, in special banks while families go desperate and hungry. As soon as another allocation is released, they replace the one in the bank while the new allocation collects interest. They dismantle the fabric of our society by denying workers the regular flow of sustenance.

This is new in Nigeria. Nobody used to mess with salary.

This other side of the coin is the destruction of families by non-payment of wages.
Husband or wife without salary goes begging or goes into private practice, “pp”. The wife tries to cover for the husband, asking for neighbors’ help - “borrow borrow”. This is the beginning of the end of family as we know it in our society. When a woman goes begging, her honor is compromised. She looses respect for the husband. When that happens, her home becomes unstable. The next victims are the children. We are now destroying our communities because morals have sunk to the lowest level, discipline and order have succumbed. These chain reactions culminated into criminal activities and prostitution in our Country and beyond. It is manifested on our street, when allocation of salary and logistics did not reach the target and police collect twenty naira as “family support” and maintenance of vehicles. It is misery and suffering, a vicious circle in the land of untapped resources because of this curse – oil discovery.

Nigerians can learn from the situation of our brothers and sisters in Diaspora, if a case study is needed. Once the man is shamed out of the house, he is castrated. The family can not hold. We are falling apart faster than we realize. The only difference is that Africa is still a village where every man is a father figure. Every child has somebody to call a father. Even that is changing.

In a depressed economy where money is not circulating, prices should fall, right?
Wrong, not in Nigeria!

If a country gets the opportunity to export its surplus product, like cassava that can grow all over Nigeria, one would think that as more cassava is produced, more jobs will be created and the jobless would have money in their pockets, right? Wrong, not in Nigeria.

It seems the Government is happy that gari is now expensive and the farmers would be richer because the high cost will spur production. Is rice more expensive in Asia because it is exported? What do we have in Nigeria to eat within the grasp of the poor man? I do not understand why we turn every blessing into a curse.

Now I am having second thoughts about exporting cassava until proper planning is in place - not until kingdom come! People can not get gari to eat. Rice is even cheaper if the poor man could afford either. How can we make provision for export without corresponding increase in production? Cooperative farming by giving grants and revolving loan to agriculture graduates and farmers should have preceded export. On one of his foreign trips after the 1999 election, it was Obasanjo who asked foreign Governments if “na democracy we go shop?” We all clapped for him.

Hunger changes man into unpredictable animal. The days you asked children to eat well before drinking is gone. A woman had to confess that she had to put more pepper in food so that her children could drink more water as they eat. Nigerians skip meals certain part of the day and label it: 0-1-1 or 0-1-0 or 0-0-1.
It was Umaru Diko who said he had not seen a Nigerian picking from the dust bins as American poor picked from the trash cans. That was a prediction then, a reality now. What is the Agriculture Minister trying to tell us about gari? He needs to declare his asset and forfeit his surplus. He will then realize that the price of gari is not funny.

What is wrong? We all know what is wrong, jo! How can we correct it is the question. “Talk to me kangbo. Ti o ba so fun mi, ma so fun e” - a Hotel Bobby, Caban Bambo slang made popular by a brother learning how to speak Yoruba in the sixties.

STARTING from today (as if I am Obasanjo), anyone who wants to hold public office, even as a dog catcher (majamaja) must forfeit his/her surplus assets. It must be repeated at the end of every term or change of position or every tax year. A relative who got transferred assets or “gift” must forfeit it and be punished for receiving stolen property.

I have noticed that it is the rich who apply for Government programs (house, land etc.) in Nigeria. If land that were taken from families for the purpose of establishing Government Reservation Areas (common good?) are not needed anymore, it should revert to the owners. Even properties of students returning from abroad which had got stuck at the Ports were also sold to the rich. Could it be because these policies are made and tailored for filthy rich instead of dwindling middle class and the poor?

So, any application to any level of Government, even for a parking permit, land, house, vehicle license must show, not only tax clearance (not cooked) as it is now done but must be willing to forfeit any surplus twice above his or her salary declared.

This is not new; Murtala Mohamed declared his assets and forfeited the surplus. That did not stop Professor Ohanbamu of the University of Benin from taking him to the court.

One of our Governors, while living in the US, had to forfeit about half a million dollars in his account to the US Government because his “lawyers advised” him that it might be more expensive to fight it. Well, let us mimic and copy that. If you can not account for it, it belongs to the Government.

Ribadu claimed that there are 20 Governors laundering money into foreign accounts, apart from the one that was caught red handed. There are local government chairmen who have switched the use of cocoa bags to carrying naira. If we block them at home and block them outside Nigeria, there will be less incentive to steal. What good is money a Nigerian can not spend?

Politicians award themselves allowances for trips inside and outside Nigeria indiscriminately as if they govern in Europe or America. Where they got their standard or guidelines from baffles me. That is the petrol that flames the anger of the people. I do not have to be from the South-south areas where environmental pollution has made fishing and farming impossible to be mad.

We must commend the Judge who granted strict bail condition to Tafa Balogun, but we must take a few steps further. All the sureties must declare their assets or forfeit the surplus. That will instill discipline among Nigerians that if you are going to stick out your neck, you must be cleaned, excuse me, I mean almost clean.

The who and who of Nigeria who asked Obasanjo to release the son of Abacha should be called upon to declare their assets or forfeit the surplus. If that was done, Abacha would either still be in jail or his sureties would be holding empty bags. Those standing by, for Dariye when immunity ends will have something to learn from.

All those who paid for Ikoyi houses must account for the money. If the bank gave it to them, there must be collateral (and a down payment) for that kind of money. Otherwise we have the reason why these banks go belly up. Another reason for investigation.

I do not understand why they can not find all the contractors who took Government (our) money and run. Before giving them contract, they must produce sureties or collateral with their fancy cars and houses, a lawful way to forfeit their surplus.

All those seeking titles in the communities as chiefs, in the churches and mosques must also declare their assets or forfeit the surplus for the sake of the poor. Nigerians figure that they can steal and give a percentage to Obas, Obis, Emirs, mosques and churches. Then, can wipe their sins off the slate. Pay off their sins.

I am not sure if you are counting how much money we would have made so far, but it seems like billions to me. Once we go after their assets, the crooks will come forward to redeem themselves or forfeit……… Agaracha must come back.

In the so called civilized countries, they have whistleblower law. You can get one to certain percentage of the money reported and recovered. We can do that in Nigeria but with the nuisance law in case of those who want to report their enemy for spite.

I am not under the illusion that I will be accepted as a poor man in Nigeria either but the masses are so angry, they can not identify their enemies or too scared to. They also claimed that the professionals, files pushers, are the ones who rationalize the actions of their fat bosses while they starve to death. “Who need enemies, with friends like that?”

My confession is that I enjoyed some of those hospitalities too. I had official use of donated UN, UNICEF, UNFPA or CVU car with a driver. When I realized that the drivers usually came late to take me to work, without my own car, I opted for molue bus from FESTAC Town to Yaba. But I continued to use the official car for field trips to States close to Lagos, and sometimes drive the small Volkswagen.

I used to enjoy the slang, idioms and music in those molue buses. Especially the conversation, Nigerians can strike conversation with one another even if they have never met before. We would talk about those who stole millions with pens (Nobody could count to billion dollar or naira then.) Compared to those who stole hundreds of naira, that faced firing squad. Pen robbery was more damaging to Nigeria than armed robbery?

It took me a while to realize that I was the butt of their jokes! Some would come in and mess up my suit. I first thought it was an accident, so I took it graciously. As they told me to catch a cab if I did not like it, I got the message. Frankly, I could not afford a cab everyday on level ten.

Later, I found out that the car drivers were not happy with me because they could not collect passenger before coming for me at home and after dropping me at home. By rejecting their service, I deprived them of making extra money.

My mistake was that I did not bring a car with me. When I finally bought my tiny car from car loan, I was so glad that I could go to Surulere to fetch water with enough Jerry cans. When I first left Nigeria, there was water running from the faucet and electricity was constant. We used to exchange fabulous stories (fabu) under the street lights.

My Suzuki Alto was a three cylinder car. One of my female colleagues joked after test driving it with a blessing that as the “only car in town” I would face problems nobody did. I certainly got kicks out of the fact that money bags wanted to buy it at my price. I told them – your money can’t touch this.

There was Biola, the sweeper of my office who could not understand why I got to work earlier than everyone. I thought I came on time. I also found out that they thought my wife must be kicking me out early everyday. After coming late, she would get so mad at me for getting to work before her. She would start sweeping if I could not leave the office fast enough for her.

So, I might have seen myself as a poor man since middle class had been wiped out, Nigerians might have seen me differently. After all, we used to get Shagari rice, milk, oil etc, at reduced price and water delivered to my tank - another confession!

Nevertheless, I can not understand why people see themselves as filthy rich with so many poor people around them. I feel some guilt when I see helpless poor people. That could be me. There was a time there were no homeless people in Canada and I was surprised to see them in the US, the richest Country in the world. In terms of number and percentage, we have to feel guilty in Nigeria. Conspicuous spenders are amused to see their fellow men bow, Rankadede.

If we can shut off conspicuous spending, there will be less desire to steal. Where are you going to show off? Outside Nigeria where nobody knows your name? Unless you present your ID and where you got your money from.

If you drive expensive cars, you better have a solid job to back it up. As Mark Foreman, the police investigator during O.J Simpson trial said – if you are a Blackman, you better wear a $1000.00 dollar suit in that car with presentable credentials. It was racial profiling.

Buying a house outside Nigeria in those days was not easy either. You had to make sure your coworkers do not know. They might become jealous of a foreigner because they had none, as they spend their money on vacation and other luxury, while we saved. There was this friend of mine, a West Indian, who got fed up. He declared at work that he just bought another house, the biggest in the neighborhood. He could care less about how his coworkers felt. That was his own sweat and hard work and if anyone tried to harass him, he would fight to protect his job. A hard working man should have nothing to fear.

I heard some of the rich Nigerians were moving their money to Canada, hoping it will be safer than US. Let them. No comment. Some may even move it to South America. The more they move the money, the less the chance of seeing it again. Cuba may be better!

In Nigeria we do not work as hard as we do outside. We come back home and become oppressors contrary to what we preached and protested against when we were outside. As a friend told me, outside Nigeria you have to work for dollars and pounds. In Nigeria, your workers do and you spend. No place like home, eh?

I am really surprised when I see some of the most dedicated people outside Nigeria turned into kleptomania once they land on Nigerian soil. Some of the oppressed consider it a national cake, and can not wait to get there and steal their share. It is greed and the ease of getting away with stealing. Operations declare your assets or forfeit the surplus will instill fear of being caught into us.

By curbing conspicuous spending, the pressure on our people, especially youths to live up to unsustainable standard will be gone. Who knows, sanity may return to my dear Country.

Posted by Administrator at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2005

The Middle-Belt/South-South Alliance and the Spirit of J.S. Tarka

by Aonduna Tondu --- About a year and a half ago, in the light of a nagging suspicion that much of the pro-Middle-Belt advocacy had been hijacked by influences that were more interested in feathering their political nest than in the over-arching interests of the people, I wrote an article to denounce this dangerous trend by, amongst other things, warning of its implications for the polity. The title of my commentary then was “Wither the Middle-Belt?”. In it, I drew the reader’s attention to the fact that some groups and individuals claiming to be fighting for the interests of the so-called minority people of the region had by their curious ways effectively discarded the J.S. Tarkar spirit of impassioned people-based advocacy and had thus invariably become willing tools in a macabre game of political supremacy on the part of power-hungry operators. Tapping into a well of otherwise genuine grievances, some notable figures of minority advocacy have for long sought to exploit the persuasive authority of legitimate contestation for obviously selfish or parochial objectives.

Today, it would seem that the pro-Middle-Belt advocacy wants to be seen as playing a more dominant national role in the current dispensation. At least that is what the delegates to the first Middle-Belt/South-South Summit of April 22, 2005 would have us believe. To the extent that this supposed alliance between the ‘minority’ groups of the two regions claims to work for greater unity within a more equitable and therefore more stable polity, it is only proper that the actions of some of the principal actors whose political conduct I took to task in my earlier article as well as the rhetoric of their South-South partners in the new alliance be confronted with a reiterative response which should serve as a cautionary tale for all Nigerians.

So, although my reaction here will focus on the recent inaugural summit in Abuja involving individuals or groups from the Middle-Belt and the South-South, it will at the same time point out some of the lessons to be gleaned from the type of pro-Middle-Belt politicking that I did chastise in “Wither the Middle-Belt?”. For demonstrative purposes, I will be required to quote extensively from that piece. I plead for the reader’s patience and understanding.

As to be expected, the Middle-Belt/South-South summit organizers released a communiqué in which they harped on the main objectives of their alliance.

After serious and in-depth deliberations on various issues, the following declarations and resolutions were made: that the Northern and Southern minorities of the Middle Belt and South-South zones constitute the bedrock of this country, having made great sacrifices for the survival, political stability and economic well-being of Nigeria.

We believe in a united Nigeria in which Nigerians are their brothers’ keepers and this great gathering is a statement of faith and commitment to the continued existence of corporate Nigeria.
We affirm the secularity and plurality of our country and, therefore, see the necessity to tolerate and respect our differences within the context of true federalism. The summit acknowledges the need to consciously build an enduring solidarity amongst our peoples.
We are committed to the enthronement of justice, equity and fairness, throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We lend our unwavering support to the on-going campaign against corruption in all its ramifications and shades and we consequently express our desire that transparency and accountability be enthroned as uncompromising values in the interest of sustainable national development.
We advocate balanced and very effective policies for the protection and wise management of our environment, so as to ensure sustainable development. The summit resolved to set up committees to work out details of our cooperation.

These are noble objectives and most Nigerians should support the sentiments conveyed by them. As a matter of fact, there is nothing novel in the contents of the communiqué. The principles espoused therein can be said to be a restatement of the principles in the Nigerian constitution. That notwithstanding, the fact that this gathering reportedly attracted the political elites from the two zones at this critical point in time when jostling for the 2007 presidency would seem to be the single most important preoccupation amongst Nigerian pols has led observers to believe that bare-faced jockeying for power and its spoils is the dominant consideration of the conveners of the event amongst whom are said to be (Rtd.) Lt.-General Danjuma. In his address, Danjuma reportedly talked about empowering the two zones. “The alliance will seek to ignite a fresh hope that together, we can make a positive difference in the various contests for national power”, he noted.

The point needs to be made that as one of the main allies of President Obasanjo and his incompetent regime, Danjuma has played controversial roles in the regime’s violent dealings with minorities in both the Middle-Belt and the South-South. It was under his stewardship as Defence minister in charge of the army that Obasanjo’s soldiers ransacked and committed untold atrocities against minorities in Odi, Zaki-Biam and surrounding villages. In the case of the Benue massacres, like his ally and friend, Obasanjo, Danjuma has not publicly expressed any remorse for the crimes.

As I write this article, the victims of the orchestrated mayhem against the Tivs continue to suffer extreme hardship and neglect. Beyond his born-again antics – a sad reminder of Obasanjo’s sectarian posturing – one has no recollection of Danjuma calling for justice in favour of the victims of the 2001 Tiv genocide. So, it is a contradiction of sorts that this Obasanjo acolyte should today convene a gathering whereby equity, justice and the empowerment of minorities are enunciated as key concerns. A genuine advocacy for empowerment should necessarily include a transparent rejection of impunity by a backward tyranny. This, the likes of Danjuma and their fellow wanderers in Nigeria’s troubled political terrain appear not ready to do any time soon. Through their actions and inactions, they elicit our suspicion and even disdain.

There is not a shred of doubt that the people of the Middle-Belt and the South-South have made tremendous contributions and continue to do so for the development, unity and corporate existence of Nigeria. This fact was eloquently stated at the first Middle-Belt/South-South Summit by a former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon. As perhaps the most enduring living testimony to Nigerian statesmanship, Gowon speaks to the reality that what makes a truly great leader is not one’s ethnic or social origins. In a most trying period in our country’s history, Gowon managed to restore stability to a fractious nation by appealing to the people’s common sense while at the same time laying emphasis on our shared humanity. Through the policies of his regime, he sought to transcend the myopia of sectional or ethnocentric militancy. Under his leadership, Nigeria enjoyed relative prosperity. His was an era of promise and great hope for the citizenry. In a political tour de force which in itself was both an expression of foresight and deference to the will of the majority, Yakubu Gowon instituted a far-reaching rebuilding of Nigeria into a twelve-state structure the immediate effect of which would be the dousing of ethno-religious tensions in the land. But evoking this positive legacy should not prevent us from alluding to some of its failures. For instance, Gowon procrastinated and needlessly toyed with organizing democratic elections and in the process, did inadvertently help in laying the groundwork for the emergence of the type of largely unpatriotic kleptocracy one has witnessed with especially Babangida, Abacha and now Obasanjo.

That said, it needs to be mentioned that there is one critical element of truth that seemed to have escaped the scrutiny of Gowon and the other participants at the minorities summit, namely, the consistent refusal or failure on the part of the elites of the two zones and those of the other zones in general to take to task the type of irresponsible political leadership Nigerians have lived under at the various levels of governance in the past three decades in particular. To a large extent, the crisis of leadership involving pro-minority advocacy in the Middle-Belt these days is symptomatic of a much deeper moral crisis plaguing the entire civil society in Nigeria. In stark contrast to the broad-minded, masses-oriented struggles of the likes of Chief Tarkar, today’s civil society advocates tend to box themselves in cranky, sanctimonious, self-centred power-mongering whereby the provincial demagoguery of self-proclaimed local champions has replaced the enlightened statesmanship of yesterday’s political greats. This nugget from my commentary, “Wither the Middle-Belt?”, is explicit enough:

Today, a myriad of groups with names and profiles which their so-called leaders or “big ogas” will be hard pressed to say what exactly they stand for are laying claim to pro-Middle-Belt advocacy. One may argue that the public behaviour of the Middle-Belt activist or “big oga” is reflective of the wayward mien of the average Nigerian politician. This is cold comfort for a people who, as can be attested in the case of the Tivs of Benue, have historically suffered more than most groups because of bad government at both the federal and local levels. Yet, despite the status of the Tivs as a marginalised people, the current crop of Tiv political leaders have generally failed to make a meaningful impact nationally and locally, not to talk of positively influencing the lives of the average Tiv or Middle-Belter. Indeed, it is fair to say that the relative irrelevance of the Tiv political class at the level of national political engagement today mirrors the condition of general neglect and underdevelopment which Tiv land and its people have historically been subjected to since independence. If we agree that politics is about making our lives better and more fulfilling, we must draw the painful conclusion that, to a large extent, the Tiv politicians of today have individually and collectively failed to live up to the minimum expectations of the people they claim to represent. Under normal circumstances, due to a host of salient factors and in particular the existence of a significant local intellectual elite and the demographic position of the Tivs as perhaps the fourth or fifth largest ethnic group in Nigeria and the largest in what traditionally has been understood to mean the Middle-Belt, Tivs should play leadership roles in all the strategic sectors of our national life. That their elites have been unable to work more closely together in the realization of the aspirations of their people is a telling indictment of the wisdom ( or lack of it ) of our present crop of so-called federal politicians in particular. To have allowed the likes of Solomon Lar and Dan Suleiman to virtually hijack Middle-Belt minority advocacy and politics which they have arguably used and abused as grotesque instruments for the negotiation of personal favors, or worse, as weapons in the hands of a dictator like Obasanjo is most worrisome indeed. As is the case with the Nigerian political class in general, there exists a troubling disconnect between the Middle-Belt advocacy elite and the legitimate concerns of those they claim to speak for.

This indictment of the pro-Middle-Belt advocacy has lessons for all Nigerians. The proponents of a Middle-Belt/South-South alliance in particular cannot afford to ignore the message of that admonition. Only today, I read an editorial by a Lagos-based daily. It touched on the food crisis in the country and the direct responsibility of politicians in this neglect of a vital sector of the economy. What that means is that the average citizen has no respite whatsoever. While South-South local tin gods today boast of having realized an electoral heist in 2003 which they unabashedly baptized a “seaslide” – a local term for the electoral ‘419’ perpetrated by essentially Obasanjo and his PDP, the rest of the country is grappling with the reckless profligacy of public officials, an epileptic power supply, an increasingly treacherous road infrastructure, decaying industries, a comatose health sector and dilapidated education system. Surely, the ‘big ogas’ of the Middle-Belt, the South-South as well as their counterparts elsewhere in Nigeria, should be aware of this state of affairs.

Despite the attempt by Professor Itsey Sagay to seek consensus around the issue of resource control, at the end of the day, one is left with the déjà vu impression of being treated to largely cosmetic measures by the conveners of first minorities summit. For the Middle-Belt/South-South alliance to be taken seriously, its proponents will do more than indulge in largely nostalgic chest-beating. For starters, they will dispel the impression that the lust for power and its perks is the over-riding concern of advocates of their alliance. Crucially, they must avoid a “we versus them” type of politicking that has been the stock- in- trade of the current Obasanjo dictatorship. The likes of Danjuma, Baba Iyabo, Babangida , Bode George and Anenih have been obscenely riding on the Nigerian gravy train and seem determined to hang on to their nouveaux riches status. They would go to any length, including breaking the law, to ensure that a friendly government is installed in Abuja after 2007. In the spirit of a viable federation, minority rights groups and their representatives should reject the anachronism of regionalist advocacy and the schisms it fosters. Democrats must insist on a definition of Nigerian citizenship that is inclusive in nature by repudiating, amongst other things, those tendencies that seek to needlessly constrain us by erecting mythical walls of social separation. Nigerians would do well to ponder this appreciation of J.S. Tarkar and the essence of his politics. It is culled from “Wither the Middle-Belt?”.

It goes without saying that if he were alive today, the man who is fondly referred to as J.S. would be deeply pained by what has actually happened to the movement he helped nurture in the best tradition of political activism and social responsibility. Before he departed from this world, Tarkar had established a legacy so solid that he was confident enough to opt for accommodation with those whose practices he had selflessly and steadfastly fought. His foibles notwithstanding, he was first and foremost a nation builder who erected bridges of consensus across the Nigerian cultural divide by actively seeking understanding with the likes of Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Gowon, Azikiwe and Enahoro. It is ironical that the early signs of centrifugal rascality against what he stood for would emanate from within the confines of his Tiv land through acts of orchestrated blackmail and pedestrian heckling which had little or nothing to do with honest dissent. It is a sad commentary on the Nigerian political culture that those who have made a living as agents of political rascality and brigandage are the ones jostling today to call the shots locally and nationally. Benue, and by extension the Middle Belt and the rest of the country have a patriotic duty to rid our polity of its army of scoundrels and opportunists whose conduct only serves to diminish the J.S. Tarkar vision of modern Nigeria.

Aonduna Tondu
New York

Posted by Administrator at 05:44 PM | Comments (1)

May 09, 2005

The Internet and the Changing Face of Journalism Practice in Nigeria

by Uche Nworah Times and things have indeed changed, globalisation has since become a buzz word, and has brought with it change and competition, people’s lives have been variously affected either for the better or for the worse, depending on the side of the divide one finds himself or herself, although Africa and the rest of the developing world (sounds better than the clichéd 3rd world designation) may argue that they are hard done by, by the avenging and scavenging onslaught of the multinational corporations through their invasion and incursion into their markets with cheap mass produced goods. Another reverse colonialism then? Maybe.

I have always been fascinated by this unfolding drama, and sometimes feel grateful to God that it is happening in my time. The change has been sudden, quick and rapid; it has caught many people, companies and countries unawares.

In addition to people’s clamour for change, rising income levels as a result of improved education, the efforts of silicon valley techies and their technological strides (the internet, personal computers and laptops, PDAs, e-commerce, m-commerce and such other digital devices and systems), the other factors identified to be driving globalisation forward are changing consumer tastes and fashion, the advent of faster means of travel and communication pioneered by CNN and their breaking news tradition, although we now have other global media such as Al-Jazeera, Fox News, BBC, SKY etc, the increasing integration of countries into regional groups for example the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) etc, and also the rise of super corporations and global giants such as Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Nike etc. There is also the greed factor which critics of globalisation have used every now- and -then to advance their argument, the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organisation (WTO) protests readily come to mind.

I am quite interested in the kind of influence globalisation and consequently the internet is having or has had on the professions. The sports profession (industry?) is a good case study, sports and football as we know it today has completely changed from the passionate way it used to be played in the past, this is the day and age of the football mercenaries, and their greedy managers, footballers like David Beckham, Ronaldo and Ronaldhino have since assumed iconic status and command multi-million pound/dollar pay check for their exploits both on- and -of the pitch, a far cry from the pittance nigerian footballers earned in the days of Segun ‘mathematical’ Odegbami and ‘chairman’ Christian Chukwu. Footballers no longer have any issue with taking a short walk across town to sign for a rival clubside, today we have the likes of Sol Campbell signing to play for Arsenal from their north London arch rivals, Tottenham Hotspurs. Also Ronaldo while still contracted to Barcelona didn’t even think twice before selling his speed and feet to Real Madrid.

In this article, I will be focussing on the likely impact of the internet on journalism practice in Nigeria. Although the term journalism has been traditionally used to refer to news practitioners in the print media (journals, newspapers, magazines), it will however be used in this context to also include electronic media (Radio, TV, Film, Web etc) practitioners, my reason for adopting this blanket description is that the term journalism, is now popularly associated with news practitioners in both the print and electronic media.

One does not need to search very far to begin to see some of such impact, to their credit, some Nigerian media organisations have already established a strong presence in cyberspace, amongst the pioneers are The Guardian Newspapers (, The Thisday Newspaper group (, The Independent Newspaper group (, New Age Newspaper ( and so on.

These media houses have continued to be veritable sources of news and information to both Nigerians at home and in the diaspora, the Guardian’s website and chartroom at inception was a rallying point for Nigerians at home and abroad to meet and discuss common issues of national importance. It can be said therefore that the Nigerian media are measuring up with their counterparts in other parts of the world by their maintaining strategic presence on the information super highway. However, any such attempt at ‘rubbing shoulders’ with the western media stops just with the internet sites some Nigerian media organisations have managed to set up, as other facilities and resources are still largely unavailable to Nigerian journalists, for example company sponsored laptop computers with mobile internet access, digital recording devices, open access mobile telephones, plus salaries that take into consideration global trends, market prices and national inflation rates.

At the heart of the issue of the Internet providing the Nigerian media with a wider audience to, is also the problem of reduced cover price revenues and advertisements. The later being closely linked to each other. Nigerians popularised the FAN (free readers association of Nigeria) concept, a term and acronym used to refer to the practice of locals congregating around newspaper vendors’ tables to read newspapers and magazines for free without actually buying any, probably a reflection of the socio-economic circumstances and intellectual awareness of the people that indulge in such activities (the FANatics). It may seem now that such practices have now been elevated and taken to another level with the advent of the internet, since the free readers or punters now only need to log on and then freely read any newspaper or magazine of their choice, this obviously will have a huge impact on revenues as less hard copies will be bought.

The matter is largely compounded by the fact that Nigerian advertisers have not yet started taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the internet, to advertise their products and services in the websites of some of these media organisations, only a few advertisers are doing this at the moment, it was hoped that such advertisements may actually increase so that the free news now readily available on the internet can be subsidised, and also to make up for the shortfall from the hard copy sales.

While there are no hard figures from any sources in Nigeria I can use to support my assertions, I will however site the global internet advertising revenues, which has grown steadily to over $8billion annually (source: Price Water House annual internet advertising reports 2004). According to Tom Hyland, Partner and Chair, New Media Group, PricewaterhouseCoopers “Single digit, sequential growth demonstrates the industry has left behind the large revenue spikes that characterized the early years. We’re now looking at a maturing, stable industry that inspires further investment by large, traditional marketers,”

It can be argued that in a way, the internet has led to a decrease in the revenue of some of the media organisations in Nigeria, while at the same time increasing their costs, as money would have to be invested into setting up such web sites, and also paying the staff that would constantly maintain them, however if we are to go by global trends which foretell an increase in internet advertising usage and revenues, then any incidental costs will eventually be offset by the expected advertising revenues, hopefully.

Regarding the way that journalists do their (news gathering) work, the internet has made things easier, according to Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye, a member of the editorial board of the Independent newspaper group, ‘journalists can now file in their reports easily from any part of Nigeria where there is internet access, all they need to do is go to any nearby internet café and at the touch of a button, the news report is at the editor’s desk, ready to be served fresh to the readers’.

Gone are the days of notepads and blue pens, tools of the trade that now belong to the past, although the under - resourced nature of some Nigerian media organisations have meant that some journalists have continued to cling unto such relics of the past, just like the old journalism days and golden years of Iwe Irohin (Nigeria’s first newspaper) and the Nnamdi Azikiwe owned West African Pilot. In the words of Mr Greg Obong-Oshotse, a Nigerian media veteran, and former special assistant to Mrs Maryam Babangida (wife of Nigeria’s former military president), ‘journalism practice in those days was a hands-on vocation, of course with the aid of the good old reporters’ notebook, midgets (tape recorders), and the ball point pen. Journalists are trained to write their stories on the move, inside taxis or buses, the slow process of news gathering then made deadline a dreaded word in most newsrooms’.

Mr. Oshotse, who is now the Europe and North American editor of the Daily Independent newspaper, believes that nigerian journalists to a large extent still grapple with the problems of poor facilities, saying that their professional life is still not as rosy as that of their western counterparts, especially in this technological age.

The internet has also provided Nigerian journalists with international exposure, they no longer have to travel to New York or London to be read or heard, they can file a story from the remotest part of Nigeria and the story posted on the internet, this then exposes both their writing style, journalistic ethics and professionalism to the scrutiny of both national and international audiences. Such benefits obviously comes with challenges, that of advanced journalistic skills which is acquired through practice and a programme of continuos professional development (CPD), it is largely unclear to what extent CPD is part of the journalism profession in Nigeria, especially because of the cost factor. Several media organisations still struggle to pay staff salaries and do not have enough money left to invest in staff training and equipments. There is also a deficiency in the quality of some of the graduates from the mass communication schools in Nigerian universities, colleges and polytechnics. Some of these mass communication departments have no fully operational media suites and student newspapers where students can translate the theories learnt in the classroom into practice. The Daily Times Institute of journalism located in Ogba, Ikeja Lagos used to be a standard bearer in journalism education in Nigeria but the institution has now fallen on hard times, especially because of the financial distress of the parent organisation (The Daily Times media group), which has since been privatised by the Nigerian government and sold to the Fidelis Anosike –led Folio Communications for 1 Billion naira ($650m) under mysterious circumstances.
The new owners (Folio Communications) have been accused of underhand asset stripping tactics, and is currently embroiled legal mitigation with some of the organisation’s key stakeholders, most especially the employee union.

Dr Jideofor Adibe, a media analyst and publisher of the London based journal African Renaissance, however believes that lack of adequate training and upgrading of the skills of Nigerian and other African journalists may continue to hinder their progress and recognition in the world stage, according to him ‘it is sad that some African media organisations are yet to embrace information technology fully in their operations, more so when such technologies can now be easily and cheaply sourced and accessed’. However, his views may be applicable to some reputable and buoyant media organisations but may not ring true for the several others who are still finding it difficult to maintain an operational office, in addition to being able to pay the salaries of key administration staff.

In addition to the international exposure of their news stories and articles, journalists in Nigeria are now able to also sample freely the writings of their counterparts in the established western media such as the Wall street journal, the Chicago tribune, the financial times etc. Doing so will lead to their copying best practices and also motivate and challenge them to work harder in order to become like their western counterparts.

There are also fears that the internet has greatly reduced the worth of news products, because of the wide and cheap availability of such news products, some nigerian newspapers and magazines have been known to freely cull and publish articles and news stories from the websites of other newspapers (mainly from the western countries), without actually paying any royalties, while also denying the writers of such articles and news stories of the rights to their intellectual properties, these kinds of behaviour may seem to be only obtainable in the developing countries, probably as a result of lack of skills or adequate in-house writers to fill the pages of every published edition, also there is lack of political will to enforce both national and international laws on copyrights and propriety. In this regard, it can be said that the internet has made life a bit easier for the Nigeria publishers but increasingly as the whole world converges to a global village with commonly adopted laws and statutes, nigerian newspapers who are used to such ‘easy life’ may soon discover that they won’t get away easily with any such story lifting.

Some people have argued that the internet has to some extent greatly reduced the ‘worth’ and ‘value’ of nigerian journalists, this is because of the wide availability of internet bloggers and pundits who are more than happy to have their articles and views published in the newspapers, these pseudo-journalists would not normally demand any payment and get their fulfilment from their ‘one minute of fame’. They normally would have views on just about anything, and usually written from a professional standpoint, thereby widening the debate for social, economic and political reforms even further.

Therefore, there is no hurry on the part of newspaper publishers to improve the salaries and working conditions of Nigerian journalists, who seem condemned to a life of demanding for ‘brown envelopes’ (goodwill money put in brown envelopes as inducement for publishing news stories and press releases), the monthly salary of an average journalist in nigeria is still around 40,000 naira ($350). General working conditions are still largely poor compared to what obtains in South Africa and in the developed countries.

When asked why he spends valuable time writing for free on the Internet, one of such established Internet pundits Ndubueze Godson 111, a regular on some Nigerian websites, he said that he writes… His views in a way reflect the views of the many Internet pundits, a phenomenon that is steadily on the increase.

Another known Internet pundit and columnist at, Hank Eso on the other hand believes that ‘despite the vast incursion of web pundits and presumed journalists, the field of journalism is (still) well and active’. He does not share the view that the Internet pundits are depriving the traditional and more established journalists of their livelihood, describing journalists who make such claims as being ‘unserious’. On why he spends valuable time writing for free on the Internet, Mr. Eso says that it is to promote dialogue and understanding and also the ultimate way for him to express his freedom of expression. He believes that the Internet offers ‘infinite possibilities in creativity and outreach’. He savours the freedom and accessibility (between the writer and the audience) which the internet gives to writers like him, as they are not under any kind of deadline pressure associated with traditional news rooms, according to him ‘As things are, I am at liberty to decide, when to write, what to write about, how long and with what regularity… I cannot find yesterday’s newspaper in my house but on the web, I can find news from 1945, instantly’.

There is a special group of people who appear to be particularly affected by the growing trend of internet punditry, the so called freelance writers and journalists, these are the people that used to be paid depending on the stories they write and where such stories are published, it appears that their breed is a dying one as it does not seem likely that faced with dwindling fortunes and resources, any nigerian publisher or newspaper editor will be willing to pay for their writings when there are the internet pundits waiting in the wings with their own articles and stories, Jimoh odutola, one of such freelance journalists however warns of the dangers of such practices, according to him there is now a kind of ‘dumbing’ down in the media, where ‘people without any formal journalism training and skills now dominate the pages of most newspapers, with bolts - and - screw type articles’, in reference to the lack of journalistic writings of some of the articles now published in some newspapers. It is either Mr Odutola is right or his, is just a rash reaction of someone whose profession is on the brink of extinction.

Another major trend that has emerged in journalism practice in Nigeria as regards the Internet is the rise of independent media, these Internet sites are now competing with the established newspapers’ websites in the provision of news and information to Nigerians at home and abroad. The websites are usually based and operated from either Europe or America and are already winning in the ratings stakes, as some of them claim daily visits which are quite higher than the figures the established newspaper organisations will even dream of, Adebola Mogaji, the owner of, one of such fledgling websites in a recent statement claimed that his site receives an average hit of 60,000 visitors daily. Philip Adekunle, the administrator of another popular website, does not believe that the independent websites are directly in competition with the established media organisations, according to him…’the independent websites are providing a service to nigerians and the international community, we have now become a first source for information on Nigeria by both Nigerians and non-Nigerians who are attracted by the divergent and varied views expressed in some of these websites’. He also believes that both the independent websites and their more established and traditional counterparts can exist alongside each other, noting that his website, just like some of the other independent websites all provide direct news links to the established newspaper organisations, signifying a partnership of sorts rather that rivalry and competition.

Some of the other popular independent websites include,, BNW: Biafra Nigeria World,,,, etc. while some of these independent websites are national in outlook, there are also many of them that appeal only to particular ethnic audience. A frequent visitor to some of these websites but who wishes to remain anonymous however, thinks that some of these websites have no business existing, as they are not professionally run, he also believes that some of the websites are funded by nigerian politicians, especially those who have no media access in Nigeria or have lost credibility, and have now hired hacks or jobbers do touch up their images and raise their profile using these websites, he also said that eventually especially in 2007, the true motives for setting up the websites will be made known to nigerians when they begin to peddle the views of their masters and promote only their interests in preparation for the elections.

Followers of the political events in Nigeria in the last decade, will remember the ‘dark ages’ experienced by nigerian journalists at the hands of the Abacha - led military junta, a period that saw nigeria’s finest journalists fleeing the country, and several media organisations shut down and proscribed, or their owners thrown into jail, that period also witnessed sheer bravado and heroics by the very few newspapers and magazines that were then operating underground and the journalists that stayed, most worthy of mention are Tell, Tempo and The News magazines, whose running battles with soldiers and Abacha’s goons have now become folk history. It is very unlikely that the Nigerian media and journalists will experience such campaign of destruction and terror ever again, there wouldn’t be any need to ban or proscribe the newspapers, because with the internet, both the independent websites and the established newspapers will be up and running 24/7, more so since some of the websites are domiciled abroad, the internet is therefore a good device, that can be readily deployed under such extreme and harsh media conditions, hopefully Nigerians will not have to relive nor go through such moments again.

To some extent, photojournalists in Nigeria are now able to use Internet facilities such as emails to upload and email their pictures to their newsrooms from distant locations, Vera Odjugo, the London corespondent for Ovation International Magazine, Nigeria’s leading society magazine says that the internet has really made her job easier, according to her ‘I am able to cover an event using my digital camera, and download the pictures onto my computer, after which I will email them immediately to our headquarters in Ghana’. According to her, this is the reason why Nigerians are served fresh photos of events, weddings and parties from around the world on Ovation magazine every month.

In concluding, I want to say that since the internet is still evolving in Nigeria, and is yet to reach the adoption levels already achieved in the western countries, there will still be other unfolding consequences on the practice of journalism in Nigeria, but for sure there will be no going back, in the words of Hank Eso, ‘The web is a way of life, which we can no longer escape’. It is my humble submission that journalists and newspaper organisations should embrace its use fully while at the same time taking full advantages of the opportunities it presents, as can be seen and is already the case in the developed countries.

Uche Nworah is a doctoral candidate at the University of Greenwich, London with research interests in country branding and diasporas. He also teaches business and marketing at Newvic, London.

Posted by Administrator at 03:04 PM | Comments (1)

May 02, 2005

Obasanjo’s War Kite – Igbo on the brink

by Peter Opara --- When Matthew Olusegun Okikiolahan Aremu Et Cetera Obasanjo commenced his National Distraction Talk-Shop (not about the illegality of his Three Monkey Regime and his 419 election) a couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article entitled – Agarachaa Must Come Back – to Aburi.

That article was prefaced beginning with the point that – Back then in Aburi, Ghana, in 1967, young Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu took care of business, Nigeria’s business.

Nigeria’s business then and now, consists of – ethnic chicanery, ethnic rancor, ethnic discord, ethnic conflagration, ethnic blood spilling – nothing normal, but still Nigeria’s business; unique they are, and fit for inhabitants of a cage fabricated by Gringos in Britain for Bantus in West Africa.

Nonetheless, Odumegwu-Ojukwu handled Nigeria’s unique business then deftly and superlatively such that they needed no revisiting again, and now, had those that cornered power in the British cage - Nigeria not reneged on the resulting accord – Aburi Accord - in a fit of tribal jaundice induced mental melt down.

As I write, in Lagos, extractions of peoples of Nigerian nations are at some of their usual and customary business - maiming and blood spilling – this time between Yoruba OPC and Hausa/Fulani Arewa.

News is that arrests are yet to be made of those engaged in this business this time. How difficult it is for authorities of the British cage.

But not so when Igbo is concerned; Igbo the people that bears the brunt of Nigeria’s business of blood, deceit and thievery. Not so even when Igbo business in the British cage - Nigeria is a peaceful affair, as that recently in which the same authorities swooped down on Igbo soccer players and spectators, MASSOB members, some of them, gaoling them for TREASON!

Yes; treason for displaying at the soccer game, the Igbo Freedom symbol – Biafra; a symbol the rest members of the British cage - Nigeria would rather go to the land beyond (I say let them) than countenance.

However, in Agarachaa Must Come Back – to Aburi, I enumerated Nigeria’s business that 32-year-old Odumegwu-Ojukwu took care, with nary a contribution from his erstwhile colleagues, among them Yakubu Gowon.

Gowon, had just usurped power to mend, he had claimed, the British cage – Nigeria that he had said only days earlier, lacked any basis for unity! He thenceforth, Gowon, like Hitler on the Holocaust, proceeded to supervise the first genocide on the African continent against the Igbo, in the British cage – Nigeria – 1966 - 1970.

Yet on this, Gowon’s Holocaust, I thought I stopped living in the real world, when I perused a piece by a Sanusi Lamido, where he asserted that Igbo were the first people to engage in ethnic cleansing in the British cage - Nigeria. Sanusi Lamido! This is for another time.

However, you might wonder where was Matthew Okikiolahan Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo, the one that now struts the British cage - Nigeria in Three Monkey Style, during the REAL TALK at Aburi Ghana in 1967.

The man was nowhere near where the talks held; he was not where decisions – Regional or National - were made either. Not that it mattered for even if he were present, he could not have contributed a diddlysquat towards the mending or soldering of the quickly ungluing British cage.

The man Aremu could not have contributed a thing, nada. A mope-up man, a cleanup man, a man now known to be totally without honor; forget his Biafra war tour – without Russian and British armament, he was and still is all belly. Let Ugly Adekunle’s rage on him flare on. There is no suggestion here that Obusonjo is better looking than Ugly Ade. The duo could draw daggers on this, too, and that will be fine.

But true, Aremu’s first real upper echelon tour – Murtala Mohammed regime, in which he was the second in command, it is now known that he was only a siddon-look member.

This should have been clear right then. Aremu looked the odd man out, in an assembly of some fit looking; ramrod straight Mohammed’s men. In their first group picture, there stood a man, upright, with his belly tilted a certain degree to the right. It was 1975, and I was only a kid. What a physique, I thought. Obusonjo

Worse still, it was known by some that Aremu was to be dumped by Mohammed just before he was assassinated for the suspicion that he – Aremu – was a peddler of inside information. This, it was believed, informed the dispatch with which General Bisala, Gomwalk and others were liquidated at Aremu’s orders. There were suspicious eyes about Aremu, and General Bisala knew quite a bit.

Now Aremu is not known to possess nerves to engage in coup d’etat or plotting thereof, even though it is on record that Abacha caught him red handed doing just that. Remember that Aremu lacked courage to step into Mohammed’s shoes.

Was not the man literally forced to fill the vacuum created by Mohammed’s death? This Aremu whose only ambition was to be a road-side mechanic, was to repeat the same feat, the Reluctant Vacuum Filler, aided by the one he had observed as having “a great capacity of mischief, for evil” – Ibrahim Babangida. Those who expect angelic deeds from the ward of Lucifer, dream on.

Could Aremu pen another “My Command” on these subjects, or is he going to wait to pen his current day “Needs” economy that many expect to enjoy only in heaven?

Please pardon my digression; the business of Nigeria Odumegwu-Ojukwu took care, consisted of meticulous proposals to mend Nigeria, and most critically for ensuring the security and protection of his fellow Igbo, whose blood other Nigerian nations peoples had tasted and longed for more.

On Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s efforts particularly of ensuring security and protection for his bloodied and traumatized people, I reasoned that whether his efforts could have averted the tragedies I enumerated in the article that affected the Igbo was open to question. This considering that there were FORCES – CIVIL AND MILITARY then and even now that were decided on one thing only – elimination of the Igbo or as many of them as was humanly possible.


I recalled that the man who now leads this British cage - Nigeria, Aremu himself had in fact sworn to ensure that the Igbo does not rise again in Nigeria – as the rise of the Igbo meant in his mind a threat to the British cage he now bestrides. This Aremu’s declaration was and still remains music to the ears of Nigeria’s JACKASSES that are bent on destroying Igbo, their culture and their tradition. And thus did Aremu become the point man for Igbo destroyers. A loose cow in a China shop Aremu may seem now, daring even his Hausa/Fulani masters, he has his eyes fixated on the prize – the objects of his neurosis - Igbo/Odumegwu-Ojukwu or Odumegwu-Ojukwu/Igbo.

Folks, there is nothing else to which you can hold a man than his words! And his actions, I might add. Any who says that he or she will ensure that you never rise again, is not your friend. That person is your ENEMY. Period.

The Yoruba man by the names Matthew Okikiolahan Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo is Igbo Enemy Number One. Aremu is on record as enemy of Igbo. Day in and day out he acts out as such, without any abilities whatsoever to self contain.

Now to all Igbo fools that do not know they are fools – the plain stupid Igbo, the conflicted Igbo, the go-along-to-get-along Igbo, the efulefu and plain ole saboteur – the many Igbo who deem themselves “civil”, “erudite” and such jazz – you know yourselves – the shameless, the political jobbers - my use of the word Jackass in reference to anything or person must have chagrined all of you.

That is fine. Truly, FOOL is the appellation that befits you, for being or trying to be civil in a jungle – Nigeria. Nigeria where everyone about you is about undoing and destroying you. You are deemed fools for none with his wits, intellect, psyche and all intact should be smiling, in of all places, a jungle – Nigeria – where at every turn, the Igbo’s jugular vein is at a risk of being severed.

In the jungle, the civil is Breakfast, lunch and Dinner for his neighbors. “I am never proud to participate in violence’ wrote Maya Angelou “yet I know that each of us must care enough for ourselves to be ready and able to come to our own self-defense”.

How about this, you the “erudite” Igbo, the “civil” Igbo, the “gracious” Igbo, and lest I forget, you the GENETICALLY RE-ENGINEERED - otherwise “DETRIBALIZED” Igbo? Your co-dwellers in the British cage - Nigeria, whose hosanna you sing to high heavens, your co-dwellers who truly know themselves, their tribe and their tongue – otherwise their language, they got together, in the National Distraction talk-shop organized by the Igbo arch enemy Aremu, and decided that your language, IGBO, shall be vaporized from the business of Nigerian affairs, the business of governing Nigeria – the cage in which you are trapped.

If one were not talking about peoples of Nigerian nations and Igbo nation, one would have shuddered and wondered how such thought made its way to a document that was to be circulated to the public. What more evil could peoples of this evil barrel conceive and act against the Igbo?

38 years ago, they tried to kill all Igbo. Igbo fought back in self-defense. But the “erudite”, “Civili(zed)” Igbo, better Igbo In Name Only (IINO) reasoning like Igbo killers, branded Igbo self-defense a fight for oil.

I have written and said so many times that there were Igbo who were hungry in Biafra and to this day do not know the reason they had no food to quench their hunger. “Look them”, as Osita Osadebay would sing, the “erudite”, the “civil(ized)” the go-along-to-get-along Igbo, mindless political jobbers and contractors.

These go-along-to-get-along Igbo, Nigeria’s JACKASSES could have starved you to death. They conceived and implemented their plan to ensure that you were dead by starvation.

Aremu’s big brother Obafemi Awolowo and his cousin Anthony Enahoro were the architect and implementers of this plan. If you were a baby then, to them, and in the words of Enahoro, you were “baby snake” that was no different from Odumegwu-Ojukwu their prime target dating back 39 years ago to present.

I know, you the “erudite’, the “civil(ized) etc is ambivalent about Odumegwu-Ojukwu, but even with all of your intelligence, you are to be told that Nigeria’s JACKASSES despise you as much as they despise Odumegwu-Ojukwu. Inside the British cage, it is the same boat for all Okekes. Your erudition, your civility, your go-along-to-get-along secures no security for you.

Again, Nigeria’s JACKASSES led by Aremu, are bent on destroying Igbo. They do not want Igbo language spoken any where in Nigeria, especially where Nigerian affairs are discussed. Yet Igbo is a nation of 44 Million effervescent brains trapped in a British cage.

Nigeria’s JACKASSES sat down and together decided that ridding Igbo language in the affairs of their cage was the way to go, the new strategy, the new bang…on Igbo.

Guess who is smiling? Okikiolahan Aremu! That is who is smiling. It is his bidding that they are doing. They just flew his kite, a test for Igbo total destruction by muting their tongue, say slashing it. What else would have the Igbo without their language?

Kanu Agabi, the man reported to be flying this Aremu’s Igbo language vaporization kite, is known to me. An Ogoja man, Agabi is one in a million Ejagham that could think of expunging Igbo language in official affairs of the British cage.

KANU! I do not doubt that some Igbo might have thought that Kanu was Igbo. Indeed, he might have hailed from Arochukwu in Igbo heartland, just as the rest from his heritage – the Ibeshis, Agabas, Igbas, Ukahs, Ikems, Agbas etc. Might not these Igbo-sounding Ejagham names, including Agabi’s be in danger of being expunged from Nigeria’s public business, too? Kanu!! Would that not be a boomerang on you, Kanu, the Aremu war kite flier?

It is worthy of note that Ejagham people in the majority were diehard Biafrans, still; they include many on self-exile abroad – among them medical doctors - for the fact that Biafra failed to materialize.

The core of Biafran Army Officers and top echelon civilians included Ejagham sons. The elegant Lt. Col Lekam Okoi; the indomitable T. Captain Ndom Egba and many others were formidable officers in Biafra’s Special Division. Among the civilians were larger than life Chief J.A. Jumbo, the venerable Chief Matthew Mbu, and so many others. The affable Ete Okoi Arikpo, it is known, was on the other side. Yet Young Ejagham sons who were studying abroad during the war raised funds in the streets of the U.S, Canada, and Israel etc., to support Biafra. These are facts about Kanu Agabi’s heritage.

Agabi, now a kite flier for Aremu on Igbo destruction is a man who made a good name for himself in Cross River State – Calabar to be precise – as a brilliant lawyer; a free and independent spirit who never did any one’s bidding until now.

It was appalling how Agabi became a hosanna singer for a buffoon that he would never have tolerated in his first life. I began giving up on him when he was removed from ministering over his beloved law to ministering over rocks and stones and he stayed. Then I totally dumped him (not that it matters) as the consummate Nigerian (corrupt and of infirm principles) – when I read him as Aremu’s courier that we now know, talking about an issue that according to him – “Baba” would not like to hear”. I thought, oh, Agabi is now about only what “Baba” likes to hear.

Yes, Agabi, part or whole architect of what “Baba” will love to hear, the elimination of Igbo language from the affairs of an entity in which Aremu has sworn to ensure that the Igbo does not rise. Kanu, please let us know if you had Ayinde Barrister banging out special Apala Music, while you presented this phase of Igbo destruction to “Baba”. Good boy.

Word broke that the Aremu kite piloted by Kanu is shelved. But there is no stopping Nigeria’s JACKASSES; they are wicked, unrelenting evildoers. Destroying Igbo remains their life’s objective.

Aremu’s kite shelved? There are many ways to skin a cat. I am not giving them ideas. Who am I? They have plenty of it, ideas on Igbo destruction.

Soon school curriculum will mandate that Igbo language not be taught anywhere outside Igbo land, even where Igbo pupils are in attendance; soon, books written in Igbo language for Igbo language studies will be off the shelves of University and Secondary school libraries; soon Igbo books will all be out of print; soon every Orwellian trick in the book will be brought to bear to enable them achieve their objective – Igbo silencing, then Igbo destruction.

Does anyone remember the Soweto Riot and the cause of the riot? As it was in Apartheid South Africa, Igbo pupils soon will be mandated to speak Hausa and Yoruba only even in Igbo land. Riot will ensue as a result of such dictate; Nigeria’s JACKASSES will send in their zombies – Army, Police, SSS – Igbo land and borders are already filled with them. Their zombies like Apartheid enforcers will be ordered to shoot at sight any resister, and jail any refusnik – no matter how young or how old.

With these and other plans that none can contemplate at the moment, they will see to it that the go-along-get-along Igbo, the “civil(ized)” Igbo, the “erudite” Igbo, the “gracious” and “graceful” Igbo, the genetically re-engineered, otherwise the ‘DETRIBALIZED’ Igbo overrun strategic positions on things dealing with Igbo culture and tradition. With that Igbo language goes to the brink, and soon off the cliff, and into a valley of no return. And so might Igbo nation.

In weeks and months coming, they will resort to covert, surreptitious Operation Destroy Igbo; while the “erudite”, go-along-to-get-alone, jobbing Igbo continue to opine thus: “We further ask the Igbo to continue to relentlessly pursue ideal of a united and progressive Nigeria…” How does one address this inanity?

Well, do I sound silly in the Igbo language incineration scenarios above? Well, you wait, till Kema Chikwe flies in from Abuja to scold Ndiigbo for making noise needlessly, and tell Ndiigbo that Aremu, her bosom of nearly 4 decades has no evil design against Ndiigbo. She might even call on the spirit of her relative Ukpabi Asika to assure Ndiigbo that Aremu loves Ndiigbo.

How about the Enugu Governor Nnamani? That one will write and tell Ndiigbo how much Matthew LOVES them; how the real Igbo enemy is Odumegwu-Ojukwu. Nnamani is the one that is said to be cerebral; he is true to type, “erudite”, “civili(zed) and all that jazz, with no core. What use is the cerebral without commonsense to know his enemy or enemy of his people? Where is the role of the cerebral in a jungle, in a dog-eat-dog terrain? What is it in the Bantu cage of the mundane that beckons for the cerebral? Does it require the cerebral to secure cargo airport to one’s state? How easy has this lover of Nnamani and Igbo, made it for Nnamani, to have his dream airport, even after he had licked all of his boots?

How about Ojo Maduekwe, the one that must educate his children on the back of all Igbo? He would hold court in his frequent overseas calls – reports those who have been present at his court, in which one of his daughters keeps peace – telling them how much Obasanjo loves the Igbo, and how disappointed he is when he reads an article like this.

You will read even in this cyberspace, those whose life ambition is the full integration of the Igbo in Nigeria. Yes, full integration of Ndiigbo on the terms of other Nigerian nations people - those now designing to abolish Igbo language.

Is not Greg Mbadiwe, the son of the one who asked Nigerian authorities at the end of their carnage and vandalism in Igbo land to remember those of them who fought behind the lines – otherwise SABOS – touting two more years of Aremu’s buffoonery. That is as if Aremu’s current tenure has any legitimacy.

Who else will do such a job but a “cerebral Igbo”, “erudite Igbo”, “genetically re-engineered Igbo/Detribalized Igbo, a jobber, the efulefu that want so desperately to head all and everything Igbo, those that destiny assures without a doubt an encounter with their comeuppance.

Meanwhile, in their go-along-get-along fashion, they aid and abate a sworn Igbo enemy in his bid to destroy the Igbo.

But victory is Igbo’s. The shenanigans of the enemy, the machinations of the wicked, shall pass, and amount to naught.

Here is a man, Obasanjo, with so much power, albeit illegal power, that wallows in base cunning and wickedness; a man that cannot point to a single worthy record, with all the opportunities that the leadership vacuum he has been filling for nearly four decades have availed him. Talk about what wickedness does to a man.

Obasanjo, let loose your kites of war on Igbo; let them fly. You will live with the grinding reality and regret that Igbo shall continue to thrive, even when you, your wards and those like you in the British cage – Nigeria are long, long GONE, seen no more, heard no more.


May 2, 2005

Peter Opara is the author of Understanding Nigerian Nation Tribes – Why they boil

Posted by Administrator at 12:48 PM | Comments (0)

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