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June 30, 2005

Stop Complaining, Start a Revolution: A Chronic Debtor's Request Denied

by Ndubụeze Godson III --- Each time people write about Nigeria as if the damn place is extension of heaven I pinch myself for reassurance I’m not dreaming; after, which the culprits are immediately classified as either corrupt, held hostage by lies or what the politically correct may term clueless. Those suffering afore mentioned should no longer be seen as spitting what are generally known in Caucasian community as “white lies.”

Theirs have since fallen under disease classification and for that reason their doctors should treat them as such when attending to their malaria, typhoid, yellow-fever or swollen tummies ailments. When these liars are not defending the obscene riches of a compromised IG of police or any other thief who stole public monies at our expense, they make mountain of excuses for every despot that have passed through power in Nigeria including the all time godfather, Obasanjo. Before I continue, let me pause o’jare to acknowledge the good folks out there who might have wondered where the hell I have been, there’s nada; no big thing happening. I dey kempe (sorry OBJ), just been in ROMland firing serious rebuttals behind the scene while the sincere writers get many thanks from me, that’s all.

Despite these obfuscators facades to appear distinguished I can sense them from oceans away. These clowns are not different from their counterparts living in Africa if one looks hard, their lucky escape to a better life in western hemispheres did not make much of a dint. Robbers they are! While they attempt their inefficient awkward maneuver to sell Nigeria to outside world they remain perpetually outside her shores with their families, an inanity that is not hard to uncover. Their refusal to migrate back to their country of origin they deem ‘heavenly’ is a source for concern, any reason for that? They emigrate from heaven? There is something disturbingly similar between these undemocratic paid agents of the Nigerian government and those I see whenever I find the courage to visit that groundnut country that was dubbed the most corrupt on the face of earth. Both have dangerous attitudes with the penchant to do just about anything for pennies. There are no ifs, buts, nays about this; a presumed honest fella never defends a shameless crook unless he is severely down and out himself, in other words, a bandit. Birds of same feather? Those with affinity for attention to details are aware that most times these thieves with their showy loot (usually stolen vehicles and stuff), careen down what used to be motorable streets unmindful it was their brazen thievery that turned it into gullies.

Whenever I see them galloping down a gully I marvel and laugh at their foolishness on the basis the undulated eroded dusty way they ply in most cases is merely suitable for the good old trekking. Had they utilized good sense to fix and provide quality roads as well as excellent healthcare facilities, they (political crooks and their minions) in the long run would be the beneficiaries not those on “Foot-O-Four/Foot-Run.” Their utopian blindness caused the reality that the hikers whose sufferings reached epic height more than twenty-five odd years ago are not loosing much on this one. My bosom friend/in-law from Okirika puts it this way; what sense is there for a nation to be more civilized with most things working properly during infancy (60s) than now, forty years later? How could the numerous “One Nigerianists” explain that, huh, huh? As humans, you are looked upon to improve as you grow and once you fail to meet this simple natural expectation, you are deemed a fool at forty, which is exactly what Nigeria is; big FOOL at FORTY something! OLUKU!

Who amongst you is so compromised to be upset over the failure of that corrupt nation to con the world in securing free money or is it debt relief yet again? Is your weenie cry out of genuine concern for the ordinary citizens in that banana republic or about the income that would have accrued from this dash that you already relied on to continue pandering to the whims of the wicked thieves? Count me as throwing my weight in support that Nigeria does not deserve any debt forgiveness neither does she deserve a seat in the U.N. Security Council. Full stop! The idea to ask for a waiver knowing what was done to the monies that was borrowed in the first place for the benefits of the ordinary folks, but instead was embezzled by the stealing fathers, uncles, in-laws and so on of these noisemakers is nothing short of mad cow (lol) disease. To them, those fellas acting more catholic than the Pope, those aggrieved by this refusal to forgo overdue debt, I say jump right into the ocean or the volcano. Will you? I give benefit of doubt by remaining open most times, but will nonetheless react accordingly when an idea or a piece makes no sense. With me, there is zero doubt as to who give succor to every successive Nigerian tyrant; the self-acclaimed academic daredevils are their biggest cheerleaders with those insincere accolades. To the extent the dictators start to believe these bogus hypes.

I have the feelings all democratic nations and peoples are having a good belly-laugh for that aberrant request absence of genuine peoples’ oriented programs by the Nigerian government. With cap-in-hand they shamelessly got down on their knees to beg for debt forgiveness despite the country’s oil wealth? To put it mildly my dear, such dumb request was an affront on every reasonable Nigerian. What is not known as they and their agents whine, twitch, toss and turn are, how many of these crook lovers when it comes down to it are willing to let off hook someone they loaned say, five grand ($5000) for medical use who instead displayed crass to selfishly go on spending spree to buy designers’ outfits? How about asking a bank to forgo a loan after the fund was misused for an outlandish owambe worth tens of thousands of dollars? To further rub more insult to the debt, how about forgoing a loan after the loanee went out and buys the newest Bentley or any other junk for all I care, would you let go your money in this scenario? Not! A favor will you then please? Abort the ridiculous finger pointing and the blame game and pay your debt! Gentlemen or in this case responsible government will meet their obligations others MUST! I still do not understand how it zoomed by these apologists that Obasanjo is the “wrongest” dude to be making this type of plea considering his numerous anti-democratic treacheries that could easily be summed up in one word, CORRUPTION.

Now, there is as a matter of fact something they know Nigeria merits that have been generously given, the MOST corrupt country in the entire universe. For now, this should be it until more categories like the most primitive is added, then she may well fall within the new scope to win it uncontested for sure. Sometimes ago, I threw a challenge to the bemused who defend thievery, to tell the world just one thing good about the geographic expression they pretend to care for, Nigeria and after many, many months passed, not even a feeble moan is heard. Yet these shameless folks write as if Nigerians or the world are stupid unaware the joke is on them. You have people who ordinarily deserve the starving artist’s appellation yet they append some bloated titles just to look important as they tell us how not to embarrass Nigeria or be ungrateful. Did they fail to see it the other way around that Nigeria is a thorn on the backsides of every decent person who somehow still finds that green stuff they call passport within his/her surroundings especially on an international trip? Have these fakes wondered why this is so, why the sight of their passport arouses unnecessary suspicion? The customs and immigration officers at these airports too have long figured out that Nigeria’s so-called educated elites are the worst offenders when it comes to stealing, embezzling, murdering, lying, cheating, forging, raping you name it!! To them, if the “educated” ones are submerged in corruption, what hope is there for the masses? Why should the commoners be treated with any modicum of respect when these foreign authorities know our rich and educated stole themselves silly and are therefore responsible for the humiliations we suffer?

Another matter that ought to be taken seriously by the Nigerian people is this thing called resource control. Any prepared mind could easily guess where I stand when it comes to this agitation and demand by the Niger Deltans to control their gift from God. I am super solidly behind them as I would any other region/state that finds whatever under or above their soils. I can’t get simpler than this. To satisfy the inquiry minds, there are zero oil fields in my family’s plot, no gold or any other minerals still it should not prevent from being fair on matters like such. Truth never disappoints only lies do. A typical wicked, idealess, Nigerian when confronted with the reality that the oil producing states/areas are being stifled out of their God given commodity with the obscene paltry 13% derivation nonsense would resort to another mumbling crap about what have they done with the little, very minuscule amount the robbers see as much allocated to them.

I guess fair is fair, right? He who comes to equity they say must come with clean hands such therefore as asking Nigerians the same question they ask the oppressed people of Niger Delta. Going by their (the wicked) own paradigm one wonders what their successive Nigerian governments used the accrued $400 billion from the natural resources they steal from the Niger Delta area for? How can one’s conscience elude him to kick against the demand by the owners of the commodity to derive a miserly 25% out of the 100% of the same bandits in government are stealing? For the longest time I have not been paying mind to pleasantries directed at me, I instead watch every action carefully. The oppressed brothers from Niger Delta too should do similarly, when in doubt refer to William Shakespeare’s; “There is no art of a man to bear the mind’s construction on the face.” Talk they say is so cheap even a month-old baby mumbles some nonsense also. This brings me to the he-goat who expressed his sentiments thus; although he is dragged to the market on a leash, he is after all spotting a goatee too therefore should be treated as a gentleman he is.

There is no denying that those that see Nigeria as bounty are the ones who lob monkey wrench at every turn when it seems progress is about to be achieved. These charlatans never bitch or show disgust for the one-sided misrule yet each time, their self portrayal is that of Angelic lover of other ethnic groups. By now, it should be obvious to them that this writer does not believe in their magic. Uh, oh! Just recently, some deceits gathered to tell the world how their newfound love for the so-called double south (an appellation that is not geographically expressed anywhere else but Nigeria) will be sustained only for them to register their eloquent silence weeks later when the same south demanded a misery 25% of their resources. What happened to their professed love for fairness, justice and decency that ought to be the driving engine for every unity? By the way, what is really this thing called “minorities,” about, are they still part of Nigeria? If yea, any reason an Okirika or Nembe, Calabar or Uyo, Agbor or Bini person could not be the president of that ducky nation??? Under Calabar or Nembe governance, Nigeria would no doubt record better success than all the past/present crooks that destroyed Nigeria combined. Let every ear hear this, Nigeria does not belong to the Yoruba and Hausa Fulani alone so, let’s be civil about it or scatter. The present Nigerian government should heretofore quit bitching and start a revolution that would change things for the good of the people more so, after the embarrassing denial of their please dash us more money outcry that reverberated back to their ailing eardrums!

Posted by Administrator at 01:18 AM | Comments (1)

June 28, 2005

Buhari’s Right Moves

by Peter Opara --- July 1, 2005 is yet another opportunity for Nigerians to show the world that they have a judiciary that is beholden to no one, and most important, that something akin to democracy exists in the place called Nigeria……

Muhammadu Buhari shook…say Wow-ed Nigerians at home and abroad, in his recent outing in Lagos, the AD and Afenifere terrain.

His political friends and foes were no less shook up…say Wow-ed.

When Nigerian journals reported the line up of personalities attending the June 12 anniversary rally in Lagos that included Buhari and his compatriot in the struggle for real democracy in Nigeria, the APGA Ikemba Odumegwu-Ojukwu, not a few eye brows were raised.

Such indignation towards these statesmen – Odumegwu-Ojukwu and Buhari, stems from misperception, misinformation and misreading of history or lack of knowledge of history.

For history to be a constructive guide for the future, it has to be understood correctly and applied correctly.

In this sense, with the exception of Odumegwu-Ojukwu whose bona fides on citizens’ rights and enfranchisement are unassailable, yet dubiously controversial, the other is Buhari, whose history must be read correctly and understood, in order to accord him his rightful place in history - even in the current Nigeria’s attempt at democracy.

“Buhari’s Principled Tenacity” was my note of the man’s relentless pursuit of legal remedy for the 2003 stolen peoples franchise. It is historic that none in Nigeria has ever pursued a cause within the limits of the law, with such zeal and focus.

Buhari’s tenacity is thus a mark of discipline that is not found among Nigerians, not at the top, not at the bottom. Indeed, lack of discipline is worse at the head, the proverbial beginning point of fish rot.

Discipline is Buhari’s mark. It is such that when the coup d’etat of 1984 took place, the original planners caucused for a whole day almost in desperate search for one to put a face of discipline on their act.

They settled on Buhari; but not without a sense of concern or fear, I believe, that this brook- no-nonsense Buhari was certain to whip everyone in line, and in shape. The original coup plotters had no choice, as their stated goal was to rein in socio-political chaos, and only a man of Buhari’s caliber could lead the charge.

As history is sure to be kind to Buhari now and going forward, it had not been unusual, dating back to the year of the first coup d’etat in Nigeria, 1966, for one to serve in the capacity and in the dispensation in which one found oneself – a national duty of sorts – over which one had no control – in a perversely unstable terrain.

Thus did the phrase coup d’etat find its way into Buhari’s curriculum vitae; a man that brooks no indiscipline, and worse mutiny of sorts by the army over a commander-in-chief, military or civilian

Buhari, thus situated as head of state, a country that appeared politically chaotic to many, had to be fixed. Seconded by yet another no-indiscipline-brooking icon, Tunde Idiagbon, Nigerians were to experience a rare commitment to national renewal.

Yes, many including this writer were adversely affected by the so-called Buahri coup. First, I had been flushed out of my job, and all of my future plans shattered – that was 1984 – about 22 years ago. I watched my friend, Nduka Irabor embark and alight from the Black Maria, again and again; numerous politicians escorted to Kirikiri where they cooled off.

Then Nigerians all became careful what they did and how they did what they did. There were clearly stated and eminently enforceable rules and regulations. War Against Indiscipline, the bane of Nigeria, had begun.

On the financial side, who could forget that Easter Monday Eve that bore the totally unforeseen, unpredicted announcement of naira currency change, following which any deposit in the bank in the amount of 5000 Naira and above was to be reported to authorities, along with sources of the fund.

Within three months in office, Buhari had Money Laundering pegged and routed; Buhari had Bunkering - illegal oil deal that siphoned millions of oil revenue to local and international crooks pegged and routed; Buhari had a sense of citizen and official accountability pegged and established; Buhari had pegged and established norms on social conduct, fiscal conduct and general behavior.

Thus established - social discipline, economic discipline and fiscal discipline, Nigeria did not need much more to trudge to the next level of national development and making a success at it.

Not so fast!

In came the gap toothed, evil one – Ibrahim Babangida. Only military and civilian crooks and fools comprehended the reason for the coming of the gap-toothed evil one. He came to save his neck, we were to learn later, and save his criminal neck, he did, taking the future of every man, woman and children of Nigerian nations with him.

And what do you know, all that Buhari reined in and pegged, the gap toothed one let loose – assorted crimes and social delinquencies – corruption, thievery; and brand new crimes hitherto unknown to Nigerians – assassination, drug peddling, drug pushing and drug ingesting – you name it.

And so did Nigerians lose Nigeria. Public morality, the bond that binds a nation was thrown to the dogs; and so during the reign of the gap-toothed one and since following his reign of total ruin, Nigeria remains a nation of dogs eating dogs.

Say whatever you may, Sani Abacha, whose regime Buhari and Odumegwu-Ojukwu assisted in some capacities, was intent on returning Nigeria to an entity of social and economic sanity, by making best effort at salvaging what was left of Nigeria, following Ibrahim Babangida’s unmitigated criminal social, political and economic brigandage.

Even the fiercest Abacha critics allows today that Abacha’s was a people Government, in comparison to the farce Obasanjo has around the neck of Nigerians today in the name of democracy.

Yes, Buhari and Idiagbon incarcerated sundry personalities for sundry crimes during their time – a key reason why some resent Buhari today. But each incarceration was preceded by open trial tribunals that were devoid of deceit and assorted shenanigans such as were and are natural to the gap toothed one that crept onto the helm pretending to be a harmless sheep.

One must remember Babangida’s shenanigan that preceded his execution of his childhood friend, Maman Vatsa. Whoever thought Babangida had not made up his mind to kill this man, before his deceit of a test of public opinion must have been a fool.

Barely months into the regime of the gap toothed one, a cloud of secrecy, hush, hush, descended on Nigeria. For the first time in its history, social settlement or duping by way of bribe to silence critics became the rule, baring which, in the case of Dele Giwa, the one’s body was shattered by a message - indeed bomb-bearing envelope that bore the seal of the “president”.

Secretly, the best and brightest Nigerian soldiers were eliminated. At a point these best and brightest numbering 69 were executed at once, for no reason other than the gap toothed one’s intent on perpetuating himself in power. Those that were not executed, were loaded in an airplane and blasted away in the sky….so did soldiers numbering in the hundreds perish. Sundry evil deeds hitherto unknown to Nigerians descended on Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Babangida had foreign security agents guarding him.

The shenanigans of the gap toothed one ran its course when on June 12, 1993, following years of hocus-pocus induced hand over to civilian plan, he cancelled an election that was reported to be the fairest and freest in the history of the country; the anniversary of which was responsible for Buahri’s presence in Oduduwa land.

None could have speculated before the June 12 anniversary that Buhari would be present at the event, and not only being present, but that he would seize the opportunity to assure Oduduwa sons and daughters that he Buhari is really a warm, friendly democrat – with a capital letter D.

It is the completion of a circle of sorts for Buhari, as the favorite son of the north and I dare say, a favorite of citizens of Nigerian nations that deems honor and integrity as requisites for occupying the Nigerian helm that has been so desecrated that it has been referred to as “a nest of killers” – Wole Soyinka.

Buhari had last year at the World Igbo Congress (WIC) in New Jersey, USA, waxed in the “honor” and “privilege” he said, “of an opportunity to interact with my Igbo brothers and sisters…across the River Benue.

It is a circle complete for an ex-soldier, Buhari, a shining armor, who makes no bones about his “unwavering commitment to true democratic norms”.

Indeed Buhari is the icon of free democratic franchise for the peoples of Nigerian nations – this he has demonstrated in his utterances and in the uphill legal battle he is engaged in still, to see to the redress of the people’s stolen mandate.

July 1, 2005 is yet another opportunity for Nigerians to show the world that they have a judiciary that is beholden to no one, and most important, that something akin to democracy exists in the place called Nigeria.

An observer of Nigerian politics stated the other day that there is no opposition in Nigeria, “we have not heard from Buhari.”

Indeed, there are two standing opposition parties in Nigeria today – the APGA and the ANPP. The two prominent political duos that have kept Obasanjo and his PDP in some check are Buhari and Odemuegwu-Ojukwu. In the legal struggle to remedy the 2003 419 elections, the APGA leader, Odumegwu-Ojukwu did concede the major vote count that saw the APGA wining the former eastern region all the way to Bayelsa, to Buhari.

Odumegwu-Ojukwu reasons that Buhari possibly got more votes than him, and he more than Obasanjo. Any who doubts Ikemba must countenance the fact that APGA won in the entire east, while Buhari was the favorite in the north. Did not Obasanjo lose his home state – Ogun?

The Odumegwu-Ojukw/Buhari post elections camaraderie remains a demonstration of principles of democratic fundamentals, where the robbed band together not in the exercise of thuggery, but in legal contest, which in this case had long been stifled by the vote thieving Obasanjo’s PDP.

In his current right moves, Buhari has sailed above the Supreme Court that denied him justice that is now pending on appeal to be heard on July 1. Buhari spoke for all Nigerian peoples from Gombe to Nembe, when he stated his belief “in the principles of democratic rule and a free system where Nigerians are given the opportunity to elect their leaders”.

Nigerian peoples ask no more of democracy than to be allowed to vote for those they want to represent their interests and not be hindered by vote thieves, thugs and robbers that are sponsored by the government in power – the PDP in this instance.

With the exception of APGA’s Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Buhari is the next best positioned, morally and otherwise to challenge the powers that be today as he did during his Lagos outing.

Thus his challenge to Obasanjo to expose Nigerians that have “a total of 170 Billion Dollars” lodged in foreign account, while he – Obasanjo trudges about seeking forgiveness for Nigeria’s debt of 35 Billion-Dollar.

Buhari had allowed only days ago that whatever becomes of his appeal that is eagerly awaited on July 1, he is contesting the presidency, come 2007.

This should impress all men and women of honor and integrity that are left in all of Nigerian nations.

With his recent moves and great moves at that in Oduduwa land, Buhari’s political friends and foes alike, announced and unannounced candidates for the presidency are bound to go back to the drawing board, as Buhari is the one to beat!

And when you thought Buhari was done, he went ahead and concluded his Lagos visit and participation in the June 12 anniversary with a tour de force speech that added to the long shadow he casts on the political landscape.

In his speech, Buhari addressed remedies to the criminal political practice in Nigeria today that the party in power, PDP calls democracy, democracy that has shown neither respect nor regard for citizens.

Buhari spoke of democracy “based on social contract between the government and the governed”.

Ever the defender of the sanctity of the vote, Buhari affirmed in the negative to the question: “..can there be democracy and social justice without the people’s vote?”

To forestall a repeat of June 12 and the criminal brigandage – vote rigging and robbery perpetrated by Obasanjo and his PDP in 2003, Buhari recommended what he termed “Open the Ballot Box” system, as against “Close the Ballot Box” system. That is to say, let there be light on people’s vote – the most sacred instrument of democracy.

On the rule of law, Buhari reasoned thus: “As strong and robust economy helps to sustain democracy, so is sincere adherence to the rule of law. Obasanjo?

The current executive makes mockery of democracy by flagrantly violating the judgment of the court, Buhari charged. He wondered, what protection was there for ordinary citizens, if the last arbiter for the defenseless, the courts were beholden to the executive.

Buhari cited the Lagos State experience, where the executive continues to withhold funds from the state, over the ruling of the highest court in the land.

Not done, Buhari confronted headlong the charge bandied about that he is about Islamizing Nigeria, that he asked Muslims to vote for Muslims only.

Said Buhari, “Let me take this opportunity for the umpteenth time to explain the falsehood credited to me. That I advised Muslim voters to vote only for Muslims. Never was a bigger lie perpetrated in Nigeria!”

“What I said” he continued, “was that people should wake up, vote only for those who will protect their interests, their culture, their religion and their security. I spoke in Hausa, ex tempore, although mercifully the recording has been preserved. The reporter, who sent this falsehood to THISday was not present at the scene, did not speak Hausa and when confronted, he said he thought that was what I said!”

Cognizant of the lackadaisical attitude to due diligence by Nigerian press, I am on the side of Buhari, and have been since this no case of Buahri and him Islamizing Nigeria broke. How would the Buhari Islamization of Nigeria come to pass, by force?

Buhari would have to bring Salaudin back to life to fight to Islamize all peoples of Nigerian nations.

What PDP 2003 criminal brigandage that netted the 419 Obasanjo presidency did was rob each and every Nigerian’s votes they cast for those that will protect, as Buhari sees it, their interest, their culture, their religion, their security.

Which Nigerian is happy about the PDP robbery? None. That is where Buhari and true democrats come in. Come 2007, the choice should be obvious.

Now, if any thinks this fresh democrat, Buhari can be stopped by some sinister insinuation, the one better think again. I know a warrior when I see one. Not any warrior, but a warrior for truth, a warrior for principle, a warrior for the better part of humanity. Buhari is it.

When the best of mankind is in a representative position, God’s children are all better for it. The reverse is the case, as we have seen in Nigeria today. Sadness is the lot of all God’s children.

Obasanjo’s PDP robbed Nigerians of true, honest representation, and so are Nigerians paying dearly and Buhari continues to fight.

With his recent right moves, hope is on the way, for those with however little faith in the British structure called Nigeria.

June 27, 2005

Peter Opara is a communications consultant and author of Understanding the Nigerian Nation Tribes – Why they Boil.

Posted by Administrator at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2005

Respect the Dignity of Labor as Mothers and Fathers are the only Heroes left to Emulate

by Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa --- African fathers and mothers are not necessarily the ones that gave birth to you. They are the ones you look up to and turn to in time of need, trouble, gratitude and joy. Most of them are not teachers in the classrooms, accountants, administrators, lawyers or doctors. Yet, they are our guides, keeper of our culture and the pillars of our communities, the heroes the children look up to. The debate made popular in American political circle about that African ideology is a case in point – It takes a village to raise a child.

Sometimes African children ask their parents – how many small and big daddies or mummies do I have? That does not include uncles and aunties. It takes a great deal to qualify for this bestowed honor, especially on far relatives. A millionaire, excuse me, a billionaire that has squandered his family’s honor does not qualify, a president that has abused his people does not qualify, and neither does a sport legend that has disgraced his country. There are cases where some people have changed their names so that they would not be associated with those who have been disgraced.

It is very sad when the President of Nigeria asked for reinterpretation of Supreme Court judgment against his Government, got tuned down, he seized on a single word “inchoate” as his own interpretation to continue denying Lagos State of it allocation. The same allocation sharing, that has been breaking us further apart at every conference. It is shameful and embarrassing that an attorney, Ephraim Duru angrily accused the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Muhammadu Lawal Uwais of corruption in an open court. NIGERIA, OUR CHILDREN ARE WATCHING. There are procedures and ways of resolving our differences. Our forbearers were more civilized than the outside world. This talk about young democracy is demeaning, as if we did not exist at a point in the past.

In spite of 419, prostitutes, kleptomanias, and vagabonds, majority of the people are honest and very hard working. As we know, they never made the news. The notorious ones did. I was deeply hurt the first time I red a memorandum circulating that majority of Nigerians are crooks. Not only was it false, it was intentionally done to exclude some people from well paying jobs. I realized how the Italians felt when they label them Mafia, or the Jews or Arabs with derogatory labels.

When I told someone that I do not know any of those crooks, he laughed. He told me I do not want to know them. These days, when you report them to their parents back home, the mother would ask you “if na your money he steal?” He cautioned. It used to be “not my son”. We are making progress though; Ribadu is prosecuting people in high places, the South African Vice President has been fired for implication in fraud. In Nigeria, we are still waiting to bring former military/politicians to book. They are too busy gunning for a comeback. One of them, Buhari has called for the exposure of the owners of $170bn foreign accounts, another good place to start. The fish rot from the head, as they say. The lion share of that money belongs to a well known few at the head tables.

Remember my definition of mothers and fathers as the heroes of our time. They are your fathers and mothers that only you and your relatives know. They are the same ones who made sacrifices so that their children and relatives could go to school. Some of them leave home for three months or more; working in the coal, gold, diamond mines or outside home before coming back. Sometimes denying themselves the same benefit they provide others. Unfortunately, they do not have glamorous jobs, and we do not respect the dignity of their labor. Teachers are now asking for reward on earth not in heaven – what took them so long?

I still know some friends who are highly educated but can not take regular jobs because they spend six months in Nigeria and six or three months outside. They are in Nigeria during the winter months, of course. Whenever, they are outside, anything they can lay their hands on, is what they do – leasing cabs, as security guards, overnight staff or sleep over etc. Yes, some are old enough but with responsibilities in Nigeria. The only job those ones would do is sleep over or kissed the job good bye!

Africans have many sayings about the dignity of labor. InYoruba, Iwe kiko layi si oko ati ada. Koi pe o…” Education without the ability and tools to farm is incomplete.

These heroes would shun recognition if shoved in their face. They are too busy thinking about making ends meet, how to care for relatives and anyone that touched them. They preached what they practice and are usually frugal. Never waste anything and would teach you how to do better than they did. Their prayer was that you would do better in life than they did (direct African translation).

Some of their stories were about doing what you could and expecting nothing in return. If they had to count on or wait on brothers and sisters who had turned their backs after getting help, no one would pass on the good deeds.

The heroes were the ones that helped their parents and sometimes helped bring up their siblings. We have heard stories of those who denied themselves further education so that they could work to help the family. Some of these heroes, after taking care of their old parents, finished the task of raising their own children, are now raising grandchildren. Well, well, well. Oh well!

Our heroes made their money the old fashion way, they earned it with sweat on their brow. Some of them learned from their parents’ trade. After school, they helped their parents buy and sell. When the Italians were mostly in construction, building cities, their children helped and learned the trade but became architects, engineers and doctors. When the Chinese and later the Koreans opened restaurants and corner stores, their children helped after school and on weekends. They generated enough money to send the children to professional schools. When the Jews, with their culture intact and with economic success, could not get into country clubs, they built better country clubs. They also built their own hospitals and those who denied them access, begged to apply. That is how heroes are created - by adhering to the better part of our culture which spread goodwill and respect within the African village.

There is nothing wrong with being a farmer if you own the farm. There is nothing wrong with being a cab driver if you strife to own yours. It was Dr. Azikiwe who was sent to the President or boss of an American University to deliver a letter. He saw a gardener cutting grass at the gate and insisted that the letter was for the President or master. He was shocked to see the master cutting grass. He owned the house.

We have a way of disrespecting hard working men and women in Nigeria. In the days when buses used to run between Gbaja market and Yaba in Lagos, we saw this man shoveling dirt out of the cutter. The ladies turned in dismay. I asked them how they would react if he had pointed a gun at them in the middle of the night asking for their money. Now, gutters do not get that luxury service anymore except on environmental day. The next day, it goes back right where it came from, the gutter. The laborers are our parents trying to provide food and shelter for their families. That should not disqualify them as heroes of our time.

There was a friend of mine who went for postgraduate training in pathology outside Nigeria. He told us about a party he attended. He was taken by the beautiful house. So he wanted to know what the owner did for a living. When he found out that the owner was a factory worker, he was disgusted. He would not live in such a beautiful house if he had that type of job. That was the wrong mentality. He did not realize that middle class neighborhoods have people in different professions. Laborers could not enjoy classy cars, a beautiful house with the family after a hard laborious day at work?

I must confess that I was shocked that the same “laborers”, construction workers made a lot of money in America. When the minimum wage was about a dollar fifty, they were making three dollars or more! That was big money in those days. I actually made more money in those days as a member of United Auto Worker than I did when I left University. If everyone had a taste of manual labor at some point in life, might be, our attitude to labor could have been different. It might even help keep children in school, after getting a taste of what might be waiting for them.

There was a graduate student in Abuja who did odd jobs at construction sites with the hope of saving enough money to start his own business when he got out of school. In the (ungrateful to Nkrumah) days of Ghana must go, there was also this beautiful girl from Ghana who was a full time helper with my sister but also a student at University of Lagos. My sister encouraged her with the time she needed for her studies.

If you never thought of them as heroes, do not blame yourself, when did this writer start respecting laborer, if not after learning some hard lessons in America. It was in Canada that I realized that those high school graduates I. K Dairo was singing about as laborers at Ikeja could have been me. I was a court clerk in Lagos in suit everyday, so when I got to Canada, I wore suit looking for my first job. The lady at Manpower was kind enough to give me a shovel in deep snow to start digging!

My friend had a different experience. He wanted a job in construction where the money was. On his first day, he was asked if he could use the digging machine. Of course, he used it many times before, he lied. He got to use it for a couple of hours before they took it away from him. When he got home, he complained that his body parts kept vibrating like the machine he operated and would not stop. He was lucky. A friend who also lied that he could operate a buffing machine got thrown away by the force of the machine when he started it!

These laborers who made honest living were the real heroes because of what they taught and provided for their children. Some of them are Okada riders, cart pushers and load carriers. Those who made minimum wage worked two or three jobs or long hours on the same job. Children who have been ashamed of the jobs their parents did were surprised to see how the children of the mighty turned out as loafers. One thing about Africa is that the profession of the parents did not determine the profession of the children.

There was a young man who got a Peugeot 504 car as a present from his Dad after leaving University. He was furious. He claimed his father was stingy because his friend got a Mercedes Benz. Some of us were glad we bought ours with our own money. A child who does not realize that discipline and character are more important than any inheritance, will loose it all. “Easy come, easy go.”

I had followed my friend to visit his sister I had not seen for a long time. When we got there, we met another friend with his sister who used to hang around us as a kid. My friend was annoyed and embarrassed. Well, the guy we met pulled himself out of poverty and became a bank manager. So his sister was lucky, I thought.

We heard stories about those who have “made it” in Europe and America going back home to marry princes and princesses they would not even “eye” when they were home. On the other hand, there was the girl who got an abortion after realizing that the guy came home without a degree. Another professional girl committed suicide after realizing she had followed a loafer outside Nigeria. Many of those guys got stranded in Europe and America after foreign exchange from Nigeria dried up. Instead of working and going to school like the rest of us, they refused to respect the dignity of labor.

When I was in high school, one of my teachers told me the truth about Europe and America. He said you would have the television, the stereo and the beautiful apartment. But you would work so hard that by the time you get home and get to relax on your comfortable couch, the burning food you left on the stove would wake you up. He said one of his friend cried that his father was a chief in Nigeria. He told him to shut up. His own father was a minister in then Western House. I never forgot that story. People in Nigeria believe whatever they want to hear.

My Principal in high school happened to know my Dad. We had him for English Literature one day. He stared at me with his bold and scary eyes quoting – the glory of our blood and state are shadows not substantial things. I wondered who he was talking to, then. Later on, I realized the point he was making. But my father never said he had money. He had never given me more than half of what I asked for.

There were other heroes, our peers after high school. We use to make fifteen pounds per month. Out of that money, they would send five pounds to their villages, five pounds for their rent and the rest of the five pounds for food, transport and clothes. I could not understand how they did it. Little did I realize that they were preparing me for days beyond Nigeria. They were industrious and in a special class.

How did I spend my money then? It is time to point fingers at myself again. I neither pay rent nor pay for food. My friends and I knew how to give money and take it back. We would give our mothers about five pounds for save keeping. By the end of the month, we would borrow all back plus whatever we could get. Of course, we never missed Sunday Jump at Kakadu, Friday night at Maharani, Saturday night at Caban Baboo. But my tolerance for alcohol has always been very low, so I never drank more than a bottle of star. I would then brag to my friends that no matter how much I had, I never got drunk. It could be worse.

As we started getting paid biweekly, a friend of mine would blow most of his salary in one night. All you had to do was hail him at the bar, he would shout – give him a star!
One of our judicious friends who came from outside Lagos tried to talk senses into his head one day by telling him to stop asking them for bus fare to get to work. This particular one was making less money than him. He answered that if he was making more money, and the guy kept giving him money, it meant that the guy had not learned anything since coming to Lagos. We all laughed - what an ingrate!

The heroes are the bus drivers and the conductors who took money home for the benefit of their families in order that their children could eat and go to school. So when looking for those to praise, do not look too far from home. Africans do not wait until Fathers’ or Mothers’ Day either. Labor Day has a deep meaning, that is for another day. Those with big and ostentatious titles have disappointed us. “Man pass man, position pass power.”

If there is no dignity of labor, all countries would grind to a halt. Where labor is cheap as in many developing countries, we hire others to do everything for us. In countries where labor is expensive, most people learn how to do things themselves. Indeed, a whole industry is geared towards “Do It Yourselfers”. As one gets older or busier, one has to decide which would be cheaper. Collapse under your car repairing it or let a mechanic.

It got to a stage, when I tried to repair anything, the children would call each other – he would mess it up again. I did not get credit for the ones I fixed right. I tried to fix my car one day and messed up the timing. The mechanic told me he had to spend extra time to fix it and charged me dearly. As I was working on my car one time, this lady asked me if I could fix hers. I told her, if I messed up my car, fine. If I messed up her car, both of us would be sorry. She left me alone. It was not just a hobby; the fact was that I was trying to save myself some money. Yes, call me what you want.

Fortunately, Nigeria has continued promoting competition among high school students to show their skill in Art and Science. We are reading about interesting achievements by these young men and women in high schools. It has always been recognized but has never been given this much publicity by the press. Since some of us have disappointed the younger generation of Africans, this is the least we can do for them. The recognition encouragement, and promotion of their ideas will create a new generation of African heroes that all of us can be proud of.

Peer pressure is a very important factor in the life of children. I have seen many wonderful performances by our youths in Nigeria and outside. Some of the students got themselves together into an organization, raised money in United States and Canada and went to a few places including Abuja to start summer camps for their brothers and sisters. They are the heroes and I told them - when I grow up, I want to be like them!

Good moral characters, hard work and those who practice what they preach are not too far from your home. These are your parents and your heroes.

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June 21, 2005

Nigeria’s Prestige Project – UN Security Council Seat

by Peter Opara --- It is not unlike what peoples of Nigerian nations are used to about Nigeria, White Elephant Projects. George Orwell might have coined the term – “White Elephant Project”. The term has all of Orwellian socio-political construct or semblance, having to do with obfuscation, deceit and lie by leaders to all and sundry, especially deprived, needy citizens.

Look, the leader will say, see that huge structure there, the country is doing well. He would follow with a rhetorical poser – how would we afford that huge project, if we were not doing well?

About the leader at such time, and always, will be an ever present, ever fidgeting, brown nosing sycophant that affirms with nervous grin, every lie, every nonsense that comes forth from the leader’s mouth.

But the truth is, peoples on whose land the huge structure stands, have no jobs, no food to eat, no clean water to drink, no light with which to see, no road on which to ply or walk or ride; they are ill and disease ridden, with no health clinic around to care for them.

Truth is still, everything the peoples lack, the leader sumptuously possess or access with ease. The leader feeds so well that he has swollen belly and swollen neck. Big man.

The leader and those about him, have attending to them, clinics and physicians abroad – London – always. Even in dying, the leader and those about him have a choice where to die - London. Look for and read veteran Sonala Oluhense’s “Dying in London” about Nigerian leaders.

While Nigeria is historically riddled with tangible white elephant projects ranging from the all important 40-year-old-yet-to-be-completed iron and steel industry; unfinished roads, abandoned bridges, abandoned fertilizer scandal riddled “Operation Feed the Nation” – code named Obasanjo Fool the Nation of the 70s – the country has been gunning for intangible white elephant projects ever since Matthew Okikiolahan Aremu Obasanjo began finding himself at its helm.

Since his second coming (after his accidental 1975-1979 tenure) and his current 419 tenure, Aremu’s white elephant project has been image, image, image and more image. And for the six years he has been on the image project, virtually attending every house party in Atlanta and everywhere else in the world, the one-man public relations and lobbyist lobbed together, Big Aremu has nothing to show. Nothing!

Now, the millions of Dollars Aremu’s friend, Andrew Young has been receiving since Aremu went from jail to Aso Rock, are they not for Nigeria’s image and being on America’s good sides?

Only a few weeks ago, the U.S. government issued travel warning to her citizens visiting Nigeria. The adjective “Dangerous” is now synonymous with Aremu’s Nigeria. Again, I ask, what is his friend, Andy doing with the millions of Dollars of my money that Aremu pays him daily?

Then the hammer fell, a week ago. An intelligence organ of the same U.S. warned that the same Nigeria has no chance of survival, past the next 15 years.

So Andy, and his friend Aremu are feasting on a body comatose!

Then debt relief, another of Aremu’s darling project; that too, President George Bush with whom Aremu held hands the other day in Washington DC, reportedly said, “Nobody wants to give money (say forgive debt) to a country that’s corrupt, where leaders take money and put it in their pocket.”

Do you doubt that Bush did not have Nigeria in mind?

Squirreling and pilfering of public funds is what Nigeria is known for. It is worse that the master pilferer, the squirrel himself, Aremu’s political mentor, Ibrahim Babangida is poised to return to Nigeria’s helm to continue his practice, and Aremu is all for it.

So there went 6-years of Aremu’s image junket around the globe, investments junket around the globe. Image is for the long haul and so is investment. Investment is indeed for the long haul, and as far as Nigeria is concerned, who commits money to a dangerous and predictably collapsible investment tool, a tool where leaders are sure to pocket accruing cash.

Only a fool could not see the danger in the horizon that is articulated in the Nigeria collapse analysis by US intelligence. There is a house that is not in order, the owner or minder is unable, in fact fails to put it in order, but he goes inviting Dick, Tom and Harry saying to them - Come On Down! That his house is safe and comfy for all they are worth – sweat, blood and tears – otherwise, hard earned Dollars, Pounds etc.

Dick, Tom and Harry are not blind, they can see; they did see that the house is not all that it is cracked up to be. Also they have all read the book titled – This House Has Fallen.

Now comes the biggest white elephant chase of the time, Nigeria’s Prestige Project, a seat at the United Nations Security Council.

Peoples of Nigerian nations are hungry – not enough food to eat; they are disease ridden – no doctors and no health clinics to take care of them; they are not safe or secure – robbers and assassins rule; death lurks around every corner, but the leader must find a seat in a sitting in far away Oyibo land. Then he can say to his people, look, see where we dey siddon yonder with America, France, Britain…those strong, big countries. Ah, our country strong, too, we be big people o; we dey kamkpe!

This virtually sick country whose every social, economic and political aspects its leader is unable to manage, yet the leader seeks to place the country in a position to cater to affairs of the world in the specific areas in which he has demonstrated nothing but failure!

The way the papers described the evening of the beginning of this white elephant chase – a seat at the UN Security Council, Aso Rock was sealed up; there were security agents all around, and guests at the super secret, super sensitive gathering were governors, service chiefs, ex- heads of state and every other exs…so many that abound in Nigeria.

Former Head of State Muhammadu Buhari was not there.

Onlookers wondered what was amiss. What could be taking place this evening?
Voila! Nigeria is gunning for a membership in the UN’s Security Council.

Aremu mandated his hirelings to get any and every exs to his villa, so according to reports, there will be a united effort behind this project, Nigeria’s Prestige Project. This is the biggest of the intangible white elephant project….all for image and nothing more.

Nigeria must play in the big league with the United States, Britain, France, China…and such as far as determining the way of world affairs.

Determining the way of world affairs in these times is certainly an enormous responsibility. It is a responsibility that demands the undertaker to be focused and unencumbered by intractable mundane matters within.

Is Nigeria such an undertaker? Not if Aremu’s reason for gunning for this white elephant project is based only on the population of Nigeria. Is it a population whose restiveness he is unable to manage? Is it a population whose well-fare he is unable to fashion, talk less manage?

Yet of the big leaguers – which Nigeria is far from being or becoming – mentioned, only China is having a teething problem, not from anything else other its struggle to emerge from failed eco-political ideology - communism.

Even then, China has long been a political and economic force to reckon with. This is to say that China has the capacity, where it matters – leadership – to manage her mundane concerns for teething into a new socio-political order, such that it is embarked – capitalism. Add to this is the faith reposed on China’s economic acumen and capacity by old capitalist nations of Europe and America.

What is one to say about Nigeria that for 45 years of its existence as independent sovereign nation has demonstrated profound inability to shoulder its internal affairs – social, political and economic? Is Aremu to showcase his presence and Nigeria on this vaunted seat in his typical fashion of what-I-say-not-what-I-do matters? Only mutt peoples of Nigerian nations can countenance such nonsense in a world where now peasants and market women band together to chase away bumbling, thieving, ineffective leaders.

Here is Nigeria, a country that was billed as “the showcase of African democracy” at independence in 1960, that soon embarked on political and economic chicanery that remains its bane to this day; Here is Nigeria that six years following her independence, its leaders embarked on a bloody carnage against one of its constituent parts; Here is Nigeria that is a major debtor nation – 45 year later; Here is Nigeria, presumed “showcase of Africa’s democracy, whose present leader that wants to take her to a world seat violated all known norms of electoral franchise in 2003; the political party over which he holds sway, killed, maimed and robbed to remain in power, and under this same leader and 45 years into the country’s life, its peoples have no security, they are hungry, they are diseased, they are deprived, they are hopeless.

There we see the soft underbelly of this elephant that seeks to position itself to lead other nations, when it cannot lead itself. Or when it should focus on remedying itself.

It is easy to recall the excitement among Nigerian elites of course, that follows Nigeria’s attainment of President of the Security Council. What is the big deal? I always thought. Does this translate to food on the table for hungry peoples of Nigerian nations; transportation for peoples of Nigerian nations; jobs for the peoples of Nigerian nations, light, water and sundry other unmet mundane needs of peoples of Nigerian nations.

Peoples of Nigerian nations should organize and demand Obasanjo to stand down in his international grandstanding. All this Aremu magah, magah, as the Igbo would say, is all about Aremu the man, not the peoples of Nigerian nations.

People of Nigerian nations should further demand that the current members of the Security Council visit Nigeria to witness the suffering peoples of Nigerian nations endure daily.

Then they will see every reason why Obasanjo must not be accorded the regard he seeks in the international arena.

If an African country deserves a prestigious position, it is South Africa. Let Mandela be the one to take his country to the UN on that date. Mandela set the pace for respect for citizens’ franchise.

Next door to Nigeria is Ghana. Though a smaller nation, Ghana has historically led Nigeria by the nose in a show of what a nation of pride to her people should be. Ghana deserves international regard.

Even as Aremu’s National Distraction Talk-Shop goes on, it must be realized by every man, woman and child of the Nigerian nations, that it was in Aburi Ghana under the auspices of then leader of Ghana, Lt. General J.A. Ankrah, that the first genuine attempt was made with success to make Nigeria a nation at peace with itself, with progress as patrimony for its citizens.

But that was not to be, as leaders of the same Nigeria turned against the success. Very Nigerian, isn’t it?

Nearly 40-years later, Nigeria is still bumbling about like a tired white elephant project itself, still gunning for prestige project, white elephant project, this time a seat at the UN Security Council.

What is more important, national prestige or people’s welfare? A two-year kid has a ready response to this question – the latter precedes the former.

But those that rule Nigeria make no mistake about the fact that for nearly forty-years, they have been playing catch up with all two-year olds out there, and dashing and quashing the future of peoples of Nigerian nations in the process.

June 16, 2005

Peter Opara is the author of Understanding the Nigerian Nation Tribes – Why they Boil; Think In Time – Essays and Encounters of the Last Quarter of the 20th Century; The Man of Biafra in the City Where America Began

Posted by Administrator at 05:46 AM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2005

Reflections of the Warrior of the Light VI: The Correct Vibration, Discipline, Compassion, and Accepting Destiny

by Paulo Coelho --- The Correct Vibration

The warrior of the light knows it is impossible to live in a state of total relaxation.

He has learned from the archer that in order to fire the arrow into the distance, one must keep the bow taut. He has learned from the stars that only an inner explosion allows them to shine. The warrior notes that, upon negotiating an obstacle, the horse tenses its muscles.

But he never mistakes tension for nervousness.

Discipline and Compassion

The warrior of the light always manages to balance Severity and Mercy. To reach one’s dream, one must have a firm will – and an enormous capacity for giving oneself up.

Although he has an objective, the path leading there is not always that which he imagines.

This is why the warrior uses discipline and compassion. God never abandons his children – but His designs for Providence are unfathomable, and He builds our road using our own steps.
Using discipline and deliverance, the warrior does not allow his gestures to become a routine. A habit can never command important movements.

Accepting Destiny

The moment he starts walking, a warrior of the light recognizes the Way. Each rock, each bend welcomes him. He identifies with the mountains and brooks, sees a little of his soul in the plants, animals and birds of the field.
Then, by accepting help from God and God’s Signs, he allows his Personal Legend to guide him towards the duties his life has reserved for him.

Some nights he has nowhere to sleep, on others he suffers from insomnia. He discovers the suffering of certain lost illusions, and the despair of bestowing too much expectation on important moments.
"Such is the Way," thinks the warrior. "It was I decided to take this route."

All his power lies in this phrase. He chose the path along which he walks, and must not complain.

Posted by Administrator at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)

Obianuju Arinze: A Promising Igbo Woman

by Uche Nworah --- Call her a woman on a mission, and you won’t be far wrong, still in her 20s,Obianuju’s career track record is already amazing and if she carries on in this manner, it won’t be long before we start seeing her face and name tag in the boardrooms of giant corporations. In the countdown to her Harvard graduation, she agreed to open up her life in this e-interview. An inspirational story for Nigerian and African women from one of their own.

Uche Nworah: Tell us about yourself?

Obianuju Arinze: My name is Obianuju Arinze and I am somewhere in my twenties! I grew up mostly in Nigeria. Growing up in Nigeria was possibly the best thing that happened to me and was fun and enjoyable. I grew up as the youngest of 5 children and definitely was not spoilt at least not by my siblings. My parents from a very young age taught me that I had the ability to achieve anything that I wanted and I just had to keep working on it and praying to God. Growing up as the youngest thought me at a very young age to learn to give as well as I got, to stand up for myself and find ways to make my voice heard. My family environment was a very happy and loving home to grow up and I credit them with helping me become who I am today.

For me, the belief that anything is possible with the grace of God and hard work is very important. As an adult, I often remember this saying that my grandmother used often “chin-chi si umu ya, fa rapusia na ife di oku ga eme si jua oyi” (the bedbug said to her children, don’t worry every hot thing will get cold in the end). This is important because apparently only very hot things can kill a bedbug. As a result, whatever I was doing, I just prayed and kept at it till it worked out if I really wanted it bad enough. If not, I let go and moved on, incorporating the key learnings into my next project.

Uche Nworah: What about your educational background?

Obianuju Arinze: I went to Federal Government Girls College, Potiskum now in Yobe State, Nigeria, and then to the University of North London where I graduated with a 1st class degree in Accounting & Finance. I graduated from the Harvard Business School with an MBA in June 2005.

Uche Nworah: What was it like living in London?

Obianuju Arinze: When I first got to London, living there was quite difficult, all of a sudden all the things I took for granted in Nigeria weren’t there anymore. I was working and going to school and it was difficult. But I am an adaptable person and I quickly adapted and decided to make the best of everything. On the other hand, London wasn’t as difficult as it could have been since I had lived in London as a child before my family moved to Nigeria and had almost all my siblings there and loads and loads of other relatives. Career-wise, I joined Merrill Lynch as an analyst after graduation from the university. I moved to another Investment Bank, also in London about two years later. I definitely have been very blessed in my career to date and gained tremendous experience from these two roles.

Uche Nworah: At what point did you decide to go to Harvard, and what motivated you?

Obianuju Arinze: I enjoyed investment banking but could not see myself doing it for the rest of my life. On the other hand, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to be when I grew up so to speak. I have a thirst for knowledge and enjoy being in business but I knew that to be the best that I could be in that arena; I needed to increase the tools in my professional tool kit. While there are surely other avenues to further one’s education, after much research and analysis, I decided that an MBA was the best route for me. I applied to Harvard Business School (HBS) because of the following: - a) the 100% case study method of teaching which I believe is the best simulation of real life events that one would face as a business person; b) the Harvard brand which cannot be underestimated c) the collegial atmosphere of the school as about 70% of the student body live in this really beautiful campus.

Harvard Class of 2005

Uche Nworah: Who funded your Harvard studies? And what does it cost to get a Harvard MBA?

Obianuju Arinze: HBS has this policy that if an applicant is accepted, he or she should not be unable to attend just because of money. As a result, the school (like many other business schools) has an arrangement with Citibank to provide all students that apply with a student loan up to the student’s budget as decided by the school. For 2004/2005, I think it was $62,000 a year for a single student and slightly higher for married students and covers basically everything from tuition to living expenses. Irrespective of your nationality and without any American co-signer required (unlike many other business schools), any student is able to borrow from Citibank any amount up to that $62,000 for the year. The Citibank loan like any other loans has to be repaid over a maximum 15 years commencing 6 months after graduation but there are many fellowships and scholarships available that you don’t have to repay, that students can also apply for.

Uche Nworah: Would you say that the Harvard MBA opens doors?

Obianuju Arinze: Yes, I believe the Harvard MBA does open many doors for many reasons including a) the brand which gives the graduates a certain amount of credibility; b) with thousands of alumni around the world, the power of the network is obviously overwhelming; c) most importantly, the knowledge gained from fellow students and professors is unbelievable, that with a Harvard MBA you should be able to perform very well in your chosen career as the brand and network can only do so much and you have to actually perform once you get that job.

Uche Nworah: What was it like at Harvard, In terms of the academic rigours and challenges, did the Harvard myth live up to your expectations?

Obianuju Arinze: The first year especially was very difficult with reading and preparing for three cases a day/5 days a week, being involved in section and club related activities, making new friends and trying to stay in touch with old ones and family. There just seemed to be insufficient hours in any day to complete all your tasks. Also in the first year, most students who were used to be being the best in their class at college or high school are suddenly faced with others who you think are a lot smarter and all the insecurity that comes with that. To make matters worse, we are graded on a forced curve where only a certain number could get a particular grade so unlike other places where if you deserved an “A” grade you got it, here. You only got that grade as long as someone else did not deserve it more by performing better and once the maximum number of people that can get that grade is reached, you automatically go to the next grade.

Second year for most was very different as by then we had learnt how to navigate the complicated intricacies of school life, prioritise our schedules and actually choose the classes you wanted to take unlike in the first year where all the classes are compulsory. First year was likened to a planned economy and second year a perfect capitalist economy

All in all, HBS has far exceeded any expectation I ever had or could have thought of and definitely a lot more difficult than I expected.

Uche Nworah: Where do you see the Nigerian woman today, in terms of their rising career profile?

Obianuju Arinze: I believe every Nigerian woman is unique in her own right but to generalise, I would say that she can be who she wants to be. Although it’s now common and somewhat accepted for her to concentrate on her career over marriage and family, most Nigerian women I know today would prefer to have both the career and the family.

Uche Nworah: Any advice for the millions of Nigerian women who obviously would like to be in your shoes?

Obianuju Arinze: Always be true to yourself and try to do things because it is the right thing for you and not because your friends are doing it. While I am a great believer in people finding what they are passionate about and then pursuing it, be practical – if you, like most of us in this world do not wake up with one thing you are passionate about popping into your head, please my sister, find something you at least like and be doing it till you figure out the passion stuff because I believe that not doing anything because you are looking for your calling is a waste of that great potential.

Dare to dream – believe that you can be anything you want, then have a plan to achieve, do your research, network (you won’t believe the power of networking) and most importantly pray. If you want to be a doctor and you are worried about funding, do your research and you’d be surprised the amount of scholarships out there, talk to people who may have gone through similar things or who may know of such people and they will give you information. If you want to go to Oxford, Harvard etc, find out how all those people got admitted. Honestly, I was thinking of HBS more than 5 years ago and for the life of me, did not know how I would get there. I talked to people (didn’t know many that had gone there), read books and any other research to find out how the people that were admitted got in and then created the package that I believed they were looking for.

Don’t be afraid of failure – You are definitely going to fail in some things and it can be a positive if you feedback the lessons into your life. Everyone fails sometimes, but true failure in my view is when you let that one failure dictate the rest of your life and yes I know it’s often easier said than done but you have to persevere.

Uche Nworah: Would you say that as a woman, in a male dominated world, you always have to work extra hard to prove your self?

Obianuju Arinze: Sure you have to work harder to prove your self and that is also true for a black person in a majority white country. However I believe that since you can’t change the fact that you are a black woman, the only practical thing to do is to ensure that you are very good in what you do, perform well and let the people around you know that you are performing well. Talking about how well we are performing is often the hardest thing to talk to managers and colleagues about for me and many other professional Nigerian women that I know but the sad part is that it is often not enough to be doing well, you also have to be seen to be doing well and in most cases, no one but yourself is going to let others see that.

Uche Nworah: Now that you have the esteemed Harvard MBA, what’s next?

Obianuju Arinze: Ultimately I would like to set up my own businesses but for now I plan on gaining more professional experience and learning more about running a successful company. I will be joining The Boston Consulting Group as a consultant later this year, but first I want to chill out for a couple of weeks, maybe travel around for a while, and refresh my mind for the coming challenges with Boston consulting group.

Uche Nworah: Were there other Nigerians in your Harvard class?

Obianuju Arinze: Yes, there were other Nigerians in my class and we all have gotten to know each other very well over the last 2 years and are now all quite close to each other.

Uche Nworah: Have you ever thought about taking your skills back to Nigeria, to work either for the Nigerian government just like the Finance Minister (Mrs Okonji - Iweala)?

Obianuju Arinze: Sure, I have often thought about it and would seriously consider any interesting offers. But I don’t have any job offers in Nigeria for now and would really not consider moving back to Nigeria without any concrete plans.

Uche Nworah: What would it take to get you to come back to Nigeria to work?

Obianuju Arinze: The right opportunity both from a personal perspective as well as a professional one!!

Uche Nworah: Now, this is personal, Are you married or single? And do you think that men get intimated by career conscious women like you?

Obianuju Arinze: I am single and I believe that the right man for me would not necessarily be intimidated by a professional woman. The woman on the other hand, doesn’t have to flaunt her professional success. As forward looking as I am, I am still a product of my upbringing and believe that women just as men have a role to play and while these roles are dynamic in their definitions, as a woman, you can’t be disrespecting your man just because you are successful and the man too needs to be successful in his own right. I don’t believe that success is all about money so when I say the man has to be successful; it’s not about him being rich and what not, but about him fulfilling his potential in whatever area.

Uche Nworah: What do you do in your free time?

Obianuju Arinze: My friends are very important to be both old and new ones so I try to hang out with them as often as possible. We go out to restaurants, movies or just hang out at home. I love watching movies and recently discovered that one of my cousins has loads of Nigerian movies and so have been watching a lot of those. I love to travel so I try to go somewhere new as often as possible even if it’s just a city close by that I’d never been to before. I love meeting new people and learning new things and currently trying to learn Spanish to add to my English, Igbo, Hausa and formerly passable French (mostly forgotten now). I go to the gym (though it’s definitely not a hobby) and trying to pick up running (who knows I may just run a marathon in 1 million years time). Lastly I read a lot – mostly fiction and read about 5 books a week and if money wasn’t an object would probably read more. The downside is that since I’ve read for a large part of my life, practice did make perfect and I read so fast now that I finish the book faster than I thought that I have to go look for another one. Thank God for libraries and online free books.

Uche Nworah: Please describe your ideal man for us

Obianuju Arinze: A man that knows who he is and what he wants in life and would intellectually challenge me. He has to share my moral values, be God fearing with a strong moral compass and will stand up for what he believes in. A man who understands that our relationship is of utmost importance and would work with me to sustain the relationship. Someone who has ambition and purpose in life and working towards fulfilling his potential in whatever area. I also like a man who is family oriented and would go that extra mile for his family as my family is very important to me. He has to believe that romance is not a foreign language and be willing to show it through words and deeds. Sense of humour and the ability to laugh at oneself is also important as well as the ability to communicate.

Ultimately, my ideal man has to understand the value of compromise while still being strong enough to tell me to “sit down and shut up’ when deserved. He has to understand that he cannot be violent and that dialogue should solve most problems.

Uche Nworah is a freelance writer and would wish to interview Nigerians who are excelling in their professions either in Nigeria or in the Diaspora, their stories may be an inspiration for us all. Do you know of anybody? Please email their details to

Posted by Administrator at 10:48 PM | Comments (1)

June 12 Protest: Gambari not Worried

by Laolu Akande --- New York Just about the time Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari was being named the new United Nations top political affairs chief, some Nigerian activists under the banner of Nigeria Liberty Forum, NLF launched a campaign to protest his participation at yet another forum in New York city-Medger Evers College last Sunday June 12.

Although the date fell on June 12, the event was about a movie screening on the Rwandan Genocide organised by the College, Rwandan diplomats and Celebrate Africa Foundation, led by Nigerian veteran journalist in New York, Dr. Chika Onyeani.

Even though the planners of the event apparently only chose the June 12 day innocently, the activists however saw the event holding on June 12, a day that has deeper significance for Nigerians, with the participation of a perceived June 12 opposition figure as a cause for protest and therefore drew the battle line against Gambari. According to Omoyele Sowore, one of the two Nigerians who carried out the protest June 12 is our day.

The activists contend that in recent times Gambari had become the darling of the Nigerian community in the US. In an article, Omoyele Sowore, the spokesperson for the activists lamented that Prof. Gambari was now a darling of so many Nigerian organizations, he is getting awards and making speeches, even recently a group named ˜World Congress of Afenifere invited people to come to New Jersey to hear him speak..."

For him, this would be an underserved recognition because of Gambari's service as Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the UN under the late General Sani Abacha.

Specifically Sowore alleged that Gambari was involved in the burning of a top June 12 activist in New York, Chief Jumoke Ogunkeyede. Ogunkeyede had accused the Abacha government as responsible for the burning of his private residence in New York in 1995. Ogunkeyede was the leading prodemocracy activist in New York, a well-known and respected Nigerian activist in the US. His group almost single-handedly achieved the renaming-by the New York City council- of the corner in front of the Nigeria House in New York in honour of Kudirat Abiola, after her murder during the Abacha regime. He also got the city council to issue several resolutions condemning Abacha government at the peak of the June 12 crisis.

But in an interesting twist, Ogunkeyede said he does not believe that Gambari had a hand in the arson as alleged by Sowore. Ogunkeyede who had participated in the 2003 AD gubernatorial primaries in Osun State explained that at a meeting in 1999 with Gambari and the Owaa Obokun when the traditional ruler visited New York, Gambari explained that he knew nothing about any arson and Ogunkeyede said he believed him.

According to Ogunkeyede he has since asked Sowore to desist from making that claim. But he added that he still held the Abacha junta responsible for the burning of his house.

At the Medger Evers College event last Sunday, according to reports, two activists, Bukola Oreofe and Sowore Omoyele showed up and mounted a two-man protest against Gambari. According to Onyeani, one of the event organisers, when he went to receive Gambari he saw the 2 Nigerians carrying placards and suspecting they were protesting, Onyeani asked them to come and meet Gambari and they obliged.

According to Onyeani, they both came and Gambari spoke to them. Prof. Ibrahim Gambari also confirmed that he indeed met with the two protesters as he was entering the venue of the event. He said he told Sowore, who had written and made allegations about him that he-Gambari, was hot hiding, but that his allegations in the writings and campaign would have had credibility if the activists had asked for his own side of the story.

According to Gambari, he then gave one of the activists his official card containing his contact information and said he would be open to meeting and discussing with them.

Onyeani, in his own narration said Sowore then asked for a photo opportunity with Gambari, at which point Onyeani said he asked him to wait till the end of the event. When Sowore was asked about this, he flatly denied asking for a photo opportunity, but did not deny meeting and talking with Gambari.

The narration of the activists, as reported on the Internet is a bit different. A report said Prof. Gambari, who was received on arrival by Chika Onyeani, President of Celebrate Africa Foundation, was whisked into the auditorium as protesters heckled him.

The report added "We are reliably informed that Gambari is considering a run for the Presidency of Nigeria in 2007 and views his links with the military, especially, the Abacha Regime as a possible sore point with Nigerians. Gambari was Nigeria's Ambassador to the United Nations during the Abacha Regime. The June 12th lecture was a public relations event engineered by Onyeani on behalf of Amb. Gambari. From all indications the PR move backfired as the Nigeria Liberty Forum engineered the failure of the event.

Gambari and Onyeani however said the event went well inspite of the protest by the "two young Nigerians."

Commenting on the matter, another well known June 12 activist in the US and president of the Nigerian Democratic Movement, Prof. Mobolaji Aluko, a lecturer at the prestigious Howard University in Washington DC said the allegations against Gambari by the activists were a little much. I do not support them.

According to Aluko, I did have reason to argue with Prof. Gambari on at least one occasion during that Abacha period, but he is not a venal person. Aluko said Gambari can be described as a middle-of-the-road diplomat during the Abacha period, noting that he even gave a

keynote speech during Obasanjo's first presidential inauguration, and I remarked my surprise to him after that occasion - was surprising and disturbing.

Aluko opined that Gambari's hands are tied" by Hausa-Fulani-Yoruba pedigree and diplomacy, not criminal venality.

He dismissed the accusation that Ambassador Gambari assisted, aided or abetted in the arson of Jumoke Ogunkeyede house, saying he wants prove that the house burning was indeed arson. Ogunkeyede however insisted that the burning of his house, which was prominently reported in the media, then was arson and he still holds the FG under Abacha responsible.

Aluko argued further: during the pro-democracy movement, one of my STEADFAST points was NEVER to demonize the opposition beyond what was necessary. In fact, that was where I often clashed with our comrades, when they sought to tell ALL SORTS OF LIES against the opposition (for example, at a time that Ambassador Carrington was "lifting oil" from the Abacha regime; etc.) and even against fellow comrades (e.g. that I was an Abacha spy, that some of us were "throwing bombs" in Nigeria, etc.), when in fact just telling the truth was sufficient.

Sowore himself has however conceded in an email posted on the Internet that he was not here in the US when the June 12 crises were on.

According to him, it is very interesting to read about the dynamics of the "anti-Abacha" struggle as it played out over here in the US. I was not here (US) to have witnessed what happened, but I could tell from the final results, especially with the demise of Abacha, that the international coalitions against military rule was besotted with internal wranglings and ego problems. It is very clear from the responses to my write-ups against Prof. Gambari that the only aspect that attracted criticisms was the reference made about the burning down of Jumoke's House in Brooklyn.

Sowore said he couldn't agree with the position that Prof. Gambari's "hands were tied" or that he was just doing his "job" as a diplomat.

Posted by Administrator at 09:16 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2005

Buba Marwa’s Appropriate Response to Cowards

by Peter Opara --- A couple of days ago, Nigerian journals reported that a plan to kill retired Brigadier General Buba Marwa had been uncovered.

As it is with non-full disclosure style of Nigerian reporting, it was and remains unclear, in fact unknown to the public still who it was that planned to kill Marwa. It is not known whether it was a person or a group of persons that planned to kill Marwa.

If it was either a person or a group of persons that planned to kill Marwa, the journals gave not a diddlysquat hint as to the origin, formation or history of the person or persons – that is if the person or persons that planned to kill Marwa were Nigerians, and if Nigerian(s), whether they are known to Marwa, whether they were from Marwa’s home state, from Abuja or some other parts of Nigeria.

It would also have been helpful if the modus vivendi and/or operandi of the person or persons were known, whether they were hired, whether they have been in the habit of killing and who their victims in the past might have been, why they do what they do.

Granted, some aspects of my posers as above might have come later, as a follow-up on the initial report – which we are yet to read – but initial hints touching on the above posers, would have richly informed the public, particularly those interested in enforcing the law in Nigeria, if any.

However, the man concerned, the man whose own life was at stake, Marwa responded to the ominous cloud about him in as brave a fashion as can be. He was stoic. He was also reasonably fatalistic.

In his response, Marwa seemed to be looking the killer or killers poised against him in the face and speaking to them, saying, you may try to kill me, but the consequences to you will be devastating.

Then he noted, as would a man of sound mind, and a measure of humility, that it is God that has the power to keep life, extend life or terminate life.

To the would-be killers, Marwa meant to say, it will not be an easy ride for you; if you think I am going down like a wimp, think again.

Marwa was right on! Nothing could have been more apropos as a state of mind, and as a response to COWARDS, as those reported, who choose as their modus vivendi, to spill the blood of their fellow man.

Cowards, these are; killers, assassins that now lurk every nook and cranny of a cantankerous but once safe and secure land – Nigeria.

Those that have made it their business to rule this land of diverse nations of peoples, Nigeria, have also engineered rampant murder and assassination among themselves, and these acts have trickled down to hunt defenseless common people.

General Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia, who like Marwa remains the best performing military administrator known to peoples of Nigerian nations, called recently for the arming of the population; that is everyone owning a gun with which to defend himself or herself in a land now saturated by assassins and murderers.

There is no other way to deal with a coward or cowards which those in the business of either engineering or actually engaging in the business of blood spilling are, than to first let them know that you have got what they got – AK 47 or AK – 1 MILLION.

Let them know that them coming after you is a war that makes game everything they – the killer and/or their engineers hold most dear game. Their lives first – cowards love life; their wives, their children, their parents, even their material possessions – cowards are also about material possession.

For every member of Nigerian nations, Ogbemudia’s proposal will put teeth to a similar response as Marwa’s by them, should they, as they do daily, encounter the high and lowly cowardly killers, robbers and hired assassins that now pervade Nigeria.

And Nigerian journals can play their public service role even in this instance with full disclosure that arms investigations and prepares the common man to deal with finality, the dregs and ogres of society, which the blood spilling cowards such as those planning to kill Marwa represents.

June 14, 2005

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

Posted by Administrator at 09:54 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2005

Why Annan Promoted and Named African Gambari as top UN Political Chief: Secretary General moves to advance reform of world body, eyes legacy

by Laolu Akande, New York ---- In a move seen as advancing his bold reform agenda of the United Nations, the world body's Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan over the weekend named distinguished Nigerian diplomat and former External Affairs Minister Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari as the Under-Secretary-General and head of the UN's Department of Political Affairs.

In that capacity, Gambari now becomes the UN political affairs chief and highest adviser to the Secretary General, on political affairs.

Sources say Annan's move is a courageous effort that would establish his legacy of restructuring the UN for better efficiency, more effective task delivery and also further establish the place of Africa in the UN. Annan's "In Larger Freedom" report which details his UN reform agenda is up for discussion and decision by the heads of states in September at the General Assembly, and diplomats, especially from developing countries are already saying the report would in larger part, meet with resounding approval. It has been said that Annan's report is a comprehensive document that has something for every region represented at the UN.

Before now, Gambari who was already at the rank of Under-Secretary-General was the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Africa. But now he he would advise the Secretary General on the political affairs of the whole world as head of a full fledged department, where he would be expected to oversee and manage more than 200 staff in addition to seven field missions across the globe.

Gambari's appointment created a positive buzz within the UN community over the weekend in New York, particularly among permanent missions from around the world and the African group, considering his well regarded diplomatic outreach and finesse. Among some of the testy assignments that Gambari successfully accomplished at the UN includes the peaceful resolution of the almost intractable Angolan crises when Mr. Annan appointed him as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission to Angola (UNMA), from September 2002 to February 2003.

Prof. Gambari whose appointment takes effect next month would be replacing retiring Mr. Kieran Prendergast of Great Britain, effective 1 July 2005. When Mr. Annan annouced the early retirement of Prendergast last month, he said he would appoint somebody with a thorough knowledge of the UN as the new UN political affairs chief. Many see Gambari's appointment as a fulfilment of that promise.

In his current position, Gambari's functions include promoting UN and international support for African development in general and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). Sources said Gambari has been asked to pursue a vigorous reform of the UN Political Affairs Department.

When he takes office as UN's political affairs chief, Gambari would be expected to work to reinforce the UN Political Affairs department, especially its capacity to support mediation, especially as recommended by the High-Level panel, whose report forms a critical component of Mr. Annan's widely commended reform agenda.

He would advise and support Mr. Annan on prevention, management and resolution of armed conflict, including supporting the Secretary-general in his good offices role. As the top Annan aide on the world's political affairs, Gambari's new job also includes overseeing the analytical and diplomatic work at the UN, reviewing and analyzing ongoing and potential conflict situations across the world, while also formulating options for UN's engagement. Gambari would also serve on the UN Policy Committee of the Secretary-general and also chair the Global Security Group of UN senior officials.

Before joining the UN Secretariat in 1999, Gambari served as the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations. He was also a senior member of the Nigerian Delegation to ten sessions of the General Assembly. Prof. Gambari served as President of the Security Council on two occasions when Nigeria was a member of the Security Council. He also chaired the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid, which successfully saw the demise of apartheid and the establishment of democratic rule in South Africa.

Prior to his tenure as Ambassador/Permanent Representative, Mr. Gambari served as Minister of External Affairs of Nigeria. He had served as Director-General, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs.

Born in Nigeria in 1944, Gambari attended Kings College, Lagos, as well as the London School of Economics, where he obtained a Bachelor's degree in Political Science with a specialty in International Relations. He received his M.A. in 1970 and his Ph.D. in 1974 in Political Science/International Relations from Columbia University in New York.

From 1969 through 1983, he held a variety of teaching posts, beginning at the City University of New York, then the State University of New York at Albany, and later at Ahmadu Bello University, ABU in Zaria, Nigeria. He was Chairman of the Department of Political Science at ABU where he founded the first under-graduate program in International Studies in Nigeria. He was a Visiting Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Georgetown University and Howard University (1986-1989).

Gambari was also a Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, and a Resident Scholar with the Rockefeller Foundation Center in Italy. He has also authored several books and scholarly articles on international relations and foreign policy.

In recognition of a distinguished career as a scholar-diplomat, the University of Bridgeport (USA) awarded Prof. Gambari the Doctor of Humane Letters degree (honoris causa - 2002); the prestigious Johns Hopkins University elected him to membership of the University's Society of Scholars (2002); and the Federal Government of Nigeria awarded him the national honour, Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR).

Posted by Administrator at 09:43 PM | Comments (1)

June 04, 2005

Health for all the Poor Hard working Nigerians

by Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa --- There are so many promises – Health for all, Food for all, Water for all, Education for all, House for all, National Health Insurance, Economic Empowerment and Strategy Development, Eradication of Poverty et cetera. It does not mean much anymore, does it? The unpopular question is whether Nigeria can afford ALL. None of these is impossible if done with practical planning, reasonable statistics or estimate, in stages and by priority. Dedicated planners have tried and failed for reasons that went beyond their control.

The World Health Organization and the Federal Ministry of Health came up with Health For All by the year 2000, by Primary Health Care in the early 1980s in Nigeria. Health was defined as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. They wanted a level that would lead to socially and economically productive lives. So it was not just health, it was health for a purpose, that would raise standard of living of the poor.

If anyone wants to see hard working people, Nigeria is one of the places to look at. Raising standard of living in Nigeria should definitely apply to the hardest working people in the whole world. They work from dawn to dusk and hardly get any respect or a little pay for their sweat. They are the farmers, hunters, fishermen, hawkers, waste disposers and helpers in different homes. They hardly ask Nigeria for anything because they have given up. The meager earnings come from their sweat. Indeed, they believe Government is there for the big men not little people like them. If anything, Government takes from them in form of trading taxes on the spot. During elections, if there is any, they might be bribed with a bag of subsidized imported rice that would discourage production of their indigenous rice.

Health for all has been called names like social medicine, social justice or environmental justice but hidden in all these is how to spend the health money. Different countries have adopted a variety of programs to deal with their health situations. Some have established programs for the weakest members of their society or the working poor or the elderly. The amount of health care a country can afford is being debated in every country including Nigeria. In the end, the health need of the poor is cheaper and therefore cover more people compared to the exotic diseases of the very few.

If we go by what is already known, a Country like Nigeria would spend its health money on Primary Health Care and less on tertiary care. By that statement, I have already stepped on toes. Nigeria is a Country that talked primary care but spent on tertiary care. It could be a different situation if private companies establish private hospitals as we have in our State capitals while the Government supports them with left over money from primary care by strategic locations, sharing of diagnostic equipments and elective surgeries, like magnet teaching hospitals. As it is, Government hospitals are referral post for private hospitals. In cases where it is seen fit, patients are flown outside the Countries. I must hasten to say that it is not that simple. Whoever is sick, anywhere, wants the best healthcare his/her money can buy! Only a dying man knows the pinch of death.

This is loaded. We are making a choice here of where to spend health money and for whom. We can all agree that all the big hospitals in Nigeria can not function because of lack of equipment and maintenance. Even though, Nigerian doctors are some of the best in the world. Only so much out of our budget is allocated to health, most of which pays salary. Why build what we can not maintain for few people and neglect clinics we can use for many people? This question is answered differently as some examples will demonstrate how complicated it gets.

Britain used to have a liberal policy on health care for everyone regardless of how low the income. Some Nigerians also took advantage of this generosity. When Edward Heath became the Prime Minister, the Conservative started chipping away from what they considered free for all health care. Today, with a Labor Prime Minister, the tightening up has not been relaxed, so health care in Britain is not as generous to the users and foreigners have to pay a stiff price. While Sweden, Switzerland and Holland are still generous, changes have been made over the years that chipped away at the benefit. Recently, Germany Social Democrats lost an election in one of the largest Region to more conservation Christian Democrats, so the swing to the right in healthcare continues in Europe as more conservative governments win elections. This may lead to the rejection of European Union as some of the countries may want to retain their health and social fabric without interference from a central body or immigration.

These differences in approach between conservatives and liberals are more pronounced in America between United States and Canada. Canada has what is called, a single payer system. The tax is collected by the Government and everyone gets healthcare without paying directly. United States considers this socialist medicine and will not adopt this in any way. While everyone in Canada can see a doctor, go to hospital for treatment or an operation, you have to be insured in United States to get these services. It must be noted that United States has Government Insurance that barely cover both the poor and the elderly. Another experimental insurance now helps working poor to buy insurance at their place of work since they can not afford it.

There are reasonable justification for each of these two policies in Europe and America. It is briefly mentioned to appreciate how complicated decision of health planners and Governments are. If you open the health system without restrictions, more people will use it more often because money does not come directly from their pocket. The more money that people pay directly from their pocket, the less healthcare they use. As the cost of health care increases, insurance companies demand more money at the time of service and insurance premium increases. In US, unlike Canada, private companies with certain number of employees offer health insurance. Policy makers want to encourage more companies to offer health insurance. The Government should not do what private companies can do, United States health policy makers would argue.

However, people who can not afford healthcare postpone their ailment until it becomes grave before they see a doctor. In many cases, these ailments could have been prevented if there is access to healthcare. That is, prevention is better than cure. So in the United States, those without health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid may not have access to healthcare. Some use emergency services in the hospitals at certain point though. Since all the emergency departments can not take in all these patients, some of the hospitals have closed theirs.

They also point to weakness in the Canadian health system because of waiting period for elective surgery and diagnostic equipment. As a Canadian that has the money may cross the border for these services if he can not wait, so does an American who finds healthcare cheaper in Canada. For example, to deliver baby in Canada or buy prescription drugs.

Cuba has a very good health care system; they can even afford to send doctors to other countries. Their salary is not that different from others in Cuba as in Russia. But I learnt my lesson in the seventies when a teacher I had thought was an armchair professor told me Nigeria and Kenya will never be socialist countries. There are certainly more than the scenario I have given but this is enough to make my point about what we need to take into consideration to fit our way of life in many developing countries like Nigeria.

Traditional Medicine: Africans know how to care for one another. We do not send our relatives to some home to be cared for, except hospitals. That caring in us, must be cherished. There is a purpose for every one of us in life, so we must never loose sight of our usefulness no matter how small or mighty we may be. We cry so much about Nigeria, we forget to count our blessings.

Africans have been looking after their sick and also took care of their poor before the advent of the missionaries. People came from outside and rediscovered our aspirin, antibiotics, antifungal, different types of drinks that cleanse the body (agbo). We have limited these as a profession that is passed from certain parents to children. Even in the worst of times, we had silver linings. During the dark period of Nigeria-Biafra war, we improvised, so many discoveries were made to sustain the sick, body and soul. As soon as the war passed, we lost most of them.

The reason some of the traditional medicine are unattractive is the lack of transparency, unsanitary and sometimes poisonous portion/medication associated with it. Some method of traditional medicine is shrouded in secrecy because recommended palliative is worse than the problem. We now have human parts dealers searching and selling all over the world acting as middlemen for medicine men that makes unholy demands. Go to some of those Ethnic markets around the world, there are locations where banned animal parts are sold as aphrodisiac or “donated organs” for transplant arranged.

While others around the world have investigated and improved on their witchcraft, magic and applied science to sort fake, deceit from medicine, we cry in amazement when our shrines are exposed. We pretend as if it only happens in certain part of Nigeria or only in certain part of the world. A few traditional kings have been chased out of their domain and blame for every calamity for not performing ungodly rituals before ascending their throne. Meantime, AIDS, malaria and sickle cell diseases are still ravaging our population in spite of cures that has not been fruitfully developed.

This hypocrisy can be understood if we examine the justification for healthcare to preserve dear life compared to the taking of life. The whole world have used religion, communism, democracy, capital punishment, slavery, self defense, war, even sex, et cetera to justify the reason for taking life. We brag about how many times over, we can destroy the world and the use of preemptive strikes. But for the men and women of reason who do not succeed all the time, a few humans all over the world can destroy long established peaceful co existence by disguising killing as sacrifice. We must preserve life through healthcare not sacrifice life before the altar of our selfish ends. We have to work continuously on our opportunistic primitive instinct. We have to establish civilize and reasonable ways to control our population.

Primary Health Care in the 1980s: Implementation of Health For All By The Year 2000. There is no way to discuss Primary Health Care in Nigeria without the world greatest community health worker, Professor Olikoye Ransome Kuti. He had started the work in Nigeria with International grants and was determined to take healthcare to the hardest working Nigerians in their towns and villages. By the time the Federal Ministry of Health took over Primary Care, many people expressed doubts as the Professor returned to University of Lagos Teaching Hospital. Nevertheless, he remained committed to the goals as the guiding light. The irony was, he later became the Minister of Health.

Nigeria had 19 States in this time period. 20 health clinics, 5 primary health centers and one comprehensive health centers were built in each State. The plan was flexible enough to accommodate the existing clinics or hospitals or priority of each State. Health Officers (physician assistants), nurses and health aides were trained in the schools of Health Technology and posted to the rural areas to staff the centers. Health Officers and Aides were local enough to prevent brain drain. All the mono trained health aids (leprosy or tuberculosis aides) were multi trained. It did not take much more to train them about simple combination of salt and water for oral re hydration in the case of diarrhea, or keep surroundings clear of stagnant water, or boiling of well water. Conferences, workshops and trainings were organized on regular basis to bridge knowledge between Teaching Hospitals and the staff of the centers.

In spite of reduced allocation from the Federal Ministry of Health, International organization worked in unison with the staff of Primary Health Care Implementation Agency. WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA supplied logistics for training, vehicles for transportation of staff into towns and villages, provided grants for hotel accommodation in the capitals cities. In between workshops and conferences, staff would leave the hotels at dawn to be driven to rural areas for training, to monitor field health officers, nurses, aides, inspect buildings and supply equipments. By the time Primary Health Staff were driven back to their hotels, it would be dusk. Nevertheless, reports and minutes of the day had to be written for presentation the following day and accountability to funding agencies. It was a demanding but fulfilling job. Who could have predicted that a Nigerian military Dictator would cause international isolation of the whole Country?

There was this village, like many, where traditional medicine man was so popular, more people were patronizing him than the health centers. Fortunately, he had grown children. Those children were recruited as health officer, nurse and health aides. Before they graduated, traffic increased at the health centers. Some of the traditional medicine men who agreed to take some training were awarded certificate to display. This way, Primary Health Care was able to monitor them, expanded and gained the trust of the communities.

Professor Adeoye Lambo, who was the head of World Health Organization at one point, included traditional medicine in his practice at Aro Hospital in those days. The fact that traditional medicine is not fully integrated in Nigeria only shows that more advocates are needed. Nigerian videos are now demystifying ritual practices long considered sacred. Many people are appalled by the fetish practice on these videos. The good part is that people now understand and see what was hidden and so can be investigated and sanitized.

We have to look at our priorities in terms of food, water, shelter - our basic needs; without health everything else is useless. It seems like a long time ago now, when India and China populations were starving while Nigerians had enough to eat and drink. Both Countries were able to solve their hunger problem and mobilized their bare foot doctors to provide adequate health care for their populations.

It has been identified that our health problem, like most developing countries, weighs heavily on the infectious and the parasitic diseases. Some would argue that the greatest achievement that solved this problem in Europe was not medicine, but engineering control of sanitary sewage and polluted water. Nobody would deny the role of Epidemiology though.

Expanded Program on Immunization ran into trouble in Kano about a year ago because of suspicion of hidden birth control agenda. During this period of suspended polio vaccine, some children came down with a virus that could have been prevented. Finally, it was resolved between the politicians, traditional rulers and health policy makers. They must be commended for their effort and this working cooperation should be extended to other programs and areas. Population control has never been an easy sell among conservatives all over the world.

While growing up in Nigeria, one of the politician’s solutions to population growth was that Nature would take care of it by natural disaster. Some years later, at Sick Children Hospital, one of the physicians was making arrangements to lead a team to Africa. One of his colleagues asked him who was going to feed all the children after they have been saved. Being young and idealistic, I was furious at this question which I thought was callous. Luckily my skin color could not betray my changed face. I later found out that the same physician was part of the team traveling. A few years ago, in environmental health, I was confronted by an angry lady, sharing the views of many, demanded my presence from one of our senior environmental investigators. She wanted to know why she had to spend money to remove lead paint from her house. If lead poisoning was more important than food and shelter, the same money needed in order to provide for her children.

The point here is the choice between food, water, shelter and healthcare is not easy but Primary Health Care success can help sort it out and solve population explosion. Indeed, population control is part of primary health care as family planning. We heard so many stories about China and their method of forced family planning. If we do not institute family planning and there is population explosion gravitating toward our major cities as in Nigeria, we might overrun our facilities and our food supply (haven’t we?). At this point food is the primary concern of the family and not healthcare. There should not be competition between food and health. The reasons for this are the diseases caused by lack of proper nutrition and the diseases caused by lack of adequate supply of clean drinking water. In countries with abundant supply of food and clean water, selecting what to eat is the problem. But in other countries, getting what to eat and access to safe water are the problem. Nigeria sits by Atlantic Ocean! In any case, health education and information have to come from primary health care.

Kwashiorkor and malnutrition in the form of eating the same thing without varieties is common, if there is something to eat. My experience is that in spite of variety of food, there is that tendency to eat the same thing all the time. Why eat only corn meal, or just gari, or only hamburger or just fish and chips day and night when food in different combinations, shapes, colors and makes in small portions will do? My favorite dish was plantain (dodo) rice and beans. We had a military Governor in those days who said, he only ate pounded yam three times a day! Vegetables grow in abundance in tropical countries but imported food sometimes replaces the taste of varieties.

There are different types of sugar drinks these days that people, especially children forget about plain water. It gets worse with lack of clean portable water. Diseases of stagnant dirty water are endemic. Guinea worm (dracunculiasis) or malaria by mosquito larva from stagnant water. Snail fever (schitosomiasis) while swimming or bathing in dirty water, elephantiasis (lymphatic filiariasis) causing massive swelling of the leg or scrotum. River blindness (onchocerciasis) worms damage eyes. These and many others sound sick without catching it.

We can prolong life in a growing population: Living a long productive life is better than having a short life that can not care and provide for those we leave hind. A productive life includes the ability to control ourselves in synch with our environment. Therefore a predictable long life is a product of healthy environment and a short life is a product of sick and polluted environment.

In a well controlled environment with reliable statistics, we are noticing a decrease in population growth. Some families are having less or no children. It has got to a stage where Governments are paying families to have children. It happens in Quebec, Canada. Children also get baby bonus in Canada. In United States, the tax system rewards those with children up to a point. Some of these countries in Europe and America now have older population without enough younger population to support their social security. The rich have money, the poor have many children.

The result of adequate planning for both economic and social well being is the ability to cater for controlled population. Health For All means physical and mental peace in a planned environment by a controlled population. As the population aged gracefully, they determine the number of their support and replacement.

Posted by Administrator at 01:29 AM | Comments (0)

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