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May 31, 2006

115 Blunders By Nigeria’s National Assembly: A Throwaway of Baby, Bathwater & Basin

by Paul I. Adujie (New York, United States) --- On May 16th 2006 the senate in Nigeria voted to reject 116 proposed amendments. These 116 amendments however, included the controversial and vexed third term.

Since the vote of rejection by the upper house of the Nigerian legislature of these constitutional amendments, there has been emotional outbursts, sense of unalloyed elations, outright euphoria and gloating in Nigeria and even beyond.
But it must be noted that these amendments, were more than just about term elongation.

Some of us are left wondering whether there is any cause for celebrations, particularly, given the high value of all the other amendments that were dumped in the process.

Even as we wonder about any merits or benefits in the very uncritical rejection or dumping of sundry amendments without meticulous or careful examinations. There are also concerns regarding the intensity of the goading, glee and gloating that has since followed.
We are also left to wonder about the inflammatory, provocative, insensitive and offensive remarks that have been made by some politicians in parts of Nigeria.

The more that I examine the debate, the vote and the aftermath of the third term, the term extension or term elongation issues, the more I have arrived the same conclusions, and my conclusion is that the issue at stake was not about Nigerians well being or Nigeria’s enduring national interests. It was merely about the interests of some opportunistic individuals who are adamant in their insistence on being president of Nigeria in 2007!

On a careful examination, it is clear that the senate, in a hurry to make a point, literarily threw out the baby, the bathwater and the basin which had contained the baby and the bathwater, which was adjudged dirty, by all accounts. This is the sum of what a renowned lawyer, Afe Babalola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria declared recently and I am in complete agreement with him and others with this as yet, unpopular view.

First, I will like to state for the record, that I am a fervent and staunch believer in the sanctity of our constitution (subject to amendments of course)! And further, that I subscribe to all the ideals and tenets of the rule of law, democracy, separation of powers between the different arms of Nigerian government etc. I believe that the best cure for imperfect democracy is more democracy. Democracy must be seen therefore, as work in progress.

I will state additionally, that I am clearly and thoroughly familiar, with the excellent constitutional arguments that have been made, against term extension or term elongation by the current or even future governments in Nigeria. I worry about the process, even as I worry about the results. I worry about the means as I worry about ends. We should all be worried as much about every phase and every stage or steps in the democratic process.

It must be stated as well, that some of us are keenly aware of the fact that, some of those who sponsored and led the movement against third term or term extension/elongation, were no democrats and they were no dispassionate or disinterested third parties! Some characters and players in the debates, voting and gloating, have clearly seen, weighed measured everything from a different prism and perspectives that were concealed.

It must be clear to many Nigerians by now, (assuming that it was at any time unclear), that those who led the campaign against third term, were self-interested opportunists, who merely exploited the term elongation brouhaha to further their personal and parochial political ambitions, which does not have Nigeria as its central or only focus. Those who truly care about Nigeria should have Nigeria's national interests as their sole focus.

In doing so, these selfish individual inflamed emotions and heated the polity to a boiling point. This they did, in complete disregard for Nigeria’s short term or long term national interests. Their only interests were in such things that diminished Nigeria’s unity and diversity, and in effect, they were seeking to promote parochial interests that are contrary to our national interests. Nigerians should be alarmed by the utterances of some political gladiators of late. Nigerians should be concerned with those with contempt for fellow Nigerian citizens.

Constitutional tenets and ideals were used and exploited as camouflages and proxies by political opportunists to wrap themselves and shield their nefarious intentions and evil motives. The veils are now being lifted from their chicaneries and shenanigans which had nothing to do with Nigeria.

All Nigerians citizens should have real equality in aspirations and expectation. All Nigerians must have the inalienable constitutional right to aspire to the highest office in our land. Nigerians citizens should have the equality of aspirations and expectations, whether such is economic, social, political etc. The upward mobility of every Nigerian citizen must be measured by efforts, qualifications, experience and passion.

Region of birth, place of birth, or parental origins, religion, ethnicity, region or indigene and settler statuses, must be no factors in determining reasonable aspirations and expectations of any Nigerian citizen. Including the aspiration to be president of Nigeria!
Unmentioned ulterior motives seemed to have motivated and influenced the debate and rejection of the constitutional amendment bill that was before Nigeria’s National Assembly. The rejection of 115 proposed amendments because of one is callous.

How else would anyone explain away, the blunder committed by the national assembly, the senate in particular, as Senator Ken Nnamani had sought to explain away the calamity in the dumping of numerous valuable constitutional amendments?

The senate president engaged in that hubris recently, as he tried to excuse the senate by stating that parliamentary procedures required that the abandonment of the rest of a litany of other 115 proposed amendments to the Constitution of Nigeria 1999. Senator Nnamani actually vowed or stated conclusively, that the 115 proposed amendments that were dumped along with the vexed and ultra controversial term elongation would not be revisited during the term of this senate! Even though this current senate has more than a year in its hands! There is a lot of time to consider and vote on these 115 amendments!

The 115 sundry amendments were guaranteed to produce monumental paradigm shift in a fundamental constitutional scheme of things in Nigeria. But these other 115 amendments were dumped in an emotional or illogical reaction to the term elongation item!

It is impossible to analyze item by item, the contents and meanings or impacts of these now rejected or dumped 115 proposed amendments. But just take one of them for instance. Imagine if the immunity clause was successfully expunged! That would have meant that public officials, especially the governors and their deputy and the president of Nigeria would no longer conduct themselves with impunity, while seeking cover under the immunity clause as currently provided by section 308 of the 1999 constitution.

Another valuable sample from the dumped 115 proposed amendments, was voting process and rules. What constitute credible elections, controls elections commission or election board. Who appoint chairman and members etc and all these impacts, in very fundamental ways, whether elections are free and fair, legitimate, and trustworthy etc.
Behaving with impunity, without accountability and transparency, in my view encapsulates everything that has always been wrong with Nigerian public officials from the messenger to the president. Expunging the immunity clause would have made it an imperative for Nigerian public officials to be more deliberative and contemplative in their private and public actions.

The removal of the present immunity clause would have made it possible for governors, their deputies, presidents and vice presidents to think of consequences of their actions and inactions that impact Nigerian citizens negatively. This would have been the beginning of wisdom for Nigerian public officials!
Resource Control was another item in the proposed 115 amendments. What reasonably sane Nigerian is against a constitutional resolution of this age old resource control issue? What Nigeria is in favor of injustice and neglect of the chickens that lays golden eggs?
I predict that Nigeria would remain the same, so long as the electorate believes, truly or falsely, that its vote does not count or that its votes are meaningless.

I predict as well that Nigeria will remain in perpetual motion without movements, so long as all strata of public officials conduct themselves with impunity and without fear of consequences. And public officials will remain without worries about accountability and transparency, which what the removal of the immunity clause from the constitution would have engendered or even compelled.

It must be clear therefore, that the carte blanche rejection of the other 115 proposed amendments to the constitution of Nigeria 1999 was a monumental blunder by, and on the part of the Nigerian National Assembly. Nigerians ought to urge the senator to reconsider! Nigeria’s national assembly has a whole year from now the elections in 2007 to debate and enact those 115 proposed amendments. If the senators are wary of benefiting current politicos, these amendments’ effective dates can be enshrined in their passage.

Dumping those 115 proposed amendments amounted to guaranteeing safe passage to those public officials who are crooks by any other name, who have pillaged and may continue to pillage resources that rightly belong to all Nigerian citizens.
It also ensures that elections may continue to be seen by the electorate as a farcical process from which the electorate is discounted and disvalued. What is democracy then, if the electorate thinks elections lack credibility? Voter apathy is not good for democracy.

Nigerians ought to encourage all to trust and participate in all aspect of the democratic process.

Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States

Posted by Administrator at 06:50 AM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2006

NAZIria, Not Nigeria

by CID Oguagha (New York, USA) --- Saturday May 27, the Association of Biafran Christians (ABC) and all Biafrans present honored Biafran heroes past, present and future with a mobilization conference in Los Angeles, California. The goal of the discourse was the rebirth of Biafra, which went limbo since January 15 1970.

It was indeed an uplifting occasion to the peoples of the East and the Mideast, otherwise called the Biafrans, whose so-called compatriots of other races have sentenced to unmitigated estrangement, and whom their Naziria nation is in full throttle to extinct.

Naziria, dubiously named Nigeria, is the graveyard of Igbo and her cognate neighbors. It is the pandemic Frederick Lugard’s mistress god mothered after the river Niger of her coarse fascination. But then, Naziria should not be romanticized as Nigeria; certainly not by its Biafran casualties, and not by its savage Nazirian beneficiaries either, assuming they still retain the least speckle of humanity in them.

On the one hand, to hail this rogue federation, Nigeria, is the same as desecrating all the supreme sacrifices of Biafra’s fallen heroes and heroines. On the other hand, to begin to label this bandit country by its sterling name, Naziria, is nothing more than paying overdue respect to the same fallen heroes and casualties of our first Biafra.

The amalgam of 1914 wasn't Nigeria, it was Naziria, and it took a question of time for polite Nigeria to manifest essential Naziria. It began three decades after in 1945 Jos ethnic cleansing of the Easterners and Mideasterners. By the time the pseudo-country finally became the Federal Republic of Naziria in 1960, its character and destination were all too manifest both to the predator and the quarry alike.

Those who gave their lives that pathetic cowards, later enshrined as Nazirian heroes, namely: Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Theophilus Danjuma, Olisiego Obusonjo, Anthony Enahoro, Obafemi Awolowo, et cetera, could not wrangle all Biafrans to their fast multiplying crematoria across Naziria and even within Biafra did not die in vain.

Here are some few scenarios that throw the weight of Biafran heroes’ tragic humanitarian work in bold relief: Yakubu Gowon provided for and protected all Northern Nazirian criminals who disemboweled pregnant women, slaughtered babies and beheaded men, altogether numbering about 50,000 Eastern/Mideasterners in a single year, 1966.

Muritala Mohammed was famed for wiping out the entire male folk of Asaba, and conducting genocide on Biafrans who surrendered to him in Awka and Onitsha during the war. Theophilus Danjuma smashed General Aguiyi-Ironsi's brains on a road in Ibadan, and till today saved a bullet for Ojukwu, the Biafran warlord.

Obafemi Awolowo stole about 6 billion pounds from the war-wracked Biafrans for the Nazirian coffers. Enahoro recommended decimating the Biafran population through abject starvation. And finally, Olisiego Obusonjo calls the government representatives of East/Mideast felons, and has lashed out an unending scourge called Chris Uba against Anambra State.

United Nation's definition of the crime of genocide includes cultural extinction of a peculiar people; the Biafran fiasco and resultant conundrum should convict Naziria on first degree charges of genocide in the World Court. Naziria should be sanctioned to pay reparations to Biafra, and Biafra should then be provisioned by the United Nations to secede from Naziria.

To romanticize Naziria as Nigeria therefore isn't only tantamount to spoofing the invaluable and incalculable heads and limbs, which heroes and heroines threw in to put out the holocaust, but smacks of insensitive self-abuse as well. In the final analyses, to refer to the rogue nation for what it basically is, Naziria, is the least regard Biafrans could have of themselves, at least for now.

All Biafrans should refer to Nigeria as Naziria. Others, Nazirians or not, should follow suit; such being the only justifiable thing to do to this monstrosity Britain contrived to blight the manhood of the entire black race.

Surely, before Hister, sorry Adolf Hitler, began Nazi Germany in the beginning of the 1930's, the same infamous Nazi dots were already connecting here in the armpit of Africa, courtesy of imperial, nay Petite Britain.

It will not be well with Britain at all, also because they would not repent of their villainy. Hope is the basic expediency you could give people, in this respect, peculiar peoples. But that is exactly what Britain is adamant to deprive the Biafran peoples. Biafra's fate cannot rest in your foolish hands oh Britain! Biafra's fate is in her nimble limbs, and you know what else? She has already overcome your disgusting sleight of hand, which manipulates the span of her peace and the reaches of her endeavors. Yea, Beloved has overcome! Retire in shame.

After her eventual epic triumph over Nazirian occupation, Biafra should be renamed Beloved. The name Biafra is bereft of meaning, yet she could bear it for now. What does it actually mean, besides the defunct Bight of Biafra on the map of Naziria? The word is one of the imperialists's numerous jawing across Africa, of which self-preserving African nations like Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Ghana, and so forth cast off at some points through their nationhood. After victory, Biafra should be christened Beloved or some other name that unifies her confederate ethnic nationalities.

Time is far gone for all Easterners and Mideasterners, from Calabar through Port Harcourt and Enugu to Agbor, to launch at least the home coming of our hearts and minds from a parasitic federation that lives off Biafran material and human resources. A country errantly called Nigeria though it overreached its true self as Naziria forty years ago with the holocaust against the Biafrans, which the Gowon regime gleefully presided over for four sore and upended years.

Physical mass return may still wait, and may never be total as desirable. After all that which severs, though re-fixed shall fall short. But spiritual return is the absolute answer to Biafra's soul searching against the groundswell of allied Nazirian siege. She should begin now to rework all her ethnic and personal interrelationships. Blend in her differences. Hold her ethnic nationalities in unmatchable esteem way above outlandish neighbors.

Biafrans, work vigorously to rebuild your nation with the understanding that outlandish rapprochements, with the Nazirians, that jeopardize mutual relations in East and Mideast can only serve up your wholesale liquidation in their cannibalistic platters.

The Nazirians are skunks, cheats and sneaks. None of the Biafrans: Rivers, Crossriver, Delta, Anambra, Ebonyi, Imo, Bayelsa, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, or Abia states has gained from having coalesced with Fulani, Hausa, Yoruba, Bini and so forth. Instead these Assyrians and Philistines of Naziria have continued unrelentingly to disconnect your ecology, siphon and flare your oil products, confiscate your estates, impede your commerce, frustrate your future, deny your welfare, and police your freedom.

Any sibling nationality that has so much as gained half as much as she has lost in consorting with any of the Nazirian criminal ethnic nationalities should go ahead and scream her objection to this treatise! Haven't all of you been hurting one way and another? Haven't your own leaders brainwashed, and Naziria instigated your deep-rooted aversion to one another; so much that you have inadvertently and prodigally bankrolled your quasi-compatriots' junketing and squander mania; your quasi-compatriots whose difference to the White neo-colonialists is they are uncivilized and blacker than you.

Your ethnic groups are hard working and spare. Unlike the Nazirians, you are all beautiful and resourceful people. Why should you then allow Naziria, pettiness, past mistakes, slithering aliens, and sleek clansmen to monumentalize mutual animosity and distrust amongst you? Arise Biafrans! Gravitate to self-galvanization in your second and final effort.


Posted by Administrator at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2006

Nigeria: Let us Look to the Past and Weep....

by D. Akinsanya Juliuson (Great Britain) --- Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This was said by John Acton, the famous historian. He did not go on to suggest that the opposite is also true. Absolute powerless is no guarantee of absolute impeccability.

We don’t have as much power as we want, but we do have some. To make the most of the power that we have, we need to act with immense sincerity and sensitivity. We need to do the right thing and we’ll get the right result. We can’t buy wisdom by the pint. We can though obtain ignorance in this way. After a couple of glasses we will know nothing about anything – even if we feel sure that we know it all! Wisdom, arguably can be bought – but not with money. We have to pay for it with experience and we certainly can’t measure the stuff. So, how much wisdom do we have now in this country? In some nations elections are never held. The same people hold the same positions of power for decades. Are the citizens any worse off? They might or might not be. We can’t ask them because they are not allowed to comment! Democracy is not about efficiency. It’s about respecting the right to disagree.

I believe a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…just a single step. Let’s close our eyes and think of a clear blue sky above us. Let’s visualise a ladder, emerging from the top of our head. Let’s watch it go upwards, ever upwards, into that wide blue yonder. Now, let’s conjure up an image of us somehow climbing that ladder. We keep climbing and now at the top, let’s look down. There is our situation in Nigeria, the one that seems so big, daunting, urgent and overwhelming. Seems small in the distance – doesn’t it? Grown ups in our midst know what they are doing at all times. Kids just wander around in a state of confused innocence. Or so at least, we are taught to believe. There are though, many smart children in this world and many dumb adults. In that latter group (the adults) the dumbest of the lot are the folk who think they know what they are doing when really they have no clue, no idea. I believe we (this generation) have got that childlike urge to explore something different now and we mustn’t dismiss it. It could change our world and our country for better.

In 2007, The Most High will surely bless us with a God fearing Leader. A leader who will appreciate how extremely important it is for Nigerian leader to know the true meaning of leadership, security and understanding. I said this before and by God, I’m saying it again. Any President that's not guided by principle is not a President and I repeat that person is not a president but a wishful thinker. The next leader of Nigeria must be someone who embodies the best and understands the ideals and value of communities and also hard-work. God can and will give our country a better leadership and better future. I'm sure we have more than enough intelligent leaders with what it takes to lead the nation, let’s pray to God for guidance and to lead us. In order for the next leader of our great country to form a perfect union with the citizens of Nigeria, he must be prepared to establish prosperity and well-being and insure integrity, also declare himself free and independent from all bondage past, present and future. He must be prepared to divorce himself from self-righteousness and release the nation from poverty, lack and negativity. He must be a consummate listener and be prepared to deal with serial blackmailers and jobless character assassins that have destroyed many innocent lives through their evil and unrepentant heart.

This leader must be prepared to break free from acts of dependency, self-denial, dishonesty, indecision and timidity. He must be prepared to seek the common good, promote Unity and Justice, Disdain the arrogance of power and provide moral leadership. He must remove himself from working just for money and false security and commit himself to adding value and making his heart sing in everything he does. He must be prepared to rid himself of all that, he knows might jeopardize his determination to succeed. He must be prepared to dedicate himself to personal success and honesty. Also, must center himself in the flow of truth, wisdom and inspiration. This leader must be dedicated to helping and encouraging youths operate at their personal and professional best. We must work together under the leadership of a man of purpose, a man of vision and a man of understanding. We do not need an immature political illiterate who sell Nigeria in order to be accepted by the west and or disrespect those who have sacrificed their lives for this worthy nation.

The next president of Nigeria must learn how to mentor others to greatness and create a self-propelled workforce. He MUST be more versatile and be sure of his approach. He must share his vision more effectively and boost productivity. The world belongs to passionate driven leaders, people who do not only have enormous amount of energy but who can energise those whom they lead. People don't want to be managed, they want to be led, to be inspired to higher levels of excellence and they want a leader who can develop their potential. This leader must understand that, how well his team performs depends on his leadership. People are not led by plans and analysis, creating inspiration, self respect and a sense of excitement is what it is all about. The next president of Nigeria must appreciate the fact that, his ministers, governors and ambassadors might be very skilful, but what really makes the difference between good performance and outstanding performance is the WILL factor, commitment, energy and belief. An ability to generate innovative ideas and pull it through. He must learn how to ignite the will to win in his team, especially his ministers and ambassadors. Nigeria deserves cultured, sensible, sensitive, mature ambassadors, consuls and representatives. We need embassies with efficient commercial, cultural and public diplomats. Nigeria is an independent country not a village or town. Nigeria is a leader of leaders. Nigeria needs a mature and energetic leader who is not a recipe for disaster.

In life some obstacles are opportunities. If we seek a way past them, we will eventually find success. Others are impenetrable. They are too big, too broad, too high or too deep. No matter how much effort we make, we will be wasting our time. How are any of us supposed to know the difference between these two types of difficulty? There’s only one way we can find out. We have to try for a while and see how far……

But what if we choose the wrong thing? What if we reach the wrong tomorrow? What if we wind up lost, sorely regretting our weakness or lack of insight? When we are thinking like this, let’s remember the words of Franklyn D. Roosevelt: “The only thing we have to fear in life….is fear itself.” We must never allow defeat to defeat us in Nigeria. As we sow seeds for the future by our own actions, let’s ask ourselves, “Are we acting out of nervousness or enthusiasm?” If it’s the former, let’s please forget it. If it’s the latter, let’s let it lead us! As long as we are clear in our hearts, our brains can think whatever it likes. However, we must remember that, yesterday’s perfect solution is today’s irrelevant idea. Life moves on and we must move on too. We can’t keep repeating tried and tested formulae – nor can we assume, just because something once suited us, that it will be perfect forever. We don’t necessarily have to alter our situation but we do have to look at things from a different angle. Are we overlooking the potential value of something (so far) unfamiliar right now in this country of ours?

In this country of ours, we must always understand one thing and that is, success is dangerous. Failure is valuable. Success gives rise to arrogance, overconfidence, pride and prejudice! Failure by contrast, produces humility, wisdom, cautious and a willingness to learn. At the moment, we have a reason to feel triumphant and a reason too, to feel deflated. Understandably, we want to focus on the factor that makes us feel good. The greatest benefit is going to ensue from a good, hard look at our most pressing problem. What isn’t working? Why isn’t it working? What can we do now to make it work? It takes courage to ask questions like these but if we can now summon that strength, we will come up with answers that inspire and uplift us. No matter what you and I think or believe, even the Lord Almighty Himself forgives us of our trespasses. How many of us forgive those who trespass against us? We must in this country understand that, it is our lack of forgiveness that always lead us in Nigeria into temptation, so now, who is going to deliver us from the evil we have created with our mouth and our actions, if not the Most High to whom kingdom, power, glory and authority belongs. Let’s be glad of the unexpected. Let’s embrace the unusual, the innovative, even the downright disruptive. We surely can soon put things back the way they were if we really want to – but the likelihood is that with the help of the enemies of progress, we might not want to.

Let’s recall, the last time we said “ Right, that’s it, we’re never ever going to do this (or that) again.” Let’s dwell, for a moment, on how pleased we are that we made such a decision and how different life has been since then. Now, let’s face facts. We are back in a situation which looks suspiciously like the one which led us to that choice. Do we, on point of principle walk away? Or do we give it one more try, to see if we can get something constructive out of it? That decision, soon, I surely believe, will be made for us. We can argue with the past as much as we like. It won’t respond. It can’t change. It can not even argue back! Happily, we don’t have to resolve our differences with it. We can remain uncomfortable about anything that has taken place before now. This as far as I’m concerned won’t do us any harm as long as we don’t carry the dispute forward. The future does not need to be argued with. It needs to be cajoled, coaxed and persuaded. We can talk it into something we really like and enjoy. Let’s look to the past today and weep but look to the future and hope.

As said before, we can’t start with a clean sheet. There‘s already something written on it. Even if we try to erase it – or paint over it – it will continue to show through. Let’s not, therefore, try to make a break with the past. Instead, let’s try and make an agreement with it. Let’s offer it some way to fit comfortably into our future. Let’s take its legacy and turn it into something we can feel proud of and pleased with. I am not talking here about the part of the past we already like. No! I’m talking about the part we are not so sure of that we can now make peace with. We might say, if only we had known, back then, what we know now…perhaps we would never have done what we did. But then, if we had never done it, we’d never have gone where we went. And then, we’d never have found out what we have discovered. Let’s not bother travelling down the road of “what if? It leads nowhere. Let’s head, instead, along the path of “what’s next?” And be glad of the lesson we have just learned. It’s yet going to help us ensure that the next destination we reach is a deeply pleasing and rewarding one. Whilst doing this, let’s not forget to appreciate our government and the President’s achievements so far. Let’s give glory to God for blessing us in this country and for His love for Nigeria.

D.Akinsanya Juliuson
Diplomacy Practitioner and Specialist Investigator
United Kingdom

Posted by Administrator at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

How not to Tackle the Da Vinci Code

by Okumephuna Chukwunwike (Rome, Italy) ---- After much expectation and of course anxiety over the effect it will have on the faith, belief and thinking of its viewers, the controversial film The Da Vinci Code finally debuted at the commencement of the 59th Edition of the Cannes Film Festival.

The Da Vinci Code which is actually the film version of a novel of the same name by Dan Brown is quite interesting from two angles in the sense that even though it is a very controversial film bordering on the faith of over 2 billion world Christians and about 1 billion Roman Catholics, it is at the same time a lesson on how to handle a very sensitive issue that borders on the faith of the people. This becomes very important against the background of the recent controversy surrounding the publication and republications of cartoons of Prophet Mohammed, which some Muslims claimed was offensive to them, their faith and the person of the prophet.

In fact The Da Vinci Code due to what has been described as its sacrilegious and scandalous tone is also attracting same criticism from different quarters of the Christian world with the loudest noise coming from the Vatican and the Opus Dei, the two main characters or hinges upon which the door of the film revolves. But the fact is that unlike what happened with the Prophet Mohammed carton controversy, the Vatican and the Opus Dei are being diplomatic in their protests and criticisms. And I must add that it is exactly what is expected from whoever feels that his faith has been insulted or offended. I believe that two wrongs can never make a right. We cannot right a wrong by committing another wrong. What happened in Nigeria during the cartoon controversy is a good example on why violence cannot and should not be used to send a message on how aggrieved we are over certain issues. In fact the killing of Christians and burning of both their houses and churches met with reprisal attack in the South especially in the Southeast of the country. A friend from the Southeast justifying the reprisal attack noted that nobody or religion has the monopoly of killing others. Is that not senseless and stupid of us all?

Even though I began by eulogising the Vatican and the Opus Dei on the diplomatic way they have been handling matters arising from the film, I honestly still have my reservations on certain moves I see as barbaric in that diplomacy which reminds one of the almighty Roman Catholic Church of the middle ages when men and women were wantonly burnt at stakes over flimsy excuses and cheer ignorance. The brutal murder of Galileo and lots of others who suffered the same fate in the hands of the church is still fresh in the mind of the people. While the hullabaloo surrounding the film is still going on some high ranking clergy of the Roman Catholic church threw caution to the wind by insinuating violence covertly by either asking the Roman Catholics to boycott the film or take a legal action. In fact one of the highest-ranking cardinals asked Dan Brown the author of the novel to do such a film on the Prophet Mohammed and see how the Muslims would welcome it. This is a statement I considered as carrying the issue too far. I am just trying to figure out what this high-ranking cardinal had in mind in making that reference. But whatever, the Cardinal should be openly denounced for taking that issue to that far. With due respect to all, am just wondering when we began to compare Christianity with other religions.

As a Christian we are not taught to fight for God for he said very clearly in the bible that vengeance is His and we should not suddenly learn how to be violent simply because Dan Brown wrote a novel which was eventually put into film and is already nearly making history as the most sold film in the history of Hollywood. All that glitters may not be gold!

The novel whose film version which featured some famous artists including Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Sir Ian Mckellen, Paul Bettany, Alfred Molina and Jean Reno, has sold more than 36 million copies in 44 languages. The story line had it that Jesus Christ did not actually die on the cross but married Mary Magdalene and lived happily ever after in the present day France where his descendents eventually became king and spawned a royal line. Also the Opus Dei, a famous religious organization in the Roman Catholic Church was depicted in both the film and the novel as a very influential controversial murderous organisation taking lives wantonly in order to conceal the ‘fact’. The Opus Dei has a special status of a personal prelature in the Catholic Church meaning that even though they could be present in a diocese, they do not necessarily owe allegiance to the local bishop but to their own bishop who reports directly to the Vatican. This has caused a very complicated situation in the church because most often the Opus Dei do not consult the local bishops before taking actions the local bishops should ordinarily be aware of simply because the Opus Dei and its members have been structured by the Vatican not to owe allegiance to them. This no doubt could be embarrassing and insulting to these local bishops.

The Opus Dei itself is also not helping the matter. It is no secret that in this age of globalisation and information technology the Opus Dei still prefers to keep most of its activities secret thereby opening up room for suspicion. To give a picture of what Opus Dei looks like to some Roman Catholics I would like to quote extensively from a letter that appeared on page 19 of an English Roman Catholic weekly, the Tablet of October 15, 2005. The letter was written by a Jesuit priest, Father James Martin SJ as a reaction to an article earlier published in that weekly. The letter is titled; ‘Opus Dei Secrecy’ and I quote,

May I offer a brief but substantive correction to Christopher Howse’s review of John Allen’s book on Opus Dei (Books, 1 October)? In his review, Mr Howse recounts the story of my research for a 1995 article on Opus Dei for America. Mr Howse notes that although I reported that Opus Dei’s statutes were secret, in reality they are-and were at the time-readily available. But as John Allen accurately recounts in his new book, the truth is more complex and more revelatory of Opus Dei. When I first asked the group for a copy of their statutes, they said that they were not permitted to distribute them to non-members. After I spoke with a canon lawyer who disputed this claim, Opus Dei then replied that the statutes had not been translated into English and besides were in “church Latin”, whatever that meant. Eventually I obtained them from outside Opus Dei. (As for Mr Howse’s comment that Opus Dei’s statues were easily retrieved from the internet in 1995, I note for the record that Google, for example, started operations in 1998). The main point is how odd it was for a catholic organization, time and again, to withhold something as simple as their statutes from a Catholic writer interested in learning more about the group. It is this kind of secrecy, which Opus Dei now says it is trying to change, which has long frustrated and even angered so many Catholics.

It is quite interesting and coincidental that this film is coming out at this time of history. As I have pointed out earlier, couple of months back there was a little air of panic round the globe as a result of controversy generated by the publication of the cartoon of Prophet Mohammed by the media. The dust generated by that panic is yet to settle down before this controversial film made its debut last week.

As a Christian am also affected by this film because the main gist of the story touches my faith as a Christian. It has to do with the God I believe in as a Christian. We have held this faith for over 2000 years but then The Da Vinci Code should not be a reason for Christians to react as people who have no solid faith in Christ. Though the film has all to do with my faith and my God, I do not consider myself fit to pick up arm and fight for Him because He said that vengeance is His. It makes little sense fighting for God when you are still a sinner and the only one worthy to fight for Him is one without sin and who is that. And by the way I wonder the type of God that would sanction killing, punishment or vengeance in his name. Catholics who are asked to take legal action against the film should rather think of helping the poor and those in need with that money. Christ would obviously not be happy seeing them wasting that money on useless and senseless venture in His name. The Vatican and the Opus Dei, the two main characters in the film have been fighting tooth and nail to ensure that Christians especially Roman Catholics do not patronise the film. This is a reaction, which I think may end up causing more harm than doing any good to the Church. I think we should rather face Dan Brown and those behind the film with prayer as our only weapon. Our collective prayers may touch their hearts and eventually make them to turn around and say we are sorry. That will make more sense to God than asking us to boycott the film or take legal action against them.

I feel at home with the condemnation of both the novel and film as the right thing to do but going a step further to ask us to boycott the film and take a legal action would tantamount to reminding us the era of the Holy Roman Empire when the Vatican has the almighty power to dictate which books to be read and which not to be read by either issuing imprimatur or nihil obstat in case of books to be read or listing in Index of Forbidden Books the ones not to be read. As a catholic I would not want my church to take such a stand because it seems very primitive. Dan Brown has the right to write whatever he wants to write so far he does not insult the person of Christ and I have the right to read the ones I want to read. Dan Brown by writing The Da Vinci Code is exercising his fundamental human right and myself refusing to read the book is also exercising my own right just like the Vatican has also the right to criticise the film. But going a step further to cow the Catholics into boycotting the film and taking of legal action could be interpreted as crossing the boundary. It could be as well interpreted as a deliberate violation of my fundamental human right to conscience and to make a choice. The world of today is too globalised to the extent that so many things cannot just work as a punitive measure. What have we done to pornographic features flying here and there in different media of communication?

I do not believe that Dan Brown has insulted the person of Christ. If Christ really married Mary Magdalene what’s about it. Marriage is not a sin likewise sex. The church teaching is that premarital sex is a sin and if Christ really had children with Mary Magdalene it was within marriage according to the gospel of Dan Brown. I strongly believe that the role of the Vatican here should be to inform the Catholics of dangers inherent in watching the film or reading the novel but by going a step further to ask for boycott and legal action against the film probably under the pain of moral obligation would not only be a violation of the fundamental human right of Dan Brown to his business and the conscious of Catholics but also could be interpreted as a sign of a church that is not in tune with the thinking of his faithful. I do not want to believe that my beloved Roman Catholic Church is not in tune with my thinking.

The reaction of both the Vatican and the Opus Dei of recent has not really helped the issue. They only succeeded in making themselves marketing media for the novel and the film. In fact I was forced to buy the novel with three other of Dan Brown’s work after reading so much about the reactions of both the Vatican and the Opus Dei and am quite sure that many others got to know about this film and the book through this way. In fact what gave impetus to my desire to buy the novels was when the Vatican directed the removal of a banner advertising the film in one of the churches in Rome.

This may not be a good time for us Christians but am definitely sure it is a better chance for us to express what we believe in. Just like every other Christian I believe that Jesus Christ born of the Blessed Virgin Mary is my God. He is the same today, yesterday and forever. I believe that He came down from heaven in the form of man to save mankind from sin. I believe that he was crucified, died and buried and rose again on the third day. These I believe with faith as truth and they are evident in my bible but I never saw where it was written that he married Mary Magdalene and had some kids with her and therefore I do not believe in that story, the film and even the novel. I do not expect Dan Brown to believe what I believe in but I owe him a duty to preach about the risen Christ to him. Buying and reading the book should not be interpreted as believing in Dan Brown. That is his own personal opinion as far as am concerned and he has every right in the world to express it and I as a Christian has also the right to buy either the film or the book without believing the content.

Our response as Christians matters a lot at this time. Do we kill him? Do we excommunicate him? Do we burn him at the stake? Do we murder him? All these are obviously going to the extreme and clearly contrary to the teaching of the Christ who is the source of our faith and hope. Am not in doubt that some Christians have thought of doing that but the simple truth is that there is no room for these thoughts in Christianity. What I remembered the Bible said is that we should forgive, love and pray for our enemies and for one to infer that it is because of this passage of the bible that many people have had the audacity to insult Christ and Christianity and go free would be interpreted as knowing more than Christ.

Our response therefore as Christians should be to take up not swords but love and prayer for time will surely come when all shall beat their swords into ploughshares and nations shall learn war no more.

Okumephuna Chukwunwike
Roma, Italia

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

Obasanjo is Not that Desperate Afterall

by Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa --- Some people do not know when to stop chasing a snake until it turns back and strike with venom. By Nigerian standard, leaders who were desperate for power sacked democratic houses with all their Federal might, slaughtering students and anyone in their way until Heaven took its course.

That Obasanjo was humbled by the senate was not enough? We all know the history of gloating, celebrating and parading the spoil of atrocities after the fall of men of “timber and caliber.” We were always matured; we just changed for the better. Most of us fought against third term without regard to ethnicity or class. But watch out, vultures are going to hijack our unity, cause confusion in the name of impeachment or whatever, while hiding their true motive to steal our mandate.

We have to count our blessing sometimes. There are on going argument about what we might have lost during the campaign for third term. But I also breathe a sigh of relief that it could have been worse. We know that many Nigerian dictators campaigning today would send out troops to force us into compliance. Never mind that it could result in suicide for them. What about the poor souls that will die with them? Are their lives less precious than that of you and me? We have enough people dying already in our Country.

Nigerians are still licking the old wounds of war, ethnic massacres and marginalization. Yet gloaters will not learn. The unintended consequence of such behavior is a backlash, and a misplaced sympathy. Instead of beating our chest to a coma, we should save our energy and remain united against greater evils that have formed coalitions with lesser evils. We can not leave our thinking cap at the door of a dead issue while beating a dead horse. For those who remember Roberto Duran v. Sugar Ray Leonard fight, what part of no mas don’t we understand?

So many of us including this writer have called Obasanjo all kinds of names and he has so acknowledged in his speech asking all Nigerians to move on and reconcile our differences for the benefit of the Country. He showed uncharacteristic humility. We have to demonstrate that we have nothing personal against him, his family his career as a militrician or his kin. All we are after is for Nigeria to live up to its potential. Whoever is in the way, may he be a militrician, vultures or an alien from space; we are ready to fight all the way to realize individual and collective potential of Nigeria.

As much as I do not want Obasanjo to play the role of god-father, the best option for him at this point in his life is to seek the role of order and peace maker. Our transitions, even in the civilian days, can not be called peaceful. In his reflection on the failed third or fourth term, he can still be remembered as the President for justice among the down-trodden. It all has to do with how the next election is conducted and who succeeds him.

Since Obasanjo has no personal interest in the presidency anymore; Nigerians expect the best of all the effort and able hands we can get to conduct a freer election than the ones that brought him in. He should be able to go anywhere in the Country and look decent people in the eye claiming he did his best during his own time. No magomago.

The South-south and the South-east have been crying for justice and power sharing in our Country. It is now speculated that the President is ready to punish those who derailed his insatiable quest for power. This is a man who has always claimed that he never sought it but always thrust upon him. While it is true that he can not please everybody, no region of the Country should feel punished because of failed blind ambition or over zealousness for that power. Neither the North nor the South has anything to fear or loose as long as our unity is for just cause and fair share of political power.

All indication from Nuhu Ribadu is that corrupt contestants will be disqualified from holding the title of Presidential candidate. We need to stop fooling one another about letting people and election decide who is clean or guilty. Not in Nigeria, and we know it. This is the Country of Adedibu and Uba. A Country where certain citizens set bad precedence, refused the call of justice, still remain gullible and garrulous. Nevertheless, we have enough people in our Country who are clean to contest as candidates. Most Nigerians are hardworking people and that is why we succeed outside. Unfortunately, that God given intelligence is sometimes used for mischief. I hardly know a crook personally, a far number from the speculation that most Nigerians are crooks. Are we?

Fortunately, some young Nigerians are now coming out to contest for the presidency. We need more of them to shame the “old soldiers never die.” Some people have to realize that at certain point in life they are out of step and out of line. The main attraction, which is the treasury, must be secure by the tightest form of check and balance. It is still too easy for the Executive to dip into the treasury. Our accountants and auditors need to come together to find a way to secure the treasury. Only Nigerians who can beat any system can fix that. It is like bee hives attracting unpleasant people that sting us to death.

Some hard work has gone into the amendment of the constitution. We can all sort rice for cooking (if some of you still remember) or grain from the shaft. Whatever is just and fair especially in the case of South-south and South-east must be reintroduced. It is important that we remain fair in our time. Not only do we need to be fair, we have to seem fair.

Every little child in Nigeria must be able to aspire for the highest office in the land. This sense of fairness is needed to drive home the point that any region that has not tasted power at the pinnacle, must be able to vie for it with the cooperation of the whole Country. The same goes for our women. Women with power can still be beautiful and competent at the same time.

Nigerians are very sensitive to outside critics, no matter how constructive. Those who have raised their voices have met equal and opposite tantalizing force, Africans or not. In some cases they do not know what hit them. Nigerians have to realize that some of these people know our potentials because they attended the same schools with us or the same clubs inside and outside Africa. They should be mad at us if we do not live up to expectation of producing a leader, not only for Nigeria but for the black world. That is not too much to ask of Nigerians.

It is an insult on a Country like Nigeria to see our citizens focused on in news magazines as perpetrators of high technical crime or as abusers of foreign aids living on other people’s taxes. Many us of know how much in billions of dollars and resources is taken out of Africa only for less than one percent to be returned in foreign aids, a trickle per year for the next forty years. These changes and awareness have to start from the very top. Is there any African that is not proud of the prestige and straight talk of Nelson Madela? He has nothing to loose.

This is the time for Obasanjo to play the role of a great African by putting his house in order. No matter how brilliant or how hard working and peace loving we think we are, charity begins at home. If we can not put our house in order, all our contribution to world peace will be ridiculed by our distractors. Enough talk about Nigeria exporting what we do not have at home – peace all over our land. It is the greatest gift Obasanjo can give us.

Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa

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

The Theology of Condom and the Choice of Life and Death

by Okumephuna Chukwunwike (Rome, Italy) ---- As a Roman Catholic and an African, am already worried about what would be the outcome of the instruction being prepared by the Pontifical Council for Health on the use of condom by married couples in the fight against HIV and AIDS which are already causing havoc in different parts of the world but especially in Africa which unfortunately is bearing the highest brunt of these epidemics today.

I do not want to pre-empt the outcome of the instruction but am very much afraid and worried that once again a very important issue bordering on human life would further be complicated by a many-paged academic locubrations from the Vatican. I am also afraid that the outcome may not be very far from the traditional views of the Roman Catholic Church. The instruction is likely at the end of the day to repeat the Vatican cliché and familiar tune of procreation being the essence of marital sex and therefore whatever goes against this would be considered obstruction to the Will of God and therefore not just a sin but a mortal one that can only be absolved by bishops. That in itself is a plausible argument and quite understandable because it makes every sense. But we have to take a holistic view of this argument from the theory of lesser evil to grasp the reason the Roman Catholic Church should for once be liberal on issues like this, after all we are talking now not about contraception but saving of life.

I am just wondering what would have been the response of Our Lord Jesus Christ if He were still present physically with us here on earth. But before then recall that instead of outright condemnation He told an adulterous woman to go and sin no more. Recall again that when accused of breaking the Sabbath day by healing a diseased man He asked his accusers which is lesser evil to heal a diseased man on the Sabbath day or to abandon him in his suffering and sorrow. Bearing these in mind then, I have no doubt that Christ would have sanctioned the use of condom by married couples in the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS. He would probably have asked which is lesser evil to contact a disease and die or to prevent a disease and live.

A conservative Roman Catholic may not appreciate the tone of this argument, if he has not been to Africa or other parts of the world similar to Africa. Still he is not likely to read further if he has not been privileged to know what it means to be poor or ignorant. An Italian friend once told me a story of his poverty, which at the end of the day left me, confused on what poverty is. I was very much confused because this is a young man like myself who lives in a two-bedroom apartment in the centre of Rome with a nice small car and of course has been touring the world in the last four years each summer on vacation. He is just 26, has a degree in Architecture and still has more brighter future ahead of him and he told me he is poor. I was a little offended because that statement was made in a midst of a very serious conversation. Well at the end of the day I concluded that this young man should take a vacation to Africa to see what the other side of the world is all about. This is his idea of being poor and am sure that this apply also to other Europeans and Americans who have not been to Africa. In fact if that is what poverty is all about I pray the Lord to bless Africa with more poverty in Jesus name, Amen.

My argument is not actually that Africa is poor as such. Africa has a lot of natural, manmade and intellectual resources to lead the world but as a result of injustice being condoned by the west, Africa may not enjoy in the next one thousand years what Europeans and Americans are taking for granted today. For instance all the money looted from my country Nigeria by our corrupt politicians past and present including the current President Olusegun Obasanjo and his fellow compatriots are either in Swiss banks or inform of assets in other European and American cities. As a result Africa today has an unenviable record of being the world poorest continent and having a huge population of the poorest of the poor and illiterates. From this picture it could be appreciated how African problems including health issues, terrorism, wars, conflicts and the likes are intertwined with poverty and illiteracy. It can only take a visit to understand this scenario well.

Therefore the proposed instruction if not taken into consideration the African background may end up being offensive to Africans especially bearing in mind that most Vatican polices in the past have been Ameri-Eurocentric with little or less contribution from Africa which has if not the highest population of active Roman Catholics, the second largest in the world. It seems the Vatican has also this attitude that nothing good comes out of Africa and therefore consulting them for their contributions may not be important. As it is well known the present Vatican stand on the reason condom should not be used as lesser evil in the fight against the virus is based on the 1968 document ‘Humanae Vitae’ issued by the papacy of Pope Paul VI though the document had no HIV and AIDS in mind in the first place before its debut.

The summary of the document is that the essence of marital sex is procreation and therefore any use of sexual device within marriage, which impedes that plan, is immoral and therefore a sin. Good! But we are today talking about saving and prolonging that life. I have no doubt that when the document was issued, there has not been reported any case of HIV and AIDS. Am sure also that little or no African consultation was deemed necessary before the issuance of the document. They would have advised on the over technicality of the documents and why it may not work in Africa. I have not also stopped wondering if that highly academic document is meant to instruct my illiterate parents, brothers and sisters back home in my poor small village in Nigeria. Having lived in Europe for quite sometime, I have no doubt that most Europeans are not just ignorant of what happens in Africa but lacks even the simplest basic fact about the continent.

Nigeria may be an exception to this argument because we are fortunate to have a reasonable number of educated people and families who live a little above average of poverty level. In fact about 60% of our about 120 million population live below poverty level. But then the twin issue of HIV and AIDS have not been very fair to us as a country. Today with about 3.5 million people living with the virus out of that population of about 120 million, we have the third highest rate of the burden after South Africa and India. These three countries have also noticed in the last few years the continuous depletion of its active population especially those between the ages of 18 and 45 and consequently the leaving behind of huge army of orphans with the virus as clearly witnessed in countries such as South Africa, Uganda and Botswana and of course Nigeria and India. In these countries, it is now a case of grandparents taking care of their HIV and AIDS infected grandchildren.

That is actually not the most pathetic part of the story. The most pathetic side is that these grandparents do not have the strength and the money to feed their hungry grandchildren who die daily as a result of hunger and complications associated with these viruses. Let us not talk about the life saving Antiretroviral Therapy because it will expose a lot of corruption in the African health system. Before leaving Nigeria in October 13, 2005 out of 3.5 million Nigerians who are living with the virus, it was only about less than 10,000 that were benefiting from the Federal Government sponsored Antiretroviral Therapy Programme. The Government actually had an ambition to raise it to 150,000 by June of this year but the fact is that it is only the rich and those connected with the rich that have access to this programme thereby leaving thousands of the poor suffering masses to their fate. Due to the ignorance and illiteracy level of the poor masses the cycle of transmission continues spreading sparing nobody not even the riches who depend on the poor for their sexual gratifications in exchange for money, employment and other gratifications.

And therefore for one to stay in the Vatican and issue a highly academic instruction to poor dying souls in remote villages in Africa living under this condition would not only be considered funny but highly offensive to Africans. It would not only tantamount to not appreciating our sufferings and plights but also ridiculing and scorning us while we suffer and die. Christ who refused to endorse the stoning to death of a woman, Mary Magdalene caught in adultery and forgave those who killed Him would certainly have not kept Africans in a very difficult situation like this if He were still alive. I have the impression that the Vatican at the moment is busy circumlocuting and debating over a cup of coffee while people are dying elsewhere. It could be very dangerous placing the faithful on a very high moral pedestal. May be it was because of this that Christ forewarned that we should first remove the log of wood in our eyes before looking for a speck in that of our neighbour.

Being a former health journalist with the Guardian Newspapers of Nigeria, I was opportuned to have almost a two year interaction with people living with the virus especially women and children. Most women I met and spoke with told me that they contacted the virus from their husbands. Africa is a very patriarchical society and therefore women have little or no say in the family not even on issues that is about them like sex negotiation with their husbands. To refuse your husband sex is considered highly offensive. In most African cultures, men do not sin and therefore a man having extra-marital affair is considered normal while a woman could be publicly disgraced or even stoned to death for the same offence. This is just a little picture on how most women get the virus from their husbands in Africa on daily basis. It is also how some women infect their husbands. But it should also be noted that even though these women know that their husbands are already infected and that this situation could endanger their own lives and that of their children, due to societal pressure and culture they are forced to continue to fulfil their marital obligation by ensuring that their husbands are supplied with sex whenever and wherever he needs it.

Under this difficult situation the stand of the church is that they should not use condom under the pain of mortal sin. This has left them under a very difficult situation. They are left with no option at all and for them to remain good and loyal Roman Catholics they must remain subject to their infected partners.

I have been wondering what manner of love would make a woman to subject herself to her infected husband to the detriment of their children. I personally believe and think that what would be the right thing to do under this circumstance is for the partners to enter into an agreement that will put an end to sex within that marriage. Simply put a sexless marriage. But since this idea sounds angelic and utopian, I strongly believe that something must be done to save that marriage and protect those lives. It is therefore based on this argument that I strongly believe that the use of condom by the partners justifies itself as lesser evil. Though some quarters are of the opinion that Condom may not be highly effective in the halt of this virus but experts are of the opinion that if well used condom can protect the transmission of HIV and AIDS to a reasonable extent. I think couples should be allowed to make a choice in this case and the Vatican could be of immense help by not placing a very big obstacle to this choice. A man who has never married, I mean a celibate may not be competent to talk on this issue.

Therefore the Vatican while still preparing this document should endeavour to make it have a human face and realistic tone. If it sounds too utopian and angelic, it would put us in a very difficult situation and add to our already heavy burden. It may also force most Roman Catholics in Africa to follow their conscience especially at this difficult and trying time they have only two options of choosing either life or death. And being an African who has seen a lot of brothers and sisters and friends succumb to the virus, I have no doubt that we are likely to choose life if the church refuse us that precious option of life. It may seem unreasonable for us to join in a dance step of a music we do not know its tune.

Am just wondering what the Roman Catholic Church would stand to gain if tomorrow our pastors open the church to see empty pews simply because we have all died of the virus. God forbid we should get to that stage but even if we must get there the church should make hays while the sun shines to place itself under moral obligation to act fast to save our life and the church of tomorrow.

Okumephuna Chukwunwike
Roma, Italia

Posted by Administrator at 05:54 PM | Comments (0)

Nnamdi Azikiwe and M. L. King: As Dreamers, Doers or Builders

by Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa --- A controversial leader once renounced the tag of prophet. The days of dreams and prophecies are long gone. The time for action is now. The Ikemba of Nnewi, an eloquent and intelligent orator of our time called Zik a dreamer compared to Dr. M. I. Opara. I do not question the good intention of Ojukwu but to erase any aorta of doubts in the minds of opportunists and the younger ones, this poor little soul has to set some records straight.

A dreamer Azikiwe might have been, he was also a builder and a doer who got down to substantial projects.

There is no doubt that Africans in Diaspora pay their dues to Martin Luther King, a dreamer of the first order and still probably dreaming. Nobody will insinuate or underrate his remarkable achievement in Civil Right in the US. He provided an avenue for peace makers and alternative for those in power to negotiate with. As much as Martin gained recognition, credit has also been given to the Black Panthers Party, Rosa Park’s defiance, Thurgood Marshall legal prowess, Elijah Mohamed and Malcolm X Muslims revolts.

Azikiwe was no Martin, he never turned the second cheek for abuse but also a calculated fighter who knows when to dodge. No matter what, Azikiwe and Ojukwu are not in the same sphere or in competition for a trophy. Yet, both of them were born in the North and were brought up in Lagos where they attended Kings College and Methodist Boys High School at different periods.

They agreed up to a point and disagreed when one thought the other was going too far. I remembered that Ojukwu recalled Zik home during the war for “consultation.” Zik was his father’s mate not his. When two kids are chopping a tree in the bush, only the elders know where the tree will fall, says a Yoruba proverb.

Apart from our parents, there are very few heroes these days. Azikiwe, dead or alive (there are some sightings) qualify as our hero. Up to the first part of the war, Ojukwu was still a hero to many Nigerians. It was more than the usual sympathy for the underdog. He hardly spoke and when he did, we all marveled. As a boy, I was fascinated. We used to sing along with Radio Biafra:

You come by road, we finish una
You come by sea, we finish una
You come by air we finish una

Even after the war, on his way back home to Lagos, Nigerians were apprehensive. We all wanted to just catch a glimpse of him in Lagos. Many Hausa were happy because it was supposed to close a chapter in the act of magnanimity, Yoruba were happy because he was missed dearly and the Igbo were happy because a son had returned home. Sorry, I mean it was a mixture of all these amongst majority of each Ethnic group. How did he squander this goodwill?

He joined a political party! We all tried to rationalize it as a condition for his release. Fairly or unfairly he never got elected. We know better and we should have known better then. Nobody tells Ojukwu what to do! A man who was welcomed and visited every part of Nigeria on his return later became any other politician, parading thugs as Ikemba Front divided his base. Now he is seen as one of the Igbo leaders, and propagates himself as the only Igbo leader looking for someone to pass his baton. Well, that is for others to judge.

But when anybody insinuates or may be misinterpreted on the Zik of Africa, there are Igbo and Africans that will stand up. We all have our faults, so was Zik and some of us have pointed that out. Not only did he dream, he made them come true. He defended his coalition with NPC as a way to save the Country. In the process, not only did he achieve his aim for Nigeria, he carved a niche for Ndi Igbo, some of whom are (mis-)interpreting Ojukwu comment today diverting us from our esiewu, cold palm wine and that third term. For an ordinary folk like me to say enough, many can not take anymore put-down.

Where are the Njoku, Nwachuku, OkotiEboh, Akinjide, Akinloye, Benson, Balarabe, Rimi ... defending Zik? If Zik did not do anything for Igbo, who did? If it was not for Zik, with all respect we did not know Dr. Opara in NCNC. As far as the National politics of NCNC was concern, Zik brought him from no where, it was not his turn. That Dr. Opara came and performed wonders as many Igbo feel, should not discredit his benefactor. We have enough room to credit both. There is no doubt that Sir Ojukwu, a notable successful Lagos businessman, discussed politics with Zik but he was no politician of Azikiwe stature. He was not in the position to instruct Opara on implementation from great architectural designer or dreamer of the East. That was the man himself, Azikiwe.

Some people need to speak up. It was Zik’s house that was attacked and we said no rational Igbo man would do that. Well, well Awolowo statue was disfigured in Ibadan, it could not have been done by a rational Yoruba we thought. Even during Zik lifetime, Okadigbo called him “ranting of an ant” and Zik had wisely advised Asika to enjoy his time in the sun. My fear is that young men and women are listening, reading and wondering if this is the same Zik, we are talking about. This is not an Igbo thing, it is an African thing. When we were kicking out the children of Nkrumah in the eighties blaming everything that was wrong with Nigeria on them, it was Zik who raised alarm. Has Nigeria gotten better since then?

This comment and the discussions generated are not limited to the beer parlor, parties or internet. Our future leaders, our children are discussing it. They do research for school papers that may not be deep enough to explore all angles. We may sensitize them to the uninformed views of the maligned promoters. It is hard to build but easier to destroy.

I still see a vivid picture in my memory of the leaders sitting down on the carpet for dinner at the invitation of Sir Ahmadu Bello in Kaduna. Some of us wondered in those days why we fought one another when these leaders were amicable to one another eating and drinking. What they do behind the scene might be different but leaders owe one another some amount of civility, at least when speaking in public.

I find it very hard to believe that some Igbo figured that Zik never did anything for their benefit. He was not a saint, nobody is, but that this great icon of our time did not benefit the old Eastern Region is absurd. It says more about their selective and convenient memories than about Azikiwe’s deeds. He built the foundation and the progressive educational environment on which Ndi Igbo stand. If he had named every project after himself, would anyone deny him today? What did detractors build in the East?

I do not personally know about Zik childhood days in Lagos but my parents, aunties and uncles told me stories. A town boy, who mingled and spoke the parlance language. He was a ladies’ man who chased those Lagos girls because he was smart in school and handsome though not as rich. I still remember one of them, Aunty Esther, my mother’s classmate. She hated Zik for hanging around all those Popo Aguuda and Saro girls at the Brazilian quarters and not Igbo like her. Aunty probably lost the battle to others at Queen College because Zik ended up with a girl from home. Ironically Ojukwu’s rascality was not very different from that of Zik in Lagos.

Zik was destined to be a leader because he exceeded in many things he did. The neighbors loved him before and after his American sojourn. He was so loved, he was elected from Ikeja to the Western House. As a loyal lieutenant of Herbert Macaulay in NCNC and members of the Lagos elite who brought Nigeria into the modern day nationhood, the Igbo gained from him than from anyone else I can think of. Of course there were local heroes in the towns and villages, none of them gained the advantage and clout Zik had to negotiate or pull up his Ethnic group into positions. Man pas man, position pass power.

I think the Igbo have to be careful how they tear each other up. There were days Yoruba complained about the lack of discipline amongst themselves. They would say: Go to the North, if Ahmadu Bello said one thing, the Hausa/Fulani united under him. If Azikiwe said one thing, the Igbo united under him. The same was true of Professor Eyo Ita amongst his kin. If Awolowo said anything, Yoruba were ready to question him.

Well, those days are gone. We have all turned inside out tearing our home into pieces. If it is not good for the Yoruba, it can not be good for the Igbo, Efik, Tiv, Ijaw or the Hausa. Some people have even gone further that it is worse amongst Igbo. They point to a saying – Igbo enwe’eze. The interpretation has gone wild from Igbo has no king to Igbo has no leaders. The fact is Nigeria has no leaders. Dead woods dictators keep on recurring.

Any leader or anyone that is put in the position of respectability will pull himself down if he does not respect those before him. We are now at a stage where we have lost African civility for our elders. Yes, in the City of Umofia where age is respected, reverence is given to hard work, if Things Fall Apart served my memory right. We neither respect the hard work of those before us nor the achievement of the young.

As a little boy, I noticed the difference between those elders who prayed that we would supersede them in all our endeavors and those who wish the young never made it to their standard. Both the young and the old can draw benefits from their achievements; there is no need for one to trivialize the other.

Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa

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How Nigeria will Collapse: Some Thoughts on the Yugoslav Model

by Kevin Ani --- A new small state is about to be born in Europe. It is less than 1 million inhabitants, 616,258 (2003) to be precise. It is called Montenegro. Indeed, with the discussions now holding in Vienna, Kosovo, a mere province of Serbia will soon be independent as well, leaving Serbia alone as the big and sore loser in a failed bid to force a state on the unwilling.

Serbia fought four wars to prevent the disintegration of Yugoslavia and lost all. Now Serbia is alone, sulking and counting its losses. How are the mighty fallen!

The decision by Montenegro to secede has driven the final nail into the coffin of Yugoslavia, the once invincible South Slav state. The World Cup in Germany this June will be the last act of the dead state. After that, Serbia and Montenegro will go their separate ways. Now instead of one Yugoslavia, we have six sovereign states, most less than 1 million in population complete with UN seats. And the high heavens have not fallen. Only in Africa is Biafra, a nation of 50 million people denied statehood.

Marshal Josip Broz TitoPhoto: Marshal Tito: Maintained the fiction of one Yugoslavia

The total collapse of Yugoslavia hold important lessons for Nigeria, a failed state, which is predicted to collapse under the weight of its internal contradictions even by its most ardent supporters. For Nigeria, the debate is no longer why but how it will collapse hence the need to take a fresh look at the Yugoslav disintegration model and draw the lessons inherent therein.

1. The historical inevitability of the Federal State of Biafra.

The state of Montenegro was abolished by the "great powers" after World War 1 just as Biafran statehood was truncated in 1970 by the armed conspiracy of the great powers - Great Britain and the now defunct Soviet Union. Just like Nigeria was forcibly amalgamated, Yugoslavia too was formed from the ruins of the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires bringing together Slovenians, Serbs, Croatians, Bosnians etc. into an unworkable union of opposites. The notion of one Yugoslavia was a farce just like the notion of one Nigeria was and is still a sham.

The State of Biafra (Pop. 50 Million)

Flag of Biafra

The State of Montenegro (Pop. Less than 1 million)

Flag of Montenegro

After Montenegro, the European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN) have no moral authority to oppose Biafran statehood.

2. Like Serbia, Hausa-Fulani hegemonists will lose everything.

The fiction of one Yugoslavia was maintained under Tito and his totalitarian communism. Once these props were withdrawn the rotten edifice came crashing down. Given that a modern state cannot be maintained by force in the long run, it is clear that the same centrifugal forces that led to the fall of Yugoslavia will ultimately lead to the collapse of Nigeria. The Serbs of Yugoslavia and the Hausa-Fulani share the same character trait of wanting to force a state down the throat of unwilling partners, most notably the Igbo. For this, both groups were willing to commit acts of genocide e.g. Bosnia (1994) and Biafra (1966-70). Just like the Serbs lost in Yugoslavia, the Hausa-Fulani will be the grand losers, confined to their homeland in the Sahara desert margin when Nigeria goes down the tube. In Yugoslavia, the slide started with Slovenia in 1991 and today, Serbia is alone. For Nigeria, it is only a matter of time. Serbia, the arch-custodians of Yugoslav unity today, Hausa-Fulani guardians of Nigerian "unity" tomorrow.

3. Those who make peaceful change impossible...

Prior to the collapse of Yugoslavia, every attempt to restructure the state and end Serbia domination was frustrated by the Serbs. They pinned their hope on the Yugoslav military armed to the teeth by Russia, which did not save them. In the same way every call for the restructuring of the Nigerian state has been resisted by the "Serbs" of Nigeria. Like European Serbs, they have pinned their hopes on the Nigerian military armed with foreign manufactured weapons of all shapes and descriptions bought with stolen oil money.

Just like the Serbs ignored the concerns of Croatians, Macedonians, Bosnians etc, the concerns of 50 million Igbo have been swept under the carpet and trampled on in Nigeria.

For example, after imposing Yoruba rule on Nigeria for 8 years, the Hausa-Fulani are now scheming to re-impose a degenerative Islamist hegemony on Nigeria against Igbo wishes. Borrowing a script from the Serbs and even apartheid supremacists of South Africa, the Islamists have created Igbo Bantustans called “states” complete with “governors” who depend on patronage from the Abuja, the Islamic capital who they rely on to maintain the status quo. Just like the Serbs imposed a brutish crook called Slodoban Milosevic on Yugoslavia, deeply corrupt and semi-literate thugs such as Atiku Abubakar and Ibrahim Babangida are being touted as the new rulers of Nigeria. Without doubt, and like in Yugoslavia, this gross insult will provide the much needed catalyst for the 50 million Igbo to finally rise up and secede from the Nigerian Yoke, Slovenian style, thereby also generating the domino effect that will bury the moribund state for good.

Interestingly, the European Union (EU) is overseeing this peaceful dismantling of the failed state of Yugoslavia while the UN is watching. A precedent is being set here. Biafrans must demand a referendum and like in Montenegro, if 55% say yes, then Biafra is and must a foregone conclusion, like Montenegro. Neither the UN nor the EU will have the moral authority to resist or even question the disintegration of Nigerian, a state where Islamist Shariarists are currently yoked together with Christian Biafrans in an unworkable union that has claimed more than 3 million lives since 1966. To have any credibility at all, the EU must concede that if the less than 1 million people of Montenegro can vote on a referendum about their independence, so can the 50 million Biafrans. After Montenegro, for EU and the UN to oppose Biafran independence referendum now is to deny the common humanity of black people. It is pure racial discrimination. Surely what is good for the European goose is good
for the African gander. NC

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May 23, 2006

Two tales of Zen Wisdom, and, Reflections of the Warrior of the Light IX

The Alchemists's Universe, by Paulo Coelho, the Alchemist (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) --- Paulo Coelho, the Alchemist 1. The gift of insults

Near Tokyo lived a great Samurai warrior, now old, who decided to teach Zen Buddhism to young people. In spite of his age, the legend was that he could defeat any adversary.
One afternoon, a warrior – known for his complete lack of scruples – arrived there. He was famous for using techniques of provocation: he waited until his adversary made the first move and, being gifted with an enviable intelligence in order to repair any mistakes made, he counterattacked with fulminating speed.

The young and impatient warrior had never lost a fight. Hearing of the Samurai’s reputation, he had come to defeat him, and increase his fame.

All the students were against the idea, but the old man accepted the challenge.

All gathered on the town square, and the young man started insulting the old master. He threw a few rocks in his direction, spat in his face, shouted every insult under the sun – he even insulted his ancestors. For hours, he did everything to provoke him, but the old man remained impassive. At the end of the afternoon, by now feeling exhausted and humiliated, the impetuous warrior left.

Disappointed by the fact that the master had received so many insults and provocations, the students asked:

- How could you bear such indignity? Why didn’t you use your sword, even knowing you might lose the fight, instead of displaying your cowardice in front of us all?
- If someone comes to you with a gift, and you do not accept it, who does the gift belong to? – asked the Samurai.

- He who tried to deliver it – replied one of his disciples.
- The same goes for envy, anger and insults – said the master. – When they are not accepted, they continue to belong to the one who carried them.

2. Where is the umbrella?

At the end of ten years of apprenticeship, Zenno thought he should be elevated to the category of Zen master. One rainy day, he went to visit the famous professor Nan-in.
Upon entering Nan-in’s house, the host asked him:

- Did you leave your shoes and umbrella outside?
- Of course – replied Zenno. – As good manners demand. I would do the same anywhere.
- Then tell me: did you place your umbrella to the right or the left of your shoes?
- I’ve no idea, master.
- Zen Buddhism is the art of total consciousness of what we do – said Nan-in. – The lack of attention to the smallest details can completely destroy a man’s life. A father who rushes out of the house, must never forget the dagger within his small son’s reach. A Samurai who doesn’t take care of his sword every day, will at some point find it is rusty, just when he most needs it. A young man who forgets to give his lover flowers, will end up losing her.

And Zenno understood that, although he knew the Zen techniques of the spiritual world, he had forgotten to apply them to the world of men.

Reflections of the warrior of the light

The warrior of the light sometimes behaves like water, flowing around the many obstacles he encounters.

At certain times, resistance means to be destroyed. At such times, he adapts to circumstances. He accepts, without complaint, that the rocks along the way forge his path down the mountains.

Such is the force of water: it can never be broken by a hammer, or wounded by a knife. The most powerful sword in the world is incapable of leaving a scar on its surface.

The water of a river adapts to the path which is possible, without forgetting its objective: the sea. Fragile at its spring, it gradually acquires the strength of the other rivers it encounters.

And, after a while, its power is absolute.

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2007 Presidency: South-East, South-South, Using one Stone to Kill two Birds

(An analysis of how the collective South can present a formidable front to retain the Presidency) by Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu (Dundalk, Republic of Ireland) --- There is no denying the fact that Nigeria was founded most naturally on a tripod.

Constituted by the Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa. Having come out from long locust years of Northern rule, and being on the verge of completing 8 years of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime, logic demands that it should be the turn of the Igbo in other to strike a balance and reach middle ground. Nigeria is a mortally sick nation, made more so by those who have constituted themselves the internal colonisers of the Nigerian space. The actions and style of leadership of this group, have made many Nigerians to lose their sense of belonging in the still born Nigerian project.

The result is that today we have many groups seeking secession from what they consider an evil and monumentally unjust “Apartheid state”.

Against this reality, anybody who truly loves Nigeria (not those who pretend to) would see the wisdom in respecting the tripod, in other to put to rest the deafening agitation for seccesion,and guarantee once and for all Nigeria’s survival as an entity. However the South-South 80% of which was formerly part of the defunct Eastern region, are also pressing their demands for the presidency on the grounds that nobody from their zone has ever tasted the presidency. Valid as this claim may be, it should be noted that the South-East presided over the presidency for only 6 months, which in every practical sense is next to nothing. Against this backdrop it can be logically argued that both zones are qualified for the presidency, and if we have to follow the express dictates of politics being a game of numbers, then the South-East would be more disposed to clinching it.

But there is a snag, both the South-East and South-South are a somewhat homogenous group of people with shared borders and common interests whose future and destiny are inextricably linked. A protracted power struggle within the 2 zones, will only serve to divide their votes, and play into the hands of the North, who are likely to mount a muscular challenge to return the presidency to the North.

The way forward is simple and practical.Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is an Igbo, from the South-South. A Harvard trained incorruptible former world bank vice president, and one of the main arrowheads of the widely acclaimed ongoing reforms. Without any doubt she is easily one of the most qualified for the presidency.Dr Ngozi’s presidency will be a case of using 1 stone to kill 2 birds. It will satisfy both the aspirations of the Igbo and the South-South.
On the other hand the Olusegun Obasanjo administration is more likely to be more favourable to a technocrat who can be guaranteed to continue with the ongoing reforms. Politicians might promise to continue with the reforms, but once in power they are likely to introduce their own agenda.

The South-East and South-South elders must meet urgently in the spirit of brotherhood to present Dr Ngozi-Okonjo Iweala as a compromise candidate for both zones. All other candidates or aspiring candidates from both zones must stand down. The importance of fielding a single candidate from both zones cannot be overstated. It would give both zones a historic and momentous opportunity to give block support to one of their own, and herald a new era in Nigerian history. All political calculations point to a sure victory for Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala if both zones present a formidable and united front. Past bitterness and acrimony that may have existed between the 2 zones must be eschewed in this onerous struggle to capture the presidency. The collective interests of both zones far outweighs any past trivialities.

The strategic importance of power remaining in the South for a few more years is common knowledge. Men of goodwill and genuine lovers of Nigeria have variously posited that power shift to the South-East and South-South would consolidate Southern unity, and be the greatest boost to Nigerian unity, and possibly president Olusegun Obasanjo’s greatest legacy. Nigerians will also for the first time have the opportunity of electing a highly qualified technocrat and high end achiever, breaking away from a mediocre past that have rendered the nation comatose. In this era of women,Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala remains Nigeria’s greatest monument of hope. History beckons.

Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu
Dundalk, Republic of Ireland

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Once Upon a Land, Nigeria to be Exact!

Godson's Common Sense: by Ndubụeze Godson III --- Trying to explain to the one-Nigeria at all unsavoury cost ideologues, I mean those without a hint how that nation turned sour, is like trying to explain quantum physics to a gorilla. Not happening. But try, I shall and hopefully through these little illustrations, they too will gain from knowing that:

Once upon a time in Nigeria, nothing was more an honor than telling the truth which was in turn, rewarded with its attendant appreciation. Today, one gets in hot mess if a dare is attempted and at other times the failure to tell a lie could perhaps be considered a punishable infringement by the EFCC, ICPC, the police and army.

Once upon a time in Nigeria, men stood up and were counted using only their words and deeds as surefire bond. Today, you have men sissy footing all over a barren location developed with stolen resources from the hapless Niger Deltans while spitting more unregistered lies to the general population.

Once upon a time, people from neighboring countries used to claim Nigeria as their country of origins, they were proud to be seen around Nigerians. With Nigeria being the nucleus of social activities within sub-sahara Africa, it was fun. Today, thanks to the same clueless geeks, this country is now the object of infectious ridicule in every part of the world!

Once upon a time in Nigeria, there were men whose educations were not that sublime yet they became instrument in making her great. Today, the so-called educated ones ooze with all manners of offending treachery that boiled out of control within the last seven years. These groups of irritants spun all that is wrong with Nigeria too far.

Once upon a time in Nigeria, a segment of society existed that was affectionately called the middle class that at the time struck a balance in society to give that nation the economic strength that is sorely lacking as you read. Today, the only class there is, are the high (stealing) class and no class (down and out). No middle ground is found anywhere near the Nigerian shores, today!

Once upon a time in Nigeria, the telephone exchange, pipe borne water, electricity and postal delivery were all functional entities. Today, it's a dog-eat-dog. It’s a country where a serving minister had the repellent guts to explode that poor people do not deserve to own telephones while yet another questioned why bottled water should be cheaper than fuel. In civil societies which Nigeria is not, these outbursts would have drawn quick sack notices on the erring bloody parasites.

Once upon a time in Nigeria, athletes whose sheer strength and skill gave that land semblance of respect were valued, their selection and acceptance was based on performance not geographic location. Today, are you kidding, they are the butt of the joke with the investiture/system of quota mess, which allows for the removal of a more competent tactical athlete in place of a fluke. The country with such dumb policy cannot be said to be alright. That country “no go reach where him dey go” – apologies to our only Fela Anikulakpo Ransome Kuti.

Once upon a time in Nigeria, peoples’ last hope rested on the judiciary where respite from the oppressive suppression of overbearing opportunists was given to the common man. Then, impartial pronouncements and verdicts were made and obeyed. Today, judges (Wilson Egbo Egbo, Stanley Nnaji, Nyako etc) without looking ashamed, collect bribes to render mind blowing and unjust judgments and their many other anti-people activities thereby lost respect of the people. The same cabal having lured them into their highly compromised positions, without looking embarrassed, they - government refuses to abide by even the most harmless of verdicts having exposed their insidious mischief.

Once upon a time in Nigeria, the elders were seen in deference with proper salutation given due to the unequalled stance they took on public matters. Today, picture a self-destruct Joe Irukwu of Ohanaeze to catch what I mean. In today’s Nigeria, all the atrocious deceit and annoying acts originate from the Irukwus, Iwuanyanwus, Nzeribes, Mantus, Aninehs, Adedibus and Maduekwes of this world. Their reprehensible behaviors made it possible for the younger thieves who escaped justice with their loots and in company of their noisy hangers’ on, disrespect even the decent ones who had no hand in the pillage. These same hoodlums after buying all the title jargons go as far as challenging anything that moves with open scorn simply for one’s indulgence to not be one of the boys.

Once upon a time in Nigeria, the military and their junior terrorizing police partners were camped in barracks, never to be wantonly seen in town. Then, they wore pristine and complete uniforms without improvisation. But not in their today’s Nigeria where the military live in five star resorts and palaces – Ikoyi, VI, GRA, Nicon Noga etc. At other times they arrogantly go as far as securing a whole city block in neighborhoods for one lousy untested pot-belly General. Still, of these two poorly managed and unnecessary outfits, I hate their ill trained and unneeded illiterates/area boys infested police more with spinning passion. Can anyone please remember the first and last time this idle cranky organ secured the country through a well organized revolution? Has it not always been the very innocent civilians they harass and mow down that make their stupid relevance possible? This very police also today wear bathroom slip-ons on duty and after a long bout with spirit consumption, go out to harass and kill innocent commuters.

Once upon a time in Nigeria, it was manageable, one must first secure a drivers license by passing the rigorous road tests administered by traffic police to hop on the driver’s side of a car. It was, were a student driver could only secure a license when the apprentice driver has demonstrated the proficiency required then only then would such be given. Nigeria was once a land where perilous vehicles were stamped “off road” by traffic police who once took this responsibility seriously. It was once a nation where serious and punishable offense awaits drivers that overloaded their commercial vehicles even by one passenger! Today, licenses are rampantly and brazenly secured through bribery and on who do you know basis. Talking of overload, many times during my brief sojourn there, I saw commercial cars that were at best fit to carry three people in front yet had four passengers tucked in there with the drivers leaning almost out of the car. I saw for real, lots and plenty of vehicles with wheels, windows, doors, seats and all falling and broken still were never stopped by their piss on police. One cab I entered wetted my butt with muddy water due to the large hole under the seat. Good thing if you call it that, was the jeans shorts I was wearing.

Once upon a time Nigeria had reasonable number of churches and mosques. Today, with hyper-multitudes of these outfits; wickedness reign, morality went outta window and to the winds, treachery of all sorts is the in-thing despite their frown upon traditional religion and the matter of fact destruction of same yet with every streets lined with churches and mosques; planes are dropping from the skies like birds, oil pipes bursting loose at the seams, buildings (completed and uncompleted) tumbling down and road mishaps occur like never before. They have with that many religious houses; boats going belly-up, armory exploding with volcanic eruption and taking a chunk of people with it, importation of condemned and banned drugs, nko? Yet gazillion houses of worship trail the land like locust. Kini happen bobo? Can you imagine that the confused elements who misapplied biblical and quranic pronouncements made it a taboo to engage in recreational activities unconcerned that the same book they read says; "give to Caesar what's Caesar's and to Christ what's Christ's." Remember also that incidence of armed robbery was in minority during this time in the yore, but today despite the avalanche of “religious” houses, hoodlums in the military and police roam free terrorizing, robbing and maiming innocent citizens who has since surrendered their lives to “pepper soup” and booze for comfort.

Once upon a time in Nigeria, money-doublers or straight out dubious men who were engrossed in wayo had no place to hide. Today, they are the ones over showered with unnecessary encomiums and titles. They are the kingmakers and what they produce are bunch of rotten junk like them because a serpent cannot give birth to a bird, another serpent is what will crawl out. They are the bandits of the day, the embezzlers of now; add the assassins of the minute then the picture begins to emerge.

It is our society; the society is rotten. We don't know what is good from what is bad. In the olden days, you dared not be bad, because people would isolate you. When they even looked at you, you would be ashamed of yourself. But now, they will hail you. The situation has turned around; it is abnormal. The evil ones are now the champions that people hail.
Lamented Mrs. Remi Obasanjo who by every definition is the true and bonafide First Lady. And you thought I was making stuff up when I started this essay, didn’t ya? A slight detour please. I never all the public life of the other lady, Stella Obasanjo who literally took her own life with that botched tummy tuck, appreciated her. Reason being that of all her transgressions, it was her failure to be gracious with humility to say a huge no to the ‘first lady’ rouse as she was not, made it so easy to be disliked by folks like me. Nothing as far as good sense dictates restrained her from galloping the entire globe with Mr. Obasanjo and still let Mrs. Remi clutch her proper title in the household Stella came last. To have allowed and encouraged the first lady crap to me was a wicked hard strike across the eldest wife’s face. Such was the major cause for my dislike of her. Moving on;

Once upon a time in Nigeria, em, em hmmm... forget it, you catch my drift so let yours be enough right about now!

At one time in the early eighties during a visit to that quarter to die giraffe – Nigeria thieves hug with passion, on gaining access to the baggage claim area, a fight-to-finish was in progress between two baggage handlers. They were busy to our shock slugging it out in plain view of the passengers that only minutes disembarked from the aircraft. The more they hit each other the more I wondered where the hell their oga – boss was. I never knew that that experience will pale in comparison to what was recently experienced by Mazi Harry Nwanna of Vanguard which he shared in his piece of October 26, 2005 captioned “Can Ehindero ‘turn stone to bread?’(2).” It was occasion when two high ranking members of the untrained police force(?) of the banana republic whacked each other in plain view of the public. Here, the excerpt:

“...Not long ago, I paid an innocuous visit to one of the usually very busy police stations. Ordinarily, I do not deal with the Nigerian Police because, they have a way of perceiving every one of their contacts as a candidate for taking to the cleaners. Once you get involved, your extrication becomes conditional on how handsomely you can buy back your freedom. On this particular occasion my departure was hurried. I had walked into a physical brawl between two senior policemen while, about a dozen unconcerned on-lookers joyfully cheered them on. It was a free show of unrestrained reciprocal pummeling of each other by uniformed policemen on duty.”

With all these said, any wonder the infestation of corruption at every length and corner of a land afflicted with terminal disgrace totters on? No advanced diploma is needed to differentiate with good understanding views that seek a redress. I do not by any means claim to be the Solomon of our time lest I be misconstrued. What on the other hand my gospel leans on is the application of common sense by people to things in their everyday lives. The necessity to remind folks about the decayed condition of Nigeria was borne out of the ear piercing wail by robbers who hoodwink unsuspecting folks into believing all is fine and dandy. Not so. With that to nibble on, I hope those held spellbound by wicked lies, the ones who profess fake love for that country will be reminded that things changed for worst in a once patchable land due to their mean hearted avarice.

Ndubueze Godson III

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Sweet Riddance to more Terms Rubbish!!

Godson's Common Sense: by Ndubụeze Godson III --- Nigerians will through this medium be called to cut through their cant and talkwando bunk as they wont and vigorously begin pursuit of agendas that are action packed.

Having over the years or period shared my extreme disappointment with things that happened (happening) in that country, a decision was reached to sit back and watch stuff unfold still could not resist adding my voice one last time. First on my mind, is for someone to please hurry fast to tell the new day demon-crats led by shameless men in the mold of the disgraced erstwhile shouter-in-chief, Audu Ogbeh, and his fellow journey men to be real quiet and let tested men and women in the democratic struggle (Gani, Falana, Soyinka, Utomi etc) lead the day because men like him has zero credibility as far as this essayist is responsible. What, with these latter day ‘angels’ - Victor Malu and co whose democratic credentials only surfaces when they are tossed in the dump with a hard kick/stud to it? These damnable bunches are not to be allowed to dribble on with their anti-ethical fake democratic noises that only disturb our serene lives, a hash pill to swallow by every just person.

Was it not if I may this same loud mouth – Ogbeh, who between 1999 and 2003 was busy barking threats and orders at the Labor Congress for daring ask what the emergency was for catapulting petroleum pump prices beyond the reach of ordinary Nigerians? Does this loafer think Nigerians are really that stupid? I guess they are based on “fooled ones, shame on you and twice, on me.” Did this fella also not at the time in review warned that; “NLC and Adams Oshiomhole should not tempt Obasanjo whom he gloatingly reminded remains a General,” albeit, of a banana republic nonetheless? Did Ogbeh stop his screech that; “Obasanjo has been soft on NLC and that if care was not taken, he may be forced to unleash his wrath on them” or some to that effect? Am sure as hell he made comments in line with my tattle and let no one even attempt a defense of his sycophantic behavior then. This old traitor should, having done all these, follow established norm to show a little decorum by remaining silent knowing that he lacks both the moral credibility and democratic effervescent to lambast his former lord who record shows shoved him out the door for his, now you see him then you don’t flip-flopping Janta-Manta (Indian magic). Is something like self value still possible? You think?

Coming to the man of the hour, I do not know what people who say Obasanjo should go when the ovation is loudest mean, ovation from whom and for what? People I believe should quit the unfunny joke and say it exactly as it should be said that Obasanjo’s performance at any time does not warrant applause at all from any. His seven years in office as the president can be summed in one little strange word, corroded. Amazingly, a preemie the other day arguing in behalf of the “rule-them-forever” aspirations of a man that swallowed all the opportunities nature gave him to enshrine his name in stone by being a reasoned manager, claimed naively that it is better to let the real devil (Obasanjo) they know continue to drill a hole in their brains than for the angel (likes of Pat Utomi, Ndubuisi Kalu, Udo Udoma) they never saw to liberate them. His comments was before the Senate led by a man, Honourable Kenechukwu Nnamani who still exhibits the pristine character real Igbo men like Drs M.I. Okpara and Francis A. Ibiam were known for, in his wisdom, followed constitutional process to dump the more years filth. A note should please be taken here that, there is and never will be any relationship (kinship, character, affability or otherwise) with this Honourable son in mention and the debased Nnamani sitting in Enugu.

My reaction to that infant argument does not require any guess work, but let us say it was implicit. By way of words, a valentine was delivered to this untamed beast. This confused individual based his foolish premise on the foundation that Obasanjo is known to them (I guess). If this is so, where, we will like to know are all the people starting with Bola Ige so forth who thought they too knew him? Uhh huh! What, we ask, happened to all those who risked their lives with the goggled one, Abacha, while screaming for Mr. Obasanjo’s freedom? Where I ask, are they today, today? To imagine that the erudite just passed Dr. Beko Kuti risked his life and in a way single headedly saved this man who turned around and made this benefactor one of his arch enemies, makes me dizzy with rage. While you are shaking your heads and snapping your fingers over this abominable act, the harder to swallow of things is the no pardon ever granted to Dr. Beko by someone his civil rights movement benefited. Today he smooches many of his concubines unmindful whose aid made such possible. Forget national honours, none came his way from Obasanjo to my knowledge. Evil men do sef. If at last it is revealed that no one knew this “devil,” is it not palpable then for all to bellow on any angel near and far for a swift and overdue rescue? Before it slips my racing thoughts, let the next assembly learn from their missteps and before anything, before the new president gets a hold of his foot at the door, apply a total democratic makeup to the silly military invented piece of paper they think is a constitution. Else, another deadlier Obasanjo lurks in wait.

The one thing that can be said about truth is that it could be used by a single individual to wreak havoc against multitudes that are however infested with incurable lying maladies. When an otherwise learned person begins to defend that which is reprehensible, in no time, he too begins to look stupid hence so many that tarnished the little left of their images appear pathetic at every turn regarding the current and any other debate that is embedded in dishonesty. Before we continue with this tutorial, I will actually like to know how many out there would continue to let the same mechanic that constantly blows things up, work on their priced jalopies? How many of these ‘smart’ asses would let their teenage daughters be babysat by a convicted child rapist or murderer, is the nagging query? And please do not tell me none would yet remain buried in shallow ideas when it comes to dealing with the Nigerian mess. People, I gotta tell ya, certain things one reads do call for a straight undisturbed trip to the bar for a shot of Campari, on creo – credit, to calm raw nerves. If all the system known to that country (One-Nigeria deceit, half-witted parliamentary system, northern hostile military grab so on) has been tried and all as you are witnesses, woefully failed; what is wrong with trying some new and different - confederacy, multi-nations (for me), northern and southern Nigeria (second choice) and the like? To this, a first step would be a must get together for responsible Nigerians (not the political idiots), to either agree to disagree or assent to disperse, for a noticeable harmony that could withstand the constant murderous tribal tsunami that originates from the same side of the divide within a wink.

After the past due death of that embarrassing call for perpetual lording by political harlots, the people of Nigeria should continue to be on red alert. They should and must not at this hour put a thing pass the anti peace and forever rule evil men whose minds are full of darkness. As they say right where am at, it’s not over until the overweight lady chants. Nothing can be put beyond those nerds even after the humiliating end of the third term junk shameless minions peddled that revered men who still are guided by sound principles and values stomped all over and tossed. With this in mind, time will be the only factor to determine what next before strange things start happening again so onto Washington D.C. October 1, you go! Freedom for Ndiigbo and to some extent, the entire mere expression called Nigeria has taken a new dimension with me for quite some time. It is now like a religion, an obsession that has final result in scope. Since the rule-them-forever ignominy obituary has been announced, the next line of action should be for folks to be on the look out for the likes of Audu Ogbeh and company. Alarm is hereby sounded that the death of the third term madness should by no implied or reduced means translate to open support for any head of past military junta dead (that’s how badly I want them out) or alive and folks like rapacious Atiku. This time around, let other folks who deserve it and are unstutteringly better qualified than any seen thus far drive this baby to the promised land or let the damned place be split up.

With this knowledge and having been reminded what time it is, one of the steps that stare all in the face is action as earlier said. Let all the aggrieved groups band together or individually with a loud publicity visit to the Whitehouse periphery this October 1 to register their disgust over Nigeria’s recurring corruption and human rights violations. Be it: MOSOP, MEND, MASSOB ODUA, AREWA and in fact all Nigerians, let all use this year’s independence celebration to call media attention to all the Nigerian cant. No more incoherent idle palm wine talks; let this time be about action, the only sign language easily discernable worldwide. When everyone does his littlest positive things happen. For those that may be unable as perennial manufacturers they are (making goods, making trouble, yet others make excuses), not make it to D.C., let them write or call the United States president at: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500; Comments: 202-456-1111; Main Switchboard: 202-456-1414; FAX: 202-456-2461; Emails:, Now that Obasanjo’s self inflicted disgrace is crawling to a stop, my honest to God advice for him is to resist any temptation as wont a tyrant to come crashing down on genuine people who all along tried but failed to pull him away from the obvious ruin with his “let me go on forever” political round about gimmick. While he sulks and nurses his pain, let his be a time for reflection on who his real enemies are; the Audu Oghehs, Atiku Abubakars and others who benefited in no small ways from his anti-people governance (make that regime), still tried to pull a fast one too late after the dawn was cast. But should the attraction to land like a load of stones on any be irresistible, those in mention are ones ripe for whatever your highness desires. I don’t think many Nigerians will give a care.

As we gallop towards the end of this session, let me add that some of these wicked crooks and their leeching supporters could be liked, but what they have shown so far is less than them. Such that our dislike for them will continue even as I admit that the citizens’ failure to have driven away all the incompetent bandits that abused their opportunities was responsible for that country’s doom. What a heart piercing indignity, almost fifty years after, there seems to have been no progress beyond the infant, ass crawling stage, a tale tell sign that decent governance will continue to lack in both outward and inward appearance of that country unless something drastic is done to these guys soonest. Away already with the political round about of letting men who ran out of ideas straight from birth recycled every time the chance to make a difference roars. Let this time around be for men and women with uncommon wisdom, valor and above all, integrity to decide how to proceed with a system that would arrest the past and present greedy lopsided governance of deprivation and oppression. Indeed the country under review could be saved since no emergency exists that I know that requires the same gang blamed for her humiliating failures to be proximate to the sit of power ever again. Put bluntly, what to this essayist would make better sense is to have a brilliant and incorruptible mind from any part of the old Eastern Region maneuver the big for nothing elephant out of its droppings or fellas, tighten your belts for another round of heart drenching mother-of-all gnashing of teeth with eye popping grief. If once a General (failure), always a General (nuisance); should not, once a hardened THIEF, always an unrepentant shame free THIEF follow? Whatcha gon do, people, what?

Ndubueze Godson III

Posted by Administrator at 06:23 AM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2006

Beyond 2007: Shaky Future Awaits Nigeria

by Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu (Dundalk, Republic of Ireland) --- While we celebrate the defeat of the obnoxious 3rd term amendment that sought to give President Olusegun Obasanjo an extra term in office, we must pause and reflect on the short and long term consequences of the total dumping of the amendment of the 1999 constitution.

All and sundry had accepted that the 1999 constitution needed an amendment to reflect the true yearnings of Nigerians. But the consequences of the total dumping of the amendment process which contained 115 points of amendment aside from the 3rd term clause amounts to “dumping the baby with the bathwater”.

This scenario no doubt is more of a victory for the North, who had hitherto in their usual unprogressive stance opposed in toto the amendment of the 1999 constitution in spite of the many positive aspects of the proposed amendment. The 3rd term imbroglio poisoned the atmosphere sufficiently to pave the way for a radical dumping of the whole process.

The evil manipulations, insincerity and tactlessness of the arrowheads of the 3rd term quest, must be blamed for unwittingly playing into the hands of the unprogressive caliphate North, who has relentlessly and stubbornly sought to maintain a terribly unjust, highly centralised, unprogressive, exploitative, and lopsided status quo.

In this regard Chief Tony Anenih the architect of 3rd term, and President Olusegun Obasanjo must take the greatest blame. Perhaps if there had been no 3rd term agenda, the whole nation would have been engaged in a progressive and democratic constitutional amendment, with little chance of the process suffering the same fate as has now befallen it.

The questions we now need to ask is: what happens to the proposal to enshrine rotational presidency in the constitution? What happens to the proposed increase in derivation to 18%? What happens to the proposed creation of an extra state in the South-east? What happens to the proposal to remove immunity from the rabidly corrupt governors? What happens to the proposal to introduce measures that will actualise true federalism?. These and so many other progressive amendments have been killed because of an ill advised and selfish wild cat 3rd term chase.

If by any act of omission the North returns to power prematurely, knowing the character of the North, the proposed progressive constitutional amendments are as good as dead. And Nigerians will commence another long run in the wilderness. The consequence is that once again we have ended up running round in a circle, with no prospects of ever achieving a just and progressive society.
Obasanjo’s greatest disservice to the Nigerian people, is undoubtedly his inability to restructure the nation along zonal or regional lines, in spite of the popular clamour that trailed his administration from inception. The implications of a persisting status quo structure, nullifies every other thing his administration might have achieved, which in any case could be overturned in 24hours.The over centralised system remains highly susceptible to abuse, and could easily breed a dictator.

It should be noted that in 60 years the essential character of the North has not changed in regards to their policies, that most of the time contradicts the very essence of the stillborn Nigerian nation. It remains to be seen if there would be any substantial difference in the coming dispensation. President Olusegun Obasanjo can still enshrine his legacy in gold, by the choice of whom he chooses as his successor. The choice of a progressive would go a long way in giving Nigerians hope in a hopeless land. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Dr Dora Akunyili easily comes to mind in this regards. In civilised and progressive climes where character and performance determines who becomes president, these ladies, incorruptible, and detribalised heroines of the Nigerian nation would be unbeatable. But in Nigeria? Well let’s wait and see.

Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu
Dundalk, Republic of Ireland

Posted by Administrator at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)

3rd Term Funeral: Give us Step by Step Middle Class Revival Plan

by Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa --- Third Term Pall Bearers are back again fighting for who is going to be the President. There are more of them to go and more work ahead of us as celebration is too early. Keep your eyes on the prize which is our middle class. These politicians do not have to learn from their misdeeds since we hardly hold them responsible.

We were brought to our knees with a single stroke of the pen by pulverizing our middle class with “structural adjustment.” If it was the Colonialist that did it to us, we might have had a target to stab. No sir. They got sleek, they left the Neo-colonialist at the helms of our affairs and they wiped us clean of our skipper class. Is there any country in this world that has done any good without the middle class? Nigeria has very few, it is time to search for a new savior who is going to give us a detailed road map for reviving our precious class.

As I was watching one of the last interviews of the great Canadian American economist, John Kenneth Galbraith; my take on it was how the communists failed and how to move forward. It boils down to unproductive middle class. They do not even have to sell their heavy and strategic industries to regularize their economy. It is the creation and duty of the middle class to man the service and manufacturing industries. We could have listen to Professor Aluko on heavy industries on one hand, as well as other professors against structural adjustment rather than giving our most important industries to the same ruling club all over Nigeria who do not give a hoot about their people except in words.

Most of our graduates deserve the life of the middle class. They should be able to take over the manufacturing industries to provide the goods we need and compete with one another to balance low price with reasonable profit. If that need reorganization of some of their curriculum, so be it. One of the biggest industries begging for action as I have written before is the maintenance sector. We still lack maintenance mentality and those heavy industries that should encourage it embezzle allocated funds for it (o die e). As much as we have patriotic Nigerians returning home to start businesses, most Nigerians still live at home and must be encouraged into business of providing for others. But there must be a buyer environment to encourage a seller.

There was a region in Nigeria that did very well without the Federal Government. Indeed, the same region competed with the Federal Government in its capital. They created wealth amongst the middle class by “co-operative management”. This was in Nigeria, not oyinbo country. Middle class flourished all over Nigeria until ten percent bribe became fifty percent, increased to hundred percent, family support to book me down, then 419. Concentration of money and power in Abuja breeds corruption, dissonance and disable local initiatives. There must be some decentralization of federal might.

People create wealth not government. The amounts of money that can be generated by private sector dwarf that of government. Mind you, government contracts are also very important. The middle class can create wealth without Abuja handouts but its enabling environment is necessary. Easy oil money has blinded our ingenuity and we blame government too often for our procrastination. State and Local Governments in Nigeria collect taxes from the people but not very much to show for it, not even good roads.

Why do we invent only stuffs that need government handouts, foreign exchange and materials? What happen to our natural resources that others use as raw materials, and esusu contribution Africans are known for throughout the world? Sometimes, I develop fears that Chinese, Koreans, Indians etc will use their esusu contribution to create wealth for themselves in Africa as they do elsewhere. What? Oh, they are already doing that!

Professional people – professors, doctors, lawyers and not so professionals like contractors, traders and skill men who had saved all their lives for businesses, retirement or education watched their Nigerian pound became naira and naira became useless with a stroke of the pen. Those who were changing clothes every day started wearing it every other day until they fade into tatters, those who had houses started selling them to eat and those with cars never bought another one. They could not feed or send their children to universities. Our old people, pensioners and their families started dying on the queue waiting for money that came too late or never came. Even when they got the money, it could not satisfy their basic needs. These are middle class who are repaid for their contributions in cowries.

Nigeria became a Country of the haves and the many have-nots. We know how we got here. Who is asking who the questions about how to get out of it? If we do not know where we are going, as the saying goes, we know where we are coming from. The problem with dictators is that they think they know everything and only they know Nigeria well well well. Some even claim God is on their side. In their move to what they call free market, they sell the whole store to themselves. What matters at that point is not their ethnic group but their club. As soon as someone is shortchanged sharing their stolen loots, he remembers his ethnicity and call on his people! Like fools we answer!

If you had an abusive husband or a wife that had duped you once or twice and of all people available in the Country, you are attracted to the same type of person to marry and keep your treasures again, you deserve what you get. There is certain attraction to abusers and losers. Those are our militricians. Do we deserve them because they are products of our society? In our case, it is more complicated than “every country deserves its leaders.” There are heavy foreign influences at play in our psyche. What is even worse is that it is infectious and debilitating to those who never left home. We keep on asking failures or misplaced successful aliens to lead us. Some of the same middle class who are their bureaucrats dance and tell militicians whatever they want to hear. Ask them why? Who would argue in the face of jungle justice or seek justice that is selectively complied with?

Look at the older age, qualifications and the caliber of people daring to flee Nigeria now and cry for our Country. Look at the age and specialties of those who refuse to go home and pity our Country. Some of us spend six months on each coast. They call us visiting professors, visiting lecturers, temporary agency manager or accountant, security guards, taxi drivers, Mac Dee etc at a point we should be nurturing our Country and preparing our young at home for the challenges of the future.

After a long conversation, I had to agree with some friends of mine that the only benefit of staying outside the Country is that nobody knows your business as long as you corner three square meals a day. If you can not do that in Nigeria, you are a disgrace to your family and a nuisance to your neighbors. Otherwise, why would a middle class Nigerian be outside or an elder outside his base? Man does not live by bread alone have meanings?

Once you take away the middle class, the brain of any society, who are the children idolizing? I always tell the story of a friend of mine who used to boast that his children would grow up in his village. If you don’t, how could your children? Another friend who spends six months on each coast refused to bring his family over and promised them the best of what they want in Nigeria. Then there are those who think the best solution is to let them attend high school in Nigeria and go back for university education. Do we have any guaranty that they will come back home?

Going back to Nigeria has never been easy and I remembered we were scared to death in spite of the fact that we had had it and ready to go bananas. A little smiling and suffering in Nigeria cured that! Honestly, at a point we can not tell where we want to be. That is why some of us can not stay put in one place. There is no place like home and so we can not surrender the place to only the very rich and the very poor.

Look at children who should be in school, selling all types of materials, food and drinks in the traffic or in the market. In order to pass the buck, we argue about whose and where they belong instead of looking at our future in them and wondering about ourselves. You will see a young man who can neither read nor write. If there is one thing Africans can be proud of after independence, it is the amount of children educated in broad variety of fields instead of dictated areas by limited school. Under our watch, all that gain is slipping away. It is not too late, if we rescue our middle class.

Our politicians do not have to do their homework on what they will sell to the masses. All they have to do is whip up ethnic sentiments. Even then, we know that no single region can win or rig election in the whole of Nigeria. We fail each time to demand or ask for accountability from these politicians and they know us very well.

So please do not be taken by any celebration of some crooks fighting amongst themselves. Seek out those who can tell us how they are going to reproduce middle class in Nigeria. It is the only way we can return to planning, reasonable provision for the future of our children, adequate preparation for option B and C if A fails. Nigeria, no matter what the intention of those planners always fails woefully.

Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa

Posted by Administrator at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

The Curse of Oil

by Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu (Dundalk, Republic of Ireland) --- Nigeria’s demise began from the very day crude oil was discovered in Oloibiri in the old Rivers state. Crude oil has only served in every practical way to further drive Nigerians deeper and deeper into the poverty trap.

The regional agricultural exploits of yore, that gave rise to groundnut pyramids in the North, Palm oil in the East, and Cocoa in the West was quickly abandoned. Technical know how and brain power as the surest means of attaining a sustainable and advanced economy was quickly thrown in the garbage bin.

More than 50 years later, with crude oil selling for over $70.00 a barrel, Nigerians are among the worlds poorest people, with practically the lowest life expectancy in the world.

Nigerians are not just poor, Nigerians are desperately poor. All the minimum basic prerequisites of a normal or sane society are inexistent. The environment is junk, the roads (if you can call them that) are death traps, the hospitals are better described as morgues. The education system has virtually collapsed. There is a total absence of morality and dignity.
The standard of living of the average Nigerian is somewhat subhuman, closer to what obtained in George Orwell’s “Animal farm”.

In the development rating of nations, Nigeria has moved from being a 3rd world country, to being on the verge of being reclassified a 4th world Country for evident reasons. Little wonder that some hapless citizens, stung by unbelievable poverty, in a bid to get their own share of the national cake, perished while scooping petroleum from underground high pressure pipes.
At the last count about 200 of them died. They died not because they deserved to die, but because the same oil which under normal circumstances would have made them achieve a reasonable standard of living, ironically only served to make them destitute. And the corresponding struggle to survive meant that no risk was too great to take.

No doubt the presence of crude oil in Nigeria, will continue to take thousands of life. Most of the power struggle and strife in the Niger-Delta, is directly linked to the struggle to control the oil resources by regional power blocks. So many massacres have already taken place in the Niger-Delta, and more might yet come, in the federal governments bid to maintain and control access to the oil wells. The presence of crude oil in the erstwhile Biafran republic was one of the dynamics that led to the war. Oil has all, but made Nigerians throw away their thinking caps, and creativity which remains the greatest asset in building modern economies, has gone with the wind..

The struggle for the control of oil has notoriously become the greatest killer within the Nigerian geographical space. Nigeria would have been a better, richer, better organised, and more peaceful nation if oil had not been found. The trend had already started. Nobody can forget so soon the many trail blazing feats achieved by the western region relying entirely on cocoa as the money spinner, neither can we forget the feats and development strides achieved by the East and North, with palm oil, and groundnuts, as the mainstay of their respective regional economies. Indeed the infrastructure and institutions built by the erstwhile regions has to date not been rivalled by the oil dependent succeeding states inspite of the megabucks earned from the sale of crude oil. Malaysia and Ivory Coast thriving on an economy powered by palm oil and cocoa respectively, are great showcases of success, and the greatest indictment of Nigeria and her burden of crude oil.

What happens when the oil runs out? This is one question Nigerians never ask. Crude oil is a wasting asset and will sooner or later be depleted. In the absence of any initiatives being taken by the federal government to build local capacities that can sustain the economy, when the oil does run out. Nigerians must gird their loins, because the worst is yet to come!

Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu
Dundalk, Republic of Ireland

Posted by Administrator at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2006

The Ndigbo Attitude

by Uche Nnadi --- In Professor Chinua Achebe’s “The Trouble with Nigeria”, the conclusion was reached as to the unenviable perception of Ndigbo by the rest of the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.

Very many distinguished Ndigbo have reached the same conclusion and the worry now is: what is wrong with us; is it our attitude as a people that draws upon us the animosity, hostility and ominous suspicions from our neighbors; curse bequeathed on us from our ancestors or the gods; or a clear misunderstanding of Ndigbo by our fellow countrymen and women.

It is more optimistic to presume that our socio-political circumstances as noted above can be improved by us. Hence, the most viable proposition is to question our attitudes. Our attitudes are not fundamentally wrong, but they are delimiting our climb and ambitions as a people. Let us look at a few of them.

Short Term Herd/Now Mentality
The trading activities we indulge in have rubbed off on us the short term visioning excluding us from long term visioning (strategic visioning/planning). The fruits of this impede our struggles for survival/success individually and collectively, daily and hourly. Stop a minute and ask yourself where you have planned to be in 20 years time and what you are doing now to realize such a feat? Consider these; instead of spending 10 years in Post primary schools we choose to spend 3 years trading/artisan apprenticeship and be rich instantly; instead of setting up a manufacturing firm why not import and resell at a margin? This explains our utter absence from corporate boardrooms of blue chip companies. We do not build to outlive now. We are therefore seen as those that are desperate to succeed now; who can do anything to survive; that are pushed to the wall; who are at the brink of getting drowned and cling to any straw within reach.

In spite of our age grade system and igwebuike ideologies, the level of I/me against we/us exposes us the syndrome of divide and rule and saboteur manipulation in our existential domain even in the streets and houses where we reside as tenants. As individuals we are distinguished, but as a people we are impoverished. In contemporary society as ours, it is not the individual stars that win the match, but the ‘harmonious’ team. We do not see beyond our individual noses. There is a negative balance of self-assertiveness and interdependence. This trait can and is easily interpreted as lack of respect/empathy for others/institutions.

Everywhere is our home
North or West, home is the best. Charity begins at home. Ndigbo are so much at home outside their homes that they will have mansions outside their homes, while erosion eats away our ancestral homes. Only on certain festivities (Christmas/New year) will we rush home and rush out. We find it easier to develop deserts outside our homes than develop our homestead. It was easier developing Alaba rather than Aba; better to use Tin can Island port than dredging Niger River, Imo River; or internationalizing Enugu airport, etc
This attitude prompts others to believe we are out to take over their native lands.

Petty Success
Our individual industriousness in the short trading cycle, which often pays off with petty monetary success imbues us with self confidence that borders on arrogance. This seemingly arrogance is opposed by our neighbors vehemently, more so, as they remember how hungry we were few years ago when we came to their lands.

The above are meant to roll up our sleeves and fix on our thinking caps for a more fulfilling socio-political existence for Ndigbo.

Posted by Administrator at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

The Lawyer: A Platform for Regeneration

by Aigbokhan Prest (Ekpoma, Nigeria) --- To begin a journey without a destination is the beginning of frustration and distraction. It makes every bus-stop look attractive. It makes focus impossible because there is no projected end to focus on. It is in fact a sign of mental illness to leave a point without a destination in mind.

As I sat at the New Lecture Theatre, of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma for Matriculation into the prestigious faculty of law, my mind again begin to meditate on what the future held for me in this noble profession. Particularly how I will use the instrumentality of the profession to positively affect my society and be a hope to the hopeless, a voice to the oppressed and an eye to the blind.

I was once faced with the temptation of thinking that there was a nexus between the legal profession and conservatism. One question that punctuated my mind was if the profession was to conform to the status quo, how then does it became possible for a legal practitioner to be instrumental to the liberation of the people from the fangs of oppression, which have become their lots.

I remember reading a judgment where a chief judge of Lagos state refers to a notable legal practitioner as a “Rabble-Rouser” because of his stout anti-status quo stance. The chief Judge accused this practitioner of acts unbecoming of a legal practitioner and sentenced him to one hear imprisonment for contempt of court.
As the historical Matriculation progressed, the winds of the first Nigerian Lawyer, Christopher Alexander Sapara Williams (19/7/1855 – 15/7/1855 who enrolled in Nigeria on Monday, January 30th 1988 suddenly cut through my probing mind: “The legal practitioner lives for the direction of his people and the advancement of the cause of his country”. My recollection of these instructive words of wisdom gave me the final clue to the purpose of a legal practitioner in a developing nation. It’s a purpose for which the legal practitioner’s conscience and society would hold him accountable.

Immediately, the reality of the purpose thrust on a legal practitioner by the founding father of the profession in Nigeria and the fact that a law student is a legal practitioner in eq uity downed on me. I began to ruminate on the state of the University environment. in the University environment today, the rights, hopes, yearning and aspirations of the generality of the student are against every norm of civilization and respect for human dignity trampled upon with breath taking “impurity”. It follows that anybody who wants to be a hope to the oppressed Nigerian students must inevitably clash with an impregnable establishment that has hold them in an excruciating economic, academic and political captivity. I remember vividly when my studentship was suspended. They call it political suspension, but there is more to it than it meet the eyes. Our sublime demand was that the astronomical bundle card be scrapped. The ostensible contents of the bundle card include technology due, insurance dues, faculty dues amongst others. I ask what is the scope of the insurance policy and how many persons so far have been compensated? I am very aplitic with rage at this ill-digested policy and the fact that the students who are worst of it were weak of wings for a revolutionary fight.

Historically, there are three ideas involved in the profession: organizations, learning-pursuit of learned act, and a spirit of public service. There is more in the profession than the traditionally dignified calling.

In a specific address to African Lawyers, the great African leader, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah addressing a conference in legal education held in Ghana law school in January 4, 1962 declared “The lawyer in a developing society must be something more than a practicing professional man. He must be in the fullest sense, a part of the society in which he lives and must understand that society, if he is to be able to participate in its development and the advancement of the economy and social well being of its members.”

Thomas Jefferson, a legal practitioner, drafted the Universal Charter of Freedom (The American declaration of Independence) when the United States declared its independence from the British in 1976. This declaration has today become an eloquent reference point in the struggle for the respect of fundamental Human Right the world over. As one of its major feature: the power of a legitimate government must flow from the people. This is obviously contrary to what we are witnessing in our own so called democracy today. Government and its policies flow from the selfish interest of our ruler. Their major past time is to run the people and hard on the hopes, yearnings and aspirations of the people.

It’s never too late to reorganize. We must build political trust amongst ourselves, and there is need to put the people first, share in their experiences and be rooted in them. We must demonstrate the quality of self-denial, sacrifices and selflessness.

History is replete with other great men like V.I. Lenin of the Soviet Union, Fidiel Castro of Cuba, Mahatma Ghandi of India, Obafemi Awolowo of Nigeria, Oliver tambo and Nelson Mandela of South Africa, who employed their professional calling as legal practitioner as an effective tool of social engineering.

These men paid dearly with their resources, freedom and in some cases, their precious lives, in their pursuit of “The learned act in the spirit of public service”. Which according to Roscoe pound is the primary purpose of the noble profession of law.

Having shed light on the fact met a lawyer is by calling a platform for regeneration, the need then arises to ask the question: what makes a lawyer a platform for regeneration or a social crusader? In other words what prompt him into serving as social warm monger?

The saying goes thus: “What you don’t know, does not hurt you”. The other side of this saying is: “what you know hurts you”. The legal practitioner knows. He is learned. By virtue of his professional calling his eyes, are wide open to what other members of the society do not see, the eyes that look are many but the eyes that see are few. This training makes him to develop a sight far beyond his nose. This gets him agitated about the ills in his society and his soul does not have rest if he did nothing about it.

Thus when the enlightened mind of the legal practitioner finds a catalyst in his personal conviction, an unrepentant and dogged crusader is born. He becomes a submissive slave of his own conscience and becomes completely uncomfortable when he keeps quiet in the face of injustice. This is what I call the irresistible driving effect of the practitioner’s burden of knowledge.

On a direct confrontation with experience, a properly educated mind will refuse to accept crude tyranny, for to accept tyranny is an act of intellectual self dispossession; long after the gun, have been silenced, the supersonic boom of ideas, the thunderous artillery of thinking will continue to echo.

With all these in my mind, I left the New Lecture Theatre of Ambrose Alli university, Ekpoma s a newly matriculate student of Faculty of Law with a straight and single eye on history and prosperity with an unshaken determination to heed with all my hearth and mind, the instructive words of the founding father of the legal profession in Nigeria, Alexander Sapara Williams; “The Legal practitioner lives for the direction of the people and the advancement of the cause of his country.”

In this I knew I would find fulfillment. And indeed in this, I have in the last four years as a student of Ambrose Alli University found total fulfillment.

AIGBOKHAN PREST is a 400 Law Student of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Presently the National Coordinator Esan Law Student Association of Nigeria (ELSN)

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Biafra Remains a Last, Viable, and Realisable Resort

by Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu (Dundalk, Republic of Ireland) ---

If the price of nationhood is constant bloodletting, then let us not be a nation ~~~ Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu

There is undeniable evidence, that had Biafra succeeded it would have been the most advanced black nation, giving some dignity to the battered psyche of the average Negro. In the 3 years of her existence Biafra broke the jinx regarding technological feats. white racists had consistently argued that the African is subhuman, and is incapable of achieving even the least technological competence.Biafra proved them wrong.

Biafra’s famed ingenuity has todate remained in the front burner of political debates. Given Nigeria’s continuing rumble in the jungle, and her incapability to provide the most basic of essential structures, services, and resolve the many fundamental contradictions that have dogged the nation since independence. Most erstwhile Biafrans are reinforced in their beliefs, that Biafra remains a better option, to escape the roil and rot of an “Animal farm” Nigeria.

Without any doubt an independent Biafra,would have pursued the development and standardization of the many local technologies developed during the war. And Biafra by now would have predictably reached the level of mid- level technological countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand,etc.On the political side,Biafra would have obviously been more inclusive. Whereas it is almost impossible for an Efik to be the president or even vice president in present day Nigeria, such a feat would have been more easily realisable in a smaller and more homogenous nation like Biafra.Indeed the Vice president, and last head of state of the now defunct Biafra Major General Philip Effiong is an Efik.

The current economic, social, and religious restiveness prevalent in Nigeria, would have been unimaginable in Biafra, given that Biafrans are almost 100% Christians, and the smaller population and landmass would have naturally provided for a more equitable distribution of resources and infrastructural development. Biafra has become the proverbial “Cat with nine lives” principally because Nigeria has stubbornly chosen to continue on the ignoble part of the exploitation, and enslavement of her supposed citizens.

Nigeria is bedevilled with numerous social, economic, and political malaise. The ethnic groups carry a mountain of grudges against each other, 61 years after, the killing of Southern Christians
and even Moslems which actually began in 1945 have continued in the North unpunished. There is anarchy in the land, things have fallen apart, but yet the federal Government has refused to find lasting solutions to the Nigerian Question. There still abounds a lot of incurable optimists who insist, the obvious fact notwithstanding, that Nigeria will not disintegrate. I submit that recent trends have pointed more to the reality of a possible break-up.

Just recently the Northern states declared Sharia in outright disregard of Nigeria’s constitutional secular status.10 years ago nobody could have imagined that the Niger-Delta militants would be able to take up arms and hold the federal government to ransom. The re-emergence of the agitation for Biafra, and it’s surprising mass support by the Igbos would have been thought impossible just a few years ago. In 1990 Major Gideon Orkar had organised a failed coup in which the principal objective was to expel the core Northern states from Nigeria. The implications of these scenarios is that Nigerians are moving further and further apart by the day.

Agreed that the Niger-Delta militants have not asked for seccesion,and the MASSOB is non violent. But as the unresolved injustices continue, and as the militants become bolder and more confident, it is highly predictable that the Niger-Delta militants will at some point begin to ask for secession, which I suspect is their primary objective, and splinter groups from MASSOB will most likely take up arms. It is instructive to note that those who are in the forefront of the Biafran struggle are the youths. As recent events have shown the youths have remained undeterred by the arrest, trial for treason, and extra judicial killing of many of their members by Nigerian security forces.

Nobody can accurately predict what can happen in the next few years, but it is a safe bet, that the centrifugal and centripetal forces tearing at the nations fabric will continue to intensify. Certain unforeseen circumstances like a sectional coup, or sustained sectarian violence could be a catalyst, that can unleash a chain of events to hasten Nigeria’s disintegration. The increasing seeming integration of Nigerians in major cities, and increasing inter-ethnic marriage has not in anyway dimmed the problem. If anything inter-ethnic hatred is getting worse by the day. The Ijaw and Itshekiri crisis in Warri a few years ago, rubbished the insinuation that inter-ethnic marriages serves to douse long standing hatred.

Nigeria has never made as much money, as she is making now, yet poverty continues to ravage the land. The multiplier effects of instability, corruption, and strife will continue to ensure that the average Nigerian remains poor and miserable. Volumes have been written, numerous suggestions have been made, on how to resolve the imbroglio, yet successive Nigerian governments just like the biblical “Pharaoh” have continued to turn a deaf ear.
Against this backdrop 3 likely scenarios are likely to be thrown up in Nigeria in the final equation.

(1) Ethnic Regionalism

Sustained sectarian violence, full scale insurgency by militant groups, a mass rising, or possibly a junior officers revolutionary coup amongst other unforeseen possibilities sometime in the future, could lead to a redrawing of the Nigerian plate, ushering in a return to autonomous ethnic regions. The regions would be such that the major ethnic groups and some other sizable ethnic groups would be able to form autonomous regions, while smaller ethnic groups would band together in contiguous areas to form their own autonomous regions. The regional structure would herald a very weak and unattractive centre, and give each ethnic group the opportunity to develop at their own pace, without let or hindrance.

(2) Confederate Southern Nigeria Republic

The same set of situations outlined above, but with harder uncompromising positions on both divides of the conflict, could lead the South and possibly the Middle belt to act together to seccede,on the basis of the pre-1914 status of Southern Nigeria. The negotiated structure of the new nation is likely to throw up a quasi-confederate system of autonomous regions, with each region controlling their resources and retaining the right to self determination.

(3) Biafran Republic

Based on the subsisting scenario’s, Biafra would most likely come about, when there is total chaos, and the Major ethnic groups in the South are acting independently, or when the United Nations intervenes to supervise a referendum on self rule as they did in East Timor, and are about to do in Kosovo, and Southern Sudan . Other likely and unforeseen circumstances could also lead to the eventual total disintegration of Nigeria. Biafran planners envisage a confederate structure, of wholly autonomous regions, resource control, and a perpetual right to self determination by constituent units.


There are optimists who have argued, that unlike the former Soviet Socialist Republics, and Eastern Europe, most African conflicts in i.e. Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, DRC etc have not led to disintegration. But the ignored fact is that, none of these conflicts had secession as their aim. Most African conflicts have been a struggle for power as against secession. Currently in the Ivory Coast, there is a bitter power struggle between the North and the South which has led to armed conflict, but again we note that even in this conflict, the aim is not secession, but a power struggle by the North which feels marginalized and excluded from the corridors of power. The only African countries that had secession as their stated aim was Eritrea, who achieved their aim, Southern Sudan who will be having a United Nations sponsored referendum on self rule in 6 years, and of course Biafra who failed in their first attempt, but who have resurrected the struggle.

Above all else, the question we need to ask is, what makes a group of people feel bitter enough to demand secession?. The answer is simple “Injustice”. In an inclusive system where there is social justice, continuing dialogue, and where your rights are guaranteed, no group will have the incentive to seek secession. Successive Nigerian governments, by consistently refusing genuine dialogue to resolve the Nigerian quagmire, have ironically constituted the greatest enemies to Nigerian unity.

Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu
Dundalk, Republic of Ireland

Posted by Administrator at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2006

Ogbanje in Sanskrit

A Poem: by Ejiofor Alisigwe (London, England) ---


I make my Las jouney Tibetan
As pendulumed Karma
Belligerent against the weeping womb
I am armed to the feet
To trampen upon samskara remedies
In flirtatious Nama Rupa

Each time I listened to her muffled wails
Escape through dried tongue and trailing lips
That lay flatulent belly stiff
Exposed from a recurrent yawn
Emitted through vacant mouth

Yet I stood in silent mutation
Embalmed with a mutilated shroud
Thier reccurent Vijna bid to incacerate
My undisputed sophistication of Samsara
Surrounding mine immutable mystery
That emanate from my wheeled Avidya

Now has the procession ceased
From the surging feet of the commiserated tongues
That trodged the dome of Ayatana
And to the robbed boulders
Left without a sacrificial Gull

And now too the dark silence elasped
Their tired faces trailed sparsa
Against the resurgent spirit
That recall a faded hope
I stood in arid fallow maddened
Contemptous to the panting withered earth
Lay agony from a forgotten fertility
Submissive to the nonchalant farmer
Labouring indifferent in a lost count to seed
Hoping under the long drifting gathered clouds
To climax the period of heath
Coupling to the thrust of the Vedana shaft
Recieptive to the missionary spread of Trsna
Yielding to bear a toppled weight thrust
Over an anachronic duty of ethical inflorescence

I stood in inquisitive curiousity
Laughing over their tiredness
To mould a known child
Trashing with pitiful undulated movement
To bid me constant a champion swimmer
To walk the plank and splash sliced
Through their unbilical helpless prone
To charge against all their feat for more
Sacrifices against my successful returns
Into the inflated belly of Jati aesthete

And at their age of bloom
Reflective rays like broom swept the doom
To pierce their sullen sky to date
And to defile all fears of danger of me
To parade their canines each time they spoke

Then I will leave in french style
To hide in deep fortification to reincanate
Salient earth bowels that forbid
All parental tresspass and hope

I will sprout from Jati to Jaramarana
My real humble domicile abound
Leaving the refugee on withered security
From avenge ridden mutilated child
Whose jangling feet to Iyi Uwa from memory
Formed around the crystal palm of mine infant child

A pick out of the mystic brook of choice
Because in od-cycle I spin my Wheel of Life
I am innocent. I am a professional Ogbanje

Ejiofor Alisigwe

London, England

Posted by Administrator at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)

Nigeria can only get Worse, Not Better

by Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu (Dundalk, Republic of Ireland) --- The madness that is currently going on in Nigeria, should not be a surprise, it is the direct implication of operating a very strong centre, where the “winner takes all”. A Nigerian President is the equivalent of a “God”.

He has absolute control of the Police, Armed forces, judiciary etc.He uses the police and Army to hound and even kill those who oppose him, and uses them to protect those who support and sing his praises. He decides projects to execute in states or zones, and decides those not to be executed in certain states or zones in line with the unwritten marginalisation policy. He decides who to appoint to certain so called sensitive positions, and those from certain areas not to appoint, also in keeping to the marginalisation policy. If a President from “A” tribe is in power, he makes sure that he appoints only people from his “A” tribe to strategic positions and into positions where there is a lot of “Egunje” .

Because the President is like a God, he has the power of life and death. He can obey the law when he chooses, and disobey it when he chooses. The kidnap of a sitting governor, and burning down of government property in Anambra state, the total destruction of the governors office in Oyo state and the subsequent arbitrary impeachment of the governor at the whims and caprices of a political godfather connected to the “ God of Aso rock” is a clear testimony to the “Godliness” of Aso rock.

The Godlike nature of Aso rock is such that Aso rock plays the role of a father to the states. The states being the children of the Aso rock father, are not allowed to make their own money. They depend on the Aso rock father for monthly handouts. The God of Aso rock does not love all his children equally, infact he hates some of his children, and can sometimes withhold the monthly handouts to such a hated child. There are some particular children that the God of Aso rock hates so much, that he can become very creative when he wants to exclude those children from any development initiative that can be beneficial to them.

The recent Niger-Delta initiative is a clear pointer to such scenarios. The initiative was designated “Coastal states of the Niger-Delta” in order to cleverly exclude Abia and Imo States who happen to be some of the children that the God of Aso rock hates. But the lie was exposed when Edo state which is not a coastal state was included in the initiative.

Funny enough when those children of the God of Aso rock who are being maltreated, complain of the injustice being meted out to them, and announce their intention to separate from the God of Aso rock, they are severely punished for ever contemplating such a thing.
Most of the children have asked their father to convene, a “Sovereign national conference” where the father and the children can talk to resolve all their problems. They also proposed a situation where they can have some level of autonomy in their own homes and control their own resources instead of receiving handouts, but the God of Aso rock backed by certain favoured children that are benefiting from the injustice has consistently refused to convene any such conference.
The consequence is that some of those hated children are now planning to wage “Guerrilla warfare” against their father, the God of Aso Rock. Can you blame them?

Against this backdrop, of overwhelming Godlike powers of a Nigerian president, all of whom have todate been tribal leaders, What is the guarantee that Nigeria will get better when another president assumes such powers, knowing the nature of the African and their penchant to abuse power?. Indeed those of them like Gen. Babangida, and Vice president Atiku. whose names have been bandied about for the presidency makes the scenario even more frightening. The reason every ethnic group is struggling to produce the president, is because of the overwhelming powers and possibilities inherent in that office, and because of the high level of injustice, and marginalisation being perpetrated against other ethnic groups by presidents who come from different ethnic groups.

The multiplier effect is that every ethnic group believes it can only get justice when someone from their own ethnic group is the president.

In genuine nations, hence your rights are guaranteed, it doesn’t matter where the president comes from, what matters is the issues, not the race or ethnicity. In the Nigerian instance the reverse is the case. Given the failure of the Obasanjo administration serving the interests of the Feudal North, against popular demands, to restructure the country to preferably autonomous ethnic regions and the attendant devolution of powers, which will in effect permit each region to develop at their own pace, and herald a very weak centre.

I predict a continuation of abuse of powers, absence of the rule of law, ethnic politics and the attendant continuation of marginalisation of certain groups. Even if crude oil is sold at $1000 a barrel, I predict the continued ravage of massive, blinding poverty for obvious reasons.

Looking at my crystal ball, I see increasing ethnic and religious strife, I see the Niger-Delta, and the OPC increasing their militancy, and I see the Igbo East beginning armed insurgency. Finally I see what looks like Nigeria breaking up into smaller units, either as outright disintegration or a forced return to autonomous regions. Except of course there is a revolution, or surprisingly a Pan- Nigerian “Messiah” becomes the president in 2007, Nigeria can only get worse, not better.

Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu
Dundalk, Republic of Ireland

Posted by Administrator at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)

Gender Equality Agenda and Obasanjo’s Presidency

by Paul I. Adujie (New York, United States) --- Women Empowerment: An Exemplary Record!” Was one of the first titles or headers which I had considered, as, aptly adequate to describe the giant strides attained within the President Obasanjo’s administration since its inception on May 29, 1999.

At the time that I first thought of writing about this issue, the all important issue of gender equality in Nigeria, particularly, given the giant strides that I speak of; Strides that are in connection with gender equality, gender emancipation for Nigerian women. Gender agenda of our current national government, is therefore the befitting subject matter that will herein be our focus.

I have mulled over this subject matter for quite a while, it is unstated or understated gender agenda by our current president; Perhaps, purposefully understated? Well, I finally settled on writing this article, I chose the present title because it captures, more adequately, the spectacular groundbreaking gender equality forays in Nigeria, since 1999.

Nigerians should be very clear on this issue. President Obasanjo has moved mountains in connection with gender equality agenda in Nigeria since the inception of his administration in 1999. And as I have written in the past, Nigeria is only one of two countries worldwide that has appointed a female as Finance Minister, Secretary for Treasury or as Director of the Exchequer. In plain words, it means the appointment of a female as the chief money or fiscal manager for the entire county of Nigeria.

Let us be clear, this has never happened in Nigeria, in Africa or anywhere else, in the recent past. The giant strides so far made by the current federal government in Nigeria, regarding the pride of place of our women folks, are unequalled and unparalleled. There have been many tangible and intangible accomplishments for women since 1999.

We concede that there is more that needs to be done to elevate women worldwide.

Even though unheralded by some, Nigerian women have faired so much better during Obasanjo’s presidency. The current president of Nigeria recognizes the availability in abundance, talented, educated, creative and experienced women technocrats of outstanding achievements and accomplishments. Our president has, as always, with a broad masterstroke, empowered eminently qualified Nigerian women by appointing many of them to high profile government agencies and organs.

Among the numerous outstanding federal appointments of women to high caliber positions is the appointment of the Honorable Justice Aloma M. Muktar who becomes the first woman in Nigeria’s judicial history to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Through this appointment, President Obasanjo broke the glass ceiling of female lawyers in Nigeria. It is a historical first. The Supreme Court of Nigeria has always been an all boys club since the founding of Nigeria as a nation.

Honorable Justice Aloma M. Muktar’s appointment gives credibility to Obasanjo’s promise to champion women’s empowerment.

Nigeria, during the Obasanjo’s presidency, have also been blessed with the appointments of many other females, such as Honorable Minister of state, Finance, Mrs Nenadi Esther Usman, as well as the appointment of Honorable Minister Mrs. Oby Ezekwsili of Ministry of Solid Minerals otherwise known as Madam Duc Process. Additionally, Dr. Dora Akunyili of NAFDAC and Mrs. Chikwe the former Minister for Aviation, and Mrs. Ojomo, who served as Minister for Housing. Nigeria’s Federal Internal Revenue Service is headed by Ms. Ifueko Omoigui and Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) is presided over by Mrs. Onyiuke. Mrs Chinwe Nora Obaji the Minister for Education and Mrs Halima Tayo Alao Minister of state, Education, Minister of state, Health Chief (Mrs) HU Esuene Presidential Liaison Officer Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, Mrs Grace Ogwuche is one of the new cabinet ministers. This is by no means exhaustive list.

These are simply extraordinary and outstanding progress. If was legal to vote more than once and If I were in Nigeria and voting, I would have voted once each, for President Obasanjo, each vote in appreciation of our president, on the behalf of all my family members of the feminine gender.

Uproarious and dancing-in-the-street commendations ought to greet President Obasanjo for his boldness and courage of action, because his foresight in taking numerous swipes at women’s marginalization in our world. He is a man worthy of praises for denting, in a very big way, the age-old and perennial neglect of women; He has slashed and carved away, wanton neglect and the abhorrent practice that does not appreciate women as valuable national resource for development.

Even in America and other parts of the world, women continue to struggle for acceptance as full citizens, competent and qualified professionals trusted to hold important or key positions in the world, in both private and public sectors. This is changing in Nigeria, rightly so. Perhaps, in due course, Nigeria a president of our country whose gender is female; As the Americans are scrutinizing two high profile women for a possible run for the US presidency, that is, Senator Hilary Clinton and United States’ Secretary of State Dr. Condi Rice, two competent women, even though with different social philosophies, I hope that Nigerians will also scrutinize Nigerian super qualified women for Nigerian presidency. And Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, Mrs. Ezekwsili, Mrs. Akunyili etc comes to mind.

According to Mr. Sonala Olumhense, a self confessed critic of President Obasanjo, a virulent critic, I might add, President Obasanjo has had more than 27 women in assorted ministerial appointment chairs. Here is what he wrote in (NVS)

“I am impressed at how much opportunity he has provided in his cabinet for the female constituency. Since 1999, he has had 27 women in assorted ministerial chairs, and many more in significant other top positions. Despite my reservations about him, he deserves to be congratulated for this. It is a clever political move, of course, but as long as his choices for high office are among the nation's best and brightest, I will not begrudge him.

Among President Obasanjo's best investments is the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonji-Iweala. Owing to her commitment and her credibility, Nigeria has made tremendous strides in the management of her foreign debt. I know that this is only one component of her portfolio, and that she has made some questionable decisions and indecisions in other areas of it, but her foreign debt triumph is significant, and she deserves both our congratulations and our gratitude. It is also a clear sign of what happens when the right professionals, not contractors, party-hacks or clansmen, are invited to serve.

Mrs. Okonji-Iweala serves in a huge, market-square style cabinet in which, over the past seven years, there have been many faces and personalities. I have often wondered about life around that table, and around the presidential palace. As you know, there is also a whole army of presidential advisers, assistants and "kingsmen." Hopefully, some of these powerful people will publish their political memoirs shortly”

Mr. Olumhense omitted the groundbreaking and spectacular appointment of the first female to the Supreme Court of Nigeria, just as he neglected to state the Finance Minister’s name accurately or correctly. It is Okonjo, not Okonji. Certainly, more needs to be done to empower women in the world and in Nigeria. Women are our mothers, sisters, aunts, wife, girlfriend, professional colleagues etc, there more women in the world population than there are men. Women are now outnumbering men, in college graduation numbers and admissions to the professions. It is unintelligent to neglect such huge segment of our human capital resources.

Clearly, President Obasanjo is obviously ahead of this all important worthy cause, the emancipation and empowerment of Nigerian women!

President Olusegun Obasanjo has frequently call on women to use their powers and skills constructively and collectively to effect positive change in society. President Obasanjo promised to champion electoral reforms that will require all registered political parties in the country to set aside 25 percent of their elective offices for women.

And as the flurry of activities in connection with the much debated Third Term or no third term continues; Nigerians will do well to accord credits to President Obasanjo myriad accomplishments and in particular, for having the vision and foresight to have commenced a gender agenda in our country to further gender equality in Nigeria.

President Obasanjo deserves all accolades and encomiums for women empowerment in Nigeria. President Obasanjo can deservedly add this to his retinues of laudable legacies

Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States

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

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