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Opinion

October 1: A Day Of Lamentation

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By Tochukwu Ezukanma

As usual, on October 1, 2019, Nigeria held her annual ritual: the commemoration of Nigerian independence.

The day that was celebrated fifty nine years after is October 1, 1960. On that historic day, the Nigerian Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Belewa, concluded his speech with, “I open a new chapter in the history of Nigeria and of the Commonwealth, and indeed, of the world”. Understandably, Nigerians were overjoyed by the new chapter in human history that the prime minister opened on that momentous day. They were proud of their nascent country. They were hopeful and optimistic because with her enormous mineral and agricultural resources, and the most educated work force in sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria was potentially “Africa’s superpower and a stabilizing democratic influence in the region”.

Lamentably, fifty nine years later, our pride in Nigeria has been battered, our hopes dashed and our optimism sullied.

The entire spectrum of the Nigerian society is troubled; every institution is dysfunctional. There is hunger and disease, violence and bloodletting, lawlessness and strife, in the land. The political class is contemptuously indifferent to the plight of the Nigerian masses. Thus, social injustice and inequity thrive; and the economic gulf between the elite and the masses deepens and widens. The level of corruption is terrifying, and threatens to unravel the social fabric of the country. Not surprisingly, despite its historic significant, the independence anniversary lost its luster to many ordinary Nigerians. They find little or nothing worthy of celebration in an oil-rich country, where the generality of the masses are consigned to ignorance, poverty, joblessness and hopelessness.

On the other hand, in their total disconnect from the people they supposedly represent and serve, the power elite were, on that day, in a celebratory mood. Attired in meticulously spruced-up agbadas and sheltered in the VIP dais, they gleefully relished the pomp and spectacle of the occasion. After the event, the Senate President, rhapsodically, declared to the press, “Nigeria at 59 has achieved a lot”. What achievement was he talking about? It must be this false sense of achievement that informed that baffling and disgusting triumphalism that marked the event. And to the press, the Secretary to the Government preached a disingenuous sermon, “The change must begin with each and every one of us. …we must begin to change our attitude, our ways of doing things, become lawful citizen….” His sermon was self-serving sophistry because any realistic moral and ethical change must start from the top and filter down to the bottom. The change he demands must start with the power elite, not the masses.

The Nigerian rulers should change; they must stop behaving like colonial masters or Apartheid elites, totally estranged from the plight and yearnings of the people. They must change the present unconscionable system that relegates Nigerian workers to vegetate on the lowest minimum wages, and makes our legislators the highest paid legislators, in the world. State governors must stop embezzling between five hundred million naira (N500m) and one billion naira (N1, 000m) each, every month, as “security vote”, in a country where 70% of the population live in poverty, and some state government employees labor for months without being paid their salaries.

Nigerians are nostalgic for the 1960s and 1970s, when corruption was an aberration, and our leaders were relatively accountable to the people. Despite the enormous powers of their offices, the likes of the prime minister, Tafawa Belewa, and premier, Michael Okpara, remained relatively impecunious because they were not corrupt. Then, the notoriously, incorrigibly corrupt were accused of misappropriating ten percent of the cost of government projects. “NEPA” “did not take light”. Electricity supply was virtually uninterrupted all year round. Street lights functioned, almost faultlessly. They automatically came up at 6pm and went off at 6am. It was when Nigerians respected the sanctity of human life; and the levels of crime and violence were extremely low. In the days preceding the civil war, the police were not armed with guns; they could maintain law and order with just batons.

Across board, academic standards were very high in Nigerian schools. Admission to the universities was on merit, not through bribe and connections. The lecturers were content with the impecuniosity of their prestigious and venerated profession. Thus, they did not sell hand-outs, sort out, trade good grades for money and sex. Nigerian universities met global standards, and the University of Ibadan, especially, its medical school was world renowned.

Nigerians were not as selfish and insatiable; expectations were modest and reasonable. Money was expected to be earned based on individual abilities and resourcefulness. Illegitimate wealth and unexplainable riches were despised and excoriated.

Unfortunately, over the years, everything changed dramatically for the worse; and at 59 years old, Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries of the world. Even, ordinarily, strongholds of morality and integrity, like the judiciary, academia and the church are corrupt in Nigeria. Those in power are not accountable to the people, and have no qualms in stealing everything within reach; they steal public funds with the ruthlessness that will flabbergast, even, the most vicious armed robbers.

Electric supply collapsed and darkness holds sway over the country. We lost our sense of outrage, and Nigeria degenerated to a bastion of moral squalor honeycombed with bandits, kidnappers, killer herdsmen, armed robbers, con artists, ritual killers, etc. An exhaustive catalog of the woes of Nigeria is beyond the scope of this article. The point however is that without being figurative or hyperbolic, Nigeria is totally “jaga jaga” and everything about her, totally “skata skata”. Therefore, October 1, 2019 should not have been a day of celebration, but lamentation.

We should have lamented the unfulfilled potentials of Nigeria and the indescribable rot and wretchedness that engulfed our beloved country.

A onetime American Secretary of State, Mrs. Hilary Clinton, once summed it up, “They (the Nigerian ruling elite) have squandered their oil wealth, they have allowed corruption to fester and now they are losing control of parts of their territory because they won’t make hard choices”.

It is the refusal to make hard choices by a series of irresponsible and corrupt governments that explains our seemingly intractable multi-facet problems. With the much-hyped selflessness, incorruptibility and gutsiness of Mohammadu Buhari, Nigerians justifiably expected his presidency to be a watershed: a break from the past.

This did not happen because he refused to make hard choices. He cannot make hard choices because President Buhari and his entourage, and the shady and self-seeking cabal that pulls the oligarchic strings from behind the façade of democracy are benefiting from the anarchy and corruption that suffuse the land.

Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria.

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Opinion

‘Wike Vindicates Buharists’

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By Femi Adesina

It came like a bolt out of the blue early this week, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, issued an advertisement, which went in a completely different direction compared to what he had always said of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Wike we knew was either usually crying wolf where there was none, alleging that the Federal Government wanted to kill him, or claiming that he was not answerable to the central government at Abuja in any way, or even pontificating that the President and his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), had failed the country in diverse ways.
If not for the maturity, and the avuncular attitude of President Buhari to all state governors, it would have been easy for one to conclude that he and Wike were enemies. Forsworn ones.

There was also the then Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, who had formed a tag team with Wike in the anti-Buhari tendency. The President could have dealt with them in many ways, either overtly or covertly, but he let them be. He was a father ready to tolerate his many children, irrespective of their differing idiosyncrasies, propensities and predilections.

A couple of weeks back, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), of which President Buhari is the Chairman, had approved the refund of N148 billion to five states in the country for repair of Federal roads. They included Rivers, Cross River, Bayelsa, Ondo and Osun.

Of the five states, only Ondo and Osun belong to the APC. The other three are of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Rivers, under Wike, was particularly combative, truculent, if not at times insulting. But the President did not let that influence his decision. He did what was right, fair and just, irrespective of party affiliations, or personal inclinations.

Rivers State got the highest figure of N78.9 billion, and I remember some people asking me why the President should give such money to a governor who would call him names the next day. But that was where Wike surprised everybody. Last Monday, he issued newspaper advertisements with the title, ‘Thank You Our Dear President.’

Dear President. False? True. Was it the Printer’s Devil? Not so. The Governor boldly appended his signature to the document.

He thanked the President for approving the refund, noting: “Mr President has by this remarkable and heart-warming gesture shown not only your love for the Government and people of Rivers State, but also, demonstrated expressly that you are, indeed, a President for every State of the Federation and all Nigerians.”

False? True. Printer’s Devil? Not so. The Governor went on:
“I assure you that the Rivers State Government is willing and ever ready to cooperate and partner with the Federal Government to advance the developmental aspirations of Rivers State in particular, and our nation in general.”

On seeing the above, I am sure millions of people must have cleaned their eyes, wondering if they were reading correctly. Having satisfied themselves that there were no cataracts, they went ahead:

“I wish to, therefore, appeal to Mr President to kindly oblige us a State visit when invited, to see what we have accomplished for the State and our people with the money.”

Wike, inviting President Buhari on a State visit. False? True. Printer’s Devil? Not so. He meant every word of it, and therefore appended his signature.

Many times, I had responded as spokesman to the President, to wolf cries by the Rivers State Governor. At a point, I began to ignore such cries, just as I did to Fayose before him. Mr President simply took all the wild allegations in his strides, and continued working for the country, all parts of the country.

In January 2018, there had been vicious killings in some parts of the country. States affected were; Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Yobe, Rivers and Zamfara. The President decided to embark on sympathy and solidarity visits to the states. All the Governors were receptive, except Wike, who said the visit was a smokescreen, meant to revive the dying APC in Rivers State.

“Apart from Jesus Christ, we don’t know of anyone who has risen a dead thing. APC is a dead party in Rivers State. No matter how you fast and pray, it will never wake up, “ he had said.

Again, he declared at another time, talking of the President: “We are the only state that the Federal Government refused to pay us our money used to execute Federal projects, because I don’t go to see him in the night, and I won’t go. He is not my friend, he is not doing well…”

When about 20 people were killed on New Year Day 2018, in Omoku area of the state, and the President wanted to visit, Wike demurred. He said there were killings everyday all over the country, and it meant the President must visit every State on a daily basis.

The circle has turned fully round, and Governor Wike is inviting the President to visit. He says he’s “a President for every State of the Federation and all Nigerians.” Wonderful!

Some people say it is N78.9 billion that is working, and the Governor is clearly inebriated by that windfall. But I don’t think so. Rivers is by no means a poor state. The amount is handsome, no doubt, but the state is oil rich, and can hold her own when it comes to finances. I rather choose to believe that Governor Wike had been playing a curious kind of politics all along, and now, fairness and justice have touched him in a positive way.

“He is not my friend, he is not doing well, ‘ he had said. Now, he is calling the man “our dear President “ asking him to be “assured of our profound esteem.” Wonders, indeed, shall never end.

There are millions upon millions of us round the country, who love President Buhari, and believe in him. We are called Buharists, and we have no apologies. They abuse us, deride and malign us, at times, they even threaten us. But we remain who and what we are: Buharists. Come rain or shine.

Why do we love the President, and unconditionally too. Is he a flawless, perfect man? Does he run a perfect, flawless government? Not exactly so, and I’ve not seen any in this world. But we stand by him, through thick and thin. Like Dr Okolo Oteri Eme, one of the Buhari Amazons posted on Facebook earlier this week, “We do not support him because we like him but because he gives us solid, verifiable reasons to love him on a daily basis.”

I see a man with solid integrity, honesty, sense of accountability, in a forest of crooked, perverse people, and you ask me not to follow him? I will follow him from Benin to Beijing, from Cape to Cairo, anywhere, everywhere.

I see a man bringing enduring change to agriculture, to infrastructure; roads, rail, bridges, airports, laying a $2.8 billion gas pipeline, money he could have craftily diverted for himself and for generations unborn, and you ask me not to believe in him? #We Believe! Ask Maryam Shetty, another Buhari Amazon.

I am glad Governor Wike has now seen what we had seen long ago, some of us as far back as 1983. And he has realized that it was time to stop the kind of politics he had played all the while.

My friend, Lorenz Mba, summed it all up in a message he sent to me on Wednesday. “For those who constantly maligned PMB, and called him all sorts of unprintable names, N78.9 billion is your answer. You simply won’t give those you hate N78.9 billion. I see that this gesture has truly humbled Nyesom Wike. Politics is all about propaganda. I salute PMB for his show of maturity in all these grandstanding by Southeast and South-south politicians. Go to Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Onitsha-Enugu, 2nd Niger Bridge today. Talk was cheap. PMB showed up. Enough of rhetoric, Biko.”

We said it that President Buhari hates no part of the country. He has come to serve, and not to be served. He is fair and equitable to all. But they said our mouths were smelling, and we should shut up. Governor Wike has now vindicated us. We are glad. We Believe!

  • Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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Opinion

‘Biafra Cannot Come Through Insults, Assaults And Shenanigans’

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By Dr Law Mefor

An Igbo adage states: why a deity starts giving much trouble, it will be shown the wood from which was carved. There are lines that are never crossed in culture and tradition, and in national life. Such red lines keep the society going and coherent. And the Igbo society is a highly organized one and imbued in deep and rich culture and tradition, of which most if not all IPOB members are part of, including their factional leader, Nnamdi Kanu. Igbo culture holds murder and its intents as the highest crime against the society and humanity.

The most recent attack is Kanu’s order to his supporters to stone Nnia Nwodo to death anywhere he is found anywhere in the world. His words: “Anywhere you see him outside, stone him to death.” Kanu further called on God to “destroy Ohanaeze”. Turning round to blame Nnia Nwodo for herdsmen atrocities in the South East or Operation Python Dance is just a case of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it and psychologically, a misplaced aggression and priority. .

Nnamdi Kanu has been attacking Ohanaeze Ndigbo for not accepting ‘Biafra now’ of the faction of IPOB which he leads. The generality of Ndigbo since resolved that it is in their best interest to push for a restructured Nigeria, since self-determination is possible within a fully restructured Nigeria as obtained in the country prior to 1966 and the civil war. The position of Ndigbo is contained in the Awka declaration of 2018.

When Nnamdi Kanu was released from Kuje prison through the intervention of some Igbo leaders he now insults and assaults (Senator Ike Ekweremadu who organized the men who stood sureties for Kanu’s bail was his first victim in Nuremberg Germany), efforts were made to reconcile him with many of them including Chief Nnia Nwodo, Ben Nwabueze, Eze Ozobu, Dozie Ikedife and many others (some original founders of IPOB), many of who he similarly pronounced death on their heads in Radio Biafra. He held meetings with many of them where fresh understanding was reached and a new leaf supposedly turned.

The second meeting between Nnamdi Kanu and Ohanaeze and its President General Nnia Nwodo was again agreed to and a date set for it. There was a disagreement over the venue. While Nnia Nwodo legitimately wanted the second meeting to be held in his house or at the Ohanaeze Secretariat, which Kanu acceded to initially, he (Kanu) later insisted that the meeting should be held anywhere but in Chief Nwodo’s house.

This was the same time his meeting with South East Governors took place. A second meeting was scheduled between him and the Governors but operation Python Dance II was preemptively launched by the Nigerian Army days before, which presumably drove Nnamdi Kanu underground and out of the country. He resurfaced in Jerusalem Israel one year after where he was seen praying by the Wailing Wall, the remnant of the Jewish Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE during the Siege of Jerusalem.

Since then, Kanu has held tenaciously to the position that Nnia Nwodo and the South East Governors invited Operation Python Dance II. He blamed everybody else but himself since he failed to see that apart from violating all his bail conditions, he rattled the nation’s security system, especially the military, by launching the so-called Biafra Security Service (BSS).

Hundreds of IPOB youths were seen in parades fully ornamented in black uniforms and red berets, proclaiming the birth of BSS and Nnamdi Kanu as the Commander in chief. This could be interpreted as a precursor to armed struggle, which Nnamdi Kanu assured Igbo leaders that IPOB will never engage in. Operation Python II came in the wake of the launching of Biafra Security Service, justified or nor, it was a military intervention to nip in the bud a paramilitary preponderance which Nnamdi Kanu himself brought about. In other words, Operation Python Dance was ostensibly invited by Kanu and IPOB paramilitary actions, which were suggesting they were ready for an armed struggle whereas they were not.

Turning round to blame Nnia Nwodo for Operation Python Dance is just a case of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it and psychologically, a misplaced aggression and priority. As a matter of fact, Ohanaeze actually condemned Operation Python Dance II and demanded that the military be withdrawn from Igbo land, which the media widely carried.

Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB may be saying the right thing but certainly the wrong way. Leaving him and IPOB to continue as loose cannons would mean acquiescing to their rants and narration as Igbo position. He and IPOB have misrepresented the Igbos grossly since he resurfaced in Israel.

Come to think of it, is Ohanaeze and its President General really in a position to stop the atrocities of the Fulani herdsmen in the East? Ohanaeze is not a security organization but a pan Igbo NGO saddled with advocacy for the betterment of the Igbo people in Nigeria. The most Ohanaeze can do is to push for better security in the South East and in Nigeria in general.

Advocacy is therefore the stock-in-trade of Ohanaeze and similar ethnic-based organisations and the Ohanaeze PG has done his best in the circumstance in which we live today. Those holding the constitutional powers and resources to do anything about the Fulani herdsmen atrocities in Igbo land are the governors who are the Chief Security Officers of their respective States. Yet, not a mention was made by Kanu about the governors’ inaction over insecurity in the zone but would pronounce a death sentence on the only voice left in the zone if we leave Enyinnaya Abaribe and one or two others out for a moment.

Nnia Nwodo cannot do more than advocate for Igbo cause and that he has done excellently well. He cannot arm Igbo youths to chase herdsmen out of Igbo land. Only Vigilante Operations authorised by governors can happen in Igbo land and Nnia Nwodo is pushing for that too, resulting in the Community Policing that would be under the South East governors and Local Government Chairmen.

So, the reason for Kanu’s constant attack on Nnia Nwodo is not checking the Fulani herdsmen atrocities or so much for insecurity in the South East but part of the IPOB broad plans to destroy Ohanaeze as the umbrella body for Ndigbo. That’s the role Nnamdi Kanu desires and covets for IPOB.

Question is: can what Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB are doing be really who the Igbos are, what they represent and what they want? Far from it! IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu are now more of the problem than the solution to the Igbo man’s problem in Nigeria and the world for derailing from their original cause, pitching Ndigbo against their neighbours – South South, Yorubas and the entire country. They are also attacking Christianity, the religion of over ninety percent Igbos, destroying everything Ndigbo hold dear and stand for.

Biafra cannot come through insults, assaults and shenanigans. Biafra and the rights of Ndigbo in Nigeria will come through strategic engagements with the rest of the country and world not by alienating them.

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Opinion

Op-Ed: IPOB And Nnamdi Kanu Cannot Restore Biafra

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By Kalu Nwokoro Idika

Confrontational journalism is seemingly becoming a thing of the past in Africa because individuals who are bereft of moral conscience have hijacked and taken the centre stage of the profession. But this is not to say that there are no more good men in the journalistic circle who no matter the circumstance can’t exchange justice and truth for a grain of beans. Journalists in every society are meant to shoulder the burden of informing the masses and also shielding them from predatory lies that could distort and harm their mental sanity. Moreover, this goal of keeping the masses informed must be done with objectivity. That is the signature of true journalism.

When pen warriors begins to write for the sake of mundane praises and stomach infrastructure the entire society will be at lost. That is to say, the vigour to write the truth will somewhat become a scarce commodity. Therefore, as a servant of the people, I am not under any form of obligation to pamper deceitful lies just to be seen as a good writer. I owe the people the duty to exhume and expose every destructive mendacity that could possibly undermine their economic and political wellbeing.

Since Nnamdi Kanu and his cohorts usurped and took over the business of Biafra agitation through his franchise radio, a lot of irreparable damage have been done to the South East region. Though, some of his abusive foot soldiers who do not have the foresight might attempt to dispute this statement. The arrogant leader of IPOB has indeed achieved his mission of causing confusion here and there. The little respect and tranquillity we had has been completely eroded through his abusive and unintelligent sermon on his catastrophic radio.

Unequivocally, I’m an ardent believer of Biafra restoration but Kanu’s brand of agitation is on the opposite. Nnamdi Kanu cannot restore Biafra because of his unsavoury disposition. Radio Biafra London which he uses as a weapon of mass destruction has ended up brainwashing and disfiguring the brain of the young youths and some misguided adults. It has become increasingly difficult for some of our youths to engage in any meaningful debate without throwing abuses. Individuals with contrary perspectives are either seen as vagabonds fathered by Hausa/Fulani or a paid agent of Nigeria all because their opinions are in sharp contrast with the one of the demagogue panting profusely on radio Biafra London.

Nnamdi Kanu Biafra will be worst than Nigeria. This might sound so puzzling but is the truth. Even in his utopia Biafra, Buhari will be a lesser dictator when compared with what Kanu will automatically metamorphosed to. A man that do not condone varying views but only sees everything that he says as sacrosanct. No wonder Edward Dalberg-Action said “absolute power corrupt absolutely”. IPOB leader who is an emotional manipulator never knew that he could gain such an overwhelming support from our people. Instead of using this goodwill to heal old wounds and unite the Igbo race, he turned it into a means of settling personal scores with his perceived enemies.

History has shown that arrogance and pride destroyed and reduced a lot of leaders during their reign to a trash. Nnamdi Kanu the arrogant leader of lPOB is already on this path. A freedom fighter that lacks respect for the elders. Kanu must desist from his irresponsible attitude of issuing threats to our fathers. Only a bad child can exhibit his kind of behaviour. You hide under your business radio to threaten and disband organisations you did not form. Stop arrogating positions and titles to yourself. The Igbo people are known to be acephalous in nature. So I wonder where you are drawing your leadership rascality from. Enough of your insensitivity! Our fathers must be accorded the respect they deserve and whenever they err, corrections should be done with utmost diligence and love and not by abusing, threatening fire and brimstone.

The restoration of Biafra will be a complex mirage under IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu. No road map! No sincerity! No vision! Antagonism and elimination of opponents have always defined the movement. For the past 7 years, there is nothing to show as a result. Innocent Biafrans have been killed, maimed and jailed while a deluded leader stick on his microphone to bark day and night over an utopia nation. The Biafra nation which we graciously hope for will be restored in truth and honesty but only God will make it possible and not man.

However, Nnamdi Kanu and his co travellers shouldn’t think Umu Igbo are sleeping. Biafrans are taking records of everything. Judgement day is fast approaching. I know that this commentary will infuriate the proprietors of the movement. And in their usual manner, the plan for my assassination will be presented on their table. I am aware that there is a list which contains the names of the people who are to be assassinated because they disagree with IPOB. Let this madness continue while we watch.

Be it as it may, any son of the soil that will be used to kill his own blood just because the person disagrees with their line of philosophy, such individual is bound for destruction. It’s better for the person not to contemplate it much less of doing it. Everyone must apply caution. This was how Bokoharam started and escalated to the present monster we see today. Biafrans are not known to be sheepish and stupid. We are trained to look before we leap. I will advise every young Biafran not to be a willing tool in the hands of power mongers.

Conclusively, Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB can’t restore Biafra. Our hope should be anchored on God because He alone shall wipe our tears, heal our wounds and restore the nation where we all shall have equal opportunity and happiness.

~ Idika is a political analyst, investigative and freelance journalist. He can be reached via e-mail: kalunwokoroidika@yahoo.com

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