Friday, March 31, 2017

Who Exactly Is An Igbo?

By Ozodi Thomas Osuji
This morning I read at Facebook a girl from Agbor, Nkechi Bianze, saying that her tribe is Ika and not Igbo. She fumed from both sides of her mouth saying how angry she is at any Igbo who calls her an Igbo; indeed, she asked why Igbos have the audacity to call those who do not see themselves as Igbos as Igbos. On the issue of her having what seems an Igbo name, Nkechi, she presented an interesting logic that goes like this: you (I am assuming that she is referring to those not from England) have an English sounding name, you speak English so does that make you an Englishman, she asks?
*Onitsha, South East of Nigeria
(This particular logic is interesting; it assumes knowledge of who is an English person; is English a function of biological heritage or language or culture? There are black people born in England who are called English. By the same token, what makes one an American? People from all over the world come to the USA, which is about the size of West Africa, and call themselves Americans. I was born at Lagos, Nigeria and am an American. What makes me an American? Since the USA was begun by the English is it possession of English DNA that makes one an American? Is it the ability to speak the English language? Is it enculturation to American culture? What is American culture? Nkechi, apparently, did not take courses in logic so we shall overlook her illogical and incoherent statements on who is English.)

How Do I Rescue Nigeria, My Country?

By Dan Amor
I am first and foremost a Nigerian child. Then I am a depressed Nigerian youth. Depression obviously has its several roots: it is the doubtful protection which comes from not recognizing failure. It is the psychic burden of exhaustion, and it is also and very often, that discipline of the will or the ego which enables one to continue fighting, continue working, when one’s un-admitted emotion is panic.

And panic, it is, I think, which sits as the largest single sentiment in the heart of the collective members of my own generation. Today, I find myself in an overwhelmingly urban society, a distinctly urban creature. Thus, I am adequately informed of current developments in my country. I am anxious, angry, humorless, suspicious of my own society, apprehensive with relation to the future of my own country.
Quixotic, yet optimistic, I am on the prowl for the immediate and remote causes of our national predicament. My nostrils fairly quiver for the stench of some injustice I can sally forth to condemn. Devoid of any feeling for the real delineation of function and responsibility, I find all the ills of my country, real or fancied, pressing on my conscience. Not lacking in courage, I am prepared, in fact, to charge any number of windmills.
But in so doing, I am often aggressive and unapologetically critical of my own society, critical of what I need to live by, critical sometimes of God’s own choice of creating me a Nigerian. You may wish to call me names. But do not call me a crank or an eccentric. For, on a very rough and ready basis, you may well see an eccentric as a man who is a law unto himself, and a crank as one who, having determined what the law is, insists on laying it down to others, like some dictator of many a black nation.

Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’ Repackaged And Reissued By Penguin Books


A repackaged edition of  Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart republished by the publishing giant, Penguin Books, will soon be released as part of activities marking the sixtieth anniversary of the classic novel next year (2018). Penguin Books has equally obtained the rights to republish all of the famous author’s work.

Things Fall Apart, Achebe’s first novel, published in 1958, now exists in 57 translations, reports say. It has equally sold 20 million copies.

The repackaged edition comes with a new cover art work produced by the “distinguished Nigerian artist, Victor Ekpuk" and author photograph by  Don Hamerman. 

Chinua Achebe who died on March 21, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, at the age of 82, was widely regarded as the father of modern African literature and remains, in the opinion of many scholars, critics and readers, the best known and most widely read writer to come out of Africa.

On the back cover of the new Penguin edition, the distinguished Ghanaian philosopher and writer, Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah, is quoted as saying:  “Things Fall Apart may well be Africa’s best-loved novel. For so many readers around the world, it is Chinua Achebe who has opened up the magic casements of African fiction.”

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Depression, Lagos Lagoon And The Allure Of Suicide

By Tayo Ogunbiyi
Recent research reveals that about 480 million people across the world experience depression during their lifetime. According to a WHO data, by 2020, major depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children. The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 150 billion dollars each year in the United States. Thus, if not properly addressed, depression could as well turn out to be a time bomb waiting to explode in an already troubled world.

The Medilexicon’s medical dictionary depicts depression as medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, depression is a medical condition that often results in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life. Depression is more than just a feeling of being sad or moody for a few days. Symptoms of depression include feeling sad or empty, loss of interest in favourite activities, over eating, or not wanting to eat at all, not being able to sleep or sleeping too much, fatigue, feeling of hopelessness, irritation, anxiety, guilt, aches, pains, thought of death or suicide, erratic or changed behaviour, loneliness, desperation among others.
Medically, depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in things that the victim is ordinarily usually passionate about. It is also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression and it affects how the victim feels, thinks and behaves. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems which include finding it difficult to embark on daily activities. It can also lead to marital troubles as depression victims find it very hard adjusting to family values and ethics. Indeed, coping with the stress of family life causes more difficulties for victims of depression.

The Enemy Within And The Cold-Blooded Threat From Arewa (2)

By Femi Fani-Kayode

Apart from Afenifere, the OPC and a number of noble and courageous elders and leaders hardly anyone else from the south west has spoken up publicly for the Ifes and the Yoruba in this matter and that is a crying shame. What happened to the voices of the APC Governors in Yorubaland? What happened to the voice of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo? What happened to the voices of the respected Pa Bisi Akande and the great Jagaban of Borgu, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu? We need to hear from all of these distinguished personalities now more than ever before. The celebrated American spy and defector Mr. Edward Snowdon urged public figures and leaders throughout the world to “speak NOT because it is SAFE but because it is RIGHT”. How right he is!
 
*Femi Fani-Kayode
The black American civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King jnr. took it a step further by saying, “in the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends”. Finally, in his famous poem titled ‘The Inferno”, the great poet and immortal writer Dante Alighieri wrote “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of moral crisis preserve their neutrality”.

Those who remain silent as their compatriots and kith and kin are butchered have much to learn from the words of these three great and deeply profound men. When faced with the level of orchestrated carnage and the magnitude of pure malevolence and evil that was unleashed on the local indigenous population by the Hausa Fulani in Ile-Ife every single Yoruba leader worth his salt has a solemn duty and obligation before God to condemn it and speak out against it.

Honor and decency demands that much from each and every one of us and, more importantly, we owe it to the dead and to those that were cruelly butchered and cut short in their prime. We can appreciate the fact that the Presidency and the Federal Government will not commiserate with us for those that we lost in the conflict given their rabid pro-Hausa Fulani disposition but we cannot comprehend the devastating and incomprehensible silence that comes from our fellow Yorubas who happen to be leaders, members and supporters of the ruling Hausa Fulani-led APC.

Instead of standing in solidarity with us and publicly condemning those that drew first blood in the carnage, a few identifiable individuals within their ranks who have clearly lost their way and who ought to know better, are talking rubbish, running for cover and exhibiting nothing but good old fashioned trepidation and fear. Worse still they hate those of us that have the courage of our convictions and that are prepared to stand up, pick up the gauntlet and face the challenge.

 One wonders why this is so? Could it be because, as is being speculated, they had assured their hegemonist masters that they had Yorubaland under lock and key and that they could go ahead and kill as many of our people as they pleased? Could it be because they assured them that no-one would challenge them or complain when they did so? Is it possible, as many believe, that things have got that bad and that those from the south west that suffer from this slavish disposition have degenerated to this level? If so then what a tragedy this is! What a shame! What cowardice! What treachery!

Nigeria: Twilight Of The Republic

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
Since our leaders have failed to learn from the past, they have currently embarked on a voyage of stretching the resilience of the nation and its people to the limit. To them, no calamitous consequences could attend this. They feel secure in the delusion that since the civil war could not dismember the nation, nothing else could. This is why when the victims of killer herdsmen cry for justice, they are ignored. It is the same way that those who agitate for restructuring are dismissed as national irritants. The beneficiaries of the warped polity send the subtle message to the oppressed that they have nowhere to go; they just have to learn to accept their bleak lot.
*Buhari and Saraki
These injustices have not really precipitated an insurrection that provokes the searing memories of the civil war simply because it is the poor citizens of the country who are significantly their victims. Or could there have been the civil war if a member of the ruling class, Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, had not considered himself as the embodiment of the persecution of the Igbo? Would the poor Igbo have resorted to secession as a means of ending the injustice being meted out to them by their fellow citizens?
But the country is taken to the precipice of crisis, and its heightened form, dismemberment when it is the members of the ruling clique who feel betrayed by their colleagues. Again, the civil war bears out this – did Odumegwu-Ojukwu call for arms because what was primarily at stake was the need to stop the mass killing of his people or that of redressing a personal insult of those beneath him transforming into his superiors? 
Throughout history, the fact is the same – personal squabbles become national tragedies. In the dark days of military regimes in Africa, there were palace coups because some soldiers felt affronted by the arrogance of their colleagues.
Now, the brewing crisis between the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari and the Senate of Bukola Saraki poses a mortal danger to the continued existence of the nation. It has gone beyond recurrent disagreement as a staple of democracy. What we are faced with now is a smouldering fire that could imperil the nation’s democracy.

Newswatch: Sad End To ‘A Way Of Life’!

By Abdulrazaq Magaj
My first major assignment for Newswatch, once Africa’s most cited and best known news magazine, was to do preliminary work ahead of the 50th anniversary of the golden rule of late Sultan Abubakar Siddiq III. It was one assignment that took me to many parts of the north to talk to people who had one opinion or the other to express about Sultan Abubakar Siddiq and the Sokoto caliphate.

In line with Newswatch house-styles, the Editor-In-Chief did a short take on me in the Editorial Suite, a half page reserved for the EIC or, in his absence, one of his lieutenants to whet the appetite of readers. After commending me for what he said was a good outing, Ray Ekpu took one long look at me and asked whether I was surprised at my being signed on by Newswatch.
‘No, sir!’ I blurted.
‘Our Ray of hope’, as many called Ray Ekpu, Newswatch’s EIC, must have been pleasantly surprised by my candour
Prior to Newswatch, I had actually done some rudimentary writings for some local and international publications in my undergraduate days in Zaria. The trend continued during my days as a lecturer in Contemporary World History. Though I was not a rookie in the real sense of the word, Newswatch, for very obvious reasons, proved to be a different ball-game!
My midday encounter with Ray was a replay of a similar one on the day I encountered the three musketeers who interviewed me for the job 30 years ago. At issue was how I was eased out of my former job, an account which provoked a general laugh. Was it the laughable reasons given for my being eased out? Or was it the way it was narrated? What struck me most was the conviviality that surrounded the interview session. It was great to feel these Newswatch greats were not spooks, after all!

I had actually applied for an advertised position of deputy editor of Quality magazine, a soft-sell in the Newswatch group. But I guess the trio was impressed by my humble credentials. I had a job, I was told, not with Quality but the highflying Newswatch. Though, I was to get eased out of Newswatch, I guess the eight years I spent remain the most exciting in my career in journalism. I have seen a handful of newsrooms but Newswatch’s was unique!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Enemy Within And The Cold-Blooded Threat From Arewa (1)

By Femi Fani-Kayode

On March 28th a hitherto unknown northern group known as the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, through its spokesman, one Yerima Shetima, had the nerve and effrontery to accuse Afenifere and the Yoruba  nation of a “subtle campaign of ethnic cleansing” and went on to threaten us with what they described as “reprisals against the millions of Yoruba living in the north” if we did not stop complaining about the fact that our people were slaughtered in Ile-Ife and that the police were handling the whole matter in a selective, inappropriate and unjust manner.

It is clear that this is not an empty threat because for the last two weeks fake and horrendous videos and graphic pictures of what purport to be the killings of Hausa Fulanis by the Yoruba and the people of Ile-Ife are being circulated all over the internet and social media by those that seek to promote anarchy, violence and carnage and those that are set to kill.
This is not the time to escalate the tension and we must do all we can to exercise restraint and keep the peace but clearly the stage is being set by some in the north for ethnic pogroms and reprisals against the Yoruba.
Yet we are not in the least bit perturbed and someone should advise the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum and those that they represent that pulling the tail of the tiger can be a very dangerous thing indeed.
Like Shakespeare’s King Henry V once said they must “wake not our sleeping sword lightly.”
They and whoever sent them can be rest assured that the Yoruba are not intimidated or deterred by their boastful threats and that we will lose no sleep over their irresponsible and reckless words.
Whether they and their sponsors like it or not we shall continue to complain and to protest and we eagerly await the full manifestation and execution of their cold-blooded and unwarranted threat.
Yesterday evening the Arewa Consultative Forum itself, the body of elders and leaders that speaks for the north, chose to stop hiding behind their youths and waded into the ring.
They issued a formal statement, through one Muhammadu Ibrahim, who is apparantly their spokesman, cautioning Yoruba elders and leaders not to “give ethnic coloration to the Ile-Ife crises” and that if they continued to do so they should be mindful of and ready for what he described as “reprisal consequences”.

Buhari And His Divided Government

By Rotimi Fasan
President Muhammadu Buhari sits atop a government that is very divided. The administration is apparently in confusion with close members at war with one another. The confusion that has resulted in Buhari’s warring and, one might say, fumbling administration began, it can now be said with insight, when the president decided to form a so-called kitchen cabinet of close associates and relatives, persons directly or indirectly connected to him by marriage, blood or religion.
 
*Buhari 
These people feel answerable only to the president and exploit their closeness to the president to wrongfoot his policies including his arrowhead anti-corruption war. The president’s self-inflicted injury was exacerbated by a National Assembly that was dominated by a divided All Progressives Congress, APC, whose members elected a leadership that has enjoyed neither the support nor trust of the party leaders.

The frosty relationship that this would engender between the legislators and the executive arm of the administration (particularly the presidency and anyone thought to be connected to it) can be seen in the fate that has befallen Ibrahim Magu in his failed bid to be confirmed as chair of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

But I’m a bit ahead of my explanation. So let me return to how President Buhari brought all this upon himself and what this now implicates for his government. Muhammadu Buhari The first appointments made by Buhari were of a nature that got many Nigerians complaining given its lopsided arrangement. The appointments, mostly of his immediate minders, were almost to the last person made up of Muslim men of northern extraction. It both reflected as well as demonstrated a tendency for mind-closure and parochialism.

But this was apparently lost on the president who couldn’t be bothered about it, not even the fact that the Igbo presence in the government is almost of cipher value. He ignored all questions raised about this and, when he chose to respond, simply went ahead to defend the appointments, explaining it all in terms of the pattern of votes that got him elected.

Christopher Okigbo Conference - Sept 2017: Call For Abstracts

Theme: Legacy Of Christopher Okigbo: 50 Years On
The Christopher Okigbo Foundation invites abstracts for 15 – 20 minute presentations during the International Conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the passage of Christopher Okigbo under the theme; “Legacy Of Christopher Okigbo 50 Years On.’’  
The conference will hold at the University of Ibadan on September 20 and 21, 2017.
The conference is to celebrate the golden anniversary of the passage of Christopher Ifekandu Okigbo (16 August 1932– September 1967) the Nigerian poet, teacher, and librarian, who died fighting for the independence of Biafra. He is today widely acknowledged as an outstanding postcolonial English-language African poet and one of the major modernist writers of the 20th century. As part of the activities to commemorate his passage, a two- day Conference is being planned for September 20, 2017 at his alma mater, the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
In so doing, the Conference will also be celebrating the works of one of Africa’s most outstanding Poets as well as the achievements, friendships, partnerships and challenges of African Literature this past 50 years.
The conference will be a platform for writers, scholars, literary critics and other interested parties to engage, rethink and propose possible new directions for African Poetry and Literature.
In view of the above, we invite you to submit abstracts, not exceeding 200 words, on any of the sub-themes below:
1. Prophesy and Poesy in the works of Okigbo
2. Okigbo and the Poetics of Obscurity
3. Journey of self-rediscovery in the poems of Christopher Okigbo.
4.
Traditionalism versus Modernity in the poems of Okigbo
5. War, Communality and the Okigbo Legacy
6. Alienation as a technique in Okigbo's Poetry.
7. The Okigbo Spirit in the Establishment of Modern African Poetry
8. Culture, Nationalism and the African Writer
9. Literary Influences, Impacts and Imitations across Generations
10. Okigbo in the Style and Function of Nigerian Literature
Deadline for submission of abstracts: 30th April 2017.
All abstracts should be submitted electronically to:
Charles Akinsete,
 Department of English,
Univeristy of Ibadan
Notification of abstract acceptance: 15th May 2017
Full paper submission deadline: 15th August 2017

*Obiageli Okigbo(xxxxx) and Wale Okediran (08035765553)
Chairman, Christopher Okigbo Foundation and Chief Advisor, Christopher Okigbo Foundation
 

I Stand With Apostle Johnson Suleman

By Clem Aguiyi
Apostle Johnson Suleman of the Omega Fire Ministry is no stranger to controversy. He’s not a saint and didn’t ask to be canonized one, but the Apostle Suleman that I know is a man who love Christ. He toils hard in the Lord’s vineyard, labouring day after day to win souls for Christ.
*Suleman 
He does not just love Christ but ready to die for the Gospel. When he, Apostle Suleman spoke fearlessly on the rights of Christians to bear arms if need be to defend themselves from physical attacks by Islamists, I was agitated as I wondered what would happen to him for speaking out: Will they ignore him? Attack him? Smear him? Frame him up or bring physical harm upon him?
I was therefore, not shocked when little known Canadian stripper, Stephanie Otobo started regaling us with her infamous sexcapades with the media not asking critical questions despite the gaps in the tales.
Having reviewed her sorry tales, I reached the conclusion that she is acting out a familiar script. You need not look further to draw a nexus between Stephanie, her lawyers, Suleman’s foes, their political affiliation and their penchant for image savaging to reach same conclusion. For starters, Apostle Suleman is being accused of sleeping with Stephanie.
Recall for emphasis that on January 28, 2013, Mallam El-Rufai tweeted that “if Jesus criticizes Jonathan’s government, Maku, Abati or Okupe will say that He slept with Mary Magdalene.”

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Who Is An Intellectual In Nigeria?

By Simon Abah
As an undergraduate of the University of Ibadan, years ago, I looked forward to many occasions on campus. Some were matriculation and convocation ceremonies. Another was the faculty-lecture-summit involving notable outside stakeholders such as the ones I witnessed, involving Femi Falana, Frank Kokori and others. These  summits were academically enriching and fulfilling – despite my early-in-the-day- exposure to academic giants such as Professors A. Faniran, O. O. Areola, J. O. Ayoade, C. O Ikporukpo, A. S. Gbadegesin and others that space won’t permit me to mention.

On the day of matriculation and or convocation ceremonies, we dressed smartly and hung around outside the convocation and/or matriculation arena. Afterwards, we went about exchanging forced banters especially to the celebrants we didn’t know personally. You need not know the celebrants to be feted. We were on a mission to be feted. All you needed do was to say, “congratulations” to celebrants, family members and parents, acting like you know them, beaming with angelic smiles. This gave you straight passage to enjoy a culinary trip. How we needed it! Conserving scarce resource was a student’s fare. At least we were certain that we weren’t going to dine on those days at D’Morris restaurant within campus and saved nickels which we needed to sustain ourselves afterwards.

The University of Port Harcourt held its convocation ceremony on Friday, March 24, 2017 for undergraduate and graduate students. It reminded me of Ibadan days, only this time, I needn’t have to go to the panoply of celebratory arcade to be feted by unknown persons. I came at the behest of the family of a graduate and was sure of my chow. 
Although choices await school leavers especially as finding a job in Nigeria is largely dependent on the contact persons one knows nowadays. There are a few jobs for few people. A graduate nearby, out of excitement in fulfilling a life ambition, spasmodically shouted to his parents, “Dad, I am now an intellectual.” I had to stare. Intellectual? Who is an intellectual in Nigeria?

The President’s Handlers And His Health

By Ikeogu Oke
This piece was triggered by a tweet I stumbled on recently. Emanating from the tweeter handle of one George Okusanya, it read, ‘Femi Adesina: “The president is not sick”.
Lai Mohammed: “The president is hale and hearty”.
GMB: “I couldn’t recall ever being so sick”.
 
*Buhari 
Clearly, the tweet juxtaposes the words of Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, and Lai Mohammed, the President’s Minister of Information and Culture, on the one hand, and those of the President on the other hand. By this contrasting placement, the tweet seems to provide proof of the allegation that the President’s handlers had misinformed Nigerians about the state of his health while he was in the UK on medical leave, in consequence of which they have drawn flak from a legion of critics.

I, for one, had been taken aback by the morbid interest shown by some Nigerians in knowing the exact state of the President’s health while he was receiving medical treatment abroad. And this is why: I had thought such people would be more concerned about the resultant indignity for our country that, 56 years after Independence, our President, the President of the country that prides itself as the “Giant of Africa” and “the most populous black nation in the world”, still travels to a foreign country, the country of our colonial masters, to receive medical treatment for a protracted period, during which he might be splayed repeatedly on an operating table, anesthetized, and carved open by foreign scalpels.

Nigeria: Will Darkness Continue Forever?

By Adanu Moses
The power sector in Nigeria is no doubt one of the most inefficient in meeting the needs of its consumers anywhere in the world. The Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) which before now was a wholly government-owned venture before it was sold to private entities was the organisation governing the use of electricity in Nigeria. Renamed PHCN, it was formerly the National Electric Power Authority (abbreviated NEPA).



For a better part of power generation history in Nigeria, consumers have experienced more power outages than supply. This accounts for why Nigerians humorously represented the acronyms NEPA and PHCN to mean -Never Expect Power Always, Please Hold Your Candle Now. For a better share of history, Nigerians have also blamed the power outages on the distribution companies, saying they are in the habit of always holding onto power and releasing only the bills. This is one of the stack truths and another is the fact that Nigerians seem to have gotten themselves used to the incessant power outages.

This leaves an inquisitive mind asking, who is to blame? Considering the history of system failures in Nigeria, can we say the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) is actually holding unto the power? The simple answer is not farfetched. There is no power to hold unto.
At the end of 2014, according to statistics gathered by the Heinrich Boll Foundation, Nigeria, the country had an installed power generation capacity of 8,000 MW.But only 4,000 MW was being fed into the national grid. Several reasons were given for this huge difference between capacity and actual generation but the reasons do not reduce the energy need of the country which is ever on the increase. As at the end of 2015, the electricity need of Nigeria stood above 40,000 MW and research says 192,000 MW will be needed by 2030. With this huge gap, 80 per cent of the population is left in darkness. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Ndi-Igbo And The Biafran Question

By Okafor Judith
I have heard so many people ask, "Why won't Ndi-Igbo forget the memories of the 1967-70 civil war and move on?" Or "Why is it that Ndi-Igbo cannot forget the bitterness of the civil war and move on?"
Odumegwu-Ojukwu taking oath of office as
Biafra Head of State in 1967

But I have these for those who have been asking the aforementioned questions:
The countries of Europe still discuss about the 30 year war that brought about the Westphalia treaty of 1648.
The Jews have not forgotten the holocaust of 1940s.
Alexander the Great wars of over 2000 years ago are still being talked about.
Ndi-Igbo have every right to discuss about the war because Warsaw still discuss the attack on her by Germany in 1939 in their history classrooms. Learning one or two things from it.
The First World War that was fought in 1914 which disrupted the relative peace in Europe for over 100 years is still being discussed.
The US attack on Japanese two cities - Hiroshima and Nagasaki that led to the subsequent end of the Second World War is still being discussed till date.
The aforementioned Wars and among others were fought during the 17th century and early 20th century. While the Biafra-Nigeria war that was fought in the mid 20th century is the one that Ndi-Igbo should not talk about, but rather forget and move on.

Hameed Ali And the Custom Uniform

By Jaafar Jaafar
I’m happy the Senate did not succumb to Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali’s implausible pretexts of avoiding either appearance before the Senate or wearing the service uniform.
Since his illegal appointment as Comptroller General of Customs on August 27, 2015, Hameed Ali, a retired army colonel, flies the service aircraft, earns the service highest salary, occupies the top service office, but looks down upon the service uniform. He wants all the privileges attached to the office, except that grey uniform with green beret.
That military elitism of looking at the police with disdain, the paramilitary with derision and civilian with contempt is still running in Hameed Ali’s veins. Haughty, asocial and absolutist, Ali is a terrible oddball under a democratic setting.
But if Ali thinks their uniform is demeaning to wear, as his regimented, intemperate ego tells him, he should quietly leave the job for career officers or someone who could abide by the rules. It is not a matter of doing your job well, which is also put to question particularly by your senseless retroactive order on car duty payment. Ali’s order on mandatory duty payment for old vehicle owners is akin to forcing pre-JAMB era degree holders to sit for UTME and score 200 to validate their certificates or risk revocation of their degrees.
On the uniform, Ali should be reminded that discipline as essential in military as it is in paramilitary service. As it depicts discipline, commonality and solidarity in military service, so it does in paramilitary service. When Obasanjo appointed a retired army general, Haldu Hananiya, as head of Federal Road Safety Corps, he wore the corps livery to show that he is part of it.

Magu's Rejection: I Stand With The Senate (II)

By Ochereome Nnanna
Having examined the retired Colonel Hameed Ali versus the Senate saga, let us take a look on another contentious issue: the Ibrahim Magu screening controversy.
President Buhari and Sen Pres Saraki 
So many people have said their minds on this matter, which is their constitutional right. There are those who blame the Senate for the long-drawn impasse and difficulty in getting Ibrahim Mustapha Magu confirmed as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Some have alleged that in rejecting Magu’s candidacy, the Senate constitutes itself into a “parallel government”. Others say they want to “collect the power” from President Muhammadu Buhari and frustrate him from implementing the “change” he promised Nigerians.
The one I found most interesting was the submission of Chief Robert Clark, a respected lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, with usually sound perspectives on legal and current affairs. He appeared on Channels TV and was all over the place, lamenting that the Senate’s treatment of Magu was “a slap on the face of the President; a slap on the faces of Nigerians”.
The impression being given by all these shades of opinion is that the Presidency has played its own part neatly only to be messed up by the Senate. Another impression is that the Federal Government is all about President Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidency he commands and the Cabinet he has at his disposal. In other words, the Executive Branch alone is the Government. On both counts I beg to disagree. First of all, let us track the facts of this story.
Following the sack of Ibrahim Lamorde as the EFCC Chairman, Magu, another police officer, was nominated as his successor in acting capacity. One would have expected that President Buhari, cognisant of the sensitive nature of the EFCC Chairman’s duties, would immediately send Magu’s name to Senate for confirmation. Instead, Buhari delayed this issue between 9th November 2015 and 14th July 2016, when his Deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo as Acting President, submitted Magu’s name to the Senate for confirmation when the President was away on his foreign medicals.

Suicidal Defence Of The Naira

By Henry Boyo
The awareness of the correlation between lower naira exchange rates and increasing poverty motivated the “Save the Naira, Save Nigerians!” by-line in articles in this column since 2004. Despite the obvious debilitating impact of Naira devaluation on inflation, domestic industries, employment and social welfare, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), recently, brazenly   declared that it deliberately devalued the naira from below N120/$1 to almost N150/$1; regretably CBN, by this act, declared a war against our welfare.

 The apex bank however, countered that devaluation was necessary to stabilize the economy and ensure that monthly naira allocations matched the projected 2009 expenditure budget. I daresay, however, that such a fiscal strategy is counterproductive; Instructively, the resultant bloated Naira allocations will still be inadequate to cover recurrent and capital expenditure which were earlier projected with at least 25% stronger naira values.

When the folly of this strategy ultimately dawned on our monetary policy makers, the CBN Governor quickly recanted and later alleged that, the devaluation was in fact, the handiwork of speculators!!   Now, let us examine his claim. The first pertinent question is, how speculators accumulated almost N2,000bn between October and November 2008 to exchange for $7bn plus from CBN?   Indeed, prior to the alleged deliberate devaluation, the monetary authorities, reportedly held internal consultations and sought President Yar Adua and National Economic Council’s approval; inevitably, prominent Nigerians with interest in banks became consequently privy to the dastardly blow awaiting the naira!

Curiously, despite the very late budget passage in October 2008, and the parallel delay in capital projects execution, the Federal Executive Council, nonetheless, authorized 100% release of all outstanding budget provisions, not minding that with Sallah, Xmas and New Year- holidays imminent, there were barely seven weeks left to 31st December 2008 to complete projects which should normally take 12 months for implementation.
Invariably, with the subsisting embarrassingly surplus Naira Liquidity, and the open secret of an imminent Naria devaluation, the banks besieged CBN with demands for unusually large dollar purchases, which they would later sell with huge profit after devaluation.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Uniform Palavar: I Stand With The Senate (1)

By Ochereome Nnanna
 Whe retired Col. Hameed Ali, the Comptroller General of the Customs, CGC, finally yielded to the language and pressure of force and appeared before the Senate on summons on Thursday, 16th March 2017, the only thing I wanted to see on him was his uniform as the overall boss of that organisation.
  

Once I saw he was still wearing his white kaftan, my gaze went beyond him to the bevy of the Customs top brass, all proudly and smartly outfitted in their grey khaki uniforms and looking resplendent indeed. Some of the “oga madams” (or female officers) seemed to make a meal of the situation, all dolled up in comely (even sexy) make-ups and slanting their caps at rakish angles, as if to say: “to hell with Oga Hameed Ali for insulting the dignity of this uniform”.

Meanwhile, Hameed Ali stood before the Senators like a truant schoolboy physically bundled to the assembly ground to receive his due punishments from the school principal. Receive the punishment he did: he was dismissed with ignominy to go and wear his uniform and come back a week later.

Otherwise, he would face the wrath of 109 Senators with the mandates of millions of Nigerians. The arrogant will always be humiliated, and the proud put to shame. I hear people parrot Ali’s nonsensical claim that no law compels him to wear the uniform. Which law compels Africans to respect their elders? Which law compels us to greet people when we meet them?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Whistleblowing, New Profession?

As a junior crime reporter working with the defunct National Concord Newspaper in the 1980s, I was posted to the police and other security agencies beat. While on the beat, I came across a man whose only job was to extract information about criminals, especially robbers, in Lagos metropolis. He was well known among senior police officers and he was referred to as an “Informant.”

His job was to collate information from robbers, their operational hide-outs and, possibly, their next target. Such information was passed to the state Commissioner of Police and he was adequately  rewarded financially. I gathered that, whenever the police were auctioning recovered vehicles, he was always considered. However, the story changed when one of the robbery gangs received information about his activities with the police; he was trailed to his house in Ajegunle and shot dead before his neighbours. The police never disclosed the story to journalists but investigations revealed the incident.
Informants of those days were rough-looking, some of them turned out to be disenchanted members of robbery gangs. Their reports were mainly to expose robbers for easy apprehension and prosecution, but things have changed, the world has evolved and corruption has taken a devastating stand. This was not the situation prior to Independence.

Gov Nasir el-Rufai In The Wilderness

Governor Nasir el-Rufai  of Kaduna State has just cried out. He came close to a lamentation. Or so it appears. But those who know him are not taken in by the antic. They know that a smart Alec is at work. The Kaduna governor is never known to be quiet. He does not seem to have any humility in him. He is showy and conceited. That is why he has broken loose so soon.
*President Buhari and Gov El-Rufai
Whereas many have taken note of the state of the polity, especially in the light of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ill-health, el-Rufai does not have the patience for such niceties. He must seize the stage and dominate the discourse.
At issue here is the governor’s letter to the president. He was, ostensibly, addressing his godfather. That was the way it appeared. But he addressed Nigerians at the same time. He told President Buhari, his benefactor, that all was not well with their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and, by extension, the government of the day. El-Rufai said those of them who formed the APC and used it to wrest power from the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) had a dream. They envisioned an Eldorado. They thought that PDP was on the wrong track. They set out, as he imagined, to put the country on the path of good governance. That was the mental flight that the likes of el-Rufai reveled in.

The NCC’s And MTN’s Swindle

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
Despite the hobbling challenges of poor security and infrastructure, it is not uncommon for foreign investors to speak glowingly about the huge opportunities in the Nigerian business environment. They wonder why Nigerians should lend themselves to ruing their citizenship and being subjected to stark poverty when all around them are treasure troves they, foreigners, have braved long distances to explore.

Of course, we cannot legitimately accuse some of these investors of engaging in double speak. Yet the discerning among us are not oblivious of the fact that such a tribute to the boundless opportunities in the country could also serve as a euphemistic way of referring to the ease of making a fortune from the country by circumventing its laws and swindling the citizens.
Yes, it is not only foreign business people that enrich themselves through the violation of the laws of the country to the detriment of the citizens who pay for their services. It is a norm among local businesses to make their customers to pay for services that are not offered or shoddily provided. This is why the citizens have almost become inured to their ordeal at the hands of electricity distribution companies. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Is Nigeria A Tragedy?

By Abike Olajide 
In literature, tragedy does not really connote something tragic but it means a re-evaluation and possible redemption of a given situation. Truly, this is a season of darkness and struggling: No power, no good roads, unemployment and poverty are on the alarming rate. But surely, light will break and relief will fall.
*Buhari 
With much natural abundant resources, Nigeria has failed on all indices of life worth living. What went wrong? Leadership deficiency, I can hear you say. Nigeria is wasting God’s resources. The country is now in a mess.
General Yakubu Gowon, despite the oil money available to him, chose to increase workers’ salary rather than use the money to build industries as foundation for a great economy. His action led to inflation that the country is yet to be freed from. 
President Shehu Shagari, a weakling, permitted politicians to loot the country dry. Ibrahim Babangida introduced an economic policy, Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) that inflicted untold hardship on the people. Coupled with this was that Nigeria got exposed to maximum corruption under him.
Do I need to say anything about General Abacha, 18 years after his death, his looted funds are still in different vaults around the globe. Olusegun Obasanjo, in his second coming destroyed the country more than he met it. He paid the country’s debt and those who facilitated it smiled home with hundreds of millions of dollars. On his watch, infrastructural decadence reached its peak. Under him, though, microeconomy was got right, credit line improved but he never touched infrastructure.  At the twilight of his term, he came into the realisation that he had not met the aspiration of Nigerians and thus sought a third term. Of course, he could not get it.

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