The Sun News » Opinion - Voice of The Nation Sun, 04 Oct 2015 23:33:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Nigeria and the quest for FIFA leadership Sun, 04 Oct 2015 23:00:09 +0000 By Eze Peter Ogbonna SINCE the discovery of Africa, football has been one of the few areas in which Africans have a level playing ground and relatively symmetric experi­ences with Europeans and all other continents of the world. An African could score a goal just like a European and could equally dribble him as he [...]]]>

By Eze Peter Ogbonna

SINCE the discovery of Africa, football has been one of the few areas in which Africans have a level playing ground and relatively symmetric experi­ences with Europeans and all other continents of the world. An African could score a goal just like a European and could equally dribble him as he wishes.

Also, in the election of its leadership, under the FIFA electoral process, each nation’s confedera­tion gets one vote, meaning the smallest nation has the same power as power blocks such as Eng­land, Spain, Switzerland, Brazil e.t.c.. And, out of the 209 member federations, Africa has 54. Not­withstanding this, Africa’s greatest risk has been in not taking risks.

Apart from Isaa Hayatou, who lost to Blatter in the 2002 FIFA presidential contest, I am not aware of any other African who has put himself up for the contest. But, should we continue in that light? Africa is one of the most diverse continents in the world, and like many parts of the world, her first formal introduction to football was through European colonisation.

During European imperialism in Africa, Afri­can nationalists while struggling for independence used football as an agent for the articulation and dissemination of anti-colonial campaigns. Hence, football has also contributed to strengthening the self-confidence of the African. In the 1930s, sev­eral African nationalists used football to stand in for Africa and foster unity among the citizens.

It is noteworthy to recall that the foremost Nigerian nationalist, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, used football to mobilize Nigerian support for British participation in the Second World War, against German discriminative and racial policies in Eu­rope.He travelled the length and breadth of Nigeria with his football team, played with several teams, and made donations to the British colonial admin­istration, as a demonstration of his support and that of Nigeria for the British war against Nazi Germany. In almost all African countries, football has been a symbol of international sovereignty, development and unity for her citizens.

The February 26, 2016 FIFA election presents Africa another opportunity to vie for its leadership Life consists of a number of opportunities and great opportunities do not come knocking at people’s doors. Africa has failed in other areas in the past. Our leaders are yet to meet up with expectations, but we can’t continue to wait and live with it. To ensure and cement the zeal for development, we have to be stronger in the FIFA race and win. This opportunity should be more embracing because it may take a much longer time to excel in other areas such as eco­nomic and political matters. Africa should capital­ize on this opportunity presented to her in a rapidly globalizing world in which we are not proud of our current position.

Thanks to providence that the norms and consid­erations in FIFA leadership are not the same with those that prevail in other areas. Luckily for Africa, Blatter has received a huge block support from Af­rica and Asia. Liberia has indicated interest in this the contest. Therefore, Nigerians must continue to encourage her possible contender to formally indi­cate interest and grab this opportunity for Nigeria and Africa.

Many people are already convinced about the pos­sibility and validity of this dream and have shown their immeasurable support . On the contrary, others with mixed feelings have continued to ask whether Nigeria is convinced to compete with countries like South Korea, Jordan, Trinidad and Tobago, Europe and other possible contenders. As for me, the ideal time for Nigeria to launch this African vision and prove that she is still the giant of Africa is now.

Nigeria is equally recognized as the heartbeat of African football. This is true; we have contributed much to the development of world football.

It is, therefore, good and encouraging that Africa started well in this race despite the daunting chal­lenges ahead. It is also refreshing and good that the conceived idea and dream has been receiving re­sounding support from different stakeholders and parts of the world. But, it is very important to note that speed is also necessary. But, however it goes, we should not forget in a haste that Africa’s competitors are trying just as hard as us to take the lead. It will therefore, be great seeing everybody cooperate, out of the conviction that the outcome of the contest is in the interest of all Africans especially the patriotic football-loving fans.

Nigeria, has enjoyed international exposure. The popularity and acceptance she is recently enjoying internationally has also positioned her to be good and acceptable for the job. And luckily for us, we have Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, who has been national­ly accepted, as the best and eminently qualified to see to the fruition of this dream.

One could then imagine the outstanding result when a Nigerian, an African, leads the world football governing body (FIFA). Should Nigerians at all lev­els and positions see reason to take this as a personal project, Zurich will be happy welcoming a Nigerian, an African, for the world football governing-body leadership. This, surely, will be a feat that will help the growth of African football.

.Ogbonna, a serving corps member, writes from Abuja via

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Why PMB must listen to the voices of Nigerian women Sun, 04 Oct 2015 00:10:29 +0000 The announcement by President Muham­madu Buhari to scrap the Office of First Lady at the inception of this administration brought mixed feelings of vacillation, cheer and surprise to most Nigerians, particularly women. A good number of them, especially those who have been political watchers prior to 1999 and from then onwards, when democracy returned to [...]]]>

The announcement by President Muham­madu Buhari to scrap the Office of First Lady at the inception of this administration brought mixed feelings of vacillation, cheer and surprise to most Nigerians, particularly women. A good number of them, especially those who have been political watchers prior to 1999 and from then onwards, when democracy returned to Nigeria, are used to the expression and what it represents, administration by administration. To these ones, though, there is need to sustain and reinforce activities for women, encompass­ing the adult woman, the aged, girl-child and chil­dren, who have been targets and beneficiaries of assorted programmes that have always been churned out by wives of Nigerian Presidents and Heads of State. Whether they candidly served their aims at the time they existed or not, is of no consequence. What matters is that the office served as a rallying point for women and helped in fortifying them for complex and multifarious is­sues that stared them in the face, at every point of their existence.

President Buhari abrogation of the Office of First Lady may be understandable. Neither the office nor that of First Ladyship is an expression that has a foundation in Nigeria. It has its origin in the United States of America. History books recorded that the term First Ladyship originated in 1849 when Presi­dent Zachary Taylor called Dolley Madison “First Lady” at her funeral while he was reciting her eu­logy. It gained wider recognition in 1877, however, when Mary C. Amees wrote an article in the New York City newspaper, The Independent, where she described the inauguration of President Rutherford B. Hayes. She was said to have used the term, First Lady to describe Lucy Webb Hayes. The term is now used across the globe to describe the wife of president or Head of State.

In Nigeria, besides using it to designate the presi­dent’s wife, it is also used for wives of governors and those of local government chairmen, paving the way for probable abuse of the term and office; a situation that may have informed President Buhari’s decision. ‘Don’t throw away the baby with the bath water,’ goes a popular saying in Nigeria, meaning that in spite of perceived and glaring abuses, the spirit-lift­ing messages and connotation that resonated from the office remain.

Much was not heard of this term in Nigeria until the regime of Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd.) that began in 1985. Before then, wives of the former Prime Minister and Heads of State played ceremonial role of hosting dignitaries, both local and foreign to dinners and chatting with their wives while the husbands held formal meetings. Mrs. Maryam Babangida changed all of that, however, by establishing the Better Life Programme for Rural Women as her pet project. The pet project was of­ficially launched on September 18, 1987. And by the time her husband was forced by mass protest to step aside in 1993, Mrs Babangida had made so much impact among Nigerian women, particularly the rural folk.

At the end of November 1993, the project better known as Better Life Programme had facilitated the establishment of 9,492 cooperatives, 1,435 cottage industries, 1,784 new farms and gardens, 495 new shops and markets, 1,094 multipurpose women’s centres, 135 fish and livestock farms and 163 so­cial welfare programmmes. It was also during this period that the National Centre for Women Devel­opment (NCWD), with Mrs Onyeka Onwenu now as Director General, was built in Abuja. It was in­augurated on October 17, 1992. Subsequently, Mrs. Maryam Abacha launched her pet project known as the Family Support Programme. In 1995, her FSP influenced the upgrade of the National Commission for Women into a full-fledged Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. She also launched the Family Support Trust Fund in 1994. Through the money realized from this Fund, Mrs. Abacha built the National Women and Children Hospital in Abuja, which was inaugurated on May 22, 1999 by the administration of Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar. It was, though, renamed National Hospi­tal in 2000.

In 1999, when Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd) succeeded Abacha, his wife Hon. Justice Fati Abubakar founded Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) for advocacy, mobilization, promotion and protection of women’s rights; the elimination of all forms of repugnant prac­tices as well as violence against women and the en­hancement of their living standards. With Hajia Sad­autu Mahdi as its Executive Secretary, the pet project is still alive to its aims and objectives.

On return to civil rule in 1999, Mrs. Stella Oba­sanjo set up her own project – Child Care Trust, established to care for the physically and mentally challenged children. One of its major achievements was the establishment of a Special Children Model Centre in Bwari, Abuja.

Mrs. Titi Abubakar, wife of ex-Vice President AtikuAbubakar, also started a pet project known as Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF) while her husband was in office. She was able to advocate against child and women trafficking through the project, and to inte­grate some of the affected women back into normal life. She spearheaded the establishment of National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

By the time former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua assumed power in 2007, his wife, Turai, also instituted Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation. Its health sector interventions were in five broad categories, including the VISION project aimed at reducing cataract and childhood blind­ness; Maternal and New Born Health Improvement Programme; Screening programme for breast and cervical cancer; HIV/AIDS and STDs intervention programme and Diabetes awareness and education programme. The Foundation also intervened in the areas of poverty reduction, drug abuse and lifelong education, and was used for rehabilitating Katsina’s Vesico Vaginal Vistula Centre, donating grinding machines and a bus to Yangoji Leprosy Village in Kwali Area of the Federal Capital Territory and equipping the Suleja Prison workshop with tools to make inmates skillful and self-reliant after serving their jail terms.

Mrs. Patience Jonathan began her pet project while she was in Bayelsa State as wife of then Gov­ernor Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. The project, a non­governmental organization, was then known as A. Areuera Reachout Foundation, established in 2006. It was said to have provided training for over 2,000 women in catering, hat making, beads making, sew­ing and making of plantain and beans flour. When her husband became the Vice President, then Acting President, and subsequently, President of Nigeria at the death of Yar’Adua, Mrs. Jonathan launched another pet project known as Women for Change Initiative.

These various initiatives, no doubt, emboldened wives of governors as First Ladies at state levels to launch different pet projects. Hardly did any of them fail to institute one programme or the other to em­power, sensitize, train or support children and the female gender.

President Buhari’s administration cannot afford to lose sight of this cherished heritage, especially with the contributions of women in peace and nation building, and in consideration of President Buhari’s campaign promise to give women a voice and vis­ibility in scheme of things. Anything short of this will mean reneging on this promise and unreasonably playing into the hands of opposition that is watching out for loopholes to cash in.

President Buhari cannot forget in a hurry the stig­matization of gender insensitivity and the ‘women should be in the kitchen’ toga, which Peoples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) hung on his neck during the po­litical campaigns of calumny launched against him.

Ahead of his assumption of office, his wife, Ai­sha and that of Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo enthusiastically mobilized the women, which trans­lated to effective women participation in the politics that brought in the President. As much as it was welcome, there is increased need to sustain these ef­forts through a veritable platform for the good of the Nigerian women.

Millions of Nigerians who agitated for change and dawn of a new era are earnestly urging Presi­dent Buhari and his amiable wife to further sustain the legacies of numerous women economic and political empowerment programmes bequeathed to them by injecting life into the Office of the First Lady (Wife of the president). The Office of the Wife of the president must be given adequate visibility and political support to carry on the unfinished busi­ness of ameliorating the living conditions of the poor women and children, particularly in the rural areas. Her Excellency, Mrs. Buhari is currently donating food items and relief materials to Internally Dis­placed Persons (IDP) camps and orphanages across the country, an effort, which requires to be well co­ordinated and expanded to cover other critical areas like girl-child education, poverty alleviation and in­tervention in women and children health: under a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).

She should as a matter of urgency officially un­veils her NGO so that Nigerian women can get back their grooves and voices. The existence of the Fed­eral Ministry of Women Affairs cannot be a stand-alone organ in tackling the huge challenges facing Nigerian women. A strong, dynamic and visible of­fice of the Wife of the president is required to bolster and galvanize the policy direction and activities of the Women Affairs Ministry. A stitch in time saves nine. We implore President Buhari to act urgently be­fore the opposition begins to take undue advantage of this glaring lacuna.

Mr. President is therefore urged not to disappoint the expectation of millions of Nigerian women as the current silence and non-visibility of the office of the Wife of the President is becoming a source of dis­comfort to them.

By all standards, the wife of the President, Hajiya Aisha is a woman of worth and has the wherewithal to mobilize women politically, educationally, so­cially and economically. This is indeed the time to clearly manifest her role model posture among girl children in the north, who hitherto are reluctant to seek western and Islamic education, and pursue vi­able skills and careers to support their families.

By giving her a chance to front women and their concerns, she is invariably setting agenda for wives of governors and chairmen of local governments, who have been waiting for the President’s wife to roll in her pet project before they could carry along women and children in their domains.

Arguments against the institution of Office of First Lady, such as its unconstitutionality, abuse of office and funding concerns should not be allowed to erode away the value of women and children em­powerment and emancipation. Whether we like it or not, the institution of the First Lady, though lacking constitutional backing, has become a part and parcel of our national life. Amendment to the constitution for proper recognition and assignment of role to this office is hereby canvassed. That way, there will be enhanced synergy and policy direction between the office and Ministry of Women Affairs at all levels, and women and children given a sense of belonging.

Mr Oham is the Consulting Editor, Sh­eWorld Magazine, email: sheworldmaga­, website: sheworldnige­


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The carnage of the cattle rearers Sun, 04 Oct 2015 00:08:53 +0000 BY FEMI FANI-KAYODE I support the call by Afenifere that all Fulani herdsmen should be banned from the South­west. Actually I believe that they should be banned from the entire south and not just the southwest. I also stand by every word that I wrote in my widely published essay titled, ‘’The Herdsmen From Hell’’. [...]]]>


I support the call by Afenifere that all Fulani herdsmen should be banned from the South­west. Actually I believe that they should be banned from the entire south and not just the southwest. I also stand by every word that I wrote in my widely published essay titled, ‘’The Herdsmen From Hell’’. This contribution serves as a follow up to that essay.

The bottom line is this: we do not want those that slaughter innocent people, including women and children, in our midst. Those that say that we must remain silent when aliens and vandals invade our land, rape our women and kill our people are, at best, misinformed and misguided and, at worse, insensitive and wicked. How can they expect us to remain silent when our elders and leaders are being terrorised and brutalised on a regular basis. Those that harbor such views and have such misgivings are suffering from a callous and diseased state of mind and they shall be put to shame. No mat­ter what they say, we will continue to expose and resist this barbarity and we shall continue to call it precisely what it is: pure and unadulterated evil. We shall not be intimidated by those that seek to silence us and neither shall we be cowered into silence.

I have no regrets for describing those murder­ous Fulani herdsmen as tsetse flies. Actually they are worse than that because, like Satan, they only come to kill, steal and destroy. It is obvious to any discerning mind that this categorization is limited to those Fulani herdsmen that indulge in barbaric and criminal activities and not the entire Fulani race.

Like any other ethnic group there are good Fu­lanis and there are bad ones. For someone to sug­gest that we ought to spare the bad ones simply because we are scared of offending the sensibili­ties of the good ones makes no sense to me. I have many Fulani friends and the last thing on my mind would be to demonise an entire ethnic group. For anyone to suggest that a literary attack and a verbal assault on a bunch murderers and killers, who hap­pen to be of Fulani extraction is an attack on the entire Fulani race is absurd. Worse still to describe such an attack as ‘’hate speech against the Fulani tribe’’ is simply asinine: it is nothing more than the gross manifestation of a subterranean slave mental­ity and an attempt at sucking up to those that believe that they own Nigeria. Those that have voiced such puerile nonsense ought to provide an answer to the following question: should we remain silent when we see some wicked and uneducated cattle rear­ers committing atrocities which may, if not prop­erly checked, result in a full scale ethnic war. If the herdsmen had been Yoruba or Igbo I would have condemned them in similar terms and labelled them in precisely the same way. I may even have gone further because I would have expected far better from my own people.

I also happen to know that if Yoruba or Igbo trad­ers or farmers went to the core north and singled-out the elders, leaders, traditional rulers and women and children of the Fulani tribe for murder, pillage, torture and rape all hell would have broken loose by now and their reaction would not have been limited to harsh words, strongly-worded essays and uncomplimentary categorizations.

The bottom line is this: the days of us keeping quiet and suffering in silence in the name of politi­cal correctness are long over. If we don’t want trou­ble and we don’t want matters to escalate we must speak out against evil very clearly and very quickly and we must condemn and correctly label those that like to shed human blood at the drop of a hat. This is especially so when they prey on the weak, the el­derly and the more vulnerable in our society.

It is the gutless cowards that live amongst us that seek to play down the pillage, murder and rape of others that are guilty of hate crimes and collusion with genocidal maniacs and not those of us that have the courage to call a spade a spade.

Those that support the atrocities of the herdsmen are insensitive to the feelings and sufferings of oth­ers and that is the biggest crime of all. They hate the victims of these terrible atrocities and they love and make excuses for the perpetrators. They are completely incapable of any form of empathy with those that have been violated and slaughtered and in their heart of hearts they relish the atrocities and they consider them fair game and fair sport.

A good example of such people is the individual who leads an organisation, which is supposed to protect the rights of the less fortunate in our society. This individual apparently does not deem it appro­priate to stand up against the evil that the herdsmen have been indulging in for the last few years and he prefers to pamper them. Why am I not surprised?

Instead of speaking up for the human rights and civil liberties of those that have been maimed, killed and persecuted as he has been charged to do, the man is busy trying to say things that are politically correct. Whilst he is attempting to please and im­press his new paymasters, people are being killed by his cattle-rearing friends, on a daily basis. I say shame on him and those that think like him and I honestly believe that the blood of those innocent people that have been maimed and slaughtered by the herdsman are partly on his hands because he has encouraged them with his complicit silence and his veiled support.

Given the attitude of men like that, coupled with the apparent indifference of the Federal Govern­ment to the whole issue, it is clear that the carnage and tyranny of the Fulani herdsmen may not end any time soon. I say this because barely ten days after the abduction of Chief Olu Falae (who was dealt machete cuts, yes, machete cuts), the Fulani herdsmen struck again on October 1st 2015, Nige­ria’s independence day. On that day they abducted a traditional ruler from the Yoruba-speaking area of Kogi state. His name is Oba Adebisi Obademi and they abducted him from his palace in Apa-Bunu in the Kabba-Bunu area of his state. They have asked the family to pay a ransom for his release.

On the same day they released a 70-year-old Yoruba cleric by the name of Pastor Japhet Obafe­mi, who is from Ilepa, Ikare Akoko in Ondo state. They had abducted him and kept him in tortuous captivity for 11 grueling days. Sadly a number of others whose homes were invaded by the herdsmen were not so lucky. Mr. Agbaose Sowetan from Oja- Odan, Ogun state and Mrs. Ayeshi Balogun from Asa village, Ogun state, both of whom were farm­ers, were not allowed to go home to their families but instead they were murdered in cold blood. Ac­cording to press reports Mrs. Balogun, who was a mother of three, was gang-raped before being hacked to death. Can there be any greater evil than this? Who will tame these wicked and hard-hearted herdsmen and who will clip the wings of these bloodthirsty cattle-rearers? Who will deliver us from these sadists and terrorists that have no sense of restraint or remorse and that have no mercy or compassion? Who will stand up to them boldly and say, “Let my people go”?

Permit me to conclude this intervention by re­peating an interesting and relevant contribution from the famous British historian, writer and edu­cationalist Dr. T.R. Batten. He wrote: “The Fulani were at their most influential in Gobir. Then a dis­pute broke out between their Imam, Usman Dan Fodiyo and Sarkin Gobir Yunfa. The Fulani rallied behind their leader who encouraged them to defy their Hausa Chief. He began a jihad and fighting broke out. Thus the Fulani seized the country by force against the will of those who lived there. The enmity had nothing to do with religion for among those who fought (against the Fulani) were many Muslims. It was about the Fulani’s wish to seize power from the Hausas.”

It follows that the herdsman and those that they represent conquer by infiltration, assimilation and guile. Those that doubt this should find out what be­came of the ancient Hausa kingdoms. They should also find out about the terrible fate that befell the famous Yoruba general, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of the old Oyo empire, Afonja, at the hands of Abdul­salami, the son of his erstwhile “ally” and friend, the Fulani Salih Janta (A.K.A Shehu Alimi).

After Afonja died, Abdulsalami killed his son and took over his throne in Ilorin. Since that time a Fulani Emir, with a flag from the Sultan of Sokoto, has ruled Ilorin whilst the Yoruba descend­ants of Afonja have been denied the throne in a predominantly Yoruba town that was founded and established by Aare Afonja, their illustrious Yoruba forefather. It is better to learn from the mistakes of history rather than to allow them to be repeated.

Femi Fani-Kayode, former Minister of Aviation, writes from Lagos.

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Making Abia a modern enclave Sat, 03 Oct 2015 23:00:32 +0000 If you want to decode a writer just ask, “Where he is from?” If this is not enough, add to the enquiry in which era does he live. In politics they say good politics is local; you may not find this in classical political science textbooks but if experience is anything to go by, I [...]]]>

If you want to decode a writer just ask, “Where he is from?” If this is not enough, add to the enquiry in which era does he live. In politics they say good politics is local; you may not find this in classical political science textbooks but if experience is anything to go by, I subscribe to the validity of this postulation. Penultimate weekend on this page I did a discourse on my home state captioned “Abia a sleeping gi­ant at 24”. My contention was that the progress the state has recorded is not commensurate with its age, human and mate­rial resources available. It is a known fact among the more than 4 million inhabitants of the state that the kind of change the people want has been dif­ficult to realize. When I decided to revisit the matter, I had two objectives in mind: the first was to check the menace of latter day revisionists who because they are beneficiaries of the order would stop at nothing to confuse the people and make them feel that what they see and feel is normal.

During the anniversary, I heard commentators equate expansion in territorial areas of Aba and Umuahia, increase in number of schools, addition in road routes as evidence that big progress has been made. What a big display of ignorance! The most ridiculous was the position that transference of the governorship office to Abia South senatorial zone amounted to full confirmation that Abia has lived out its dream. I listened to all these and I told myself that there is nothing system exploit­ers would not do or say to keep their selfish interest afloat at the expense of the people. It did not start today, history has so many chapters of such treacherous conduct and the same history posits that such bad infusions thrive and even become norms when unchallenged by critical minds and conscience of society. Recent events in Burkina Faso where the people rose to tell the military coup makers that enough is enough appear to support this position.

The other reason would be that I belong to the school of thought that insists that those who have gone on the road before should relive their experiences and pre­scriptions orally and in written form to avail successive genera­tions the benefits of their involve­ments.

It is not important whether such persons were considered successful or failures; what is necessary and that we should note is that there were factors and variables which produced either of the results and it would be good to know so that we can strengthen the ones we find use­ful and discard others. But some folks believed I was not in good stead to make any observations on Abia for the low level reason that at some point-in-time I was part of the governance organo­gram. This for me is base think­ing; service to community does not equate debarment from hold­ing and offering opinion, which is part of the natural rights of any living being.

Also it is common knowledge for those who care to know that many subordinates are admin­istratively far better than their bosses but are greatly hindered by the administrative protocol which limits them to what their masters accept. Again what do you make of hindsight if those who have gone before fail to place their encounters in public glare. It is because our leaders keep their experiences to them­selves that we don’t know that even the poor suffering masses are the chief compromisers of their own destiny.

Let me stop there and go to the main point for today’s essay which is to go beyond admission that Abia development is stunted and give suggestions on what to do to make Abia State a mod­ern enclave. Abia can become a modern state in 10 years and that would be if certain things are in place.

The first will be the desire which I think is now in place given the way the April 2015 governorship election went; what should follow is Abia Summit where acknowledged egg-heads would lead the people to re-fash­ion a 21st century vision cover­ing all areas of need.

This blueprint should be reli­giously followed by all govern­ments irrespective of personal or party change; the suggestion above does not remove the im­portance of having at all times a visionary, competent personality as governor. Machiavelli once said the king that desires to ben­efit from good counsel should himself be wise.

The truth is that many leaders these days can hardly decipher between good and bad advice and I think Abia has had its share of these. The plank for develop­ment must be merit driven and the current budget pattern must be done away with and replaced with one that would make min­istries run a single or at best a double line emphasis for four years in the first instance and eight years where it is necessary. The anchor of the new vision should be productive/inventive economy and broad base human capital development. Every other thing revolves around this two. What are the other things: air­port, seaport around Ukwa axis, Obuaku city, which should have both industrial and residential components.

Reclamation of Aba: standard roads, solid drainages, expan­sion of strategic streets, proper road markings and sign-posting, re-designation of the slum areas, new markets and more shopping plazas, modern waste evacuation system away from waste-bin on the road pattern and cessation of what has become known as Abia perfume by the temporary relocation of current dump sites away from the expressways and ultimately the establishment of waste treatment plants.

There is need for New Aba. Umuahia needs remodeling and part of it would be New Umua­hia. Mechanized, integrated farming is important, just as in­ternational stadium and games village are imperatives; Abia Line transport can be reinvigorated to provide inter-and-intra city/state transport needs in a most modern way; internal railway system and water-line transportation are very viable options.

Our road construction has not been impactful because such roads technically lead nowhere; progres­sive road plan would first seek to properly link all the local govern­ments in the state and that has not been the case and that explains why it is as if nothing has been done at all.

Abia needs productive kind of education that should be technol­ogy driven. Tasks in the sector in­clude remodeling of school build­ings and environment, curriculum review, teacher re-certification, training, motivation and scholar­ship, and education should be free. Ministry of Technology should be propelled to re-enact the Biafran inventive feat as Abia can become Africans’ Japan; merit, training and professionalism should be the hallmark of the state civil service. Abia has been very unfair to the rural areas and especially the oil producing area of Ukwa-West, which has the only functional oil well in the whole of Abia State. ASOPADEC which as meant to cater for them is not only staffed by people from other areas but spends huge funds doing jobs else­where like spending 300 million to fight flood menace in Ariaria, Aba while roads in Ukwa-West are im­passable.

The modern Abia will require big dreams to get there and not the isolationist measures I see in suc­cessive administrations.


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Parody of absurdities: Nigeria, nation of great potentials (1) Fri, 02 Oct 2015 23:31:06 +0000 REFLECTIONS BY OLU OBAFEMI SMS Only: 08033341157 Email: The key issues in coming to terms with the two principles of this topic, vide Parody and Absurdities are satirical or comic imitations of the challenges of irrational­ity, unreasonableness, incoherence of the Nigerian society, with its failure to attain the greatness that it potentially possesses. This is further [...]]]>


The key issues in coming to terms with the two principles of this topic, vide Parody and Absurdities are satirical or comic imitations of the challenges of irrational­ity, unreasonableness, incoherence of the Nigerian society, with its failure to attain the greatness that it potentially possesses. This is further manifest in socio-spiritual, disconnectedness and irrationality that have characterized the social reality of our na­tion-state, especially since political independence.

When these are applied to society; the Nigerian society, especially in the key areas of national concerns in contemporary Nigeria, the salient departments of urgent concern will be as follows: political stability or democratic sustainability; the economy and its adjunctive elements such as poverty eradication, unemployment and job cre­ation; the great impediment to economic growth, namely corruption and the battle against it; secu­rity and the crusade against insecurity, terrorism and counter-terrorism/insurgency and counter-insurgency. What political institutions, practices and policies have Nigeria had to imitate and be influenced by in a way that appears unseemly, ir­rational and absurd?

From about the 15th century, the entire world has been engulfed in protracted warfare; political/ physical wars and, more importantly, economic warfare. It is important to note that the two Impe­rialist Wars, commonly and mis-normally chris­tened World Wars, were perpetrated and ignited by the global economic competitions. These Wars were themselves followed by the more subtle but no less ferocious war—the ideological war called the Cold War between the capitalist West and the socialist/communist East. After the termination of that war, or more appropriately, after the disinte­gration of the Eastern bloc, came the dissolution of the world into an economic village, via Global­ization or neo-liberalization of the world, what has resulted in the shrinking of the Globe into a McLu­han’s Global village. All of these battles have car­ried the inherent and absurd contradictions—or simply absurdities which the developing nations have had to parody or imitate in ways that have adorned the garment and embroidery, not just of humour but also of grotesque and grave tragedies.

Let us develop temporary amnesia or death of memory to the human savagery and decimaliza­tion of the black and oriental spheres of the world through the heinous human traffic called the trans- Atlantic and trans-Saharan slave trades and zero in on the outcome of colonialism with the resul­tant events of post-colonialism and nations attain­ments, in whatever manner, of independence. Yet, contemporary struggle today is based on global institutions through which new forms of colonial­ism are inflicted on poor, so-called developing na­tions and countries.

Nigeria is a country of great potentials and possibilities and these make it a great nation that can become the envy of all—a fifth of all black population in the world, the seventh most popu­lous and the seventh biggest producers of oil. The expectation from this topic is how we can shed the present absurdities that have overtaken our nation today and explore how we can truly transform the nation’s economy by growing new visions, dreaming new dreams at a time when the nation’s economy is in a serious distress, laboring, disin­genuously, under an oil mono-culture, to the crim­inal neglect of the nations rich endowments with numerous cultural, material and human resources.

Every society, Nigeria inclusive, must have a national economic vision, and the objectives and strategies for achieving that vision. No democra­cy can be said to be enduring and sustainable if it does not fulfill the economic requisites and expec­tations of its electorate. Professor Charles Soludo (2005) former Governor of the Central Bank es­poused the inextricable link between democracy and economy thus: ‘the state of the economy is the determinant of enduring democracy; but de­mocracy is a key pre-requisite for sustainable economic transformation… economic prosperity sustains democracy whereas widespread poverty and ignorance undermine it.’ Issues fundamen­tal to democracy, such as human rights and the various freedoms and liberties, are concrete and meaningful only if the basic freedom from want, poverty and fear of survival are guaranteed. What is the quality of my freedom of expression if I can abuse the President at the Tafawa Balewa Square (renamed Gani Fawehinmi Square) in Lagos or in the press, while my children cannot go to school because I cannot pay their fees? The Nigerian economy is fraught with visional and structural incoherence. It is difficult for the ordinary Ni­gerian to outline, or explain to himself what the cardinal principles of the Nigerian economy are. What is the character and structure of the Nige­rian economy? If we care to reflect on the obtuse and absurd nature of the Nigerian economy since independence, we will find that it is characterized by decay and formlessness.

It is an economic system in which no substan­tial benefit has accrued, through governance, to the people from the abundant natural resources with which the nation is amply endowed. In a na­tion where mono-culturalism (total dependence on a product, oil) is the inviolable economic or­der, there has been no industrialization, invest­ment or a dependable measure of public sector revenue generation/derivation. There is dismal over-government and an excessive dependence on government. It is a government by patronage, what Soludo again calls a ‘rented-entrepreneurial elite’ of big men without any productive source of livelihood, what the late juju maestro, I.K. Dairo, referred to in a very castigative musical rendition, if rendered in its original Yoruba form, as ‘Direc­tors without office, without work-place

It is an economy in which government is the sole source of (un) productive livelihood and (un) employment. From the Federation Account, where the revenue derived from oil sales flows, sharing goes on without let. There is no provision for capital growth, as no facilitating environment has been provided for business, whatsoever. Em­ployment growth is stifled and revenue generation for government is near-zero This is the absurd state of our comatose social economy, over which a growth agenda has been proposed by the current government, and upon which hope abounds, in huge quantum, in our country presently.

What has become manifest in Africa and Nige­ria in particular is that, while our counterparts in the developing world-China, India, Brazil, and so on, have taken giant strides to mount conscious resistance against the ‘imposition of Western global financial institutions, such as International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Orga­nizations, etc., Nigeria and a number of African countries have stoically resigned to a self-imposed fate and destiny of accepting the Western finance institutions through globalization as fait accompli, with all its absurdities and grotesqueness. Not stopping there, we have perfected the absurdities as the real character of our economy, core values and strategies of existence. As my friend, Mahdi (2014) has observed, rather than comprehending the nature of our under-development or un-devel­opment developing stature and forming alliances with our other developing nations, we are simu­lating and imitating the fact of being a developed nation. Mahdi averred thus; ‘Instead of allying with other developing countries like China and India to resist the imposition of global financial institutions, it (Nigeria) has chosen to collaborate with Northern countries, for example, by willingly accepting Breton Woods Institutions…which have been largely geared towards promoting Western interests’. Mahdi further revealed that ‘while some other developing countries have opted for other alternative development strategies, Nigeria has stuck to development strategies fashioned out by developed Western countries. What is the out­come of our option of latching onto the West?

Developing nations, which held Nigeria in ut­most envy in the late fifties and early sixties – na­tions of the Asia and South-East Asia and Latin America—have moved on to become truly and genuinely developed while we parody, absurdly and retrogressively on. History captures the absur­dity of the reality of our situation and the failure of becoming what our potentials in the 1950s lead the world to expect of us.

  • This series, in two installments, is an excerpt from a Lecture Delivered on the Occasion of the Commemoration of Mrs. Oluranti Odutola’s Re­tirement from Lagos State Public Service at Sher­aton Hotel on September 23, 2015.
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A new political roadmap for Igbo Fri, 02 Oct 2015 23:28:41 +0000 TOTAL POLITICS BY CLEM AGUIYI SMS ONLY: 08034747898 E-mail: Nigeria is like a nation under a spell, a hostage to lies and deceptions. As a people, if we expect to be ignorant and free, then we expect what never was, and never will be. It behooves us to be alert, vigilant and willing to confront official [...]]]>


Nigeria is like a nation under a spell, a hostage to lies and deceptions. As a people, if we expect to be ignorant and free, then we expect what never was, and never will be. It behooves us to be alert, vigilant and willing to confront official in­justice whenever and wherever we found them. Like the saying ‘nothing good comes out of Egypt,’ I do not see anything good coming out of our current situation; I do not see hope in a regime that is all motion no movement.

I have commented on this page that we must be prepared for the best and the worse. I reached this conclusion having realised that the administration has no interest in nation build­ing, it has no common interest in developing a common agenda for the common good of all rather it is poised promote a systematic exclu­sion of a section of the country and comfortable settlement of their own at the expense of others.

At the receiving end are the Igbo. Never before, in the history of Nigeria have we suf­fered political persecution, exclusion and threat of political extinction than they are now pass­ing through thus confirming the worst fears of the people who justifiably refused to buy into PMBs ‘trust me, I am a changed man and now a democrat’. Predictably, President Buhari has made sure no South Easterner is allowed within an ear shot of the Presidency by ensuring that the security caucus and kitchen cabinet did not include a single South Easterner; whereas Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen remain undefeat­ed, abducting, kidnapping, raping and maiming hapless civilians, defenceless Igbo youths are being killed for flying the colorful flag of Bi­afra and for singing the good Biafra anthem in praise of the rising sun. Need I remind that no Hitler and no Jupiter can stop the sun from ris­ing from the East.

I have heard people say the Igbo are being flogged with scorpions and razor blades for massively voting for former President Jonathan in the last election. Voting Jonathan wasn’t a mistake. Ndi Igbo do not owe Buhari our votes just like the Kanuri’s never owed former Presi­dent Jonathan their votes. Jonathan enjoyed the massive support of the Igbo because he ran an all-inclusive government of which Ndi Igbo were fairly accommodated and given sense of belonging. Buhari can do same and sit at the table with Nigerians of all diversity not just people that pray like him or look or dress like him!

President Buhari as the leader of a demo­cratic Nigeria owes every section of the country fairness, equity and social justice irrespective of how they voted or didn’t vote. Therefore, seek­ing to punish the Igbo on account of our voting preference by denying us deserved appoint­ments and proper accommodation is a violation of his oath of office. Recall that from 1966 to 1970 we fought a bitter civil war to have an independent state of Biafra and Nigeria wasted millions of lives from both sides to keep the country together.

President Buhari like successive leaders is duty bound to ensure that Igbo are accepted, accommodated and made part of the political process in the country not excluded. My task for the Igbo is that we must seize the moment and redefine our destiny within the context of one Nigeria. Nobody will love us more than we love ourselves. We must preserve our cherished values, stick together as one and work together with a single determination to survive Nigeria and succeed in Nigeria no matter the burden. We must continue to pursue education for our children and ensure or children excel in science and arts. We must maintain our leadership in scholarship, craftsmanship, commerce, industry, innovations and creativity. Rather than fight to pull each other down, we must be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper. As endangered people we must always see any injury to one is an injury to all Onye Aghala Nwanneya. We must show strength in solidar­ity ‘Igwe Bu Ike’. We must ensure our political leaders at the state and local government’s level are the best that any nation can offer.

We must be willing to learn from other tribes especially on what works in Nigeria. In 1999 the Yoruba nation justifiably rejected former President Obasanjo but when they found him the only hope of retaining power in 2003, the rallied round him and voted with their thumbs and toes. In 2003, 2007 and 2011, the Hausa Fulani rejected President Buhari . But when in 2015 they realized he was their best possible shot at the presidency, they sacrifice individual ambitions, mobilized resources and opinion in­cluding waging an undeclared war against the rest of the nation to achieve his presidency. This is a lesson that should not be lost on us as ndi Igbo. Onye Ajuru , Anaghi Aju Onwe Ya.

I have no doubt in my mind that God loves the Igbo , that ndi Igbo are God’s own people and that despite our shortcomings, flaws and imperfections that God stands with the Igbo in good and in bad times . We must always seek the face of God and His guidance at all times for in spite of the conspiracies and wickedness aimed at denying us a place within ear shot of governance , God helped us out in a miraculous way by installing Senator Ike Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President , yet the enemies of the Igbo are not prepared to accept the will of God. The travails of Senator Saraki are aimed at Ekweremadu whom they tried to use the police to distract and persecute but failed hence they dug up Saraki’s asset declaration in a desper­ate move to embarrass and indict him. After as­saulting the Senate, the Judiciary will be next in this mindless pursuit to install a Nazi Nigeria.

For us as Igbo, we have seen despair, we have seen desolation and we have seen the worse of Nigeria. Though our wives, daughters and mothers may have been raped, our lands taken and gates to our city burned down , we must not give in to frustration. Our quest for justice and what is fair to all must not give up, never now, and never in future. To overcome we must anchor our new political road map on the philosophy of ‘Aham Efule’, a philosophy that transcends all religion and political barriers. It’s a philosophy that will guarantee our collective survival in a hostile political wilderness.

In the order of official protocol , Senator Ike Ekweremadu is the 4th in hierarchy. It is our duty to rally round him and support him along with our friends from the South-South, North Central and parts of South West. The cabals determined to exclude us from Nigeria must be made to realize that our survival cannot be compromised neither shall our existence be negotiated away. We must continue to build bridges and hold firm the hands of our cousins in the South- South and North Central.

It’s unfortunate that President Buhari is a poor student of history for if he is, he would have realized that we are his best partners in the supposed quest to reposition Nigeria to greatness. As a people we are not a threat to his presidency, neither is Senator Ekwer­emadu a threat to him. What he needs to do to win our support is let Ekweremadu be, fast track the completion of second Niger Bridge and extend his anti-corruption search light on Igbo governors who embezzle public funds in the South East, leave Biafra agitators alone and stamp out all manner of kidnappings and harassment by miscreants and these Fulani herdsmen from hell.


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Saraki’s trial and the laughter within Fri, 02 Oct 2015 02:27:09 +0000 The trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki over alleged false declaration of assets when he was the governor of Kwara State by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has dominated the media recently. While some commentators said that truly a Daniel has come]]>

The trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki over alleged false declaration of assets when he was the governor of Kwara State by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has dominated the media recently. While some commentators said that truly a Daniel has come to judgement and that the senator deserves the treatment being meted to him for allegedly disobeying the party supremacy order in the election of officers of the current senate, others said the trial smells of witch-hunt, being selective and targeted to rubbish the ebullient senator.
A third group said that criminal matters are not time-bound and can be opened up at any point in time. And perhaps that is exactly what the CCT has done in the case of Saraki. Maybe it will soon dock other governors/politicians that made false declaration of assets. Yet a fourth group pointed out that the timing is wrong and that the trial is capable of rubbishing President Buhari’s war against corruption. I have sympathy for this group.
Yet some other commentators said that there are other governors who made false asset declaration at the same time the Saraki own was done. I add that there may be other politicians that have made false declarations yet they are working the streets of Abuja and Lagos and the heavens never fell on them.
While this drama is playing out in the polity, some chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are indeed having a good laughter and shouting crucify him, crucify him. Perhaps they are cheering the trial and shouting on rooftops crucify him, crucify him not necessarily because Saraki has done or not done what someone else has done or not done but simply because they want Saraki to be silenced one way or the other for disobeying party supremacy order.  There are many Nigerians who believe rightly that the war on corruption should not respect anybody no matter how highly placed. In other words, there should be no sacred cows in its prosecution. They are in agreement that all corrupt Nigerians must be brought to justice. If the evil corruption has wrought on the economy and development of this country is anything to go by, every Nigerian will readily support the war on graft no matter whose ox is gored.
However, such a war should not be selective, a witch-hunt or political. In fighting against corruption, due process must be followed and all those who commit similar crimes must be brought to justice. Some previous administrations have used the war against corruption as a tool of vendetta and settling of old scores. President Muhammadu Buhari must avoid such pitfalls in his anti-corruption war.  Buhari’s war against corruption must be transparently waged in truth and honesty and should neither be selective nor vindictive. That is the only way it can gain the support of all Nigerians.
If the Buhari’s government has chosen the path of fighting corruption to finish, it must be done the right way. May I also suggest that the dock be widened the more to be able to contain all those outside that will be candidates for the dock sooner than later if indeed the war against graft is not selective as witnessed during former president Olusegun Obasanjo era.If fighting corruption the right way, Buhari should avoid a situation where such a war is misinterpreted as is currently the case with Saraki’s trial. Many Nigerians find it extremely difficult to divorce Saraki’s ordeal with his emergence as the Senate President. Saraki admitted that much at the CCT. Let Buhari and his party prove to Nigerians that Saraki’s ordeal is all about fighting corruption and that it has nothing to do with APC larger politics at the National Assembly.  Although, Buhari has stoutly denied having any hand in Saraki’s ordeal, such denial sounds more like the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob tale. Today, it is Saraki, tomorrow it can be anybody. In everything, let justice prevail.

FG should fix Orlu/Ihiala road

It is no longer news that the Orlu/Ihiala federal road has been in worst of conditions for quite some time now. It used to be a good road but after years of much use by heavy vehicular traffic, the road is now a death-trap. The fate of this road is tragic and also pathetic. I say this because this is one of the federal roads that contract was actually awarded by the past administration for its repair but had since been abandoned by the contractor.
Those that travel through this road that link Imo and Anambra states usually see hell and always complain of nightmarish experiences especially at the centre of Awo-Idemili, Amaebu Ebenator, Amannachi and some parts of Ihioma. As a result of the terrible condition of the road at the aforementioned junctions, commuters turn to other rural roads to evade the bad portions thereby wasting much time for a journey that would have been smooth if the road is in order.   The Ihiala part of the road, especially at Ubuluisiuzor and Isseke areas are also not in good shape. These are pointers that the road is begging for total rehabilitation.
The people of the area have complained many times to officials of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to fix the road but not much has been done in that direction except an inspection of the damaged spot at Awo-Idemili by FERMA team led by Director of Public Works, Godson Amos. But it is curious that Amos should blame the community for not taking care of minor drainage around the area. I do not know why Amos should shift the blame on the community for the road’s poor drainage system. Whatever is his reason, Amos should understand that it is the responsibility of FERMA to maintain the road including its drainage. It is never a community affair. FERMA should stop the blame game and repair the road.
Both Imo and Anambra states governments are not doing anything now to remedy the situation probably because the road belongs to the Federal Government of Nigeria. Half of the road is in Imo while the other half is in Anambra. Therefore, let those representing Orlu and Ihiala zones in the National Assembly do something now before this important link road becomes history. I know that many of them that represent these two senatorial zones in the National Assembly pass through this road to travel to their respective towns and villages.
They should not wait and see the people that voted them into the House suffer because the only federal road that pass their area is no longer passable. This is the time they should demonstrate that they care for their constituencies. This is the time for them to show that they care for those they represent. The time to act is now.
I therefore call on all the senators and representatives from the two zones to use their powers and connections to see that the Federal Ministry of Works and indeed the Federal Government do something urgently to fix this important road without further delay.

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UN’s battle against poverty Fri, 02 Oct 2015 02:25:04 +0000 The global scourge of rampaging poverty has always been a clear and present danger tasking the creative ingenuity and political will of world leaders for centuries. ]]>

By Ayo Oyoze Baje

The global scourge of rampaging poverty has always been a clear and present danger tasking the creative ingenuity and political will of world leaders for centuries. The challenge, however, is that most of them have said more than they have done in reining in the monster. Some have, by their inept, visionless and corrupt leadership driven by greed sent many more citizens into the ignoble pit of poverty. Worse still, by starting or stoking the fires of preventable wars and political crises, including terrorism not a few of them have exacerbated the pangs of poverty, claiming millions of innocent lives every year.
Add that to natural disasters such as drought, floods, tsunamis, tornados, hurricanes heightened by climate change and the picture of the increasing negative impact of poverty gets clearer. At the end of the day, mankind keeps seeking solutions to life-claiming tragedies that could have been prevented right from the outset.
Be that as it may, it is a noble move by the United Nations to frontally tackle the menace through its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that end in 2015.These include putting in place measures to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, promote gender equality and empower women. Others are to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
To strengthen, these it is now kick-starting its Sustainable Development Goals. The global focus which began on September 25th, has given countries the opportunity to adopt a set of global goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. For, poverty, in its mindless wave is a socio-economic situation whereby its victims lack adequate access to quality, safe and nutritious diet, decent shelter and clothing as well as standard and affordable healthcare delivery. They simply lack both the capacity and capability to live a decent life.
For instance, according to UNICEF, in developing countries 1 in 3 children do not have adequate shelter, 1 in 5 lack access to safe water and 1 in 7 have no access to sound healthcare delivery. Also, more than 9 million under-5 children die every year globally and more than two-thirds of them from malnutrition. Of the 1.8 billion children in developing countries 600, million live on less than one dollar per day. Most of these voiceless victims live in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Several deaths could be traced to ill health, job losses, drought and ill-managed pregnancy. About 790 million people in developing countries are under nourished with most of them found in Asia and the Pacific. Hunger may have been reduced globally but some 805 million people are still undernourished.
The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty celebrated since 1993 on October 17, with the new development framework, is designed to replace and carry forward the aims of the MDGs. So far, all countries are committed to “ending poverty in all its forms and dimensions.”
The sordid poverty situation is no less cheering in Nigeria, even as we celebrate political independence at 55. Available statistics on maternal and infant mortality rates, stunting, wasting, youth unemployment, access to primary healthcare delivery, number of school-aged children out of school remain parlous. To walk the talk and bridge the gap between the rich and the poor our leaders should adopt the UN’s collective approach strategy.
According to available information, “The Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health has the potential of saving the lives of more than 16 million women and children, preventing 33 million unwanted pregnancies, protecting 120 million children from pneumonia and 88 million children from stunting due to malnutrition, advancing the control of deadly diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS, and ensuring access for women and children to quality health facilities and skilled health workers.”
We require more partnerships between the public and private sectors, Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and civil society groups to successful bring the monster of poverty to its begging knees. Beyond the Buhari-led administration’s fight against the insidious blaze of corruption in high places is the need to reduce the emoluments of political office holders and deploy the huge sums so recovered to improve the quality of life of the average citizen, especially children and women who are the greatest victims. Few know what has been achieved with the recovered Abacha loot.
We also need stable infrastructure, (adequate electric power and water supply as well as good roads), access to credit facility at single digit interest rate and boosting of small and medium scale enterprises. The other is to inculcate entrepreneurship training in our youth right from the secondary school level. And because the incubus of poverty haunts us all, it must never be politicized.

•Baje writes from Lagos

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Jurisdictional policing Fri, 02 Oct 2015 02:23:22 +0000 Recently, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Ajani Owoseni, relayed a common experience, which he had with police officers from a certain division in the State.]]>

By Ogbemudia John Emunjeze

Recently, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Ajani Owoseni, relayed a common experience, which he  had with police officers from a certain division in the State.
In the narration, he brought to the fore, yet again a lingering challenge that has long been associated with policing across the country, the problem of “jurisdictional policing”. He explained how he feigned a situation where his vehicle was snatched around the Abule Egba area of Lagos, and upon reporting the incident at a certain division in Agege, he was referred to report the matter back at the division in Abule Egba where the incident occurred.
Now, to shed some light why Jurisdictional policing might pose a slight problem to effective policing, one needs to have a bit of background on police operational formation in Nigeria. To understand and appreciate the composition of police formations across the states, a relay of how policing structures are organized needs to be explained. Policing operations are divided across the length and breadth of a state by divisions, several divisions make up an area command, and Area commands fall under the state command headed by a commissioner of police. Several state commissions make up a zone usually overseen by a zonal commander, typically an Assistant Inspector General of Police, and lastly you have the various departments all of which, both departments and zones report to the Inspector General of Police.
In cases of crime and emergencies, members of the public are immediately advised to report cases to the nearest police division in their locality, the individual is allowed to make a statement and a case file is opened in the division. If it’s a case of crime in the locality, the jurisdictional approach to policing helps for when a file is opened, it’s the start of a build up of data on criminal elements within the jurisdiction or division which in turn helps to keep a profile on elements who would be repeat offenders. Repeat offenders are habitual culprits for similar profile cases and more often than not, when they are not directly involved in the crimes themselves, they are the best people to assist the police on related matters. For this reason, jurisdictional policing packs a lot of weight in terms of merits.
However, in this era of sophistication of crime and increased extra-jurisdictional crime, the approach of divisional policing can be said to be rather insufficient. For one, there is the urgent need for rapid inter divisional information sharing and collaboration that for all intents and purposes should eliminate the boundaries and hard lines of jurisdictional policing. The internet should be the tool of cause, employed in this effort to eliminate the restrictions brought about by divisional policing. Like the scenario narrated by the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, there was no reason  a case file could not be opened there and then in the Agege division on the matter he reported and instant action taken, while the file can be later sent electronically to the division of incidence.
The Lagos State Police Command in particular, is in a very good position to be the pilots of this scheme of unrestricted policing. This is so because in her domain, there is abundant availability of good internet service providers who can afford to extend a sustainable corporate social responsibility gesture across the entire police formation in the state as their own way of supporting the fight against crime and criminality in the state. As crime starts to grow in sophistication, it is expected that crime should be matched with the same approach and response of sophistication,
In any case, I have more than sufficient confidence in the present Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, who by the way is a dear friend and one of the finest gentleman and police officers I have ever met. I believe that having identified this problem in his beat, we are well on the way to seeing an intelligent and permanent solution. For we would all agree that It would be a very wonderful thing to note in the very near future that cases can be reported at any police station around and immediate action taken without further ado or delay.

•Emunjeze  writes from Lagos.

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Waiting for the wheel of justice in Abia Fri, 02 Oct 2015 02:20:00 +0000 There is sense in the saying by experts that the wheel of justice may appear slow in movement but grinds steadily. The lesson in this sound logic is that despite barriers occasionally mounted against the cause and course of justice delivery by mischievous minds and interest groups, there are occasions that the truth will always prevail, regardless of the time it may take. In such moments, ill-conceived antics and legal gymnasia usually come crashing, while the train of justice rolls on.]]>

There is sense in the saying by experts that the wheel of justice may appear slow in movement but grinds steadily. The lesson in this sound logic is that despite barriers occasionally mounted against the cause and course of justice delivery by mischievous minds and interest groups, there are occasions that the truth will always prevail, regardless of the time it may take. In such moments, ill-conceived antics and legal gymnasia usually come crashing, while the train of justice rolls on.
This is the lot of Abia State governor, Dr. Victor Okezie Ikpeazu and his state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). At the April governorship election in the state, Ikpeazu and Dr. Alex Otti, the candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), were clearly the main contestants in the race. in which  Ikpeazu was declared winner.
Otti has ever since been at Abia Governorship Elections Petitions Tribunal seeking justice. He is challenging the result of the election in five Local Government Areas of the state, including Umuahia North, Isiala Ngwa North, Ugwunagbo, Osisioma and Obingwa, where he alleged massive electoral fraud by PDP. He is urging the tribunal to nullify Ikpeazu’s declaration and for him to be declared the rightful winner of the poll. The governor and his PDP have been putting up strategies to ensure that this does not happen.
However, matters began to take proper shape, Thursday, September 17, 2015, when the Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri, Imo State capital, which had earlier dismissed an Appeal brought to it by Chief Wole Olanipekun on behalf of Okezie Ikpeazu further dismissed two separate but related appeals subsequently filed by the PDP against Dr. Alex Otti and APGA.
All the appeals had originated from a decision of the Abia State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Umuahia which had taken bold steps to insist that all the preliminary objections filed by Okezie Ikpeazu and his PDP be taken along with the hearing of the substantive petition.
They had headed for the Court of Appeal, urging it to set aside that decision of the  Tribunal and compel it to deliver ruling on the pending motions. The purport of the Ikpeazu contention was for the Tribunal to kill the case on technical ground rather than hear it on the merit which may be detrimental to them as the case of Dr. Alex Otti is so glaring.
PDP, in one of the motions, urged the Tribunal to strike out Otti’s petition on the ground that it was not duly signed and that the necessary fees were not paid in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.
The Court of Appeal in a unanimous decision of the five-member panel of Justices initially struck out three out of the four issues raised by PDP for lack of merit before dismissing the two subsequent appeals.
In dismissing the appeals, the Court said that they were premature and predicated on a complaint against a ruling which the lower Tribunal had not yet delivered. The Court further stated that there was no infringement of the appellant’s right to fair hearing as the motions were rightly heard by the Tribunal before ruling was adjourned to come within the 180 days stipulated by the constitution. The Court of Appeal therefore insisted that the Appeal was lacking in merit and was a mere academic exercise.
Casual interpreters of developments at Abia tribunal may not attach much weight to the Appeal Court ruling. However, for analysts with insight into the antics of the PDP since the commencement of proceedings at the tribunal, the Thursday pronouncement holds promise for justice for the Dr. Alex Otti and the entire people of Abia in the days ahead.
Lawyers, for instance, argue that the import of the Appeal Court pronouncement is in giving effect to and affirming the sanctity of Paragraph 12 (5) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act. The court, according to them, has by that heroic action, confirmed that the trial Tribunal has powers to take all preliminary motions along with the substantive petition.
According to them, the spirit and intendment of that paragraph is to suppress the mischief of delaying the election petition proceeding by ensuring that preliminary objections, whether on jurisdiction or not, raised in the course of the proceedings, did not derail the determination of the merit of a case by undue and unwarranted delays occasioned by preliminary objections.
Not even the staunchest supporters of PDP and its candidate would deny the fact that they have been caught in their game by the Appeal Court ruling. Since the commencement of trial at the Tribunal, Ikpeazu and his party have been employing delay tactics obviously to frustrate Otti and buy time so that the case could be knocked off on technical grounds.
INEC, curiously, has not helped matters, as it seems to be indulging the governor and his party. The Commission, has for instance, thwarted several orders on it by the Tribunal to produce documents asked for by the petitioners.
What is particularly annoying about  the matter is that the documents demanded from INEC were supposed to be tendered by the petitioners to prove  their case. Otti and his team, have for instance, tendered Unit by Unit Results (EC8A) and Ward Collation Results, (EC8Bs), despite objections from PDP. He has also called witnesses who were Polling Unit Agents and Ward Collation Agents to testify on his behalf. In addition, the Electoral Manual has been tendered in evidence.
This stipulates that Card Readers must be used for election. Otti has also tendered Card Reader Report. The Card Reader Data was tendered by INEC staff. It shows that Osisioma had less than 19,000 voters. Curiously, the result declared by INEC for PDP, gave it 42,000 votes in Osisioma. In Obingwa, the Card Reader showed a total vote in the region of 50,000.
Incidentally, PDP got 82,000 votes from the council. Very interestingly again, Paragraph 2.8.3 of the INEC Electoral Manual which is also admitted in evidence at the Tribunal stipulates that: “Where the total votes cast at a Polling Unit exceed the number of registered voters in the Polling Unit, the result of the poll shall be rendered null and void. Also, where the number of votes cast exceeds the number accredited, the result of the Polling Unit shall be rendered null and void”.
PDP has not been amused at the development. It is expected to show that elections took place in accordance with the law and electoral guidelines. This seems a tall order for the party, especially as the witnesses it called had established that one person signed EC8B for 8 out of 10 wards in Osisioma. The party is thus, walking a tight rope.
Captivatingly, all the parties in the suit have filed their final written addresses which are expected to be adopted by their counsels on October 14. Abians and, indeed, Nigerians are watching these beautiful moments.

•Okpa ra writes from Umuahia,
Abia State

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The coming war over Fulani Thu, 01 Oct 2015 00:28:49 +0000 LEWIS OBI 08173446632 sms only THE war, when it begins, will be like all wars, senseless, destructive and lamentable. No one knows when and where it will begin, but it will begin as a convulsive reprisal for a massacre by Fulani herdsmen, a phenomenon that has now assumed all but a common occurrence in Nigeria. The [...]]]>

LEWIS OBI 08173446632 sms only

THE war, when it begins, will be like all wars, senseless, destructive and lamentable. No one knows when and where it will begin, but it will begin as a convulsive reprisal for a massacre by Fulani herdsmen, a phenomenon that has now assumed all but a common occurrence in Nigeria.

The scale and frequency of massacres by Fulani herdsmen with not a single prosecution is the clearest evidence of what is known as im­punity. Impunity is the reason the coming war is inescapable.

What can Nigeria be without the Fulanis? They are royalty. Among them are some of the most respected Nigerians, wise, reasonable, kind people. They control the Sokoto Caliph­ate or all that is left of that awesome empire. They exercise power at the Federal level over and beyond any other ethnic group in Nigeria. Indeed they are the architects of the Northern hegemony which they elevated to an ideology, a most potent instrument to hold on to power since Independence.

As the greatest beneficiaries of the Fulani Jihad it is not impossible that in their moments of hubris, the hegemonists among them might still nurse the ambition of the Caliph of dipping the Koran in the sea. The classic Fulani herds­men that we all know walk along their herd with a staff, not AK47s.

The enormity of the carnage looking into the Fulani herdsmen file is revolting:

On the 7th day of March 2010, Fulani herdsmen killed over 500 people in Jos, Pla­teau State. This report is a tie-back to the cur­rent wave of killings on May 14, 2013 when the BBC reported that Fulani herdsmen have killed 53 in North Central Nigeria.

A few weeks later, the Nigerian Village Square Forum reports in a rather alarming tone “Tivs at Extinction Point: Fulani com­mence a killing spree.” That was on June 5, 2013.

On 8th of July 2013, it is reported that Fulani Herdsmen have killed 34 people in Benue State. Then on 26th November 2013 Jihadwatch reports that “Islamic Extremists kill at least 71 Christians in Nigeria…as­sailants were believed to be Muslim Fulani herdsmen.”

On 24th March 2014 Fulani herdsmen reportedly killed 36 people in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State A week later Fulani herdsmen were involved in sack­ing 33 villages, killing at least 19 people. A mention was made of a ‘Sultan Committee.’

On 7th May 2014, Fulani herdsmen killed 25 people and sacked six villages in Benue State. This was followed by the killing of 25 more people at Guma Local Government Area in Benue State. A month earlier, Hu­man Rights Watch reported on 15th April 2014 that hundreds have been killed since December in North Central region and that an operation aimed at restoring peace is going on in Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau States.

On 11th February 2015 Fulani herdsmen were reported to have killed 30 persons in Benue State. On 11th March Fulani herds­men did not spare the Tor Tiv’s palace even as they killed 11 persons. They killed 90 more on 16th March 2015 in a Benue village. On 12th April additional 12 persons, including children, were killed in Benue State. On 26th May 2015 more than 23 persons were killed in Benue State. Indeed, on 15th August 2015, the, a blog reported that be­tween January and July 761 people have lost their lives to Fulani herdsmen.

The above incidents, taken from published reports, are but a sliver of these atrocities which have occurred in many other states in the Southern regions. In none of these instanc­es was any of the perpetrators arrested, much less charged, tried or punished. So, the Fulani herdsmen operate as if they are licensed to kill. Then last week, the Fulani herdsmen grabbed a big fish in the person of Chief Olu Falae, 77, a former secretary to the Federal Government, a former presidential candidate, and an acknowl­edged leader of the Yoruba race. He has had troubles from the herdsmen in the past but last week they actually kidnapped him, mistreated him for days and forced his relations to pay them N5 million ransom.

So, the Afenifere group, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, had to hold an emergency meet­ing after which they declared that “nomadic cattle rearing should be stopped in every state of Yoruba land.”

Afenifere reaffirmed the Golden Rule, which re-echoes what most Nigerians have always felt about the provocations of the Fulani herdsmen. “Yoruba people go to any part of the country to trade, and there is no history or record anywhere the Yorubas destroy the business of their hosts. What we cannot do to others, nobody should do it to us.”They recalled the incident in the “year 2000 in Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State, the Fulani herdsmen and farmers had a major clash which led a strong delegation from Arewa Consultative Forum (Hausa-Fulani socio-political group) to storm the office of the then Governor Lam Ad­esina in a rowdy and angry manner on behalf of the Fulani.”

President Muhammadu Buhari was the leader of that angry delegation 15 years ago, and all eyes are watching, and all ears are listening. He can avert the coming war or he can fan it by pretend­ing not to know that the herdsmen have created enough provocation that could lead to a major social upheaval.

Republican Grievance Politics (2)

The first victim of the Republican grievance politics ironically is the highest GOP official in the United States Government, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, the No.3 man in government hierarchy. He is pay­ing the price of not being radical enough.

He is resisting the push from the far right which was evident during the last debate, in which at least three of the presidential candidates accused the House and Senate Republicans as spineless and weak in not being able to either de-fund Obamacare or repeal it entirely.

They were not being fair to John Boehner be­cause he did table Obamacare for repeal more than 50 times but never found enough votes. Now the new anger is against the Planned Par­enthood Federation which they want to de-fund and they cannot defund Planned Parenthood with­out shutting down the federal government because of the complications in government funding.

Even at the debate, some of the candidates couldn’t care less if the government was shut down. But Senator Linsey Graham, Governor Kasich, Senator Rick Santorum were urging that cool heads should prevail. The Republicans have shut down the federal government several times in the last 20 years. The problem is that whenever it happened they came out worse off.

The GOP hotheads feel frustrated that even with their control of both houses, President Obama seems not perturbed and is, in most cases, trium­phant, even on the Iran nuclear deal which they had worked so hard to frustrate. They fail because these schemes originate essentially from spite against Obama. Ideology is just the masquerade.

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Power supply and independence Thu, 01 Oct 2015 00:27:16 +0000 By Ikeogu Oke ONCE, in the Second Republic, while the then President Shehu Shagari was delivering an Inde­pendence Day broadcast on national television, there was power supply outage nationwide, inevi­tably interrupting the broadcast. When power was eventually restored to an em­barrassed nation and long after the president had concluded the broadcast, an explanation for the [...]]]>

By Ikeogu Oke

ONCE, in the Second Republic, while the then President Shehu Shagari was delivering an Inde­pendence Day broadcast on national television, there was power supply outage nationwide, inevi­tably interrupting the broadcast.

When power was eventually restored to an em­barrassed nation and long after the president had concluded the broadcast, an explanation for the outage emerged. It was that a snake had climbed one of the transmission lines and bridged one of the phases thereby, causing a temporary earth fault that forced the line to trip.

The Second Republic lasted from October 1, 1979 to December 31, 1983. But that incident, oc­curring over thirty years ago, is probably a good illustration of how long our political Indepen­dence as a nation has yet to be complemented by freedom from the many natural, man-made and accidental causes of our lack of adequate and reli­able power as a nation.

Since our political Independence from Britain, it might not be wrong to describe us as a nation still being colonised by darkness – the symbolic and summary reasons of our perennially inad­equate power generation and supply . And the re­sult of this inadequacy, as we all know, continues to manifest as the chronic distress and underde­velopment of which we have only recently begun to see sustainable signs of their reduction with the relative stabilisation and improvement of power generation and supply nationwide.

It is heartening, though, that President Muham­madu Buhari appreciates the challenges posed by this situation, like Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan before him – who, through their interventions in the power sector, laid the foun­dation for the improvements currently being experi­enced in power generation and supply as a result of what some have termed President Buhari’s “body language” or the Buhari effect.

To drive home the fact of the recent improvement with a combination of facts: The peak power genera­tion value in the country on October 1, 2013 and 2014 was 3,166.6 and 3,687.9 megawatts respectively. However, from the May 29, 2015 inauguration of the present government, the country has recorded sev­eral new different peak generation values, i.e., 4,662 megawatts on July 29, 2015; 4,748 megawatts on Au­gust 25, 2015; and 4, 810.7 megawatts on August 26, 2015. Prior to this, the last peak generation value of 4,516 megawatts had been recorded three years ear­lier, in 2012.

If the above progressive trend is sustained – as I believe it will – then we can expect to have inched further to freedom from our decades power outages by generating more power on this year’s Independence Day than we did on the previous one. This optimism is founded on our having already maintained a power generation value higher than what we had on the 2104 Independence Day for most days in September 2015, the month that precedes the Independence Day.

However, even as President Buhari has repeat­edly promised to give priority attention to power, the perennial lack of which he has described as intoler­able, the real challenge, is in sustaining the current improvement in power beyond this year’s Indepen­dence Day, and making it a lasting condition. This can be achieved if, beyond relying on the President’s “body language” as a stimulant for improved power, active steps are taken by his government to develop the power sector sustainably, such that the factors that make for improved power become features of the power system – factors such as quality personnel, reliable in­frastructure, dependable equipment, efficient sectoral management, etc.

Indeed, as the President was quoted as saying during a recent engagement with The Ministry of Power, “the problems besetting our power sector are not difficult to identify. Therefore, priorities can be easily set in order to tackle them. The problems are more with transmis­sion than generation, and we equally need to secure the power infrastructure round the country.” So there is an indication that even the President understands that, to sustain the current gains in power, there is a need to re­inforce his “body language” with multi-pronged action to develop the power sector and secure our decolonisa­tion, as it were, from darkness (or the paucity of elec­tricity) and the general distress and underdevelopment it continues to foist on our nation.

But as even the President would admit, what has of­ten been lacking is not the ability to identify such prob­lems. It is the will – political and otherwise – to tackle them in spite of the vested interests that benefit from the dysfunction in our power sector. And I am persuad­ed that, beyond developing the power sector, it would require our leaders continuously sending a message of zero-tolerance to such interests for any improvement in our power sector to be sustained without the possibility of reversal. And by “body language”, I mean a psycho­logical disposition whose impact does not necessarily depend on its being deployed consciously. For its can also be an unconscious expression and yet be no less ef­fective as, in the Buhari case and the power sector – the way a cat’s mere presence can check the harmful activi­ties of mice, which are likely to react instinctively to the sight of the cat even without the cat being aware of it.

.Oke writes from Abuja


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Celebrating Nigeria at 55 Thu, 01 Oct 2015 00:26:28 +0000 By Chiedu Uche Okoye WHEN Nigeria achieved political emancipation in 1960, it evinced the tendencies and potentialities of a country that would become great, economically, technologically, and politically. Are such natural resourc­es as gold, tin ore, bauxite and crude oil not buried beneath our soil? And, Nigeria had colourful politicians like Chief Awolowo, who was [...]]]>

By Chiedu Uche Okoye

WHEN Nigeria achieved political emancipation in 1960, it evinced the tendencies and potentialities of a country that would become great, economically, technologically, and politically. Are such natural resourc­es as gold, tin ore, bauxite and crude oil not buried beneath our soil? And, Nigeria had colourful politicians like Chief Awolowo, who was a political sage and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the doyen of journalism in West Africa, then.

But the departing British imperi­alists left the egregious political legacy of the imposition of leaders on the populace for us. It led to the emergence of politicians, who were not prepared for the challenges of political leadership.

Nigeria’s current economic woes and technological underdevelop­ment are not unconnected to past political maladministration and military dictatorships, which beset our country in the past. Our politi­cal leaders and the military stalled our national development with their bumbling, inept, corrupt, visionless, and rudderless leaderships.

Now, APC, which is a coalition of many political parties, has swept away the old political order. Our current President, Muhammadu Bu­hari, is reputed to have a zero tol­erance for corruption. And he is a martinet for discipline. During his reign as Nigeria’s military head of state between 1983 and 1985, he in­culcated the habit of orderliness into Nigerians.

The ascetic leader teetotaler swept to power on the coat tail of his political antecedents and reputa­tion. He is believed to be the mes­siah that will right the wrongs in our political polity, turn around our ailing economy, and take Nigeria to a great technological height. But, President Buhari’s tardiness and po­litical missteps have caused some people to become skeptical and cynical regarding his electioneering promises.

Nigerians are patiently waiting for him to offer us purposeful and people-oriented leadership that will transform Nigeria. Our current un­satisfactory level of national de­velopment is a consequence of bad successive political regimes that pillaged our economic resources. But it takes a detribalized political leader with probity and leadership qualities to re-make a country. Sin­gapore and Malaysia had leaders who transformed those countries. Singapore and Malaysia’s leader­ship models should be adopted and emulated by our leaders.

But no country can grow above the visions and dreams of its leader. Thankfully, our President is sur­rounded by egg-heads, technocrats and visionaries who can offer him advice and roadmaps regarding how to make Nigeria a great country.

President Buhari should set about his presidential duties with ear­nestness and fealty. It is high time our national leader diversified our mono-economy that is based and sustained on oil revenue as a dip in global oil prices will spell doom for our country.

For all its human and material resources, Nigeria imports simple house–hold items. It is a proof that our educational system is dysfunc­tional.

Education is the bedrock of na­tional development. No country with dysfunctional educational sys­tem can make progress. So, it is im­perative for our political leaders to revamp our educational system in order that those who pass through our educational institutions are not found wanting in learning and char­acter. Only skilled and knowledge­able citizens can drive the develop­mental initiatives in a country.

More so, people who are well-educated are imbued with positive morality. They are not vulnerable and susceptible to being indoctrinat­ed with dangerous religious teach­ings. The activities of the Boko haram group have loss of lives and of property. The government should tackle the insurgency.The survival as well as the progress of Nigeria is based on national unity. No country in political stasis can achieve na­tional development. National unity is an incentive for national develop­ment. Citizens of countries in politi­cal crisis cannot achieve great tech­nological feats while living in their home countries. So, I urge President Muhammadu Buhari to desist from engaging in acts that will deepen our ethnic and religious fissures, and make some people from a sec­tion of the country feel alienated.

.Okoye writes from Anambra State


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Nigeria: 55 hearty cheers Wed, 30 Sep 2015 00:23:10 +0000 Nigeria will mark 55 years of independence from British colonial rule tomorrow, October 1, 2015. As is the tradition in the country, the date affords us another opportunity to review the state of the country and how far the expectations that informed the agitation for independence from Britain in the 1950s have been met.]]>

Nigeria  will mark 55 years of independence from British colonial rule tomorrow, October 1, 2015. As is the tradition in the country, the date affords us another opportunity to review the state of the country and how far the expectations that informed the agitation for independence from Britain in  the 1950s have been met.
If Nigeria were to be a man, he would, at 55, be expected to be mature, accomplished, established and actively thinking of the legacies that he would bequeath to his children. At 55, he would have been seen to have managed the affairs of his life effectively to the admiration of his children and laid a solid foundation on which they can build a great future. That man would be expected to have gone beyond the perennial search for daily bread for himself and his dependants. Instead of giving his children fish to eat, he would have taught them how to fish and they would be able to stand tall, strong, confident and able to compete and stand their ground in an increasingly competitive world.
This scenario is obviously not that of the Nigerian state. Instead of stability and a sense of assurance, the country has for several decades now remained in a flux, with most of our national problems unresolved. Ravaging insecurity, dilapidated infrastructure, epileptic electricity supply, unemployment and a comatose economy have formed a five-pronged alliance against ordinary Nigerians and the people can only heave and sigh under their yoke.
Promises by the nation’s past leaders to change the Nigerian story for the better have often collapsed like a badly-stacked pack of cards. It would seem that we have tried out all the options but are yet to get the right answers to our national questions.
The new Muhammadu Buhari government, therefore, appears a last ditch option to solve some of these problems and the nation would be better off backing it to seek out solutions to these problems so that the country can move forward, and not backward. It is either that the people support it to succeed, or goad it into failure. Either way, it is the people that will either enjoy the gains of the success, or suffer the pains of the failure.
It is high time Nigerians began to think more of the country than their individual desires because when the country is well run, the roads are good, there is employment and stable electricity, it is the people themselves who will enjoy it. All these things go beyond the state of origin of any minister of commissioner, or the village of the special adviser to the governor. Facts of the Nigerian experience have shown that these primordial sentiments will not solve the nation’s problems.
For instance, it is doubtful if the many years that our brothers in the Northern part of the country were in power  have had a significant effect on the lives of ordinary citizens of the region.. For the many long years, the story that has emerged is that of neglect of the economic, social and educational lives of the people.
The road to Otuoke, the hometown of the immediate past president of the country, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, remains dilapidated and the community has no pipe borne water. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was president for eight years, but the road to Otta, until the last days of his administration remained perpetually under rehabilitation, while traffic gridlocks remained a daylight nightmare for the people using it.
What then are we saying? As Nigeria celebrates its 55th independence anniversary tomorrow, the time has come to place the interest of the country above all else. This is the time, as has often been said, for all hands to be on deck in the effort to make Nigeria the kind of country that we all want. As an old popular television commercial once put it, let the teacher teach well, while the commissioner sees to the assignment that has been given to him. Let the farmers grow their crops well and our leaders lead the nation to prosperity.
It is not enough to continually complain about the state of affairs in the country or join the anti-government bandwagon. The elections have been won and lost, yet many Nigerians are still fighting tooth and nail as if the election is yet to hold, as if the government is an adversary from another planet.
For me, this is the time to eschew cynicism and wish the country well. It is the time for every citizen to subscribe to the popular advice that we ask what we can do individually to make Nigeria better, and not how we can bring our government down. In the final analysis, succeed or fail, it is the ordinary citizens who have nowhere to run to who will bear the impact. I congratulate Nigerians on this anniversary and wish all levels of government well in their efforts to build a great country where every man can earn a reasonable living and sleep with his two eyes closed. The challenges facing the country are just too serious to leave room for shenanigans and distractive politics.
We expect the president’s nominees for ministerial posts to be named today. My advice is that they hit the ground running so that the task of transforming the country as promised by the Muhammadu  Buhari government can begin in earnest.

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 Dunoma and the transformation of Nigerian airports Wed, 30 Sep 2015 00:21:23 +0000 Being at the top of his career has not changed his simple character and his quiet demeanour. Engineer Saleh Dunoma, Managing Director/CEO of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) appears to let his work speak for him. And so it was recently when he was honoured with the highly coveted National Productivity Award by the President Muhammadu Buhari.]]>

By  Yakubu Dati

Being  at the top of his career has not changed his simple character and his quiet demeanour. Engineer Saleh Dunoma, Managing Director/CEO of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) appears to let his work speak for him. And so it was recently when he was honoured with the highly coveted National Productivity Award by the President Muhammadu Buhari.
It would also have surprised many Nigerians that the  newspapers were not full of congratulatory messages to Engr. Dunoma on the announcement of the award to him, not because he does not deserve it, but because it reflects his quiet and simple disposition to life.
Yet those who know Dunoma will readily attest to the fact that he is a very hardworking professional, and this is  attested to by the well deserved award of the National Productivity Award for the year bestowed on him by Mr President, based on the recommendation of the National Productivity Centre of Nigeria.
Indeed, last year, he also received, quietly the award  on behalf of Nigeria as the 2014 best emerging airport – Africa region at the 4th Annual Emerging Airports Conference and Exhibition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
To those who know him or work with him, Engr. Dunoma is a man of  integrity. He would rather let his handiwork and performances speak for him than blow his own trumpet.
Dunoma, a civil engineer was appointed Managing Director of FAAN in March, 2014 following reorganization in the Management of the authority where he was until then, the Director of Projects.  Since then, he has worked hard at providing leadership duties expected of him; to enable FAAN discharge its services at international standards. He has done this in a very professional and unobtrusive way, such that he has been able to carry along various stakeholders in the country’s aviation industry.
Last year, Engr. Dunoma  recognised that one of the biggest challenges facing the industry was to ensure that the ongoing upgrade and construction of new airport facilities round the country were done to specification and at highest professional standards. Thus, Dunoma set to work, along with his lieutenants at FAAN, working tirelessly  towards  the completion of many  aviation construction projects.
Another big challenge was making sure that Nigeria retained the Category One recertification of our airspace and airport facilities by the US Federal Aviation Authority, FAA
Indeed, even before he became the chief executive of  FAAN he had been the agency’s points-man in the supervision of all priority aviation projects.
The Ahmadu Bello University-trained civil engineer was appointed FAAN’s Director of Projects in 2012, a  position which gave him direct supervisory responsibility over the ambitious Airport Re-Modelling Project involving at least, 22 federal airports round the country.  Dunoma recently announced that FAAN would soon start an intensive training of aviation security, airport rescue personnel and fire- fighters. He said the strategy is geared towards promoting safety, security and airport excellence, according to ICAO standards.
He started his aviation career in the Civil Engineering Dept of FAAN in 1980 and rose through the ranks to the zenith.
A consummate team player and dedicated professional, Dunoma has spent over three decades in FAAN, a period which has afforded him the opportunity to become an expert in various aspects of aviation facility management, especially in the key areas of security, safety, infrastructure development and maintenance.
But even with his appointment to the top job, Dunoma has remained simple and unassuming, always motivating  the staff of the agency to deliver top performance in their onerous duties to the country.
During the  recent airlift of the last batch of Muslim pilgrims at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, he inspected the ongoing construction of the new terminal where he expressed confidence that the terminal will further expand the potential of the ancient city as a hub of commerce and industry.
The FAAN helmsman was also recently at the annual general assembly, conference and exhibition of the Airport Council International (ACI) which held in Panama, a fortnight ago. Dunoma, who was a panellist at the event, emphasized the great prospects of the Nigerian aviation industry to a body that accounts for 590 regular members operating 1,850 airports in 77 countries.
For his diligence in service and hard-work, Dunoma has received several awards notably, the Distinguished Service Award for Aerodrome Rescue & Fire Fighting Services, Airport Excellence in Safety Award by the Airports Council International (ACI) and a Merit Award of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, NSE amongst others.
Dunoma, the  quiet achiever and  experienced aviation technocrat continues to  keep his eyes firmly focused on the job at hand.

•Dati, spokesman of FAAN, writes from Lagos

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Hatchet writers and Rivers Governorship Election Tribunal Wed, 30 Sep 2015 00:19:43 +0000 AS long as the writers apparently sponsored by the Rivers APC refuse to rest in their quest to mislead the reading public on the happenings at the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, so long shall we be obligated to set the records straight. The most recent of the misinformation being circulated by the Rivers State APC is contained in the piece written by one Shola Oyeyipo, ]]>

By Simeon Nwakaudu

AS long as the writers apparently sponsored by the Rivers APC refuse to rest in their quest to mislead the reading public on the happenings at the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, so long shall we be obligated to set the records straight. The most recent of the misinformation being circulated by the Rivers State APC is contained in the piece written by one Shola Oyeyipo, titled ‘An Election Under Security’ published in Thisday of Wednesday September 23, 2015.
In the article, Shola Oyeyipo merely rehashed what has been circulated in earlier propaganda by the Rivers State APC. Nothing is new in the two-page article except the name of the author. He merely recycled the hearsay testimonies of the security agents and an INEC staff directly subpoenaed by the Rivers State APC and arrived at a fallacious conclusion.
He did not consider the fact that INEC has opened its defence of the election of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike. The Rivers State APC hid from Shola Oyeyipo the fact that on Thursday, Septemer 17, 2015 and on Monday September 21, 2015, INEC comprehensively defended the Rivers State April 11, 2015 Governorship Election wherein Governor Wike emerged victorious. The INEC defence will continue after the Sallah Break.
We had envisaged this scenario of distraction. We expected that people would be hired to divert public attention from the reality that has struck Rivers APC at the tribunal. The party is now sponsoring writers to ensure that attention is shifted from the pummelling that its lawyers are getting at the tribunal as INEC staff who directly conducted  the governorship testify. We have successfully transited from the hearsay testimonies of Rivers APC witnesses to the period of concrete proofs and participant testimonies by INEC staff.
INEC staff and ad-hoc staff who conducted the Rivers State Governorship Election on April 11 in five local government areas spread across the three senatorial districts of the state have already testified. More will testify to the chagrin of the Rivers APC and its hatchet writers.
The Rivers APC had gone to the tribunal with the claim that election did not take place on April 11 because it was marred by violence, snatching of election materials, malpractices and illegal thumb-printing. Faced with the reality of the evidence at the tribunal, the tone of its propaganda has changed to the issue of accreditation. However, it has been faced with the truth every step of the way. The governorship election held in compliance with the Electoral Act and the INEC guidelines.
In the face of recurring falsehood and propaganda, it is imperative to once again put in the public domain the details of the testimonies of the eight INEC defence witnesses whose statements brought to the fore the smooth conduct of the election. As it stands today, their testimonies have silenced the Rivers APC.
INEC started her defence of the election from Obio/Akpor LGA, one of the two most populated local government areas in Rivers State. INEC Electoral Officer of Obio /Akpor, Mr Ebikoro Tebekaemi testified to the smooth conduct of the election. Tebekaemi stated that INEC used both card readers and manual accreditation for the April 11 governorship election in Obio /Akpor Local Government Area.
According to him, a total number of 304,745 voters were accredited using both card readers and manual accreditation. He said of the number, Card readers accounted for 40,281 voters. The Obio/Akpor Local Government Area INEC Electoral Officer said that the distribution of election materials and actual voting took place under a peaceful environment ensured by the Police, the Army and other security agencies.
He said that all through the election, he did not receive any reports of snatching of election materials, clash between INEC staff and thugs and the disruption of election. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Monday continued its defence of the victory of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike at the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, with further proofs that the election was peaceful, credible and conducted in line with the Electoral Act.
Presenting its case before the Justice Suleiman Ambrosa-led tribunal sitting in Abuja, INEC maintained that relevant electoral procedures were followed before the Commission arrived at the lawful declaration of Governor Wike as the winner of the election in view of the valid votes garnered by him on April 11, 2015. The commission stressed that best practices were observed in the conduct of the Rivers State Governorship Election.
At the resumed sitting on Monday, INEC presented seven witnesses who are presiding officers in polling units spread across four local government areas. The witnesses conducted elections in Bonny LGA, Tai LGA, Oyigbo LGA and Akuku Toru LGA. They were serving corps members at the time the election was conducted.
The defence witnesses were led in evidence by the counsel to INEC, Onyechi Ikpeazu(SAN ).
In her testimony, Ogechi Anyanwu, a corps member who served as Presiding Officer Ward 8 Unit 8 of Tai Local Government Area confirmed that elections were free and fair, noting that nobody snatched election materials as alleged by Rivers State APC.
The youth corps member noted that there was no case of violence during the governorship election and that as presiding officer she never participated in electoral fraud. She maintained that in line with training received before the election, she adopted manual accreditation after the card readers malfunctioned.
Another defence witness, Jerry Nyikwagh who served as Presiding Officer for Ward 7, Unit 4 in Tai LGA explained that he reverted to manual accreditation after the failure of the card readers, but first got permission from his supervisor.
He explained that the accreditation and voting process were in line with the training they received and the Electoral Act. Adeyemi Saheed who served as Presiding Officer at Alabrabra Polling Unit in Akuku Toru LGA described the election as peaceful, credible and free and fair with all the party agents participating. He noted that contrary to the Rivers State APC allegation, the governorship election did not witness any case of ballot box snatching, election malpractices or fraud.
Mr Fidelis Zeribe who served as Presiding Officer at Ward 7, Unit 5 of Bonny LGA said nobody manipulated the election, stressing that accreditation and voting took place and a return was made.
The Presiding Officer for Ward 1 Unit 1 in Oyigbo Local Government Area, Ifem Charles Chidozie, a former youth corps member, said he didn’t participate in electoral fraud, neither did he see soldiers partake in violent acts or electoral malpractices. Sofiri Jumbo, a former youth corps member who served as the presiding officer for Ward 4 unit 1 in Bonny LGA testified that the election in his area of coverage was in line with the Electoral Act and election guidelines.  Another Defence witness and Presiding Officer Ward 1 Unit 1 in Oyigbo LGA, Onyejen Martins maintained that the governorship election in his area of coverage was peaceful, free, fair and credible.

•Nwakaudu is the Special Assistant (Media) to the Rivers State Governor.

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Of Saraki’s trial and legislative independence Wed, 30 Sep 2015 00:18:13 +0000 “The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.” ---Charles De Louis Nigerians rolled out drums in fanfare to celebrate the long-awaited return of democratic rule in 1999, restoration of democratic institutions like legislature became one of the victories made possible by heroes of democracy who through sheer resilience; ]]>

By Nwobodo Chidiebere

“The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.”  —Charles De Louis
Nigerians rolled out drums in fanfare to celebrate the long-awaited return of democratic rule in 1999, restoration of democratic institutions like legislature became one of the victories made possible by heroes of democracy who through sheer resilience; perseverance and sacrifices reawaken the spirit of democracy again in the nation’s political history after protracted tyrannical years of military dictatorship which was characterized by underdevelopment and backwardness. Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), is being respected by Nigerians today not for steady power supply, efficient health care or functional educational system he provided when he held sway as Commander-in-Chief but as a result of its efforts and contributions in restoration of democratic government in 1999 which was driven by global isolation; condemnation and discrimination against military governments universally.
Out of the three arms of government; executive, legislature and judiciary, the legislative arm is indispensible in any democratically elected government, that explains why it comes under attack whenever the military topples democratically-elected government. Coup plotters and executioners suspend the legislature immediately they take hold of power as proof of their unjustifiable disdain for legislature.  Absence of independent legislature in any constitutional democracy always breeds executive recklessness occasioned by unrestrained use of political power which contradicts democratic principles and spirit of separation of power as enshrined in the constitution. It also gives credence to the quote that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The structural foundation on which democracy is erected begins to wobble when independence of legislative arm of government is compromised via imposition of leadership of the legislature by anti-democratic elements sponsored by the executive arm of government, it erodes the power to check the executive arm which is usually done through Standing Committees which serve as checks and balances in the polity to ensure transparency and accountability in the day-day activities of government.
It is no longer news that the current leadership of 8th Senate was constitutionally; democratically and independently elected by Senators in the Red Chamber on June 9, 2015 against political permutations of self-appointed godfathers of the APC. Since that historic election which gave birth to bipartisan leadership of Senate via the emergence of Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki of the APC as Senate President and Senator Ike Ekweremadu of the opposition PDP as Deputy Senate President, hell has been let loose by those who were outsmarted and outplayed in the political chess game that preceded election of Principal Officers of the 8th Senate. Instead of those who absconded their constitutional responsibilities as Senators-elect on the day of inauguration of the 8th Senate by preferring to attend a political party meeting at the same time elections of Presiding Officers and swearing of Senators-elect were billed to take place in the Upper Chamber to congratulate winners of the elections in the spirit of sportsmanship, they resorted to blackmailing and mudsling to tarnish the image of the entire Senate.
Those political “wako-jakos” who lost out in the horse-trading that trailed the elections of Principal Officers in the 8th Senate in connivance with their external sponsors started raising all manner of allegations to discredit the election of 8th Senate leadership; from treachery to alleged forgery of Senate Standing Rules; to the so-called disobedience of party directives via party supremacy jargon characterized by shenanigans propelled by media propaganda to armtwist the leadership of the Senate to announce their names into the remaining Principal Officers positions of Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Chief Whip and Deputy Chief Whip. Upon the realisation that election of Senate leadership cannot be annulled in the media, the aggrieved Senators under the auspices of Senate Unity Forum sued the leadership of Senate on the allegation of forgery of  Senate Standing Rules which is still a subject of legal fireworks at the Federal High Court of Abuja.
In the foregoing context, a dangerous dimension has recently been added to the lingering tussle for Senate leadership. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) and Nigerian Police Force (NPF) have now been brought into the anti-corruption war with the ill-conceived motive of decapitating the hard-earned independence of the legislature..Every true patriotic Nigerian supports apolitical fight against corruption but ridiculing of the entire legislature in the eyes of the world in the name of trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki for a crime of falsification of Assets Declaration he allegedly committed in 2003 by an institution of government under overbearing influence of the executive arm of government that presently via its body language shown its unacceptability of the current Senate leadership is not only an insult on sensibilities of democrats and advocates of separation of powers enabled by legislative independence in Nigeria but a strangulation of our nascent democracy which has become fragile.
This fragility is as a result of the political terrorism caused by those who are bent on not only mortgaging freedom and the right to vote and be voted for as enshrined in the Constitution but are about transfiguring Nigerian government into political buccaneering—where people of contrary views are hounded like venom-driven snakes.
If I may ask, when did the Buhari-led anti-corruption fight discover that Senator Saraki is not “clean” enough to preside over National Assembly as Senate President? Was it not the same APC that cleared him to contest for senatorial seat? Prior to election time when Senator Saraki was being victimized by Jonathan-led Federal Government for supporting Buhari against his second term ambition, the APC came out strongly to defend Saraki.
The question is: what changed the personality of “Saint” Saraki according to the APC description during the campaigns to “treacherous”, “corrupt”, “backstabber” and “over-ambitious” Senator Saraki when he decided to exercise his constitutional right to vote and be voted as Senate President aspirant? Is the APC trying to assume that all Nigerians are suffering from amnesia—loss of memory?

•Chidiebere, a political analyst, writes from Abuja.

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How Obiano is re-branding Anambra Tue, 29 Sep 2015 02:15:24 +0000 If rebranding is the process of giving something a new image, in order to make it more attractive or successful, then Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State is truly rebranding the state. His actions have involved an extensive rebranding of the state. This is not about the construction of roads, attraction of billion dollars investments, revamping of the agric sector or the prompt payment of salaries and pensions. ]]>

By Uchem Obi

If rebranding is the process of giving something a new image, in order to make it more attractive or successful, then Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State is truly rebranding the state. His actions have involved an extensive rebranding of the state. This is not about the construction of roads, attraction of billion dollars investments, revamping of the agric sector or the prompt payment of salaries and pensions.
His government has done all these and much more than he has been given credit. My interests are not those traditional responsibilities which his government in so short a time, has been so focused to achieve. My focus is on the “much more”, which has retrieved the state from the sidewalk of pedestrian governance.
It began with his emergence in 2014. He had come into the governorship race with profound academic qualifications, unconsciously preserving the Anambra tradition of not leaving governance in the hands of people who have not been adequately stewed in the fundamentals of hybrid education or very well tested by corporate or technocratic parameters. The curriculum vitae of his predecessors make this clearer. Chukwuemeka Ezeife earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University College Ibadan and a Master’s and Doctorate from Harvard University and rose to become a permanent secretary. Chinwoke Mbadinaju obtained a BA in political science and a doctorate in government. He also gained a law degree and rose to become an Associate Professor and Editor of Times International Magazine.
The next in line is Chris Ngige, a medical doctor who earned his practice from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and joined the civil service, where he retired as Deputy-Director in the Federal Ministry of Health. The immediate past governor, Chief Peter Obi, earned a BA in Philosophy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He was the chairman of several companies including Next International, Guardian Express Mortgage Bank, Guardian Express Bank, Data Corp and Fidelity Bank.
This tradition came under attack in 2014 by career politicians, who campaigned to govern the state with secondary school certificates. Obiano’s emergence saved the situation and preserved the tradition of high standard. With Bachelors and Masters Degrees from the University of Lagos, Obiano launched out in quest of knowledge and self development. He underwent extensive professional trainings in Harvard and Stanford and also became a fellow and patron of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). This former Chief Internal Auditor of Texaco later became the Executive Director of Business Banking in Fidelity Bank. He began the rebranding of the state from the polls, where he emphatically halted the enthronement of mediocrity.
Before his election, the Anambra State Chapter of the association of Hoodlums, Assassins, Kidnappers and Armed Robbers (HAKA) had domineering presence in the state. They ruled in motor parks and garages and in the company of their foot soldiers, who masquerade as Okada riders, they unleashed terror and mayhem. The state was helpless and in dire need of someone with extra-ordinary execution courage. Obiano was sworn in at a time when the state had become the unofficial headquarters of kidnappers. He quickly reaffirmed that this is not who we are and not how we want our state to be remembered.  The governor rose well to the precarious situation. He banished touts, hoodlums and idlers from the motor parks and garages and in collaboration with the police made the entire state uninhabitable for criminal elements. Kidnappers have since relocated and with the ban of okada on the highways, peace has returned and the state has been reclaimed from marauders.
There are things that should not be but have come to be accepted as normal because of lack of initiative. For instance, the stretch of Enugu-Onitsha Express way, running from Arroma Junction in Awka to Amawbia Junction had become a highway of death. Scores of indigenes and non-indigenes, students, traders, civil servants, hawkers and many others, have died unsung on this highway because someone lacked initiative to take affirmative action. Obiano chose to do things differently. One of the different things he chose to do was to stop the unholy sacrifice of blood on this highway, with the courageous and unprecedented flag-off of 3 fly-overs at the same time across this deadly stretch of express road. When they are completed, the state would heave a deep sigh of relief because adequate care has been taken to protect innocent lives.
Governor Obiano really knows how to do things differently. In August, he turned up in Lagos as guest speaker at the Pan Atlantic University. He spoke on the topic, “Sustaining the Legacy of Growth and Development in Anambra State.” Today is not about what he said in his lecture but about the different strategies he is adopting to make the state attractive and successful. Though his lecture was widely acclaimed as outstanding, what is exceedingly gratifying is that, the state is now governed by a seasoned technocrat who mounts podiums to discuss the science of economic renaissance. This is unprecedented.
In a season, when many of his colleagues are crying for bail out and others very busy mortgaging the future of their states with different kinds of loans, Obiano surfaced on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), not to scout for loans but to engage the attention of quoted companies in the existing investment opportunities in the state. It is noteworthy that in his eighteen months administration, his government has already attracted $2.4bn investments. He continued this investment drive at the Stock Exchange where he exploited his private sector experience to factor the state into the immense capacity of the NSE to restructure the economy of the state and this is by no means pedestrian.
Even in matters of security, things are done differently now. The governor believes that the state will be better secured if its neighbours are also better secured. So, in the actualization of this empirical strategy, he convened a Regional Conference on security for the South East and Delta State. The high profile event which was moderated by the Inspector General of Police was attended by the governors of Delta, Enugu and Abia states while the Ebonyi state governor was represented. The security conference was a call for a regional response against the threat of insecurity because victory over crime in the region would not endure so long as a criminal driven out of one state could find shelter in a neighbouring state. The conference has already boosted momentum in the fight against crime in the region and Anambra has continued to enjoy peace and tranquility.
And just last week, during the Eid-El Kabir celebration, Governor Obiano notched up another first in his determined effort to continue to do things differently. For the first time in the history of the state, the governor hosted our Muslim brothers to a lavish banquet at the governor’s lodge in Amawbia. The event was so novel and unprecedented that the leader of the Muslim Community in the state Alhaji Sule Momoh said, “This is the first time since the creation of the state, that we have been honoured like this”.
Only 18 months into a possible 8 year rebranding, Ndi Anambra see the efforts of the governor as “a validation of their choice of a governor” and a reminder, that their governor has the capacity to muster goodwill from across board to do that, which career politicians would consider outlandish and unworkable.
•Obi writes from Abuja   

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Tribute to Hajia Bilkisu Yusuf Tue, 29 Sep 2015 02:13:32 +0000 One of my senior colleagues, Emmanuel Yawe, had early last year narrated to me the difficulty he encountered when he decided to write a tribute for one of his workaholic uncles. Though he eventually wrote something, he confessed that it was not one of his best write-ups. Another colleague had also said something like that to me last week.]]>

By Ibrahim Biu

One of my senior colleagues, Emmanuel Yawe, had early last year narrated to me the difficulty he encountered when he decided to write a tribute for one of his workaholic uncles. Though he eventually wrote something, he confessed that it was not one of his best write-ups. Another colleague had also said something like that to me last week.
I faced the same difficulty today as I decided to write a tribute to my former editor and counselor, Hajia Bilkisu Yusuf who was among those reported to have lost their lives in Mina, Saudi Arabia last Wednesday during this years Hajj exercise. More than 700 people lost their lives and another 815 sustained various injuries in the same incident. My difficulty to write out the tribute was mainly due to the personality of the person involved.
Though Hajia Bilkisu was an extremely simple person, it is difficult for any writer to properly capture all her attributes in a few words of a tribute. Perhaps a book is needed to accomplish such a herculean assignment. All the same, I wish to point out that Hajia Bilkisu is everything any reasonable person will want to be. She could be described as a very successful woman in whatever she chooses to do. This reporter is of the firm view that she was the example of an almost perfect woman any man will be proud to be associated with.
Our path first crossed in 1987 or so, when she accepted me as her News Editor at the time she edited the New Nigerian Daily edition, in Kaduna. I was transferred to Kaduna from Abuja where as the Abuja bureau chief of the NNN. I was responsible for among others the coverage of the 1987 Constitutional Conference involving people like Mallam Bashir Dalhat and the Justice Karibi-Whyte tribunal which dealt with the religious disturbance in the Northern part of the country. I took over from Mr. Steven Bamibele who was promoted out of the place. For the next three years or so, I worked very close to Hajia Bilkisu as the Head of her Newsroom in Kaduna, before I later left and joined the Services of the FCTA in 1990.
This writer would want to put on record that apart from being a very patient and tolerable editor who had a wide experience, Hajia Bilkisu was a meticulous person who did everything possible to help all the reporters and sub-editors who were under her care to be able to do their assignments properly as expected of them. She boosted our morale and ensured that all her workers in the editorial department were carried along in her onerous responsibility of editing the New Nigerian. She also did a lot to improve and promote the welfare of her workers by giving us necessary assistance and incentives like transport allowances, and even portable typewriters to those who distinguished themselves through hard work.
It is also on record that she maintained a very healthy relationship with all her staff to an extent that even long after we had all left the NNN Ltd., we still continued to constantly communicate with her as could be seen from the recent meeting I had with her towards the end of August this year when she was in Abuja to deliver a paper at an IDP event organized by the Daily Trust in order to raise funds for the internally displaced persons. Many of our reporters had at one time or the other confided in me that they actually benefited a lot during Hajia Bilkisu’s tenure as editor of the New Nigerian, under the Managing Directorship of Mallam Mohammed Haruna.
Even though she is a woman, Hajia Bilkisu withstood the rigors editors usually go through everyday in order to produce a very good quality Newspaper acceptable to the readers in their various localities. At times she worked very late and even stayed in the office supervising her staff before the paper finally goes to bed. She surprised almost everybody by doing the job of editing the paper very well in a substantive capacity as the first woman editor to have edited the powerful paper which was respected across the country at that time. Even though she had earlier edited The Triumph, Hajia Bilkisu was seen to have really made a mark at the NNN, because she stepped into the shoes of powerful editors before her like Adamu Chiroma, Mamman Daura, Late Turi Mohammadu, Aminu Abdullahi, Dan Agbese and Mohammed Haruna to mention a few. Her position was considered as a big challenge to women in the field of journalism in the North and she actually measured up to expectations because she not only maintained a good editorial policy guideline and produced a good quality paper but she was also able to increase production of the Newspaper to the bargain.
It was a big challenge for me to cope with Hajia’s high level of competence, experience and professionalism. This was because she was always meticulous and a professionally competent editor who knew her onions. Her sharp eyes often detected any clumsy copy submitted by any reporter which usually passes through me before it reached her table. She often lectured us on how we should tackle our reports diligently and how reporters should submit their reports within stipulated guideline and deadlines for even those reporters outside Kaduna. Throughout the period I worked with Hajia, she never for ones lost her temper even when one of my reporters, Late Shitu Saude was involved in a minor unprofessional act and decided to walk out on us from the Newsroom, despite the intervention of the former Sunday New Nigerian Editor, Mallam Mohammed Bomoi, now in Kaduna.
Apart from being a professional and highly experienced journalist to the core, Hajia Bilkisu was also not only a humble and diligent editor, but was perhaps the only woman editor that I know of who worked like her male counterparts if not much more better than them. The evidence of her work is there for everybody to see in the high quality of the newspaper she had edited and produced as compared to those produced long after her tenure of office.
Working with Hajia Bilkisu was an experience that will last for a life time. It was exciting as it was exhilarating and eventful. I learnt a lot from her. She was a tough editor and a very careful and compassionate person. She could be simply called an editor’s editor very rare to find them nowadays. She craved for the best and got the best. She worked like a superwoman and does everything possible to promote the paper and the company that employed her.  Apart from her work Hajia Bilkisu was humble and tough and would not engage in any meaningless discussions with anybody either within or outside the Newsroom. She was a very strict Muslim. Bilkisu was a good natured person and witty editor who shared jokes with her staff.

•Biu writes from Abuja.

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National orientation, culture and change (2) Tue, 29 Sep 2015 02:10:00 +0000 What all of the above imply is that without culture, human beings are as good as animals. It is actually the acquisition of culture that distinguishes humans from animals; that is why there are certain things animals do publicly that humans cannot not do; for example, sexual intercourse. This underpins the position of Hope Eghagha, as he states succinctly that, “a developed culture is sine qua non for the general development of any society” . Greene Okome is more elaborate in stating thus: ]]>

By  Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma

What all of the above imply is that without culture, human beings are as good as animals. It is actually the acquisition of culture that distinguishes humans from animals; that is why there are certain things animals do publicly that humans cannot not do; for example, sexual intercourse. This underpins the position of Hope Eghagha, as he states succinctly that, “a developed culture is sine qua non for the general development of any society” . Greene Okome is more elaborate in stating thus:
A well developed culture creates a process of positive impact on national development… true development can only manifest from the people’s culture. Culture can be used to foster unity among people and community…. In any society, culture in its vibrant motion of chance creates an equally robust economic activity, a technological base for advancement and smooth road to freedom from any kind of domination.
The foregoing definitions and assertions regarding culture merely state the obvious: that culture is the live-wire of any nation that has development of both the citizenry and the environment as one of its agenda. Governments of countries, like Brazil, China, Indonesia, Japan that have realized that culture is a veritable tool for national development, have not only formulated programmes that would enhance cultural orientation of the citizenry, they have made giant economic, social and political strides; they have also invested heavily on cultural orientation. As it were, the cultural imperatives are those things related to the ways of life of the people, “which must at all costs be obeyed or which cannot in any way be ignored”. They are things that need to be done the right way and maintained so that the society can experience positive, sustainable development.
Let us recall that the War Against Indiscipline (WAI), a laudable initiative by the Buhari/Idiagbon regime is a classic example of orientating the people towards a given policy direction. In inculcating discipline in public places, Nigerians learnt to queue at bus stops, petrol stations, banks, shops, and even water taps. This was just as they learnt not to dash like rabbits across Expressways instead of using overhead bridges. The message was that we can do things the right way once we are disciplined. Unfortunately, the exit of that administration meant the practice gradually going into oblivion. Nigerians never bothered to sustain the tempo; and the media did not help in that direction to say that that should be sustained as a national culture. It only tells one thing: we are wont to throw away the bath water with the baby in it.
It is actually curious that so much has been said and is still being said about ‘change;’ but there has been no serious mention of ‘orientation.’ It is important to note that, change will be difficult to take place in our individual lives or in the business of governance if efforts are not geared or directed at particular goals. This is because of the mindset that has been ingrained in people over the years. The change that government is talking about today is one that should bring about national development; and if the catalyst, national orientation, is left out, the change may be a mirage. In ordinary parlance, good orientation is a product of one’s up-bringing; this is when one is not adulterated culturally. Consequently, the orientation and change have to start with the self; this is in reinventing our sense of values, attitude, and social order.
A critical study of the Nigerian society suggests that it is actually re-orientation that is needed for the sought after development. This is premised on the realisation that the country lost direction at a point in our political development. Thus, re-orientation implies orienting one who had been oriented before but had veered off the defined path. Going by this position, therefore, the process of re-introducing culture into the national scheme of things is what this paper calls, cultural re-orientation; and the paper believes that change can be achieved on the platform of a national culture. Nations like Brazil, China, Indonesia, Jamaica, and so on, have used culture to enhance national development, and it is high time Nigeria did same. Take the case of a very small country like Haiti, with a heavy debt burden, which has used the wild flowers that grow in that country to grow its economy. In other words, it has used the instrumentality of cultural tourism to pay off part of the huge debts. The President of Haiti, Michel Martelly, states that much when briefing the media that,
The carnival brings economic opportunities not only for the established enterprises, but also for the most vulnerable in the informal sector…. You see many small vendors from poor neighbourhoods who come on the carnival route to sell stuff they would not have sold otherwise. Thanks to the carnival they can go home with some money they can use to feed their children (
Further in the same interview, he said, “imagine that there is no way now of finding a hotel room, of booking a flight for Miami tomorrow for instance because many who came for the carnival will go back home;” concluding that, “this is good for the image of the country.” One can only imagine the developmental strides that country would be recording in the next few years for relying on culture to change its economic fortunes. As a matter of fact, the Director, Festivals Edinburgh, Faith Liddel, is more articulate in her description of Scottish festivals and their benefits:  Edinburgh’s festivals are Scotland’s world-class cultural brands with an international reputation and appeal unmatched by any other cultural events on the globe drawing artists, audiences and media from every continent and over 70 countries each year.She went on to say that, “the festivals are economic powerhouses, cultural platforms, forums for national and international debate, drivers of ambition and creators of cohesion.” These events did not just turn things around; the governments of these nations did not just pray and received miracles, the type Nigerians are wont to have in their daily lives. They looked at the potentials of change; and in engaging change, they deployed a catalyst, an element that causes change very fast; that way, they used what they have to get what they want – culture.
The argument here is that, if the Federal Government of Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari makes culture the centre-piece of its national orientation, the country stands to benefit economically, socially, politically and otherwise. The question is: What then is the caveat? The advice has always been for us to go back to our roots; to our core values system. This is a situation where the citizenry imbibe Nigerian, nay African, culture which encapsulates genuine love for people and the country, knowledge of Nigerian indigenous languages, promoting Nigerian dress culture, respect for elders and constituted authority, hard work, honesty, fear of God, integrity, humility, craftsmanship, accountability, transparency, being our brothers’ keepers, just to mention few. Unarguably, these are attributes that can be used, maximally, for the development of the nation. Ahmed Yerima supports this view when he avers that, “national branding through culture therefore means the purgation of the nation of its ills, finding links with the good values in the cultural past of the people” (52). One of the social ills he is alluding to above is the cultural suicide committed by people in jettisoning our culture and eating, drinking and ingesting imported, foreign cultures. On his part, Johnson Effiong asks questions for the infamy over a people’s ways of life:
If order in a multi-ethnic state such as ours comes from culture, and the totality of life of the Nigerian citizenry spins on the anvil of culture, why then should culture miss in the apex priority of developmental pursuit? Could it be a product of ignorance of the impetus of culture? Could it be gross insensitivity over culture’s quintessentially in a people’s milieu? Could it be a sadistic agenda aimed at a systematic stifling of a people’s core-essence into suffocation?
Interestingly, section 1 of the Cultural Policy for Nigeria posits rightly that,
1.3. Culture is not merely a return to the customs of the past. It embodies the attitude of a people to the future of their traditional values faced with the demands of modern technology which is an essential factor of development and progress.  1.4. When therefore we talk of self-reliance, self-sufficiency and a national identity as the core of our national development objectives, we are referring to culture as the fountain spring of all policies whether educational, social, political or economical. The strategies of national development would thus depend on the understanding of the culture, the adaptation of its elements for political, educational and economic development, as well as its strengths for social integration and development.    Concluded
•Ayakoroma presented this paper at the 11th All Nigeria Editors Conference in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State

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