Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Xenophobia: Nipping A Monster’s Growth In The Bud

By Nnaemeka Oruh

One of the things I have learnt, first as a student of literature, and then as a literary critic, is that incidents (especially those brought about by human action) do not randomly occur in isolation, but are rather linked to other incidents. Thus an incident would either be a result or cause of another incident. For instance, the man or woman who becomes a terrorist does not just wake up one day to become one. Several incidents (including indoctrination) would have combined to create in him the mind-set of a terrorist. It is simply human nature.
















*South African President, Jacob Zuma and President 
Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria 

Recently, we have all been inundated with information, pictures, and even videos of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa. The world stood, mouth open in shock, at the despicable level of inhumanity, hatred, and incivility being displayed by Nelson Mandela's children. Children, who just a few years ago needed the support of their African brethren to be free from segregation. The fact that some of them (law enforcement agents inclusive) stood by and watched without offering any help to the victims as their countrymen beat up, torched and killed several foreigners show a certain unspoken solidarity with the actions of their people. Which goes to show that these few who perpetrated those despicable acts are somehow representative of the core feelings of a larger section of South Africans. The question that any discerning person would ask though is: are these xenophobic acts random, spur-of-the-moment acts? Or are they a consequence of the blossoming of a monster whose seed was sown long ago?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Justice For Abians: Let Our Votes Count For Once!

By Nnaemeka Oruh

The Independent National Electoral Commission's decision to declare the Abia State gubernatorial elections inconclusive comes as temporary respite to many aggrieved Abians. These are people who are well aware that their choice was being taken away from them, and thus were amazed at the report that the PDP's Okezie Ikpeazu was leading APGA's Alex Otti in the elections. 



















*Gov Orji
Abians, as is evident from the comments made and actions being taken by them are tired of the ignominious hegemony Governor Theodore Orji and his family were inflicting on Abians. Here is a family, whose son allegedly prances around the state as the “Executive Governor,” intimidating people. This was a man whom Abians elected believing that as one of their own (he was actually projected as almost as indigent as the people), he would bring them a breath of fresh air. But contrary to all the high hopes he gave Abians, T.A Orji saw the state as a personal investment and went ahead to allegedly shamelessly and openly enrich himself to the detriment of the state.

Dying For Nothing In Nigeria

By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye
During the governorship and states’ houses of assembly elections that took place in Nigeria last Saturday (April 11, 2015), several persons reportedly died across the nation. As I write now, a day after the elections, there are reports of raging battles in a couple of states. What it is most likely to boil down to is that some other people will also foolishly waste their lives like some others before them before the smoke of the senseless war clears.

Now, apart from any hapless individual who was “accidentally discharged” by some habitually reckless and trigger-happy cop or someone caught in the crossfire as rival political groups clashed and unleashed violence on each other, all the others killed during this election while fighting “political wars” died for nothing. They died for nothing because they counted themselves as nothing, hence they could waste their precious lives fighting for mostly common thieves or glorified thugs striving to become governors or “honourable” members of the house of assembly so that they can plunder the resources of the state and cart away as much loot as they can before their tenure expires.

What beats me is how a human being could devalue his life so much that he could expose that life to serious danger by agreeing to undertake a violent activity on behalf of someone who may not even be informed if he is killed – someone who does not even know him or care whether he lives or dies. Sometimes, all it takes to motivate these misguided combatants would just be a few crumpled naira notes, some bottles of beer or gin and poorly produced T-shirts bearing the faces of the fellows who they have been hired to fight and die for. Most of the time, he does not even have the slightest hint of   contact with these his “ardent supporters.” Or if he does, it may just be to come out in front of his house or step out of his luxury car at some other place to address and charge them to be prepared to lay down their lives to ensure that only the “credible candidate” (himself) wins the election “for the good of the state”.      

Monday, April 13, 2015

The 10 Most Corrupt Countries In The World











(pix: Michigan.gov)






By Sam Becker
Corruption and economic turmoil often go hand-in-hand. In western nations like the United States, and in many European countries, we often see corruption come to light as the result of whistleblowers or journalistic efforts. But in many other areas of the world, however, corruption plays a major role in fostering staggering poverty and broken economic systems in a much more blatant way.

Oftentimes, specific power structures and government architectures provide an easier means for corrupt politicians, businessmen, or military officials to exploit the system. Many governments have their roots in constitutions from generations ago, and have outgrown their current systems. Many other countries are ruled by a variety of independent tribal leaders and often lack a centralized power structure with any meaningful sway.

Transparency International developed a comprehensive list of the world’s most corrupt nations last year, and the countries that top the list probably won’t come as much of a surprise to many. The study ranks countries on a scale from 0 to 100, with zero being the most corrupt, and 100 being the least.

Of course, corruption comes in a variety of forms, so getting a precise gauge is difficult. But perception itself is a very strong tool, and can have a big effect on its own. If the study reveals anything, it’s that the world overall has a huge issue in terms of corrupt officials. By looking at the Corruptions Perception Index, along with the existing power structures and economic systems within each country, the picture does become a bit clearer. That’s why we dug a little deeper, examining the rankings for ourselves.

Although not among the top ten, we’ve included the United States on the list to give perspective as to where America ranks internationally in terms of corruption and economic strife. By Transparency International’s calculations and scale, the U.S. is sitting fairly pretty, although it’s common knowledge that there are definitely issues with how things are run in Washington. Other countries you might expect to see like Russia, Mexico, or Venezuela all have their places as well, and the full list of 177 nations can be viewed straight at the source from Transparency International.


Here are the most corrupt nations in the world, as ranked by Transparency International, with additional insight into the issues and factors plaguing each one.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE TEN COUNTRIES 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Nigerian Youths, ‘Shine Your Eyes’


By Carllister Ejinkeonye

The rescheduled elections is here with us. An opportunity to exercise one’s democratic rights by helping to decide in whose hands the affairs of the country should be in the next couple of years ought to be an exciting period totally devoid of fear and dread. That is why the desperation saturating the political atmosphere needs to be defused. While not begrudging the politicians the opportunity to seek to be voted into power, they should try not to stifle the excitement that should accompany every democratic exercise in our country.

Why for instance should people be consumed with fear for their lives and those of their loved ones each time Nigerians are going to the polls? Yes, some of the politicians may be genuinely interested in improving our lives and society if voted into office, but they should also duly respect our right to reject them at the polls, despite their noble intentions. And when that happens, they should accept our verdict with grace and equanimity and wait for another opportunity to repackage and represent themselves to us more attractively.      

It is not and should not be a do-or-die affair. There have been reports of clashes between supporters of rival parties here and there. Some politicians have not helped matters too. Provocative statements oozing from their mouths tend to be viewed by their misguided supporters as a signal for “war.” And as one encounters the reports of some ‘battles’ already staged even while the elections are still a couple of weeks away, one is deeply pained that in the event of any struggle between giant ‘elephants,’ it is always the tender grasses that  suffer and get destroyed.  When lives are snuffed out, what once looked like rosy futures are brutally aborted.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Chimamanda Adichie On The Oba Of Lagos

By Chimamanda Adichie
A few days ago, the Oba of Lagos threatened Igbo leaders. If they did not vote for his governorship candidate in Lagos, he said, they would be thrown into the lagoon. His entire speech was a flagrant performance of disregard. His words said, in effect: I think so little of you that I don’t have to cajole you but will just threaten you and, by the way, your safety in Lagos is not assured, it is negotiable.
There have been condemnations of the Oba’s words. Sadly, many of the condemnations from non-Igbo people have come with the ugly impatience of expressions like ‘move on,’ and  ‘don’t be over-emotional’ and ‘calm down.’ These take away the power, even the sincerity, of the condemnations. It is highhanded and offensive to tell an aggrieved person how to feel, or how quickly to forgive, just as an apology becomes a non-apology when it comes with ‘now get over it.’
Other condemnations of the Oba’s words have been couched in dismissive or diminishing language such as ‘The Oba can’t really do anything, he isn’t actually going to kill anyone. He was joking. He was just being a loudmouth.’
Or – the basest yet – ‘we are all prejudiced.’ It is dishonest to respond to a specific act of prejudice by ignoring that act and instead stressing the generic and the general.  It is similar to responding to a specific crime by saying ‘we are all capable of crime.’ Indeed we are. But responses such as these are diversionary tactics. They dismiss the specific act, diminish its importance, and ultimately aim at silencing the legitimate fears of people.
We are indeed all prejudiced, but that is not an appropriate response to an issue this serious. The Oba is not an ordinary citizen. He is a traditional ruler in a part of a country where traditional rulers command considerable influence – the reluctance on the part of many to directly chastise the Oba speaks to his power. The Oba’s words matter. He is not a singular voice; he represents traditional authority. The Oba’s words matter because they are enough to incite violence in a political setting already fraught with uncertainty. The Oba’s words matter even more in the event that Ambode loses the governorship election, because it would then be easy to scapegoat Igbo people and hold them punishable.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Obasanjo’s Belated Distaste For Corruption

By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye

A few hours after the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega, told Nigerians that General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress (APC) has won the March 28, 2015 Presidential Elections, a former head of state, General Olusegun Obasanjo, released his congratulatory letter to Buhari. In it, he told Buhari, among other things, to rid “our land of corruption”  

























*Obasanjo

With so much harm already done to many national institutions including the military, which proudly nurtured you and me, you will have a lot to do on institution reform, education, healthcare, economy, security, infrastructure, power, youth employment, agribusiness, oil and gas, external affairs, cohesiveness of our nation and ridding our land of corruption,” Obasanjo wrote in the six-paragraph letter.

It was the season of victory celebrations and hastening to identify with victors, so, such outpour of sentiments were not unexpected, even from very suspicious and grossly unqualified quarters. We live in a country of pathetic denialists, where the citizens are in such a hurry to forget and the media finds the ennobling task of asking deep questions and reminding us of even our most recent past a very tiresome and undesirable task.

And so, in such a country, persons like Obasanjo who deployed enormous zeal and determination to wreak unqualified damage to their country can afford to rewrite recent history and brazenly crown and advertise themselves as heroes and  patriots. And our largely pathetic media would eagerly join, if not lead, the celebration of this unsightly dance in the slimy pond of egregious hypocrisy and mediocrity.   

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Should Attahiru Jega Get A Pat On The Back?

By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye
Professor Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of the Independent Electoral National Commission (INEC) lost my trust when he insisted on going ahead to conduct the 2015 elections on February 14, 2015, even when it was very clear to every sincere human being that the commission was not ready for the elections.


















*Jega

Millions of the Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) ordered by INEC had at that time not even been supplied, let alone distributed to prospective voters. And this meant that about 34% percent of registered voters in Nigeria stood the risk of being disenfranchised. Yet, Jega was out there telling the world that he was ready for the elections, and that he was only being compelled to postpone them by the information transmitted to him by the security chiefs that within the next six weeks, they would be too preoccupied with the fight to finally flush out the Boko Haram fighters from the North-East, and so would not be able to provide adequate security for the polls.

Not even the card readers which have proved to be a major spoiler in the just concluded presidential and national assembly elections were ready for use by February 14. INEC’s lack of preparedness was writ large everywhere yet in his every speech, Jega was assuring Nigerians that he was set for the elections. But as we have all seen now, despite the whole six weeks extension INEC eventually got, the shoddy manner of last Saturday’s polls is a clear demonstration that had the elections held on February 14 as Jega had stubbornly insisted with the active, enthusiastic support of the All Progressive Congress (APC), it would have been a monumental disaster.    

Nobody’s Ambition Is Worth The Blood Of Any Nigerian - President Jonathan













STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN AFTER THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE RESULTS OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 2015
Fellow Nigerians,
I thank you all for turning out en-masse for the March 28 General Elections.

I promised the country free and fair elections. I have kept my word. I have also expanded the space for Nigerians to participate in the democratic process. That is one legacy I will like to see endure.

Although some people have expressed mixed feelings about the results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I urge those who may feel aggrieved to follow due process based on our constitution and our electoral laws, in seeking redress.
As I have always affirmed, nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian. The unity, stability and progress of our dear country is more important than anything else.

I congratulate all Nigerians for successfully going through the process of the March 28th General Elections with the commendable enthusiasm and commitment that was demonstrated nationwide.

I also commend the Security Services for their role in ensuring that the elections were mostly peaceful and violence-free.

To my colleagues in the PDP, I thank you for your support. Today, the PDP should be celebrating rather than mourning. We have established a legacy of democratic freedom, transparency, economic growth and free and fair elections.

For the past 16 years, we have steered the country away from ethnic and regional politics. We created a Pan-Nigerian political party and brought home to our people the realities of economic development and social transformation.

Through patriotism and diligence, we have built the biggest and most patriotic party in Nigerian history. We must stand together as a party and look to the future with renewed optimism.

I thank all Nigerians once again for the great opportunity I was given to lead this country and assure you that I will continue to do my best at the helm of national affairs until the end of my tenure.

I have conveyed my personal best wishes to General Muhammadu Buhari.

May God Almighty continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

I thank you all.

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR
President,
Federal Republic of Nigeria
March 31, 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

That Nigeria May Survive The 2015 Presidential Elections

By Nnaemeka Oruh                                          
 A few days from now, we shall be headed to the polls for the 2015 Presidential and National Assembly elections. Then two weeks later, the governorship and state assembly elections will hold. This year's presidential election will arguably be the most fiercely contested and the closest presidential elections since the history of Nigeria’s democracy. The All Progressives Congress (APC) – the major opposition party in Nigeria, has over the past one year grown to be a robust and influential party which stands within touching distance of taking over from the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP). Few will argue that this development has engendered a sense of insecurity amongst the ruling party and has ultimately become very healthy for our democracy.  Yet, as we go to the polls, it is important that we be careful and desist from certain acts that may truncate this well-worked out democracy.














*President Jonathan and Gen Buhari

One of the most important things we need to watch out for is the circulation of false information. In this era of social media, several false information have been in circulation either to gain cheap popularity, or simply to cause mischief and advance some sinister objectives. With the nauseating desire to 'feel among', many for the sake of attracting retweets by twitter celebrities have gone as far as cooking up fake stories that they know will pander to the desires of the twitter celebrities and proceeded to tweet such false news to them in order to gain acceptance and appear relevant.

Nigeria: Elections In The Season Of Fear

By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye
On Saturday (March 28, 2015), Nigerians will once again troop to the polls to choose who among the several contestants vigorously campaigning and scheming out there (mostly for self-serving reasons) would be their president and members of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next four years. In several other countries, including even some of our smaller and leanly-endowed neighbours here, election periods usually provide the populace with pleasant opportunities to savour the excitement of democracy.

People go to the polls with beaming faces exchanging pleasantries and banters while waiting to cast their votes. They are not gripped by any benumbing fear that some daredevil thugs might swoop on the voting centres to shoot into the air, snatch away ballot boxes, and, possibly, wound or even kill some people in the process. Even the contestants would just come to the voting centres with little or no security, and without any fanfare unobtrusively cast their votes like every other person.  And as they return to their homes, they are not looking over their shoulders to see if some killers hired by their opponents are trailing them to eliminate them.

The voters, too, would go home and enjoy another night of refreshing and peaceful sleep with their two eyes closed. The atmosphere is completely devoid of fear because they are not expecting that some hooligans would soon start disturbing the peace of the neighbourhood and looking for whom to kill or maim once emerging results begin to show that their paymaster is losing.

The expectation of Nigerians of decent will this time around is that we would be able to prove with this Saturday’s elections that our case cannot just remain egregiously different in the comity of nations, that we would not always be counted among the world’s perennially sick babies who are always distinguished by their inability to get even very simple things right.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bird Flu: All Eyes On Nigeria?

By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye

Recently (January 2015), Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina,   confirmed the outbreak of bird flu in eleven states of the federation. The states affected are Kano, Lagos, Ogun, Rivers, Delta, Edo, Plateau, Gombe, Imo, Oyo and Jigawa states.

Not many Nigerians even heard of the outbreak which could really be very disastrous if not properly managed. This was because the Federal Government not only immediately identified and depopulated the 39 farms affected by the flu in the eleven states, it also approved N145 million for the owners of the farms as compensation for the loss they suffered as a result of the depopulation exercise. As we know, depopulation is one of the most effective measures usually taken to control the spread of the avian flu. Each of the affected farms got N1.4 million which was disbursed within 72 hours of the killing of the infected and exposed birds.  We must also commend the owners of those farms for cooperating with the government to arrest the looming epidemic.

When it was reported that Nigeria had recorded “the first” human casualty from bird flu in 2007, a World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesperson, Gregory Hartl, said cases of humans contracting the H5N1 virus (which causes the bird flu) in Nigeria should come to no one as a surprise, considering the experience in a country like Indonesia, which, like Nigeria, has huge concentrations of poultry where human beings live.

“It does not change anything from a public health point of view. It had to happen sooner or later,” Hartl said.

The New Zealand Herald of February 1, 2007, quotes unnamed “experts” as identifying Nigeria as one of the countries that constitute the “weakest links in the global attempt to stem infections of birds.”

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Politicians As Nigeria’s Biggest Headache

By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye

Now, let’s face it. Despite all the empty (and, often, very exasperating) noise about being driven by patriotism and “desire to serve my people” that usually saturates the atmosphere at each election season, a careful, conscientious search on the political terrain can only yield about less than one percent (and one is being really generous here) of aspirants motivated solely by genuine desire to improve the lives of the citizenry and make society a better place.














            Buhari, President Jonathan and the Chairman
            of PDP and APC

For the majority, the sole incentive is the golden opportunity politics offers to gain access to government coffers and cart away as much free money as one could grab before one’s tenure elapses. This is just the raw, plain truth. Indeed, it is a simple case of organized banditry and every politician in Nigeria knows that we know this.

There is, however, a very insignificant few who, although also inspired by the same primitive craving for the very unfairly lucrative political jobs, are content to just go home every month with only their usually jumbo salaries and allowances. Although, they do not find the very outrageously inflated pay packets they have allocated to themselves in the midst of widespread poverty very obscene, they are, however, able to recoil from the mad, free and fair looting that has become the distinguishing feature of political office in Nigeria. The brazenness with which the looting is perpetrated and the most revolting manner its prodigious proceeds are often flaunted before everyone underline the unmistakable impression that shameless stealing has received an official endorsement as part and parcel of governance, a kind of official culture.

What makes the matter even more egregious is that these callous looters are always able to use some tiny crumbs or the usually very reliable intoxicants, namely, ethnicity and religion, to get the same shortchanged and impoverished citizenry to rise in their defense each time there are attempts to pry into their hideous activities in office. It is only in Nigeria that this kind of thing makes sense – that someone among the populace would want to fight and even die for an unrepentant enemy of the people who has so wickedly exploited, dehumanized and grossly diminished him!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Illiberality In An Age Of Conspiracy

By Dan Amor

For those who have a profound appreciation of power and its most penetrating insight as well, the fact of the matter, as the Italians once succinctly put it, is that power cannot be wrested no matter the paradigm one uses without certain attributes by the group or individual that jockeys after it. Popularized as the Three Cs in political parlance, any group that earnestly seeks power must be cohesive. It must be coherent. And it must be conspiratorial. 
















*President Jonathan 

In an attempt to wrest power from President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, even before the Senate's Doctrine of Necessity following the untimely death of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, some hawks have tried to employ certain machinations including coercion and brigandage to humiliate him from the pinnacle of power.


Few Nigerians have been so persistently, so perversely and so pertinaciously maligned in the folklore of our political evolution. Even before Yar'Adua was officially pronounced dead, there was  cataclysm in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) arising from the sharp division between defenders of entrenched interests who insisted that the North must retain power and those who insisted that the sanctity of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must supervene.  That is where Jonathan's problem started. With the intervention of the Senate, he assumed the Presidency in acting capacity and later as substantive President. In 2011, northern politicians insisted that Jonathan should not run, which is grossly unconstitutional. Again, the Constitution gained upper hand, and Jonathan, in what was considered a free-and-fair election by local and international observers, won a pan-Nigerian mandate as the country's fourth democratically elected President.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

National Seminar On Chinua Achebe At Indian Women's College

National Seminar on legendary African author, Chinua Achebe, held at the JSS College for women

"India needs to know more about the significant writer of Africa, Chinua Achebe and his influence toward the people in Africa through his straight forward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory which made him a man of people as well his writings reflected the  voice of people", said M L Jadhav, Chairman, Department of English, Shivaji University, Kolhapur, Maharashtra.













Speakers at the seminar 

He was speaking at UGC a sponsored national seminar on ‘Foregrounding Chinua Achebe: Indian Response’ organised by the Department of English in association with The Postgraduate Department of English of University of Mysore at JSS College for Women.

With thorough knowledge of the colonisation of Africa, the writer exposed the ground truth of the people who were repeatedly sabotaged by the European colonialists, especially British empires. He criticised the massacre of Africans by the colonialists. He x-rayed the pain of the black people of Africa across the world. His major writings were on the contest of traditional values in the absence of nativity which attracted people of the country, the professor explained.
















Cross section of participants 

H B Suresh, HoD, Department of English, JSS College for Women, K M Chandar, Department of English, University of Mysore, Mruthyunjaya P Kulenur, Additional Director, College Education Division, JSS Mahavidyapeetha, N Nagaraja, Principal, JSS College for Women, H C Honnappa, Dean Academic, JSS College for Women were present. About 800 students attended in the seminar.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Where is Muhammadu Buhari?

By Chuks Iloegbunam 
Yes, indeed. That is the question. Where is the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC)? The man left Nigeria in mysterious circumstances sometime between February 15 and 19, 2015. His manner of disappearing raised eyebrows across the country, for he suddenly melted into ether. To divert the attention of the curious, his handlers posted numerous false pictures on the Internet and planted same in national newspapers. There, suddenly, was Muhammadu Buhari, confidently emerging from airport formalities at either Heathrow or Gatwick! There, suddenly, was a relaxed Buhari in some well-appointed London studio, granting a press interview. 















*Muhammadu Buhari 

It didn’t take a century for the pack of lies to crumble. It turned out the pictures released of Buhari by his handlers were of the man on a UK visit during 2013. It turned out that the Buhari interview was years old, and had been conducted not anywhere in Europe but inside an Abuja Transcorp Hilton suite. Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose personally visited the suite and demonstrated beyond every iota of doubt that it was the venue of the so-called interview the APC claimed its presidential candidate had granted in London. Eagle-eyed journalists supported Fayose’s findings by detailing features of the interview picture that pinned its origin to the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.


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