By Reuben Abati
“What’s gwan inna wa cwantry?”
“What language is that?”
“English of course.”
“Sounds like Creole to me. Why don’t you just talk straight?”
“Nobody talks straight in this country anymore.”
“I still talk straight. I can’t start twisting my tongue because some people have lost it.”
“Okay, I was asking what is going on in our country?”
“Is that a direct question or a sly comment?”
“Just answer the question”
“What I know is that we are now truly, a country of hyenas, jackals and small animals. A big animal kingdom, but when the First Lady Aisha Buhari drew attention to this, recently, we all started screaming that she was rather condescending but right now, with what I am seeing and hearing, I believe she will be vindicated in the long run.”
“We, the people are obviously the small animals. In an animal kingdom, the bigger animals do what they like with the smaller ones, and they dare not complain.”
“But you still haven’t answered my question”
“My friend, why must I always be the one to tell you what is going on in this country? When you want to be mischievous, that is when you ask funny questions. Are we not in this country together? Don’t you listen to the news like everyone else? So, why should I become your newspaper and internet combined. Stop it. But for just this last time, I will use my church mind to tell you that the latest development is photography as a tool of governance. Some APC Governors and party leaders just visited President Muhammadu Buhari in London. They had lunch with him and took photographs.”
“I know about that. I actually saw the photos too. But the whole thing doesn’t look straight to me.”
“It doesn’t look crooked to me either. People have been complaining that the President of Nigeria is missing in action and they need to know that he is still alive. So, they provide a photograph of him having lunch with his party members and loyalists. How is that a problem for you? We should be glad that the President is getting well.”
“Who took the photograph?”
“We are in a digital age. Anybody at all could have taken the photograph?”
“You can’t just ask anybody to take the President’s photograph. It is either you have a media crew on ground, who will take both still and motion pictures, that is photos and videos, or you invite the media, both local and foreign to capture the scene.”
“Who says that is the only way to cover a Presidential occasion?”
“Everything a President does is supposed to be properly documented.”
“What is your problem? They showed us the President having lunch with his guests. And there was another photograph taken by the guests.”
“Where are the establishment shots, and the video, and the audio?”
“Those people didn’t go there to establish anything. They went to do eye-service!”
“You don’t get it. Rather than just show the President and his guests at the dining table, they should have shown us the President welcoming his guests, chatting with them, and NTA should have shown us an actual video as part of the nine o’clock Network News. And what kind of lunch was that? It looked like they just placed a bunch of banana in front of the President and some fruits in front of the guests. I checked the table carefully; every drink there is like anything from a Nigerian fridge. And not even a small stain of oil on the table.”
“You were looking for stains on the table as proof that the lunch actually took place? Did that look like a bukateria to you? Hen? Obviously, the only thing you are used to is gbegiri and amala kind of lunch. When big men eat, they don’t litter and stain their clothes and the table the way small animals like you do. And their mouths don’t drop oil. If that happens, there would be stewards to clean things up.”
“You are assuming some big men have table manners. You don’t know anything. They should show us the video then, and more useful photographs. And why didn’t the party leaders travel with the President’s media team and the Minister of Information? All these dem say, dem say, Okorocha told me. All of a sudden Okorocha has become the Minister of Information. You think if they asked Alhaji Lai Mohammed to also come and eat in London, he will say he is busy?”
“I see your problem is that some people had lunch with the President.”
“Someone in fact told me that the picture looks very familiar.”
“You may need to prove that.”
“Okay, Mrs Buhari also went to London to visit her husband. Where are the photographs of her own visit? Why didn’t they show a picture of her sitting with the President?”
“You are a foolish man. You want photos of the President and his wife, sitting together in za ozza room? Candidly, tell me you are asking for photographs from the Presidential ozza room? You are sick. No President takes pictures in that other room.”
“Donald Trump will gladly take a picture anywhere. You don’t get my point”
“I get your point. You are just another wailing wailer, a merchant of lies and a mischief-maker. We know your type.”
“I am only trying to help. When you set out to tackle disinformation, you look out for pitfalls that can create doubt and you deliver a sucker-punch to shut people up. You don’t address an issue by creating more doubts. I am talking strategy. All of this would also have been more convincing if it was the picture of Acting President Osinbajo having dinner or breakfast with the President in London that they showed us.”
“The acting President didn’t go to London to eat. He went for serious business to consult with his boss. And what if he was fasting at the time?”
“He could have posed for a photo-op with his boss.”
“He was in a hurry. He rushed to London and rushed out to attend Council meeting on a Wednesday.”
“In a hurry to take a photograph to allay the anxiety of Nigerians?”
“People like you would still have said the photograph looked familiar.”
“Nigerians are not convinced. They would probably have given Mrs. Buhari and the Acting President the benefit of the doubt but they won’t believe what an APC Governor says. Okorocha ke?”.
“Oh ye descendants of Shimei!”
“Shimei? Who is Shimei?”
“You are a Christian and you have never heard of Shimei?”
“Okay, just continue you hear. Just make sure you don’t lose your head in the process. Just because we are in a democracy, you think you can be questioning everything. Oh ye descendants of Shimei in Nigeria, beware…beware!”
“I have an idea.”
“See, I think the government can still score a master-stroke, if they arrange for Femi Fani-Kayode and Governor Ayo Fayose to also go to London and have lunch with the President. People are likely to believe the two of them. Fayose will then use his own mouth to inform Nigerians that he made a mistake when he said the President was on life-support and Fani-Kayode will recant and both of them will apologize.”
“Clap for yourself. I see you truly consider yourself a political strategist. So if you are working for President Buhari you will actually invite those two Yorubas to lunch with the President while he is on a medical vacation that is making everyone anxious.”
“Why not? The President is the President of everybody. He is the President of all Nigerians not 95%. And if you are concerned about those two being Yoruba, we can have a Federal character representation. They can invite Nnamdi Kanu from the East and Alhaji Balarabe Musa from the North. Lunch in London with Baba, an organized event covered by the media.”
“Nnamdi Kanu! Did you say Nnamdi Kanu? Are you on some kind of medication?”
“If the objective is to prove to Nigerians that the President is not bed-ridden, he should have lunch with people Nigerians are likely to believe.”
“So if Fani-Kayode, Fayose and Nnamdi Kanu return from London and they decide to say something else, who will bear the risk? Or they turn down the invitation on the grounds that it is a calculated attempt by the Nigerian state to blackmail and poison them, who will defend the Nigerian state?”
“You are giving the dog a bad name”
“Then it means you know nothing about politics.”
“I am not joking. I can even add one more person to the list, how about the Catholic priest, Ejike Mbaka who claims he has been hearing cries falling like rains in Aso Rock?”
“If Fr. Mbaka saw visions of cries and rains, he probably saw the floods that are now ravaging the country from South to North. But keep adding people. You can even add Hushpuppi, Maheeda and Bobrisky. But I bet you will also be the first to complain that they are using Nigerian or-yer-l money to have lunch in London.”
“In that case, let them just do a London edition of the Presidential Media Chat.”
“Nobody is going to do any media chat. Nigerians must learn to trust their government for once. When you go into government, people treat you anyhow.”
“It is our government. We have the right to ask questions. You can’t keep rejecting everything that I suggest. Okay, let the Nigerian High Commission in London organize a Town Hall meeting between President Buhari and Nigerians in the UK. That is a cost-effective way of correcting impressions. Nigerians want to be sure that their President is well, alive and fit. This thing is not rocket science and I trust our brothers and sisters in diaspora to report the truth. ”
“You want to sabotage the President. You want him to interact with PDP members in diaspora.”
“I never mentioned PDP. There are APC members in the UK too and there are persons who have no political affiliation. Anyway, when is Baba coming back?”
“When his doctors say so or according to Governor Okorocha, in two weeks‘ time.”
“But the Constitution is very clear. It says…”
“Forget about the Constitution. This is national politics, stability and security. We don’t care what the Constitution says. Be careful, when Baba returns Insha Allah, something will definitely be done about all you hyenas, jackals and small, small animals disturbing this government. Insha Allah.”
“Stop bragging. There should be room in this your kingdom for all animals please. Nobody should intimidate anybody. That is why I am happy that the House of Representatives is now considering the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill. They have reduced the minimum age for eligibility for the office of President to 35.”
“Thirty-five. I don’t have a problem with that.”
“You shouldn’t. The only problem is that you are a fascist. But there should be other bills: a Too-Old-To-Run bill that will prevent Aso Rock from being turned into an Old People’s Home and a bill that says the minimum qualification for anybody seeking any office, from councilor to President should be a university degree or its equivalent.”
“What has a university degree got to do with politics and governance?”
“Some of the worst people in this country are university graduates. So?”
“You just keep disagreeing with everything. Okay, are you aware that some people are now saying Nigeria is now definitely on auto-pilot?”
“Nigeria is not on auto-pilot. Professor Osinbajo is in charge and all of you wishing us evil, just know that there will be serious consequences.”
“What consequences? Threats. Threats. Threats. Government cannot continue to threaten the people. It is just so sad that civil society and the Nigerian media have been badly compromised. Where are the intellectuals of old, the professional activists, the pro-democracy coalition; they are all so quiet. I believe they are quiet out of shame and regret.”
“Nobody is ashamed. That is strategy. I am surprised you can’t even identify strategy. You think this government will wait and fold its arms and allow all of you to start sounding like paid enemies?”
“You and your people should just realize that this is a democracy, and that someday, tomorrow will come and the people will remember.”
“Hey, sorry hen, wailing wailer. I see the thing is paining you. For your information, Baba will win again in 2019.”
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Oriental Times
Bridging Housing Deficit In Nigeria
By Alex Enemanna
Housing is one of the most pressing needs of man. Standing in-between food and clothing, shelter is also a must-have even in the domain of lesser animals, just like they need food, like human to live. Apart from the critical role housing plays in man’s existence, it helps in his security and giving him a sense of self esteem.
Interestingly, irrespective of our social and economic status, we all need roof over our heads after the day’s activities. The low status of a man in the society does not make the need for a decent housing less important.
However, Nigeria is still miles away from attaining sufficiency in housing for all, just like food shortage has for long been a social challenge.
According to World Bank 2014 collection of development indicators, about 50.2% of our people still live in slums and unplanned settlements with its huge psychological and health effects caused by inaccessibility of social amenities. This is even as insignificant percentage live in debauchery and affluence, with catalogue of estates in their names, making the gap between the haves and have-nots become more worrisomely visible.
This social challenge has further been protracted by the country’s uncontrolled population growth which according to World Bank 2017 report is put at 2.6% annually. Available report from Proshare indicates that the national housing deficit is in excess of 17 million units.
Not much has been done by those in authority to reasonably bridge this disturbing gap. Sadly, housing finance is at its infancy in our country. Its mortgage ratio is put at 0.5 which is grossly inadequate compared with what obtains in other climes especially South Africa where housing finance has hit 30%.
A non-governmental organization, Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF) puts Nigeria’s home ownership rate at 24%, far lower than that of Indonesia that boasts of 84%, Kenya 73% and South Africa 56%. Not even our country’s status as the giant of Africa could come to play in remedying this deficit especially where other countries in the continent are making reasonable progress.
Mortgage finance industry in Nigeria targets mainly high income earners, not including middle and low income earners. This is also coupled with high cost of securing and registering land title in Nigeria where acquisition has now become an exclusive reserve of the rich and those whose friends are in government.
In addition to this, the slow administrative procedures, lack of access to finance and inconsistent policy of the government has remained one of the impediments towards achieving sufficiency in housing in the country.
Not so much success has been recorded in the pseudo government interventions at bridging housing deficit in the country.
The Federal Housing Authority, equivalent of Federal Housing Administration in the US which was charged with the responsibility of preparing and submitting to the government proposal for national housing programmes, development and management of real estate on both commercial and profitable basis in all states of the federation, provision of sites and services scheme for the benefit of Nigerians has been dwarfed by poor administration and corruption. Like many other interventionist plans, the Federal Housing Authority is in limbo. The schemes wherever they are found across the country are on the ‘A’ list of expensive real estates. They have been sold off to money bags who can afford upfront payment, who then place the burden of recouping their investment on the shoulders of hapless citizens.
Efforts by individuals to put in place a makeshift shelter for themselves and their family members have always been met with brute resistance from the government even when there are no plans to advance their welfare through the provision of housing. Such harsh policies are usually justified with excuses that they are attempting to distort the government’s masterplan. In Abuja for instance, regular demolition of the so called illegal structures has become a recurrent decimal. The period of the current Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufa’i as the FCT minister recorded the mother of all careless demolitions of people’s homes in the name of maintaining a masterplan, as if the plans are being made for animals and not humans. Till date some of those displaced are either struggling to be on their feet again or joined in the catalogue of things that give us sleepless nights as a people. Some of these lands still lie fallow without any indication that there are plans to develop them anytime soon.
In as much I do not fault the government’s efforts to control development in the urban centres and restore sanity, there is need to put in place affordable housing system where even the low-income earners can have a place to live. One of the ways to achieve this is not usually by leveling people’s homes, even for vendetta and political reasons. A little regulation could be the magic wand the country needs in its efforts to make housing provision for citizens.
The high cost building materials cannot be extricated from why our dream for affordable housing for all has not been met. More worrisome, majority of the building materials used in the country are imported. This therefore makes the local production of building materials at commercial quantity very imperative. Legion of real estates in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and other cities have been overgrown by weeds and currently being occupied by rodents. This is because of their unaffordability.
It is a known fact that the government is already overburdened with barrage of issues bedeviling us and may not anytime soon bridge Nigeria’s growing housing deficit. To this end, there is the need for a robust Public Private sector Partnership arrangement. The success recorded in telecommunication, mass media and other sectors can be replicated in housing. Similar efforts failed in the past as a result of poor monitoring and evaluation by the government. This must be guarded against. The greater number of Nigerians sheltered, the better for all of us especially at a period when insecurity in the country has hit the rooftop.
An Open Letter To Senator T.A Orji
By Kalu Nwokoro Idika
I am writing this letter to you with so much grieve and disappointment after reading the report of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on how you, your son and other crooks who could be at large fleeced Abia State treasury and left the entire State in total ruins. Considering the magnitude of your financial banditry as a former Governor, I contemplated throwing caution to the wind in this letter but however, I considered how parochial such approach could be looking at the level of premium placed on the issue at hand.
Since the return of the much touted democracy in 1999, Gods Own State has had it so bad when it comes to good governance. The narrative has been very unfavourable. It has been a reign of economic vandals and petty thieves who know next to nothing about leadership. When other federating units are working assiduously with the scarce resources at their disposal just to better the wellbeing of their people, the sermon seems to be the otherwise in Abia State as political demagogues are rather engrossed in a marathon of looting and political vendetta
In 2007, when Mr Orji Uzor Kalu handpicked and made you his successor, many of us knew that you were not different from him; an old wine was simply changed into a new wine skin. He conscripted you into the government house with the false believe that you shall assist to shield his financial malfeasance from the public. But unfortunately, his instinct dribbled him when he suddenly became aware that you were nothing but a dubious and peckish lion panting for the slightest opportunity to devour and unleash mayhem. The recent revelation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on how you and your son who is now the speaker of Abia State House of Assembly plundered the common wealth of the State calls for an urgent action.
Mr Orji, your era as the former Governor of Abia State was characterised by elaborate fraud. Abia never witnessed any iota of development. It was all about the usual sharing of money to political contractors and thugs who assisted in maintaining the political abracadabra that sustained your inept and clueless administration. Under your supervision, Abia State became the most dirtiest place in Nigeria, insecurity was at the peak and there was high level of infrastructural decay. Your government did practically nothing in order to ensure that Abia metamorphosed from the threshold of peripheralism. Little did we know that you were busy looting and mortgaging the future of the State for personal aggrandizement.
The terrible tale of how you and your fickle son embezzled over five hundred billion naira meant for a State that is on the brink of economic collapse calls for a state of emergency. Very catastrophic for Gods Own State that hardly pays its workers and pensioners. When we thought the enemy was far from us little did we know that the killer was within. Five hundred billion naira which would have changed the entire economic landscape of Abia State was diverted and pocketed by a heartless fellow like you without any sign of remorse. You bastardised the entire political process in Abia State and also recruited a wimp as a successor whom the political baton of cleaning up the mess you created was given. Know wonder you ran like a kleptomaniac toad to the senate to hibernate.
Are you not ashamed of yourself Mr T. A Orji? Where is your conscience? With five hundred billion naira, Abia State would have been on the page of economic prosperity. There will be state of the art hospitals, schools, roads, factories and viable transport system. Thousands of jobs will be created with such money but you never thought it wise, now Abia State is dying because of your selfishness. The pathetic side of the whole charade is that you are presently in the senate as a law maker. I wonder the kind of law an economic saboteur will be making in the parliament. No doubt, only a nation without a defined priority would allow a distinguished enemy of democracy like you to be in their legislative chamber. If there is any atom of shame in you Mr T. A Orji, by now you should have vacated your seat in the senate and surrendered yourself to the anti graft agency for onward prosecution.
You pocketed N383 billion, revenue from federal account, N55 billion from excess crude revenue, N2.3 billion Sure-P, N1.8 billion ecological funds, N10.5 billion loan from First Bank of Nigeria through the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Local Government Affairs, N4 billion loan from Diamond Bank, N12 billion Paris Club refund, N2 billion agricultural loan for farmers, N55 billion ASOPADEC fund and N500 million purported to be security vote, which were being converted for eight years according to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
Mr Orji, history will be unkind to you and other scoundrels that perpetuated this ominous crime which has left Abia State in tatters. But one thing is paramount, there won’t be any hiding rendezvous for you and others as the long arm of the law is bound to catch all of you. Many workers and pensioners died out of frustration due to your greed and their blood will be on your head. The good people of God’s Own State won’t rest until justice is served. You are wicked and very ungodly.
In conclusion, late Anini would have been more preferable in the Senate than you. You constitute a threat to democracy and economic prosperity. As the anti graft agency is thorougly digging into your case, I will suggest you start preparing yourself for what is to come because out of greed you decided to eat alone at the expense of the poor masses. There won’t be peace for the wicked.
Kalu Nwokoro Idika is a political analyst, investigative and freelance journalist.
He can be reached via email: Kalunwokoroidika@yahoo.com
Disclaimer: Opinion articles are solely the responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official standpoint of Oriental Times or any of its editors thereof.
Breakdown Of Igbo Marginalization In Nigeria
By Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
“I sincerely believe that the incessant cries about Igbo marginalization in Nigeria is unfounded”
Mr. Kassim in a well written article (On Feb 17, 2020, at 3:43 PM,) wrote the above. He went to try to prove the impossible, that the Igbo is not marginalized except for the period 1967-1970 (the war period). He cited examples: The Igbo are doing just as well as other ethnic groups; The Igbo are found in almost every village, town and city outside of the SE where they ply their trades; work in all professions for which they are qualified, live and raise their children; have been in every government since the war; have a small percentage of their mega rich, the ordinarily rich and the comfortable ones among them who breathe the same air as the ever dwindling and struggling no of the middle class and a mass of poor people; thanks to their hard work, the Igbo own more than 2/3 of the privately owned properties in Abuja; The Igbo also own residential and commercial real estate properties in Lagos, Port Harcourt, and many other major cities in Nigeria; etc.
Mr. Kassim concluded by stating that “Marginalized and oppressed peoples throughout the world are usually not granted free access to live anywhere they want in their countries.”
The examples cited by Mr. Kassim would look like true. When the Igbo cry about marginalization what they actually mean is marginalization by the federal government. Let’s see how:
The SE zone has only 5 states as compared to 6 and 7 states in other zones; has just 15 senators as compared with 18-21 in other zones out of 106 members; has 43 representatives out of 360; has 5 governors out of 36; the lowest number by dollars and by counts of all federal infrastructure development programs including road mileage and bridges; zero police and military colleges and infrastructure; little refineries and electricity grids and pay the highest for electricity; etc.
The federal government borrows money for its development programs but invests the least in SE even though we collectively pay for the loans. 50 years after the war, the war damages have not been repaired despite the fact that billions of dollars were donated by foreign government to repair the damages. The money went to other Nigerian states that had no war damages; some state governments seized Igbo assets and did not release them and did not develop them and they went to blazes. Etc.
These are the reasons for the incessant cries about Igbo marginalization. Nigerians when they sit in a conference like in the House or the Senate agree on the marginalization principles.
But individual Nigerians once out of group welcome the Igbo in their communities. The quick recovery of the Igbo is due to individual efforts of Nigerians. The Yoruba, Hausa/Fulani, Edo, Ijaw, Efik, etc. each as individual made tremendous sacrifices to see the survival of the Igbo. My uncle had a couple of houses in Kafanchan. During the war, the tenants collected the rent from his property and after the war they handed the rents to him. He was instantly rehabilitated and he sent my cousins to America where they now are thriving. The suppliers to Igbo traders refurnished their customers with inventory without demanding credit worthiness or security deposits. My former students came looking for me and one who was in a secondary school in 1970 gave me one pound from his pocket money. The former military governor of Midwestern Nigeria, Col Ogbemudia, gave a grant to University of Nigeria. There were many benevolent acts like these.
But the Military Governor of Rivers State, Diette Spiff, seized Igbo properties in Port Harcourt and disposed them to his cronies. No compensation. And he put a Rivers’ government stamp on the act. Mr. Kassim’s treatise on the Igbo discrimination/marginalization may look good to a casual reader but there was/is structural marginalization embedded in Nigeria governance that calls for incessant marginalization calls. Until we listen to the cries and do something about them, they will be incessant.
Restructuring is possibly the only solution and many other Nigerian ethnic groups seem to be coming around to the idea.
Nigeria putting her head in the sand like the ostrich, and ignoring the reasons for the cries is not the answer.
~ Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba writes from Boston, Massachusetts, United States.