Friday, December 2, 2016

At Last, Soyinka Discards His American 'Green Card'

Eminent Nigerian writer and Noble Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, who had vowed that if Mr. Donald Trump won the US presidential election that he would shred his 'green card' has fulfilled his promise. 

Soyinka told the AFP at a conference at the University of Johannesburg: "I have already done it, I have disengaged from the United States. I have done what I said I would do... I had a horror of what is to come with Trump ... I threw away the [green] card, and I relocated, and I'm back to where I have always been." 

He said, however, that he was not against any other Nigerian seeking to obtain the 'green card.' "It's useful in many ways. I wouldn't for one single moment discourage any Nigerians or anybody from acquiring a green card... but I have had enough of it," Soyinka said.

Governors And The Politics Of Succession

By Reuben Abati

The recent Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states threw up a number of issues about the politics of succession in Nigeria. In Edo state, you would think it was the then incumbent Governor Adams Oshiomhole seeking re-election. He campaigned more than the candidate.  He danced, waved the broom, his party’s symbol, far more enthusiastically than the man who wanted the office...
*Reuben Abati
He even did more to put down the opposition and any likely threat to Godwin Obaseki’s ambition. His pretty wife was always in tow during the campaigns, and did she dance? Oh yes, she did too. Godwin Obaseki’s emergence as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in that election caused much disaffection within the party. He was said to be Oshiomhole’s anointed candidate with the allegation that everything was being done to ensure his victory at the polls. Oshiomhole had his way. Obaseki is now Governor of Edo State.

       The incumbent Governor in Ondo State also did as much if not more to manage the politics of succession in the just concluded Governorship election in that state.  He anointed the candidate of his party, followed him everywhere, and “fought” for him, even in the courts and on the streets of Akure. The election was more about Dr Olusegun Mimiko and what he wanted. The situation was not helped by the fact that Mimiko’s choice, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN hails from the same Senatorial district with him, but by far the biggest problem was the division within the PDP, which produced two candidates on the same platform for the same election, with the courts having to decide mid-way and at the late hour, with a superior court overruling the lower court. This confusion created a scenario whereby Jimoh Ibrahim emerged for a while as the party’s candidate, only to be dismissed through a court order two days to the election.

     This did not bother the businessman-lawyer-politician, though. Giving the impression that he was not so desperate to be Governor, he declared that his mission was to make it impossible for Mimiko to achieve his goal of installing an anointed successor. On the eve of the election, he urged his supporters and the people of the state to vote for the candidate of the APC. Under normal circumstances this would be considered an anti-party activity but the PDP is right now in such a confused state as a political party - its ranks are filled with disloyal, one-leg-in-one-leg-out members.  For this reason, in Ondo state, the PDP defeated itself from within even before the election. Mimiko can also be held responsible for his chosen candidate’s defeat. He overplayed his hands in the febrile politics of succession in the state.

     There is perhaps nothing new about incumbents, at state, local and national levels, showing interest in who succeeds them. Being politicians, they could plead that they are duty bound to support their party’s candidate, but where the problem lies is the desperation that attends the choice of such candidates, beginning with the party primary. In the United States, which is an example that can be readily cited, President Barrack Obama openly supported the candidacy of the Democratic Party standard bearer, Hillary Clinton, but he did so only after she had won the nomination. If Bernie Sanders had been the party’s choice, he would still have received President Obama’s support out of loyalty to the party. In other words, it would be difficult to speak of an incumbent American President or Governor anointing a successor and imposing that successor on the party and the electorate.

Nigeria: When 'Clueless' Is Better Than Calamitous

By Bolaji Tunji
The present government of President Muhammadu Buhari would, in a few months, be two years old. Ever since the government was sworn in, save for the euphoria that trailed a new government and the expectation of Nigerians looking for change, if truth has to be told, Nigerians have not really got anything to show for all the change that they were promised. There is hardship in the land occasioned by the poor state of the economy. Nigerians are hungry. Prices of essential commodities are soaring. Food items are no longer affordable. As for social amenities, Nigerians experience more of darkness than light as power has worsened. Former Lagos governor and Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Raji Fashola, has not been able to find solution to the problem.
Most of the people who aided and supported this government such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo have equally signaled their dissatisfaction with the way things are going. He told the government to concentrate on clearing the mess inherited instead of complaining about the situation. In the early days of the administration, it was the in thing to blame the Goodluck Jonathan administration for the rot in the system. If the present government would continue to have its way, it would still have preferred to continue blaming the previous administration. But this would have shown the new government as lacking in initiative for still blaming its predecessor at nearly two years of taking over. Come to think of it, does this present administration have initiative, creativity? I do not think so. As much as Nigerians admire the person of President Buhari for his honesty, integrity (I equally do),  he has fallen short of the expectation of so many Nigerians. This is not just about criticizing the president for the sake of it, but criticism is coming because the president, in the past 17 months, has shown his unpreparedness for governance. I want him to succeed but wishing is different from the reality. The reality is that nothing is working. Companies are finding it difficult to continue and jobs are being lost.
I have written about the fact that there is no clear cut economic blue print and so many other Nigerians, who are in position to know this, have said the same. It is what former President Obasanjo described as administration by “adhocry”. Looking for quick fix solution without an in depth understanding of the problem. It is what led this same administration to China like other administrations before. Obasanjo visited China twice, late President Umaru Yar’Adua, President Jonathan equally visited before President Buhari’s visit in April.
Prior to that trip, the government had made us to understand that solution to the problems we are facing especially as it concerns the dollars would be found in China and that the focus on that country would reduce the over dependence on the dollar.  I had sounded a warning that the China trip would not solve our problem as it was an ad hoc solution. We were told that many agreements were signed in areas of power, solid minerals, etc. I am yet to see any of these taking off. Why not against such a trip, it should have been taken as part of a larger picture of our economic policy. If we have an economic policy, the question would have been; how does China fits into the overall picture?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New African Magazine Announces The Most Influential Africans 2016

President Magufuli of Tanzania named New African magazine's 'Person of the Year' as part of its Most Influential Africans list.
This year’s list is curated by a number of guest editors including Carlos Lopes, Acha Leke, Winnie Byanyima and Ory Okolloh.
1 December 2016, London -/- New African magazine, one of Africa’s most respected and longstanding magazines, has released its 2016 Most Influential Africans list.

In a break from the past, New African named their ‘Person Of The Year’ in Tanzanian President John Magufuli. Having made headlines for a new style of leadership, he is recognised for his efforts to root out corruption and for his principled approach.

This year, the magazine has reached out to a number of respected analysts and experts who have selected their most influential personalities across a variety of fields: politics, civil society, education, business, sports and techpreneurs. As a result there are a number of highly interesting individuals, including some whom could be considered lesser known names and public figures.

The Inertia Of President Buhari

By Charles Onunaiju
For more than a decade of his political odyssey in the struggle for Nigeria’s presidency, people of various political background stayed the course, not so much for his famed integrity but in the belief that President Muhammadu Buhari has the political will and grit to fundamentally shake up the country’s outlook, liberate it from conventional thinking and decisively transform the dominant mindset, which has sustained a precarious and unproductive trajectories of our post-colonial history. 
However, given the inertia that has trapped the president Buhari government currently in near atrophy especially in the economic and social fronts, it is easy to forget his breakthrough in a core area of national emergency, especially in substantially degrading the nihilist and extremist insurgents that have for years ravaged the North East and existentially threatened the rest of the country. 

Critics claimed that president Buhari has only recalled his attack dogs, which he has used to undermine the regime of former president Goodluck Jonathan. However, if any one person or group of persons could orchestrate such deadly insurgency and then walk about freely, then, the government under whose watch, it happened does not deserve a day longer in office. However, while the end of Boko Haram insurgency or its considerable degradation cannot amount to the end of Nigeria’s security woes, curtailing the rebellion of the narcissistic insurgents is a bold step in ensuring national security. 

But relinquishing the lives saved from the atavistic Boko Haram and almost at the same time, surrendering it to the pangs and ravages of hunger, poverty and destitution through policy timidity on economic and social fronts by a government that seemed to be mortally afraid to rigorously exert itself on new ideas stands logic on its head. The ideological fudge and denials which has characterised successive  Nigerian governments have constantly denied them the grasp of the fundamental disconnect and the prospect of objectively and scientifically comprehending the contradictions in the country and arriving at the relevant policy instruments to address them. 

President Buhari who at earlier times appeared to have, had the political will and strength of character to break from the routine, is now boxed in, to the inertia engendered by the customary gridlock of elite trade-offs, wedded to the well travelled path of regimented neo-liberalism and the consequent unimaginative policy alternatives. While president Buhari personally indulge himself in the moral outrage of the failures, corruption and inadequacies of the previous governments, his patriotic vision of a resurgent nation is hampered by a compelling deficit of analytical insight to the objective condition of the Nigerian situation and the poverty of scientific and intellectual rigour to define alternative road map.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Castro And The Politics Of Deification

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
Since the contemporary world is streaked with political leaders who ruthlessly betray their people’s trust, humanity is not infrequently afflicted with amnesia that compels it to hanker after its torturous past. That was a past when the rule of the strong man was the norm.
Yes, such strong men recorded lofty achievements. Some not only enlarged the territories of their countries through the conquest of other lands, they exceptionally improved the standard of living of their citizens. But in most cases when their caprices became the rules, the regime of brutality that was often manifested in the torture, tears and death of citizens besmeared their glorious interludes of achievements. Through Genghis Khan, Charlemagne, Alexander, Chairman Mao to Adolf Hitler, humanity has witnessed strong men whose single-handed pursuit of their visions led to the development of their nations. But such people saw themselves as the sole repositories of the patriotism and wisdom that could place their nations on a stellar pedestal of development.
But we often dismiss the accompanying brutality as an inevitable upshot of their quest for development of their nations. Thus, for instance, we often refer to how through rarefied leadership, Lee Kuan Yew transformed Singapore from a third world country to a first world nation. It was the same notion of strong men as better leaders that herded the Nigerian citizens into electing Muhammadu Buhari who is now floundering. As far as we are concerned, the suppression of dissent that accompanies the regime of a strong man pales into insignificance in the face of the miracles of development wrought by astute leadership. Yet, we must insist that something is wrong with the progress that would abridge the rights and claim the lives of a significant proportion of the members of the society.
What is clear as most people look back at the life and times of Fidel Castro is that they swoon over the development he brought to Cuba. There is the linear narrative of his transformation of Cuba, a tiny North American country of about 11 million people, to a formidable force that could call the bluff of arrogant powers like the United States that embargoed it. After successfully routing Fulgencio Batista who had trapped Cuba under his military jackboots, Castro opened a new vista of development in his country. His era was that of unprecedented improvement in literacy and medicine. But all this tends to blur Castro’s ruthlessness that bordered on misanthropy that mocked the terror of medieval potentates.

Does President Buhari Have A Conscience?

By Femi Fani-Kayode 
“Aside the 105 soldiers killed by Boko Haram, additional 34 soldiers were killed two days ago but it wasn’t in the news”– Deji Adeyanju.

I concur with Mr. Deji Adeyanju. The most heartless and reprehensible thing that our government could have done is to cover-up the fact that 105 of our soldiers were killed by Boko Haram a few days ago. To do such a thing is simply evil.
A soldier ought to be honoured in death and this is especially so if he died in the course of doing his duty and fighting for his nation.
The government has not only dishonoured them by not acknowledging their sacrifice but they have also buried them in the wilderness like rabid dogs.
This is wickedness of the highest order and President Buhari, his Chief of Army Staff and his Minister of Defence should bury their heads in shame.
Anyone that buys the lie and propaganda that the 105 soldiers never died and that they are still alive is a compound fool or a village idiot.
Will the military also deny the fact that a few days ago 34 of our soldiers were killed by Boko Haram? These boys died for their country. Why deny them?
I am outraged by the fact that a soldier will sacrifice his life for his country yet the citizens and authorities of that country don’t even appreciate it.
Pictures of the dead bodies were posted on social media. Everyone in the military knows that those soldiers are dead. It is an open secret. Yet because government denies it so many people just choose to believe them.
The truth is that Boko Haram must have used chemical weapons in the attack. When you look at the pictures of the dead bodies this is obvious. It was probably mustard gas.
All we want from the military is the truth. If 105 soldiers were not killed then how many actually were?
The whole episode happened last week in Borno State and the military authorities are denying it. I am sickened by that.
If others cannot appreciate the importance of honouring our dead soldiers, I can. I will not be intimidated and I will not remain silent.
Tell us where our boys are buried and if you refuse to do so we will keep asking. There must beaccountability and respect for those who have made the supreme sacrifice just to keep the rest of us safe. Our soldiers deserve that much.
Finally, let it be said loud and clear that since President Buhari came to power he has not bought one bullet for the military. Considering the fact that we are in the middle of a protracted and very bloody war I believe that this is utterly shameful. If you say you want to fight and defeat Boko Haram then why are you not buying arms for your troops?
This brings me to other matters and raises other questions about our President’s sincerity of purpose and commitment.
You say that you are fighting Boko Haram yet you are travelling the world drinking tea with world leaders whilst your soldiers are secretly being slaughtered.
You say you are fighting Boko Haram yet you were nominated as their spokesman and chief negotiator two years ago in a proposed peace talks with the Federal Government.
You say you are fighting Boko Haram but the man you appointed as your National Security Adviser was retired from the army a few years ago for ordering the release of Boko Haram terrorists under suspicious circumstances.
You say you are fighting Boko Haram but the first thing you did when you came to power was to remove military checkpoints. This guaranteed Boko Haram free movement and access to the entire country.
You say you are fighting Boko Haram yet last year you told the world that an attack on Boko Haram is an attack on the North.
You say you are fighting terror yet since you came to power Boko Haram has grown in strength, has regained lost territory and has been declared the “worlds number one most deadly terror group” by the Global Terror Index.

Kano Blasphemy Killing - Where Is Justice For Bridget Agbahime

By Godwin Onyeacholem
Indeed, for any keen observer of governance in post-colonial Africa, Nigeria must be a very depressing address. And this is more so for the simple reason that no country, in many people’s reckoning, has done so much as Nigeria in consistently consciously making itself an object of perpetual ridicule in the comity of civilized countries of the world. That explains why those who argue that Africa’s backwardness is a function of Nigeria’s pathetic leadership vision cannot be entirely wrong after all. Even Nigeria’s own citizens, who look up to their country to provide the required domestic and international leadership, have continued to be utterly disappointed and embarrassed in very many ways.

Take for example the case of Bridget Agbahime. On June 2, the 74-year-old kitchen utensils trader from Imo State was brutally attacked and killed at Kofar Wambai Market in Kano by a Muslim mob who accused her of blasphemy. According to reports, she was pounced upon and murdered after she refused to allow a Muslim man perform ablution in front of her shop. As expected, the circumstances of Bridget’s death sparked outrage within secular, Christian and progressive Muslim circles across the country and beyond, provoking once again that troubling question as to when these ignorant killings in the northern part of the country in the name of Allah would come to an end.
On behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, promptly issued a statement describing the incident as “sad and regrettable.” In the usual tone of such statements, it urged the people not to take the laws into their hands and affirmed that justice would be done in the matter.
On his part, Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, also called a meeting attended by prominent personalities including state chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Ransome Bello, the husband of the deceased, Pastor Mike Agbahime, of Deeper Life Bible Church, Igbo leaders in Kano, Islamic scholars and security agencies. At that meeting, the governor named the prime suspect in that heinous crime as one Alhaji Dauda. He said the killing was “unjustifiable” and that justice would be done in accordance with the provisions of the Nigerian constitution.

Of Arewa Hegemony And Afonja Quislings

By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
Nigeria is living in very interesting times of power politics. Some pundits are saying that history is about to repeat itself through the forged political realignments. Some 12 days after Nigeria’s Independence in October 1960, the then Premier of the Northern Region and Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, said in The Parrot newspaper:
“The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Othman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities in the north as willing tools and the south as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us and never allow them to have control over their future.”
*Buhari in Yorubaland, flanked by
Gov Amosu and Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun
Some Northern irredentists, notably Prof Ango Abdullahi and Dr Junaid Muhammed, insist at every interview opportunity that power must perforce return to the North. They have been countered by the militant voices out of Niger Delta, notably the very voluble Asari Dokubo. It is as though Nigeria is poised on a knife edge. In the alliances being put to play to win political power, the role of General Afonja in the fall of the old Oyo Empire needs to be recalled. 
According to Wikipedia, “The Ilorin Emirate is a traditional state based on the city of Ilorin in Kwara State, Nigeria. It is considered to be one of the Banza Bakwai, or copy-cats of the Hausa Kingdoms. At the start of the 19th century Ilorin was a border town in the northeast of the Oyo Empire, with a mainly Yoruba population but with many Hausa-Fulani immigrants or slaves. It was the headquarters of an Oyo General, Afonja, who rebelled against the empire and helped bring about its collapse with the assistance of the Fulani. The rebellion was powered by Hausa, Nupe and Bornu Moslem slaves. Afonja had been assisted by Salih Janta, also called Shehu Alimi, a leader of the local Fulani. In 1824 Afonja was assassinated and Alimi's son Abdusalami became Emir. Ilorin became an emirate of the Sokoto Caliphate.”
Afonja played a role akin to that of Vidkun Quisling, the Norwegian politician who undermined the world by aiding Nazi Germany, for which the word “quisling” entered the dictionary. Some notable Southwest politicians have been drawn into a recall of the old Afonja debacle and the need to stop the quislings in the zone in their tracks. At issue is the divide of support between the two presidential candidates, incumbent President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and General Muhammadu Buhari of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC). 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Mindless Slaughter Of Innocent Nigerians

By Kenechukwu Obiezu
Renowned international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International’s recently released a report damningly found that Nigeria’s security agencies had systematically and extra-judicially gunned down one hundred and fifty members of the Indigenous  People of Biafra (IPOB), whose leader remains incarcerated,  in defiance of multiple orders for his bail by national and international courts, and by a government which  poorly continues to disguise its monumental discomfort with  the rule of law.
Nigeria’s   descent into a land of many and geographically-diverse killing fields has been steady decades now. President after President beginning with Olusegun Obasanjo under who  security agencies fell on Choba, Rivers State and Zaki Biam in Benue State, to the current administration which let loose security agencies in Anambra State, Kaduna State and in other states to crush supposed secession attempts by the IPOB and an alleged terrorist group in the  IMN, have cited threats to the national security and sovereign integrity of the country to justify repeated  ruthless deployment of force  done with scant regards to human rights, the rule of law and the rules of engagement.
Most gullible and impressionable  Nigerians increasingly afraid for their lives and security in a country of mounting insecurity and scandalous corruption have allowed themselves to be swayed by the government’s well–prepared propaganda and party lines into believing that all those whose blood have flowed were indeed terrorists whose places in the supposedly sane society of Nigeria had become untenable and highly dangerous. Add the rampaging killings by the terrorist Boko Haram sect and criminal Fulani herdsmen to the equation plus the government’s anemic and even comedic response and reaction thereto and you have a witch’s brew of mindless slaughter of innocent Nigerians.  President Muhammadu Buhari has   done little to help calm the frazzled nerves of   Nigerians and international human rights monitors who have remained alarmed at the killing sprees of security agencies in Nigeria.
Indeed, some of his  comments  issued in defiance to groups alleging marginalization  have, a posteriori,  been interpreted by overzealous security agencies as war cries rising from the highest office of the land against those who seek to tear asunder Nigeria’s internal security and render the giant of Africa ‘the Afghanistan of Africa.’  The results are bloody and scrawled in red.
From the beginning of time, most human societies have affirmed directly and indirectly the sanctity of human life. Even those who believed and propounded killings and human sacrifices in satisfaction of religious and sundry obligations   saw differently with time.
The United Nations Charter   which is the  foundational charter of  the United Nations, an intergovernmental organization, was  signed in San Francisco, United States, on  June 26,1945 by 50 of the 51 original member countries. Nigeria later appended its signature and became a member.

Nigeria: Living In Troubled Times

WE  are, indeed, living in troubled times. Nobody can say for sure if this is the perilous times that the Christian Holy Book predicted long time ago. Nigerians are really passing through a hellish period in the history of the country. Nigerians are no longer a ‘suffering and smiling’ people. They complain a lot these days. They do so openly as well as in the confines of their homes.

Listen to telephone programmes on radio and television and hear and see the anger of these Nigerians as they lampoon the government for their misfortunes. Go to the newsstands and hear them vent their anger on our rulers and politicians, especially those in Abuja. They also have solutions to the nation’s woes apart from fighting corruption. If those in government can come out and listen to ordinary Nigerians, they would know what they are passing through now.
They would probably be in a better position to solve the nation’s many problems. Leaders should, once in a while, disguise and mix up with the masses to have a feel of what they go through as citizens of this great country.
Go to the markets and hear them abuse our politicians to no end over their misery and calamity. Go to the buka joints and beer parlours and feel the anger and frustrations of Nigerians on the economic recession. On what government said it would do but now refused to do. All Nigerians are hit by the harsh times but low-income earners are the worst hit.
The poor are already down and therefore are not favoured at all. They also bear the brunt of the hard times as prices of goods, especially food items are going up at astronomical rates with each passing day. The irony is that the rich and the poor buy from the same market. The Nigerian market does not discriminate the poor from the rich.
And there is no refuge in sight that all will be well within a short time. Nigerians are not happy the way things are going in the country now. Not even the prayer warriors among them are optimistic that things will soon get better. A bag of rice now sells for between N18,500 and N19,500 while 5-litre of vegetable oil is N3,500. Palm oil is also out of the reach of the poor as 5-litre of it sells for between N3,800 and N4,000.
The prices of other food items have also gone up. Many Nigerians are finding it difficult to feed. As things stand now, the prospect of famine looms large. The government has even warned of imminent famine should farmers continue to export their farm products.
Nigeria’s economy is in its worst shape now. Renowned economists have alarmed us of the dire situation we are in and made some useful suggestions. Even former President Olusegun Obasanjo has added his voice on what the present leadership can do to salvage the situation. We shall return to the ex-leader’s recommendations later in the article.

Biafra And The Business Of Killing

By Okey Ndibe
Except in extremely isolated cases — for example, as an act of self-defense — it is morally indefensible for individuals to engage in extra-judicial killing. When a government makes it its business to slaughter unarmed citizens that government reveals itself as criminally thuggish and the state in whose behalf that government kills loses its moral legitimacy.
That, I am afraid, is the burden that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has placed on itself.
Last week, Amnesty International (AI), a human rights group, released a chilling report on the Buhari administration’s excessively brutal response to members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) who have been agitating for the rebirth of Biafra. The AI report is a thorough job, based on interviews of 193 people (most of them eyewitnesses), analysis of 87 videos and 122 photographs “showing IPOB assemblies, members of the security forces in the process of committing violations and victims of these violations.” Much of the 60-page report is devoted to offering painstaking accounts of how Nigeria’s security agencies, including the military, killed, maimed, and tortured pro-Biafra agitators.
For those who can’t stomach much gore and horror, I would recommend AI’s executive summary, which highlights the sad, sobering facts. That summary begins, “Since August 2015, the security forces have killed at least 150 members and supporters of the pro-Biafran organisation IPOB (Indigenous Peoples of Biafra) and injured hundreds during non-violent meetings, marches and other gatherings. Hundreds were also arbitrarily arrested.”
According to Amnesty International, “Video footage and eyewitness testimony consistently show that the military, which has been deployed instead of police to control pro-Biafran events, has dispersed peaceful gatherings by firing live ammunition with little or no warning. This report documents extra-judicial executions and the use of excessive force by military, police and other security agencies. It also shows a worrying pattern of arbitrary arrests and detentions, including soldiers arresting wounded victims in hospital, and of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees.”
As the head of the Nigerian state, President Buhari bears ultimate responsibility for the carnage committed by Nigeria’s security agents. He is not the first Nigerian ruler to oversee mindless mass killing. Under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigerian troops went on a homicidal rampage in Odi, Bayelsa State, and Zaki Biam, in Benue State. The late President Umaru Yar’Adua was in control when Nigerian soldiers swept through Maiduguri and other cities in Borno State, killing hordes of men on mere suspicion that they belonged to the Islamist group, Boko Haram.
President Buhari has earned a place in the bloodlust. Under his watch, troops slashed and burned their way through a Shiite neighbourhood near Zaria, Kaduna State. His inflexible stance on the vexed issue of Biafra, marked by a dismissive tone, has helped to create a violent climate. Perhaps encouraged by the President’s hectoring style, heavily armed soldiers and other security personnel have gleefully mowed down agitators who dared hoist up IPOB banners.

Should The Massacre Of Pro-Biafra Activists Be Overlooked?

By Emmanuel Onwubiko
The Nigeria Army is once more in the eye of the storm due to the indiscretions and unprofessional conducts of some of her operatives   and officers with regards to internal military operations. Under the current dispensation the Nigerian Army has had several   face offs with International humanitarian groups over alleged   widespread killings of civilians.

The latest challenge to the public and corporate image of the   Nigerian Army is the alleged mass killings of over 150 unarmed   protesters thought to be members or sympathizers of the Europe   registered group known as the INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF BIAFRA (IPOB).
IPOB has for two years now waged global wide peaceful advocacy   campaigns for self-determination of the people of South-East of   Nigeria.
The members of the Indigenous People of Biafra are absolutely   unarmed and are some of the most peaceful and peaceable advocates of   self determination Worldwide.
The British founded global human rights body known as AMNESTY   INTERNATIONAL has recently issued damaging but extensively   verifiable reports of the killing spree conducted by the Nigerian   Army in the South East of Nigeria in the last one year leading to   the slaughter through extra-legal means of unarmed civilians   belonging or exercising their sympathy for the messages of   self-determination being spread peacefully by IPOB.
This report has understandably generated considerable volumes of   reactions with the Army hurriedly denying any involvement but in   another breath said it was only defending her operatives from   violence. Which violence? One may ask.
The killings of civilians by the Army go against everything that   constitutional democracy stands for because extra-legal execution of   civilians is absolutely antithetical to civility and democracy.
For the better part of the last two decades, Nigeria embraced   civilian democracy and an essential ingredient of this system of   government is the constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceful   protests the citizens are entitled to.
Importantly, the attempt to sweep under the carpets these senseless   killings captured in audiovisuals and which are watched globally,   offends everything that make us rational and thinking beings.
The killings if tolerated would amount to overturning all the   efforts we have genuinely made to build a Nigerian nation whereby   the Rule of Law would become our national ethos.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Was Fidel Castro A Racist?

Fidel Castro’s credentials as a great revolutionary, thinker and “fighter for the rights of the oppressed” remain impressive. 

But I began to a have a change of mind about him when I read a book in the late 1990s by a black Cuban gospel minister who was arrested and imprisoned for 22 years on Castro’s orders for propagating his faith. His book embodied his deep conviction that he would not die in Castro’s gulag – and he survived to tell the world his horrible experience of starvation, mental and physical torture and all forms of indignities. 

While in prison, he saw another side of Castro which the world out there never knew, namely, his condescending attitude towards blacks. Before the man left prison on the intervention of the US special envoy to Cuba, Jesse Jackson, and immigrated to the US, his children have been brainwashed and conscripted into the Communist Army (and their minds viciously turned against him) and his "liberated" wife has remarried a colonel in the Communist Army. 

Any revolutionary who won’t grant other people the right and freedom to hold and practice beliefs other than his own cannot retain my respect; unless, however, such beliefs (or their practise) infringe on the rights of others. And any revolutionary who does not believe in the equality of all humans is a put-off – for me, at least. 

However, I join the rest of the world to mourn the passing away of Fidel Castro…
You may wish to look at this Los Angeles Times report:

Friday, November 25, 2016

Reuben Abati: The Threat Of A New Political Party

By Reuben Abati
When aggrieved politicians within the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) decided to join forces with members of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the All Progressives Peoples Alliance (APGA) to form the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2013, they had well-defined, if not so clearly stated, even if poorly conceived objectives: to send President Jonathan out of power, displace the PDP which had clearly become a dominating hegemonic party, exert vengeance and offer the people an alternative.
*Reuben Abati 
   The triumph of the APC in the 2015 elections resulting in victory at the Presidential level, in 23 states out of 36, and also in the legislature, state and federal, was propelled on the wings of the people’s embrace of this slogan of change. Change became the aphrodisiac of Nigeria’s search for democratic progress. The new party’s promises were delivered with so much certainty and cock-suredness. Those who were promised free meals were already salivating before casting the first vote.

    The permanently opportunistic players in Nigeria’s private sector could be seen trading across the lines as they have always done. Everyone knew the PDP had too much internal baggage to deal with.  The opposition exploited this to the fullest and they were helped in no small measure, not just by the party’s implosion, but also the offensiveness of the claims by certain elements within the PDP that their party will rule Nigeria forever. This arrogance had gone down the rank and file resulting in bitter conflicts among the various big men who dominated the party. The party failed from within, and even after losing the 2015 elections, it has further failed to recover from the effects of the factionalism that demystified it and drove it out of its hegemonic comfort zone. It took the PDP 16 years to get that hubristic moment. It is taking the APC a much shorter time to get to that same moment.

      The displacement of the PDP gave the impression that Nigeria’s political space, hitherto dominated by one party, and a half, out of over 30 political parties with fears of a possible authoritarian one-party system, had become competitive.  But the victory of a new party over a dominant political party in power such as occurred in 2015, has not delivered the much-expected positives: instead, questions have been raised about the depth of democratic change and the quality of Nigeria’s political development. The disappointment on both scores has been telling.

        The ruling APC has not been able to live up to expectations. In less than two years in power, it has been behaving not like the PDP, but worse. Not a day passes without a pundit or a party member or a civil society activist suggesting that the only way forward is the formation of a new political party. There are over 30 registered political parties in Nigeria; no one is saying that these political parties should be reorganized and made more functional; the received opinion is that a new political party would have to replace the APC.

Of Parliament, Poverty Of Debates And Corruption

By Dan Amor
In mid 2007, at the emergence of the Mrs. Patricia Olubunmi Etteh as first female Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, a very close friend of mine who was then covering the Lower Chamber of the National Assembly for a top flight national newspaper called me on phone. His message: "Dan, Nigeria has elected a Speaker who cannot speak." My friend, a honed history scholar-turned journalist, is a thorough-bred professional most interested in written and spoken words and their applications. And his message was loud and clear. He spoke against the backdrop of Etteh's alleged legendary grammatical inadequacies.
*Speaker Dogara and Senate President Saraki

As beneficiary of the old Nsukka tradition of history and intellectual erudition, my friend had lamented the complete absence of a culture of informed debate on the floor of the House of Representatives, and even the Senate.  Poor him! He had thought that our politicians would cultivate the habit of formal debate which is the hallmark of the parliament anywhere in the world and which is as old as education itself. It dates back at least in the invention of dialectics and more specifically to Protagoras of Abdera, who introduced this method of learning to his students nearly 2,500 years ago.
In fact, the rudiments of dialectics emerged from the misty past, when grunts grew into language and men discovered that language could facilitate both the making of decisions and changing them. Debate as a medium for policy-making came into being in the first crude democracy when words as well as force became tools of government. In its maturity, it prevailed over the city-state of Greece and the republic of Rome, where skillful debaters such as Demosthenes and Cicero moved empires with words. Aristotle himself considered rhetoric to be the first and most important art. The highest purpose of debate is to develop, as Emerson described it, "man's thinking in the total milieu of society and the world around him." Ultimately, debate attempts to improve a man by laying a foundation for a better understanding of himself and those around him, to inculcate habits of mind, breath of interests, and enlargement of spirit. The process of debate, therefore, becomes as important as the issues contained within it. Lest we deviate, it was this process of intellectual confrontation that my friend said was lacking in Etteh's House.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Moving Against Land Robbers in Ogun State

By Banji Ojewale
An insurance executive in Lagos who sought to relocate to Ota, Ogun and probably bring along foreign partners for a new firm was held back by reports of the violent activities of land speculators. He gathered that these land grabbers otherwise called Omo onile were a force to reckon with if you wanted to develop your legitimate property either for business or for residential purposes. He told me he had acquired the land and was ready to move to Ota but was scared that heavily armed rival gangs of these indigenous speculators would stall the project and frustrate his expatriate partners. Eventually he spiked the idea.
*Gov Ibikunle Amosu 

Who lost? A superficial verdict would be that our man lost the opportunity to open new frontiers in business in Ogun. Really? The ultimate loser was the Ogun State government which had left the vandals unchecked. It lost the taxes that the projected insurance firm and its employees would have paid into its treasury; it also blew the chance to depopulate the labour market; it gave the impression Ogun was not habitable nor was it safe for investment, business and tourism, all massive revenue earners and employers of labour.

But last week good news came when Governor Ibikunle Amosun took a firm step to outlaw that perception of his state as the den of the criminal activities of the Omo onile. He signed the anti-land grabbing bill into law with quite stiff penalties for its infringement. Imprisonment for 25 years or death sentence awaits anyone found guilty of the offence of land robbery.

The law prohibits “forcible entry and occupation of landed properties, violent and fraudulent conducts in relation to landed properties, armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism and allied matters incidental thereto…” According to the law, death sentence applies when a life or lives are lost in such forceful take-over of land. Kidnappers also risk life sentence.

After signing the bill into law, Amosun said the state would not be a “comfort zone for criminals.” He had tough words for them. He declared: “We want to let people know that Ogun State would not be comfort zone for any criminal or so-called Omo onile (land grabbers). They have engaged in maiming, killing and lawlessness. But now the law will go after them. We are now having enabling law to prosecute and anybody that runs foul of this law of course will have himself or herself to blame… I want to believe that with the operation of this law, criminals will run away from the state.”

Why Bola Tinubu Must Be Rescued

By Ochereome Nnanna
It is obvious now that, for the first time in his illustrious political career, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the much touted National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has fallen into a political ditch. He needs a helping hand to get out fast. If the APC manipulates itself to victory in Ondo State (by using the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the Judiciary to ensure that a fake candidate, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, stands for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP), it might signal the end of the Tinubu political saga in the South West. 
*Tinubu and Buhari 
Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, masquerading as the APC that won the general elections last year will have two states in the zone (Ondo and Ogun) in its kitty. Being the party in power, and with the Tinubu loyalist governors in Oyo and Osun not eligible to run again, Buhari can use the same INEC, Judiciary, Directorate of State Services, DSS, and the “may-my-loyalty-never-be-tested” former Tinubu boys like Babatunde Fashola to make a grab for the rest of the South West come 2019. If that happens, the pro-Caliphate, Kaduna Mafia Arewa North led by Buhari would start calling the shots in the politics of the South West on their terms, and no longer in alliance with a “homegrown” political leader of the zone. 

That will bode very ill, not only for our democracy that thrives better on inter-regional alliances (which was what brought Buhari into power) but will entrench Buharist Northern domination; a recipe for national instability and eventual disintegration. Buharist Arewaism (coded into his 97%/5% parasitic formula for the distribution of the Nigerian commonwealth) has been on open display since he assumed power on May 29, 2015. It has shown itself in the manner in which the Federal Government was formed, the deployment of the security agencies, the repositioning of the top echelon of the Federal Bureaucracy, the denial of the South the right to produce the substantive Head of the Federal Judiciary (the Chief Justice of Nigeria) and in the way the INEC has been robbed of its Jonathan-era independence. 

It is also manifesting in the Islamisation of Non-Muslim communities in the Middle Belt and South by armed Muslim militias masquerading as herdsmen, the frequent abductions of under-aged Christian girls by emirs and Islamic clerics who promptly marry them off to themselves or other Muslims without the consent of their parents, the manner in which “blasphemy” murder suspects are being set free when the law enforcement agencies bother to get them arrested and tried; and the way the Federal Character principle in the constitution is contemptuously ignored while a brash reign of nepotism is plunked down the throats of Nigerians. Who knows in what other forms we will be seeing it in the years to come? 

Who Murdered A Seven-Year Old Kid?

 By Fred Nwaozor 
If the news that’s currently making rounds on the social media holds water, then Wednesday, 16th November 2016 – a day that reportedly claimed the life of a 7-year-old boy owing to alleged attempted misdemeanour – was another day Nigeria, and mankind at large, would live to mourn; a day that would cease to rest until justice is duly done to wickedness; a day that would stop at nothing to ensure that humanity is separated from insanity. 

 On that fateful day that could be best described as unfortunate, the said kid was reportedly set ablaze by a so-called angry mob at a locality in Lagos State for allegedly attempting to steal ‘Garri’ from a trader’s shop. He was caught by dwellers cum passersby, brutally tortured to stupor, and therein burnt with fuel and condemned tyres. The report equally had it that, while in the hands of the monsters, he pleaded for freedom, for the umpteenth time, still the vulnerable plea fell on cancerous and deaf ears. 

Even if he was more than seven years, or involved in felony as claimed by the police, did it call for such reaction? As I sat soberly and tried to recall the news, my emotions kept burning until I ostensibly lost my senses that I could not see nor hear anything, not even the like of the horn of a moving train. Whilst in the tattered mood, my utmost worry remained that, the public kept watching the scene until the fire engulfed that helpless ‘kid’; probably they were deriving pleasure from it. Worse still, the scene was videotaped, perhaps having been considered a mere melodrama. 

Any sane and rational since takes a closer look at these two observations would begin to wonder how wicked the heart of man is, as well as in whose image he was really made of. It is even more overwhelming to realize that the police, or any other law enforcement agency, was nowhere to be found throughout the incident that lasted for over an hour. I am yet to believe that while the duration of administering the obnoxious jungle justice lingered, no bit of notice got to any security outfit within, in spite of the obvious fact that the arena in question is urban. 

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