Friday, October 20, 2017

The Reality Of Poverty In Nigeria

By Dan Amor
Against the backdrop of the declaration of Tuesday October 16, 2017, as 'World Poverty Day', we may well take a critical look at a damning document entitled, "Report Card on World Social Progress". Released currently in the United States of America by the International Society for Life Quality Studies, the report has identified the best countries in which to live in the world. These include Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria and Belgium , in that order. The report which is signed by the group's international president, Prof. Richard Estes, who has studied human development for over 45 years, has equally stated the bottom 10 poorest nations in the world. They include Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Angola, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Guinea, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The report was compiled based on data provided by governments to the United Nations and measures the ability of nations to meet the basic needs of their residents in terms of health, education, security, human rights, political participation, population growth, improved women's status, cultural diversity and freedom from social chaos.
*Buhari and Obasanjo
According the report, the overall picture for social progress in the world is grim with 21 African and Asian countries nearing social collapse due to concentrated poverty, weak political institutions, repeated economic failure, disease and cultural dislocation. But the report missed out corruption which is the bane of the Nigerian society and the major cause of poverty in the country. Of course, Nigeria, since 1998, has been described by the Berlin-based anti-corruption organisation ,Transparency International, as one of the five most corrupt countries in the world. Unfortunately, President Muhammadu Buhari, who claims to be fighting corruption, did not even bother any hoot to address the nation on the pervasive and scandalous maze of mass poverty in Nigeria. Yet, the irony of the Nigerian condition is that Buhari was a cabinet member of the military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo (1976-1979) which actually handed over the legacy of poverty to the Alhaji Shehu Shagari regime (1979-1983). The Obasanjo military regime it was which syndicated the first ever $15billion loan from a consortium of European banks. Millions of Nigerians were sacked from work and their sources of livelihood were sacrificed to meet International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditionalities for the granting of the loan.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

President Buhari’s Race To Develop The North

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
With the seemingly irreversible flight of a pan-Nigerian vision from the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, he continues to flail about in a bid to give the impression to the less discerning among us that he is committed to the unity of the nation. He emotes about the censure of hate speech that threatens the oneness of the country that was cobbled together by some foreign invaders and that has remained so for over a century. He fumes at the citizens’ obliviousness of not only his visions but projects that have overwhelmed the landscape, all aimed at improving their lot that has been negated by years of neglect and misrule of past state helmsmen.
*President Buhari 

Yet, what the citizens see beyond this veneer of Buhari’s self-confessed love for his country is the urgent need for him to preserve the nation not by being obsessed with the hunt for some elusive enemies of their collective wellbeing who spew hate. Rather, he must consider himself as the enemy of the nation whose actions have worsened the fissures which his utterances have inflicted.
In the past two years since Buhari emerged as the nation’s president, he has translated into reality his apocalyptic prediction conveyed in the mathematical absurdity of consigning those who gave him five per cent of his votes to immiseration while sparing those who gave him 97 per cent. This bifurcation of the citizenry for the purpose of punishing some and rewarding others has clearly stoked mutual suspicion. 

Dele Giwa: Lingering Echoes Of A Murder

By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye
“Now, I think no riches can compare with being alive…”
      Achilles, Homer’s Iliad.

“One life taken in cold blood is as gruesome as millions lost in a pogrom.” – Dele Giwa
*Dele Giwa 
Death is one appointment which every being must keep. And as we know, appointments can either be brought forward or moved to a later date or cancelled altogether. In the matter of life and death, any changes in appointment schedules should be the exclusive prerogative of the Creator. No man, therefore, has any right to arrogate to himself the role of bringing forward any other person’s appointment with death. In fact, it is abominable to even use one’s hands to hasten one’s own appointment with death. Laws of God and man hold such actions highly condemnable. So, suicide bombers and their sponsors, supporters and cheer-leaders should, therefore, get it into their heads that they have no mandate whatsoever from the Creator of man to either take their own lives or that of another, no matter the beliefs that fire their unholy zeal and action.

Death, however, is unavoidable, though loathsome. There is hardly anyone that wishes to die. Not even the most valiant of men would embrace death so willingly. Even those people who had been compelled by very harsh, unbearable circumstances to wish for death have had to shudder, cringe and shrink back when the icy hands of death sought to grip their throats. Deep down the heart of every man and every woman, and beyond the facade of all apparent fearlessness and bravery, lie this cold loathing and resentment for death. The survival instinct is there and also the desire to avoid danger and death, and the longing to postpone one’s date with death, temporarily at least, if not forever, hence the struggle and fight at many a deathbeds.

Rochas Okorocha, The Man Whose Vision Drives Crazy

By Ikechukwu Amaechi
When Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, told TELL magazine that “my vision drives me crazy,” many people did not take his words literally.
In November 2016, he tweaked the statement a little, this time saying his love for Imo State keeps him from sleeping. “I find it difficult to sleep now because I want to change the entire face of Imo,” he said.
*President Zuma and Gov Okorocha 
Noble sentiments expected of a leader who means well for his people. But more than six years on the saddle, many Imolites are beginning to wonder whether their governor was speaking metaphorically or literally because his vision for the state (whatever it is) is not only warped, twisted and crazy, but can only be conjured by a mind that is not attuned to reality. It is tunnel vision.
The latest manifestation of such crazy vision is Okorocha’s deification of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma in Owerri, Imo State capital, last weekend, when he unveiled a gigantic statue in his honour.
Zuma, who flew into the country on Friday, October 13, on what was a “private visit,” was on the same day conferred with a traditional chieftaincy title – Ochiagha Imo (Great Warrior) – by Eze Samuel Ohiri, chairman of the state council of traditional rulers. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo issued the title certificate.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How To Kill A Country

By Dare Babarinsa
Somalia was a beautiful country. It was also supposed to be a lucky country, one of the few in Africa whose boundaries harbour predominantly one ethnic group. Only few countries are in this category in Africa; like Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Many African countries are endangered by ethnic differences and even the veneer of democracy has not totally erased the old ethnic differences.

In Nigeria, we have fought a bloody Civil War caused mainly by ethnic differences. In Zimbabwe, ethnic rivalries had coloured the country’s history especially between the Shonas and the Ndebele. Rwanda was once also killed because of ethnic violence. But Somali, because it is populated by mainly the Somalis, is supposed to be free from ethnic tension.
But Somalia is also the workshop for the devil. For more than 30 years now, the devil has been at work in that country populated mainly by ethnic Somalis. Almost all the citizens are Muslims of the Sunni sect. Yet there is no country in Africa that has consistently worked against its interest like Somalia has done.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Anambra Governorship Election: I Will Vote Willie Obiano

By Chuks Iloegbunam
Someone brought to the office a video clip of Tony Nwoye “campaigning”. Since the man is the APC candidate in the November 18 Anambra governorship election, the urge to view his message was overpowering, especially as he had been rather taciturn since the contentious primary election that threw him up as his party’s candidate.
*Gov Willie Obiano
What was his governorship ambition all about? Decked out in a dark suit, a cordless microphone appeared glued to his lips. “Willie Obiano is a thief,” shouted Tony Nwoye. “His wife also is a thief.” He mouthed this abuse for the second and third times. Like a repeater station, the voice of an unseen fellow echoed his foul words. A few of his listeners clapped. In a minute the clip ended. What an anticlimax, I thought.

Tony Nwoye’s sacrilegious tongue apart, there was the more serious tenor of malicious prejudice in this unsubstantiated accusation. Was his fulmination the sum total of the APC’s manifesto? One assumed that, in soliciting for political endorsement, effort must be made to portray the candidate as deserving of support. Did the outpouring of invectives ever solve any society’s problems?

Buhari: When Silence Means Contempt

By Sam Omatseye
The president has always seen silence as a mark of dignity in a time of crisis. When he opens his mouth eventually, he spews out venom that neither gives him nor the office he occupies any form of dignity.
*President Buhari with Baru
Tall, gaunt, lean of face with a straight stare and loping strides, his smile comes across more like a lickspittle than a royal. Yet, behind that simpering exterior is a granite heart. However, little cunning or high thinking dresses up his hearty resolves. So, in the final analysis, what we have is not the Buhari of nobility but a pretension to the high moral act. Sometimes that façade confronts us in the form of silence.
Occasionally he does speak. When he breaks his silence, he ruptures not only peace but logic. As I have noted in the past, Buhari’s soul is a battle between the martial impulses of his breeding and the entitlement of his ambience as a Fulani hierarch. And then there is a third. He has managed, since his ouster from power as head of state, to cultivate the talakawa. So, he sees himself as a sort of royal with a common touch. He is simultaneously on top and at the bottom, a prince and pauper, a head and herdsman, at once erupting from the floor and swooping down from heaven.

Monday, October 16, 2017

No More Hate Speeches But Hate Actions?

By Chijioke Isiokpo
When children ask their father for egg and the father sends them pythons, or scorpions, it portends  an omen. I am not the first to make this statement.

It is our LORD Jesus Christ who said it first when he asked: “would any of you who are fathers give your son a snake when he asks for fish, or a scorpion when he asked for an egg”? Luke: 11: 11-13.

What would one say about a Father unleashing military might code named “Operation Python Dance” OPD, against his unarmed civilian population, (the children) claiming to go for thieves and kidnappers, arresting vehicles without wipers and drivers without licence, an alibi to provoke these citizens to a fight. He hates them and even attacks them with lies and threats that have embarrassed all.

Nigerian Army Must Re-Brand Itself

By Ochereome Nnanna
If the current Nigerian leadership still has any conscience, it must be shocked and sobered by the reaction of the people of the South East over the unfounded “Army vaccine” rumour that took place last week.

It was a conclusive proof that due to the prevailing unsavoury atmosphere foisted by the regime on major national institutions, a section of the Nigerian populace no longer sees the Nigerian Army as their own. They are now feared and despised, rightly or wrongly, such that even when they are involved in noble activities in the interest of the common man, they are suspected.

Following the outbreak of the monkey pox virus epidemic, the story, manufactured from devil knows where, made the rounds in the theatre of Operation Python Dance, that some individuals dressed in army uniform had invaded schools in Imo and Abia States forcibly administering vaccines to spread the monkey pox diseases within the Igbo population. Unfortunately, people believed this story, even though no one had any evidence to that effect.

Can The Break Up Of Nigeria Be Peaceful?

By Remi Oyeyemi
The above question is necessary to wake us up on and to the realities confronting us. The need to provide answers to it is very pertinent.
In my view, what is needed to save Nigeria is intractably antagonistic to Nigeria's NATURE and CHARACTER as a STATE.

What are needed to save Nigeria are basic and simple but yet humongously overwhelming for and to our WILL, if we have it at all. I have suggested and still suggest that it is important that we allow individual ethnic nationalities to have greater controls on their economic, social and political issues. A replication of the EUROPEAN UNION model could work to save Nigeria. But such a beautiful idea would not be allowed by those who want to dominate, enslave and exploit others.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

APC, NNPC And Procurement Disease

By Alabi Williams
I wonder how Governor Nasir el Rufai of Kaduna State feels at the moment. I wonder what his thoughts are now of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Remember his ‘kill NNPC or NNPC will kill us’ theory in the early days after the enthronement of their party? He waxed lyrical about his prescription for the corporation and the oil industry, which at the time was thought to be in a hopeless state, after the last regime made mincemeat of it.

It was in July 2015, the new government had been installed and all those who worked for the party, saints all of them, were upbeat on how to unleash a sinless regime where there is no corruption. El Rufai was to deliver a media lecture to mark the 81st birthday of Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka. He got for himself a fitting topic on how to sanitse the NNPC, which in its apogee of malfeasance was about to kill Nigeria. He thus propounded the topic urging that we kill NNPC before it kills Nigeria.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

That Ill-Advised Search For Oil In The North

On Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari was said to have met with three state governors from the northern part of the country. The meeting was to discuss what is becoming a desperate, continued search for oil in the north.

Sokoto governor, Aminu Tambuwal, one of the visitors to the president, was quoted to have called on the federal government to support the search for oil in the Sokoto basin, as that area had been discovered to have oil reserve as far back as 1957.

Friday, October 13, 2017

No To 'Operation Crocodile Smile' In The Niger Delta

By Dan Amor
To all intents and purposes, the reported mobilisation of soldiers to Cross River State and other states in the South South geopolitical zone in a military jamboree code named "Operation Crocodile Smile", is needless and avoidable. Unfortunately, Niger Delta youths who call themselves militants have once again played their much-abused region which, ironically, produces the wealth of the nation, into the willing hands of the establishment under the watch of a central government with an unstated or hidden agenda to totally exterminate the goose that lays the golden egg from the face of the earth.

 Even while the region was yet relatively peaceful, when the reawakened restiveness had not reached fever-pitch, President Muhammadu Buhari, even in his inaugural speech alluded to how he would combat and defeat Boko Haram and Niger Delta militants. One can then safely assume that the current war is directly or indirectly orchestrated by the powers that be just to create room for them to execute their plan against the region.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Stay Away From All Forms Of "Free Medical Programmes" – NMA

Press Release
The Nigerian Medical Association, Imo State, wishes to inform the General public that whereas immunization is necessary for the prevention of some killer diseases especially in childhood, there is no officially approved immunisation programme going on in the state presently. 

As a result, parents and teachers are advised not to submit their wards to persons or group of persons for any purported form of immunisation. 

This is on the backdrop of alarm being raised about "forced immunization" in some places in the state on Wednesday 11th October, 2017.

Similarly, The Nigerian Medical Association Imo State advices the general public to stay away from all forms of "free medical programmes" that do not have the approval of Nigerian Medical Association, while we keenly monitor events unfold.

Dr Dike Victor O.
Secretary, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA)
Imo State

Corruption And Aisha Buhari’s Testimony

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
It is increasingly becoming obvious that the President Muhammadu Buhari government is chafing under the affliction of a one-week-one-scandal syndrome. Unless they are irrevocably befuddled by their partisanship, Buhari’s loyalists who have been consumed with the notion of his unrivalled integrity would not fail to observe the dark atmosphere of corruption in which the administration is immersed. But of course, while most of these loyalists are apologising for allowing themselves to be used to pave the way for the Buhari presidency, there are some who would counter that those who accuse the government of corruption are the shellacked members of the opposition. After all, the Kachikwu-Baru affair which is the latest scandal in the Buhari government has not been declared by a competent court as an unimpeachable case of corruption.
*Aisha Buhari 

But the evidence of financial sleaze such unalloyed believers in the integrity of the Buhari government may not be able to dispute is no longer from the members of the opposition and other citizens whose moral sensibilities are daily affronted by corruption cases. Now, the evidence is from an unlikely quarter. It is from Aisha Buhari, the wife of the president. Just a week after the nation was scandalised by the $25 billion heist in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which has no rival in the alleged financial misdeeds committed by the Goodluck Jonathan government, Mrs. Buhari alerted us to the possible mismanagement of over N4 billion at the Aso Rock Clinic in less than two years. She was shocked that despite this allocation, the clinic did not have a single syringe. Mrs. Buhari’s alarm came shortly after her daughter Zahra was outraged at the lack of syringe and common drugs like paracetamol at the clinic. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

At 57, Nigeria Is Not Near Greatness

By Ikechukwu Amaechi
On Sunday, October 1, Nigerians marked the 57th anniversary of the country’s independence from Great Britain. It was all pomp and ceremony.
Being a Sunday, the Christian community weighed in forcefully. Many churches became de facto cultural centres. Congregants were asked to dress in national attires to showcase the country’s rich cultural heritages.

The Federal Government, as it is wont to do, declared Monday, October 2, public holiday. For a country in recession where the economic indices continue to look south, that was one more day sacrificed on our national alter of mendacity.
“Leaders” sent out beautifully crafted congratulatory messages, telling us how much they love Nigeria and how prepared they are, if need be, to make the ultimate sacrifice in defence of her territorial integrity.

Gov Obiano Asks Army To Halt Vaccination Of Pupils In Anambra

Press Release 

*Gov Obiano
Army Medical Outreach 
The attention of the State Government has been drawn to an on going medical outreach being undertaken by the Army in Ozubulu, Ekwusigo Local Government Area.

The State has been made to understand that the exercise is part of Army social responsibility to members of the public.

However, strong apprehension among the populace has followed the exercise leading to withdrawal of students from schools by parents, misconception of the actual motive behind the exercise by stakeholders, community leaders and a general reservation by the public for whom the outreach is intended.

Nigeria: That October 1 Hate Speech

By Steve Nwosu
If I say President Muhammadu Buhari’s October 1 speech was pre-recorded, that could amount to “hate speech’. Especially, as I have no documentary evidence. So, I’ll not say what I think.
*President Buhari
Similarly, if I say the Independence Day broadcast is the second hate speech I’ve heard from the president in a space of 40 days, I would also be incorrect. Especially as the details of what constitutes a ‘hate speech’ is increasingly looking like the proverbial Malawian constitution of Kamuzu Banda’s. It is whatever they tell us is the law that we accept as the law.
So, I’ll only recall that, after being away for 103 days, President Buhari returned to deliver one angry-speech (where he berated us for behaving badly, especially on the social media, while he was away), and that about 40 days later, he delivered yet another one (where he took Igbo leaders and elders to the cleaners, over the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB)).

The Kachikwu-Baru Story: Memo To President Buhari

By Mfom Bassey-Wellington 
The August 31, 2017 letter from the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, complaining of the insubordination of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, began to generate ripples less than 24 hours after it was made available to the media. The Senate, for example, the next day resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate grave allegations against the NNPC chief executive.
The decision followed a motion by Senator Samuel Anyanwu asking for a probe into the enormous and constant jobs given to Duke Energy, a motion which Senator Kabiru Marafa successfully prayed the Senate to include an investigation into the charge that Dr Baru has awarded $25 billion contracts without due process.
Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and President Buhari 
In the letter to President Buhari, Kachikwu, who is also the chairman of the NNPC Board of Directors, revealed that the NNPC GMD has since his appointment sidelined him in the affairs of the organisation. He cited the example of recent appointments as part of the NNPC reorganisation done without his knowledge, as he read about the changes only in the media, like any other person. The irony is that the appointments were made shortly after the corporation’s board held a meeting which, presumably, Baru attended. In other words, he did not deem it fit to intimate the board of the impending development.    

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Asaba Massacre Trauma, Memory, And The Nigerian Civil War

A Review By Chuks Iloegbunam 
Authors: S. Elizabeth Bird and Fraser M. Ottanelli.
Publishers: Cambridge University Press (2017).
We find this introduction in the book:
“In October 1967, early in the Nigerian Civil War, government troops entered Asaba in pursuit of the retreating Biafran army, slaughtering thousands of civilians and leaving the town in ruins. News of the atrocity was suppressed by the Nigerian government, with the complicity of Britain, and its significance in the subsequent progress of that conflict was misunderstood. Drawing on archival sources on both sides of the Atlantic and interviews with survivors of the killing, pillaging, and rape, as well as with high-ranking Nigerian military and political leaders, S. Elizabeth Bird and Fraser M. Ottanelli offer an interdisciplinary reconstruction of the history of the Asaba Massacre, redefining it as a pivotal point in the history of the war. Through this, they also explore the long afterlife of trauma, the reconstruction of memory and how it intersects with justice, and the task of reconciliation in a nation where a legacy of ethnic suspicion continues to reverberate.”

Having read the book, I attest to the veracity of the above claim. The credibility of the publication is grounded in the impeccable academic credentials of the authors. Bird is Professor of Anthropology at the University of South Florida. She has to her credit more than 80 articles and chapters on popular culture, media, heritage, and memory, as well as five books, two of which are award winning.
Ottaneli, her co-author, also of the University of South Florida, is Professor of History. He has authored and co-authored four books and several articles and essays on radical movements, ethnic history, and comparative migration in the twentieth century.
Yet, credibility often rides on more than the currency of academic triumph. On Africa, for instance, notable literary voices like Chinua Achebe and Ngügï wa Thiong’o have argued that the continent’s stories are better rendered by Africans and in their own tongues. But their standpoint does not invalidate the benefit of detachment often achieved by non-partisan non-Africans. This point profits from the consideration that, through half a century, Nigerians have failed to agree on what actually happened in Asaba on October 7, 1967.

The authors are mindful of the fact that they are liable to the charge of appropriating and running with a story not their own, a charge that, of course, pays scant attention to the reconstruction of today’s world as a Global Village in which what happens in Alaska is much the business of its denizens as it is the concern of the inhabitants of Sarawak. Thus, they take the pains to state that funding for their book did not come from Africa, while the story they have told is the result of extensive research, and the aggregation of the voices of massacre survivors, the relations of the victims and other assorted quarters. All told, 77 people were interviewed. The result is a 239-page book of six chapters:

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