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August 07, 2006

A Confidential Letter to Governor Achike Udenwa of Imo State, Nigeria

by Okechukwu E. Asia ---

The egomaniacs who have welded power in Nigeria over the years, have failed in the mission to serve the people of Nigeria. Such is clear when you consider the infrastructure, which begins with condition of the roads. In many places in Owerri and indeed the entire Imo State, we had to drive six miles to travel five, simply because of all the twists and turns one had to make to avoid the potholes in many of the streets and roads. ~~~ Prof. George Moss of the University of Michigan (Thisday Newspaper July 22, 2006)

Dear Achike,

It has been quite a long time I communicated with you either in writing or by telephone. This time, I am writing as a citizen of Imo State concerned with the short-comings of your seven years of reckless and corrupt stewardship.

I am writing because May 2007 is around the corner and to make sure that you remember that day as your day of reckoning. The day you will be asked to give an account of your stewardship to the people of Imo State. I am sure that day; you will remember to tell us what you did with almost N800 billion Naira you collected as allocation from the federation account and internally generated state revenue since 1999. Particularly, what you did with the N13 billion federal government allocations to Oguta/Ohaji/Egbema oil communities.

You must be prepared to tell us why your finger prints are all over Chief Ogbonnaya C. Uche’s (OGB) assassination and your attitude of indifference toward the efforts to solve this scourge on your administration and all other unsolved assassinations under your watch. We would want to know who paid N5.5 million to Mr. Vincent Ogueri (a.k.a Pastor), the trigger man from Emii, Owerri North LGA. Why the voucher for this money was prepared in the Government House. And why Mr. Nwachukwu the Finance Director at the cabinet office, i.e. Ignatius Umunna’s office (Mr. Umunna was the Secretary to the State Government) was chosen as the point person to pay off Mr. Ogueri. The people of Imo State and the children of late OGB, Agwatu, Emenike, and Onyearugbulem want to know.

I saw you visited and consoled the widow and family of Funsho Williams in far away Lagos, but neither you nor any of your cabinet members attended Chief Uche’s burial or sent a condolence to his widow and family. He was one of your commissioners. Mr. Governor, how can you reconcile this attitude toward a man who made you a governor. How can you reconcile the fact that you personally ordered your entire government staff not to attend OGB’s funeral or send any condolences to his family. You did not attend OGB’s funeral – your Commissioner; you did not attend Theodore Agwatu’s funeral – your Principal Secretary; you did not attend Mr. Emenike’s funeral – a husband of your former Commissioner for Women’s Affairs Mrs. Rose Emenike. All of them were Imo State indigenes. But you are in far away Lagos shaking hands with Williams’ family and weeping. It is clear that your visit to Williams’ family was more of orchestral performance than condolence. Who is kidding whom?

You must tell us why the so-called and almighty state secretariat was built at an eye-popping cost of N3.6 billion Naira from its original budgeted cost of N840 million. You must tell us more about the Orlu regional market and why you spent more than N1 billion on a project that has been abandoned to the mercy of weeds. You must tell us who owns RHS Company – the managing owners of Concorde Hotel and Orlu regional market. Mr. Governor, your corrupt activities in the state is well known by Imo citizens.

I am not finished, governor, we want to know why you converted the Heartland Foundation chaired by your wife into a family fortune, which your administration has donated more than N600 million since its inception. Where did the money go and who benefited from its programs?

In 2002, you Balkanized Imo State by creating inferior and useless autonomous communities in one of your many schemes to hang on to power for a second term, while our communities are burning in Ezeship tussles, you are busy collecting a whopping sum of N500 thousand Naira per a community as a prelude to state recognition of their Eze.

Don’t forget to tell us about your wacky road projects, which you have spent N12 billion Naira on, since 1999 and nothing to show for it. And the 1.5 mile road leading to Umuguma from Port-Harcourt road Owerri which you recorded at a cost of N170 million must not be missing from your hand over story. We want to hear about the N380 million you said your administration spent on refurbishing of the General Hospital at Umuna, Orlu. A 6000 sq. ft dormitory and repainting of existing buildings does not cost N380 million to build. We have a lot of unanswered questions for you about this project.

We will be waiting to hear how your total personal wealth swelled to N300 billion from N1 million in 1998/99. I know this because during the 1998/99 campaign, you had only N1 million for your campaign. This money was given to you by your few friends and associates in Port Harcourt, which late Chief Ogbonnaya Uche (OGB) was one of them. That was the reason you lost the PDP primary elections to Chief Humphrey Anumudu (1), Greg. Mbadiwe (2) and Rochas Okorocha (3), (in that order) but due to the intervention of power brokers, you came from finishing last to the anointed position of governor.

So we want to know how a return on investment of N1 million became N300 billion in seven years. I am sure EFCC and Economics Professors are taking note of this ingenious feat. Oh, don’t forget the Standard Shoe factory you spent N288 million to rehabilitate but no single building at the site has been roofed. We want to know what’s going on in this site. And when will the first pair of shoes hit the market from your factory. What was the deal you made to sell Imo Hotels to unknown company? Who are the owners of this company? How much are you planning to sell this Hotel?

I am sure that you will reveal what you did with N5.6 billion you collected as security vote from the state treasury. We, the people will occupy the front row seats to listen to you explain to us why you deducted more than 30% of local government monthly allocation fund and what you did with the money. We will listen carefully to hear you explain what happened to the N2 billion you budgeted to construct the Owerri to Okigwe highway and why this road is in such disrepair. You must explain to us what happened to the N5 billion you collected from the local government councils in pretense to linking them with good roads. Who is this Yoruba man that you awarded the contract to build these roads? What is your relationship with this man and his company? And why is the document used in the contract missing?

It has been reported that you spent a total of N240 million on your daughter’s wedding on July 22, 2006 to entertain your friends and political associates while Owerri and Imo State villages are in darkness without light and drinking water. And refuge dumps have taken over Owerri municipal area. Whose money was this, anyway? We want to know.

Mr. Governor, I am disgusted to learn that you are aspiring to become the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. What knowledge and experience would you bring to the presidency? Will it be different from your seven-year outing as the governor of Imo State that brought nothing but agony, under-development, negligence, senseless killings of political opponents, insecurity, corruption in an uncontrollable level, drug use, indecency involving female minors and married women and forgery. I agree with Mr. Pini Jason when he wrote on the Vanguard newspaper of July 28, 2006 that the time has come when we must stand up and say enough is enough to stop these jokers and clowns like you from taking us for a ride anytime we have general elections. And that you are making a mockery of our presidency.

By the way, you are one of the principal architects of the failed Third term agenda, why do you think that we have forgotten so soon. Your day of reckoning will come, very soon. I am sure that your so-called presidential ambition is inspired by your attempt to escape arrest and prosecution from your failed stewardship of Imo State. It will not work, Mr. Governor.

In closing, I pray that you receive this letter in good faith and in good spirit. I have only written the truth and in no way have I tried to scorn your person. But if you feel otherwise, so be it. I dedicate this letter to the memories of your former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry late Chief Ogbonnaya C. Uche (OGB), your former Principal Secretary late Mr. Theodore Agwatu, Mr. Emenike (the husband of your former Commissioner for Women Affairs who parted ways with you a few months earlier), Col. Anthony Onyearugbulem – an aspiring gubernatorial candidate in 2003, and all those who was assassinated so that you could have a second term. And to the good people of Imo State whose tears for justice and good governance will not be in vain in 2007. We are ever more vigilant.

Okechukwu E. Asia
Boston, MA, USA

Real Beauty is My Aim - Mahatma Gandhi

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May 25, 2005

Tony Ogiamien: Lurking in Omo Omoruyi’s Shadows

by Okechukwu E. Asia ---

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okechukwu E. Asia
Boston, MA, USA

Real Beauty is My Aim - Mahatma Gandhi

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April 18, 2005

Biafran Footballers: Mr. Obasanjo’s legacy

by Okechukwu E. Asia --- Mr. Obasanjo’s legacy shows, very sadly, that six years into democracy, nothing really has changed except the deteriorating state of the nation. No water, no electricity. No good roads, no jobs. The only things in abundance are crises, criminality, corruption and executive gangsterism. Every other thing is in short supply including good old fresh air. It has indeed been six troubles in six years. - Kenneth Ugbechie (Champion Newspaper, April 13, 2005)

There has been so much negative reporting these past months surrounding the issue of government-gone-crazy and Obasanjo’s unwholesome assault on the 53 members of Biafran football team. I am compelled to write in support of the 53 brave Biafrans who played football, their families, and those who choose peaceful means to achieve self-reliance and political righteousness. You will always have our support. And you are not alone.

I had wanted to comment on this issue long ago, but anger took over my mind that I wouldn’t have been able to write without raining down heavily on or otherwise insulting Mr. Obasanjo. I would have focused more on Obasanjo’s mental state than on the issue. I folded my hands in disbelief and suppressed my anger knowing fully well that Obasanjo is suffering from Igbo-malitis disease - a kind of end-stage mental hate-the-Igbo inflammation disorder. It is not contagious but it can be learned. It is in his blood, in his bones from head to toes. I am not a medical expert or have expertise in end-stage diseases, but I recognize the symptom when I see someone suffering from it.

Since the Biafra – Nigeria war, President Obasanjo have been suffering from Igbo-malitis disease, which even in his almost ending life has inflamed to an uncontrollable proportion. From 1999 to present, this Igbo disease has paralyzed Obasanjo’s mental, moral and economic judgment towards Ndiigbo in particular and Nigerians in general. Inflaming at a dangerous rate even when unnecessary and unprovoked. Speech after speech from Sokoto to Baylesa he brags about how he defeated Ndiigbo in the civil war, and how he and his troops invaded Igbo villages, massacred Igbo children, pregnant women, chopped off the fingers of young men so that they won’t join the war, all to teach Ndiigbo a lesson. And yet he called the war a “clean” war.

Now he has turned his government machinery to defenseless Igbo children who chose to play football, instead of taking up arms and fighting back, as anesthesia to the pains Obasanjo is inflicting on them. But Obasanjo’s uncontrollable Igbo-phobia could not allow him to reason that playing football is better than pointing guns at him. Unfortunately, aggressive government heavy-handed approach to suffocate its citizens for seeking autonomy has failed in many experiments (see India, Bangladesh, Eastern Europe, Eritrea, Czechoslovakia and South Africa). You may torture their bodies, break their bones, imprison them, and even massacre their peoples and have their dead bodies, but you can’t stop determined souls. Go ask the British, the Russians and Apartheid South Africa. You can’t stop them with aggression and intimidation, Mr. Obasanjo. Only honest and mutual dialogue can solve Igbo and Nigeria problems. Mr. President, until Igbo issues are settled, Nigeria will never develop or know peace. When you hold a man down, you also hold yourself down. And if you and your government can stoop this low to attack and imprison children who went to play football, I seriously question your sincerity about your “One Nigeria” slogan and agenda and indeed your mental state.

It is truly sad that while Nigerians are suffering at home and humiliated abroad due to the policies of your government you found time to harass innocent children who are minding their business at a soccer field. It is sad that it became such a government issue and priority. I would have thought that you would spend your time on meaningful issues facing your government. And address those issues that help breed the demand for self-reliance and autonomy. Mr. President, do you know that you are presiding over the worst economy in the world, that you have wasted so many lives since the inception of your administration. That Nigerians now eat from the trash cans on the street corners. That your national currency is becoming useless. That your fellow citizens drink and wash their cloths and bodies in stream animals wash themselves. That your country is not safe to live in, as armed robbers and government-sponsored assassins have taken over our streets and made life unbearable.

Do you know, Mr. President, that your government is operating a runaway budget, which have cost Nigeria so much since 1999? Are you aware that your country’s infrastructures have collapsed and your educational system is in shamble? Did you know that a cup of garri today cost 30 Naira? Have you seen the sorry state of your hospitals, recently? Where were you when your hospitals turned to mortuaries because your universities cannot train quality medical doctors and real medicines are not available to your hospitals? Mr. President, I think you have enough problems to occupy your time than to stoop low to around up children footballers.

It is clear that you have no real agenda for the country and you camouflage your failures by pursuing unnecessary and useless issues. You are outside Nigeria more than people in Diaspora. One can correctly say that you are running a government from Diaspora. Your so-called anti-corruption crusade is your most clown performance. Since you cannot show Nigerians one thing you have achieved in six years, you have worn your clown outfit to perform yet another foolish and deceptive act called “Anti-Corruption” and chasing Biafran children who went to play football. Your anti-corruption crusade is nothing more than just another foolish scheme to get back at your detractors. Nothing more, Mr. President. We have wasted six years under your regime and there is no hope that the next two years will be different. To save our country from total collapse and to save you the embarrassment of exiting in shame, I call upon you to resign from the presidency. Your administration is a failure. Please leave with some honor.

On judgment day, you will give account (as every leader in Nigeria) of your stewardship. You shall be asked, "Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo, what did you do with the power and position I gave you?" I’m sure the response shall include the arrest of 53 Biafran children footballers and charging them for treason.

I don’t know how historians will write your legacy, but one thing I know is that your legacy includes your foolish attack on innocent children who played football to entertain themselves. And this pales you in comparison with Mobutu Seseseko, Idi Amin, Charles Taylor, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic and Sani Abacha.

Okechukwu E. Asia

Boston, MA, USA

Real Beauty is My Aim - Mahatma Gandhi

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April 04, 2005

In search of the real Professor Omo Omoruyi

In search of the real Professor Omo Omoruyi

The first sign that a public intellectual is in a classroom is an attempt to instill discipline, reverence and order. Once, a public intellectual asked a new class, “If there are any fools in this class, will you please stand up.” To his surprise, a student stood up moments after. The public intellectual asked the student, “What made you think you are a fool?” The student laughed for a while and then replied, “I do not think I am a fool. I just hate to see you stand up there all by yourself.” – Rudolf Okonkwo

I can’t stop laughing. After reading a speech by Professor Omo Omoruyi published in the Daily Sun newspaper last Monday March 28, 2005 where Omo Omoruyi reportedly revealed IBB’s game plan for 2007, I laughed. And I can’t stop laughing. Here he goes again was my only immediate response.

As the countdown to 2007 approaches, weird characters are beginning to emerge from their often-irrelevant corners to make foolish speeches on Nigerian politics. They claim to be experts in democratic dispensation and scholars of Nigerian external affairs. They target a likely candidate to go out to make speeches on behalf that candidate even when the candidates disassociate themselves from these characters. Omo Omoruyi is one of these weird characters. He has hitherto taken it upon himself to become the new campaign manager for IBB and make speeches on his behalf when he and IBB only met each other in 2004 after many years not speaking to each other. Even when he has become an outcast in IBB’s kitchen and any mention of his name around IBB provokes anger and resentment. He is still working harder to become relevant in 2007 and beyond.

For those who do not know, Omo Omoruyi is a self-professed expert in political education, whose so-called Center for Democratic Studies (CDS) miseducated thousands of Nigeria’s political elite. As many Nigerians question where his loyalty lies in the current dispensation, the bigger question for him is where has the political scientist left his pride? Omo Omoruyi prides himself as the expert that helps former military officers to join politics. He prides himself as an expert in campaign management, and he is designing a platform on which to launch himself back to political relevance. He is conveniently forgetting the past, ignoring his missteps, neglecting loyalty, and paying attention to grabbing power and relevance. He is repainting and repackaging himself as IBB’s spokes person and calling himself an IBB’s close friend. His passion for romantic public space makes him an ideal intellectual whose quest for political relevance supersedes reason and unconditional loyalty.

In Omo Omoruyi there is no question of legitimacy of his professional authority or competing understanding of professional accountability. With zero credibility, he whitewashes the truth with ease. His yearning for a return to the throne of vanity drives him to no end. He has misstepped before, stabbing the principal in the back. And announced to the world how he fought the principal to release the June 12th election results. He abandoned the principal and went to an exile in Boston, USA only to turn back and spoke blasphemously against the principal. Most recently he was singing and dancing to Obasanjo’s tunes and was searching for an Igbo or South-south president. It is obvious that he is not content with his failure as preacher of political empowerment.

Omo Omoruyi’s last week ranting in Minna, Niger State parading himself as the legitimate IBB campaign manager is appalling and embarrassing and called into question his mental state. Even in his own Local Government Area – Oredo in Edo State, his popularity is in the lowest bottom. When he ventured to run for a vacant electoral seat in Edo State he received the least votes with only 173 votes of the total votes cast in his home ward. With this result, where is Omo Omoruyi getting his guts to attempt to manage a national campaign when he was not able to manage his own campaign? I hope this self-professed campaign expert is not fooling the people in Minna, those inside IBB’s campaign.

Back to his days in Boston, he lighted more fire that is burning long after he had moved back to Nigeria. He brought tremendous pain to so many families and friends here in Boston. These friends helped him when he arrived in Boston to begin his life in exile. He is well known with turning against the people who had helped him along the way. With a man of this character I seriously question his presence in Minna, Niger State of Nigeria. And what does Omo Omoruyi want?

In Igboland, we say a man does not spit and lick back. Omo Omoruyi has been spitting and licking back. Since he left Nigeria for America on his self-imposed exile he has written so many derogatory things about IBB and others who helped him in the past. That make me wonder what Omo Omoruyi has up in his sleeves this time or is Omo Omoruyi packing up his shit with his own mouth? You be the judge.

Okechukwu E. Asia

Boston, MA, USA

Real Beauty is My Aim - Mahatma Gandhi

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March 29, 2005

What are all the complaints about Ibrahim Babangida?

by Okechukwu Asia ---- When you put together Diego Maradona, Christian Chukwu, Segun Odegbami, Muda Lawal, Adokie Amasiemeka and four stars, you get General Ibrahim Babangida, Nigeria’s former president.

His critics call him Maradona for his mastery of Nigeria’s political landscape, some call him Christian Chukwu for his methodical approach to contain his enemies, and others call him Segun Odegbami for his superb calculation on beating his enemies at their own games. Many call him Muda Lawal for being very cautious of his environment, while friends call him Adokie Amasiemeka for knowing how to perfect his games and slip through his opponent’s best defense and cause some havoc. But whatever you call him Ibrahim Babangida is a man of many traits of character. His military training has served him very well in piloting through the slippery terrains of Nigerian political landscape.

There is a serious political movement across Nigeria and abroad to ensure Ibrahim Babangida’s victory in 2007 presidential elections in Nigeria. In the forefront of this movement is the Nigerian Project, whose membership is caught across sections of Nigeria – Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba and minorities all joining forces to help elect Ibrahim Babangida in 2007.

In 1999, Nigerians voted enmasse to elect Obasanjo to the office of the president. That election, as we all know now turned out to be a bad omen for Nigeria. Nigerians have been suffering since then. Suffering from economic deprivation, social humiliation, academic backwardness, political embarrassment, corruption, insecurity, police and military brutality, government sponsored assassinations, military invading of our villages, official freedom of speech gag order, presidential rudeness and innuendos, out of control governors and ministers, ego massage party officers, official thievery, uncontrollable fall of our currency, official sponsored tribal and communal clashes and the list go on. Nigerians have never had it this worst throughout our history. We have endured six years of hell in the hands of President Obasanjo and it will continue until 2007.

In 2007, Nigerians will have another chance to elect a seasoned politician with superior and unquestionable military experience and background. The man who during his first outing as president provided Nigerians opportunities to grow and advance, to look inward and believe in their destinies again. Ibrahim Babangida has through his many developmental programs, some successful and others not so successful, proved that Nigeria can tap into and develop its many resources and make meaning out of them. As the architect of the second tier forex market, he not only changed the way importers do business he changed the way foreign exchange can be wisely used to make goods and services available at reasonable costs in Nigeria.

He understands the concept of democratic principles; either you belong to the left wing or right wing political divide. So he helped to create the two party systems, which worked well during the 1992 general election. He presided over the only free and fair elections recorded in the history of Nigeria in 1992. Although, that election was subsequently annulled due to some circumstantial technicalities that besieged our polity that period, which led to Ibrahim Babangida’s infamous “stepping aside”. Since then many have blamed Babangida for all the problems that besieged Nigeria. Even problems that have been there since independence have somehow been connected to Babangida. All the killings committed by rouge police and military personnel have been connected to Ibrahim Babangida. He has been chastised by those whose personal interests were not served by his administration, especially the people of the Southwestern part of Nigeria. The Yorubas have till this day opposed to Babangida’s rights to freely exercise his political freedom and continue to chase his shadow. Even when the man on the top is one of their own they still blame Babangida for Obasanjo’s failed and schizophrenic government.

They complained that Babangida annulled the election of Abiola. But I don’t see them complain about the election results of 2003 that Obasanjo annulled. Obasanjo annulled the results of the elections in the Southeast, South-south, Southwest, and North-central to produce the infamous faked and adulterated results for his party-PDP. I don’t see them blame Obasanjo for all the assassinations that took place under his watch. Nigerians experienced more official corruption and political assassinations between 1999 and 2005 than at any time in our nation’s history. Obasanjo should be held responsible for those assassinations. Today nobody has been convicted of any of the killings. When Babangida become president again, the Yorubas will blame him for all those murders including the murder of Chief Bola Ige. The so-called Obasanjo’s war against corruption is nothing but a charade of incompetence. This selective war on corruption only points its gun at the people who happen to be on Obasanjo’s bad book. The Baby-Doc EFCC (Economic & Financial Crimes Commission) has shamefully become a stooge of the president’s lets-harass-the-fool syndrome. Who is kidding whom?

Some people argue that all former military officers should be banned from active politics and the office of the presidency be rotated among ethnic groups in Nigeria. This suggestion is laughable. There are more than 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria, and if each ethnic group serves a minimum of four years, then you do the calculation how many years it will take to rotate back to the original tribe. What these people are actually advocating is quota system for the office of the president. This idea will effectively kill the entity we know today as Nigeria. As to banning former military officers from active politics, I think this is pathetic and undemocratic. Democracy is government of the people for the people including those officers who have served our country honorably.

The people have the power to vote for or against them in an election. If the people’s vote is stolen as in the case of 2003, it is the duty of the people to rise and overthrow that illegal government. And if the government, which we voted for, become destructive of our collective interests and failed to perform we either recall that government or vote them out in the next election. If Nigerians are unable to exercise these natural democratic rights, they have themselves to blame and wallow in abject silence and self-destruction.

At this early stage of our democracy, the person who occupies the office the president must be a person with proven ability, strong military background, intellectual awareness, patriotic, civil discipline and temperament, and strong leadership qualities. Geographical birthplace should not be considered when choosing our president. The field should be open to all to come and play. Let us not waste our time arguing about quota system for the presidency instead we should put our energy to orienting our people to the intrigues of democratic politics. It will serve our country well.

This time Nigerians are looking for a serious, strong and effective leadership, corrupt-free society, revamping of our educational system, building and rebuilding our crumbed infrastructures, building new roads and bridges, injecting accountability into our society and rejection of nepotism. Whether it is Babangida or someone else, we need a president for all Nigerians who will save us from drowning in our heartless and faceless democracy.

Okechukwu E. Asia

Boston, MA, USA

Posted by Administrator at 02:09 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2005

Hats off for Maryam Babangida

by Okechukwu E. Asia --- It began with a Saturday morning telephone call from a very dear friend in Boston, Massachusetts, USA Mr. Ndamati Timothy inviting me to accompany him to a reception organized by the National Chairman of The Nigerian Project, USA Dr. Lawrence Egbuchilam at his Boonton, New Jersey mansion to honor Nigeria’s former first lady Madam Maryam Babangida. I quickly accepted. I have not seen Maryam in person before. I am, however, one of her greatest admirers having witnessed the wonders of her “Better Life for Rural Women” program did and continues to do for women in my Local Government Area. I have been praying for this day to just shake her hands, and I will be happy.

Sunday March 6, 2005 I set out on a 5-hour drive to Boonton, New Jersey in the company of my good friend Ndamati. It was a beautiful day to see a very beautiful woman and beautiful terrains of Boonton, New Jersey. As we pulled into this brand new, intimidating and yet gorgeous mansion belonging to Dr. Egbuchilam overlooking the White plains of New York with a breath taking landscape made for Buckingham Palace my curiosity began to set in. We were more than three hours early. But waiting for three hours to see Maryam was like waiting for 10 minutes. I was determined to wait for one week to see her. We settled into this cozy living room decorated with a 42” Widescreen Plasma television mounted on the wall and several museum-quality works of arts in every corner.

Within hours Nigerians from all walks of life filled the house in anticipation to welcome Maryam. They came from Texas, Washington D.C, Boston, Ohio, Florida, California, New York, New Jersey etc. Many of them in serious traditional attire, and some in their Sunday best. Wherever Nigerians gather, you know very well that rice; stew, moi-moi, fufu; egusi and vegetable soups are very plentiful. This was no exception. Also there were plenty of beers and cognac to drink. I took care of myself very well.

At about 5 pm Maryam walked in with Madam Ibrahim Gambari, the beautiful wife of the former U.N. Ambassador by her side. At first I did not believe who she is. She looks younger than I expected and very beautiful. She has a teenage body. You really have to look closer to notice that she is a woman, a mother and a grandmother. She was offered a very fluffy and smooth leather chair, she rejected it and opted for a dinning room chair. Amazing!

I was expecting to see a glamour lady with gold and diamond all over her fingers, but I was wrong. She wore only her wedding band and another small ring. I had expected to see her in an expensive and designer dress and shoes. Again, I was wrong. She wore only some not so great long skirt with a matching top and a Moslem head tie and regular shoes. As she sat quietly on that dinning room chair, my eyes were glaring at her in amazement and disbelief. But I was filled with happiness that I finally met one of the people I most admire.

Few minutes later the chief host Dr. Lawrence Egbuchilam and his beautiful and very excited wife introduced Madam Maryam Babangida to the full house. The chants of first lady erupted-as to say she will become Nigeria’s first lady come 2007. She took the floor and began to speak. First, she apologized for being late and for keeping many of us waiting, as if we were worried about waiting. She notices and acknowledged the African attires worn by the majority of the guests. “I am so happy to see you here today in your African attires, it shows that you are proud Africans” she said.

Her speech focused more on Better life for Rural Women than politics. The following are the excerpts of her speech:

Thank you very much for welcoming me and my entourage to your beautiful home. Ladies and gentlemen as I stand before you today, I feel happy and proud. Proud in the sense that you have great Nigerians around the world and you are one of them. Proud in the sense that seeing a lot of you in our traditional outfit is a very good act of patriotism. I am indeed very happy that God has given me an opportunity to meet you today. Most of you I have not come across to know, and some of you are just seeing me for the first time. But what a great opportunity God has given to us to meet tonight. You coming across from your various communities, living your various lives to come here today, I say thank you very much.

I have been given a task of explaining a program to you. Now I am going to be a teacher and act like a professor. The Better Life for Rural Women (BLRW) program commenced its activities in 1987. The BLRW is for rural women. Who is the rural woman? The rural woman is the woman who resides in rural area, who lives in the typical rural setting with no water, no electric light, no amenities, or basic facility around her. And yet she nurtures a family and she is not educated. She does not have health facility; she does not have anything around her that will give her recognition and that will give her sense of belonging. So what we do was to visit and identify with her to see what she got and be able to help her out.

How do we help her out? If she is a farmer, what does she plan to produce? Rice, cassava, vegetable? What tools does she need? How many hours of labor does she put in? We take these findings to urban areas and people like you, to discuss her problems. How do we help the woman in terms of productivity? How do we increase her labor production? How do we help her, and how do we work closely with the woman? What are the tools she will need that will help her to produce more and better?

We have to educate her, give her basic education on how to manage her business. Then we go out and recruit more people like you. If you are a teacher, give us your time, come to the villages and contribute the materials needed to give her the education. The BLF is a program that addresses the welfare of women. It addresses their education, their health, and their agriculture. That is their economic problem, their industry, where she does her market. After all these productions, what happens? They do not know how to market their production. How can they move these goods to the urban market? The roads are not accessible. They do not have education. If they had education, they could do something. So we the urban people, we the elite, you the elite, you the haves, we are pleading that you support what we are trying to do now. When you come home, I would like you to travel with me to the village. There is no water in the villages; rivers are dry now. You cannot tell somebody to do something with her life when there is no water supply.

So what do we need to do now that we have all these problems? We are expanding. We have not done so yet in Africa. Some African countries have contacted us to help train some of their people to introduce this unique program to their peoples. So now we are expanding nationally and internationally. In the process of expansion for example, Abuja we move from there into the rural areas to provide it or some of the amenities that are in Abuja. Listen, ladies and gentlemen, if you are really a true Nigerian, you must be worried about the education system in our country. In the next few years, maybe 30 years, if we do not educate each individual in our country, we will have a very poor country, because if they are not educated we can’t achieve anything. What we are doing here are for the people. We can’t call our country rich when there is no drinking water in our urban and rural areas. In many rural areas you can see our people swimming and drinking water from the streams in which animals wash themselves. The human beings and animals are struggling for the little water left in our ponds. And then, when you see the color of this water you will weep for our country and our people.

Our plan for this program “Better Life” is to expand, to bring women’s products to trade fairs, including international trade fairs. The Better Life works with the women in our rural areas, we don’t work for them. We go there and we see what they do. We provide them with tools and training facilities. We partner with them. Many times there are no good roads to get to the rural areas. We approached the Ministry of Works and we asked them to please give us their graders to grade the roads so that the women may be able to ship their produce to the urban areas. We partner with the ministries. We are all working for success. We explained to the people in the ministry, whether you are living in there or out there, that we all have to join hands together to achieve our goals. It is our country.

Each and every one of us here is from the rural villages. That’s who we are. We are rural people. So our development should be reversed from rural development to urban. We should all go back to the rural areas and live there. You people in America are capable of training ten or more people in primary and secondary schools in your village. Our program is in all the states of the federation. The program has branches in most of the local government areas of the federation. It is very difficult to try to cover all the local government areas, but we are working towards achieving that goal. You in America should thank God for what you have, and who you are. When you go to the villages you see the children in rag clothes, many naked. You see the women going to fetch water, coming back to cook, going back to the farm, that is why we must address the issue of women’s development. You the men are comfortable. You are the bosses. You can never have a full development when you leave the women behind. Men should take their women side by side. The truth is that men cannot succeed without a strong woman by their side. You cannot wash your hands clean with one hand. You need two hands to wash your hands clean. You cannot walk fast on one leg; you need both legs to walk fast. You cannot have an even balance on one leg; you need the other leg -- that is the woman. Who is the man here that can claim that he was not born of a woman. If you know that, why don’t you look at your wife as a partner? Women have the economic base, but politically they cannot be there. How can they be there when the political meetings are scheduled at 3:00 A.M? At this time, the women are at home in bed with the kids. If a woman dares to attend one of those meetings, the men will call her “Ashawo”. I think the time has come for all the women to participate fully in the prophecy. God has given us so much. Men must be grateful to God for giving them women. The men are denying women privileges, which means that men are not grateful to God. Men and women should partner together. Sincere partnership. Women are not in competition with men. Women respects that authority, which God has given to men, and we want to be there for them, bathes them feed them and love them. All we ask from men is to allow us to belong.

So my dear sisters and brothers, to cut my speech -- the Better Life Program is designed to help the rural women, to teach them necessary skills, provide good health, teach them personal hygiene, good nutrition and a clean environment. So I am appealing to you, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, think of the rural women. Think of your root. How you can help. That is what you should be thinking. If today you save a dollar per week in a piggy bank within one year you will have saved enough to take care of one or two women in the rural areas. And bring the piggy bank with you when you come home. It will go a long way in helping more people than you will ever realize. You have the option to decide how your donation can be used. Do you want to use it to build a well, water tank or school, or market stalls or to purchase tools for their trade? You choose where your money goes. Or tell us which village should benefit and we will use that money and invest it there and you will see what we did with your donation.

In the name of God, the Almighty, we thank you for all the things you have given us. We pray that our needs and goals be met. Amen. We pray that each and every one of us present tonight, and those absent, be blessed. Amen. That whatsoever we set to do, God will help us achieve. Amen. As we are all together here, I am not in your minds, but you know what you are pursuing. You say you are pursuing 007, the Nigerian project, may God bless you all and keep us alive. But it’s my prayer that each and every one of you has some good intentions at this moment. May God bless your intention. May God bless your goals; protect you, because if you don’t have good intentions you can never succeed in life. And if you are not honest, you can’t go far in life. So, therefore, we are all human beings, we have our likes and dislikes, we have our weaknesses, and so what I strongly appeal to you is that you work with us. It is okay that we work out our differences. We cannot all be leaders. Let us pray for good leaders in Nigeria, and that others should learn to be good followers. So my dear brothers and sisters, I thank you all for coming here tonight to converse with me. I am glad you came, and I am so happy to be here with you.

May God bless you all.

The speech was followed by all night pomp and pageantry with appreciative guests and hosts all congratulated each other for a reception well organized. There were stampede to take photograph with Maryam. So many photographers both professionals and not-so-professionals all struggling to get a snap of the former first lady. It was a night I will never forget. Thank you Dr. Lawrence Egbuchilam for hosting this wonderful august visitor. Thank you The Nigerian Project, USA under whose auspices this event was made possible. I hope we will be able to meet again.

Okechukwu E. Asia

Boston, MA, USA

Real Beauty is My Aim - Mahatma Gandhi

Posted by Administrator at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2005

As Nigeria turns

Okechukwu E. Asia The so-called National Dialogue has the potential to create more problems than Nigerians bargained for. The Dialogue, which was hurriedly, put together by the President in response to the pressure exerted on him by the Ethnic Nationalities groups, the United States and Britain.

The Sovereign National Conference advocated by Nigerians across ethnic groups would have been a wiser approach to begin the difficult march toward eventual resolution of some of the Nigeria’s political, economic and social problems. However, since Nigeria is not ready to convey a serious and an honest National Conference, we should not be clamoring for a change from “established” leadership.

The leadership, which has been hijacked by top, retired military personnel with a huge wallet to defend it from any threat, which over many years has successfully managed to hold on to power without any real threat. If President Obasanjo could be President three times, what stops people like President Ibrahim Babangida or anyone else from enjoying the same privilege extended to Obasanjo. Because Obasanjo did not learn any lessons from his previous outings, as the Commander-in- Chief does not in it translates to mean that people like President Ibrahim Babangida would not be different second time around.

Nigeria is a country of constant work in progress. As we work harder to perfect our country so too we work to perfect ourselves to be better leaders and followers. Nigeria’s problems past or present were not caused by one person alone living or dead but by all both the leaders and followers alike.

In the next few months (if not now) Nigerians will be bombarded with political activities by those seriously presenting themselves for President of our great country, canvassing for our support to help elect them president and Commander-in-Chief. They are setting up campaign structures both at home and abroad.

Accidentally, I came across such an organization in the United States of America. The Nigeria Project group is a deep-rooted organization with enormous resources at their disposal.

The closer I look, the more I discovered that this Organization has Ibrahim Babangida’s signature written all over it. Its USA chairman is Dr. Lawrence Egbuchilam, a very reputable Medical Doctor and a long time Babangida protégé, whose personal and professional reputations are unquestionable. They have unlimited financial resources and membership is growing a thousand fold a week. The carefully chosen Zonal Directors of the organization says a lot about the superb and perfect internal structure of this movement. As I inquired further, I found out that this movement has taken deep root in all the states of Nigeria, the USA, and Europe. And I am yet to see a match to this political movement by other would-be candidates. If this movement is actually put together by or for President Babangida, one is tempted to conclude that Ibrahim Babangida is a step closer to becoming Nigeria’s next president in 2007. And this will make Babangida haters weep while his admirers sing praises.

Some people might argue that Babangida had his chances and should remain retired (stepped aside) and allow younger people a shot to the presidency. This is a very sound argument, but it should have started with Obasanjo, and how do we know that the younger generations are not as corrupt as all of us. In April 2001, I published an article in ( summarily explaining why Ibrahim Babangida should be given another chance to serve his country in a capacity he deemed necessary and able. In fairness, I am yet to see our brothers from Southwest condemning Obasanjo and his schizophrenic leadership and the embarrassing assassination of their Most Revered Leader Chief Bola Ige under Obasanjo’s watch and nothing happened, no real person arrested or imprisoned.

As Nigeria turns, we should not elect our leaders by where they come from but rather by the content of their character and ability to serve and to lead. Presidential quota should and must be a thing of the past for our country. All persons Easterner, Northerner, Southerner or Westerner who are interested in serving our country as president should be able to present himself/herself to Nigerian people. In this way Nigerians will have a clearer choice and make informed decision in electing their true leaders. And we will be able to minimize electoral irregularities.

As Nigeria turns, let us hope that the ongoing National Dialogue will produce the much awaited solution to Nigeria’s problems and help to redirect us to “doing good” for our country. Let us hope that the curse of those whom Nigeria injustice visited will be lifted by the outcome of this National Dialogue. Let us hope that this dialogue will help us to learn to love one another and to live side by side in peace and to shun hatred, to put the civil war behind us, to move on together as a people and that public service MEANS public service. In the beautiful 13th chapter of the first book of Corinthians, Paul wrote, “If I inherit the world but have not love, I am nothing” and “ If I give away all I have, but have not love, I am nothing.” He continued, “But when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).

As Nigeria turns, I endorse all those who have the gut to present themselves for elective offices in Nigeria, who genuinely want to serve our country, and those who dedicated their services in managing and organizing their campaigns – like The Nigeria Project, Inc., I say thank you for doing your civic duties.

Okechukwu E. Asia


Real Beauty is My Aim - Mahatma Gandhi

Posted by Administrator at 01:57 AM | Comments (0)

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