Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Presidency Denies There's Jewish Symbol In New N100 Note

Press Release 
Our attention has been drawn to a press statement issued by the Muslims’ Right Concern (MURIC) in which its Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola made a number of allegations against the President Goodluck Jonathan, including the mischievous and false claim that there is a Jewish symbol in the new commemorative N100 note which will be officially issued on December 19.

President Jonathan is certainly not anti-Muslim as Prof Akintola alleges. As we have often said, the President knows very well that he was elected to office by a representative majority of all Nigerians and he continues to deal with all Nigerians fairly and equitably irrespective of their personal or group religious beliefs.
The allegation by MURIC that President Jonathan is using the highest office in the country to promote Zionism and the state of Israel is completely spurious and unfounded.
The symbol Prof. Akintola refers to in his statement is the Star of David which cannot be found anywhere on the widely publicized specimen of the new 100 Naira note. 
The symbol that he erroneously claims is the Star of David or a Jewish symbol is actually   a  spark security feature which is an optical magnetic feature that enables the public to determine if a currency note is genuine or counterfeit. 

*President Jonathan, Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji                                               Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar and CAN President                                                              Ayo Oritsejafor (pix: thenation)

The design of the spark security feature on the new N100 note is not in any way associated with Israel or Zionism. It is two squares merged into one with a Manila briquet, which is a symbol of the cowrie money used during the colonial era.
The value of the new N100 note is written in the three major Nigerian languages - Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa. No attempt whatsoever has been made to use the N100 note to discriminate against any group of Nigerians.
The MURIC Director's claim that Muslims were marginalized in the recent National Conference is also untrue.
Contrary to Prof. Akintola’s allegation, the National Conference organized by the Jonathan Administration has been widely praised and acknowledged as one of the best of such conferences ever held in this country. It was a purposeful conference, a conference in which a lot of maturity was displayed and at which religion never became a big issue.

MURIC’s allegation that the security system in Aso Rock is saturated with Israeli security operatives is another blatant lie. There are no Israeli security operatives in Aso Rock. We invite Prof. Akintola to visit the Presidential Villa and see for himself that there are no foreign security operatives on the premises and that the only security operatives in the Villa are Nigerians.
It is most unfortunate that such divisive falsehoods could have emanated from a supposedly knowledgeable man like Prof. Akintola and we demand an unreserved apology from him for the very unwarranted attempt to cause disaffection against President Jonathan amongst a major religious group in the country.
Reuben Abati
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
November 25, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Nigeria’s Dangerous 2015 Elections: Limiting the Violence

By International Crisis Group 

Africa Report N°220

21 November 2014
Nigeria’s presidential, parliamentary and state gubernatorial and assembly elections, scheduled for February 2015, will be more contentious than usual. Tensions within and between the two major political parties, competing claims to the presidency between northern and Niger Delta politicians and along religious lines, the grim radical Islamist Boko Haram insurgency and increasing communal violence in several northern states, along with inadequate preparations by the electoral commission and apparent bias by security agencies, suggest the country is heading toward a very volatile and vicious electoral contest. If this violent trend continues, and particularly if the vote is close, marred or followed by widespread violence, it would deepen Nigeria’s already grave security and governance crises. The government, its agencies and all other national figures must work urgently to ensure that the vote is not conducted in an explosive situation as this could further destabilise the country.

President Jonathan with Vice-President Sambo 
and PDP Chairman, Muazu
Nigerian elections are traditionally fiercely contested, but in 2015, risks of violence are particularly high. This will be the first nationwide contest essentially between two parties – the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) – since the return to civilian rule in 1999. While a genuine contest is a welcome sign of progress for Nigeria’s democracy (thanks to the emergence last year of the APC, a merger of the four largest opposition parties), increasingly acrimonious relations between the two parties could engender even fiercer clashes among their supporters once campaigning formally starts in December.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Gettysburg Address: Abraham Lincoln Rebukes Us From The Grave

By Banji Ojewale
Wednesday November 19, 2014 marked the 151st  anniversary of the delivery of the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln, the President of the US at the time of the American Civil War in the 19th Century. Lincoln delivered the speech to commemorate the gruesome Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania and to dedicate a national cemetery for slain soldiers.

*Abraham Lincoln: 16th President of 
the United States  (pix:planetfigure) 

It was a brief oration that lasted only a few minutes. The Lincoln presentation 272 words – appeared to pale next to that of a well known national orator Professor Edward Everett whose speech, running into nearly two hours, came ahead of the president’s.
The crowd gave Lincoln what an observer described as a “perfunctory applause”. It was a euphemism for unstated rejection of the speech! But the professional Everett instantly noticed the landing of a new benchmark for oratorical discipline and ingenuity. “My speech will soon be forgotten,”  he told Lincoln. “Yours will never be. How gladly would I exchange my hundred pages for your twenty lines”.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Child Sexual Abuse: Call For Urgent Action

Nnaemeka Oruh

Statistics detailing the extent of perpetration of child sexual abuse is hugely alarming. Projections show that the number will increase if something is not urgently done. Therefore, the urgency of the situation demands that I do not waste time on preambles. So I will just get on with it.

(pix: redwoodsgroup)

Cases of child sexual abuse are not receiving adequate attention. In fact, while the cases skyrocket, less and less people clearly and completely understand what it means to sexually abuse a child. So this work is an urgent attempt to educate(and perhaps re-educate some others).Urgent because it is very important that we start this discussion now in order to teach as many people as possible while our children can still be saved.

Child sexual abuse simply refers to the engagement in sexual acts with a person under eighteen. Note that the word "consent" is absent in my definition. The absence was not fortuitous. This is because, a person under eighteen cannot really give consent. So even if the person accepted your sexual overtures, it is still deemed sexual abuse as persons under eighteen cannot legally give consent (in some states in the US, it is 16). I believe that a lot of people do not know this. Thus if we try to explore cases of child sexual abuse using this particular criterion, we will find out that so many people would be found guilty of having sexually abused a child one way or the other. That is why it is important that this piece of information is shared.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An Epidemic: Nigerian Men Killing Their Nurse Wives In The United States

By Abiodun Ladepo

"Yes I have killed the woman that messed up my life; the woman that has destroyed me. I am at Shalom West. My name is David and I am all yours.”
Those were David Ochola’s words during his 911 (U.S. Emergency Number) call to authorities after shooting dead his 28 years old wife, Priscilla Ochola, in Hennepin, Minnesota. The 50-years old husband was tired of being “disrespected” by his wife, a Registered Nurse (RN) whom he had brought from Nigeria and sponsored through nursing school only to have her make much more than him in salary - a situation which led to Mrs. Ochola “coming and going as she chose without regard for her husband.”  The couple had two children – four years old boy and a three years old girl.  

Some Nigerian Nurses In The US

In Texas, Babajide Okeowo had been separated from his wife, Funke Okeowo, with whom he resided at their Dallas home.  Upon the divorce, the husband lost the house to his wife, along with most of the contents therein, as is usually the tradition in U.S. divorces where the couple still has underage children.  Mr. Okeowo, 48, divorced his wife because not long after she became a RN and made more money than him, she “took control” of the family finances and “controlled” her husband’s expenditure and movement.  The husband could no longer make any meaningful contribution to his family back in Nigeria unless the wife “approved” it. He could not go out without her permission. Frustrated that his formerly malleable wife had suddenly become such a “terror” to him to the point of asking for in court and getting virtually everything for which he had worked since coming to the US thirty years prior, the husband got in his vehicle and drove a few hundred miles to Dallas to settle the scores. He found her in her SUV, adorned in full Nigerian attire on her way to the birthday bash organized in her honor.  She had turned 46 on that day.  Mr. Okeowo fired several rounds into his wife’s torso while she sat at the steering wheel, mercilessly killing her in broad daylight. 

Who Will Tame Fashola's Insufferable Arrogance?

By Dipo Abimbola

In a rare show of political vendetta, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State was said to have spit venom on President Goodluck Jonathan recently. In a statement which was published in virtually all the existing newspapers in Nigeria on Tuesday November 4, 2014, Fashola was said to have derided a public advocacy organization,the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) on account of its robust defense of President Goodluck Jonathan's achievements and consequent endorsement of the President to contest for a second term in 2015. According to the report, Fashola who delivered an address as a Keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of Women in Business (Wimbiz) Conference held at the Eko Hotels on Victoria Island in Lagos, lampooned TAN for orchestrating the return of the Jonathan Administration through false claims, saying that Jonathan had nothing on ground to justify his more than three years in the saddle.

Why I Quit The Presidential Race - Tambuwal

By Aminu Waziri Tambuwal 
A few days ago, precisely on Friday the 14th of November,2014 a group of friends, associates, colleagues and admirers cutting across all ages, ethnic, social, religious, political and geographical divides presented to me the Expression of Interest and Nomination forms for me to participate in the presidential primaries of the All Progressive Congress (APC) for the 2015 Presidential Election. 
On that auspicious occasion, being profoundly humbled, I requested for a little more time to conclude my last round of the series of nationwide consultations which indeed I was just about to conclude.
Let me state that the 14th November event was neither an accidental nor sudden happenstance, rather it was another high point of similar goodwill surprises I had experienced in the last two years when I started receiving in audience, colleagues, individuals, groups and delegations of prominent Nigerians on this subject matter
I wish to seize this occasion to commend, most highly, these patriotic and selfless colleagues, admirers, individuals and groups for their sacrifice, diligence and single-mindedness in the pursuit of what they honestly believe is in the best interest of our fatherland. I am fully aware of the physical, financial and intellectual resources all of you have expended in this regard besides the sheer volume of valuable time and the travel risk of crisscrossing to compare notes and confirm projections. Indeed I can not thank you enough.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ken Saro-Wiwa: Still On A Darkling Plain?

By Banji Ojewale
 We are prepared to fight to the last cup of blood…
  The Ogoni people are determined: everyman, woman
   And child will die before Nigerians will steal their 
Oil anymore. - Ken Saro-Wiwa (1941-1995)

*Ken Saro-Wiwa (pix: wikipaedia)

Nineteen years ago on November 10,1995, more than two years after he made this grim prediction, Ken Saro-Wiwa, renowned writer, TV producer, newspaper columnist and irrepressible minority and environment rights campaigner did indeed die. But not a natural death. He was executed along with eight others by a Nigerian state in the grip of military dictator Sani Abacha who felt he had run out of patience with the man that pummeled Nigeria for her tragic ecological record in the Niger Delta notably, Ogoni land.

Ken battled the reckless degradation of Ogoni as no one else did. For years before he was arrested and subjected to a kangaroo trial that ended with his execution, Saro-Wiwa stood on the tripod of intellectual discourse, writing and peaceful protests to lash out at the conspiracy of government and the oil companies that despoiled his people. He argued that this infernal bond between an “irresponsible” government and “indifferent” oil companies resulting in death-dealing blows on his kinsmen was unacceptable. Big money came from the frenetic oil exploration (exploitation). But Ogoni had nothing to show for being the bird that produced the golden eggs. Instead Ogoni had pain. Saro-Wiwa lamented that these arose from the fact that in a so-called federal set up the rights of the minority were appropriated by the state and added to the rights of the majority ethnic groups.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Nigeria: Glamourisation Of Political Prostitution

By Dan Amor
It is a sickening reality in Nigeria that defection, the act of leaving one political party for another, also called carpet-crossing, or what the eminent poet and humorist, Uzor Maxim-Uzoatu called “Jumpology” (the political act of jumping from party to party), has been elevated to the height of a national ideology.

*Nuhu Ribadu, Murtala Nyako and Atiku Abubakar 

This glamourisation of political prostitution by Nigerian politicians signals the death of commonsense. Before the December 2013 defection of 37 members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in an open show and fanfare, four PDP governors had led the way in a much more rehearsed, media pampered braggadocio in November 2013. Many Nigerians believed that despite the larger implications of the defection with regards to the 2015 political permutations, nothing had really changed. Nigerians who are no longer shocked or surprised at the sheer ingenuity of the defection gale which has seen some politicians changing parties more than they change their agbada, have unanimously called for a stop to this wayward political culture.

We Are Succeeding Against All Odds - Pres. Jonathan

Text of President Goodluck Jonathan's Speech Declaring his 
Intention to Run for the 2015 Presidential Elections under 
the  Platform  of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Eagle Square, Abuja
Tuesday 11th November, 2014

Dear Compatriots:
Four years ago, precisely September 18, 2010, I stood in this Eagle Square, to offer myself for election as the President of our beloved country on the platform of our great party; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
 Seven months after that declaration, you elected me to lead this country with overwhelming support from all parts of our Nation. I remain grateful for the trust you reposed in me to lead our Nation through uncommon challenges in our march of progress as a united and democratic country.
Over the years, the Almighty God has made it possible for me to develop a bond with you and I am grateful for your support and understanding in the difficult periods we have journeyed through. 
 Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, our stewardship has not been without challenges. We have had to deal with the wave of insurgency that has swept through some parts of our dear country. Only yesterday, Government Science Secondary School in Yobe State was bombed by insurgents, killing our promising young children who were seeking education to build the country and support their parents. Many Nigerians have lost their lives and property to these mindless killings. Let me crave the indulgence of all present here to stand up to observe a minutes silence in honour of these young lads who lost their lives. Clearly, this has cast a dark cloud on our Nation but we will surely win the war against terror. A number of young men and women have been kidnapped by these criminal elements including our daughters from Chibok. We will free our daughters and defeat terror.
 We are equipping the armed forces and deploying special forces to engage the terrorist and end this senseless war. We must protect our country. We must save our people. I will do everything humanly possible to end this criminal violence in our Nation. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cross River 2015: Legor As The Bride

By Dan Amor
Much of the significant critical issues in the Cross River State 2015 governorship contest would most likely be centred on the pedigrees of the contestants. This is much so as it is glaring that a precedent has already been set in the quality of materials the State has indubitably thrown up as governors since the beginning of the current political dispensation in 1999. 

*Ochiglegor Idagbo (Legor)

Two personalities who have governed the agrarian state since then, Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke, represent a bold testimony to the emerging trend of enthroning young and brilliant people at the apogee of political leadership across the world. Talking about young , good-looking, brilliant and adequately educated people in leadership positions in government? 

There is no doubt that brains and looks appear to be the unassailable clinchers these days as far as elections are concerned. In fact, the advanced democracies of the world discovered this mystery at the dusk of the twentieth century. In the United States of America, for instance, brains and looks did earn the Democratic Party a rare two-term spell under the youthful personage of the ever-voluble, hand-pumping and telegenic Oxford-trained lawyer, Bill Clinton. Even in Great Britain, the electorate, in May 1997, demonstrated a certain unabashed bias for yapper, dapper looks with all the histrionic gestures and dramatic turns of phrases, when they elected Tony Blair of the New Labour, another Oxford-trained lawyer , then 43, as Prime Minister. He was the youngest in 187 years.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Forty Days In A Trauma Ward

By Moses Obroku
I have always had an unexplained dislike for the colour red. Perhaps, it is because somewhere in my subconscious I have associated it with danger or blood. However, in the morning of Thursday, February 23, 2006, I put on an oxblood shirt and a red-brown-black blend tie over black trousers to go to work which I just resumed two days before.

Having only completed my National Youth Service in September of the previous year, I thought I was rather fortunate to have landed that job, considering I did not have to stay at home for long. So it was with great expectations that I commenced training on the job. I remembered praying that morning as I always do before setting out, for God’s protection.
After a rather hitch free commuting via public transport from Ajah to Airport road where the headquarters of the company is located, I had an exciting day at work and before the close of business that day, I was given an invitation to attend the company’s annual retreat which was holding at Nike Lake resort in Enugu that year. Things were looking great! I was excited about the retreat of the following week as I had never been to the eastern part of Nigeria before that time.

Here was I, fresh from school with a law degree, NYSC behind me, and a promising job ahead of me. Life was good! Those were my thoughts as I made my way back home. At Oshodi, I boarded a non-stop bus to Ajah.  Since I was the first to get into the vehicle, I took the front seat as it usually has more room. Soon after, a male passenger came to join me in front and I made room for him to take the inner seat while I retained my window seat. I would never know now, how that decision played out.

As the now filled bus made its way towards the third mainland bridge, the ride was smooth, things looked normal. When the driver started to ascend the bridge, at the intersection where the road forks towards Ibadan expressway to the left and Lagos Island to the right, he should move towards the right and continue on the bridge. I just started to think that the vehicle was too close to the kerb and… (I didn’t quite finish the thought) when everything happened in surreal slow motion in my mind.  The driver violently hit the kerb with the left wheel, which made the bus travelling at about 100 km/per hour careened out of balance, fell on my side and continued sliding on the concrete highway till it spent its velocity and came to an abrupt halt right in the middle of the road. Fortunately, there was no other vehicle coming behind to run us over.

The noise of the crash was deafening. The windshield had shattered to a thousand places sending pieces of glass fiber everywhere. Metal had squeezed, seats were pushed into each other and there was silence for a fraction of a second before the cries, wailings, and screams emanated from all around as if people were zoned back into the present to confront the horrors.

Ken Saro-Wiwa: Remembering An Enigma

By Dan Amor

*Ken Saro-Wiwa

Today, Monday November 10, 2014, indubitably marks the nineteenth anniversary of the tragic and shocking death of Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa and eight of his Ogoni kinsmen, in the evil hands of professional hangmen who sneaked into Port Harcourt from Sokoto in the cover of darkness. By his death, the Sani Abacha-led military junta had demonstrated, in shocking finality, to the larger world, that it was guided by the most base, most callous of instincts.

We remember him today because, for this writer, as for most disinterested Nigerians, Ken Saro-Wiwa lives alternatively as an inspirational spirit, and a haunting one at that. Now, as always, Nigerians who care still hear Ken's steps on the polluted land of his ancestors. They still see the monstrous flares from poisonous gas stacks, and still remember his symbolic pipe. Now, as always, passionate Nigerians will remember and hear the gleeful blast of the Ogoni song, the song Ken sang at his peril. Yet, only the initiated can see the Ogoni national flag flutter cautiously in the saddened clouds of a proud land. But all can hear his name in the fluttering of the Eagle's wing.

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Will Tell General Sani Abacha

By Dan Amor
Sunday June 8, 2014 indubitably marked the sixteenth anniversary of the death of General Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s most treacherous tyrant and who ranked with Agathocles and Dionysus I of Sicily, as the greatest dictators, not only of antiquity but of all time. 

It is true that the degree of cruelty and loathsome human vulgarity that the Abacha era epitomized is already fading into the background because of the mundane and short character of the human memory. But his timely exit ought to have been marked by Nigerians just as the United Nations marks the end of the Second World War not only for posterity but also as a thanksgiving to God for extricating us from such epoch of human misery.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Nigeria: 1960 -2014

By  Banji Ojewale
 It is as reasonable to represent one kind of imprisonment by another, as it is to represent anything that really exists by that which exists not!                             
–Daniel Defoe (1660– 1731)

A scene at Nigeria’s Independence Day Celebrations
 On October 1, 1960 (pix: nigeria.gov.ng)

Last week, I came across an elderly man (real name withheld) who told me he fled Nigeria in 1960 following the attainment of Independence that year.  He claimed he feared we might not be able to govern ourselves in what he described as a “cobbled union”.  He saw only a future of crisis in the land of incompatibles being put together as compatibles by a departing imperial power.  He, a 23-year-old, did not want to be part of the cataclysm his oracle was presenting as the tomorrow of newly Independent country.
From the way he put it, the crystal ball literally landed him in that future.  In a word, he time-travelled into that era.  It was not a salubrious trip, he said.  He did not wish to experience the reality of the years ahead.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Remembering The 'Rumble In The Jungle'

By Banji Ojewale

Forty years ago on October 30 1974, the world was rocked by the celebrated fight between Mohammed Ali, ex-heavyweight boxing champion of the world and George Foreman, the title holder. The colorful Ali aptly called the bout the Rumble in the jungle because it took place in thickly forested Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Mohammed Ali
(pix: Reuters)

It was a huge, larger-than-life affair put together by an imperial president Mobutu Sese Seko with many unprecedented features. It was the first heavyweight championship contest in Africa; it brought together two of the planet’s greatest pugilists; it saw Mubutu budget more than ten million dollars to promote the show; it gave the fighters their biggest ever earnings; finally, it offered Africa the rare opportunity to see two of its eminent sons battle for supremacy on their own soil. They had always been forced to do it away from “home”.

The African leader was said to have traveled this expensive route in order to cover up for years of his corrupt era, egregious human rights abuse and misrule, all of which pauperized the country. He did not succeed. He failed to exploit the potential salutary public relations of the fight to improve the lot of the people. Actually it would appear Zaire got the rough end of the stick, because two years later in 1976, the country gave the international community the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Buhari And APC’s N27.5 Million Nomination Forms

Exactly two weeks ago (Thursday, October 16, 2014), the All Progressives Congress (APC) startled decent Nigerians when its national chairman, Mr. John Odigie-Oyegun, announced that the party put the cost of its expression of interest and nomination forms at the cost of N27.5 million in order “to separate the men from the boys.” Another way of saying this is: ‘to separate the wheat from the chaff!’

This statement which almost immediately reverberated across the nation through various blogs and television screens was widely reported in the papers the next day, Friday, October 17. As I write now (about 48 hours after it echoed in Abuja ), neither the APC nor its national chairman has even attempted to “clarify” the very unwholesome assertion or withdraw it in its entirety. This can only mean, therefore, that the party solidly stands by such an outrageous and unsettling statement by its topmost officer. What a sad, tragic development.

Now, to describe a grown man as a “boy” is to dismissively imply that he is immature, inexperienced, inadequate or, worse, irresponsible. And so, going by the statement of the APC chairman, the ability to roll out millions of naira is what qualifies somebody to be a “man” in the party. In other words, even if you are generously endowed with superlative moral, intellectual and managerial   abilities, as long as you are not a multi-millionaire or have multi-millionaire friends who can throw the millions on your behalf, you are in the “progressive” thinking of the APC a mere “boy” – immature and irresponsible, and, therefore, not qualified to contest a responsible position on the platform of the party! 

For a party that has unduly strained itself to persuade Nigerians that it represents a healthy alternative to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), this is indeed a most devastating disclosure and horrendous disappointment! What this, once again, demonstrates very clearly is that whereas the APC has deployed enormous efforts to tell Nigerians how bad the PDP is, it has been most unsuccessful in its attempt to allay growing fears (and conceal the stubbornly reoccurring indications) that it is, perhaps, even worse than the PDP.  

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