The Sun News » Features http://sunnewsonline.com/new - Voice of The Nation Sat, 01 Aug 2015 00:34:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.6 How Buhari can rev up Nigerian vehicles, by auto makers http://sunnewsonline.com/new/how-buhari-can-rev-up-nigerian-vehicles-by-auto-makers/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/how-buhari-can-rev-up-nigerian-vehicles-by-auto-makers/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 12:10:59 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=124306   BY MOSES AKAIGWE  It was very interesting watching the convoys of eminent dignitaries arrive the Eagle Square, Abuja, for the official hand-over ceremony on May 29: While President  Muhammadu Buhari, came in an Infiniti SUV, the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was seen earlier alighting from what was either a Land Cruiser or Sequoia, [...]]]>

 

BY MOSES AKAIGWE 

It was very interesting watching the convoys of eminent dignitaries arrive the Eagle Square, Abuja, for the official hand-over ceremony on May 29: While President  Muhammadu Buhari, came in an Infiniti SUV, the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was seen earlier alighting from what was either a Land Cruiser or Sequoia, but clearly a Toyota. Just before the oath-taking, President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, arrived in a premium luxury Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The former Vice President, Arch. Namadi Sambo’s motorcade was not noticed on arrival, but a common denominator was that neither did any of the state dignitaries ride in a made-in-Nigeria car to the venue, nor did a car from the domestic auto industry seen in all the fleets of mainly black cars. Not even the open-body Mercedes-Benz G-wagon that drove the new president round the square was home-made.

Some auto industry stakeholders who also observed the scenario recalled above, have been wondering why locally made cars were denied their well deserved roles at that very important and symbolic national ceremony. It is not easy to forget that the last time a made-in Nigeria car was so honoured, was in 1979, when the then Head of State, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, rode in a Peugeot 505 produced by Peugeot Automobile in Kaduna, to the Tafawa Balewa square, Lagos, where he handed over to the incoming president, Alhaji Shehu Shagari.

Apart from the symbolic role he let the 505 play at that hand-over ceremony, Gen. Obasanjo, as a matter of policy, ensured that locally made cars were the official vehicles at all levels of government while his tenure lasted. And this helped to drive the patronage of the products of auto plants, like Volkswagen in Lagos and Peugeot (both car makers).

Ditto for truck assemblers, including ANAMMCO (Mercedes-Benz), Enugu, National Trucks Manufacturers (NTM, for Fiat/Iveco) in Kano, and Steyr in Bauchi.

Curiously, Obasanjo’s civilian regime that began in 1999, did not re-introduce the same policy of making vehicles from the domestic industry dominate the convoys of government officials. So, it did not surprise the auto makers that preference for imported vehicles in government circles was the order of the day, regime after regime, until the automotive policy (popularly called the Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) took effect in 2014, one year to the end of the tenure of Dr Jonathan’s government.

But, with the May 29 ceremony in mind, it appears to industry watchers that government has not been promoting the products of its own policy, because Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company (IVM, Nnewi) which was the first to produce an SUV in the country, and VON Automobiles Nigeria Ltd with its own Nissan Patrol, have vehicles that can be added to the official state car fleet. The duo also has a line-up of other models of passenger cars.

Same for United Vehicle Assembly Limited (UVAL), the car-making corporate sister of Kia Motors Nigeria Limited which now produces, apart from sedans, Kia Sportage, Sorento and the top-of-the-range Mohave (all SUVs).Presently, PAN Nigeria produce sundry passenger cars that can conveniently fit into any official convoy.

And, if armouring is a requirement, the stakeholders argue, Proforce Limited, in Ode-Remo, Ogun state, has been rendering the service for years, in addition to partnering with the DICON (Defence Industries Corporation) to produce hardware for the military. So, why not to do same for government?

To one of the auto industry chieftains who watched the Eagle Square ceremony, Mr. Rasheed Adegbenro, the absence of locally made vehicles in the official convoys and the disdain for the extant laws and directives on the patronage of products of the assembly plants in the country, is unpatriotic and injurious to the interest of manufacturers in the sector.

“This development has made nonsense of government campaign concerning patronage of local industries. In addition, government has lost the moral right to galvanise the general public to support made-in-Nigeria products”, remarked Adegbenro, who was the Assistant General Manager (Sales/Public Relations), in the first generation Volkswagen of Nigeria, and until recently, the Ag. Director-General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).

Recalling that the first unit of Nissan Patrol with V8 engine VON Automobiles produced last year in Lagos was presented to the then President Jonathan to show what the plant could do, the Managing Director, Mr Tokunbo Aromolaran, confirmed that the auto makers in the country have the capacity to produce car for official use and the local market.

Also reacting, an auto industry analyst, Mr. Banwo Omagbitse, drew attention to an existing law (Gazette No 28 Vol. 81 of April, 1994) and circular which prohibit all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) patronizing imported vehicles, except where such cannot be produced by the domestic auto industry. According to him, in line with the auto policy, PAN is migrating from SKD (semi-knocked down) to CKD (completely knocked down) production of the 301. Therefore, he said, the plant and other auto makers, should be encouraged through government-driven patronage.

Not only did the Jonathan regime discourage MDAs from patronising imported vehicles, it also introduced (through the auto policy) a tariff regime with a differential of at least 60 percent between fully built up vehicles and CKD imports by the local auto plants, which favours the latter.

The introduction of NAIDP has since encouraged Innoson, initially a bus, utility trucks, pick-up and SUV-producing plant, to widen its vehicle range to include passenger cars (Umu and Fox), while VON Automobiles, also rolled out sundry models of Nissan and Hyundai.

What this means, according to auto industry stakeholders, is that the domestic auto plants have the capacity to produce a variety of vehicles for local consumption, including the official state cars. Saying they are not unmindful of the advanced specifications of vehicles for use even at the presidential or gubernatorial level, including luxury, communications, special convenience features and armour plating (bullet-proofing), stakeholders believe that the industry is equipped for the task.

“It is patriotic and normal for the president, prime minister, governor, and other top government officials, to use vehicles made in a country”, argued the Chairman of the Innoson Group, Dr. Innocent Chukwuma, who prides himself on being the owner of the first indigenous auto brand in Africa. “This is what happens in other countries of the world. Innoson has models of SUV plus other saloons. PAN has models of Peugeot, just as other assembly plants have others products. So, the industry can give government officials whatever they want”.

Chief Chukwuma is right: In the United States, the presidential car is a Chevrolet Kodiak-based, Cadillac-badged limousine often referred to as Cadillac One (made by General Motors of the US). In the United Kingdom, the Prime Ministerial Car refers to the British manufactured vehicles used by the Prime Minister – currently they are armoured, custom built Jaguar XJ Sentinel supercharged 5.0-litre V8 models, built by Jaguar Land Rover of the UK. The German Vice Chancellor’s official car is usually provided by the country’s leading luxury car makers – Mercedes-Benz, BMW and the Volkswagen Group, while the French President makes his choice from either Peugeot or Renault, both of them indigenous to France.

“I can understand President Buhari and his deputy not arriving in made-in-Nigeria cars on May 29. Maybe they simply made use of what was provided by the out-going regime. But, Nigerians will watch out to know what cars they and other government officials will be having in their motorcades”, remarked Dr. D.V.C. Obi, a vocal auto industry chieftain and MAN sectoral chairman.

 (Moses Akaigwe 08072100049 mosesaki@hotmail.com)

 

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THE PROBLEM OF INFERTILITY http://sunnewsonline.com/new/the-problem-of-infertility/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/the-problem-of-infertility/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 18:15:04 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=103981 BY  REV FR. ANSELM ADODO   WHAT IS INFERTILITY? A woman is said to be infertile when, for one reason or another, she is unable to conceive after a long period of trial. A man is said to be infertile when, for one reason or another, he is unable to impregnate a woman.   TYPES [...]]]>

BY  REV FR. ANSELM ADODO

 

WHAT IS INFERTILITY?

A woman is said to be infertile when, for one reason or another, she is unable to conceive after a long period of trial. A man is said to be infertile when, for one reason or another, he is unable to impregnate a woman.

 

TYPES OF INFERTILITY

There are two types of infertility. The first type is called primary infertility. This refers to the inability of a woman to conceive at all, or of a man to impregnate a woman. The second type is called secondary infertility. This implies that there was time when the man or woman was fertile but is no longer fertile. A woman may give birth to one or two children and suddenly find herself unable to be pregnant again. This is secondary infertility.

 

Traditional gynecology is a specialist area that should not be delved into without proper training. Medical doctors trained in the western tradition should join hands with traditional healers so as to find solutions to the problems of our people. Precise diagnosis is important in the area of infertility. Modern laboratory technology has brought a lot of improvement to the diagnosis of sickness, and traditional healers should make use of it. Whenever there is any case of infertility, it is important to find out which one of the couple has complications. The investigation may lead to one of the following cases:

 

  1. Where one of the couple is unwell

The woman may be found to be suffering from such illnesses as ovarian cysts or anovulation. The man may have a low sperm count. In this case attention should be focused on the partner concerned. If there is true love and cooperation between them, this should not cause any problem. One should encourage the other and trust in God. Men often find it difficult to accept that something is wrong with them, especially with reference to fertility. Therefore they blame their wives.

 

  1. Where both partners are unwell

In this case the woman may have ovarian cysts, while the man has low sperm count. This case is more complicated than the first and requires cooperation and understanding between the couple. In one out of five infertility cases the problem is with both.

 

  1. Where no diagnosis can be made

This can be very frustrating. Many are quick to attribute this to witchcraft or evil spirits, since there is no medical reason why they cannot achieve pregnancy. Many go to visit native doctors who will consult oracles to find out the cause of their problem. Most often, they are told that a relative or friend is responsible for their woes. Do not be deceived. Remain steadfast in yourfaith and trust that God does not abandon God’s own people.

 

CAUSES OF FEMALE INFERTILITY

 

  1. Unhealthy lifestyles

I strongly believe that one of the major causes of infertility is the unhealthy life style of the people of today. We have drifted away from nature and we are paying dearly for it. We need to re-examine ourselves very well and look at our way of life, our philosophy of life and our relationship with God, with others, with ourselves and with our environment. We exploit our bodies, as if we are free to treat our bodies as we like. We eat and drink whatever we like. Rather than eating simple and natural foods that will give nourishment and life to the body, we eat precisely those foods that harm our body.

 

  1. Endometriosis

This is (at times) a painful condition in which cells from the uterine lining implant themselves outside the uterus where they bleed during menstruation, leading to ovarian cysts, scarring and adhesions.

 

  1. Anovulation

This is when ovulation fails to occur or when it is not regular. This could be caused by wrong medication, emotional imbalance or a polycystic ovarian disease called stein-leven-thal syndrome.

 

  1. Hormonal Deficiencies

Insufficient production of progesterone, known as short luteal phase, is a common example. This may permit conception but prevent proper implantation and nourishment of a fertilized egg.

 

 

  1. Infection

This leads to scarring and adhesions of the uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes.

 

  1. Cervical Infection/Blockage

This occurs when polyps or very thick mucus block the cervix and make it impassable.

 

  1. Uterine tumors/mal-positioning

An example of uterine tumor is fibroids. Fibroids may not prevent conception, but often leads to miscarriage. Mal-positioning of the uterus also leads to miscarriage.

 

  1. Contraceptive pills and abortion

Often I hear infertile women complaining that before they got married they used to take-in very easily, but immediately after their marriage they cannot. What these troubled women do not know is that the contraceptive pills they used to swallow is a factor in their present predicament. Experience has shown me that most infertile women have undergone an abortion at least twice, usually performed by incompetent “doctors”. It should be made known to all our young unmarried daughters that they must never tamper with their wombs. For their own sake and for the sake of the world, they must preserve their fecundity.

 

 

CAUSES OF MALE INFERTILITY

Apart from wrong lifestyles, spiritual weakness and other related factors, the following physical defects cause male infertility.

 

  1. Azoospermia

This is an absence of living sperm in the body

 

  1. Oligospermia

This is also called low sperm count or inadequate sperm. Related to this are other factors like motility (sperm swimming ability) and morphology (structure of the sperm cells).

 

  1. Infection

This leads to sperm blockage. A lot of men suffer from one infection or another. The most common of these are syphilis, staphyhococcus and gonorrhea. If these infections are not well treated, they become resistant.

 

  1. Varicocele

This occurs when varicose veins are grouped together in the scrotum.

 

  1. Undescended testicle

This renders the testicle incapable of functioning. Serious accidents affecting the reproduction organs can also lead to infertility.

 

 

DIAGNOSTIC TESTS

Traditional medicine is highly effective in treating the sicknesses mentioned above. It is time for doctors trained in the western system of healing to recognize and accept the fact that there are other equally effective methods of healing. Orthodox doctors need to be more humble and open-minded, so that they can work creatively with traditional healers. After all, most of our people now prefer traditional medicine to synthetic drugs. Moreover, many of today’s African orthodox doctors were brought up on traditional medicine, which is part of our heritage. To ignore this rich heritage would be a great tragedy. On the other hand, traditional healers should not claim that they can cure every illness. Orthodox drugs are often very effective in acute illnesses that can kill in a short period of time. Traditional medicine is very effective in chronic illnesses, like diabetes, asthma, cancer, fertility problems and many others.

The reason why traditional medicine failed in some areas is not because of a lack of useful herbs, but because of incorrect diagnosis. For example, whenever a man complains that he is infertile, many traditional healers do not bother to find out precisely what is wrong. In many cases they simply administer herbal remedies for impotence. But impotence does not make a man infertile. It only means that he has difficulty with penile erection. If the man’s real problem is low sperm count, then the impotence medicine will not solve his problem.

The following diagnostic tests will help to know exactly what the problem is:        For the male, the most common tests are: semenanalysis, testicular biopsy and VDRL to check for infection.    Most often the test recommended for the female is the pelvic scan, to determine if the ovaries are of normal configuration and if there are uterine tumors. Besides the pelvic scan, perhaps the commonest test for women is the keeping of a basal temperature chart. This involves making a daily record of one’s temperature immediately upon waking. Ovulation is preceded by a slight rise in temperature. Though rather imprecise, keeping track of temperature fluctuations helps determine if and when ovulation is occurring. A woman may also be required to undergo hormonal analysis to determine for hormonal levels.

 

NATURE CURES FOR INFERTILITY

The principles are:

  1. The more water you drink, the better for you.
  2. The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the better for you.
  3. The more natural your diet, the better for you.

 

Learn to drink a least four glasses of water first thing on rising daily. This is extremely important for infertile couples. If you cannot have your supper before 7.00 p.m. simply forget about it, and take plenty of water. Make sure you take not less than five cups of water daily. Men who suffer from low sperm count should avoid alcohol and sugar. They should take plenty of lime, lemon and honey. Women should avoid sugar and all sugar products like ice cream, minerals or glucose. Remember that a ball of orange is better than a bottle of coca-cola drink

 

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KEN IMANSUANGBON: My wife drives me hard http://sunnewsonline.com/new/ken-imansuangbon-my-wife-drives-me-hard-2/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/ken-imansuangbon-my-wife-drives-me-hard-2/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 15:14:10 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=99183 Kenneth Imansuangbon is a man of many parts. A lawyer, politician, businessman, philanthropist and the chairman, of Abuja-based Pace Setters Group of Schools. Born on May 4, 1966, into a humble background in the rustic Ewohimi community in Edo State, he rose to fame by dint of diligence, transparency and open-mindedness. He began his educational [...]]]>

Kenneth Imansuangbon is a man of many parts. A lawyer, politician, businessman, philanthropist and the chairman, of Abuja-based Pace Setters Group of Schools. Born on May 4, 1966, into a humble background in the rustic Ewohimi community in Edo State, he rose to fame by dint of diligence, transparency and open-mindedness.

He began his educational pursuit at the St. John’s Catholic School Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State and proceeded to Ago-Iwoye Secondary School, also in Ogun State. Though he passed out in flying colours in 1981, but owing to poverty, the young Imansuangbon had to take to menial job as a technical assistant with the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) Abuja. He worked with some great expatriates who spotted his exceptional brilliance and talent and advised him strongly to return to school. Ken did not dismiss that idea with a wave of the hand. While at FCDA, he gained admission to study law at the University of Ife (Obafemi Awolowo University) Ile-Ife.

After a stint as a lawyer during which he established Imansuangbon and Company, a legal firm of which he is a principal partner, he veered into education when he set up Pace Setters Schools. As Chairman of the Schools/Academy with more than five campuses in Abuja and one in the US, Imansuangbon has for many years offered scholarships to children of military, police and other security officers who lost their lives in active service.

In bid to promote grassroots sports and youth education, Imansuangbon has annually organised sports and essay writing competition for secondary schools across the country.

In continuation of his philanthropic gestures, Imansuangbon has for seven consecutive years shared bags of rice on the streets of Edo State every Christmas, a gesture which has endeared him to the people and earned him the alias, “Rice Man.”

Imansuangbon spoke with BEIFOH OSEWELE, on his life, his philanthropic activities and how his wife, Kate, who he says drives him hard to bring out the best in him.

Excerpts:

 

Share with us memories of your childhood. As a young boy, what were those dreams you had?

I remember that when we were young, we were free people. We were not in bonds. We didn’t live in fear. You could leave your village for the next village, play soccer, and play matches. Everybody was one another’s keeper. You could enter the next house and eat without fear of being poisoned or kidnapped, without fear of harm. But today, it’s not so.

Then, we never had much, but we loved one another. So, if you compare what obtained when we were growing up with what we have today, you’d agree that things have fallen apart. Those noble values of yesterday are lost. It makes you wonder what we’re really now living for. It’s like we’re living for suspicion and hate. There was no hate then. We were one another’s keeper. If you were a Muslim, it didn’t matter. If you were a Christian, it wasn’t a barrier. We were one people, one nation, and one citizen under God.

I was born in Ewohimi, Edo State, but my father relocated to Ijebu-Ode where he worked as a rubber plantation manager. He managed a group of people at a rubber plantation in Ijebu-Ode. And then, we were living a communal life. There was no distinction as to who your father was. We saw ourselves as one. There was no division, no unbeliever or infidel, no Efik, no Igbo, no Hausa, no Muslims or Christians. What defined us was the fact of our common humanity. We are human beings under God. But today, we’re so divided and polarised. Never has this country been so divided. We’re a divided people. At the end of the day, we would only end up a failed people, if we continue the way we’re going. And it’s quite unfortunate.

 

You had your early education in Ijebu-Ode?

When I finished from Ago-Iwoye Secondary School I went to Abuja where I worked for four-five years. We built the Lower Usman Dam. When Shagari came to Abuja in 1982, that was where he stayed. I was a technical assistant in training. Of course, I was there because I didn’t have money to go to the university. I had to work for four years to save money to go to the university. But even then, there was no Ibo, Calabar or Hausa. We saw Shagari then as a rallying point for the country, irrespective of where he was from. I still remember him – very slim, tall, handsome man with a long cap and Agbada. When he came, I walked up to him, touched him and he smiled at me.

 

When you touched him and he gave you a smile, you must have been enraptured.

I felt that this man is a father, that one day, I was going to be president. He looked at me, smiled, beckoned on me and I walked up to him, shook his hands. I felt anointing was being transferred. So, that encounter actually invigorated me. Let me quickly say this: our politicians must know that they would be held accountable one day because of what we are teaching the children. We’re teaching them political violence. We’re teaching them trouble. In the days of Shagari and Awolowo, it wasn’t like that. What Shagari gave me was a smile, not battering. I think we must know that a day of reckoning would come. A time would come when God would ask us everything we do as a people.

 

From being a technical hand, you went to study law. Why not engineering or something else?

I felt law was a tool for social change, a social engineering instrument. I wanted to practice law, to fight for humanity, defend the poor and to use law to bring about change. That was what I wanted to do until I visited the US about 20 years ago and saw the huge development that had taken place there. I asked the first white man I spoke with why Africa was not as developed? He said the gap was in education, that developed people are people that are highly read, people that take their education serious. So, I made up my mind that I was going to open schools. I sat with my wife and told her there was a need for us to make a change and the way to start the change is to educate the minds of the Nigerian people. That was what gave birth to Pace Setters Group of Schools.

I am proud to say that with the great support of my wife, Kate, we have been able to make that change in the education sector in Abuja, and even in Nigeria at large. We’re proud to say, with humility and gratitude to God, that we have been able to kick start the process that would bring about the desired change.

 

Did you ever practice law at all?

Yes, of course, I did. I had a law office: Imansuangbon and Company in Abuja. It is still there though low-keyed.

 

Are you gone from law for good?

In fact, till tomorrow, my classmates at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, cannot believe that I could leave legal practice. You know, life is unpredictable. Life can be very funny. At times, where you think the radar would go is not where it goes. My classmates at Ife would never have believed that by now, I would not be a SAN. Even those who served in my chamber wouldn’t believe it. I may return to practice in due course. Yes, you can’t rule out that possibility.

 

Can you recollect your first day in court?

It was as a law student. I remember very clearly my appearance before the late Justice Abiodun Kessington, a great judge with lots of wit. When I said, ‘My Lord, I am Ken Imansuangbon,’ he said to me, ‘You must be a young lawyer?’ I said, ‘Yes sir’. He then said, ‘Every dog has got its own day.’ I would never forget the late Justice Kessington of the Lagos High Court. He told me, every dog has got its own day. Never mind, those who are the lords of today may not be the lords of tomorrow. That also has shaped my character of the neighbours’ principle, that I must respect humanity and above all, that I must respect my God, my Creator and that I must do things well, because every dog has got its own day. And he (Kessington) was a great preacher of patience.

 

How did that case go?

It was a criminal trial of assault and battery. I made a very strong legal argument why my client should be left off the hook. We won that case ultimately.

 

Who or what influenced your decision to go into law?

Two people influenced my decision. The late Gani Fawehinmi. He was a great role model. I loved his courage and how he fought for humanity. I loved how he fought for the poor. I remember when I was in Ife, when we gave him SAM (Senior Advocate of the Masses). I laid on the floor that he should walk over me; that I wanted to be the red carpet for him to walk on because he was unique. Unfortunately, we don’t respect our heroes. The true heroes of this country are people like Gani Fawehinmi. He was everything to me. He inspired me each time he talked with his tiny voice. Well, today, we don’t have a Gani Fawehinmi anymore. Everybody is money, money, money. It is quite unfortunate. But I know that a Gani will rise again, for sure. My father also had hoped that I should read law. To honour him, I decided to read law because I said the dream of my father must not die.

 

At what point did the philanthropy bug bit you?

My background must have shaped my philanthropic disposition. I came from a very poor home. All that I have benefited was from my widowed mother and neighbours. Those who were our neighbours never made us lack. They all supported. So, I made up my mind that if God blesses me, I would give back to God and to humanity. To that extent, this is a mission and a pact.

Then, I also learnt a lot from the late MKO Abiola. Yes. When I was in Ife, we needed to raise money for the Law Faculty Week. The dean, Professor Fabunmi, called me and said we must go and raise money. We got to MKO’s house at about 3pm. We learnt he went to see Gen. Ibrahim Babangida at Dodan Barracks. We waited until he came at about 1am. I will never forget MKO. What I observed was that even men in Christian cassock and Muslims in their turbans were also waiting. But when he came, he was told that students of the Faculty of Law, Ife, were waiting. We were the first he saw. He asked what we wanted. I was the lead speaker; I told him we needed N100, 000 for our Law Faculty week. He asked how much we’ve raised? I said we haven’t raised anything. ‘You’ve not raised anything. It’s MKO Abiola’s money you need to do everything?” he chided me and laughed. At the end, he gave us N50, 000. All that we needed actually was N10, 000. MKO Abiola was a giver per excellence. He loved everybody. He wasn’t discriminatory in his character, attitude, fellowship and fraternity to people. For him, there was neither Muslims nor Christians; everybody was equal. That’s one lesson I learnt from him. That’s why when I share rice; I take some to the mosques in Edo State. MKO Abiola was a great man. He’s undoubtedly one of the legends we have had in this country.

 

What defines you?

What defines me is not what I have. The way I give love to those my eyes can see, those my hand can touch and those my legs can walk to are what make me what I am. When those people are happy, I am happy.

 

So other people’s happiness constitutes happiness for you?

What happiness means for me is my love for my neighbour. I must regard and treat my neighbor as myself. The neighbour principle generally- do unto others as you want others to do unto you, don’t cheat, say no to corruption, treat everybody with love and respect, and above all, serve God. You must never lose the sight of the fact that one day you’d account to God whatever you do. So, each time I am able to help a neighbour, I feel fulfilled. Who is my neighbour? They are not just the persons who are close to me. Each time I see an Okada (commercial motorcycle operator), I see my neighbour. Each time I see a poor man, a beggar on the street, that’s my neighbour. When I see people with cancer, with growth in the street of Abuja or anywhere, I am sad. It is always a sad moment for me. When I see people who cannot pay their children’s school fees, that does not give me joy. When I see young graduates who cannot secure jobs or put into practice what they have learnt, wasting and roaming the streets without jobs four, five, six years after leaving the university, I am sad.

Conversely, each time I am able to help people, I feel very happy. When I give jobs to people at Pace Setters Schools, I get satisfied. When I share rice on the streets of Benin every Christmas, I am very happy. When I do essay competition, each time I give out 500 computers to university students, I am very happy. When I do the Ken Imansuangbon Essay Competition and students win and are happy, I am very happy. Each time trophies are being given to elated winners of Ken Imansuangbon Secondary Schools Soccer Competition in Abuja, I feel very happy.

 

What would you consider to be the best and worst decisions you’ve taken?

The best and worst decision I have taken is to join politics. It is the best because the poor people need men like me in politics. But I since I jumped into the murky water, I have seen that politics is a game of deception and 419. At times, I ask myself what I am really doing in it, that I am not meant for this kind of thing. But each time I get discouraged, my courage comes from the fact that if I were not there, who will I leave the business for. For this same people that want to impoverish the poor, that hate the poor, that want everything for themselves, not for the people? If the good ones abandon the game of politics for the bad ones, then the common man is gone.

 

Who or what determines what you wear?

The truth is that I am not a fashion person. I am more of ‘let’s roll.’ It doesn’t matter; I can wear jeans, tee-shirt…Well, as a lawyer, if I want to go to court or be with lawyers, I can decide to put on suit. But majorly, I am a jeans and tee-shirt person because I believe business of the people requires the jeans and the tee-shirt. There’s a lot to be done in the country. Nigerians are suffering, we’re behind, and things are getting worse. The country needs to be brought back from the precipice. We can’t continue like this.

 

What is your worse moment?

That is when I see people poor, those that can’t get food to eat, don’t have jobs when they have left school, when a woman who has malaria, but cannot pay her hospital bill, cannot go to the hospital because her husband doesn’t have a job, when a woman who is pregnant cannot see a doctor because she cannot afford the medical consultation fees, when a child can’t pay school fees. Situations like these make me sad.

 

What would make you excited?

I feel on top of the world whenever Super Eagles win their matches.

 

Are you a soccer buff?

Yes. I love soccer.

 

As a young boy, did you take part in any sports?

Yes, I played soccer for my secondary school. I remember we lost to Odogbolu Grammar School and Ijebu-Igbo Grammar School, but we beat Adeola Odutola College. I scored the winning goal. All my life, I have been scoring goals, and I would continue to score goals. That is why in 2016, I know I would score a goal.

 

What were the pranks you played?

I was deeply spiritual. I gave my life to Christ very early as a member of the Scripture Union.

 

How do you keep fit?

My wife is a strong woman who believes in sports. She drives me and my kids to do sports. Whatever I am today, she is instrumental to it. She’s a God-fearing woman. Quite honestly, I don’t deserve the wife I got. I wanted a God-fearing woman, but God answered my prayers and gave me an angel. I owe a lot to her. So, she pushes me to get on the treadmill to do my exercises, which I do if I have the time. But I also try to regulate my meals, because as a man close to 50, one is no longer a baby. She is my brain and source of my strength. God gave me a good partner.

 

Which is your favourite food?

I love rice, dodo and Eba.

 

Where do you derive your inspiration?

My inspiration is in my DNA given by God.

 

What do you want to be remembered for?

I would like to be remembered as someone who loved his neighbour as himself; as someone that brought change. I would love to be remembered as someone who fought for change. I would love to be remembered as someone who loved his country so dearly. I would love to be remembered as someone that fought for the poor and brought hope to them. I don’t want to be remembered for being a rich man. I am not a rich man; I cannot be rich anyway. I don’t want to be remembered as someone who has billions of money in his account. I want to be remembered as someone who made change possible in the country; one who gave dreams and hope to the younger generation.

 

What is your concept of good leadership?

A leader is a good shepherd. A good shepherd gives his life for his people. A good leader is one that would not steal the people’s money. A good leader is a leader that would give back the people’s money to the people.

A good leader is one that would be fair and equitable in all his decision. A good leader is a leader that would remember tomorrow and know that tomorrow, in words of Justice Kessington, is another day.

 

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With peace in mind, Igbo group storms Kano http://sunnewsonline.com/new/peace-mind-igbo-group-storms-kano/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/peace-mind-igbo-group-storms-kano/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:21:05 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=83087 • Visits Emir to seek mutual co-existence   Recently, the Igbo World Union, a socio cultural group stormed Kano as part of efforts to promote peace and cooperation among Ndigbo and their hosts. The delegation was led by its President-General, Chief Mishak Nnanta. It was a day various men of means and might converged on [...]]]>

Visits Emir to seek mutual co-existence

 

Recently, the Igbo World Union, a socio cultural group stormed Kano as part of efforts to promote peace and cooperation among Ndigbo and their hosts. The delegation was led by its President-General, Chief Mishak Nnanta.

It was a day various men of means and might converged on the palace of Emir of Kano, Alhaji Lamido Sanusi Lamido, to assure him of their continuous support.  Among them were Chief Umezurike Peter, Chairman Igbo World Union Abuja chapter; Chief Augustine Nwosu, Chairman Lagos chapter; Rev. Uba Andrew, Coordinator Northern zone; Mrs Fidel Ifeoma Orji, Woman Coordinator, Northern zone among others.

According to Chief Nnanta, the visit of his association and Igbo leaders in Kano to the emir was in line with the cardinal objectives of the association to promote peace and understanding among Ndigbo and their host communities. He described Emir Sanusi as an astute administrator, whose reforms in the CBN spoke volumes, adding that the experience he acquired in the banking sector would help him to direct affairs in his Emirate.

Chief Nnanta described the association’s visit to Kano as a great moment for Ndigbo as it enabled them to speak out their mind and conveyed to the emir some of his group’s yearnings which included the restoration of Igbo Union School to its past glory.

According to him, in the 60s, the Ndigbo in Kano established chains of schools known as Igbo Union Schools. But with time, the names of those schools were changed. So the visit gave the Ndigbo the opportunity to seek for a return of the name to Igbo Union Schools.

In his remarks, Chief Nnanta commended Ndigbo for their peaceful existence with their hosts despite the spate of bombings that had been rocking the city and other Northern states. He said their determination to keep their cool despite the unprovoked attacks on their business interests showed their belief in the unity of the country.

Responding, the Emir assured of his support to the association, adding that he would look into their demands with the aim of addressing them.

Speaking on the frequent calls by some associations on Ndigbo in the Northern region to return to the South, Chief Nnanta described them as unrealistic. “How can you ask some one who has spent over 30 years in a community to suddenly abandon all his investments and relocate to the South where he is not known? Such calls will not work in modern Nigeria. So rather than fan the flame of division, our leaders should preach peace and unity and that is why we are here,” he said.

In his own contribution, Eze Igbo Kano, Eze Ibekwe Boniface, commended Chief Nnanta for his vision, which was centred on the unity of Nigerians and cooperation between Ndigbo and their hosts adding that such message was what Nigeria needed now to solve its numerous problems.

The Eze Igbo described Ndigbo in Kano as peaceful people who went about their business without rancour. He called on the Emir to listen to their yearnings so as to foster the existing bond of unity between them.

Similarly, Chief Augustine Nwosu described Ndigbo as entrepreneurs who had contributed to the development of their host communities to also think home by investing in their native states. He said such strategic investment could save them in rainy days.

Chief Umezurike in his remarks, called on Ndigbo to always speak with one voice so that it would be easy for them to attain their goals.

 

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Barbers on the march again http://sunnewsonline.com/new/barbers-march/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/barbers-march/#comments Sat, 24 May 2014 15:24:43 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=64943 It’s time for another barbing slugfest as the Annual Wahl Barbing Competition and Charity Show holds in Lagos on June 8, 2014. This year’s event is the 22nd in the series. The first edition held in 1992, organized by J. Green Mbadiwe & Sons, in conjunction with Wahl Clipper Corporation of Illinois, U.S.A.  The barbing [...]]]>

It’s time for another barbing slugfest as the Annual Wahl Barbing Competition and Charity Show holds in Lagos on June 8, 2014.

This year’s event is the 22nd in the series. The first edition held in 1992, organized by J. Green Mbadiwe & Sons, in conjunction with Wahl Clipper Corporation of Illinois, U.S.A.  The barbing contest holds at The Syrian Club, Ikoyi: Lagos, from 12 noon.

Speaking on the forthcoming event, Chief Victor Ngozi Mbadiwe, Chairman of J. Green Mbadiwe & Sons, says elevating the art of barbing, as well as its hygiene values “is a commitment that we are not ready to compromise at all.  We shall continue to encourage barbers to maintain highest levels of hygiene, so that the health of their customers is not jeopardised in any way.  We shall also encourage them to be as professional as possible.”

J. Green Mbadiwe & Sons is the sole distributor of Wahl Clipper Corporation products in Nigeria.

The annual barbing contest is also an avenue to give back to society, as proceeds from the event usually go to charity.  In the past 21 years, many charity homes round the country have benefited in cash and kind.

American-trained Carissa Mbadiwe is the executive in charge of J. Green Mbadiwe & Sons, and she says handsome prizes are up for grabs at the barbing show.

a“The first prize winner goes home with the sum of N150,000, the second prize winner gets N100,000, while the third place winner collects N50,000.  There are many other consolation prizes including barbing kits, clippers, and other hygiene products from Wahl,” she says.

Intending contestants are expected to enrol at the venue on June 8.  The event is expected to be graced by Mr Bob Thomas, the Global Special Projects Manager of Wahl, Hon Dr Eddie Mbadiwe, a member of the House of Representatives, and other distinguished guests.

Chief Victor Mbadiwe concludes: “In the past 21 years, God has really blessed our efforts, and barbing has become professionalized in Nigeria.  The profession is no longer seen as that of dropouts and riff-raffs.  It is now a respectable calling.  Presidents, chief executives, all have their barbers who cut their hairs regularly, so why should the profession be looked down on?  The annual barbing show, and the awareness it generates among barbers on hygiene, has taken the calling several notches higher.  And our country is the better for it.”

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Joblessness and the paradox of plenty: We, the ancestors speak http://sunnewsonline.com/new/joblessness-paradox-plenty-ancestors-speak/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/joblessness-paradox-plenty-ancestors-speak/#comments Sat, 03 May 2014 19:23:14 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=62159 There is a way in which the conditions of joblessness and unemployment leave you confused, desolate and hopeless. Do we need to talk about the loneliness, frustration or the pains of staying at home?  What about the indignity of moving around places and offices that were actually not looking for your services? Top on the [...]]]>

There is a way in which the conditions of joblessness and unemployment leave you confused, desolate and hopeless. Do we need to talk about the loneliness, frustration or the pains of staying at home?  What about the indignity of moving around places and offices that were actually not looking for your services? Top on the list also are the daily pressure, questions, and expectations from family, friends, colleagues and peers. Can you also contemplate the sorrows of having to explain to cynical semi-literate potential employers why you read a particular course and not another? More insidious is the automatic maiguard you became for everyone in the neighbourhood when they go to work or to their places of business. You were the person to watch out for the shoemaker and the gari seller when they come around. You become everyone’s ‘house-boy’ or ‘house-girl’ when they leave money with you to buy something or the other for them from itinerant traders and hawkers. What a life!

Yet, the clock of your age kept on ticking without knowing when you would arrive at the Promised Land! Even then, the unemployed were not the only casualties. The worried parents also suffered in silence. They pined away as you snapped at everyone and it appeared you were angry with the world. They were even afraid to send you on errands or talk to you about marriage. They even worried about your mental health as you moved around the house like a ghost. The problems are complex. Thus, beyond the spurious and useless statistics and development indicators being pushed out by our governments everyday, has anyone actually sat down to critically assess and make known to all and sundry, the psychological, social, political, and even ideological costs of unemployment in recent times? In other words, have we talked to everyone concerned about the fallacy of data? Since economic data and indicators are apt to overlook the textures and trends of peoples’ lives, we have to analyse, and interrogate the policies, plans and action (or inaction) that have translated to lived and shared experiences from a qualitative perspective. Those of us who can, should blow the alarm on what dangers acute unemployment pose for the health and vitality of this nation and its people.

We, the ancestors of the present set of jobless youths should know, appreciate, and are able to give an insight into what went on in the past. We should also contribute our quotas to finding ways out of the logjam. Need I tell anyone who had been there before, that joblessness was, and is, a very terrifying experience? But despite all these, a great decision anyone can make is never to give up trusting God for a change and for better days ahead. That is the surest way to maintain your sanity and faith in humanity.

The issue of unemployment is symptomatic of a wider malaise. That should be made obvious to everyone. This is the outcome of a badly-administered resource rich country like Nigeria that has unfortunately neglected to evolve appropriate polices for the economic and political management of the country. The damaging effects of these are well covered in historical, political and economics literatures. But who in government or society reads them? Oil revenues in Nigeria had not been known to be avenues for sound economic management but for corruption and profligacy. It has also given rise to an eclectic mix of rogues and opportunists who were all motivated by self-aggrandisementsand personal advancement.

The Machiavellian brilliance of our ruling elite is legendary. Nigerian officials, from the Presidents/Heads of State downwards became instrumental in creating a political environment where indiscipline and corruption thrived. Since independence from Britain in 1960, the cyclical relationship between public offices and private interest had created the abuse of public positions of trust for private gains. Patrimonialism then became a Directive Principle of State Policy. Being politically connected was symbiotic to private capital accumulation. Laid down structures and principles were abused or by-passed. Nigeria became a country of ‘anything goes.’ The country has since then created layers of exclusion, and a deep rooted sense of alienation and marginalization.

Each day I remember my experiences, I break out in cold sweat. It was nightmarish. It was the borderline between sanity and insanity. Those who survived such experiences intact, and without the tell-tale marks of anger, dislike or occasional bouts of remembering the times lost are few and far in-between. Now, the joblessness of every man and woman diminishes me!

Sharing and analyzing experiences are part of my duties as a historian. History has taught us to learn from our experiences. Unfortunately, (or fortunately), it has also taught us not to forget. That allows us the capacity to avoid the pitfalls of the past. I have not forgotten my unemployed days. Have I forgiven those who caused our predicament, most especially in the light of that much-abused phrase, ‘forgive and forget’? That is a story for another day! When I remember the days of waking up and having nowhere to go, I still thank my stars that I survived it all in one piece. Several of my compatriots became disabled, socially, economically and mentally. That is the context in which I have chosen to share experiences with our large progeny. They have to be told that they are not alone. We have also travelled that road before. We survived it. With luck and destiny,many of these present jobless youths will survive it. But of course, many will suffer, and many others will die in the process. Are we not living witnesses to the Immigration job interview saga?

Now that unemployment has become a more serious and long-term problem than the ruling elite has been willing to admit, we must now begin to understand it, and openly suggest ways out of the problem.  The current trend that we experience now began in 1986. That was immediately after the introduction of the poisonous and pestilentialStructural Adjustment Programme (SAP) by the General Ibrahim Babangida administration. Anything before that was very mild. In 1986, we finished our NYSC and were immediately thrown into the boiling cauldron that was the severely distorted Nigerian economy. We were the very first set. The guinea pigs of the new experiment suggested by the Bretton Wood institutions. It was an unkind cut. A year before that, we had graduated and happily went to serve our fatherland in various unknown lands. We did not mind. The N200 we were paid monthly as our stipends and allowances was enough to take care of our needs. We did not need N20,000 or N200,000. The economy was rightly based. It was only from 1986 that the economy began to be rebased, and of course, debased. It was diabolic. It still is.

We were discharged from NYSC into that new economy. We neither knew what to do or where to turn to. Nobody could suggest anything because unemployment had never been witnessed on such massive scales. Everything that went on before this period was child’s play when compared to what came after. SAP had demanded downsizing, rightsizing, opening up the border to goods, and sundry other ‘antidotes’ to poor economies. Our government looked into the medicine cabinet and fed us with overdoses of all the medicines recommended by both the World Bank and the InternationalMonetary Fund (IMF). But rather than get better, the economy got sicker. Our government did not use our oil wealth to transform the economy and society. Factories were closed down, people were retired prematurely, and new workers were not being hired. We were thrown into the unemployment market even before we started our lives.We were on our own. Deregulation became the new catchphrase. Everything from the economy to honour and truth became deregulated!

Was the situation different from what it is now? Yes, it was. In our unemployment days, the economy was bad- terribly bad. Nigeria was broke. We had no ideas or experiences to draw from. The ideas that ran the country aground had very close affinities with insanity and morbidity. There was SAP. Factories closed down, employment everywhere contracted, and prices went up. We pitied our parents who suddenly went from being families of two cars to no cars, and from an eating pattern of three square meals to 1-0-1 or 0-1-0. SAP was a programme precipitated by years of political and economic errors and miscalculations. Only the extremely rich could eat the normal three times a day in peace and comfort. Of course, they did so in their comfort zones- beyond the view of the prying eyes of, we the countless masses of no names. That was in 1986 when SAP was introduced into the country by the General Babangida administration. We tried to understand the country’s predicament with our own. Then the craziness started. As we were being told to bear the pains, government officials began to show unkind and unbridled profligacy. The indiscipline of the ruling class became very obvious. Only corrupt government officials and the rich did not feel the pains. In spite of the problems, there still existed major avenues for corruption and we saw it. The country’s descent into neo-patrimonialism was also ensured as people in government began to dispense patronage like never before. Procedural fairness had a brutal death. Rules and principles were stood on their heads. These even led to factional in-fighting in government. We saw a lot of blood shed. Those of us without fathers and Uncles in high places became estranged from our fatherland. We became mere spectators.

The government was confronted with a rising tide of protests. In 1987, due to acute frustrations, anti-Sap riots began. But so did brazen and sophisticated acts ofcriminality. The phenomenon of 419 became rampant. The government was powerless to stop it. It had no moral right to! Economic violence begets economic violence. Between 1986 and 1996 when SAP had run its full course, the average age of marriage for men had gone up from 28 to 34 and for girls from 24 to 28. Potential suitors had no jobs. To make matters worse, the average age of employability was raised by firms and government agencies to 28 in several cases. Once you were over that age, you were locked out of the Nigerian dream. With that, young men and women began decreasing in age every day, contrary to the laws of nature- 30 year-old men became 26 in their application letters and curriculum vitae.

Thousands of unemployed people now roam our streets. Long term unemployment has become a national malaise. Currently, an unacceptably high percentage of the present generation of youths is unemployed. They are alsomarginalised. Each day, they are assailed with the news that they are ill-trained andunemployable – this, from a government that has refused to fund qualitative education, and by employers who wanted to parachute in their foreign-trained nephews and nieces.For the present generation therefore, there is even a touch of anger, higher than what we felt in our own days. This anger arose not only because of their situation, but also due to the fact that this country makes a lot of money that is being frittered away mindlessly and uselessly.  Of course, they are also dissatisfied with the way the country and theprivileged people in society are aloof and unconcerned with their situation. I hope they do not see me as one of the privileged! When the issues of high level corruption and profligacy in high places are also thrown in, there is likely to be bitterness and a desire for ‘revenge.’ While some drink away their sorrows, others have become rebellious, or have taken to crime and prostitution. Luckier and more adventurous ones take their certificates and queue up at embassies to get out of the country to go somewhere. Justanywhere. There were also those who maintained their honesty and integrity, hoping for the coming of God’s time. You cannot appreciate the fact of joblessness unless you had been jobless before or are unfortunate to be surrounded in your home or neighbourhood by jobless and angry people. And there are homes and neighbourhoods like that!

Many of these young men and women after years of pounding the streets, staying with equally embattled friends or relatives, being cheated, lied to, and sometimes abused,have always returned home, bemoaning their fates. Younger brothers and sisters see these and question the point of working hard at their studies.

This is a story of tragedy, trouble and triumph – all from an ancestor. We, theancestors of the present jobless people are now speaking up. I am borrowing the phrase used by constitution makers (in this part of the world who write up our constitutionswithout our input or agreement) to describe the unemployment situation in my days. But like the constitution makers, I am borrowing the illegitimate phrase, “We, the People”,without consulting a large cross-section of my ilk. Here then is my story.

​The national service Year went very smoothly. After graduating from Ife in 1985, I was deployed to Effo-Amuro in the old Kwara State for my NYSC. It was a simple village populated by easy-going and friendly people. No, I did not seek to redeploy to Ilorin or any of the major towns. I shared close affinities with the people of the village since I also hailed from a very small town in the then Oyo State. After my service year, a person of goodwill sent me to someone about the possibility of a job. I do not remember where now. When he learnt I read History, he sneered, History? You should have read Political Science. That would have been more useful. What do you want to do in life with such a course?” I left. Downcast and discomfited. I am sure that if somebody with a degree in Political Science had visited him immediately after me, he would have sneered,‘Political Science? You should have read Anthropology.’ That was a common experience.You got to another office where the man in charge apparently graduated from school with a very low Second Class (Lower) or even a Third and he takes a look at you and says, ‘Sorry. Here, we only take people with a First Class’! That was our lot. We were insulted, abused and degraded. There was no end to the indignities.

Then something gave, and we actually began to attend interviews. Perhaps, there was light at the end of the tunnel after all! The very first interview I attended revealed to me what Nigeria had become. This was at the Oyo State Central Schools Board. The Schools Board had called for interviews for qualified people for teaching appointments. This was conducted at their office in the Oyo State Secretariat, Ibadan (their own equivalent of the Teaching Service Commission). We had arrived brimming with optimism. We all surmised that since this is our own State, they dare not ‘push us to the tiger to devour.’ I was wrong. I was too naïve. The panel was seated and they called us in 20 at a time! As we sat down waiting for them to begin, they ate ground nuts and kolanut from their saucers, drank tea and exchanged banters. They all but ignored us. Then one of them woke up to the fact that we were waiting. He then threw a question to us on Mansa Musa. We all chorused the answer and there was not attempt to even control the process. Another person asked another question and the same thing happened. After that we were all told to go. Nobody asked for our names or even asked to see our credentials. We had not put down our names down anywhere either. We were scandalised. We exchanged looks of fear. We left knowing that this was all a charade. Weeks later, they brought out the list of those recruited. My friend’s name was on the list. When I confronted him with the fact that he was neither at the interview nor in Ibadan the day we came there for interview, he smiled. You do not want to hear what he told me! I was crestfallen and thereafter, lost faith in humanity and in the country. I am still trying to find a place in my heart to forgive Oyo State for that very terrible experience. It was another unkind cut.

Then, the Lagos State Teaching Service also called for an interview. It was then Iunderstood the meaning of ‘crazy like the fox.’ I do not know who was crazier- the teaching service commission people or the applicants. It was bedlam all the way. Every single unemployed person from Enugu to Kaura Namoda, and from Bida to Ipetumodu must have shown up for the interview. The officials in charge of the exercise were confused and unorganised. They passed around several sheets of paper to write our names on. The more we did, the more they sent out more papers. It became crazy. We left for home without being interviewed. I am sure some form of list of those employed came out after that. The struggle continued. We did not give up.

One day, someone suggested that we go and pick up the Federal Civil Service Commission forms in Lagos. When we arrived at the Federal Secretariat at Ikoyi, we were ushered into the outer office of the ‘Commissioner’ representing our state. We were kept waiting for more than two hours and by mid-day, we had stretched from her outer office all the way to space. When she came out and saw us, she screamed, ‘Go away. I am not attending to anyone today.’ The more we begged her for mercy, the more she screamed at us. We were there to collect forms and not even for interviews. I never went back there again. Even if I had wanted to, I had no place to stay in Lagos. Even if I did,who wants to come and face that kind of insult and uncertainty every time?

Surprisingly, however, the Ogun State Teaching Service Commission kept faith with its mandate of recruiting teachers periodically. It was the only institution that sustained the recruitment drive. I still give kudos to them. The only problem was that you simply had to know the recruitment dates, which I suspected was determined by the side of the bed the officials woke from. There was never a specific set date for interviews.Here, I must not forget to talk about the intrigues, ill-will and envy that pervaded the act of looking for jobs. Backstabbing was quite rampant. It was also quite common. When it appeared that the heavens would smile on me through the Ogun State angle, human nature kicked in. Before I went back for my Master degree, I had been told that the Ogun State Teaching Service Commission recruited constantly. But you had to be lucky to know the specific days of such recruitments. They were usually not announced. So unless you had an insider you may not know. One thing that was sure was that once you showed up for the interview and your subject was needed, they appointed you instantly. You do not need to know anyone. At different times, two of my compatriots who had credible information about impending recruitments there passed in front of my house on the way to Abeokuta. But they never bothered to inform me. This is in spite of the fact that we did not read the same courses, and there was no way their employment could have stopped mine or mine theirs! They were also recruited instantly. They only told me after the interview.

Then the propaganda for self-employment began. In 1987, the Federal Government set up the agency for self employment, the National Directorate of Employment. It was designed to help alleviate the suffering of the unemployed youths and to provide them with the necessary skills to be self-employed. Well, some may have benefited from this but when I got to the Ibadan office where they required us to congregate for only-God-knows what, we came in our thousands. But by 2 p.m. when no official of the NDE had attended to us, many of us left. Those who lived in Ibadan could afford to wait but not those of us who came in from the ‘provinces.’ It would be nice to have a census of those who actually benefitted from this scheme. Later, advertisements flooded the radios and televisions on training for soap-making. I was not interested in that but many of my friends went for the training. Before long, everyone had become a soap maker. There was a glut in the market. You either used the soap yourself or gave them out to friends. Things could not be worse.

I was later invited to Agege by an Aunt to come and seek employment at a private school certificate lesson for intending WASCE students. When I met the proprietor, the pay he offered me was meant for somebody whom he assumed wanted to buy sweets or chewing gum. At the end of the day, I gave up and decided to go back to school. I went back to Ife. When my former teachers saw me, they were surprised. The unasked questions were obvious on their faces: when you were not recruited with a first degree in history who would recruit you with a Master in history in the days of downsizing and rightsizing? I took my chances and studied hard.

I was on my M.A. programme when the Police Force wanted to recruit. I put in an application and I was shortlisted. Friends and colleagues that also applied but who were not shortlisted saw my name among the shortlisted at the Eleiyele Command, Ibadan. Others heard my name on the radio as the police announced the dates of interview. They all kept quiet about it. They told me only several weeks after the interview. After that, I knew I would never get a job again. The country had become sick and so was everybody in it. I persevered, faced my studies and went on to pursue a Ph.D. degree in history.

A Ph.D degree is not a bed of roses – at least, in those days. I remember the sleepless nights, the agony, and of course, the shoe-string budget. But my siblings and parents rallied round me. I also took to farming and making oil from coconut. I became an adept farmer and ‘small scale’ industrialist. I was on the Ph.D. programme when my break came. My thesis supervisor, Prof. Akin Olorunfemi had called me into his office one morning during the second year of my Ph.D programme. He informed me that the Adeyemi College of Education, a Federal institution located in Ondo was about to recruit history teachers, and that I should try my luck. I put in reluctantly since I did not have a diploma in Education. Neither did I have a godfather there. At the interview, I was asked what teaching qualifications I had. I told myself, ‘wahala has come again.’ However, since I was already tired of the charade interviews had become, I also had no fear in answering their questions boldly. After all, I surmised, they had their candidates. They were only wasting my time. So I told the panel that I was eminently qualified to teach since both my father and my mother were teachers. The panel roared with laughter and the Provost of the College, a woman, retorted, “Have you ever seen anyone inheriting teaching?” Mercifully, I came first at the interview and I was recruited, even without an education diploma. Five years after my service year, I got my first job. Three years after that, Ibadan came calling.  Here I am today.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since those dark days. Nigeria has now, more than ever, become a country where, by some calculations or a malignant sense of entitlement, it is possible to appropriate what belongs to the collective for personal or group benefits. More and more, the state is being insulated from the poor and the general society, thereby setting the stage for a serious implosion. How are we going to roll this back? We now have to talk about the radical revision of the Nigerian project. How do we stop the disempowerment and marginalization of youths, the old, husbands and wives?How do we stop the debasement of everything that is good in the country? How do we produce leaders with vision, and who genuinely fear and respect God?

The government and higher institutions are now suggesting entrepreneurship as a cure-all programme for unemployment. But first, we have to understand our history to know where we were and where we now stand. What good things did we have in the past? How can we pick up the pieces of our lives? Please, do not look towards the universities and the religious centres. Not just yet. The universities are now cesspools of intrigues and dirty politicking, some churches and mosques are buccaneers and our homes are out of sync. So where do we start from? Do not look here for recommendations of revolutions, street protests and our own variant of the Arab Spring. The countries where those happened are still reeling from the effects. The answer here is very simple. Let us begin from our homes. From their youth, people have now developed stereotyped mindsets to cheat, outwit, hoodwink and bamboozle others for their own selfish and personal comfort. This is because we lost control of the homes. Nobody is talking about attitude and home training. Everything flows from the homes. But the home front is now so lame-duck and unprogressive. What we have now are homes where children no longer sweep or where parents are even afraid to tell their children to weed the compound. What do we have now as a result of the failures of the home? To make matters worse, there are now parents who are incapable of giving their children a sense of direction. What you do not have you cannot give. All the bad characters that have held the nation by the jugular came out of one home or the other. Those who steal the country blind or have wrecked this nation came out of some homes. They are badly trained and indisciplined. Now, people no longer see why they also should not get into positions of authority and cut their own share of the national cake. Thus, permissive parenting translates into carefree neighbours, indolent teachers, opportunistic religious leaders and a highly inept government. What other recipes for disaster do you want? The work ethic at home must also begin to play its part. Let us cure the home. Home training strategies must be fine-tuned for us to make surer progress.

Osun State has started with its Omoluabi experiment. Let us see what comes out of it. Perhaps, it can provide the template for social revolution and re-enginering that we earnestly yearn for. Even then, that is neither the single nor the final solution. What should we also say to the thousands of our unemployed youths? First, as a jobless youth, endeavour to always build your hopes on God’s unfailing faithfulness, and His unfailing ability to completely restore and bless us beyond measure. That is standard. Secondly, since this generation turns ideas into business, we must all encourage our youths to think positively and look beyond white collar jobs. But there is a greater duty, and we are all implicated. There must be a synergy. Ethics, sound doctrine of selflessness, patriotism, healthy aspirations, sense of service, sense of duty and godliness. I am not suggesting the kind of tasteless propaganda dished out by our government. I am talking about the one grounded in our homes and in our hearts. The teachings of all these must start from the cradle all over again. Who will lead this revolution? We need conscientious and visionary leadership. Can we get it? When the road looks rough or too far, we must never give up aspiring for better things. Therein lies our hope as a nation.

 

Prof. Adesina teaches history at the University of Ibadan – olutayo27@gmail.com>

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Boko Haram: Chief of Army Staff relocates to Borno http://sunnewsonline.com/new/boko-haram-chief-army-staff-relocates-borno-2/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/boko-haram-chief-army-staff-relocates-borno-2/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 05:55:29 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=54181 The battle-line between Boko Haram and the military has taken a new dimension with the relocation of the Chief of Army Staff, (COAS), Lt. General Kenneth Minimah, and some of his lieutenants to Maiduguri, Borno State.]]>

• Infantry unit now to face insurgents

 FROM MOLLY KILETE, ABUJAThe battle-line between Boko Haram and the military has taken a new dimension with the relocation of the Chief of Army Staff, (COAS), Lt. General Kenneth Minimah, and some of his lieutenants to Maiduguri, Borno State.Another method the COAS has adopted is to replace the soldiers in the zone who have been waging the war.

Our findings showed that in the past, most of the soldiers fighting the war were in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states were not trained specifically for warfare. The Infantry is the unit of the Army that handles wars specifically.

Minimah who spent most part of last week in the North East, returned early this week to Abuja.

The COAS’s presence in Maiduguri, was said to have been responsible for the successes recorded by the military over the weekend. He was there to shore up the morale of the soldiers who seemed to have been losing ground in the past few weeks.

Daily Sun learnt that the Army chief had temporarily relocated to Maiduguri, even before members of the National Assembly asked him to do so.

Our source revealed that before relocating to Maiduguri, Minimah had visited the town together with the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, to assess the situation on ground and why the insurgents seemed to be having the upper hand against the soldiers in the fight against terror.

The Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, had during the night before meeting with the President over the incessant attacks, visited the COAS at his quarters at the Niger Barracks, to brief him on the true situation of things in his state.

During the visit, Shettima was said to have told Minimah some of the atrocities going on in the military operations and suggested some measures to end the crisis.

And so the statement by the governor during an interview with State House correspondents that Boko Haram was more equipped than the military did not come to the COAS as a surprise.

But that notwithstanding, the Army chief was said to have taken most of the governor’s complaints and observation seriously and found them to be true to a large extent during his visit to Maiduguri, thus prompting him to make some immediate changes.

Daily Sun learnt that security operations in the North-East may have not recorded the deserved result because those in charge of briefing Minimah on the intelligence were not telling him the truth.

Sources said the cosmetic reports painting a different picture to suit the authors about the security situation on ground was responsible for the failure of the military to win the war against insurgency.

And that had been on even before Minimah was appointed COAS.

Another factor that has been a shortcoming in the fight was the politics of ending the war against insurgency in the North-East because of the monetary benefits of the operation, making government and the generality of Nigerians believe that the war is tough.

For instance, it was discovered that most of the soldiers deployed in Maiduguri were of other corps instead of the Infantry which prompted a massive deployment of purely Infantry soldiers to the zone. The redeployment took place few days ago.

The military, in assessing its operation and evaluating how to do things differently, had found that most of the soldiers killed by the terrorists had gunshot injuries on their backs meaning they were shot while trying to escape the fire power of the terrorists.

A military source who confided in Daily Sun, said no infantry officer can die in that manner because they know the rule of fire and movement in battle which is one of the basic infantry tactics and they also know that it is not the volume of fire that matters, but the effectiveness of the firing and it is only the infantry soldier that has that tenacity.

The source assured that the Army has started withdrawing all its infantry personnel posted to training institutions, units and commands across the country to battle the insurgents. To this end, most of the soldiers who have stayed too long in the North-East on commencement of the emergency rule have also been posted out to give room for fresh soldiers to take over.

Another dilemma is corruption where monies meant for the payment of troops’ allowance were diverted by some finance officers and commandants who stay in the comfort of their office.

Similarly, most of the 5,000 vehicles sent to the area reportedly stolen by the terrorists have been found to be untrue and some officers were said to have hijacked the vehicles and converted them to their use and even sold some.

The development is being investigated by the Army which has vowed to court-martial anyone found wanting.

Very top military sources who confided in Daily Sun, also said that the meddling by politicians in military operations against terrorists has not helped the military as they keep accusing it of human rights violation.

Sources also said that the downsizing of the military by the Obasanjo administration over the fear that the military may engage in a coup to overthrow a democratically-elected government is also affecting the operations of the war against insurgency.

Furthermore, top military sources said the politicization of the office of the COAS, where officers other than those from the Infantry and Armoured Corps are appointed to that office has also hampered Army security operations.

Unlike in the Air Force where only pilots are appointed to the position of Chief of Air Staff, it is not the same with the Army. The last infantry officer appointed COAS was General Victor Malu, and that was the reason Minimah, another infantry officer, was favoured for the top job this time.

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Father kills daughter in Ogun http://sunnewsonline.com/new/father-kills-daughter-ogun/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/father-kills-daughter-ogun/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 01:15:44 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=54123 A man in Ogbere community, Ijebu East Local Government Area of Ogun state has allegedly beaten his daughter to death over alleged misbehaviour.]]>

By Moshood Adebayo, Abeokuta

A man  in Ogbere community,  Ijebu East Local Government Area of Ogun state  has allegedly beaten his daughter to death over alleged  misbehaviour.

Bisi  of J6 Camp, Ogbere,  ran away after allegedly clubbing his 12- year old  daughter, Yemi, to death.

Reacting to the incident, the state Police Commissioner, Ikemefuna Okoye, said that with the assistance of members of Onigogo’s community, the police would apprehend the suspect.

He also warned parents and guidance to correct their children and wards with moderation, as “the law would not pardon anyone for his excesses like this and anyone involved will be dealt with according to the provisions of the law”.

In a related development, a 34-year-old pastor at Olorunsogo, Abeokuta, has been detained.    The suspect, Adekunle (surname withheld), was arrested for allegedly, “fingering” a female member of his church in a bid to confirm her virginity, within the church premises last Sunday.

The state  Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, who confirmed what he described as an ugly incident, disclosed that the  father of the victim reported the incident to the police.

According to him, Adekunle’s arrest followed the 20-year-old victim’s report of her terrible experience to her father.

The police quoted the father of the girl as confessing to him that the pastor had fingered her severally, “even when she was observing her menstrual period”.

“My daughter told me that the pastor had fingered her severally even when she was observing her menstrual period. He even recently fingered her to confirm her virginity during a  church service”, the father told the police.

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Shake-up in aviation ministry http://sunnewsonline.com/new/shake-aviation-ministry/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/shake-aviation-ministry/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 01:08:56 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=54121 Aftermath of the N255 million bullet proof cars that caused the former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah her job, President Goodluck Jonathan, has approved the total re-organization in the Ministry of Aviation, appointing Mr. Saleh Dumona (Director Projects, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) to replace Mr. George Uriesi as Managing-Director.]]>

From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja

Aftermath of the N255 million bullet proof cars that caused the former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah her job,  President Goodluck  Jonathan, has approved the total re-organization in the Ministry of Aviation, appointing Mr. Saleh Dumona (Director Projects, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) to replace Mr. George Uriesi as Managing-Director.

The NCAA, had while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation last October, had said that the ministry approved the controversial purchase of the bulletproof cars for Oduah.

A statement by ‎Mr. Sam Nwaobasi, Special Assistant (Media) to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said the President  also approved Capt. Muhktar Usman (Commissioner, Accident Investigation & Prevention Bureau, AIPB) to replace Capt. Fola C. Akinkuotu as Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), subject to confirmation by the Senate.

He stated that Mr. Benedict Adeyileka is to act as Director-General of NCAA pending his confirmation by the Senate.

Also affected by the reorganisation is Mr. Ibrahim Abdulsalam (General Manager, Procurements, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, (NAMA) to replace Mr. Nnamdi Udoh as Managing Director.

Capt. Samuel Akinyele Caulcrick (Government Safety Inspector & ICAO Focal Point for Nigeria on line Aircraft Safety Information Systems, OASIS) is to replace Capt. (Mrs.) Chinyere Kalu, (who was Sunday night given a centenary award as the first female pilot in the country), as Rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT).

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40 killed in fresh attack on Borno http://sunnewsonline.com/new/40-killed-fresh-attack-borno/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/40-killed-fresh-attack-borno/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 01:06:07 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=54111 At least, 40 people have been killed in another attack on a Borno State village following a deadly attack by suspected Boko Haram insurgents while many others were seriously injured. ]]>

From TIMOTHY OLANREWAJU, Maiduguri

At least, 40 people have been killed in another attack on a Borno State village following a deadly attack by suspected Boko Haram insurgents while many others were seriously injured.

The Senator representing Borno Central, Ahmed Zannah, said 11 elderly people were burnt alive.

Sources said the Islamist sect again resurfaced at Jakana, near Mainok Monday night and unleashed terror on the community for about three hours, leaving about 40 residents dead. “Many residents were shot dead while some were burnt in their houses,” a source said. The attack came barely two days after a similar assault on neighbouring Mainok village where about 40 people were also massacred.

The insurgents stormed the community at about 9pm on Monday and using same method of operation, opened fire on the residents, bombed houses and set some of the buildings on fire. “Eleven people were burnt beyond recognition,” a rescue official who did not want his name in print, said.

Residents said 35 people were buried yesterday, about 12 hours after the attack, but sources said the casualty figure may be higher as some of the victims were still being evacuated from the rubbles of the burnt houses.

North/East zone Information Officer of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Abdulkadir Ibrahim, said 55, 500 people have so far been displaced this year alone following Boko Haram attacks. He said the displaced persons were brought into camps established by the agency in collaboration with other humanitarian groups and agencies like the Red Cross. He, however, said many of the displaced persons were leaving for their relations’ houses, perhaps to avoid being attacked in the camps.

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Fashola wants private sector to partner Lagos HOMS http://sunnewsonline.com/new/fashola-wants-private-sector-partner-lagos-homs/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/fashola-wants-private-sector-partner-lagos-homs/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 01:01:37 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=54117 By Oluwole Farotimi

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has solicited the cooperation of the private sector, especially housing developers to partner with the Lagos Homes Ownership Mortgage Scheme (HOMS) to increase the number of homes to people.

The governor said this at the  Blue Roof, Lagos Television, Ikeja, where the maiden draw for the new 200 homes was made for 98 successful applicants.

Fashola said partnering with private housing developers would enable the Lagos State Government to double the number of homes made available to Lagosians monthly.

He said: “We promised you that there will be a second phase of this initiative and I am pleased to say that the committee has started work on the second phase.

“The substance of the second phase is that we are opening up the scheme now to private sector, housing developers, who will build the homes and government will be the guarantee purchaser of the homes.

“By so doing, we will be in the position to double or triple the number of homes, from 200 to 600, or 800 a month. If we allow private sector to build the homes, we would buy from them and put them into the mortgage fund and distribute out.”

He added that since only 98 applicants were qualified for this month’s draw, the remaining 102 homes would be added to another 200 homes billed for next month’s draw to give us 302 for the month.

“We promised that we would make available a minimum of  200 houses every month and we have delivered on that promise. There are 200 homes available for this month.

“From the report I received, we have 322 applicants, but out of the 322 applicants, only 98 met the conditions. I believe 98 of them by the time we complete this draw will be home owners,” governor Fashola said.

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Work begins on 2nd Niger Bridge March 10 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/work-begins-2nd-niger-bridge-march-10/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/work-begins-2nd-niger-bridge-march-10/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 00:53:46 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=54115 President Goodluck Jonathan has revealed that work on the Second Niger Bridge will be flagged off on March 10, 2014, promising that the project will go on non-stop, till its completion.]]>

President Goodluck Jonathan has revealed that work on the Second Niger Bridge will be flagged off on March 10, 2014, promising that the project will go on non-stop, till its completion.

Speaking at the Presidential Villa, Abuja yesterday, when Anambra State stakeholders, led by the Obi of Onitsha, Alfred Achebe, paid him a ‘thank you and solidarity visit’, Jonathan stated that funds for the bridge project had been worked out.

The president, who said he was the one to thank the people of Anambra, for the gift of Governor Peter Obi to Nigeria, said the governor, whose tenure would end on March 17, was merely stepping aside, as his services would still be needed as a member of the Economic Management team.

Describing Governor Obi as hard working, Jonathan said his contributions at meetings were marked by depth and insight on issues.

Commenting on insecurity problems in some parts of the world, the President said it was a painful phase in Nigeria’s development that would soon come to an end.

He said the Federal Government would not relent in tackling the problems affecting the country in any facet.

Earlier, the Anambra stakeholders expressed gratitude to Jonathan for his support and encouragement to Governor Obi to deliver his vision to the people.

In an address delivered by a former Minister of Health, Prof. ABC Nwosu, the delegation, while commending Jonathan for his transformational leadership, thanked him for giving Governor Obi broad and open support,  as well as creating the political space and enabling environment for him to “shepherd the state from a pariah status to stability, civility, security, economic growth and to reclaim its niche as the ‘Light of the Nation’, thereby being an instrument God used to save the state.”

They noted that Governor Obi’s administration, in spite of obvious challenges, remained visionary, courageous, meritorious, credible, exemplary and purposeful.

The stakeholders extolled the governor’s efficient and skillful pruning of the cost of governance, partnership with the churches, extra-ordinary love for children and senior citizens and practical commitment to industrialisation.

They requested the president to extend the same love, partnership, support and encouragement to the state’s governor-elect, Chief Willie Obiano, to enable him excel.

Speaking at the event, Governor Obi thanked President Jonathan for the wonderful support accorded him and assured him that the Igbo were behind him, in his efforts to serve Nigeria. He appealed to the president to extend the same support to his successor.

 

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Depositors of failed banks to share N105b –NDIC http://sunnewsonline.com/new/depositors-failed-banks-share-n105b-ndic/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/depositors-failed-banks-share-n105b-ndic/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 00:50:37 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=54113 Depositors of failed banks in the country are to share N105 billion just as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approved the liquidation of 83 licensed microfinance banks, the Managing Director, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Umaru Ibrahim, said yesterday.]]>

From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja

Depositors of failed banks in the country are to share N105 billion just as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approved the liquidation of 83 licensed microfinance banks, the Managing Director, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Umaru Ibrahim, said yesterday.

The NDIC boss disclosed that there are up to 900 microfinance banks in operation of which 83 have been listed for liquidation, adding that plans were on to regulate mobile banking in the country.

Ibrahim disclosed this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, to defend the Corporation’s budget. He did not give the number of depositors of the failed banks that will share the N105 billion.

On the closure of 83 microfinance banks, the NDIC boss said that it was discovered that some of the banks, “existed only on paper” while some were being used to defraud Nigerians.

“Some assets of the banks will also be sold. There is no doubt that the operations of some of the microfinance banks have become epileptic” he said.

Ibrahim said that the NDIC was already working to determine the number of depositors and how much each deposited in the banks in order to pay them.

Some assets of the banks, he said, would also be sold.

“Funding gap is what we do to prepare for the rainy day. We hope and pray that the rainy day does not come but any insurance should prepare for the rainy day. As we speak, no bank benefited from the fund in 2013.”

On ‘dollarisation’ of the economy by speculators, he said that the issue was being looked into by the CBN to ensure that it does not affect the economy.

He informed lawmakers that the corporation also tried to pay depositors of institutions that had been liquidated.

“We have stepped up awareness and campaigns about our activities to make sure that members of the public put up claims of their locked-up deposits in liquidated financial institutions. We appointed some banks as agents with the assistance of our various zonal offices that we had established in various parts of the country.”

On regulation of mobile banking he said: “The depositors of the institutions offering mobile banking needed to be identified and protected.The whole essence of this is that if we have millions of such people sending and collecting money through mobile banking system, we want to ensure that in event of any crisis, they are covered.

“Unless they have that assurance of being covered, you don’t expect them to accept to participate in this revolutionary project that is coming on board.”

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Sanusi: Anxiety in CBN over probe http://sunnewsonline.com/new/sanusi-anxiety-cbn-probe/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/sanusi-anxiety-cbn-probe/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 00:45:25 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=54108 The suspension slammed on the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, is currently creating intense anxiety in the apex bank, Daily Sun gathered yesterday. ]]>

From AIDOGHIE PAULINUS, Abuja

The suspension slammed on the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, is currently creating intense anxiety in the apex bank, Daily Sun gathered yesterday.

Members of senior management of the CBN are presently engulfed in fear over what would become of them when probe of Sanusi’s activities in the bank is completed.

Daily Sun source said if they go on with the probe, heads would roll among the top echelon, including an executive director.

Giving insight into the anxiety that has enveloped the top management of the CBN, the source said the Department of Corporate Services, was responsible for most of the activities carried out by Sanusi, citing the donations he made.

The source said: “Those things were done by the Department of Corporate Services. Even though, of course, Sanusi was the head and the bulk stops at his table, he cannot say that he is not aware of them. But those people were also aware of them. What did they do? And some of those things I think, they initiated.”

The source stated: “Sanusi too, inherited a staff strength of 6000. But by the time he was leaving, the staff strength was 9000, and that shows that he increased the staff strength of the CBN by 50 percent.

“Besides that, Sanusi created some positions that were not there before. Prior to this time, if you were an assistant manager, you will become a manager. There was nothing like deputy manager. Sanusi created the position of deputy manager.

“Also, if you were a senior manager, from senior manager, you become an assistant director. But when Sanusi came, he created another position in-between the senior manager and assistant director called principal manager so much that the staff who were thinking they were going up the ladder, were stagnated because you have to spend three years in one position before you go to the next.

“So, before now, it will take you three years to move from being a senior manager to an assistant director. But presently, it will take you six years. And to worsen the matter, Sanusi employed a lot of people, especially from the North.

“What he did was that if you are a senior manager hoping that you would have been made an assistant director, instead of promoting you to the position of assistant director, he will make you a principal manager. He will go out and employ an assistant director from outside the bank. Sometimes, he would go and employ a principal manager outside the bank so that that person that had been employed from outside the bank, will be above the person who would have been in that position.”

Daily Sun also gathered that the former Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) building, close to the Force Headquarters, which was blasted sometime ago, was bought by Sanusi and said he was going to build a conference center and a five-star hotel for the CBN.

Those involved in the deal, our source said, “are terribly shaking at the moment because if the sale is looked into, with the kind of underhand deal that took place, coupled with the money that went under, heads will roll.”

Our source further said those involved in the deal, are presently thinking of resigning from the CBN for fear that they will be consumed by the probe.

 

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Boko Haram: Chief of Army Staff relocates to Borno http://sunnewsonline.com/new/boko-haram-chief-army-staff-relocates-borno/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/boko-haram-chief-army-staff-relocates-borno/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 00:39:20 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=54109 The battle-line between Boko Haram and the military has taken a new dimension with the relocation of the Chief of Army Staff, (COAS), Lt. General Kenneth Minimah, and some of his lieutenants to Maiduguri, Borno State.]]>

FROM MOLLY KILETE, ABUJA

The battle-line between Boko Haram and the military has taken a new dimension with the relocation of the Chief of Army Staff, (COAS), Lt. General Kenneth Minimah, and some of his lieutenants to Maiduguri, Borno State.

Another method the COAS has adopted is to replace the soldiers in the zone who have been waging the war.

Our findings showed that in the past, most of the soldiers fighting the war were in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states were not trained specifically for warfare. The Infantry is the unit of the Army that handles wars specifically.

Minimah who spent most part of last week in the North East, returned early this week to Abuja.

The COAS’s presence in Maiduguri, was said to have been responsible for the successes recorded by the military over the weekend. He was there to shore up the morale of the soldiers who seemed to have been losing ground in the past few weeks.

Daily Sun learnt that the Army chief had temporarily relocated to Maiduguri, even before members of the National Assembly asked him to do so.

Our source revealed that before relocating to Maiduguri, Minimah had visited the town together with the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, to assess the situation on ground and why the insurgents seemed to be having the upper hand against the soldiers in the fight against terror.

The Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, had during the night before meeting with the President over the incessant attacks, visited the COAS at his quarters at the Niger Barracks, to brief him on the true situation of things in his state.

During the visit, Shettima was said to have told Minimah some of the atrocities going on in the military operations and suggested some measures to end the crisis.

And so the statement by the governor during an interview with State House correspondents that Boko Haram was more equipped than the military did not come to the COAS as a surprise.

But that notwithstanding, the Army chief was said to have taken most of the governor’s complaints and observation seriously and found them to be true to a large extent during his visit to Maiduguri, thus prompting him to make some immediate changes.

Daily Sun learnt that security operations in the North-East may have not recorded the deserved result because those in charge of briefing Minimah on the intelligence were not telling him the truth.

Sources said the cosmetic reports painting a different picture to suit the authors about the security situation on ground was responsible for the failure of the military to win the war against insurgency.

And that had been on even before Minimah was appointed COAS.

Another factor that has been a shortcoming in the fight was the politics of ending the war against insurgency in the North-East because of the monetary benefits of the operation, making government and the generality of Nigerians believe that the war is tough.

For instance, it was discovered that most of the soldiers deployed in Maiduguri were of other corps instead of the Infantry which prompted a massive deployment of purely Infantry soldiers to the zone. The redeployment took place few days ago.

The military, in assessing its operation and evaluating how to do things differently, had found that most of the soldiers killed by the terrorists had gunshot injuries on their backs meaning they were shot while trying to escape the fire power of the terrorists.

A military source who confided in Daily Sun, said no infantry officer can die in that manner because they know the rule of fire and movement in battle which is one of the basic infantry tactics and they also know that it is not the volume of fire that matters, but the effectiveness of the firing and it is only the infantry soldier that has that tenacity.

The source assured that the Army has started withdrawing all its infantry personnel posted to training institutions, units and commands across the country to battle the insurgents. To this end, most of the soldiers who have stayed too long in the North-East on commencement of the emergency rule have also been posted out to give room for fresh soldiers to take over.

Another dilemma is corruption where monies meant for the payment of troops’ allowance were diverted by some finance officers and commandants who stay in the comfort of their office.

Similarly, most of the 5,000 vehicles sent to the area reportedly stolen by the terrorists have been found to be untrue and some officers were said to have hijacked the vehicles and converted them to their use and even sold some.

The development is being investigated by the Army which has vowed to court-martial anyone found wanting.

Very top military sources who confided in Daily Sun, also said that the meddling by politicians in military operations against terrorists has not helped the military as they keep accusing it of human rights violation.

Sources also said that the downsizing of the military by the Obasanjo administration over the fear that the military may engage in a coup to overthrow a democratically-elected government is also affecting the operations of the war against insurgency.

Furthermore, top military sources said the politicization of the office of the COAS, where officers other than those from the Infantry and Armoured Corps are appointed to that office has also hampered Army security operations.

Unlike in the Air Force where only pilots are appointed to the position of Chief of Air Staff, it is not the same with the Army. The last infantry officer appointed COAS was General Victor Malu, and that was the reason Minimah, another infantry officer, was favoured for the top job this time.

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One Every 10 Minutes, Number of Women Raped in Kaduna State http://sunnewsonline.com/new/one-every-10-minutes-number-women-raped-kaduna-state/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/one-every-10-minutes-number-women-raped-kaduna-state/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 16:11:01 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=52767 Kaduna, Nigeria (NAN) The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA),  Kaduna State branch on Thursday expressed worry over the increasing cases of rape in Kaduna State. FIDA Chairperson, Mrs Sidikat Adegboye said the fight against the vice had not been won in the state, attributing this to a dearth of accurate statistical data on cases of [...]]]>

Kaduna, Nigeria (NAN)

The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA),  Kaduna State branch on Thursday expressed worry over the increasing cases of rape in Kaduna State.

FIDA Chairperson, Mrs Sidikat Adegboye said the fight against the vice had not been won in the state, attributing this to a dearth of accurate statistical data on cases of rape, compounded by the administrative bureaucracy in the state judicial system.

“The fight against rape in Kaduna State is far from a won battle; as rapes are now on the increase on a daily basis. We are told that a woman is being raped every 10 minutes in Kaduna State,’’ she said.

Adegboye said because the prosecution of rape cases would not start immediately the offense was committed, many victim lose interest in seeking justice. “It is a thing of shame that needs the speediest action,’’ she said.

She also deplored the section of law that requires the Ministry of Justice give legal advice on capital offenses like rape before the offenders can be prosecuted. “The issue of legal advice has become a bottle neck against a quick dispensation of rape cases in the state as it take years before they are made public. “Eventually, when the case is transferred to the High Court for prosecution, we don’t find witnesses and the case dies a natural death,’’ she said.

Abegboye said the Kaduna State Justice Sector Coordination Group had evolved an initiative to speed up the dispensation of criminal cases in the state and tackle delayed legal advice. She said many cases had been speedily handled in the state between 2013 and now though “more still needs to be done’’.

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Adeola Fayehun, Sahara TV’s satire anchor: Keeping It Real, even off camera http://sunnewsonline.com/new/adeola-fayehun-sahara-tvs-satire-anchor-keeping-it-real-even-off-camera/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/adeola-fayehun-sahara-tvs-satire-anchor-keeping-it-real-even-off-camera/#comments Wed, 21 Aug 2013 18:03:23 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=36167 When asked what has challenged her the most, Fayehun confesses that one of the most difficult parts of hosting Keeping It Real is coming up with the stories and writing them, while the challenge of editing the show comes in at a close second]]>

By Eseosa Olumhense

In the multi-faceted, multi-dimensional mix of midtown New York City, Adeola Fayehun is planning the shoot of episode eighty-one of Keeping It Real, her popular African news satire show on Sahara TV. She remains relatively collected, even though the sidewalk-scorching heat of the July afternoon, the cacophony that is the city’s endless soundtrack, and a last-minute delay in shooting caused by construction at Sahara TV’s studio might be enough to wrench the screws off any TV show host’s patience. What accounts for her calm demeanor? Perhaps it’s because the self-described satirist is not simply the host of Keeping It Real, but also the producer, writer, camera person, and video editor. She’s also in charge of wardrobe as well as hair and makeup team behind the long-running program. She knows it is solely on her to deliver the quality production her viewers have come to expect after 80 episodes of Keeping It Real. More so, she knows that any time spent worrying is time lost doing something else.
While it is rather tempting to just discuss Keeping It Real and all the hats Fayehun has worn in the last eighty episodes, eighty different times, it is Fayehun’s character off screen that is especially significant. After the teleprompter has scrolled to each episode’s final sentence, and the massive studio lights are shut off, Adeola Fayehun appears quite reticent and reserved. “I always have to get in character for Keeping It Real, so some people are surprised when they meet me in person,” she says. In addition to poking fun at the likes of Zimbabwean leader, Robert Mugabe, on air, she enjoys watching movies, cooking, and unwinding like everyone else.
Born in Nigeria, her love for the media began early – as a member of the press club in secondary school to be exact. “I loved reading the news,” Fayehun says with a wistful smile. This passion for journalism stayed, and when Fayehun entered college in Nigeria to pursue a linguistics degree, she soon realized that was not what she desired. She moved to the United States in 2003 to pursue her collegiate education at Michigan’s Olivet College. There, while earning a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications and Journalism, she began hosting a Christian radio show and writing for the school’s newspaper.
Her most impressive accomplishment, though, was starting the Olivet College TV Studio. “At the time they didn’t have a TV studio,” she recollects, “and I wanted to be on TV. I talked to my advisor and she said, ‘why don’t you make it your project?’” After extensive research, Fayehun successfully presented the project to the school president and administration, and Olivet College’s television studio was born.
After Olivet, Fayehun attended The City University of New York’s (CUNY) Graduate School of Journalism, pursuing a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism. Though it was a very competitive program, it was the only one she applied to.
After grad school, Fayehun worked as a producer for CUNY TV Channel 75 in midtown New York. When she left CUNY TV, she began freelancing as a foreign correspondent for the popular Nigerian daily paper, The Nation, and created the website africanspolight.com. It was her work at CUNY TV that actually led to her first encounter with SaharaReporters’ founder and publisher, Omoyele Sowore, in 2009.
“When I was working at CUNY TV we focused on community media here in New York,” she said. “Sahara caught my attention.”
After getting approval from her supervisor, she did the first video profile of SaharaReporters’ Sowore, which included clips of his activism that Fayehun, as a Nigerian with knowledge of the impact of corruption, felt resonated with her.
“It came out well,” she says of the project. And she was not the only person that thought so.
Sowore, who later saw the video, liked the project and appreciated the strength of the video work. He invited her to help him with SaharaReporters, editing videos for the growing project. The role soon expanded, as Fayehun began operating the streaming device for the weekly live production, as well as producing and editing a brand-new Sahara TV programme, Dr. Damages. “I was doing all of it,” she laughs.
Her involvement at Sahara TV increased when a position opened up for the station’s weekly news report. The vacancy prompted Sowore to ask Fayehun if she was interested in filling in and doing the news programme, an offer she accepted on one condition: that she get to do the news her way. On the choice, she says, “I personally don’t see anything interesting in just listening to news, I just get depressed. If I myself get depressed then you bet my listeners are also depressed. If I can make it in my way and make it fun then I can do the news.”
Episode one of Keeping It Real, which she admits she was “goofing around” with, was produced completely by Fayehun. “I did it, I shot it, nobody knew about it. I edited it, and I put it on Youtube, and I sent him [Sowore] the link,” she says.
“And he just fell in love with it, everyone loved it. They thought it was fun and funny and informative at the same time. Then they were expecting episode two!” she exclaims.
Seventy-nine episodes later, Keeping It Real has grown tremendously. The programme, which had a first episode that was just over four minutes, now has weekly episodes that run around twenty minutes, with the occasional thirty-minute feature. The show’s audience has also expanded exponentially, drawing in crowds from around the world who look to the show to clue them in on African news. “I get several emails from people who tell me they don’t read news anymore because it’s depressing,” she said. “Instead they tune in to Keeping It Real to know the latest and to get a good laugh while at it.”
Fayehun believes that the next five years will see the programme at another, larger phase of growth. “I see Keeping It Real doing better than it is right now, with more viewers and being picked up by more stations,” she says confidently.
When asked what has challenged her the most, Fayehun confesses that one of the most difficult parts of hosting Keeping It Real is coming up with the stories and writing them, while the challenge of editing the show comes in at a close second.
When it is suggested that online threats from angry viewers could be a more significant challenge, Fayehun brushes that off. She says of irate viewers: “Sometimes a few of them will write threatening stuff, but mostly it’s just abuse and hate comments. But there are encouraging comments on YouTube as well.”
One might also be tempted to imagine that coming up with effortlessly fashionable, shoot-ready outfits each week would present some significant additional difficulty, but Fayehun doesn’t stress this. Instead she says she is simply motivated weekly to look good while staying modest. “My job requires I look good, it helps to catch and retain the attention of viewers,” she states. If viewership counts are any indication of the success of this thinking, she is right.
Fayehun likens her show to other satirical news shows, like SaharaTV’s Dr. Damages and Kenya’s The XYZ show. She reveals that Keeping It Real had its most notable episode when it discussed the UK bombing. Viewership spiked after that point, and has increased steadily ever since. One of her episodes also went viral among Ethiopians. “Someone in Ethiopia told me episode 47 was banned because I talked about their former First Lady not wanting to leave the palace,” she says.
Fayehun advises all young journalists to take in everything about the field whenever they can. “Try to learn all that you can learn, take advantage of all the equipment that you have, and learn how to use them. Find out what the engineers are doing. Find out what the producers are doing and learn it, learn your craft.”
Her rationale comes not only from experience, but from practicality as well. The media world, she claims, is looking for people that can fill a number of roles in addition to being active in all facets of the newsroom.
Building on that, she also encourages young members of the press, especially women, to be open to constructive criticism, but to learn never to take it personally. “Women are not encouraged in our culture to be vocal or to be politically active. Also, some men are not ready for the era of women in power,” she says in reference to the notion that African women cannot be effective political commentators.
“People will criticize you whether you do well or not,” she says, recounting some experiences of her own. “You have to be comfortable with who you are, and be willing to make necessary adjustments.” She states furthers: “The day you start listening to people’s criticism is the day you start living for other people. And you can’t afford to do that, not even for one day.”
And judging by Keeping It Real’s longevity, it seems Fayehun has figured a formula for doing an extraordinary job – and having fun doing it.

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At Awo institute, experts tackle Africa’s leadership challenges http://sunnewsonline.com/new/at-awo-institute-experts-tackle-africas-leadership-challenges/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/at-awo-institute-experts-tackle-africas-leadership-challenges/#comments Fri, 02 Aug 2013 22:08:26 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=34362 For two days, participants at the International Conference on Leadership and Governance in Africa, coordinated by the duo of Dr. Wale Adebanwi, an associate professor at the University of California, Davis, United States, and Dr. Ebenezer Obadare, of the University of Kansas, Lawrence, United States, examined how Africa (and Africans) had fared in the hands of the continent’s despotic rulers and the few ones that had provided purposeful leadership for their people]]>

By TOPE ADEBOBOYE
Recently, a number of politicians and political leaders in Nigeria, as well as academics and experts in politics, sociology, politics and other fields from different parts of the world, converged on the Obafemi Awolowo Institute of Government and Public Policy, Lekki, Lagos. Their mission? To dissect and proffer solutions to the challenges of leadership that have, for long, retarded the socio- political and economic progress of African countries.
For two days, participants at the International Conference on Leadership and Governance in Africa, coordinated by the duo of Dr. Wale Adebanwi, an associate professor at the University of California, Davis, United States, and Dr. Ebenezer Obadare, of the University of Kansas, Lawrence, United States, examined how Africa (and Africans) had fared in the hands of the continent’s despotic rulers and the few ones that had provided purposeful leadership for their people. The event also brought back emotional memories of a painful past, memories of the times when the late leader of Western Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was detained in a secluded building overlooking the waters of the Atlantic. It was more touching as that jailhouse of yesteryears has been pulled down and reconstructed. It has since metamorphosed into an institute named after the same Awolowo.
Among participants at the conference were Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, represented by Rev. Tunji Adebiyi, Special Adviser on Regional Integration; The Chair, Board of Trustees of the institute, Chief Adebisi Akande, who also served as chairman of the opening ceremony; Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the Netherlands and daughter of the late sage, Dr. Olatokunbo Awolowo Dosumu; Oyo State governor, Chief Abiola Ajimobi represented by Pastor Taiwo Otegbeye, Commissioner for Information and Orientation; Osun State governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, represented by Ajibola Basiru, Commissioner for Special Duties and Regional Integration; Chairman, Lekki Local Council Development Authority (LCDA), Alhaji Olaitan Ogidan and celebrated poet, Odia Ofeimun. Director-General of the institute, Professor Adigun Agbaje, was the chief host. The keynote speech was given by Professor Olufemi Taiwo
Dr. Awolowo-Dosunmu held everyone spellbound with a recount of her last visit to the venue. It was in the 1960s, and her dad was being detained there by the Tafawa Balewa-led federal authorities. She recalled the loneliness of the entire place, a melancholic milieu accentuated by the scary presence of the wild, wide sea. According to Dr. Awolowo-Dosunmu, she watched as her father cast a long look at the expansive ocean, wondering what deep thoughts could have preoccupied the old man’s mind.
In his introductory remarks, Dr. Adebanwi asserted that Africa has for long been beset with poor leadership. In many ways, he observed, “the unenviable history of the African postcolony can be written around the subject of the absence, for the most account, of positive leadership and good governance. Given the inefficiency, ineffectiveness, incompetence, excesses and eccentricities displayed by many of the leaders that have emerged on the continent, their behaviour exercises an unusual level of fascination for scholarly analyses and theorizing.”
The respected scholar informed, however, that in spite of the palpable gloom, the continent has also produced some individuals with sterling leadership qualities, leaders that have impacted positively on their generation.
Said Adebanwi: “It is important to note that despite the popular focus, in both academic and lay literature, on bad leadership in Africa, the continent, no doubt, has also produced outstanding leaders in all spheres of human endeavour and at every level of state and society. From exceptionally self-sacrificing leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Albert Luthuli, thinkers and visionaries like Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, revolutionary leaders like Amilca Cabral, social reformers like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Amini Kano, activists and public intellectuals such as Wole Soyinka, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Ruth First, Steve Biko, Africa also has had a legitimate claim to exceptional leadership.”
He told participants that the conference was organized “to address the leadership and governance question in Africa, including the fascination with African leaders and the pertinent dynamics of leadership in other spheres in the postcolony in a critical, theoretically-grounded and empirically-rich ways.”
Adebanwi said the international and inter-disciplinary conference would examine leadership and governance in Africa “from the micro to the macro level, in vertical and horizontal dimensions, in different contexts and terrains and in multi-various circumstances and from different, and/or a combination of perspectives.”
In his presentation entitled What’s Luck Got to Do with It? Pondering the Imponderable in African Leadership and Politics, Dr. Obadare looked at the place of luck in contemporary African politics, with particular reference to Nigeria’s President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Obadare recalled that Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese had, in an article in a national newspaper in 2010, attributed Jonathan’s implausible rise in politics to sheer luck, or “a monumental act of divine epiphany.”
Obadare argued, however, that accepting and promoting the luck concept might, ultimately, result in unmitigated disaster for the society. While virtually pooh-poohing the luck notion, he wondered: “If everything is a matter of unchosen luck or ‘favour’ (to put it in the language of modern day Pentecostals), where is the incentive to strive, search, or build? And with specific regard to the question of leadership, if leadership or the emergence of good leaders ultimately rolls on the dice of luck, whither the imperative to invest in the training of good leaders? Whither the sociology of leadership? Whither, in fact, justice?”
In his keynote address, Professor Taiwo of the Africana Studies and Research Centre, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, described Awolowo “as a significant thinker in the modern mode whose ideas, circumscribed by the peculiarities of his historical location, nonetheless managed to apprehend the universal.”
Professor Taiwo acknowledged Awolowo’s leadership qualities, regretting that many African leaders lacked such attributes, a situation that has created a rift between the leaders and the led.
Taiwo said Awolowo held a strong belief that the ruled must play their roles in good governance while also having the liberty to enjoy from the abundance of the wealth of their nation.
“My fundamental and abiding interest in Awolowo is that of a scholar. I am fascinated by the originality, depth, and audacity of his thinking in many areas, the richness and complexity of his expostulations, the sophistication and thoroughness of his policy formulations; in short, in his status as one of the pre-eminent thinkers of the last century,” he said.
In his contribution, Dr. Kayode Fayemi said it was necessary for political leaders in the country to elaborate on the ideational foundations of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and reconstruct them in the context of new challenges and new opportunities that would bring about good governance in the country. The Ekiti State governor averred that Awolowo had already provided the ideational foundations for good leadership and good governance in Nigeria
In Fayemi’s words, “whether in the context of political structure, particularly democratic federalism, in the nature, order, purpose and limits of government as evident in the rule of law, the rights and duties of citizens, or in the directive principles of state policy which should be geared towards the economic freedom, good health, liberty and welfare of the people, the struggle that some of us have engaged in, in the last three decades, is based largely on this heritage; that is, a settled conviction in which the one and only purpose of political leadership and governance is the delivery of political goods.
“Long before it became a fashionable neo-liberal consensus for international development agencies, such as World Bank and the IMF, to promote governance as performance, Awolowo had already theorized human beings as the sole purpose of governance and showed how the enhancement of the capacities of human beings to live well in all dimensions constitute the fundamental conditions of the existence and survival of any modern state and government.”
Fayemi observed that the development of the Western Region under Awolowo was an evidence of the sage’s leadership genius, asserting that the five states under Awolowo’s Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in the Second Republic renewed the possibilities of good governance in the areas of education, social welfare, social amenities, health and infrastructural development even while the federal state was “fumbling and failing.”
During the intellectual exercise, participants took time off to visit the Awo museum at the institute.
Some of the scholars that presented papers at the international conference included Aisha Bawa of the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto; Kathryn Rhine, University of Kansas, Lawrence, USA; Azeez Olaniyan, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; Pamela Johnson, University of Fort Hare, South Africa; Adetayo Alabi, University of Mississippi; Samuel Ojo Oloruntoba, University of Lagos; Stacey Leigh Vanderhurst, Brown University, Providence, Rhodes Island, USA; Gbemisola Animasawun, University of Ilorin and Elke Zuern, Sarah Lawrence College, New York.

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EXCLUSIVE: As Benin Republic clocks 53: Over 6m Nigerians live in former Dahomey, 200 in jails but Amb Obisakin says ‘Nigeria is a power here, there’s no doubt about it’ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/exclusive-as-benin-republic-clocks-63-over-6m-nigerians-live-in-former-dahomey-200-in-jails-but-amb-obisakin-says-nigeria-is-a-power-here-theres-no-doubt-about-it/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/exclusive-as-benin-republic-clocks-63-over-6m-nigerians-live-in-former-dahomey-200-in-jails-but-amb-obisakin-says-nigeria-is-a-power-here-theres-no-doubt-about-it/#comments Thu, 01 Aug 2013 00:55:34 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=34167 Maurice Archibong, 3-time winner, travel & tourism reporter of the year mauricearchibongtravels @gmail.com +2347030786447 Prologue Although we had planned to launch Decade Two of Travels in Daily Sun with the premiere of a groundbreaking 10-part series on foods and eateries, in commemoration of 10 years of Travels, this week; that debut was postponed because today, [...]]]>

Maurice Archibong, 3-time winner, travel & tourism reporter of the year
mauricearchibongtravels @gmail.com
+2347030786447

Prologue

Although we had planned to launch Decade Two of Travels in Daily Sun with the premiere of a groundbreaking 10-part series on foods and eateries, in commemoration of 10 years of Travels, this week; that debut was postponed because today, August 1, coincides with Benin Republic’s National Day.

So, what’s our business with that? Only one way to find out: by perusing today’s Travels, dear reader. Moreover, we were also swayed by the enquiries from numerous readers, following my special report on Nigerian students studying abroad.

Aside from a lengthy post on www.mauricearchibongtravels.blogspot.com, that special study was serialised in three editions of the Sun Education Review, and the ever-rising number of visits to this site because of that report is proof of the relevance of the subject covered. One of these reactions, boxed as sidebar, should clue one in as to the urgent need of an expose such as we have here, today.

While looking forward to having you with us next week, here is wishing you, Happy reading…

On this day, August 1, 53 years ago; then Dahomey, today’s Republique du Benin (Republic of Benin) attained independence from France. At the political level, Benin has recorded enviable strides; for, it was one of the first post-colonial African nations to jettison military dictatorship/autocracy for democratic rule.

Moreover, Benin Republic must be an icon of pride for the entire black race because an African traditional religion, Vothoun aka Voodoo, is State Religion in this country of barely 10 million inhabitants. Interestingly, January 10 is an annual National Holiday in honour of Vothoun in these climes.

On this public holiday, countless foreign tourists could be seen savouring the charms of Vodounsi as well as the sights and sounds of Vodouno (adherents) on street procession in many a local settlement. Wow! You should come to Ouidah or Cotonou next January 10! Believe it or not, when it comes to commonsense, size counts for little. Welcome to the small, yet great nation called Benin.

6.5m Nigerians in Benin

Did you know that Nigerians and people of Nigerian ancestry account for more than 6 million, of the barely 10 million population of Benin Republic? According to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s envoy to Cotonou, Ambassador Lawrence Olufemi Obisakin, this revelation came from no-less a personality than President of Benin Republic, Dr Thomas Boni Yayi.

Speaking during an exclusive chat with Travels at the Residence of the Nigerian Ambassador in Cotonou, Amb Obisakin, further revealed that about 200 Nigerians were in different prisons across that neighbouring country. Although some of these inmates are convicts, many others are in detention awaiting trial.

Painfully, akin to the situation in Nigeria, many of those undergoing trial have been in detention for a long, long time. Expatiating, the Nigerian ambassador added that, officials of his mission had toured some of the jailhouses and he was also planning to personally visit these inmates to see things for himself.

“Some of them may have issues that need looking into and a few days ago, we facilitated the release of a Nigerian woman that had been in incarceration for some time. We don’t just want to see the inmates, we have made requests for a list of all Nigerians in prison in this country, their personal data and the offences they allegedly commited. With that, it would be easier to tell, whose case needs to be reviewed. Thus far, we are yet to be furnished with this list. However, we are not giving up on this issue”, Amb Obisakin stressed.

One of the 16 countries of West Africa, Benin is a strategic gateway to the sub-region and is important, among others, because countless Nigerians daily commute between their country’s western frontiers and places as far away as Senegal. Benin is also an important trading partner of Nigeria, even though the bulk of the commercial activities is informal and, therefore, goes largely undocumented.

Porous border and national security

Porous border and improper documentation of business transactions between Beninese and Nigerian merchants could be exploitated by money launderers as well as drug and weapons traffickers, with consequent unpalatable impact on the security of either nation. What is Obisakin’s take on this? “You may not be wrong. It’s one of the challenges and it is being tackled. But, it is principally a political issue. And, the border is important here.

“Proper management of the border is crucial, especially Seme Border. Once the construction is completed and the people supposed to be there, are there; then we would begin to address the security issue. There are two major groups you need at the border: Immigration and Customs. These are the people we really need. The others could be in the background. And, I’m glad to hear that the Minister Cordinating the Economy, Prof. Ngozi-Iweala, has said that she has started implementing that at Murtala Mohammed International Airport.

“As Pareto would say, ‘Once you resolve 20 per cent of the major problems, then 80 per cent of the minor ones could be considered solved. So, the 20-80 principle will apply, here”, Obisakin mused.

The equivalent of billions of dollars exchange hands annually through Nigerian importers and other merchants that use Cotonou’s Port Autonome. The bulk of goods imported through Port of Cotonou includes cars and edibles, such as rice, wines, spirits, poultry and vegetable oil. Other items are engine oil and used clothing alias okrika, like footwear, shirts, trousers, skirts, blouses and even underwear.

As a result, Cotonou Port has morphed into one of the busiest wharves in West Africa. As artery in and out of Nigeria, Benin Republic is also a factor in our nation’s security. Over the last three decades, Benin Republic has been attracting countless Nigerian merchants who flock the neighbouring country either as importers, clearing agents, traders or smugglers.

Cotonou, now academic Mecca for Nigerians

In the last 10 years, however, Benin has also evolved into an academic haven for thousands of Nigerian youngsters desparate for university admission. Such is the influx of our compatriots in Benin Republic that during a lecture on Conflict Management at Houdegbe North American University Benin (HNAUB), one of the many private universities in Cotonou, all the 28 students in that class were Nigerians!

This is no exaggeration. The lecturer happened to be the Nigerian Ambassador to Benin Republic, Dr Obisakin. Obisakin, who holds a PhD in Conflict Management, taught gratis for one semester at HNAUB. That stint, which had the blessing of Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) was practical demonstration of Obisakin’s desire to impart knowledge.

The top-flight diplomat also disclosed that some 8,000 Nigerians are currently enrolled at HNAUB. About 5,000 of these students are on-campus, while the remaining 3,000 are distant learners. “In fact, we believe that as many as 90 per cent of students at Houdegbe University could be Nigerians”, Amb Obisakin declared.

With over 20 private universities in Cotonou, the plenitude of Nigerians studying at HNAUB alone offers an insight into the plethora of Nigerian youngsters in Benin. But, there are worries: Are they enrolled at approved schools, and do the universities have accreditation for the courses they run?

As regards revelations that a number of Nigerians had actually spent tons of money and years of studying at Beninese universities only to discover on returning home after graduation that their degree was worthless; Obisakin revealed that,  finally; his mission has successfully drawn up a list of approved universities in Benin Republic.

There are 21 universities in that neighbouring country, where Nigerians seeking admission could apply, he said. The list was arrived at after meticulous study by Nigerian Embassy in Cotonou working in collaboration with Beninese Ministry of Tertiary Education, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Education and other stakeholders, we gathered.

Nigeria is a power here

Although he arrived in Benin Republic’s economic capital, Cotonou, on July 9, 2012; to assume duty as President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s envoy to that country, Amb Obisakin got official endorsement of the host head of state about a month later.

Interestingly, even when he had not yet sealed protocol formalities by August 1, 2012; Obisakin was invited to the Beninese State House to partake in the celebration of that country’s 62nd independence anniversary. He put his invitation down to the special relationship between Benin Republic and Nigeria. “O, They were very kind to me”, he enthused.

According to Obisakin, the special ties between the two West African neighbours explains why the protocol of not having yet presented his Letter of Credence was waived as regards his invitation to Benin State House for the August 1, 2012 national day felicitations.

Twelves months ago, on August 6, 2012; Obisakin was at the Beninese State House, where he presented his Letter of Credence to President Boni Yayi. Therefore, in less than a week; on August 6, 2013, to be precise; Obisakin will clock a year as Nigerian Ambassador to Benin Republic.

“A lot has been achieved in the last one year. But, first of all; I must thank you Maurice Archibong for your keen interest in our work”, Amb Obisakin remarked. Back to what has been achieved over the last 12 months, Obisakin continued: “If you ask any Nigerian living in Benin Republic, they will tell you that they are seeing a better life. In fact, the watershed was in February, this year. On February 19, 2013; we were at Benin State House from 9am till 5pm in a meeting with His Excellency, President Thomas Boni Yayi”.

Obisakin recalled that the Beninese president had “summoned all his Service Chiefs, including Chief of the Forest Department, to that meeting with me. At the meeting, HE Dr Thomas Boni Yayi gave them (Benin Service Chiefs) some orders. One, that nobody must maltreat any Nigerian on this territory, any more.

“Number two: President Boni Yayi also directed that, if the most respected citizens were the French and the Americans, all citizens of Benin should give double the respect that they grant to the Americans and the French to Nigerian citizens. And, he gave reasons …

“Number one: Nigeria is the biggest partner of Benin Republic. Number two: we are one actually. We share seven common indigenous languages with them. We share 778km border with them. We have been one from pre-colonial times. Don’t forget that the Oyo Empire was here and that the Borgu Empire also was here. So, Nigeria was a power here in the past. And, we are still a power, commercially”.

Obisakin added that another achievement of his administration as Nigerian Ambassador to Cotonou could be found in the existence of a new international market at Seme-Krake. At some point, Nigerian traders were going to have problems but we were there for them. We stood by them and now, the market near Seme-Krake border is running. Seme-Krake border is the busiest of all the land borders in Nigeria. It is also the land border that yields the greatest revenue.

“Apart from that, Nigeria is clearly visible now across Benin although I would have loved to have some concrete architectural edifice here because we have more competitors now. No doubt. China is here … and that is the reality. We are immediate neighbours: that is what is special about Nigeria and Benin Republic”.

When taken up on his idea of a Nigerian architectural icon in Benin, this is what Amb Obisakin had to say: “I have always had this dream. There should be a Nigerian Cultural Centre here. We are a power, here. There’s no doubt about it”. When we put it to His Excellency that, given his vantage position to start the process of establishing a Nigerian Cultural Centre in Benin Republic, what has he done about it; Amb Obisakin replied: “Well, we are starting. But, you will agree that some of these things cannot be achieved over-night. We are just praying that it will be accepted by the leadership and relevant authorities. But, I know that with time, this will surely come.

“That’s my dream: for Nigeria to have an educational-cum-research centre, here. There’s yearning for it. The people need it. We have initiated the process by putting in some memos and NOUN (National Open University of Nigeria) is coming. People are yearning for education, here. Don’t forget, this is where you have the highest concentration of Nigerians outside home. There are 6.5 million Nigerians here”!

As to how he came by such a staggering figure, Amb Obisakin’s response was: “The President of Benin Republic, HE Dr Thomas Boni Yayi, said so. He said that about 65 per cent of the inhabitants of Benin Republic are Nigerians or Nigerian-related”.

The enviable affinity between Benin and Nigeria, Amb Obisakin intoned, has fostered formalisation of virtually all types of useful bilateral ties, one could think of. Obisakin again: “Remember, we’ve been together long before we got independence. But, let me use my own experience as an example. Nigeria and Benin have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the exchange of teachers and lecturers”.

With regard to the year that pact was entered into, Obisakin said it was a long time ago. This ambassador, who was admitted to University of Ife in 1975, was beneficiary of this academic exchange treaty. That is how Obisakin came to have a Beninese, Prof Ige Akanni Mahmoud, among his lecturers at Ife, those days. Evidently, that MoU, he noted must have been signed more than 35 years, ago.

Nonetheless, it must be pointed out, that the much-vaunted bond between Benin and Nigeria is not bereft of challenges. We also took Nigeria’s Number One citizen in Benin on this point. “The only challenge we have, and thank God it is being resolved by our President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR, who is interested in the very good and warm relation we have with this country, is that; in 2009, a meeting of the Benin-Nigeria Joint Commission had to end abruptly as a result of some border and boundary issues. But, now; we are meeting again.

“Remember, that our presidents have been meeting. The President of Benin, Dr Boni Yayi, is about the only foreign president that spends his vacation in Nigeria. In September, last year; he was in Nigeria for one week; from the 19th to the 26th on national vacation”.

Rules must be obeyed, nobody should leave Nigeria without travel papers

Obisakin however warned that the propinquity between Benin and Nigeria is not an excuse for anyone to disobey necessary rules. “Nigerians”, he stressed, “must realise that, though Benin may be close and they may share the same language with some Beninese, Benin Republic is, albeit, another country. Only yesterday (July 27, 2013), some people came; about 20, and they had not a single passport on them. Yet, they want to cross the border. And, not only that; they planned to go farther beyond Benin.

“I want Nigerians to know that, it is true that ECOWAS links us and there’s free movement of persons, goods and services; but, you must have a valid Nigerian passport to cross the Nigerian border. Nobody should leave his country into another without necessary documents. Nigerians need to know this because it will save us a lot of distraction. We have so much to do.

“There are many opportunities that we need to explore. For example, can you believe that people here have links with Belgium? Can’t we have a facility here to airlift such tourists to Obudu in Nigeria by helicopter, when they are through with their visit here? So, we don’t want distraction because every time you send an officer out, to go and bail someone, another duty suffers”, Obisakin stressed.

Nigerians crossing the border with firearms is another source of worry for Ambassador Obisakin. “You can’t do that … You are indirectly declaring war, the moment you cross into another man’s land with firearms without approval”, he charged.

Have we had such incidents? “O, I thank God that one of the things we have succeeded in drumming into Nigerians is that those that have authority to bear arms, now know that; that authorisation only covers Nigerian territory. It does not cover another person’s territory”, Obisakin remarked.

The weal outweighs the woes

In spite of all the challenges thrown at the Amb Obisakin-led Nigerian Embassy in Cotonou, the envoy reasoned: “Yes, there are challenges. But, considering the large body of Nigerians in this country, things could have been worse. In other words, out of every twelve, there must be a Judas. Even Jesus Christ had a Judas. So, a very tiny fraction of our population here present challenges and I have to thank God for the people I have here.

“Apart from the capable hands at the mission, there are a lot of Nigerian personalities in Benin. Most Nigerians in this country are noted for doing their duty well. For example, those in Kandi: During my visit there, the Mayor told me he thanks God for having Nigerians in their midst. Not only do Nigerians living in Kandi pay their taxes promptly, they sometimes pay ahead of time. I’m proud of Nigerians and I can tell you that others are proud of us, too”; Obisakin concluded.

 

•For more, join me at www.mauricearchibongtravels.blogspot.com

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Night flight, from Accra to Bolgatanga http://sunnewsonline.com/new/night-flight-from-accra-to-bolgatanga/ http://sunnewsonline.com/new/night-flight-from-accra-to-bolgatanga/#comments Thu, 18 Jul 2013 00:00:37 +0000 http://sunnewsonline.com/new/?p=32732 For anything close to a proper understanding of any country, you need to see as much of that land as possible, first-hand. And, from personal experience, large towns and cities only represent a microcosm of any nation. Therefore, the most reliable picture comes from exploring a country’s urban settlements alongside its rural areas.]]>

Maurice Archibong
3-time winner, travel & tourism reporter of the year
mauricearchibongtravels @gmail.com
+2347030786447

For anything close to a proper understanding of any country, you need to see as much of that land as possible, first-hand. And, from personal experience, large towns and cities only represent a microcosm of any nation. Therefore, the most reliable picture comes from exploring a country’s urban settlements alongside its rural areas.

While flying helps, the true troubadour knows that eating amid the locals and trekking with them as well as travelling by road, donkey or canoe, as ordinary people do, imbues the adventurer/explorer with invaluable insights. This is one reason the average travel-writer appears smug!

Having traversed Nigeria from the west to east, south to north and even diagonally, from Calabar to Sokoto; and Lagos to Maiduguri, I know my country better than most people. And, this is not an empty boast…

This aspect of the ways I have gone about unravelling Nigeria’s people and places has also guided me over the last 20 years or so, that I have been exploring West Africa. For example, I have traversed Benin Republic, east to west and north to south. I have done the same as regards Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, et cetera.

Believe it or not, it is sometimes possible to see more through the darkness of night. This is where night-travel, alias Night Flight, among Nigerians comes in. Although night-time road travel has become very scary in Nigeria, I still treat myself to this adventure in neighbouring countries.

So, dear reader, I want to share with you, my experience of travelling from Accra, the capital of Ghana in the country’s southern fringes; all the way to Bolgatanga, capital of Upper East Region. Upper East Region is one of the 10 regions that make up the old Gold Coast and, to soak everything in, we chose to make this latest trip by road and in the night.

From Accra, before reaching Bolgatanga; the journey will take the wayfarer through Kumasi, Kintempoe, Tamale et cetera. Since a distance of less than 1,200km separates Accra from Bolgatanga, one should ordinarilly make the journey in 12 hours, driving at average speed of 100km per hour.

However, this was not our experience. Our antique molue-like bus set out of the motor-park behind Neoplan Station in Accra at precisely 6pm on Thursday, March 28, 2013. But, we hit Bolgatanga 16 hours later: At 10am on Friday, March 29! The fare was 38Ghc per passenger. Thirty-eight Ghana cedi translates into roughly $19.

In other words, I paid the equivalent of about N3,000 only for travelling a distance comparable to going from Lagos to Katsina. In Nigeria, we cough out at least N5,000 to make this journey; in spite of lower fuel pump price in our land! Furthermore, I was one of 32 passengers in the huge mammy-wagon and it is worth point out that, in spite of the fact that Nigeria is by far richer than Ghana, there was nothing like Attachment in the bus I made my trip in.

Attachment, that sickening word, alludes to the presence of co-travellers that are squeezed like lower animals along the aisle of huge buses that Nigerians call Luxurious, but which are notorious for the discomforture decent travellers usually have to endure. Attachee is what a traveller squatting on the aisle of a bus is called. Usually, the bus departs after all seats have been occupied, but, a few minutes later, the driver will pull over to enable the bus conductor carry more travellers. Since all the seats were full, attachees sit on the floor of the bus’ aisle and can sometimes travel in this inhumane condition for 6 to 12 hours! If the normal fare is N5,000 for example, the bus conductor in collusion with the driver and so-called escort, collect N3,000 from the attachee; thus breaking the law by exceeding maximum passenger capacity and causing avoidable discomfort to bona fide commuters.

But, let’s return to Ghana; lest we digress too far. Interestingly, we were barely 60-minutes’ drive out of Acrra, when our ancient bus developed an engine fault. Everyone had to disembark, while the mechanic that accompanied the vehicle tried to fix the problem. We thus ended up stranded by the roadside in the dark of night for roughly 70 minutes. Fortunately, the bus was eventually repaired and we soon resumed our journey.

It is worth pointing out, that the bus’ breakdown so early in the journey must have left many passengers worried, especially as we were travelling in the night. However, the fear must have been assuaged somewhat by the presence of a mechanic that could be considered competent. In other words, since he successfully fixed the vehicle the last time, he would probably succeed the next, should the need arise.

However, fears of another breakdown would eventually evaporate completely because the old bus seemed to be going stronger as subsequent hours rolled by. Nonetheless, we would come upon another form of delay, which left us feeling that you sometimes see more in darkness than in daylight. This happened at 2.44am, when our bus pulled into a filling station at a town called Kintempoe.

Initially, our bus had parked inside the premises of a popular transport company, called STC Intercity. But after some 30 minutes, the driver pulled out again. We had thought our journey had resumed, but barely 5km down the road, the driver again turned into another petrol station, called Crown Filling Station.

From the view through our bus’ windows, we observed there were dozens of other buses, trucks and sundry vehicles parked along the road as well as inside the gas station by the time we got there. The reason for the wait, we gathered, was fear of highway robbers! Yes, highway marauders operate even in Ghana, too.

Not knowing how long we were going to wait, all passengers disembarked and mingled with travellers from other parked vehicles. Fortunately, many traders and hawkers were still awake, which made it possible for one to get some snack. Sauntering over to the other end of the filling station’s premises to help our muscles unwind, I spotted a roadside tea seller.

Promptly, we walked over and sat on one of the man’s rickety benches. We ordered a cup of coffee and a huge slice of bread. The steaming hot coffee offered welcome relief from the chilly pre-dawn winds. Although some passengers had since returned to their seats inside various vehicles, with many fast asleep; like most of the other travellers, we simply strolled around some more. At last, many drivers were back behind their steering wheels and hooting the horns signaling that the journey was about to continue. In any case, by the time our journey resumed at 4.04am, we had spent roughly 90 minutes at Crown Filling Station.

At 5.10am, we were crossing a bridge over some river, whose name we could not tell. But for the pothole-infested axis between Tamale and Sankpagla, one would have described the Accra to Bolgatanga route as very good. Nonetheless, it is worth pointing out, that the state of roads across Ghana, generally considered, is heart-warming.

It was already daybreak, 6.30am on Friday, March 29; by the time we sighted settlements on the southern fringes of Tamale. Seven minutes later, our driver made a brief stop at Lamashegu, a Tamale suburb, where a United Nations’ Human Security outpost is located; to allow some passengers get off.

About 6.50, after more Tamale-bound travellers had disembarked, we were again on our way. By 8.55am, our bus had traversed Wulugu in Walewale. And, at 10am; after crossing an antique steel bridge over some wetlands, we came to a toll gate on whose surroundings stood numerous signposts. And, finally; much to my relief; one of the signboards carried the inscription: Welcome to Bolgatanga.

However, it would take another hour before our bus finally hit the Bolgatanga Motor Park. Haleluja! I almost cried out. Wow! We had travelled more than 16 hours to get here. So, what is Bolgatanga like? Fondly called Bolga, this Ghanaian settlement stands barely 40km to Burkina Faso. In fact, from Bolga, countless tourists frequently cross the Ghanaian border at Paga into Dakola on the Burkinabe side.

As earlier mentioned, Bolga is seat of the Upper East Region Government. Aside from its role of regional administrative centre, Bolga is also capital of the Bolgatanga Municipal District. Located roughly 160km north of Tamale, Bolga’s population is less than 70,000, going by a 2012 estimate.

Bolgatanga, which stands within the Red Volta River Valley vicinal to the White Volta River; was an important terminal on the austral parts of the Trans-Saharan Trade Route. Bolga is endowed with numerous tourist attractions. This is Bolga, home of one of Ghana’s most popular tourist attractions, called Naa Gbewaa Shrine or Tomb of Naa Gbewaa.

But, is it possible to have a tomb for someone that was never buried? According to legend, Naa Gbewaa, founder of the Dagomba ethnic group, simply disappeared in the heat of a battle. Whatever the case, Naa Gbewaa Shrine, believed to have been built more than 600 years ago, has evolved into an important spiritual landmark for countless Ghanaians.

The town’s location near The Voltas, an important migratory route for elephants, also attracts many wild-life buffs. Moreover, Bolga is a celebrated crafts’ centre patronised by indigenes and foreigners that wash in to buy traditional textile, leather-wares, straw baskets, fans, hats and jewellery. Bolga is a museum town and boasts a state-of-the-art library, but most visitors end up at its famous market for sundry handicraft. Centuries ago, these items were bartered for salt or even kola-nut; but, not any more. These days, you need the dollar, euro, pounds or Ghana cedi et cetera.

And, last but not the least; Bolga is near Paga, the frontier settlement leading to Burkina Faso, earlier mentioned. So, what’s special about Paga? Paga is where many tourists go to play with crocodiles! Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) pamphlets say Paga’s Sacred Crocodile Ponds hold the friendliest such reptiles in that country!

The crocodiles in Paga’s sacred ponds are said to be harmless because these are not run of the mill amphibians. These crocodiles are repositories for the souls of departed members of Paga royalty, Travels gathered. Welcome to Bolga…

 

•For more, join me at www.mauricearchibongtravels.blogspot.com

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