There has been an influx of refugees and migrants across the Old World to western Europe partly from crisis-ridden regions of the Dark Continent. The ongoing crisis from war-torn Syria compounded the problem as Europe unavoidably has to open its doors to fleeing Syrians from the bloodshed that has engulfed the embattled country under President Assad. While the influx of refugees into Europe continues, concern is being expressed by many that Muslims refugees from Syria are a threat to Europe's Christian heritage, a position which is hotly contested by other dissenting voices on the continent.
Migrants from Africa are none other than the ones driven away from their homelands by bad governance. The exodus is still ongoing; they only seek to make it to Europe from sub-Saharan Africa across the fiery Sahara desert to the coast of north Africa before embarking on a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. The overcrowded rickety boats on which they make the sea journey are often sub-standard and, therefore, incapable of withstanding the strong sea currents. Many lives have perished at sea and as of December 2014 over 3,419 migrants, this writer reliably gathered, did not make it to the shore according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) official records.
In Syria, the country has been fighting a civil war at a great human cost that has almost brought the country to its knees. The death toll in Syria after over 3 years, reports say, have risen to well over 210,060 with many more lives on the line thus forcing the Syrians to flee in droves. Europe has never witnessed such influx of migrants like she has seen for the past 3 calendar months thus compelling member states to voice their concern on how to cope with the refugees who have been forced out of their homelands. More worrisome is the suggestion of a quota system of relocation which appears an open invitation to thousands of economic migrants. This might spell out a great danger in the long run.
In a recent summit that was held in the EU diplomatic capital of Brussels, it was agreed that Special Reception Centres be set up for Migrants in Italy and Greece before the end of November this doubtless is an open invitation to million refugees on European shores in the years to come. This, however, is a gesture of goodwill by the continent's leaders. Be that as it may, the pros and cons of this ''magnanimity'' agitate the mind of this writer.
In the UNHCR General Provisions, Article 1 subsection 2 says a person who is in the danger of losing his life could seek protection outside the country of his nationality
'' As a result of events occurring before 1 January 1951 and owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or , owing to to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it''
Hence, the conditions for which refugees fleeing Syria appear in harmony with the contents of this clause. There is nothing wrong with extending hospitality to these displaced persons who have been forcibly ejected from their homeland resulting from the grave danger of losing their lives. Conversely, ISIS jihadists reportedly threatened to release a huge wave of migrants to cause chaos in Italy and the rest of Europe via hiding among refugees. Only a forth night ago ISIS jihadists from Syria raised and hoisted their flag in Germany to the consternation of everyone thereby bringing their reign of terror over our heads like the ancient sword of Damocles. One of the ISIS jihadists on the Mediterranean shores in Libya was reported to have pointed at the centre of Europe and declared ''by the grace of Allah we will conquer Rome'' This is very disheartening! It is a thousand pities such outlandish remark and threat could be breathed out against a country which has by words and deeds shown a rare display of magnanimity; in fact whose shores has been invaded by migrants from the coast of north Africa and war-torn Syria.
However grapevine sources say not one of these refugees from Syria has been allowed into any of the Arab gulf states. Thus where is their feeling of brotherhood and friendship? Or is it that the gulf states are too poor to be turned to? Frankly, I do not think so. Not one of these refugees has been allowed to seek refuge in the oil-rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but we see and hear the ISIS jihadists threatening to unleash terror on countries in Western Europe that have decided to accept refugees from this embattled region.
This is a problem that could be resolved. For starters, the war in Syria must be put a stop to forthwith. Inaction will only enhance the ongoing catastrophe in that country and these could spell more dangers to Europe considering the ISIS connection in the movement of migrants from that region and the coast of north Africa. A peaceful and stable Syria will halt the movement of refugees and put the activities of ISIS who hide among them in check.
Rogue states that back the Assad regime should be sanctioned and the UN must ensure that such sanctions are fully complied with and implemented by member states. This brings into focus the tacit support being given to Assad by the arrogant regime in Moscow under President Putin. The world must not be held to ransom by the diabolic whims and caprices of the Kremlin which has been arming the notorious Assad regime.
There were two major national problems our military rulers managed poorly. First was the enormous wealth that came our way in the oil boom of the early 70s. One martial ruler said his headache wasn’t money: It was how to spend it. Whereupon the country under him took upon itself the Father Christmas role. We gave and gave to African countries that were not as oily endowed as we were. When we could no longer locate the needy in Africa we turned to shores outside the continent.
There was that distant Caribbean island. One of the reports on the matter said we paid the salaries of that country’s civil servants when the government couldn’t oblige their servants. Was it a loan? Was the money paid back with interest? Or we gave it to them not hoping it will be returned?
After that era, another military leader came into the scene. He also enjoyed economic prosperity, engendered by the then Persian Gulf War that made Nigeria’s crude oil much sought after. His own problem was that despite applying all the political and economic strategies that big money could afford, a socio-politically ailing Nigeria failed to stabilise. And so he threw up his arms in despair and said the country had defied every solution in the books. Many astute observers wondered what became of the wise counsel of the galactic cabinet of his junta.
Now in our day, in the period that would soon pass as the post-oil age, there is another challenge: what do we do without oil wealth? Can we manage the country and its teeming population with depleting wealth from crude? Is it possible to run this huge economy without the black gold?
Those who have a keen sense of history, those who know what played out in the days of the old Western Region under Chief Obafemi Awolowo wouldn’t beat about the bush to answer those questions in the positive. They would tell you offhand that if he and the premiers of the other two regions developed their areas without oil in their days, Nigeria today would also thrive without oil, if we had the right leaders with bold and resourceful ideas.
Oil wealth is receding, incapable of matching fiscal policy while there is a massive pressure on our leaders to sustain the machinery of government and to meet the yearnings of those who enabled their existence in our democratic process. So our leaders and their partners in industry are expected to move with lightning speed and walk away from oil as a base for development. We must think out of the box. Doing so means generating wealth from ideas such as countries without oil are doing and moving their societies into the league of leading nations of the world, far ahead of those with oil weapon which is now proving inadequate.
Lately, we have seen this movement of idea power put to work in Ogun state. Faced with a bleak future for oil revenue and a rush of social and economic migrants from Lagos and other peripheral states, the administration of Governor Ibukunle Amosun has had to initiate creative strategies to raise good money to fund gigantic projects and meet the needs of the state’s burgeoning population. He is beating a retreat from resting on the rickety base of oil economy.
Amosun resorted to the bold and imaginative step of what the government has since described as the Homeowners Charter project. It entailed a drastic discount in the process of acquiring the all-important Certificate of Occupancy for landed property in the state. It will cost close to N600, 000 to possess it. But in the arrangement initiated by Amosun, a property holder will pay less than N100, 000.
Late in November in Abeokuta, the state capital, when he presented C of Os and Building Plan Approval to some 1000 more of the Home Owners Charter beneficiaries, Amosun alluded to a major advantage of the scheme: employment generation.
Now I add four more: Home Owners Charter reduced crime in Ogun through its direct and indirect employment of the youth; it raised more funds for the mammoth capital development projects going on all over the state; it brought security of property ownership in Ogun; finally it enhanced the owner’s mortgage loan potential.
Now oil revenue hasn’t played a role in all these. It’s been the result arising from a sheer stroke of an idea. Just as it was when the illustrious leader of the sprawling Western Region of Nigeria Obafemi Awolowo didn’t have oil money but still performed wonders under a cocoa economy. He was creative with what he had to introduce- free education for his people. It was the same enterprising mentality that made him build the Western Nigerian television station in Ibadan, which was reputed to be the first in Africa. In the North, it was Ahmadu Bello working without oil but relying on imaginative programmes who built the groundnut pyramids to develop his region. And in the East, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe employed a coal industry to raise a solid economic base for the Eastern Region of Nigeria. In all these instances it was the spirit of creativity that performed the magic.
What Amosun has also achieved with the Home Owners Charter scheme represents a spark from the realm of creativity. It has as we have seen led to ripples of other life-giving projects to the benefit of society.
What he and other men and women of ideas in our midst are teaching is that the country can be run on the wheels of ideas and enterprise in this age of dwindling resources from oil as we rely on science and technology rather than on the brawny oil regime.
Banji Ojewale writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in any article we publish remain entirely the author's and do not reflect the editorial policy of DailyGlobeWatch
ATIKU FOR PRESIDENT IN 2019
Our past has been wounded, our present is equally battered and with what is happening, we are only left with our future. That is why we need to do all that is within our ability and capability to ensure that what our past suffered and what we are going through at the moment is not repeated in our future.
Nigeria, a world industrial giant living as a world industrial slave; Africa big brother living as Africa big orphan; World next super power living as world abandoned nation. Treasures have become garbage, factories have become cemeteries. 56 years after independence we have schooled better than our father but become slaves than our fathers. Without our privileges, they turned villages to factories but with all our privileges our factories have become cemeteries. We claimed to be more civilized than our fathers but we have no solution like our fathers, what a shameful fact, Without PhD in food and nutrition, there made garri from cassava, akpu from cassava pounded yam from yam, tuwo from maize, kunu from guinea coin, amala from yam, brukutu from millet etc. they discovered egusi soup, banga soup, ewedu soup, afan soup okra soup etc. With no BSc in Architecture, the turn grass to thatch roof and block from clay.
That we are in the midst of crises as a nation is now well understood. Our nation Nigeria is at war, against recession. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequences of greed and irresponsibility on the path of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Home have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered, our health care system is poor and faulty. Our school system is weak outdated and unreliable, each day brings further evidence that there is no energy to strengthen our factories and industries. All these have threatened our economy and growth.
We remain a young nation, but the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit, to choose our better history to carry forward that precious gift that noble idea, passed on from our founding fathers. Our challenges may be new; the instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon our success depends (Honesty and Hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism). These things are old, they are true, and they have been tested, trusted and proven over time. They have been the quiet force of progress in history. What is demanded is a return to this truth, what is required of us is a new era of responsibility. A recognition, on the part of every Nigeria that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than given our all to a difficult task.
There is a big work to do, that work involves a big choice in 2019. Nigeria needs every one of us to lend our energy, our talents, and our ambition to making our nation better and stronger. A country were the economy works for everyone not just those at the top. Where you can get a good job and send your kids to a good school, a country where all our children can dream and those dreams are within reach. Our failed establishment has brought us nothing but poverty at home and bad image overseas. We are tired of economic and foreign policies that have that have bled this country dry. It is time for real change that puts the right man in charge.
Permit me to introduce to you ATIKU ABUBAKAR the choice for 2019 presidential election. ATIKU ABUBAKAR is ready to pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, and oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of Nigeria at a time like this. Atiku understands the ideals of community, faith and service because they have defined his life. From his heroic service at custom and vice president, he devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we‘ve seen him make tough choices when easier ones are available.
Real change means restoring honesty to our government. ATIKU ABUBAKAR contract with Nigerian voters begin with a plan to take our country back from the special interests. Together as we support ATIKU ABUBAKAR in 2019, we will make Nigeria wealthy again, we will make Nigeria strong again, we will make Nigeria safe again, and we will make Nigeria great again. The political elites in this country have used their power to enrich themselves at your expense, they’ve run the government for their benefit and profited from your pain. If you want a government that will grow and secure your economy, protect your family; vote for ATIKU ABUBAKAR in 2019.
Today, I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. But know this, there will be met. The state for the economy calls for action, bold and swift, ATIKU ABUBAKAR will lay a new foundation for growth that will transform the country. Therefore, ATIKU ABUBAKAR remains the right man for the job in Aso Rock Villa in 2019
* Disclaimer: Views expressed in any piece we publish remain entirely the author's and do not represent our editorial policy. DailyGlobeWatch shall therefore not be held responsible for any of its contents thereof
By Dele Momodu
“So when they continued asking Him, He stood up and said to them, ‘The one without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” – King James Bible, John 8:7
Fellow Nigerians, anyone familiar with the Holy Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ of Nazareth would have come across one of his most famous quotes above. Jesus was not trying to promote, defend and encourage prostitution or fornication but he tried to show that none of mankind is without blemish. I’m yet to find any other quote more poignant than this. It sums up the hypocrisy of man and why we should be careful about judging others so violently without removing the speck in our own eyes.
I love reading those verses in the Bible for saying it as it is. Everywhere you turn in Nigeria today, the hottest topic is corruption. Even lawyers who should know better are saying the magnitude of corruption in our nation makes it imperative to employ extra-judicial means to try and convict alleged looters. The situation is so grave that corruption cases have become sensational thrillers on the front pages of newspapers.
And it is obvious that we are all enjoying the melodrama despite its tragic nature. Some of the tales are stranger than fiction. They depict the wickedness of man and our incredible propensity for primitive acquisition of wealth. The greed factor has become so worrisome. Naturally, looters should be pilloried, denounced and convicted for looting their own people and country. That is the expectation of most Nigerians but I have not too pleasant news for those that desire that they should be executed for this kind of crime. That is simply not possible under our laws. Even the spectre of conviction has its myriad of problems.
The battle ahead is not going to be simple and straight forward. I will explain why and advise the Buhari government on the way forward. History is all about reminding us of the past, where we are coming from, as a veritable guide to our collective future. Nigeria missed its best chance at curbing corruption during the successive military coups and rulership. As a matter of fact our military institutionalised corruption through the use of brute force to steal the common wealth of the people. We were never fortunate to have a military intervention that came ostensibly to clean the Augean stable. Rather ours came to odorise it offensively.
Say what you will, Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings came prepared like a man with a clear vision and mission. Though he trampled on human rights and wasted human lives, Ghana was lucky to start her journey towards economic emancipation and infrastructural development. Rawlings was able to set the tone and tempo for subsequent governments. Today, Ghanaian leaders are more disciplined than their counterparts elsewhere. They have imbibed the spirit of crime and punishment. Ministers can be dismissed for merely dreaming to use privileged positions to make big money in advance. The money has not even been stolen yet but punishment is swift and sure. The culture was deliberately and meticulously put in place and it has been sustained.
The purpose of my sermon today is that it is going to be tough for a civilian government to achieve what military regimes failed to put in place. Nigeria is at point zero when it comes to issues of corruption. It is foolhardy to limit corruption strictly to those in government and power.
It is much worse. Those political leaders we love to deride can’t pilfer exclusively without the active connivance of members of the private sector. The war against corruption therefore has to be systemic and practically thought out. It cannot and should not be fought in a manner to suggest a lack of understanding of the critical factors that have oiled corruption and would continue to sustain its attractiveness. My concern for the Buhari government is about not making the same mistakes made in the past with concomitant results. All stakeholders in this change movement should not abandon the administration to commit perfidious acts because some people are bloodthirsty.
I offered the same advice in the past to the then Chairman of EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, at the peak of his highly celebrated reign. He had erroneously mistaken me for an enemy when I was indeed a true and concerned friend. I see myself as a good student of Nigerian history and political science and had tapped into that experience and exposure to warn Ribadu of the danger ahead. But two days after I wrote my open letter of admonition to him on this very page, in this same Thisday newspaper, he unleashed his agents on me in a most ferocious manner. I was called unprintable names and libelled for no reason. What was my offence?
The year was 2007 and President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was in power. The EFCC under Ribadu felt President Yar’Adua was somehow lukewarm to investigating and prosecuting James Ibori and others. It was also believed that the former Delta State Governor Ibori had nominated some of his cronies into that government and Ribadu was miffed. The media was used to harass and blackmail the President and I felt obliged to set the records straight.
My position was simple. I saw President Yar’Adua as a man of honour who knew and remembered how he came to power. He realised how he came to power through the networks, platforms and stupendous resources of the bad gangs as many would have described them. It must have been a horrific dilemma for the simple and unassuming President. President Yar’Adua was under no illusion that nations were governed by saints and he decided to give the devil its due but under close supervision. His determination was to block the profligacy of government and ensure that all drain-pipes were closed. But pressure was mounted on him to continue a vengeful vendetta against a selection of former Governors who were in the bad books of the omnipresent godfathers.
I wrote my epistle to Ribadu at that stage and stated the following facts. Where was EFCC when the Yar’Adua campaign was being openly funded from government coffers? Why should the President bite the fingers that fed him? Why the selective investigation and not a widespread and full examination of all public holders?
As normal in our clime, it was alleged that I must have been sent on this errand by some people. But such conspiracy theories never bother me. My freedom of expression is always sacrosanct to me. I was happy to state what my mind felt was right. The attack on my person was blistering and vicious but I could not be cowed. Thisday gave the response from Ribadu a front page treatment. I could not believe the extent Ribadu’s acolytes went to vilify me. I was livid. Within a few hours, I prepared a response with my brilliant lawyers and mailed it to the then Editor of Thisday, Simon Kolawole. We waited for the publication the following day but it was not published. I headed straight to the home of Thisday Publisher, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, who thought I was coming to join him for our occasional breakfast and jaw-jaw.
As soon as he saw my face, he knew something was terribly wrong. He asked why I was frowning and I told him how his publication, of which I was pioneer Editor, was being used to attack me. He requested for details and he told me to calm down. I said I was ready to sue him and his paper and he said that was not necessary and called Simon Kolawole. He told him to publish my own rejoinder and end the controversy right there. This was done the day after.
I took time to tell Mallam Ribadu why the rule of law must be respected at all times. That was when I coined the phrase that “we must never set fire to an entire village because we want to catch a few rats.” It was obvious that some personalities had been targeted for obliteration of their businesses or even physical personal annihilation. Homes were being invaded, windows shattered to gain access to those wanted dead or alive. Alleged criminals were tried and convicted on the pages of newspapers. They were pronounced guilty and treated as felons ahead of any judicial process. No one ever thought that pursuing one man and killing his business could ruin the lives of thousands of his staff and dependants. Finally, I prophesied that Ribadu himself may be haunted and hunted some day through our vindictive system.
President Yar’Adua read my piece and told Segun Adeniyi, his Special Adviser on Media, to call me. Segun informed me of how the President enjoyed reading my rebuttal and how proud he was about the way I marshalled my points. Like President Yar’Adua, President Muhammadu Buhari is a compulsive and voracious reader of newspapers. That is why I write these articles to keep him abreast of the reality on the streets.
No matter how angry and disappointed President Buhari is, he must constantly remember that he is a civilian President now. He must work closely with all arms and tiers of government and do nothing to suggest his deliberate disdain for orders and others. He should lay a solid foundation for the rule of law and accountability. He should employ the instrumentality of law to achieve his aim. In a situation where we over-dramatise the war against corruption and advertise to the world that we are the most corrupt people on earth, we can be sure that investors will run away. Nobody wants to live in a society where no man is innocent and every alleged is guilty. The hoopla is getting out of hand and it is difficult not to see a pattern that indicates a witch-hunt the sort of which we saw in the past. We must seek a true change that protects the human rights of saints and sinners. We must do nothing to prolong the regime of fear and over-concentration of the power of life and death in the hands of privileged agents of government who would use coercion rather than persuasion.
When tomorrow comes, the rat race may be turned full circle to avenge the past. Recent history tells us this is likely to happen. Ribadu had to run out of Nigeria. Mrs Farida Waziri who took over was summarily dismissed. Today it is the turn of his former deputy, Ibrahim Larmode, who is now under investigation. I’m certain he will soon scream victimisation. Who knows tomorrow? If they had all worked for the establishment and rigorous enforcement of the rule of law, it would have become a due process too difficult to alter. We should not allow this trend to persist. We can penetrate homes through the normal doors instead of crashing through the roofs.
When we learn to trust our judges more and give them the true respect they deserve, many of them will reciprocate. When they are being insulted recklessly and endlessly, they may get hardened and respond in kind to a thankless society. After-all, the masquerade is a human being and not a deity from above. The system is bad but it can be made better. Even in America, an appointment to the Supreme Court is being politicised despite over 200 years of constitutional government…
Ribadu and I have since become friends. He now knows I was never his enemy. He ended up in the same party with those he considered villainous once upon a time. We both contested the Presidential race in 2011 and he visited me a day after he got nominated as ACN Presidential flag-bearer. We dined together and spent hours discussing how to make Nigeria better. Neither of us won the race because of the Nigerian factor. The Ribadu I see today now knows Nigeria better. I’m sure that given another chance, he would handle his job with maximum respect for fellow citizens no matter the prejudices he may harbour against some.
It is what we must all learn in the school of life; that no condition is permanent.
We got this message: "A very reliable source from the Presidency just confirmed that there was an Intelligence Report since last week that the El Zakzaky people vowed to Kidnap military officers to negotiate as ransom for the release of their leader purported to be under military custody. The source further confirmed that the Intelligence Officer in the Depot NA Zaria is aware of the report since last week. Everyone needs to be extra careful especially those in Kaduna and Abuja metropolis." And we also got this announcement today from the Nigerian military authorities: "Col S Inusa (44 RC) was abducted around NNPC junction. The abductors dropped off his wife and left with him in his car. The car headed towards Abuja. Anybody with useful info or assistance should please assist in tracking these abductors. They are in a Mercedes Benz GLK black colour with registration number Abuja, KUJ 154 TZ. The incident happened yesterday evening ( Saturday 26 Mar 2016) at NNPC junction, Kaduna." The question is why will IMN "kidnap military officers to negotiate as ransom for the release of their leader purported to be under military custody"? And after Sheikh Ibraheem #Zakzaky is released after this negotiations which country will he be staying? The IMN under the leadership of His Eminence Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky has never engaged in criminal activities such as kidnapping or abduction or anything related to that and strongly condemned such criminal activities done under any pretext. Since after the brutal #Zaria_Massacre by the Nigerian Army that killed close to one thousand defenseless & unarmed Nigerians in Zaria, the Nigerian government launched a smear campaign of calumny and demonization against #IMN and its leadership with the sole intention of justifying the brutal massacre and portraying the peaceful IMN as "criminal & terrorist organization". After the Agatu killings in Benue State, the Nigerian government sponsored a faceless group to blame IMN of those atrocities and senseless killings. But fortunately enough Nigerians refused to buy that monumental fraud because they know the history of the conflict between the Fulani nomads and the host farmers. Nigerians are well aware of the rampancy of the cases of kidnappings in Nigeria for monetary ransom and the gross failure of the Nigerian authorities to eradicate it. There are mounting security challenges facing Nigeria such as the #BokoHaram insurgency, kidnappings, Oil bunkering, human trafficking, human organ trafficking etc but unfortunately what presently occupy the minds of our Nigerian oppressors is how to frame and demonize the peaceful Islamic Movement in Nigeria ( IMN ). Instead of the Nigerian government to concentrate on how to tackle these security challenges, the government is trying to bury what is undoubtedly a brutal war crime and by extension demonizing the victims of its brutal massacre. The present Nigerian government that is executing a foreign sponsored imperialist agenda by these actions is insensitive to the deteriorating economic and social conditions of Nigerians and is displaying nonchalant attitude to the present extreme sufferings of Nigerians. Finally, it is our hope that Col S Inusa and all those Nigerians kidnapped and abducted be freed and safely returned to their families. Kidnapping innocent Nigerians is a heinous crime that must be condemned by all. #FreeZakzaky #GodProtectZakzaky Harun Elbinawi
Disclaimer: Views expressed in any piece we publish remain entirely the author's and do not reflect our editorial policy. DailyGlobaWatch shall, therefore , not be held responsible for any of its contents or a part thereof.
The pro-Biafra protests are not abating; and, for the first time, reached Abuja last week when Kanu the Director of Radio Biafra, was brought before the magistrate’s court. The protests may be fuelled by yet to be identified financiers, but those fanning the embers of secession are youths who have abandoned their various vocations to participate in the protests. Some are doing so for genuine, if misguided reasons. Some, not so genuine. Some might not even be of Igbo origin. But all are unhappy and discontented with their lives and have inadvertently become willing pawns in a complex chess game.
After a period of studied but loud silence, the Igbo elders have come out to condemn the protests and by extension, the agitation for Biafra, by listing the many hurdles that await the realisation of Biafra. I don’t think they have gone far enough. The protesting youths need to be educated on the inevitability of war should they continue on this path. And should Radio Biafra continue to denigrate and insult every other tribe in Nigeria, the protesters are going to have many hostile neighbours.
They also need to be made aware of the realistic and pragmatic gains and losses of their actions both in the shorter and longer terms. No divorce, either of marriages or business partnerships or countries is without scars and casualties. The resultant ‘freedom’ is often not worth it.And speaking of marriages, our parents were not any happier in their unions than we are. Yet they largely stuck with them, learnt mutual respect in the process and gave us stable homes in which to develop.
There is no evidence that our lack of tolerance which has led to higher divorce rates has made us happier as individuals and as a society. The UK comprises of four distinct nations. They have been pushing and pulling themselves for as long as I can remember. They are often privately disdainful of one another. But they realise in their wisdom, that the components cannot be better or greater than the whole. So it is with Nigeria. The recent history of the Soviet Union, Sudan and other countries that have had to balkanise themselves because of unresolved internal contradictions are there for all to learn from.
Let us assume today, that Kanu, Nwazuruike and their army of young Turks succeed in their wish to have Biafra. Would it all be gloom and doom for the rest of the country? I think not. Yes, the country would lose a valuable and vital piece of the tripod that had sustained the country. It would probably lose that section of the country that is most disposed to entrepreneurship in commerce and industry. It would also no longer be able to bask in the glory of their contributions in the diaspora.
But it is not as if the crown jewel has been taken away and the rest of us are ordinary stones or mere shafts as the radio Biafra propaganda wants people to believe. The vast in-road they have made in trade and commerce all over the country is because their host ‘nations’ have been accommodating and have provided a level playing field. This, of course would stop. In any case, it has hardly been reciprocated in Igbo land. The Igbos for all the noise, don’t believe in inclusiveness.
Or put another way, they don’t share well. I was once involved in a national newspaper where the admin manager was Igbo who was responsible for hiring the clerical staff. Before I knew it, all the cleaners, typists and messengers were from a particular part of the country. I had to tell him that were the owner of the paper like him, neither he nor I would have been employed in the first place since the owner was neither Igbo nor Yoruba.
Another important issue to consider is where the territory would be. Some of the maps I have seen include the states in the old South-Eastern region. One even includes the Idomas of North-Central! It is instructive that leaders of the South-South have dissociated themselves from the partition as the fear of ending up as minorities with a dominant partner is real. This was one of the many causes that the late Isaac Boro fought for. One South-South leader cynically told me ‘they will have to conquer us if they want us to be part of them’. This leaves the core Igbo land which is essentially landlocked.
But more importantly, having your own State like marriage, is in itself a journey not a destination. Nothing is to say that you are all going to live together happily ever after. Nothing is to say that one section is not going to feel maginalised by the other sections. This message is also to those who are angling for Oduduwa Republic. They should remember that the Yoruba have fought themselves in the past and could still do so. Sometimes, what unites you can also divide you.
At the end of the day, what the restfulness in the various sections of the country is all about is the callous way our leaders have wasted the tomorrow of our youths. For years we have stated the need to run an inclusive, transparent system that is not based on ethno/religious considerations. One has pushed for merit and a robust engagement of our youths. Now the chicken is coming home to roost. From North to South, the devil is providing tools for the idle hands of our youths.
MASSOB and the other disenfranchised youths from the other zones of the country need to engage the leaders from within. They need to tell them they were elected to improve living conditions for the entire populace and not for themselves alone. They should realise that many of the financiers of protests, riots and killings either live abroad or have their families abroad.
The country on its part should cede some autonomy to the zones. Let the different nationalities develop at their own paces. We have run the unitary form of government now for over 40 years and it really hasn’t worked. That is not to say that it is the only solution to the problem of the country. Our problem is the attitude of the leaders to governance and it is not likely to change whether we have Oduduwa Republic or Republic of Biafra.
The hope is that zonal autonomy will create inter zonal competition which will in turn bring development to the people especially the youths. It is only a hope
By Ochereome Nnann
THIS morning, I am surprised but hopeful. I am surprised at the speed and expedition with which President Muhammadu Buhari accepted the rescue lifeline thrown to him by his newfound friend and sympathiser of his All Progressives Congress (APC) Federal Government, Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka
Last Thursday when I published an article entitled: “Soyinka’s Buhari rescue bid”, little did I know that I was going to do a sequel of sorts. When prominent individuals and those not so prominent sound alerts as Soyinka did and proffer advice, our usually all-knowing and imperial Presidency usually feels indignant and either ignores it or gets back with acid repartees. When Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1980 warned that the Nigerian economy was in grave danger, President Shehu Shagari’s Federal Government sent people like the late Dr Umaru Dikko to dismiss it with a cavalier wave of the hand and a flurry of truculent rhetoric.
General Ibrahim Babangida’s goverment was fond of responding to such prodding with a terse one liner: “there is no alternative to SAP” (Structural Adjustment Programme). Olusegun Obasanjo would feel terribly insulted and either send his special assistant versed in the art of delivering abrasive insults (such as Femi Fani-Kayode – this chap is still actively practising his well-honed art) or he (OBJ) would personally take up the mike or pen (whichever was within easier reach) to deliver a “befitting” response.
It is not as if Buhari lacks the musketeers capable of doing this dirty job. There is his Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu. There is Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina (alias Kulikuli). There is also the Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, whose reputation goes ahead of him, if you get me. And now a new cadet has been added to the president’s cavalry: Tolu Ogunlesi, who coordinated Buhari’s spins in foreign media, especially The Economist Magazine.
Buhari’s eagerness to be rescued from his nine months of visionless and directionless economic programme is a conclusive evidence that he had no economic blueprint, let alone an economic team, to carry it out. What else could it be? Even his ardent supporters, such as Professor Pat Utomi have openly said so. Remember it was Utomi who, about five months ago, told those who complained about the President’s excessive pandering to people from his section of the country for appointment of his inner government to shut up. He said Buhari, for all he cared, could appoint all his officials from his village, provided they could deliver the goods. Well, it would appear that Buhari could not find economists from his village to employ?
So, I congratulate President Buhari for his humility and openness of mind to accept help. But I do not know what he would have done if the advice had come from equally concerned Nigerians who are not his “friends” like Soyinka. I say “friends”, because I expected Soyinka to go to Aso Villa and whisper the emergency conference idea into Buhari’s ears. Based on that, the President could, as usual, go to a choice foreign country and announce his government’s intention to call an economic conference. It would have been neater that way.
Nevertheless, it is not a sign of weakness or foolishness for a leader to accept the offer of help when he seems lost for ideas or strategies to tackle a challenge of this magnitude. Nobody knows it all, except the Obasanjos of this country.
Now that we are told that conference is not only imminent but already has a date attached to it (March 10/11, 2016) what should it be all about? What should we discuss? For me, the agenda is twofold: the immediate and long term strategies.
The immediate include ways of stabilising the gyrating Naira, considering options for economic diversification away from oil dependency and job creation. We must restore hope in our economy by reassuring those who operate in it (investors, traders and the organised private sector) that they will no longer be abandoned in an unmanned ship at sea. The government must define a direction for the economy to enable us key in and help Buhari to succeed.
But for the most important objective of this conference should be to set the tone for the implementation of the APC’s manifesto and Buhari’s campaign promises. I don’t even know if he still looks at them at all. Buhari had promised, during the fight for nomination as his party’s candidate in December 2014, to “initiate action to amend the Nigerian constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties and responsibilities to states in order to entrench true Federalism and the Federal spirit”.
This has been the primary agenda of progressives in Nigerian politics. The true progressives believe that the centralised federation foisted on Nigeria by the military is responsible for our economic backwardness, particularly the heavy cost of governance. It is responsible for the fact that recurrent expenditure takes three quarters of the annual budget of each tier of government, especially the Federal Government.
If Buhari is a genuine progressive (and not just a “progressive” to grab presidential power) he must seize the opportunity of this conference to unfold the details of his agenda for economic devolution. It is the states and the private sector that create wealth and jobs, while federal government merely guides and ensures the welfare and security of all Nigerians and the territotiral integrity of the country. Even if Buhari and some of his cohorts from the North (who usually footdrag about devolution of power) play somnolent on this item, I expect Chief Bola Tinubu to remind him that this was a driving force of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) before it merged with the other parties to form the APC.
If this conference takes place and nothing concrete is said about economic devolution and the institution of true federalism, then the APC Federal Government will, once again, be called the “one chance” regime that used seductive promises to win election only to dump them. I have not set any agenda for Buhari on this conference. I have only reminded him to do as he said he would when given presidential power.
Will he? Alex Otti: quotable quote TO the agents of PDP and the Abia State Government who desperately want to hear us congratulate Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu in the spirit of sportsmanship, my answer is this: you are ignorant of the meaning of sportsmanship. From day one, you disobeyed the rules guiding the game as you threatened, attacked, assaulted, intimidated, maimed innocent Abians and violently rigged the election; so where lay the spirit of sportsmanship in the contest? While like I said earlier, we have accepted the unpopular judgment that injures the sensibilities of Abians, we cannot congratulate you as that would amount to endorsement of criminality, so rather than arrogantly be demanding for unjust and undeserved congratulatory message from me and my party, the PDP should rather express remorse seek repentance, and be humble enough to seek for forgiveness from God and Abians.
Like President George W. Bush said: “Terrorists can attack the foundation of the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, but cannot touch the foundation of America”. I say to the agents of election rigging and political violence that though you may have hurt us temporarily, but you cannot stop our collective desire, determination, and drive to reclaim Abia and restore its pride and lost glory to the admiration and appreciation of millions of expectant Abians”. – At his recent thanksgiving in Aba.
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