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July 30, 2005

Home for the Holidays: Uche Nworah gets Hitched

by Uche Nworah --- I try to visit Nigeria at least once every year, and so it was with great excitement that I made my way to Heathrow airport on the Friday afternoon, 2 days after the London bombings to catch my Virgin Atlantic flight to Lagos.

Just as I had expected, Heathrow airport was literally on a roll, there were passengers everywhere, and security officers as well, the long queues at the security screening points stretched over a mile long. You could feel a sense of heightened danger, no thanks to the terrorists but like they say, the music must play on and life must go on. When I finally completed the screening process, I still had time on my hands and so I decided to raid the duty free shops for some last minute bargains. This is how I came to meet Claudio, who turned out to be the best perfume salesman I have ever met. If you ever have to travel through Heathrow terminal 3, I suggest that you check Claudio out, especially if you fancy a laugh. You may be wondering what is so special about him, well, I still find it hard to explain but when you consider that his fellow sales assistants (the women in particular) stand in awe and listen to his antics anytime he is charming a customer, you will get the flow of the type of sales person that he is.

Claudio is Italian, and handsome and speaks English with an accent, he is the type of person that can sell ice to an Eskimo, or even charm the birds off the trees, in the course of our banter, I told him that I was going to Nigeria to get married, he later spoke to my fiancée on the phone and convinced her that the Chic perfume by Carolina Herrera was more sensual than Sexy, which she originally wanted. I could then see why Italian men have such a great reputation, as great studs and lovers hence their Italian stallion image. In addition to the perfumes I bought, I left the duty free shop with a beautiful hand woven Victoria Secrets ladies’ handbag, Claudio’s wedding gift to my fiancée.

I slept all through the flight, I had planned to catch a movie or two on the flight but my body just wouldn’t play ball, probably as a result of the sleepless nights I had had to endure in the days leading to my travel, a period that it seemed as if I was doing a million things at the same time. Thank God for his mercies, our flight was quite uneventful, we arrived Lagos on schedule but a little incident at the airport almost deflated our excitement.

The pilot had taxied down to the gangway for passengers to disembark, only to be told that we couldn’t use that particular gangway as it was broken, this was after we had waited a few minutes, and so the pilot announced that he was waiting for a tow truck to tow the plane to another gangway, this was when the mild drama started, the tow truck took ages in coming and by time the pilot’s voice came on again over the PA system, our nerves were already on edge, the pilot announced that the tow truck was in place alright but then had broken down while already latched unto the aircraft, and that he was waiting for another tow truck to come and tow the tow truck that had come to tow the aircraft.

Trust Nigerians, mobile phones started going on and off, and people were almost screaming, memories of the recent Air France cow incident at the Port Harcourt airport were still very fresh on our minds. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, the tow truck was towed away making way for another tow truck to tow us to our final disembarking point. You could see that this incident was not Obasanjo’s fault; somebody had failed to do his or her job properly, all I could do was feel sorry for the president and his economic team, whose economic and social reforms programmes are being easily thwarted and undermined by sloppy and mediocre civil servants who are all over the place. This is no best way to say welcome to Nigeria to potential foreign investors, assuming we were.

I spent a couple of hours in Lagos before flying out to Abuja in the afternoon to put finishing touches to my coming wedding. It was in Abuja that I ‘died’ and ‘resurrected’ many times over, if there was anything such as a heart somersault, I experienced it in great measure. As is now required by most churches, couples are now expected to present a HIV/AIDS status certificate, obtained from their own recommended hospitals before they can be wed at the church.

HIV/AIDS is something I read about or thought happened to other people, I have never had to confront the issue in any kind of capacity, but from the moment I submitted a blood sample at the hospital in Abuja for HIV screening, I knew that my life will never be the same again. I have never felt so vulnerable in my life; I felt I was standing on the threshold of life and death, pain and suffering. Several images of the folly of youth rolled past me; I saw faces and heard voices from the past, finally, the chickens were coming home to roost I thought. I recalled my days of living dangerously, and recounted a million names ranging from Ekaette, Ngozi to Bunmi. God, please spare me, I prayed.

How I managed to conceal my anxiety from my fiancée, who had driven me to the hospital, is still a miracle. I tried to be the man, be courageous under fire. We were asked to come the next day to collect the result, this next day turned out to be the longest day of my life; it was as if time had stood still. Finally it was verdict time. I made sure that we were at the hospital on time, as I stepped into the laboratory offices; I felt so frail; my head was bowed to the side. When I handed over my receipt of payment, and demanded for my result, The lab assistant said that there was a small problem, I almost fainted, beads of sweat gathered all over my face, my fiancée asked me if I was alright, and I said yes but she wondered aloud why I was sweating in the cool rainy weather.

What was the problem, then? I enquired, fully convinced that I had not made it, hence her reluctance not to give me my result. She asked us to wait outside for a few minutes, those few minutes wait were the most agonizing minutes of my entire life. I then saw her whispering to a male colleague who she had drafted in to deal with our situation. Finally she called us in, again and then apologized for asking us to come personally to collect the result, she said that the hospital normally sends the results directly to the church. I pleaded with her and told her that I couldn’t stand the agony of waiting anymore; she must have taken pity on me seeing my distraught state. When she handed over the test result, my fiancée was standing beside me, and we both quickly glanced at the paper, all I could see was the O positive sign, which on careful scrutiny was only an indication of my blood group. As we scanned the piece of document which at that time seemed to be holding my life, we quickly came to the section at the bottom where my HIV status was recorded as negative. Saying that I was relieved will be stating the obvious. I was alive again. I now have my second chance. As I looked at my beautiful bride, I wondered what might have been. Right now, I can only say Thank you Jesus.

Uche Nworah is a freelance writer and lives in London. He is now married to Uche Nworah.

Posted by Administrator at 03:50 PM | Comments (4)

July 28, 2005

No Power can Break Nigeria but Contentious Issues within in Collaboration with Foreign Corporate Interests, Part II

by Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa --- Part 2 It is not an Ethnic but a Class Thing There was this teacher of mine in the sixties who warned us about the dangers of both capitalism and communism. He described capitalism as the oppression of the poor by the rich, and communism as the oppression of the rich by the poor.

As I mentioned above, we will still have our differences if all Nigerians belonged to the same Ethnic Group. All these sentiments about who is Ijaw or Kanuri are used by bourgeoisie to gather political and economic support while the poor no matter which part of Nigeria they come from suffer. If we are fighting about money, most of it is gone before it reaches the poor man.

How many poor people do you think really care about imported goods like tooth picks, cheese, champagne, Mercedes Benz, Rolls Royce, BMW, marble and Barley shoes, jeans, apples, Evian water, uncle Benz rice, Swiss or French lace, Persian rugs, etc. All these take our foreign earnings. It has been suggested that if all these items were banned, the Nigerian Government would fall! We have a case where less than 20% of the population is enjoying the income of the whole Country, while the rest wallow in poverty!

Each time a rogue is caught in any part of the Country, even in the Niger Delta, men of “timber and caliber” would say he is our son ( and in Niger Delta, our money). Look at the investigative reports on oil bunkering, you see Nigerians of all tongue and ethnic varieties colluding to defraud the rest of us. Do you think this people are suffering or using the masses to fill their pockets?

Nigeria could not account for about 50% of its oil wealth before the present Government because of oil bunkering. That has only improved to a loss of about 30%. Russian crew and oil companies with unknown revenue are operating with impunity in spite of repeated admonishment by our law enforcers. No country can afford to loose so much of its resources without declaring war on perpetrators. The Nigerian Navy that was supposed to police the high sea became an accomplice. Most of the Admirals are from the South, making returns to their collaborators while Nigerians suffer. Did they ever think about ethnic groups while sharing their loot?

What are the advantages of 250 Ethnic Nations?
These days calling you a Nigerian can raise suspicion in some circles. It is reserve for looters who fear that break up of the Country may close the door to readily available oil money. If you are not lazy and you believe in your survival, why would you force the Country together, they asked.

If the rest of the Country can not sustain itself without oil money, it will not die a natural death. It may be the beginning of reality check – live free or die! Those who can not live will become illegal immigrants in Niger Delta or with stories of how they are related to the mother who was related to a grandfather in Warri or Port Harcourt. Who will protect the oil wealth of Niger Delta from what is left of Nigeria? Does Kuwait come to mind?

On the other hand, the rest of Nigeria, in whatever pieces may become resourceful and develop ideas in Arts and Sciences, Movies, power generation by hydro electric power, solar power, nuclear power and revitalization of old traditional products. That would be a blessing in disguise. These will mean unification of many States in the present Nigeria.

If we decide to separate and let one another go their separate ways, it might be North and South. No, it would be North, East and West. No, Biafra without Delta did not work neither did the West worked. It might be Bendel or Edo State. No. Niger Delta might work as one Country though. The Itsekiri might not like it and if they did, what about the Ijaw in Ondo State or Igbo in Asaba. Then we have to consider the Tiv and the Jakun or the Middle Belt. Hausa and Kanuri States or Fulani State might work?

Politically Balyelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom may want to align with their traditional Northern partner but not after rejecting their demand for resource allocation. Niger Delta might form Defense Agreement with the North-central to protect their oil from other Nigerians. I was just thinking loud, I think you get the picture now. At what point do we stop dividing like amoeba?

Others have made the point that we do not have to constitute ourselves into a big Country to be as viable as Luxembourg with a population of 0.04 million people or Denmark 5 million, Iceland 0.3 million, Sweden 9 million, Ireland 4 million, Finland 5 million Switzerland 8 million. The fact is a small country can not be viable unless it has a big protector and be accepted as a trading partner. It was Indira Gandhi, when she was the Prime Minister of India, who rejected foreign aide and asked to be made a trading partners of the rich countries. Israel, Kuwait or Taiwan can not stand as a Country without aide from USA. No Nigerian wish for what happened to Yugoslavia after Tito where every ethnic group turned on one another like cat and mouse or the daily massacre in Lebanon some years ago. Syria is out; seductive dance for old rival competitors are on.

Indeed, the richest and the most powerful Countries emerging today or ever have always been those with large population and large areas. As examples, China with a population of 1.3 billion people with 9.6 km sq. area, India 1.08bn with 3.0 km sq; USA 296m with 901km sq; Russia 144m with 17km sq; Japan 128m.

There are other countries not too far behind in the same situation as Nigeria – Brazil 186m with 8.5 km sq; Indonesia 242m, Pakistan 163m; Bangladesh 144m. The point here is that there is power in population and area if placed in the hand of people like Pa Imoudu, Kenyatta, Nyerere or Nkrumah. Our leaders have not displayed their worth yet. Could we have lost the zeal and indulged in self aggrandizement after independence?

We have to remember that Ghana, Mali and Songhai Empires were not based on fractionized ethnicities but on trade and big loyal population. The days of keeping countries together by force are gone. Arms are on the market for professional arm traders and battles these days are fought to a stand still. No clear winners but carnage and collateral damage on both sides. Pity!

Niger Delta as a case in point
Some of us may still remember Patricia Harris, President Carter Housing Secretary, who said she did not stop being a white man’s slave in order to become a black man’s slave.

Isaac Boro did not join Nigerian Army against Biafra so that he could become Hausa or Yoruba slave. Indeed, he wanted justice or his own country.

Ken Saro Wiwa made the point that all the money milked from oil in the Delta States might not be enough to repair all the environmental damage to the area. The oil corporate companies always take advantage of developing countries anyway. They could have cleaned up as soon as they made a mess, in order to minimize any degradation of the environment. But that would cut into their profit.

If we consider Abuja important strategically and economically for Nigeria and pour money into its development, the question is how much are we willing to pour into the environmental pollution in Niger Delta? We can do better in Nigeria. Put all opportunists, oil bunker collaborators and militants to shame by putting money where our sympathy is. It is not enough to sympathize or empathize after a tour of the area, how much we are willing to commit needs an answer.

There are many Niger Delta intellectuals from universities all over the world including Nigerian University of Ibadan, Nsuka and Ahmadu Bello who will plan the future of Niger Delta and probably make it an example of how to plan a Country. They know that oil may run out in about 40 years. So if they have 100% of the money from oil, will that end the problem?

Multinational Corporations
I have been told that the cross in front of the Mercedes Benz is not for charity. All corporations play hard even in their own countries where there are laws and regulations for fair play. They support political parties and help elect their own candidates. So you may not be able to tell the difference between Country and corporation, Paris Club or banks or IMF. They have now been exposed on how they milk developing countries by Corporate Watch, Friends of the Earth, OXFAM, etc.

It must be noted that what determines a good or bad corporation depends on how well and honestly they are monitored. It is unwise to replace individual entrepreneurial spirit with that of government knows it all. We can get much more out of these corporations if they are not negotiating with their African accomplices. Business deals are always negotiable. You get what you negotiate for, not what you deserve. Agreement must be negotiated for mutual benefit, not take or leave it.

The greedy corporations are the explorers, colonizers and the missionaries of yesterday. If we can not agree to live together, they will come to our aid and “civilize” us again! It may be the second or third coming of the “liberators”. All they need is a few “good” men within who can supply them with their foreign bank accounts or well schooled in International “thief thief” like ITT, IMF, WTO, World Bank and the deal is done. Some years ago, I could swear that Nigerians do not steal in their own villages, not today.

It is Professor Peter Ekeh who noted that irony during slave trade, when they ran out of people to capture, they turned on one another and powerful chiefs started selling other chiefs into slavery. One of the common slaves could not believe his eyes when he saw his chief arrived at the plantation in chains.

In California, Enron subdued the Government and the people, throwing them into darkness, not to mention developing countries where they refused to subject themselves to jurisdiction. In India, Dabhol Power Company, a subsidiary of Enron, used everything they could including Energy Secretary in the United States, their Ambassador and international financing bodies to secure their way. Similar scenario happened with Bujagali Hydroelectric Project in Uganda and International Finance Corporation of the World Bank. Well, well, well, Russia is still building steel in Ajaokuta, when the world market is saturated, and durable plastic is replacing steel.

WorldCom has network in Latin America, Asia, Europe and Africa and each of these corporation can secure favors from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization to the detriment of these developing countries. They ask us to privatize, deregulate and trust the market forces while they perform their magic. They supervised Indonesia economy while Suharto family owned most of the companies. Is Ghana better off today than when World Bank made them the postal Country? Didn’t they apologize recently for forcing wrong policies on the developing countries?

They invade and dictate the terms of the agreement – take it or leave it. As a caveat, they also have the mighty power of their home Countries in case the neighbors want to invade the smaller countries. But then, Niger Deltans may import Nigeria immigrants to do jobs they do not want to do, that would be an invasion. Would it?

If they had taken the same responsibility in the Niger Delta that they took when the disaster of Valdez oil spill happened, some of the militants we have today will be put to rest and many of them would have something constructive to work on.

These corporations and their countries also know how to drop these developing countries like a hot cake when the well runs dry. In Nigeria and in Niger Delta in particular other source of income would be developed before the oil ran out, I hope.

AFRICA – Wake Up
Some Africans forget that Nkrumah invested a great deal of Ghana’s money on freedom fighters in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique before they could bear those African names with pride. Pa Imoudu fought colonialism and neocolonialism, that he died at 103 years is a miracle. Kenyatta and mau mau days are passé. If Nigeria breaks, those investments would be in vain. While we are being distracted by resource allocation, our foreign reserve is creating jobs and businesses overseas!

Those hungry Africans, for whatever reason, begging for aides, will never be respected. We pay billions in penalties on interest and millions is given back to us as aides, but some of us can not connect the two together. Some of our children are more confident than us because they know their history as Africans and also educate their friends. Those images on television, makes it harder for them. Just as hard, as Biafran jokes made it hard on us then.

While people argue about the size of loan forgiveness to African countries and that of Nigeria, I wonder what Obasanjo would do with the foreign reserve. As Stephen Fajemirokun warned us – you can only redistribute wealth, not poverty.

Suggestion: Invest some in the clean up of the Niger Delta for agricultural investment. Some of the money can also be used in the abandoned desert of the North for reforestation and agricultural investment. Call upon all Nigerians on how to spend the rest but do not wait until you leave in 2007. Remember Okigbo report on how easy it was to spend money set aside. Then, the list given to you at the G8 meeting; I agree with you that they are not stupid, but were you surprised at the names on the list or embarrassed?

Anyone familiar with my views already knows about working harder and harder to pay for each imported tractor in 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990 with double and triple tons of cocoa until cocoa lost its value. While the price of tractor doubles, the price of cocoa is cut in half. Another product is fish caught and sold, only to be packaged and sold back to you as sardine for twice the price they bought our fish. Before then, mirrors were shown as part of secrete religious ritual until the Europeans made theirs available to whoever could exchange it for gold. I bet those who exchanged gold for mirrors celebrated the deal then.

There is a new one. It is called loan deals from Paris Club. That foreign reserve is like honey attracting both local and foreign killer bees. By the time we know it, it will be gone AGAIN.

Thank God, something has been worked out. They are falling over one another to take credit. From Mr. President, the Finance Minister, the House who voted to stop payment to Mr. Sachs, Live 8 Sir Bob Geldof, G8 Mr. Blair etc. Please AWARD, AWARD, AWARD, NOMINATIONS.

It was Jeffrey Sachs, the United Nation envoy, who said it was callous to expect a Country like Nigeria to pay out $12 billion as part of loan agreement when the yearly budget was $3– 4 billion. I say, thank you Mr. President for your effort. How are you going to spend the rest of the reserve before leaving office?

According to a neutral voice, Lex Rieffle, a Visiting Fellow with the prestigious, Brookings Institution: The problem has to do with a flaw in Paris Club debt restructuring than Nigeria’s ability to pay. Nigeria loan ballooned by 23 billion because of interest arrears, interest charged on those arrears and penalties. But one of the core principles of the Club is that creditors can not profit from rescheduling once in the hands of the Club?

Nigeria’s commercial bank creditors gave a Brandy Bond exchange in 1992 of the same 60 percent that they are now jubilating over in 2005 from Paris Club. African Union signed agreement that they will not accept any deal less than 67%. What should those countries with total loan forgiveness do for celebration then?

Paris Club needs to be at par with multilateral and commercial creditors by slashing the loan by 80% over three years, a buyback of half of the remaining amount. Anything else is callousness as noted by Mr. Sachs; and another form of exploitation as Africans know. Only a dying man knows the pinch of death.

Even our World Bank Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala blamed Abacha years of none payment. I can not believe that I will find myself in a position where I will take the side of Abacha, against the World Bank Finance Minister who claimed that Simon Kolawole’s argument against the deal lacked common sense. But a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. In Yoruba, it means – Owo olowo, ati ti eni, ki mejeji ma won wa.

They can keep their million dollars aides and we can keep our billions dollars. In fact, I am rather persuaded by the reasoning of our former Finance Minister, Chu S. P. Okongwu that it is too early to celebrate since they want our money based on mere invitation to negotiate. He also warned against this precedent for developing countries. Those Latin American countries are watching us, saying – Africans, here they go again!

If we do not pay up, our credit rating will fall and we will not be able to borrow money again! How many billionaires go borrowing? I have written about the difficult situation we find ourselves but I never realized we can afford to pay that much money, who would? The rich will always find creative ways to remain rich as long as there are poor Countries like Nigeria willing to pay through the nose.

Indeed, those who get the most favorable loans are those with money in millions, not to mention billions. Those without money do not get invitation to borrow. As the saying goes the banks like to borrow money to those who already have. So they give them low interest rate as inducement to use “Other Peoples Money, OPM”.

When I was in primary school, I read it in one of my brother’s book that – the most desirable is not the easiest attainable. Someone once turned to me and said – I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. What? Of Nigeria’s problem?

There is more at stake than Nigeria, there is Africa and there is the Black race. Paying $12 billion is not the only cruelty or many obstacles Blackman confronts. That type of money coming into any club or corporation will make one instant Senior Partner or the Chief Executive. Our biggest threat is within. In Yoruba – Ti ota ile ko ba pani, ti ita kole pani. In Latin – Et tu Brutus? In English – with friends like this, who needs enemies?

Many black writers, scholars and thinkers have advocated a means by which black race can defend itself. Some of them were brought up in an article, Chinweizu: Reconstruction of Nigeria – Four Delusions on our Strategic Horizon.

Even when we are tired of being sick and tired, we have to keep our eyes on the prize. Our goals remain the same – Self Sufficiency and Respect. We are not in a position to confront the whole world. Everyone celebrates Martin Luther King but it took, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Black Panthers, Thurgood Marshall and many others before they decided to deal with “moderates”, as the voice of reason.

Priorities are very important. Nigeria needs to be able to feed itself first and foremost. Turn water into land for agriculture, turn desert into vegetation for agriculture. How did they construct that transatlantic pipe or Tran Alaska pipe line or oil pipes from Southern Nigeria? Put engineers together to devise ways of constructing pipes of water from the ocean if too many boreholes will create faults. Others may learn and buy the novelty from us. Nigeria needs to feed the whole of West Africa or ECOWAS, and the rest of Africa will follow.

As much as I agree that the best defense is a deterrent to save the black world, we have higher priority. We need to work with people of goodwill all over the world to solidify our position. Live Aide and G8 will not be there each time we are in need. We must work on empathy not sympathy. We can only get back crumbs from exploitation of our resources to satisfy their conscience.

We do not need nuclear power to fight. We need it for peaceful means. Canada developed Candu reactors for India. We do not need to rediscover that, we can move on to new technologies. We can put some of our scientist in a camp with part of our foreign reserve and let them brainstorm until they come up with something. If they can live in Saudi Arabia in a compound far from home, camp them in Nigeria away from detractors. If any of them demand remuneration in foreign dollars or some super treatment, he can not be conscientious. Most of the people who do these are ready to serve for little, nevertheless they and their families must be taken care of.

Unfortunately, many people would die for their Ethnic group but not for Nigeria. Ethnic propaganda is not our fight. We will just destroy one another for those who will watch us and cheer. We need to think deep about our status in this world. All the education in the world will not help us if we do not like ourselves but think about ME. There is no you or me without us.

See also No Power can Break Nigeria but Contentious Issues within in Collaboration with Foreign Corporate Interests, Part I

Posted by Administrator at 09:58 PM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2005

No Power can Break Nigeria But Contentious Issues within in Collaboration with Foreign Corporate Interests, Part I

by Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa --- The days of direct colonialism are gone. It is now done with the help of those within, by way of neo-colonialism. If any of the contentious issues dividing Nigeria can be exploited by corporate interest, one may wonder how we can survive in peace or in pieces. If it was not Nigeria/Biafra war, Christians versus Muslim or Shiite versus Sunni, it was indigene versus citizen, Fulani/Hausa, Nomads/Farmers, Yoruba versus Hausa versus Igbo interest/militant groups or On/off/in shore or deep water resources.

It will be easier to label people enemy within, but a thoughtful study of the situation will indicate complex problems in dire need of solutions. Many people have given up, as if there is a viable alternative than Nigeria for Africa or the Black race.

The endemic and immediate problems center on land and its resources within proximate boundaries. It is among the same brothers and sisters who traced their ancestors to Egypt or Sudan in each of their oral histories but refused to acknowledge one another in Nigeria. They mixed, adapted, assimilated, inter married with the Autochthonous people they met in waves of migrations all over West Africa, resulting in different dialects, languages and ethnicities. See THE FATHER OF ALL NIGERIAN ETHNIC GROUPS. Unfortunately, out of selfishness our leaders do not want to see beyond their noses. Those who could never get the opportunity to rule, if they got the opportunity, they never lasted.

Nigeria with a population of about 130 million people is noted to have over 250 ethnics groups spread in an area of 923,768 km square, which is usually compared to the size of California. Each of these ethnic groups claims to be a nation. Nigeria, like the rest of West Africa, is heavily populated in the south and sparely populated in the north, leaving advantageous amount of land up north, partly abandoned to desert encroachment.

Nevertheless, people all over the world are attracted to cities where there are good chances of securing livelihood. In spite of all our problems, Nigerians live and work all over the Country. Indeed, Nigerians live and work all over the world! Some survive as economic refugees. As soon as problem starts, each group returns to their land of origin.

Foreign corporate interest are the multinational companies that operate only for their own good in the developing countries where the laws and control are not as solid as in their base but with all the leverage of the home countries and the help of world organizations like World Bank, International Monetary Fund or the World Trade Organization. Economic success has to be dictated and home grown in developing countries and if these corporate interest with their monopoly in technology are not monitored closely, they leave host countries dry. They are ready to flood the market with subsidized products until they gain control of the market. They would exploit the raw materials without regard for the welfare of the people or the environment.

Kwame Nkrumah tried to from a cartel among developing countries in order to dictate the price of cocoa. He lost. Julius Nyerere tried Ujama in Tanzania to be self sufficient, he lost. When Sekou Toure tried to gain self reliance in Guinea, he lost their cooperation. Any developing country that needs the assistance of these corporate interests to develop has to pay a price dictated to them. Unfortunately, Nigeria with her gifted bargain power has not had these calibers of men at the helm.

If it is hard enough for a country the size of Nigeria with her comparatively educated skills, it could spell disaster for any of the 250 Ethnic Nigerians who see themselves as 250 nations. We are aware that most of the viable small countries exist at the pleasure and whim of their protectors who accept them as trading partners.

South-south/North-central Alliance
It is a shame that the people of the South-south and the North-central can not agree on resource allocation. There is people power but only if those who have it, know how to use it. The first time the Alliance came out, the Yoruba, Hausa-Fulani and Igbo Ethnic groups scrabbled for cover. One of the member of the Alliance, North-central has majority in the Army and the South-south has the oil resource. That would be a formidable alliance to beat by any of the so called major Ethnic group. They could elect or appoint all the major people in the ministries and armed forces within their States since Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa-Fulani could be found in the South-south and North-central.

The power of the South-south/North-central Alliance may result in reverse discrimination and two wrongs would not turn Nigeria into a just society, others feared. But let the major Ethnic groups complain about reverse marginalization too, at least for a while! Power has been tossed between the major Ethnic groups, and the minorities, who are actually the majority, can dictate the way they want to run Nigeria. The Igbo group has certainly not gained as much as the Hausa/Fulani or the Yoruba.

The South-south and the North-central alliance may turn out to be a dream anyway. There are elements hoping that any move towards that union, would not be accomplished - “scatter scatter them”. And scatter they did, so far. It is therefore not surprising that they could not agree on the percentage of resource allocation. Can any region in Nigeria successfully challenge any agreement between the two on resource allocation?

Some of the Youth movements in the North have come out in favor of whatever the Delta States want because they think they can survive on their own without the oil money. They have not benefited from the oil money anyway in spite of the decades of rule by their leaders. They will rather prepare for dwindling world oil reserve or Peak Oil.

Political Alliances
History and facts point to evidence that Nigerians have reached out to one another and made political alliance before and will do so again. Unfortunately, our elections since the fifties had problems but it is one of the evidences we can point to. We have to be careful about statistics and interpretations. Different people have interpreted the same result differently, including that of Alkasum Abba.

Niger Delta/Northern Alliance
Both Cross River and Rivers States joined with the NPC and later NPN. Niger Delta States joined with any party from the North to rule Nigeria. PDP actually captured most of the Southern States in the 2004 election, an example of suspected result we have to be careful of.

The point here is that Niger Delta has always been an ally of most of the Northern part of Nigeria. The reason for this can be fear of domination by their southern neighbors and be part of the ruling party. In politics, there are no permanent friends or foe.

After all, there are allegations that: The Yoruba dominated Mid-west for a long time and Enahoro never became the Premier of the West. Awolowo has been accused of elevating Olu of Itsekiri to Olu of Warri, a City in constant dispute in the Niger Delta. The Igbo dominated most of the businesses in the South-south until the war. The Hausa-Fulani dominated Middle-Belt for a long time as Officers in the Armed Forces while they were the majority. Even if some of these allegations and others are not true, the fact that people feel that way must be addressed.

History teaches us that most of the Ethnic groups in the South-south belong to the same Adamu/Adimu/Oduduwa or Oba/Obi dynasty which is the same one Awolowo came from. So we may be fighting over territorial integrity rather than ethnicity. The case of the Somali or Tutsi and Hutu may be similar ones here. These are all the same people killing one another because of differences in territorial power.

NCNC – Igbo/Yoruba Alliance
So many Nigerians have reached out across the rivers at their convenience. Another case is the suspicion between the Yoruba and the Igbo. Again, these are brothers who knew one another in the past as I have shown in the reference above by history. When Herbert Macaulay was the leader of NCNC, Azikiwe was his deputy who eventually succeeded him. These Yoruba and Igbo got along fine and made gains in all the elections in Lagos and Ibadan, strong hold of the Yoruba. Azikiwe was sent as a political representative from Lagos to the Western Assembly. It was Ibadan Peoples Party that split between Awolowo’s Action Group and Azikiwe’s NCNC. Ibadan became the strong hold of NCNC led by Azikiwe, and Adelabu from Ibadan Peoples Party.

Instead of commending this act by the Yoruba in Lagos and Ibadan as no other part of Nigeria has ever duplicated it, cynicism turned it upside down. Indeed, if that unity between brothers across ethnic lines were present all over Nigeria or encouraged, there would not have been any opportunity to exploit it and we might have looked elsewhere for our problems. It is referred to as the foundation of ethnic nationalism or preservation as if Hausa, Ibibio State Union and Igbo Federal Union were not already in existence years before Egbe Omo oduduwa.

This Igbo/Yoruba NCNC could not hold in the East - out of 13 seats in the Calabar Province, Eyo Ita could only hold two for them, while independents won the rest. In Orlu division, Chief Ezeriocha defeated NCNC Nbonu Ojike and also carried Mbadiwe who defected from NCNC. Reuben Uzoma also won as independent there. In Zik’s Onitsha, Sir Mbanefo won as an independent.

NCNC/NPC Alliance
Indeed, Azikiwe had a choice of being the Executive Prime Minister of Nigeria, courtesy of Awolowo who was ready to be his deputy in an alliance. Or, the opportunity to become the President of Nigeria, courtesy of Ahmadu Bello, and Tafawa Balewa as the Prime Minister. Azikiwe decided to be the President of Nigeria. This is another example of reaching out among Nigerians. But cynicism will always have a part to play and people will interpret it to fit their goal. It was the last opportunity Azikiwe had of being the civilian executive Prime Minister, though Ironsi became the Supreme Commander in 1966. That is why many Nigerians are calling for Igbo President. But the South-south also wants the first ever opportunity to rule.

Kanuri/Yoruba/Igbo/Tiv Alliance
The PRP Governors of Kano and Kaduna, the NPP Governors of Plateau, Imo and Anambra, the GNPP Governors of Gongola and Borno joined with Governors of Oyo, Ogun and Ondo to form Progressive Alliance. There was the UPGA formed between Adegbenro in the West and Opara in the East.

North/South Alliance?
In 1993, Abiola defeated Tofa in most of the Fulani/Hausa/Kanuri States in the North apart from Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi and Niger. In the south he also defeated him apart from Abia, Enugu, Imo and Rivers. It was humiliating that Obasanjo lost his deposit in most of the Yoruba States in 1999 election, while the rest of the Country voted for him except Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfarawa. In the 2004 election, he made sure he was not humiliated again in the West.

What We Have In Common
It all boils down to the fact that if the interest of the masses are taken into consideration, Nigerians would rather unite across class lines than ethnic lines. The middle class is disappearing fast in Nigeria leaving the lower class in the majority to fend for themselves. The poor in Niger Delta has more in common with the poor in the North or South. Poor people want the same thing – food, jobs, education and healthcare. Agricultural industries would solve about a third of that problem. Declaring war on the erosion and polluted water in Niger Delta, Nigerian shores and encroachment of desert in the North may douse out suspicion over Revenue Allocation.

War on the Pollution and Erosion of Water Basins
All Nigerians agree that Niger Delta environment has been polluted by the oil companies. Fishing, farming and the use of water for daily life have become increasingly difficult. Moreover, erosion around the shore of the Country has been consuming communities while Authorities argue about whose responsibility it is to arrest the situation. If we can agree that it is our number one problem, how much of our income are we willing to allocate to the solution?

Desert Encroachment in the North.
Vegetation is giving way to desert in the Northern part of our Country. It is becoming a waste land. Yet, other countries exist in the desert, and are able to turn it into fertile land for agriculture. We can do the same since it is going to benefit us on the long run. We can turn it into farmland, or use it for other purpose as our population increases. This will create jobs for our youths who are beaming with energy. This youthful exuberance can be redirected to the advantage of the Country.

I do not know of a single Country that has not invested heavily in education, all Nigerians believe in good education. It is a lucrative business in Nigeria for the private sector which is a good endeavor on the part of business. However, Government schools are suffering and can not compete with private schools. Indeed, it costs much more to go to private primary or secondary schools in Nigeria than it costs to go to Colleges and Universities. That may change as private universities are being approved for the “money bags”.

In spite of their merit or demerit, we had agreed on delay of Independence, Census and Identification cards, federal character, creation of States and Local Governments?

Areas of Disagreement
The rights of political control of the resources on the land passed on from many generations by the people who had mixed with the Autochthonous in certain areas have created the most problems in Nigeria. It ranges from that of indigene of those days to that of new comers who are nevertheless bona fide citizens anywhere in Nigeria.

The land owners are the indigene and one can hardly find a free land anywhere today where others, citizens or not, can lay claim without compensation. The Europeans claim they have treaties with the Indians who could not read their letters about land in Americas. Every court of law, at least recognize just compensation in case of government take over (or eminent domain) for the common good.

In Nigeria, those claiming two States are opportunists who claim indigene of one and citizen of another. However, during religious or ethnic festivals or census or marriage, they run to their home States. When they want to run for offices, if they fail in one State,
they try another. All they want is a second bite at the apple (a ki je meji ni Meka), while depriving others of a single bite in their home States.

Once the law is passed that you can only claim one State in Nigeria and stripped of the citizenship of another State, many will think twice whether to compete with an indigene.
People do have land in Nigeria that is exclusively theirs, all the talk about land belonging to the autochthonous only, are made by opportunist. We are all part autochthonous people part Nigerians. Even if all Nigerians are the same Ethnic group, people still have economic interest in their locations within Nigeria.

Producers of Income
No matter what, the area that produces wealth must have considerable say on how it is distributed and must be of benefit to that area, not a curse. There is some status reserved for income producers everywhere, but it must benefit the whole country.

The case of Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada and Peter Loogheed, Premier of oil producing Province of Alberta in the seventies became a fight. Loogheed wanted world price for Alberta oil and Trudeau refused. Indeed, Loogheed would rather sell to the Americans at the world price than to fellow Canadians. The slogan then from Alberta was “let the Eastern bastard freeze to death”. Trudeau shot back and labeled him “Sheik Loogheed of Alberta”. Of course, Trudeau won and Alberta gained during the following downturn in its economy through redistribution. Ontario traditionally contributes more to Canada than other Provinces.

Nigeria is gifted in natural resources but the so called easy money that has turned us into lazy kleptomanias has done more damage than good not only for Niger Delta as said by Saro Wiwa but the whole Country. We were the producer of groundnut, cocoa, palm oil and kernel, tin, bauxite and food that fed the whole of West Africa. Those are lost past glories, unfortunately lost with some of our intellects. Nigerians can neither revitalize old source of income nor plan for the future!

Oil in the Niger Delta runs out in 38 years and for 40 years we could not find our bearings. There are many discoveries and other source of energy by solar, wind, even our dams are crumbling. If we had to rely on old technology, Nigeria would still be waiting for Abiola to bring us telephone service.

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in United States, Hospitals and Colleges attracts money from all over the world, as major part of the economy. Nigerians are trained all over the world but we are still to make any part of our economy world class. Every country got its start from textile industry and move on to transport. Nigeria is still waiting to produce car for West African countries. What are we going to do when the oil runs out? What individual contribution has each of us made to Nigeria? See THE SILENT MAJORITY IS PART OF THE PROBLEM AS THEY SAY – Only God Can Save Nigeria!

Part 2 coming soon

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July 25, 2005

Dictators in Civilian Clothing: Letter to President George W. Bush

by Emmanuel Ukpe --- Silver Spring, MD

Dear President Bush,

When I listened to the second inauguration and state of the union speech, I was totally convinced of your position regarding freedom for the citizens of the world, freedom for the oppressed, freedom from dictators in uniforms and the ones who traded their uniforms with intent to return to power as civilians.

I would like to bring your administration’s attention to the political atrocities going on in Nigeria. Specifically, about a former military dictator who is trying to make a comeback. Retired General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB), who was credited to have masterminded five out of six successful military coup d’état in Nigeria, is now making a comeback for the 2007 presidential election.

Under Retired General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida dictatorship, Nigeria saw increased corruption, drug trafficking, money laundering, major maladministration, political oppressions and assassinations, journalistic rights suppressed, freedom of speech suppressed, increased human right abuses and the annulment of a democratically elected government. At present, IBB is gearing up to return to power in 2007. I am begging you, Mr. President, the US Congress, and other concerned citizens, who believe in free world to please use your good offices to ensure that candidates like Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida does not run or get elected into the Nigerian’s highest office.

The fact is that, no Nigerian in his or her right mind would vote to elect Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, but election process in Nigeria is not what you would call free and fair election. In Nigeria, a politician with more hooligans and money to spend wins election, through bullying, rigging of votes, buying of votes and hijacking of ballot boxes, which is why, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida is confident of returning to power in 2007. Retired General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida ruled Nigeria for eight years, as a military dictator and he did nothing for the country. Under his leadership, Nigeria regressed, corruption was at the highest level, all infrastructure grounded due to misplaced priorities, deficient in vision and ideas.

Retired General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida’s eight years regime was similar to Saddam Hussein’s, except Saddam provided his people with basic necessities such as roads, power supply, drinking water, schools, operational hospitals and jobs. These are developments Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida’s eight years military dictatorship could not achieve, because he and his goons where busy looting the country’s wealth. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida lacks vision of progress, because, as a military dictator, he had absolute power to do for the country/people, but choose not to. It is my belief that if Ibrahim B Babangida returns to power, it will regress further the democratic process in Nigeria, something he does not believe in.

Every facet of majority of Nigerians day to day existence remains very challenging in order to improve their quality of life. I cannot emphasize enough in expressing the need for economic and political stability in that region. Nigeria is in desperate need to achieve these stabilities and it has been proven that the military dictatorship of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida lacks vision and as such, cannot realize economic and political stability for Nigeria. The fact is that without stability in Nigeria, there would be no strategic programs of economic transformation. Nigerians should not continue to pay for the consequence for another brutal dictatorship in civil clothing in the name of democracy.

Right now, Nigeria is like a volcano waiting to erupt, such eruption would destroy not only Nigeria, but the corruption lava would spread and destroy other West African democratic nations that looks up to Nigeria. To avoid such eruption and maintain a balance, it is important that Nigeria is lead by a conscious leader with a sense of direction that can develop a sustainable economy, infrastructures and effective coalition with various ethnic groups. A former dictator like Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida lacks the fiscal discipline, honesty and integrity to lead and therefore, he is not, and cannot be the answer to Nigerian predicament in which he created.

Nigeria is a country of intellectuals, educated, conscientious and meaningful human beings, who are capable of fixing the disarray created by Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida in his eight year rule. Nigeria needs to maintain a political balance in order to move forward, such balance will pave the way for sustainable development, where there is an atmosphere of peace and stability, a balance that does not require the return of a former military dictator who doesn't accept any type of limits or restraints on his civil right abuses, political oppressions, corruption, and boundless self-enrichment.

To ensure democracy in Nigeria, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida should not be allowed to return to power, because that might encourage another military coup d’état.

Democratic process in Nigeria will continue to improve and I believe Nigeria economy and political future will be better without Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida’s direct involvement in the political process. Nigerians suffered so much under his eight years of tyrannical regime, he has caused enough pain. We Nigerians are trying so hard to forget and put the past behind us, so that we can move forward. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida’s return to power will not let that happen. In the name of God, Mr. President, the US congress and concerned citizens please intervene in Nigeria democratic process and stop dictators like Retired General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida from his quest.

Emmanuel Ukpe, Silver Spring, Maryland U.S.A.

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July 23, 2005

Of ‘Hungry’ Politicians and Protesters

by Uche Nworah --- It is that season in the world again, when one theme makes the rounds, and never leaves people’s lips and consciousness. Except for terrorism, he number one chic and buzz word at the moment is poverty; you have to identify with it or be ‘seen’ with it if you want to improve your image or ratings.

Move over Priests, this is the ultimate confession and soul searching therapy; the best way for the rich (nations and individuals) to exorcise their demons and renew their being, black is now the new white. From George Bush, Bob Geldorf, to Missy Elliot, you name them, all the known celebrities in the planet are already on the bandwagon.


Make Poverty History is now one huge global campaign, the symbolic white colour rubber wrist band is the season’s must-have fashion accessory; all other NGOs and charities have since tagged along and have come up with their own replica versions. I am even planning to buy some of these ‘designer’ wrist-band accessories.


But beyond all the euphoria and music as seen in the global Live 8 events, I wonder if some of the people even understand what the real scores are, what poverty is, I mean the type of poverty described in Marie Corelli’s Sorrows of Satan, or maybe we should find consolation in the words of Jesus Christ, that the poor shall inherit the Kingdom of God (Luke 6:20) and also God’s word in Deuteronomy 15:11 that the poor will always be amongst us.


What amazes me the most in all these, is the apparent lack of understanding by some of the ‘poverty campaigners’ of the real issues at stake, in most cases there seems to be a top-down approach to the issue of poverty reduction and alleviation, without the active involvement and to the neglect of the poor themselves, some of whom have been variously described as the downtrodden or the wretched of the earth.


I also wonder sometimes if the various media companies that churn out poverty -related programmes are not perhaps doing Africa and her poor a disservice, there seems to be much emphasis on the negatives out of Africa, without any emphasis on the positives going on around Africa, such media onslaughts if anything leaves further psychological damage and scar on both the victims (the poor) and other Africans, the one-sided commentaries are not the best PR for Africa in her current quest to attract foreign direct investments, they also don’t support the calls by certain African leaders and commentators for the West to promote and encourage free and fair trade rather than the present inclination towards aid. The rich man / poor man theory which breeds an Oliver Twist mentality is therefore still alive and well.


The elusive investors need to see some positives, they need some assurances that there is a local market for their products and services, that there is ready availability and supply of skilled labour, that there are at least some form of infrastructure to support local operations. Somehow, Africans seem to be playing into the hands of the vile tastes and motives of the western media, but we should at least know when our intentions and purposes are being best served.


We should be entering a new era of positively reporting and projecting what’s also good about us, this is not to say that we should white-wash and cover up our inefficiencies but we should approach and thread cautiously, a balance and a conscience is needed right now so that 10 years from today, poverty in Africa may no longer be a favourite and pitiable topic around dinner tables in the west, as a result of biased and mischievous T.V documentaries.


This brings me to the works of the likes of Sorious Samura and most recently Jerry Rawlings, both fine and distinguished gentlemen in their fields. But for some reasons I feel that they are feasting on the poor, through their various television programmes. Dying and death should be dignifying, and should not be subjects of macabre orgies, even if some western media are willing to pay for their audience to ogle on people’s suffering, in order to increase ratings. It is wickedly to turn Africa’s poverty crises into reality television. This is indeed in bad taste.


About the G8 summit, as expected all known anti - globalisation groups swooped down on Gleneagles in Scotland, during the summit. There were also massive calls and predictions of anarchy from the usual rent-a-mob crew who were bent on disrupting the summit. My question still remains: On whose side were the protesters and the G8 leaders on? What real agenda were they pursuing? What were their motives?


If the G8 leaders are on the side of Africa’s poor, why did they face so much hostility? And if the protesters were on the side of Africa’s poor, was this the best way to put their points across? I am amused when I see some of these anti-globalisation protesters who in the name of ‘equitable wealth distribution’ wreck havoc in host cities, I find some of their antics amusing because you will normally catch the protesters wearing Nike, Adidas or Reebok trainers, and Levi’s jeans, and that is after they have had their fill at McDonalds or KFC, the very same businesses they have grudges against.


Also, some African leaders mouth - off and complain against the aid they receive from the west, they prefer trade instead, fine but I have been waiting to hear about any that will gladly hand back the aid money they receive, reject the debt cancellation deal they have been offered by the West or announce their plans to enable local businesses to compete against companies from the west in a free and fair trade situation; Also some commentators argue that debt forgiveness is well deserved, that it is a reparation of sorts, for Africa’s plundered wealth during the great chicaner and scramble for partition. Well, but the colonialists have since left Africa and we don’t seem to have done much for ourselves ever since, so I think that we should shut up, and collect the aid or grant or whatever it is called. If we don’t want the conditions attached to aid, then we shouldn’t make ourselves vulnerable to being given aid. Full stop.


I conclude by saying that some people out there seem to enjoy playing Russian roulette with poverty, but the real poor whether in Africa, Asia, Europe and America actually need food, clothing and shelter, the very of basics of life. Enough of the politics.


Uche Nworah is a freelance writer and lives in London. He is currently on holidays in Nigeria.

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July 07, 2005

The Rot in the Nigerian Judiciary

by Prof. Chike Anamdi, New York, --- The recent allegations of the duo of Messers Ephraim Duru, Esq. and Emefor Etudor, Esq. at the Supreme Court have elicited much commentary from stakeholders, mostly in condemnation of the duo. All commentaries have been in condemnation of the impudence and impropriety of the action of the counsels. These commentaries have dealt appropriately with this issue of contempt of the court.. This treatise will look at the structural anomalies that have distorted the Nigerian judiciary as illustrated in the current impasse at the Supreme Court.

The current paralysis in the Supreme Court best illustrates the structural deficiencies of the Supreme Court as presently constituted:

1) A Supreme Court of 21 Justices constituted into four or more panels is unwieldy and prone to discordant voices.

2) A Supreme Court with compulsory retirement age of 70 is a waste talent and a breeding ground for insecurity and booth-lickers and.

3) A Supreme Court where the position of the Chief Justice is determined simply by seniority is a cesspool for cutthroat competition and a breeding ground for mediocrity.

Every commentary has presupposed that the Supreme Court and the Justices of the Supreme Court is a breed of immaculately conceived angels. They do not operate in vacuum. They are Nigerians living among us and under the same societal pressures that have shaped present day Nigeria. We have seen what is happening in the lower benches and the Appellant Divisions. The election Tribunals have been eye-openers.

Not even the motherland of the rule of law has been spared of the embarrassment of corruption in its judiciary. Even a Lord Chancellor of England, Lord Francis Bacon has been convicted of corruption. Another, Lord Macclesfield was reputed for his prolific demands for pecuniary aggrandizement.

Justice Uwaifo, then a Justice of the Supreme Court, first drew the nation's attention to the rot in the judiciary and in the Supreme Court at his valedictory party before his retirement. He even specifically accused the Chief Justice of awarding contracts to his OWN wife and concluded by lamenting that some justices of the Supreme Court are not worthy to be there! Justice Uwaifo, a man of courage and brave words is the prophet, who predicted the present malaise in the nation's judiciary and in the Supreme Court in particular. Many at that time went for his jugular, calling him all types of names- even as the present day prophet of doom!

I am not privy to the facts deposed to against the CJN and I have no way of knowing their veracity or otherwise. But, the problem in the Supreme Court did not originate with Duru and Etudor. The duo did not leak judgments of the apex court weeks before they were delivered. The duo did not burgle the premises of the Supreme Court. There is something wrong when the CJN gets on the phone to contact lower judges in the states in a matter not yet before his court and which may sooner or later appear before his court. How can he later be trusted to be dispassionate when he had already taken a position before hearing all the parties? Did he hear from BOTH parties before his intervention? Does his administrative oversight extend to partisan intervention inlitigations in state courts and to disputes that might end up in his court?


The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and the Rules of the Supreme Court 1999 provide respectively for the finality of the determinations of the Supreme Court. Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules provides:

The Court shall not review any judgment, once given and delivered by it save to correct any clerical error arising from any accidental slip or omission, or to vary the judgment or order so as to give effect to its meaning or intention. A judgment or order shall not be varied, when it correctly represents what the Court decided nor shall the operative and substantive part of it be varied nor shall the operative and substantive part of it be varied and different form be substituted.

Oputa, JSC as he then was, in Adegoke Motors v Adesanya (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt.109) 250 at 274-275 stated it succinctly:-

We are final not because we are infallible; rather we are infallible because we are final. Justices of this Court are human beings, capable of erring. See also the dictum of Justice Esho in Adigun v AG. Oyo State (No. 2) 1987 2 NWLR (pt. 56) 197 at 214-125.A ruling by the court aught to be final in that particular dispute!

Once one panel starts reviewing the actions of another panel, it is a call for disaster. The instant case was first mentioned in the Supreme Court on October 10, 2001 before a panel

in which Justice Kabiri-Whyte et al refused the application to abridge the time of briefs. Subsequently, the CJN constituted another panel under Justice Belgore which dismissed the appeal for want of diligent prosecution on February 13, 2002. Justice Belgore panel dismissed the interlocutory appeal under Order 6 Rule 3(2) of the Court of Appeal Rules, which provides that:--

Where the appellant has failed to file a brief within the period prescribed by this Order and there is no application for extension of time within which to file the brief, the court may suo muto, subject to the proviso of Rule 9 of this Order, proceed to dismiss the appeal in chambers without hearing argument.

Without equivocation Honda Place was in default in filing its brief of argument at the time the Justice Belgore panel dismissed the appeal. It had ten weeks from October 10,

2001. On February 13, 2002 when the dismissal was issued. Honda was two months in default. There is therefore no question that the ruling was proper.. Based on the principle sit finis litium it had inherent power to strike out any proceedings for want of prosecution, an inherent power given force by Sect. 6(6) (a) of the Supreme Court Rules.

The reference to Chime v Ude (1996) 7 NWLR (pt. 461) 379 suggesting a period of one year was is only advisory and not mandatory in the light of Rules 9 and 6 as stated above. Besides, even if the case is accepted as a precedent, the court may of course overrule its earlier decision of Chime v Ude under Order 6 Rule 5(4) in a subsequent case.

In reconstituting a fourth panel in February 2004, the CJN is indirectly indicting Justice Belgore, who headed the panel that dismissed the appeal; it is not surprising that the head of the panel (Justice Belgore) felt miffed and disqualified himself. This would have been enough to cause the enmity between the brother justices. I am not persuaded that Justice Belgore disqualified himself this time because he was a friend of the Respondent, unless the friendship originated only between 2002 and 2004.It will not be surprising if the best of friendship did not outlive such a betrayal.

With the suit of one Mr. Reginald McPepple on behalf of the Ikwere and Ijaw Communities in Rivers State against the CJN, the question remains: why did the CJN not disqualify himself from the Globe Motors v Honda Place? Why did the CJN not see the public opprobrium coming? Why did he insist on sitting on this case? No clearance from any panel can remove the cloud from any final judgment in this – not, if there is a three –to- two majority decision as already published in the press.

Chapter. VII Sect. 230(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution provides for up to 21 Justices of the Supreme Court. Sect. 234 provides that only five justices or seven are needed to sit on a case. This means that at any given time there may be up to four panels sitting.

If the Supreme Court will speak with one voice as the last legal authority in the land, it ought to have only one panel deciding each and every case before it. Justices should not retire while ceased of a case: they must hear each case to the end or have the case heard de novo by another panel of the court as in the United States of America.

I have read that the toll of the Justices of the Supreme Court is due to their work load. Nothing prevents the use of Section 233(4) of the 1999 Constitution in pruning down the number of the cases. The Supreme Court of the US liberally makes use of this provision. Litigation in Nigeria is only a fraction of the volume in the US and yet only nine Justices in the US handle each and every appeal before it. Most of the work is done by the clerks. A panel of the US Supreme Court does not sit reverse a decision of another!


As in every profession, the judge matures with age and experience. The best decisions written by the best brains in the profession have been in their twilight years. A judge who is burdened with financial considerations of retirement years is not an independent judge. A judge who is burdened with the politics of advancement or succession is not a free judge. A judge who has run his course and is divested of all ambitions, financial and professional insecurity is the judge, who will give a bold and honest decision any day.

The Nigerian landscape is littered today with retired justices in the prime of their professional life. How many retired justices of the Supreme Court do we have today condemned to scavenging for contracts and government patronages? A retired justice of the Supreme Court cannot go back to legal practice before magistrate courts, High courts or former colleagues at the apex court. He has no other calling unless his community appoints him a traditional ruler. His emoluments are not such that he can exist on them!

The Derivative Front in their petition against the CJN to the President attached four exhibits. The petition alleged that the CJN had been honest before now, but due to his impending retirement, he has started amassing wealth through the abuse of his office. Can you imagine the pressures on a CJN who is retiring, but has young children still in school from late second marriage or polygamy? This situation was indirectly addressed in the CJN response to the charges against him.

Indeed nothing could better substantiate the need for a life tenure of judges, especially at the apex court than the petitions of the Derivative Front.

Supreme Court Justices should be appointed for life subject to impeachment and removal for physical or mental impairment as obtains in the system we are copying.


The appointment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria should not be based on seniority. It is neither a traditional stool nor a chief priest appointment. It should not be a promotion from one school class to the other. Not every Justice of the Supreme Court is a Chief Justice material. The Chief Justice is not only the head of the judiciary; he is the embodiment of all that is noble in the third arm of the government. The chief justice should be an academia, a prolific writer, a leader, and an administrator. He should be serene, wise, temperate and above all a consensus builder.

Justice Omotunde Ilori formerly of the Lagos gave a graphic example of the internecine internal politics of succession in Lagos State. Two feuding friends for the headship of the Lagos judiciary decimated each other and both ended up dead with none getting the post substantively. He also detailed the same scenarios in Osun and Oyo States. The elevation of a judge to the headship of a Division should be based on qualification, temperament and merit and not simply on seniority. Preferably, a chief judge or Chief Justice should be appointed from without to inject fresh blood and new ideas.

A situation where we produce Chief Justices on a production line does not do the Supreme Court any good. The current CJN will be retiring next year. If the seniority rule prevails, his predecessor will be Justice Belgore and he will be due for retirement in a few months! Who is served by such attrition? In two years there would have been three CJNs!

If we wish copy other constitution, we should be wise enough to build on their experience and not make a caricature of a noble document!

Prof. Chike Anamdi, M.D.

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July 01, 2005

The CEO of Nigeria, PLC

by Uche Nworah --- As a result of the failure of previous and current systems and models such as parliamentarianism, militarianism and the presidential systems and models, and the need to re-position Nigeria and effectively harness her human and material resources for sustainable growth and for the benefits of her citizens. The opportunity has arisen in this oil rich West African country for the pioneering role and position of a CEO (chief executive officer).

Nigeria PLC
Reporting directly to the legislative houses of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Nigerian people, the successful candidate must be of Nigerian parenthood although applications from Nigerians in the Diaspora with dual nationalities and citizenships will also be considered.

This position is a high pressure one and not a high pleasure one; the ideal candidate must possess the ability to think on his or her feet, in addition to possessing local knowledge of Nigeria’s many ethnic regions and their peculiar problems. Knowledge of one or more of Nigeria’s many languages will be an added advantage. The candidate must also be a good team player, communicator and strategic planner, capable of influencing international opinion through a well orchestrated programme of economic diplomacy. He or she must have a sound knowledge of the workings of the oil sector, and must be committed to a programme of opening up and creating other revenue streams for the country, especially from the agricultural, steel and other neglected sectors.

The successful candidate must have on top of his or her agenda the provision of basic social amenities for Nigerians, the rebuilding of dilapidated infrastructure, reduction of poverty as well as the improvement of the quality of life of Nigerians. He or she must make it possible for Nigerians to experience the true dividends of democracy.

The minimum educational requirement for this position is a university degree, obtained from a top flight university, although a Masters degree or any other higher qualifications will be an advantage. The degree could be from any discipline but candidates with backgrounds in political science, government, economics, development studies, finance, poverty reduction and globalisation will be preferred.

The personal attributes required of the successful candidate are that he or she must be a friend of the poor and the less privileged, and must also have a passion for humanity irrespective of age, race, gender, religion or political ideology. The ideal candidate should be able to carry all Nigerians along in the formulation and implementation of government policies.

Candidates with previous cases or allegations of corruption against them should not bother applying, likewise candidates who have in one way or the other served as military politicians in the past, this is as a result of the clients’ (Nigerian citizens) desire to break away completely from past oligarchs, whom they believe ran the country’s economy down.and plundered her treasury.

This position is tenable in the first instance for an initial period of 5 years, after which a contract and term extension may be considered at the polls by the electorates based on performance and achievements.

Candidates should be willing to demonstrate a track record of selfless service, either from years of working in the private or public sectors. Candidates with backgrounds in profligacy and dalliance need not apply, as this position requires a morally and ethically upright personality who should also function as a role model to Nigerians.

There are endless opportunities for the ideal candidate in this position; there is the possibility of writing his or her name in the history books as a true statesman or woman, and as someone who rescued an ailing nation in a time of need. The ideal candidate will also have the opportunities and potentials of claiming his or her rightful position amongst the world’s top leaders, thereby enhancing the attractiveness of Nigeria to foreign investors and tourists. The ideal candidate should exhibit leadership potentials and qualities in the mould of Nelson Mandela, exhibiting great courage in difficulties.

The physical location of the job will be in Aso Rock Villa in Abuja, Nigeria, although there are limitless opportunities for travel around Nigeria and also around the world in government jets, during such visits the candidate will be well taken care of and will be allowed a reasonable retinue of aides. Family members and girlfriends or mistresses will not be sponsored during such trips as is the current practice.

The compensation package for this position is very generous, we are currently in the process of reviewing the package upwards to bring it in line with the scale in other similar positions in well resourced developing countries. Gradually we will move into the stage of reviewing the package to reflect that of a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, this review is being considered so as to discourage any inclinations towards looting government treasury. There will be other benefits linked to performance as well as the achievement of agreed targets; these targets will be agreed with the successful candidate at the start of his or her tenure.

The compensation package will also include the use of a fleet of government cars and limousines, a generous wardrobe allowance, high quality medical care for the successful candidate and members of his immediate family in the Aso rock clinic and other well – equipped hospitals in Nigeria There will also be opportunity for sponsored overseas medical treatments under strict resident surgeon’s referrals.

As a result of the generous compensation package, this position will therefore demand a high level of commitment, responsibility and accountability from the successful candidate; he or she must be willing to submit to a regime of periodic audits, while also subscribing to a strict code of ethics and charter, of which any breach will lead to a summary dismissal and impeachment by the legislators and the electorates.

Also, the successful candidate will be expected to effectively initiate a process that will lead to the recovery and repatriation of stolen public funds, currently stashed away in local and foreign bank accounts. He or she is also expected to mount a serious campaign for the cancellation of Nigeria’s remaining odious debts, with the active collaboration of major international sympathisers, while also leveraging on the 60% debt forgiveness totalling over $18 Billion recently announced by the Paris Club.

While we would not normally expect the successful candidate to be anti -big businesses, he or she in addition to creating the right enabling environment for competition and free enterprise to thrive, should also stand up to big businesses and influence them to commit to sound business ethics while maintaining a strict corporate governance culture. The candidate must also be willing to carry on with the corruption fight already initiated by the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

This position is open to males and females, female candidates are particularly encouraged to apply. Nigeria is moving towards being an equal opportunities employer and so candidates from minority ethnic regions are particularly encouraged to apply. Please note that for this position, you will not be expected to have a godfather who will be pushing your case, any attempt at influencing the process or the electorates by any individual or group will lead to the exclusion of the candidate being lobbied for from the consideration list.

Candidates from the age of 30 years and above can apply, while there is no maximum age limit, we would however discourage candidates above 65 years of age from applying, the reason being that we want to give the younger generation of Nigerians a chance, as is obtainable in the developed economies, by this we also hope to discourage the current trend of ‘recycling’ old politicians and also to dismantle the gerontocratic structures currently in place.

Please send your completed application forms in the form of an electoral manifesto to all Nigerians to reach them before the scheduled 2007 elections. Late applications will not be considered.

Short listed candidates will be informed during the period leading to the elections. The final decision on the selection and appointment of the successful candidate rests with the Nigerian electorates who are expected to let their votes count for real this time around. The successful candidate will be sworn in immediately after the elections around May 2007.

Uche Nworah is a freelance writer and lives in London. He can be reached at

Posted by Administrator at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)

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