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The African Knee On African Americans

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SKC Ogbonnia

By SKC Ogbonnia

The gruesome murder of George Floyd, an African American, while handcuffed and pinned to the ground by the knee of Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, has provoked deeper implications for the systemic racial injustice in the United States of America.

One of the powerful voices resonating with the racial crisis is the Reverend Al Sharpton. A prominent African American civil rights activist and former presidential candidate, Sharpton used the occasion of Floyd’s funeral to declare that the blacks have not prospered to their potential, because the whites have knelt on the necks of the African Americans for far too long. The admonition is beyond rebuke, no doubt, but there exists another breakneck knee that must not be ignored: The bulky knee of Africa.

Africa’s image has a lasting effect on African Americans. A symbolic nexus came during the current racial crisis when the US Congressional Democrats knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds at the Capitol in Washington DC clad in African Kente stoles, as a solidarity for George Floyd. According to Rep. Karen Bass, Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, “The significance of the Kente cloth is our African heritage.” Yet, beyond the banal image of slavery and beneath the Kente veil is the heritage that a generality of America sees—the very image President Donald Trump bluntly paints as “shithole.”

Trump’s incendiary race-baiting rhetorics have worsened the matter, for sure, but the shithole image had deeply permeated the U.S. systems far before him. The Americans have understandably seen Africans as people who are perpetually thirsty while in midst of water. They see a naturally endowed continent that has remained home to the world’s poorest. They see African leaders who loot their country dry only to stack the money in secret foreign vaults while their citizens at home gnash in penury and despair. These Americans see the poverty of character. They see the poverty of the mind. They assume a lack of mental fortitude. They assume an inferior race. They see little or no regard for human life. They see the African American heritage. They see George Floyd!

The seemingly lack of value for human life by African leaders was evident in the protests that trailed the brutal murder of Floyd. Despite the fact the protests were a global phenomenon, most African heads of government carried on business as usual. But the deafening indifference was not unexpected. The African leaders have a mirror. They recognize that the life of George Floyd is only a pint in the ocean when compared to the lives claimed daily in African cities through police brutality or state terror.

Though the African masses were well involved in the worldwide protests through the media, only few skeletal demonstrations were recorded on the ground. Any serious ground protests would have been crushed by various African dictatorial regimes which, like the American police, have not shown that “black lives matter.”

Yet, the most excruciating part of the African knee remains poverty. This poverty is transposed and exploited to discriminate against the African Americans in the United States—a capitalistic society where every social, economic, and political status is largely influenced by individual or group wealth. Even the U.S. Immigration and Foreign policies overly favour wealthier nations, just as the degree of racism is higher against immigrants from poorer nations. This economic disparity, more than any factor, accounts for why Africa continues to bear the brunt of U.S. immigration policy while the African Americans suffer the worst cases of racial injustice in the United States.

The forgoing view rhymes with a recent UN General Assembly report, which “emphasised that poverty is closely associated with racism and contributes to the persistence of racist attitudes and practices.”

For example, the African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to face racial injustice than their Asian counterparts. The Asian Americans, though a minority group, are commonly extolled as the “model minority”, because of their economic progress both in their native countries and in the United States.

The case of Nigerian Americans is an instructive spectacle. Though the people are the most educated ethnic group in the United States, they have not been accorded the desired social class, plausibly because of their “shithole” image. This nagging African image explains why some native blacks continue to shun the term African Americans. But Africans and blacks worldwide are intertwined for life like Siamese twins.

The solution is a unity of purpose among people of African descent worldwide to demolish the longstanding third class status commonly accorded to the black race. The missing ingredient is socio-economic empowerment. But there are abundant resources, as well as the enabling environment, to accomplish the objective. Africa, on the one hand, has vaulted as the new global economic frontier. The blacks in America and Europe, on the other hand, wield ample political power to hold African leaders accountable through lobbying, especially considering that the only voices African dictators tend to hear are the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom.

The people of African descent must also demonstrate that black lives truly matter in the comity of nations. Besides taming Donald Trump, now is the time to root out the abject racism at the United Nations. The African Union should, for a start, issue an ultimatum to the world governing body to end the mind-boggling exclusion of Africa in the permanent membership of the UN Security Council—an arm of the global watchdog where critical issues of life and death take center stage.

The barbaric murder of George Floyd has triggered the most consequential mass protests in the annals of history, quite alright, but the black race must not fail to capitalize. Though the sweeping reforms to mitigate racial injustice in the United States and Europe are encouraging, any attempt at a lasting solution without major socio-economic revolution within the African race is a castle in the air.

SKC Ogbonnia, a former Nigerian Presidential Aspirant, writes from Houston, Texas, USA.
Twitter: @SKCOgbonnia

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Opinion

‘Nnamdi Kanu Is Most Likely To Restore Biafra This 2020’

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By Ifeanyi Chijioke

“Biafra is going to come this year 2020, it’s an assurance so that you will know that Elohim sent me”

He thundered on his radio Biafra platform; I only imagined it because I have lost interest in listening to the Jubril fairy tales by moonlight. I knew that Nnamdi Kanu would eventually get tired of his Buhari’s death mantra and embrace the business we all came for. Jubril is Buhari has occupied his radio Biafra platform for more than three years now; I must commend his consistency, he wasted a lot of time on peripheral matters or joke.

I could not be happier than I was the day I heard the assurance; I would have given the vow a second thought had he not tagged it with Elohim. I love the challenge he gave to himself; it had become clear he had something to prove. This year is the year we know if Elohim sent him or not, hopefully, he would retire in shame or be worshipped like Jesus if Biafra is restored this year.

Every sane Biafran must support Nnamdi Kanu this very year to restore Biafra; he is coming with a massive plan, if he had no plan, he would not have made it a vow and cast his divine call upon it. if Biafra is not restored this year; then it is a proof of the fact that God did not send Nnamdi Kanu, with that enormous claim, do you think he would fail or his God would fail him? You have to think twice before considering him to be a ‘weed smoker’ by virtue of the vow, Nnamdi Kanu is certain of restoring Biafra this year. All hail Biafra, our savior and supreme leader is worthy of my praise.

One must wait until the year elapses before seeing Nnamdi Kanu as a scam or a man possessed by evil spirit, who talks out of sense and in quarrel with reality. You have to wait until 2021 before underling Nnamdi Kanu as a man with psychopathic problem. You must wait until 2021 before holding him to account for the millions you gave him, but as for now, you should empty your bank accounts for him because Biafra is coming this year.

MASSOB, LNC, BIM-MASSOB, MOBIN, BNC, ZIONIST and all the major groups fighting for the restoration of Biafra must understand the simple logic in leaving everything for Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB. Should Nnamdi Kanu ask anything of these groups, they should kindly give him because the goal of everybody is Biafra and when IPOB vows Biafra will be restored by them this year, I urge compliance with Nnamdi Kanu over any help he might ask.

The journey has been made easier for us; our sorrows have come to an end, morning has come and tears are no more. Intimidation will be no more before 2021 because Nnamdi Kanu would restore Biafra; God has answered our prayers, indeed, Nnamdi Kanu is another savior. He will save the people of Biafra this year, he would end our slavery in Nigeria, he would give our generation a hope of existence in a free state. God has remembered us; IPOB will heal the wounds of 1967 and restore the dignity of the people of Biafra in this very 2020.

Most people said Nnamdi Kanu has penchant for scam; that he trade on false hope, he never said a thing and did it but this 2020, he shall prove our doubters wrong. My mission is to see Biafra restored and when a man has fashioned a plan and vow he would cross the line this year, needless to worry, needless to continue, he needs my support and all my support I today offer with every bit of the strength left in me.

Biafra is all I need; everything I live for is Biafra, the vengeance I ever sought after is Biafra, the life I ever wished to live is Biafra, everything I have found in my life is Biafra and here comes a man that vowed he would restore Biafra in 2020, what can I not offer?

Nnamdi Kanu must not disappoint me; IPOB should not fail this 2020 vow, let this not be like Nigerian politicians promising to make One Naira equal to One Dollar. Let this not be APC strategy that ousted PDP. Let it not be another African style of promoting embezzlement, let it not be a promise a man made to a wayward mistress on his edge. Let this very year be the year we sing songs of praise to Nnamdi Kanu. The savior and supreme leader of the nation of Biafra; please, do not fail this time because we have hope in you.

~ Chijioke, a freelance/investigative Journalist writes from Enugu.

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Opinion

Ndi Ori Na Crisis: Abia State A Case Study (Part 2)

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By Ifeanyi Okali

To say that what happens in our dear state, Abia is not only embarrassing but provocative and shameful is, to say the least. Our people have taken politics to a point where one will begin to raise doubt about their humanity and indeed the vision they have for the entire state.

Like I stated in the first part of this intervention, the line of divisiveness that has been drawn among our people has brought unnecessary hate, suspicion, and bad blood. The popular assumption that Ndigbo does not love themselves is manifestly coming to fore with the politics of bitterness that has beclouded our state. Most people because of their personal gains do not care if the corporate development of Abia is mortgaged in the altar of oblivion.

Again, people who feast where there is crisis, people whose stock in trade is to scavenge for crumbs in an area ravaged by resentment and animosity will stop at nothing to ensure the love that exists among our people permanently takes a flight. They go about stoking the embers of malice, acrimony, and ill will. They want Ndi Ngwa to hate Ndi Ohuhu. They want to pitch Ndi Ukwa against Ndi Abiriba, all these targeted at filling their pocket to the detriment of our unity, love, and oneness.

They want to feed their principals with carefully concocted lies to further bring about separation among our people. They tell their principals who love or hate them. They tell their principals who want to end their political career and who wishes them good. They tell their principals who is loyal to them or not, all fabricated from the figment of their imaginations in a desperate effort to prove to their masters that they are working hard. How can a state like ours develop under such an atmosphere of abhorrence and loathing?

Again, politically exposed individuals must begin to pay due attention to the caliber of persons they entrust with the running of their activities as aides and special advisers. Some so-called advisers and assistants are brewed from the altar of Lucifer. They have nothing to offer to their principals that will add value to the development of our people. They dominate the media spaces, throwing jibes and spiting perceived political enemies, bringing about lack of love among our people. One would ordinarily imagine that our uniformity in culture, language and many other indices that show we are one would have been an advantage that will form the bastion of our unity and peaceful co-existence. Alas, this is not the case. We have seen states with multiplicity of language, culture, and sometimes religion but their unity and love for one another is iron cast. Why has Abia become a good example of many things negative?

Sycophancy of aides and sometimes wannabes is doing a great deal of disservice to our state. They engage in unhealthy and baseless comparisons between the administration on board and the ones that have gone for over a decade. They want to discredit and undermine efforts others have put in place in serving the state. They deploy the energy they ought to commit to leaving their footprints on the sands of time to fighting imaginary enemies. They want to be noticed even to the detriment of those they have taken an oath to serve.

The recent furor being generated by the visit of Abia Speaker, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji to a former governor and the Senate Chief Whip, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu is just one among the many unhealthy debates that put spanner of the wheel of our development. Some never-do-goods and political lackeys who want their voices heard cashed into that to overheat the polity just to smile to the bank. They are in frantic search for a proof of loyalty to their paymasters even if such proofs impede on common sense. These further contribute to why their principals cannot concentrate and perform their official assignments. Like vultures, where there is filth, there is ‘food for the boys’. Where there is no filth, they create one just to build a wall of defence around their stomach infrastructure. They are oblivious of how inimical their activities are to the state and country.

Our dear state is dotted with many indicators of backwardness and underdevelopment. The unemployment level has further been complicated by the outbreak of COVID-19. There are families who cannot conveniently afford decent meals on the account of heavy blow from economic hardship. All these are areas attention should be paid and not engage in contestation to prove they are loyal servants. Ndi Ori Na Crisis must begin to give thoughts on how to meaningfully contribute to the growth of the state.

We must all bear in mind that posterity will judge us by the impact we make when we had/have the opportunity of serving the people and not how many people we attacked and tore apart with hurtful words. For a people that are being held by the jugular by underdevelopment to dissipate time and energy to fight political enemies both real and imaginary only tell the world what their preferences are. Who will engage in chasing rats while the building is on fire?

Ndi Ori Na Crisis should begin to retrace their footsteps and give thoughts on how our state can get better and join the league of states on rapid move. Carelessly thought and unreasonable utterances is not what we need now. We need an Abia where unity, peace, and love reign. We need an Abia where no one is considered superior or more important than the other, an Abia where everyone is an integral part of its developmental agenda and an Abia where palpable suspicion against one another will be permanently banished to abyss.

To be continued….

~ Okali writes from Ebem Ohafia

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Opinion

Pollution; Lagos State Govt And The Snow-Like Foamy Substance

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Photo credit: CREMA/SEJA

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

Among other efforts in the past to create a liveable world that both protect the rights and opportunities of coming generations and contributes to compatible approaches on environment, world leaders on Friday 5th June 2020, during the World Environment Day celebration co-hosted by Colombia and Germany and streamed live online from Bogotá, agreed to create a liveable world through the promotion of actions that combat the accelerating species loss and degradation of the natural world.

Essentially, they called “on all governments around the world to retain our precious intact ecosystems and wilderness, to preserve and effectively manage at least 30% of our planet’s lands and oceans by 2030, and to restore and conserve biodiversity, as a crucial step to help prevent future pandemics and public health emergencies, and lay the foundations for a sustainable, global economy.

Admittedly, their resolve has a great message of hope for our environment. However, about the same time, it invites some maze of high voltage confusion. For such call to make meaning here in Nigeria, there are several leadership, environmental, technological and political obstacles that we collectively, as a nation, will have to determine how to overcome.

Specifically, the shoddy management by Lagos state government of the Video clip case entitled: Snow-like Chemical Surge Causes Panic in Lagos, shared on July 8 by Sahara Reporters which went viral on social media showing snow-like foam that purportedly prevented Lagosians from accessing their homes is one event in recent days that probably did more than anything else to convince Nigerians with critical interest that formulating a sound strategy is more basic to a nation than designing control systems; that a nation based on a good strategy can survive confusion and poor leadership, but sophisticated control systems and organisational structures cannot compensate for an unsound strategy.

Adding context to the discourse, the video footage going by fact check conducted by a media organization, revealed that there were two separate videos merged as one. The first part of the footage showed the snow-like foamy substance truly blocking the entrance to people’s homes with background female voices calling for help in panic. The second part of the video the report revealed was a typical snow-like foam covering the major highway.

Expectedly, before the dust raised by the out of event ordered could settle, Gbenga Omotoso, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, clarified the viral footage, saying that the incident was an outcome of a chemical reaction resulting from actions that were deliberately undertaken to avert a fire incident. While adding that a truck approaching from the Lagos Sea Port fell due to an accident along the Anthony Village axis of Ikorodu Road, he explained that the truck was conveying an inflammable material, so the Lagos State Fire Service was deployed to intervene. The firefighters reportedly sprayed the AFFF on the spilled content to avoid fire incident.

But before you analyze the above effort and get the impression that this was created and developed by proactive leadership and marvel at the quality of their decision, wait till you cast a glance at the next paragraph as the content not only has a distinction to make but says something else.

From what safety and environmental experts are saying, the snow-like material is often used by firefighters to suppress fire incidents. It is mainly recognised as Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) solutions which could also cause health hazards if wrongly managed. ‘The United States Fire Administration, an institution of government that works to prevent fire outbreaks says AFFF could be a combination of per and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) – the Perfluorooctane Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid (PFOS) but warned against long term exposure to the chemicals’.

These were part of the issues raised by two environmental rights and justice advocate groups; the Centre for Research in Environmental Resource Management (CREMA), and the Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), during a fact finding mission to the site. They were unhappy about potential effects of long term exposure to the chemicals which were still visibly flowing along Ikorodu Road towards Harbour Works/Maryland Bus-stop well over 24 hours after the accident. The present fears expressed by the finders which cannot be described as unfounded is not only based on the health hazard of the chemical. It also grows from several serious problems such as the dramatic and fundamental gaps in the way/manner the state government communicated the situation. Infact, the greatest challenge is to understand the problems for what they are.

The underlying argument is this; if the truck was conveying inflammable material as claimed by Mr. Commissioner, what are the name and the grade of such inflammable? Were the inflammables in bags or were they liquids in barrels? What precisely are the chemical constituents of the inflammable material that was discharged?

These are relevant questions because a large proportion of Lagos residents rely on water supplies from wells and boreholes that obtain water from shallow aquifers that are vulnerable and susceptible to pollution. That is to say some of this material could end up in people’s wells through infiltration. Also ringing apprehension is the inability of the state government agencies to remove the containers after well over 24 hours of the said accident and left in such a way that could lead to further accident. Could such action be characterized as an attribute of a responsive and responsible government?

Furthermore, the official statement is devoid of follow up procedures for clean up and associated investigations. Finally, storage and the transportation of hazardous material is statute controlled at federal and state level. Indeed, because Ikorodu Road is a federal Highway, there are specific federal regulations and guidance for permitting the transportation of hazardous material on public roads. In this regard, the Harmful Waste Special Criminal Provisions Act of 1988 comes to mind. Perhaps, Lagos State also has such regulations and guidance?

While this piece leave these questions for the state to ponder, it must be underlined also that even if answer(s) is/are provided to the above questions, it will however, not in any appreciable way erase the belief among vast majority of Lagosians that the Anthony Village accident remains an incident that its pain is deepened by the fact that it was avoidable.

This situation becomes even more painful when one remembers that the list of actions not taken by this administration to confront environmental challenges in the state which has made Lagosians face actual and potential difficulties remains lengthy and worrisome.

In facts, few days ago, there was a newspaper report that Lagos residents, motorists as well as commuters have continued to lament and groan under deplorable conditions of (the ?) environment particularly roads across the metropolis. The report submitted that there is hardly any stretch of road across the commercial nerve centre of the nation that is totally free of potholes, including sections of the ever busy Apapa-Oshodi Express-way. Ikorodu Road, Funsho Williams Avenue and those in parts of Ikoyi, Lekki and Victoria Island.

And unfortunately, this accident that is threatening the environment with pollution occurred along one of these aforementioned roads.

The major point here is that the significant stride in environmental, roads other infrastructural development made by previous administrations in the state appears to have lost momentum. Hue and cry of bad experiences by regular road users appear to be the order of the day.

Without going into specifics, concepts, provisions and definitions, I hold the opinion that for the state to move forward in the area of environmental protection, government must do something to help address pollution and other environmental challenges particularly because of its industrial nature.

To achieve this goal of environmental protection, strengthening environmental laws to make them both efficient, effective and enforceable is a major area of ‘interest’ to watch and this may require collaboration with communities, civil society and the Federal Government.

Indeed, Lagos state and the Federal Government must find solution not merely for political consideration but because there is a call for all to adjust in psychological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects or impacts. While we wait, Lagosians will appreciate a more detailed explanation to what happened at Anthony axis of Lagos state recently.

~ Utomi is a Lagos-Based media Consultant

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