nigeria_fi_lc
'Nigeria Was Designed At Independence To Fail But God Has Held Us Together'

Motivator and conference speaker, Paul Adeolu Adefarasin is founder and Senior Pastor of House on the Rock. He is well known for his message of hope, healing and empowerment. In this interview with BISI ALABI WILLIAMS, he spoke on PETRA Coalition, a forum for pastors of churches, ministers and women in ministry.

The PETRA Coalition

WHAT we have is an assimilation of several churches coming together under the banner of the Petra Coalition. We are grooming a much happier church, working together to achieve more. We are closing the ranks between churches that are often divided by dogma, denomination and doctrine, so that we are able to synergise as one body. As a result, we are much more effectual in our objectives in establishing God's kingdom on earth and instituting righteousness, justice and equity as a standard for national.

Network strength

The church is midwifed by the PETRA Coalition and a central working committee. Some of that facilitation comes from my local church only because that's what is presently obtainable. There are at least five hundred participating churches and about three hundred representatives. Together, we have about eight hundred churches. Our membership across the country represents at least 2000 to 2500 churches. So, it's a significant network.

Interestingly, it seems a bit stronger in Northern Nigeria than it is in the South. What we are doing is giving inspiration, counseling, direction and opportunity for kindred fellowship among pastors in this present time.

Participants on board

What we have are capable people from all walks of life, and if we are able to bring them together, as we are already doing, God can deliver his plans and possibilities for our great nation. Those possibilities include better healthcare, national development, rehabilitation of impoverished communities and power generation. As you see today, we have people from every major church in the Lagos Metropolis and many other churches across the country.

Representing those churches are doyens of industry, banking and finance, manufacturing, private sector, oil and gas. All these people are part of the process of establishing righteousness and justice, which is what our nation needs. This is how the Christian can be a part of the process of contributing responsibly to the development of the country.

Challenges in bringing the people together

You don't have to be a Christian to recognise the problems. Hence, responsibility is laid on all Christians not to be a part of the problem but part of the solution. So, when we call on the people, they come easily. This may also be because of the credibility of the coalition and the organisation.

Hence, there is a high level of subscription. Of course, we leave nothing to chance. We make choices and do what we are expected to do to increase our database. We develop this, day to day, in the public and private sectors, so that we can call and reach our people when the need arises.

Vision

First of all, this group is not looking for credit. It's not looking for glory or for measurement of success. It is not just another church. It is ideologically the Christian church in Nigeria. She is pre - existent to Nigeria, in that the church has existed long before Nigeria became a nation. When I say the church, I am not talking about a denomination or an organisation. I mean the Christian church as documented in the Scriptures. And all we are saying is let the church return to the original calling, when the Christian faith was first delivered to the saints.

The church, all through the New Testament, has always had a divine mandate placed upon her by the fact that she lives in the community, and she has responsibility to promote the values of God and His kingdom. So, there's propagation of the unity of the church and its responsibility to represent her King in righteousness, equity and justice and in development.

Measure of success

I believe that, over time, you will be able to see actual results in the polity and in the market sector. In coming together, we have a unified sense of cause. We are streamlining our objectives, so that they can be easily identified. We will begin to lobby strongly for the things we believe in, so that we see progress and development in this land. As things are today, everyone is a witness that you can't just build anyhow and anywhere in Lagos.

The laws are better enforced today than in previous administrations. So, we have to lobby for stronger representation. We will ensure that those who we identify as Christians are held accountable to their creed. Just like Queen Esther occupied the most influential position in the land. She used her influence to avert a catastrophe that threatened to engulf her nation

How can one become a part of this?

You are already a part of this! You are using the platform of media to get the message out, saying it's time to join hands together, to get accountable to our creed, to righteousness, justice and equity. It's time to stand up and do the right thing. I believe that this is what you are doing by giving your best practices and airtime to our programme.

So, you are a part of us and we appreciate that very much. Christians, who are in the church, are the people that will get involved in politics and allow righteousness to reign. God will use them to enthrone justice, equity, development and progress in Nigeria. God is looking for men with generational antecedents, men with a heart for public service, who will deliver true service.

Is disintegration the best option for the country?

No, it is not. It is the people who are not well informed that see disintegration as a better option. The marriage, which brought Nigeria forth, as a nation, was unjustly contracted by colonial midwives, under the guise of granting independence to a nation. Nigeria was designed at independence to fail but God has held us together. It was a deliberate design to hamper the progress of Nigeria and Nigerians. It is a miracle from God that has kept us together as a nation. The Bible says that if the foundation is faulty, what can the righteous do. Nigerians must have a sovereign national conference.

In the next five years, we must have a sovereign national conference. Otherwise, I personally predict that Nigeria will disintegrate. Although it is not my wish, it, however, will, unless something is done. If we are not careful to ensure that all the federating units of the country sacrifice their own personal ambition for the greater good, this country will disintegrate because it is already tottering at the brink. I believe that Nigeria can be one. It can become a true federation, which I don't believe it is presently. We must decide on what we want as a nation, whether it's a confederation, a loose federation or a federation.

The Nigeria of your dreams

I see a place where we don't have the insecurities that exist today; a place of wonderful job opportunities where the youths can achieve their dreams, a place where our children can realise their dreams, a place where everyone is free to pursue their dreams and actualise their potentials. I see a nation where everything works, where children can go to school and come home in peace, where people can walk on the streets and no one will harass them. I see a responsive and responsible leadership; a God fearing people, who sincerely love one another and work together for a great nation; a place where the best will serve the best. The list is endless. But it is the Nigeria of my dreams.
Source: The Guardian, 11th April 2010.

 

Back

 

Witchcraft: Govt. should sign the Child Rights Act

By Florence Amagiya -

In 2003, Nigeria adopted the Child Rights Law. It is to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although this law was passed at the Federal level, it is only effective if the State Assembly enacts it. Till date, only 16 of the country’s 36 States have passed the Act. Intense advocacy continues for the remaining states. This explains that the landmark in achievement of the legislative arm of Government has not yet translated into improved legal protection throughout the Federation.

Nigeria has not been able to deal with the issues hindering the protection rights of children such as children living on the streets, children affected by communal conflict, drug abuse, human trafficking, child labour and the weaknesses of the juvenile justice system amongst others.

Children conflict with the law for various reasons. These reasons are social inequality, failed educational system, family problems, poverty and peer pressure, social and religious conflicts in which children are even used as foot soldiers. Unfortunately, these child offenders are often treated like adults and mixed with adults in prisons. Many are convicted, jailed and even killed without making contact with social workers or even heard.

A recent report by the African Union on the rights and welfare of the Nigerian child showed that about 6,000 children are in prison and detention centres across the country.

Girls make up less than 10 per cent and they mainly come into contact with the law as a result of criminal acts committed against them such as rape, sexual exploitation and trafficking. And in Akwa Ibom state in 2008, it was declared by a pastor, Bishop Sunday Williams that the entire state is a coven for witches.

Bishop Sunday Williams said that there are roughly 2.3 million witches and wizards in the state and most of them are children. He also added a dimension to the allegation: he told the international media that he had killed 110 of such child witches. He even claimed he charged some fee, sometime as much as N40, 000, to help willing parents kill their child witches.

Those children who were not killed constitute the people living in moribund buildings and on the streets. Some of these children are the ones from step-mums home.

My questions are: What is stalling the remaining 20 states from passing the Child Rights Law? Why would anybody say that in a state whose population is less than 4 million that there are 2.3 million witches and wizard mostly children? Why would any parent kill a child he or she has brought to this world? Are there no better ways of deliverance these days?

We all know that children are the leaders of tomorrow and the way and manner we handle them today determine how our tomorrow will be. So if we don’t think they are worth anything, then our future is worth nothing. I think if a little child is possessed by an evil spirit it means the parents are also possessed.
Source: Vanguard, 4th June 2011.

 

Back

 

 

 

 

 


Our Kids, Our Language, Our Shame

Kids in Cultural Outfit

By Jon Chikadibie Okafo, June 01, 2011

Our language is what gives us a sense of identity and remains a veritable tool that aids our quest towards the attainment of self-realization. All over the world, people of different tribes invest huge resources in promoting their language, culture and tradition. Alas, it is with a heavy heart that I proclaim that we seem to be speedily murdering our language, culture and every other aspect that makes us who we are.

Though it is not my wish to malign our ability to display our mastery of languages other than our own, I find it extremely depressing that we are doing so at the expense of our mother tongue; adults and kids alike appear to be basking in an inferior euphoric delusion that suggests that their inability to speak their mother tongue presents them as being posh. I do not really know about other tribes in Nigeria but I strongly suspect that this trend is most prevalent amongst we Igbos. I find it quite weird that we seem to be ignoring the warning by experts that the Igbo language will become extinct in a few years time-though I do not know how this submission came about; I agree that the possibility stares us in the face.

Is this trend suggestive of a people saddled with a feeling of inferiority complex or a situation whereby we allow our love for travel and adventure to consume our identity as a people? I am particularly concerned about our children’s inability to neither speak nor understand our language; it is now a popular trend for us parents to take pride in raising children that are more versed in foreign languages, particularly the English language. A few years ago, I went to visit a cousin that lives in Anambra State and was so miffed when he and his missus informed me with so much glee that their daughter “does not understand the Igbo language”. When I sought to find out why, I was jolted by their insistence that they prefer her “ajebo” status of speaking only English. To them, the English language is a language that keeps you balanced smartly at the apex of some grand social ladder.

Now, my cousin and his missus are not the only parents guilty of raising tokumbo children in Nigeria. In my home, I find it too perplexing when my daughter stares at me in wonderment when I try to have a meaningful conversation with her in Igbo language; at most, she mimics what I say and fills the void with laughter which I find very annoying. We are raising children who are almost like foreigners in their country of origin and this to me is shameful. I grew up reading Igbo novels, story books, watching captivating Igbo dramas on TV and listening to same over the radio; I still cherish the fond memories of that lovely period of my life. What do we have today? Our children are being encouraged by us to cherish foreign cartoons, story books and movies. We think it shows our posh nature when our children can recite nursery rhymes written by foreign authors for their school children while knowing nothing about Nigerian authors and their works.

With every sense of modesty, I see myself as a bloke who has travelled round our beautiful country but nowhere is as marooned with a tendency to take pride in their mother tongue than in the South East of Nigeria. A visit to any tertiary institution in that region will buttress this fact; our undergraduates regale

in reminding you that they do not speak the Igbo language but “I dey understand small-small”. These students ridicule those that speak the language as being “bush people” and any male that attempts to seek for a girl’s hand in friendship in Igbo language is rudely dismissed as being uncouth. Igbo names given to them by their parents are immediately westernized; names like Nneka becomes Nekky, Nkechi becomes Nk, Chukwuma is now Chucky, etc. The erosion of our identity to me is total. However, I am particularly impressed when I see Nigerian kids of Yoruba origin born and bred outside the shores of Nigeria who speak their mother tongue without any trace of an accent, and understand same perfectly. In the UK, it is very rare to see a Yoruba person that answers such names as John, Mathew and other names imposed on our culture by Western influences.

Nevertheless, there are still Igbo parents that make great efforts at preserving the Igbo language and culture in the course of raising their children. There are countless Igbo parents that insist on giving proper Igbo names to their children instead of tokumbo names. I commend this greatly. I really do not frown at people adopting the cultures and values of tribes and races other than theirs, but it is my view that this should not be allowed to relegate ours to the background. I see it as an attack on reason and common sense when we see what is ours as being inferior while celebrating imported cultures and traditions; it would be nice to see a situation whereby we take pride in celebrating our diversity as a people from a multi-ethnic country rather than being in an eternal quest to marvel at values and languages from far places.

Is this not funny that while we blame Western countries for our economic woes, we take so much pride in perpetuating a new form of mental slavery by copying their life-style against ours? Generally, Nigerians now trample on their pride as a people by accepting foreign made goods and cultures as being superior to theirs, we try as much as practicable to imitate foreign accents [especially American] when we speak, we prefer hanging out at eateries that stock foreign junk foods instead piling up on our local dishes, we prefer sitting stupidly in front of our TV sets watching uninspiring shows like Big Brother Africa instead of Things Fall Apart, etc. The onslaught on our values is wicked and this is why we are raising tokumbo children in our country. Hence, I really do not blame kids that grow up with a mentality that ridicules their ancestry while celebrating foreign ways of life. We can still reverse this ugly trend by paying attention to how we raise our children by making sure we instill values that will make them proud ambassadors of their origin.

johnteddyus@yahoo.com
https://jonchikadibie.wordpress.com

 

Back

 

 

Many Families no Longer Speak Nigerian Languages — Hakeem Adenekan

Learn Igbo Fig 8

By SAMUEL AWOYINFA

He is an expert in the field of integrated marketing communication, which encapsulates advertising, public relations and branding, among others. But Hakeem Adenekan, CEO, Commstrat Associates, has a passion to revive the indigenous languages which, he claims, are fast going into extinction. He shares this story and other interesting issues with SAMUEL AWOYINFA Though his calling is in the creative endeavour, he has been leading another crusade, which is aimed at reviving Nigeria’s indigenous languages which, he says, are fast becoming extinct.  

Hakeem Adenekan, Many families no longer speak Nigerian languages

Hakeem Adenekan, who sits atop a thriving advertising company, Commstrat Associates, and its subsidiaries based in Surulere area of Lagos, feels disappointed and terribly angry that Nigeria’s indigenous languages are no more encouraged or spoken in many homes.
“It is quite painful that our local languages are fast going into extinction,” he begins. “I say this because, in many homes, if not most homes, English Language has become the only language of communication. Most of us no longer speak our indigenous languages to our children, and gradually, the languages are sliding into extinction.”

The Abeokuta, Ogun State born entrepreneur says he is also worried about the latest trend in some private primary and secondary schools where pupils are no longer taught any of our major languages but are rather taught French, Chinese, Spanish, among others.”
Again, he states, “Many Nigerians now prefer to use American accent, even when they can’t write or understand standard English. Whereas in many countries that have developed, most especially in Asia, you’ll realise that they use their indigenous languages to train their children at home and in school.
“This is just to ensure that their countries become great. I could mention places like Singapore, Japan, Malaysia and China among others. Language is a weapon; they realised it and they are using it effectively and successfully.
“The British came here and told us that our indigenous languages are vernacular, and they played them down for the English Language. We don’t want to begrudge them, but how are we going to develop our own languages?”
Adenekan is currently leading a team of 50 Nigerians, including three professors and specialists in the three major indigenous languages in Nigeria: Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa, for a start; and they have come up with a compilation of traditional mores and rhymes, which espouse the virtues of honesty, hard work, chastity, citizenship, among others.
These compilations, which are being prosecuted by his Evagrin Consepts, are not only in book form but also in audio-visual forms (CD and VCD) to re-awake and re-engineer the resolve to revive these languages.
He stresses further, “Our children should not only be fed with Barney, Ben10 and other foreign stuff; they should also know about those indigenous rhymes that could build them up morally. To make for easy reading and understanding, these books have illustrations to support the stories. These are rhymes that bring about social and positive values in all our children. It imbues in them virtues of being good citizens, good students and good children.
“Ace cinematographer and film producer, Tunde Kelani, handled the shooting of the audio-visuals of these rhymes. You could see children reciting our national anthem in the three major Nigerian languages. Every one of these rhymes was sub-titled in English.”

Adenekan, who commends the Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, for having adopted the book and the audio-visuals for pupils in public primary schools in the state, says he’s still on campaign streak, talking to other state executives across the country to embrace this crusade.
Adenekan, who had his formative years in Mushin (Lagos) and Abeokuta, attended the Islamic Mission Primary School, Ishaga, along Itire Road, Mushin; and Premier Grammar School, Abeokuta. He later had his Higher National Diploma in Mass Communication at the Ogun State Polytechnic (now Moshood Abiola Polytechnic), where he read Mass Communication.
The unassuming advertising practitioner, who recalls that he partook in all pranks children play, says that he was focused and God had helped him to come out a shining star from the dreadful clan called Mushin.
Reminiscing about his growing up days, Adenekan maintains that there was high standard of moral and people never had this greed for material acquisition which now prevails in our society. “Is this what is responsible for increase in social vices in our society today?” Our correspondent had asked.
“Nigeria has inverted social values. Our social values have become inverted. We have to go back to the basics, stop chasing money, material things or using cosmetic approach to issues. We must come back to the foundation of what we call the concept of honesty and chastity.
“We have to go back to virtues of hard work and honesty. We have to go back to the values of our forebears, that is when we can move forward. Parents leave home early in the morning and they never return until late in the night. Who looks after those children? What type of socialisation are the maids giving those children?”
Adenekan explains to our correspondent that he had to become an apprentice to his father in his power generating, overhauling and service workshop during the four years he was struggling to pass the relevant subjects to enter higher institution.
And today, he says, that experience has become part of him, and each time his generator either at home or his office misbehaves, no one could pull any wool over his eyes.
Describing himself as a ‘restless person’ which he sums up to be the motivating factor that pushed him into becoming an entrepreneur, Adenekan for a decade and a half worked primarily in the field of advertising. He had worked with numerous advertising firms such as Centrespread FCB Advertising Ltd, Campaign Palace Advertising Limited, LTC J. Walter Thomson Advertising, among others, before he started the Commstrat Associates Group comprising Commstrat Brand Communication; Commstrat PR and Evagrin Konsepts Ltd.
Talking about what drives him as a person, he enthuses, “One, it is the fear of poverty. Two, I always like to provide solutions and to change my environment. The environment where I exist, whether in the office, at home or anywhere, I always want to make a difference. I always like to add value in whatever I am involved in. It has become a passion. I believe that was what motivated me to venture into being an entrepreneur. I don’t want to pass through this world like a snake that passes on top of a rock without leaving any mark.”
Adenekan, who holds an MBA from the Lagos State University, among other professional qualifications, is at home when you take him up on what makes a successful advertising agency.
According to him, an advertising agency that craves excellence must have qualitative manpower, while members of staff must be well trained.
He adds further, “They must be professional in all the departments the company needs to render qualitative services to its clients. The company must operate in a conducive atmosphere, because advertising is a very hard line and very cerebral. And in a cerebral kind of trade, one must be up to date. What advertising agencies sell is idea; and for one to sell an idea and proffer solutions for clients, the person must be knowledgeable. He must always think global and act local.
“Today’s clients are more discerning. One must be very creative. Creativity, not only in terms of putting the strokes or in terms of graphics alone; it should be creativity in all the specialised areas. You must exhibit creativity in your solutions, in the media buying, among others.
“One must dress well, because people see your outward appearance before they listen to what you have in your brain. You must be polished, you must show poise and you must be articulate.”
Source: Punch, 13th March 2011.

 

Back

 

Mother Tongue Day

ON Monday, February 21, 2011, Nigeria joined the rest of the world to observe this year’s International Mother Tongue Day.

Although only minimal effort was made in the country to emphasize the importance of that day in the preservation and survival of our indigenous languages and cultures, it could be rightly said that its observation, at least, served as a reminder of the importance of promoting the use of mother tongues in urban communities in Nigeria, where English, the nation’s official language, has literally swallowed most of the local languages.

Since 1999, when UNESCO declared February 21 the International Mother Tongue Day, most countries of the world have observed it both to promote the use of mother tongues and to help save dying languages.

Several reports have confirmed the high mortality rate of indigenous languages over the years. So, while acknowledging that half of the world’s 6000 to 7000 languages have been in danger of extinction, UNESCO saw the need to set aside a day in a year, to remind people of the danger in abandoning their mother tongues.

UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassador for Languages and former President of Iceland, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, aptly captured the danger when he said: "Everyone loses if one language is lost because then, a nation and culture lose their memory, and so does the complex tapestry from which the world is woven and which makes the world an exciting place."

The point is that a language is not only a means of communication and education but also an embodiment of a people’s culture, folklore, proverbs and other literary, social, economic, political, medical and technological symbols that define their being, especially in relation to other cultures.

So, as Finnbogadottir pointed out, each time a language dies, the world loses a people’s memory.

This, in a way, explains the importance of encouraging the use of mother tongues in a country like Nigeria, where more than 250 languages have been identified but where English and only five or six of the indigenous languages are regularly used in highly populated and mixed cities like Lagos and Abuja.

It is regrettable that even among the three dominant ethnic groups: Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa, whose languages are being, to some extent, promoted in schools, colleges and universities, not all parents and guardians from these ethnic groups consciously make enough efforts to teach their children or wards their mother tongues at home.

While the Hausa and Yoruba are known to have displayed appreciable love for their mother tongue, Igbo speaking adults, residing in urban centers like Lagos, Kano or Abuja, hardly teach their children Igbo language at home. Most of the minority ethnic groups in Nigeria are, like Ndigbo, also guilty of similar negligence.

While children of an Igbo couple residing in Kano, for example, are likely to speak English and fluent Hausa without understanding Igbo (their mother tongue), this will not be the case with an average Hausa couple residing in Enugu. It will also not be the case with a Yoruba couple living either in Umuahia, Sokoto or even in London or Washington.

This is unfortunate because some reports have shown that a child who is denied early knowledge of his or her mother tongue may likely lose part of the essence of his or her being, since, as an embodiment of his or her ancestors’ philosophy and way of life, the mother tongue, more than any other vehicle, is supposed to transmit to him or her their original culture and inherent sensibilities.

Besides, any language which the indigenous speakers fail to teach their children is already condemned to death since it cannot be passed on to succeeding generations.

It is also a fact that language is an effective tool with which nations gain international influence and power. The influence of Latin, which was once considered the language of Philosophy and nobility; the influence of French, seen as the language of Diplomacy, and the current dominant influence of English across the world, with their attendant socio- economic and political advantages can never be denied as they are already part of world history.

Since these are known facts, we believe it is not in the interest of any ethnic group in the country to deliberately allow their mother tongues to die.

It is in the light of these facts that we urge all Nigerians to begin to teach their children their mother tongues, irrespective of where they reside.

It is on record that part of UNESCO’s strategy to protect the world’s oral and intangible heritage, has been a consistent promotion of multilingualism through cultural and educational programmes.

As a country which would derive strength from what is usually described as "unity in diversity," this scheme should be adopted in Nigeria, since the people of the different ethnic groups stand to gain nothing by denying the future generation the rich memories hidden in the hundreds of indigenous languages currently being abandoned across the country.

Besides speaking the mother tongues to children at home, other ways of preserving and promoting the indigenous languages include addition of more indigenous languages to the school curricula and establishment of functional institutes of languages, as well as the revival of the existing ones which have been grossly neglected.
Source: Daily Champion, 11th March 2011.

 

Back

 

Rebuilding Nigeria's Dangerous International Perception
By Luke Onyekakeyah

THE aborted airplane-bombing incident over Detroit in the United States on December 25, 2009 by the Nigerian-born Farouk Abdulmutallab and the subsequent listing of Nigeria in the U.S. terror watch list has shocked the entire country to the marrow. This is because among the real or imagined ills that the country is associated with, not in the wildest imagination of anybody in Nigeria would it be thought that a Nigerian would go to the extent of getting involved in suicide bombing of an airplane. The incident has confounded everybody. It gives credence to the philosophical dictum that nothing is absolute. Nothing is so certain that no reasonable mind can doubt it. The heart of man is unpredictable and you can't fathom it.

The incident has devastated the traveling Nigerian population. Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora have strongly condemned the misguided action of Abdulmutallab. The incident has changed the thinking and perception of Nigeria and Nigerians for the worse. The already battered image of Nigeria has been given a fatal blow. Nigerians being business minded and migratory by nature are not finding the development funny. The consequences of the incident on struggling innocent Nigerians are most regrettable.

But while Nigeria laments her inclusion in the terror watch list countries, it is also good to understand why America reacted the way she did. The security of America is a top priority in government. "The President's highest priority is to keep the American people safe. The President is committed to securing the homeland against 21st century threats by preventing terrorist attacks and other threats against our homeland, preparing and planning for emergencies, and investing in strong response and recovery capabilities". These are part of the guiding principles of the U.S. homeland security on which America based her action.

Consequently, the U.S. goes to any length to ensure that her security or that of her nationals anywhere in the world is not compromised. The life of an American is sacred to America. That is why the U.S. government takes all necessary precautionary measures to secure the life of her citizens all over the world. And for a terrorist of any nationality to attempt to cause mass destruction of American lives on American soil, that would be the height of insult that America wouldn't tolerate. Thus, we should thank God that the Abdulmutallab attack was foiled otherwise we don't know how America would have reacted. If the U.S. could blacklist Nigeria that has no single history of international terrorism, certainly, a more severe consequence would have befallen Nigeria if the attack had succeeded.

Before now, many Nigerians have been subjected to the most inhuman screening at airports around the world over drug suspicion. By adding terrorism tag to an already bad situation, Nigerians have become endangered species by the sins of a few disgruntled elements. That is most regrettable. But while Nigerians have been dehumanised all over the world, the Nigerian authorities have done little to ensure the security of Nigerians.

Unlike in America, the life of Nigerians has no value. That is why government shows little concern. The Nigerian system doesn't care for the welfare and security of Nigerians. If you don't care for yourself, how would you expect other people to care for you? The other day, there were news stories of corpses of Nigerians abandoned in China, which the Chinese were threatening to cremate. If Adulmutallab were an American citizen, the U.S. won't disown him but would call for his fair trial. America would ensure that justice is done. But since the young man is a Nigerian, the Nigerian authorities wish he were not Nigerian. They wish he were never born in Nigeria. Nobody in government has asked that he should be given fair trial. That is not how a government deals with issues concerning her citizen's welfare. Nigeria must rebuild herself before she could get proper handshake in the comity of nations.

These things don't just happen without reasons. There is no smoke without a fire. The point I'm making is that Nigeria has become weak and vulnerable that she could be visited with all manners of undesirable actions by strong nations. And as you can see, there is hardly any power in Nigeria at the moment that is capable of engaging the United States over this matter. Nigeria at the moment has no leader. President Yar'Adua is sick in Saudi Arabia and the political institutions in the country don't consider it dangerous to leave the country for one day without a leader. Consequently, Nigeria is exposed to danger. Anything could happen as we have seen from the American action. There is power vacuum. Who would decide on the appropriate Nigeria's response to a very critical issue such as being branded a terrorist nation?

Nigerians and their government functionaries think that a foreign-based brainwashed young man does not justify it for the U.S. to blacklist Nigeria on the basis of one off incident. But that argument is only looking at the effect without evaluating the cause. The pertinent questions are why did the U.S. take such a drastic action on Nigeria being fully aware that the young man in question was made outside the shores of this country? Some have questioned why America didn't blacklist Britain in 2001 after the self-confessed terrorist shoe bomber, Richard Reid attempted to destroy a U.S. passenger aircraft. But can we compare Britain with Nigeria in any ramification? Does Nigeria have strong institutions like Britain? What data of Nigerians citizens at home an abroad does Nigeria have? Richard Reid and Abdultallab may have committed similar offense but the consequence on their countries is different because the two countries are incomparable.

Thus, when burning issues such as the inclusion of Nigeria in the list of "countries of interest" by the United States arises, it is normal to hear all manners of public reactions many of which mince no word in condemning the American action as unjustified, harsh and undeserved punishment for millions of innocent Nigerians. This is what has happened since Monday, January 4, 2010, when the news broke that following the aborted Christmas Day attempt by a lone Nigerian national, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, to blow up a Delta Airline commercial jetliner with 273 passengers and 11 crew members on over Detroit, Michigan, the American authorities included Nigeria in the "terror watch list". The Nigerian authorities reacted sharply and vehemently condemned the blacklisting of Nigeria.

Consequently, all air passengers with Nigerian passport entering the United States would be subjected to more rigorous security screening at airports around the world. That is an extra burden for weary innocent Nigerians who are already subjected to strenuous body screening around the world for drug. Nigeria had earlier made the list of drug trafficking countries, which exposed her nationals to ridicule.

Nigeria has been included in the infamous list along with countries such as Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Zimbabwe, among others. Protracted civil strife, weak social and political structures, poor governance and consequently traumatised citizenry have characterised most of the countries in the list. That is where Nigeria has found herself. Some of the countries in the list are perceived as failed states. A failed state according to the Crisis States Research Centre of the United States is "a state that can no longer perform its basic security and development functions and has no effective control over its territory and borders".

The Foreign Policy magazine published a list of failed states index (FSI), which since 2006 put Nigeria in the highest red alert classification with FSI of 90 or more. That indicates high vulnerability to collapse. Most countries in sub-Saharan Africa are in this category. Besides, according to the 2009 United Nation's Development Programme (UNDP) human development index, Nigeria scored appalling 0.511 and was ranked 158th out of 182 countries! From that ranking, Nigeria is at the bottom of human development and only managed to scale above countries like Togo, Malawi and Niger. These are among the poorest countries in the world but that is where Nigeria now belongs.

The evidence is on ground all over Nigeria that the indicators released by the various competent international organisations were not mere fabrications. The deplorable state of affairs in Nigeria is the reason behind the treatment meted to the country. What is needed in the country is a genuine and deliberate determination by the government to change the fortunes of this country. This is what is needed to change the dangerous international perception of Nigeria.

As for the problem at hand, emotions will not solve the problem but rugged diplomatic engagement will do. The US reviews the terror list every now and then. Nigeria can be removed at any time because the list is dynamic. Nigerian authorities should focus more on what to do get the country out of the list. Nigeria should engage America diplomatically with convincing argument. Once America is satisfied that Nigeria is determined to counter terrorism, she would reconsider Nigeria's inclusion. That is the way to go.
Source: The Guardian, 12th January 2010.

 

Back

 

 

Yar'Adua and the ghost of Biafra
14th January 2010

Yar'Adua and the ghost of Biafra

By Ogaga Ifowodo

NOW that President Yar'Adua has assured the nation, appropriately through the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) - to hell with NTA, FRCN, AIT, Channels, or any Nigerian news medium - that he is neither brain dead nor dead in any way, perhaps we can return to the central question posed by his unilateral revocation of the constitution. In all good faith, let us assume that the voice that spoke to the BBC was Yar'Adua's and leave alone for now the question of the patriotic fervour, in a time of turmoil, that dictated the choice of medium for squelching speculations about his true state of health.

A unilateral revocation, I say, because a constitution which a self-styled rule of law president cannot bring himself to respect is as good as non-existent, as under a military dictatorship. But right from Absence Day One, it ought to have been clear that whether the president was "sound and fit" or "brain dead" was of secondary significance in the light of the constitutional dilemma unleashed by his forced absence.

"At the moment I am undergoing treatment, and I'm getting better from the treatment," Yar'Adua allegedly told the BBC. "I hope that very soon there will be tremendous progress, which will allow me to get back home." Then he added, quite thoughtfully, "I wish, at this stage, to thank all Nigerians for their prayers for my good health, and for their prayers for the nation." At this stage! Meaning the 50-day mark of his leaving the country rudderless and on the brink of disaster! And it took the threat of street protests combined with rumours of his death for Yar'Adua to break his stony silence. But then not a word about the anxiety, chaos and looming instability he left behind. Yet if he could speak at all, then surely he could also make known his wish on the matter of honouring the constitution so Vice President Jonathan can act pending his return. Alas, not a moment's thought on the burning question; only a self-serving assurance that he is alive and hopes to return soon. In the interim? Oh, Nigeria can hurry on to the precipice and take the plunge. Better to be president over the rubble and the ashes than miss a day of being "executive president and commander-in-chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria!"

Apparently, Yar'Adua has every confidence in his Attorney-General's notion that he can govern the country from anywhere on the planet, so any talk of a power vacuum must seem to him the figment of the nation's and the world's imagination. But if, for the sake of argument, it is true that the president of a sovereign nation can or ought to govern in absentia, never mind if from the sick bed of a foreign hospital, it ought also to be the case that he be able to govern at the very least. Which requires that he possess a sound mind in a sound body, a condition that even Yar'Adua's alleged phone call to the BBC proves he cannot meet while "undergoing treatment." In my view, were he to return this very day the mortal damage he has done to the social health of the nation would still be incalculable. In short, Yar'Adua's precedent-setting affront to the constitution poses a clear and present danger to the tottering edifice called Nigeria.

This may sound alarmist to the incurable optimists, who more likely than not are just opportunists and inveterate deceivers, but the decision by Yar'Adua and his circle of self-always-and-nation-never handlers to scorn the constitution is capable of igniting a national calamity comparable only to the Biafran tragedy of 1967-70. Look carefully at the events that led to the total loss of faith in the Nigeria project by the Igbos and you wouldn't need the oracle to discern the growing tremors caused by the crisis of legitimacy threatening state and nation at the moment. It is even literal: we have had no head of state for two months! We may have come to terms with government doing nothing to improve our lives. Indeed, to seeing government as the very cause of our troubles - from the price of yam or petrol to full-scale warfare misnamed elections. So that Yar'Adua's government-in-intensive-care may appear as a lesser evil. But in the framework of a nation, such thinking is fatal. Suppose for a moment that an opportunistic enemy foreign, seeing the glaring power vacuum, were to attack the country, how would we fare with an invalid commander-in-chief an ocean away from the troops he should lead in self-defence?

To dismiss this claim, we can take the myopic view buoyed by the hope of a quick rectification of the illegalities, crimes and sleights-of-hand committed in the president's absence whenever constitutional order is restored, whatever the short term costs may be. But how might we begin to restore faith in a deeply alienated, factionalised and bitter populace in the wake of this needless act of political vandalism? The rumour mill has been rife with speculations on the real reason why Yar'Adua refuses to take the simple obligatory step of handing over the government to the vice president.

The Northern power oligarchy, it is speculated, will not let go of power, even for a day, let alone to a minority, and worse, a Niger Deltan. And there is ample ground for this reasoning. Would the nation have been subjected to this ordeal and shame were the vice president of a suitable ethnicity? For instance, would Yar'Adua have so obdurately declined to hand over power to a Yoruba deputy in the face of his incontrovertible incapacitation? Perhaps not to an Igbo deputy, the Igbos being an honourary majority as the power clique continues to exact war retribution from them over Biafra. But could a Yoruba president have conceived that dare with a Hausa-Fulani vice president? At what cost?

Matters, of course, may be more complicated than this, as is often the case in all questions political. But Yar'Adua's determination, even "at this stage," to spit on the constitution reeks of the divine right to governance that the Northern power oligarchy has publicly boasted. No less an oligarch than Alhaji Yussuf Maitama Sule articulated God's allocation of national talent thus: to the Hausa-Fulani, leadership; to the Yoruba, diplomatic skills; and to the Igbo - of course, commerce! As for the minorities? Well, they do not exist, not even those from under whose feet the oil is drawn that made it possible for Maitama Sule to gain the prominence and perch for his gratuitous insult. And if they do not exist, how can you hand over power to one of them, to a "ghost?"

And herein the troubling portent. If such a clear-cut path to mere temporary leadership of the country by a Niger Delta minority cannot be countenanced by the Northern oligarchy, then the message is unmistakable: the Niger Delta exists only for the purpose of being internally colonised, expropriated and brutally subjugated. And this bitter truth destroys, absolutely, the spectre of trust in Yar'Adua's or any unpopular government's efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis festering there. Yet if that crisis lies at the heart of the National Question itself, then the North's insufferable will-to-power lately demonstrated stands as the greatest threat since the civil war to Nigeria's continued corporate existence.

Already, some allegedly disarmed militants have made their stance on the matter known and echoes of renewed sabotage have been heard again in the creeks. Predicting the Biafran war that claimed him, Christopher Okigbo, warned: "The death sentence lies in ambush along the corridors of power." Whether those corridors be still the hallways of Aso Rock or now of a Saudi Arabian hospital, it seems the ghost of Biafra currently haunts them. We must all rise now to banish that ghost. Before it is too late.

Ifowodo lives in the United States
© Ogaga Ifowodo: Yar'Adua and the Ghost of Biafra

 

Back

 

 

Biafra  Radio,  London...
'Our Response To Injustice Against Igbo At Home'

Biafra flag2

If any country is set up to destroy your way of life, you take the exit. The Yoruba are very proud race culturally. If there is a system that will decimate their lifestyle, they will not tolerate it. That is why there is the OPC in order to safeguard the Yoruba cultural and political interest. Arewa is doing that.

I'm a Republican by nature; I don't bow down before anybody. Because of Nigeria, in Igbo land in every kilometre there is a king. It's an abomination; the Igbo do not have kings. We only recognise one king and that is God (Chukwu). That way of life has been destroyed because you want all of us to conform to Nigeria. We never had kings before.

When the duo of Nnamdi Kanu, director and Dr. Chukwuma Egemba, presenter of Radio Biafra, London, broadcasting on frequency 1205khz (short wave) came visiting recently, they exuded their strong passion for the enthronement of Liberty, justice and the re-establishment of Igbo core values for which Biafra stands. In this interview with Anote Ajeluorou, they reveal their vision for a better Nigeria, where injustice and under-development will stop thriving. Excerpts:

You operate a radio station in London. What is it about?

There is a radio station called Radio Biafra, London. It broadcasts for an hour between 8 & 9 pm. It was established roughly nine months ago. We try to bring a degree of enlightenment and education in terms of politics, economics and social arrangement for the people of Biafra and the entire world.

And, who are the people of Biafra?

They are those from Idoma - most people don't know that; the Igbo, the Anioma or people we call Delta Igbo; the Ikwerre, and the Ibobio.

Seems an arguable proposition grouping the Idoma and Ibibio as part of Biafra. Surely, you don't mean it yourself, do you?

There is one unique thing that runs through these people I mentioned to you. They share the same ancestral heritage. They all claim to have descended from the Jews - from the Idoma all the way to the Ibibio. And, if I may remind all of us, the word Ibibio means 'little' Igbo; not little in a small sense but as in greater like Igbo-uku or Igbo-nta.

The people we have today in Calabar actually migrated from Umuahia. Rather than go into a complex debate, if we do genetic profiling of the Igbo, the Idoma, the Ibibio and the Ikwerre, we will see that they are from the same family. That is what we are doing in Radio Biafra, to say that they are from the same family.

And you broadcast from London. Are you being received here in Nigeria?

Our reception goes all the way to the entire continent of Africa and to people in Brazil, Australia, Finland much like Duetschwelle or the BBC.

The word Biafra connotes breakaway or secession in Nigeria and not very favourable. Why use that name?

It's a name that has existed for thousands of years. You cannot wipe it away. You cannot go to the north and tell them to do away with the name Arewa or to the Yoruba and tell them to do away with Oduduwa. The fact that the name was used to declare the sovereignty of a people does not make it bad. I do not see why there is this constant demonization of the word Biafra when the name has existed for thousands of years before the word Nigeria came into being.

I have nothing against Arewa; I have nothing against Odudwa; they are wonderful names for great people the same way that Biafra is there to give us that over-arching identity for all the Igbo, who are in the eastern part of Nigeria.

Does Biafra Radio have anything to do with Uwazurike's MASSOB agitating for the sovereign state of Biafra? What exactly do you aim to achieve with Radio Biafra?

The truth is that what we are pursuing is justice and emancipation of a people. We are of the viewpoint that the way Nigeria as a country is put together is fundamentally flawed. Flawed in the sense that before you can bring people together, they must have a shared or collective identity of some sort. In other words their value system must be the same. The value system of the Igbo of Biafra is inherently distinct and different from the value system of the major constituent parts of Nigeria.

Nigeria is an artificial creation. I'm not saying that the people of Nigeria cannot come together and try to fashion a way out of the present malaise.

The people who call themselves Biafra, the people who identify themselves as Biafra, are people who have a very distinct, a very different way of existence from all the people around them. And, it is the preservation of this very unique way of life that we are campaigning for; nothing more nothing less.

In Nigeria today, there is no 'live and let's live'. It's dog eat dog more or less. No sensible person will want to live in a country that is regressing year after year. When you talk like this, some say you're being excessively critical. So, what is the way forward? No one offers you any credible alternative. The only alternative left is for people to seek to determine how they are governed and how they will live with one another.

In other words, the current arrangement is not conducive to the Igbo man. Is that what you are saying?

Yes; to the entire Biafran family all the way from Idoma to the Bight of Biafra. These are people from the same family, if I must reiterate again. If you go to Idoma, you have eke, orie, afor and nkwo, the four market days you have in Igboland. If that's not an indication that these people are related, I don't know what is any more. You go to Ibibio and Efik, they have Obasi, which is God in heaven; people bear Obasi in Igbo in Abriba and some parts of Arochukwu.

But the irrational demonization of the word 'Biafra' is what I take exception to. When the Portuguese came here in 1425, they recognised the unique ways those who occupy east of the Niger do things. It was there in 1425; Nigeria was only created in 1914 out of political expedience.

Where I come from there is what we call trial by jury. When you have a problem with me you call the elders and people to come and give judgment. We replaced that with the Warrant Chief system that then metamorphosed into the Magistrate system that we have now. In other words, if you and I have a problem, we go to one individual rather than go to the entire people to determine who is guilty or who is innocent.

And, do you know what becomes of the system? It is prune to corruption. The legal system we had in Biafra is infinitely superior to what we have today. And then, there was no miscarriage of justice. Then all men were equal before God and the law; then, there was no king. People knew that sanctions and consequences were immediate. If you go against what we called the gods of the land, a way of talking about the collective consciousness of the people, and repercussion is immediate.

The reason why some of us left this country is because we could not understand why things operate they way they do here. There is something fundamentally wrong. Why can't knowledgeable people be mobilised to do the most mundane of things that are bringing development to other countries of the world less endowed? There are rock and bitumen all over parts of Yoruba land yet we cannot build roads. There is no planned city in Nigeria; Abuja has no drainage system but the Roman Empire had drainage thousands of years ago.

We regressed from drinking tap water to pure water and God knows what else; people are dying of typhoid fever every day.

But how would the Biafran nation address these issues you're raising without suffering some sort of hangover from Nigeria?

In Biafra I can hold an Igbo man to account. I can hold a fellow Biafran to account. In Nigeria if I hold somebody, say Hausa man, to account, they will say it's because you're an Igbo man. If a Yoruba man holds an Igbo man to account, they will say it's because he's an Igbo man, when your own brother was there, what did you do?

Criticism is not allowed. In any country where criticism is not allowed, where critical appraisal of performance is not tolerated, this is the type of quagmire you get. We have Igbo groups and associations; you cannot steal from the association's common fund but you can steal from Abuja, and nothing happens.

But you can go to Abia, your state, and demand accountability from the governor, can't you?

No; because you cannot divorce Abia State from what is happening in the country. Abia is a core component of what is called Nigeria; and because Nigeria is rotten at the core, you cannot do that.

Do you have any relationship with Uwazurike, leader of MASSOB?

Yes; I do have a relationship with him being that he is a very credible Igbo leader. And he is fighting for the struggle that is both for the Igbo and for the emancipation of Nigeria. Some day Nigerians will come to be very grateful for what Uwazurike has done because I'm sure that the Yoruba want to be free, Arewa wants to be free as well to go and practice Sharia law.

What Uwazurike is doing will give them that opportunity to be able to do what they want to do in their own way. I don't want to go to Katsina and say to them. Don't practice Sharia law! I want to go to Katsina and cover myself up if that's what it takes. If they come to Biafra, they will be able to do the same. That's all we are saying. There is no umbilical cord binding us together.

So, there is nothing wrong to be associated with Biafra; in fact, it's a great privilege to be Biafra.

What drives your passion for the cause of Biafra?

I hate hypocrisy and I love liberty. The difficulty we're having is lack of transparency. I didn't use the word 'freedom'. I want to be at liberty with myself to be able to be the best of my potential. In this country called Nigeria, people are not free; that is why some are abroad. People are not allowed to develop to their potential. Nuhu Ribadu is abroad because he said people should not steal. He came to deliver you from your bondage and you say, No! So, you are the problem. He has turned out to be the criminal.

I want the truth, and the truth is that what binds a country together is shared, common values. That's why you have California, New York; they believe in the Christian fundamental principle of liberty and freedom - those are the values on which America is founded. You cannot take a section of Afghanistan and put it in America and expect them to survive because they have their own way of how a society is structured.

America is founded on Western liberal ideals; the way the average, educated Igbo person sees the structure of a society is inherently different from how the Sultan of Sokoto sees it. I don't believe anybody is above the law; but the Sultan is above the law. You cannot take him to court, and you cannot jail him. But I want a country where everybody is equal before the law. That's why I find it difficult to understand the kind of Nigeria we're running.

In Biafra there will be equality of everybody before the law and liberty for everybody. Nigeria must be divided in order for it to get back together again.

And, let me take away their fears. The oil belongs to every Nigeria; so let them take away the oil if that's their problem. I can make more refining palm oil that refining crude oil. Malaysia is rich with our palm oil today; they have no crude oil.

How then do you intend to achieve the Biafran nation of your dream?

Through peaceful, democratic means; we will challenge every election called by Nigeria in any of the Biafra territories. And once a majority of the people vote for an independent Biafra, we will have it.

Is a referendum part of your vision for achieving Biafra?

Absolutely! A series of referendum will start it. One thing at a time, and it starts with the Anambra election. Anambra has a golden opportunity to deliver Africa and the rest of Nigeria. What we're pursuing is truth and justice. We have not come to make people in the north feel uncomfortable or to deny them access to the oil blocks. That's not what this is about. If possible we'll relocate the oil wells in Igbo land to the north but let them just give us our liberty, that's all we want.

How strong is the Biafran consciousness back home here? Do you think the people are ready in view of the last civil war?

The Igbo are more marginalised because they are denied the right to practice their political, economic and social way of life. You have forced them to conform to an alien system that is destroying them. People say that they are money-hungry, that they are greedy; but it's because they are operating within a system that does not recognise their core values as a people who are hardworking and strident in pursuit of any endeavour.

If any country is set up to destroy your way of life, you take the exit. The Yoruba are very proud race culturally. If there is a system that will decimate their lifestyle, they will not tolerate it. That is why there is the OPC in order to safeguard the Yoruba cultural and political interest. Arewa is doing that.

I'm a Republican by nature; I don't bow down before anybody. Because of Nigeria, in Igbo land in every kilometre there is a king. It's an abomination; the Igbo do not have kings. We only recognise one king and that is God (Chukwu). That way of life has been destroyed because you want all of us to conform to Nigeria. We never had kings before.

So, Nigeria has done more damage to the fabric of the Biafran people than any plague could have done in a hundred years. Nigeria never defeated Biafra in the civil war; the super powers of America, Britain and Russia ganged up to fight Biafra that was barely six months old. Biafra must have something very special that they are afraid of.
Source: The Guardian, 10th January 2010.

 

Back

 

 

 

The Great State of Biafra Is Strong & Alive

It is appropriate to again recall and remind all and sundry that events that culminated into what later triggered the Nigeria/Biafra War (1967-1970) are ubiquitously staring us in the face today, more than any other time in human history. These prevailing elements that were bequeathed man by British-colonial infrastructures of 60s remain anti-freedom and liberty today. . In 2009, this blemished-estate is worse than what it was in post-colonial era. By January 15, 1970 the hostility that was mischievously declared on defenseless people of former Eastern-Region was deferred not ended. These facts are self-evident and widespread across the land. For example, there is massive lack of regulatory compliance at constitutionalism with diminished intellectual property, collapsing institutional governance, and more. Report-card—of what follows is criminal truisms.

Facts—destruction of Delta-Basin region is a manifestation of the aforementioned deferment at hostility against innocence lives. Ongoing confrontation between the freedom-fighters of Niger-Delta- Basin & Nigeria government is another phase of this aggression against our peoples that must be resisted by any means necessary. Some commentators and international observers say the situation and sufferings of indigenous population has gotten worse and increasingly strengthened with no light at the end of tunnel. One option and one-option only—Emancipation for her survival.

All civic democratization is emboldened at all level. Failings at technological advancements, failing at centralization of power at the center for centralization sake, lack of professionalism, failings at deployment of skilled human capital, in-competency, brain-drain, depleted moral-capital, discriminatory practices, massive marginalization and total destruction of whatever is left of civility and civilization is unheard of. Today this undeclared aggression against former East Central State, etc., speaks volume, hostility engineered by her enemies because of her petro-dollar is troubling. It is pertinent to demand total re-examination and re-assessment of forced co-existence of nations-states against the will of the people inside this euphemism called Nigeria-State.

There are claims at unfounded national recognizable national accomplishments 40 years later. These claims are "puzzlingly" unimpressive record at accomplishments that is not worth the paper it is written on. Others see these lies at reconciliation, reconstruction, and rehabilitation (3Rs), they proclaimed unprecedented in modern history, yet untrue. We must state that these criminal claims, are simply disingenuous, insulting, a window-dressing in the face of unprecedented corrosive corruption. After January 15, 1970 Biafra Soldiers were still being slaughtered in massive numbers with some 2.5 million or more sent to untimely graves under supervised institutional pogrom. We reject these lies and all characterization of magnanimity and warmth expressed in some quarters.

We must state that meshing murderous Arab-nationalism & expansionism with Judaism & Christianity as criminal, impermissible. An illegitimate project that is bound to fail flat on its face; an illogical fallacy called enterprise without or lacking legitimate institutional capacity for her sustainability and survival.

For records, Biafrans, death and the living believes—The Great State of Biafra Is Strong and Alive—was and will never defeated. We'll continue to seek our freedom away from "Lugard-Captivity" , because the idea Biafra is a better alternative for her nationals, better alternative away from neo-Arab-nationalis m & expansionism. Biafrans will not relinquish her quest for self-determination, self-rule with clear technical and logistical territorial borders expressed; until stronger and enduring nation-hood is come in this generation and for generations, yet unborn is actualized. Freedom and justice loving world's peoples support self-determination for our nationals & all nationals. This derivative will, evidently launch-back our technological and scientific ingenuity today delayed by Nigeria-State at all cost to her rebirth.

We will not compromise our existence and freedom for peanuts. It is relevant to state that there is serious urgency of now; and, we refuse to participate at governance and/or in government with establishments that continues to behead Igbo-nationals and other nationals at the turn of 21st century; at point-blank, an Igbo-national was beheaded in 2008 in Kaduna-State. Last time I checked an Oodua-national (female teacher) was murder because of some claims at Koran by Arab-fanatics. Extremism is Satanic and we stand against those that peddle it; we reject this evil-menace in all its ramifications and manifestations.

We believe all mankind have all the immunities, rights and privileges to worship who, where, when and what they may without marginalization, discrimination and coercions of any form or shape by any governmental or non-governmental agencies.

40 years later, it's still empty political rhetoric after another, while massive killings and disappearances go on unaddressed and unblemished.

Let there be no mistake, we understand the dangers and trials ahead will widen in thickness and scope, so will our demand for self-determination and freedom increase. We understand the difficulties and challenges that we face today, but make no mistake, we take courage and confidence of resilience of our people and confidence in our ideals—that this nation—Biafra— will never falter or blink at this final push for her freedom and existence.

It is important that we demand & express immediate relevance for National Sovereign Conference (NSC), we particularly take cognizance of the three (3) regional powers—Arewa- Nation, Igbo-Nation, Oodua-Nation, etc., and the need to convene NSC immediately. Pretentious continuity at One-Nigerianism while our populations perish is unacceptably criminal. We all know that majority of past and present military and civilian leaderships are compromised with their loots. We also acknowledge that co-existence of these three (3) nations-states and other nations-states inside British-Nigerian- State is a farce and unworkable as it stand. Copy-pasting pictorial documentations don't tell us anything new about these massive-looters, or corruption; this pictorialization seek publicity, but ignores and conceals deep rooted suspicion within and between rank-and-file of these regional-power- houses (Igbo, Hausa & Yoruba) inside British-Nigerian- Error. Federal Capital Territory—Abuja, criminally micro-managing our communities is counterproductive.

Total disintegration, or true-federalism or return to regionalism remains better option moving forward. J.J. Rawlings Revolution will fail in Nigeria—Great Son, Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzogwu & Crew exemplified it. Let Mohammed lead Mohammed and let Chika lead Chika, it is relevant that Dele lead Dele, etc. Anything else is counterproductive.

We must return to regionalism for there is no other clear, sincere and logical progressive alternative( s) except regionalism with its City-States. Military takeover that is dominated by Arab-nationalism cannot substitute privileged-interest s of other institutional nations-states inside British-Nigeria- Error. These Nations-States citizenry love their nations. And—there is an old saying—where your treasure is, is where your heart is.

Biafran-nationals love Biafran-State— we love and cherish the motherland, her Rising-Sun and all that it represents. QED! The sacrifices made by our ancestors both the living and the death will not be in vain.

At the end of the day, any Igbo-national, or Oodua-national and/or Arewa-national, et al, who portends Nigerian-Nationalis m, her elusive co-existence, exhibits such characterizations for selfish reasons not for Nigerian-nationalis m, exactly. Selfish individual ambitions at entity called British-Nigeria, seek individual pockets. Period! Group-cronyism and individual nationalism are intertwined. Said group-think hate true-federalism; in-so-far-as they loot and disparage her national treasuries. There is nothing greater or most exquisite than to be free.

The falsity at institutional- pulse called cease-fire of January 15, 1970 is reminiscent to broken promises at 3Rs, 40 years later. In summation, this generational oddity optimally invigorates clearly one standing Order—In Aburi-We-Stand!

Carlisle U.O. Umunnah
Is New York-Based Freelance Writer
Contact:   ccu1_liberties@yahoo.com

All Copyrights Reserved………..@

Back

 

 

 

The Spraying of Money

The spraying of the Pound Sterling, Nigerian Pound, Dollar, Biafran Pound, and now the Naira, during Festivities, is a practice older than Nigeria itself, as an Independent nation.
 
Even in the United States, the same "defacing" of the Dollar goes on in such places as Go-Go dance clubs where women dance naked and are rewarded with notes attached at where the Patron wishes; River side Fish Markets where the Merchants rumple the Dollar anyhow; slaughter houses where people buy freshly slaughtered Cows for Meat purchases and, in turn pay the Merchants who accept monetary payments with cow blood-tainted palms  - - "defacing" the same Dollar.  Same effect at pay-day (in cash) construction sites, where the Laborers abuse the Dollar in several ways  - - ranging from accepting, counting and recounting their pay with cement-coated palms before tying the same pay with several wands of rubber band and sometimes concealing same pay under their sweaty socks and even underwears. The same effect with Auto Mechanics with their greasy hands (makes you feel like not touching paper currencies any more, right?)
 
Knowing and accepting these abuses as inevitable in life, the US Minting houses routinely print replacement currency notes to keep the Dollar clean. That indeed is what the Nigerian Central
Bank should be doing, instead of asking the Mountain to go to Mohammed. By the way, why don't Yar'adua and Soludo order Nigerian Ranchers to have their Cows use the Loo before driving
them across Roads or down the same Roads to avoid same Cows passing their "manure" as they are walked.  Asking Nigerians to quit the tradition of spraying the Naira, which will NEVER work,
is equivalent to asking Ranchers to "tame" their Herd in the manner so described.
 
While the CBN struggles to wake up - - hopefully soon- - from this wild,  wild dream, let Nkwa and Owambe continue. However, let’s keep the Streets open.
 
With due regards, 
Collins  Ezebuihe

Back

 

 

 

 

More Nigerian languages risk extinction
By Niyi Odebode

In 2007, the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation organised a series of workshops to protect dying Nigerian languages. After the workshops, the organisation in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Tourism and Culture planned to embark on programmes which included mapping and documentation of indigenous languages in Nigeria and organising creative writing competition in the languages.

The world body said that from August 2008 to December 2009, it would seek partnership among state

School Children (Punch)

governments, private sectors, international organisations and relevant stakeholders to prevent the death of the languages through a series of programmes it had mapped out.

Two years after the workshops, investigations by our correspondent showed that many parents, particularly the elite, encouraged their children to speak English at the detriment of their indigenous languages.

A resident of Ikoyi, Lagos, Mr. Solomon Akintude, narrated his encounter with a son of his friend. Akintude told our correspondent that he had visited his friend on the last Boxing Day. ”We both hail from Ekiti State. It was over a month I saw him and I decided to pay the visit,” the engineer said.

According to him, both of them were in the man‘s sitting room, conversing in Yoruba Language, when his friend’s five-year-old son came in. ”After making futile attempts to understand our conversation, the boy said, ‘daddy both of you are speaking a dirty language,” Akintunde said.

A civil servant with the Federal Ministry of Transport, Mrs. Tayo Sofenwa, whose two children, Tope and Lara, attend Kidsville School, on Odunlami Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, also said that the children were encouraged to speak English both at home and in school. When asked whether the children, whose father hails from Abeokuta, could speak Yoruba, the woman answered in the negative.

Justifying the family‘s attitude to the indigenous language, the civil servant said, ”English language is our official language. It will be wise to get the children as vast in it as possible to prepare them for a future outside Nigeria.”

Investigations showed that Nigerian indigenous languages were affected by negative attitudes of Nigerians. Last year, a member of Igbo sociocultural group, Ndigbo, Peter Umeh, urged the Igbo to preserve their language.

He said that the lgbo language was gradually becoming extinct because some lgbo children could not speak the language following the failure of their parents to teach them.

A lecturer at the Department of English, University of Lagos, Dr. Sola Osoba, explained what could have informed the engineer’s son’s reaction to his father’s indigenous language. ”Many of us have a negative attitude to our languages. We want to show visitors that our children can speak English,” Osoba said.

Osoba warned that at the rate Nigerians encouraged their children to despise their indigenous languages, some of the languages might cease to exist in future. According to him, a language dies when it has no speakers. He explains that death of a language is what is called language extinction.

According to OnlineNigeria.com, out of 521 indigenous languages in the country, 510 are living languages, two are second languages without mother-tongue speakers, and nine are extinct.

The dead languages included Ajawa spoken in Bauchi State; Auyokawa in Jigawa State; Basa-Guma in Niger State; Gamo-Nigi, Bauchi State; Homa, Adamawa State; Kpati, Taraba State, Kubi, Bauchi State, Mawa, Bauchi State and Tsehenawa in Jigawa State.

One of the reasons Nigerian parents prefer use of English by their children is to enhance the competence of the young ones in the language, which is the formal means of communication in the country. A Lagos-based lawyer, who craved anonymity, said, ”English is the official language in the country. The earlier a child is competent in it, the better. He can learn the indigenous language later.”

But Osoba described as erroneous, the view that inability to speak indigenous local languages would promote competence in English. ”We learn English in a second language environment. We don‘t learn it in the native speakers’ environment. The fact that your child cannot speak your indigenous language does not guarantee his competence in English,” the lecturer said.

Osoba stated that when one considered process of language extinction, one would know that it was possible in Nigeria because of inter-tribal marriages and attitude to local languages.

He added, ”For instance, in a family, the husband may be Yoruba and the wife Igbo. Both of them may not understand each other‘s language. The language that is mutually understandable to them is English. To such a family, the problem is not a negative attitude.”

According to experts, the common process leading to language death occurs when a community of speakers of a language becomes bilingual and gradually shifts allegiance to the second language until the speakers stop using the original language. Language extinction can also occur when their speakers are wiped out by genocide or diseases.

Linguists also believe that a language can go into extinction if it is spoken by a few elderly people. If such speakers, for example, are 50 years and above, there is a possibility that the language will die.

Some languages are endangered when there is a possibility that they may go into extinction, According to Herman Batibo, in Language Decline and Death in Africa, a language is endangered when there are fewer than 5,000 people speaking it; when the speakers are minority and they have negative attitude to their language; and when parents no longer teach their children the language.

Advising Nigerians to protect their languages, Osoba said that more roles should be assigned to them. He suggested that the languages should be codified. The lecturer noted that some indigenous languages were not codified. Osoba also said that books and newspapers should be written in the languages.

Also, a former Dean of Faculty of Social SciencesUNILAG, Prof. Lai Olorode, said those who discouraged their children from speaking their languages were culturally illiterate. According to him, such children are always alienated and lack confidence. “Inability to speak indigenous languages does not make a child intelligent,” he said.

Olorode disclosed that some Nigerians had been coming home to get teachers who could teach their children indigenous languages. He wondered why those who were resident in the country should have negative attitudes to their languages.

According to him, with what is happening in the United States, particularly the inauguration of Barack Obama, every African should be proud of his culture and language. ”We are in the era of globalisation. We should not allow our languages to die,” he said.
Source: Punch, 29th January 2009.

 

Back

 


The Martyrdom of Kaduna Nzeogwu
Written by Emma Okocha

‘’When you hear British government officials thunder about election malpractices these days, you think butter will not melt in their mouths.

But in1956 and1959, the British deliberately influenced Nigeria’s independence elections so that the Northerners would dominate the country following independence. ... Northern domination of Nigeria has caused so much angst leading to the coup of January 1966 and the civil war [1967-1970]. The Northerners never wanted the British to leave. They feared the Southerners more than the British.

The British and the Northern elite worked so closely together that differences of policy could hardly exist. The British claimed that the Northerners must have 50% of all the seats in the Federal legislature. Whoever controlled the NPC controlled the North and the whole of Nigeria.’’ -Harold Smith, former British Colonial Officer, New African May 2005 page10.

‘’The 1966 Coup plotters planned to hand over power to Awolowo. People were told that it was an Igbo coup but that is not correct. The plan of the coup makers was to release Awolowo from jail and make him their leader.’’ -Odia Ofeimun Private Secretary to Chief Awolowo, on the 20th Anniversary of the Passage of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sunday Guardian May 6, 2007.

"After the January coup, the head of my department Mr. N.V.Kirby {Territorial Controller, North] called me me up to take care of the personnel in the exchange and some other P&T installations in Kaduna. A few hours later, out of sheer curiosity I went to the Sarduana’s house. I was amazed to find that all the Northerners there showed no signs of grief. Some Hausa friends told me me that the coup was Godsend, but that its only fault was that nobody was killed in the East.’’ -Daniel Godo Princewill, January 15, Eyewitness Account, Kaduna.

"The Major General had taken over the 4th Battalion in Ikeja and was in command of the southern forces. The northern forces seemed to be under the command of one Major Nzeogwu.’’ -Col Victor Banjo on the afternoon of January 15, to Col.Ejike Aghanya [also see Behind The Screen, 2005 page3]

"Until my final day, I will continue to regret my fateful mediation, leading to the capitulation Major Nzeogwu to General Ironsi. Under my helpless escort, after his surrender in Kaduna, Nzeogwu was arrested, humiliated and thrown into jail on arrival at the Ikeja airport. Ironsi failed to keep his words, his soldier’s honor as per our agreement with the January 15 boys. I’m guilty and it is my eternal sin to have failed the young man and his very popular revolution.’’

Brigadier Conrad Nwawor, only living Nigerian military officer decorated by the British for gallantry and leadership. Commander of the 1966 Midwest Fourth Area Command and War Commander, Elite Biafran 11 Division, with the author at Christmas in Onicha Olona, Umuezechime, 1994.

They were only two known Nigerian soldiers to have been decorated with the Victory Cross by the British. While Brigadier Conrad Nwawor is the only living officer to be so honored, Colonel Adekunle Francis Fajuyi was infact the first to turn the page in the military history of the Nigerian Army.

As a Major and serving under the United Nations, in the Congo, he became the first officer of the Royal Nigerian Army to be so honored. Displaying a high degree of leadership and ability he had on many occasions, personally beaten off attacks by hostile Katangese tribes men who in one dangerous instance, had ambushed and derailed the train that was moving his company back to base. The January 15 boys respected his badge and he was informed about the coup. His defense of the boys was not forgotten by Danjuma and his boys in Ibadan, on July 29th 1966, the night of the of the so called revenge putsch.

The coup’s primary aims according to Major Wale Ademeyoga was to release Chief Obafemi Awolowo and appoint him the Prime Minister of Nigeria. The other end games of the revolution were; To end the street bloodbath in the West. Since the rigged western Nigerian elections, lots of civilians were being buthered and roasted by party thugs. According to Lateef Jakande, in the Comet, January 15, 2000, ‘’the first coup by Nzeogwu was well intentioned.

The situation in the country had deteriorated. As you will recall, there was violent reaction in the western region against the impositon of the NNDP on the west by the Federal Government.’’

Elsewhere, we had discussed the Tiv invasion and the equally violent reaction from the the native Tiv rioters who were called the Temtios because they found pleasure in breaking heads to pieces. According to the Nigerian Headline, “The political situation in Tiv Division in 1964 and beyond was comparable to a volcano, that was always erupting.

Even though, there have been violent disturbances in the Tiv Division in 1939, 1947, and 1960, the Federal Government in November, 1964 decided for something drastic and definite to arrest the deadly eruption in the Division that same year. The Government on the advice of the Kaduna controlled NPC poured in soldiers to replace the Police.

The advent of soldiers resulted in more sadism and the savagery recorded unprecedented civilian casualties from Lafia to Gboko, Daudu and Makurdi, were the natives armed with poisoned arrows and charms confronted the trigger happy soldiers loaded with automatic weapons and machine guns. One of the officers sent in to restore normalcy by all means, was Colonel Yakubu Pam. He was appointed the Officer Commanding Army operations in the Tiv Division.

A familiar name, Malam Tanko Yesufu was appointed Provincial Commissioner. As he continued his scotch earth, wipe out of the stubborn Tiv resistance, his recce commander Major Christian Anuforo, with a Bsc in Mathmatics was revolted by the sheer bestiality of the whole unprofessional operations.

He refused orders to move his armored cars against the Tiv people adding that he was not trained to mow down civilians. He was recalled to Kaduna and was about to be decommissioned when he ran into January 15 boys. With his gory experience in Tiv land it was not difficult convincing him to join in seeking the death of the rabid Nigerian first republic.

Overall, the perspective of Alan Feinstein’s Biography of Mallam Aminu Kano, the late Nigerian politician provides an appropriate background to reconciling the impact of the January 15 event to the people of the North, considering the fact that he was the leader of the Talakawas [the masses in the street]. Mallam Aminu Kano was the bridge between the south and the north, men and women, the Muslims and the men of the book.

Feinstein stressed that while ‘’his efforts at repair and rebuilding of political alignments were going on in Kano a region -wide effort was progressing simultaneously in the southernmost sections of the north, known as the Middle belt; the move toward an independent state had progressed even further than in Kano to the point where the disaffection with the dominating NPC super structure had precipitated riot among the Tivs in 1960 and again in1964'’

The United Middlebelt Congress, led by Joseph Tarka eventually aligned with NEPU to form the NPF, which supported the break up of the monolithic northern region to give adequate voice to the larger minority.’’ In uncovering the festering bitterness and near explosions between the conservative NPC, supported by the traditional northern elites, the Emirs, the top civil servants as was ordained by the British, on one hand, the NPF surge and portent alliance with the southern progressive [UPGA] led to the polirisation of the Nigeria political forces.

The NPC sledge hammer descent on the northern opposition almost wiped out all the democratic and legally recognized institutions of descent in the north. In the north, opposition candidates were denied filing of nomination petitions and campaigns and party meetings were flagrantly prohibited .

Political refugees flocked to Kano, as homes and farmlands were burnt, and many were thrown into prisons. By the close of 1965 elections, the NPC with the effective control of the regional state apparatus viz, the local authorities, the Emirs of the North, the Police, the party was no longer worried about the north but knew they can only dominate the country with the ability to sustain the unpopular Akintola NNDP in the west.

Lord Acton , the liberal catholic scholar had posited that historian’s first duty ‘was not to debase the moral currency’. He believed that the historian must always point out the good and the evil in the actions that men took in the past.

However, in order to do this justly, we must first establish what they actually did and also have an understanding of what was considered to be right and wrong in that particular era. Lord Acton maintained, we may decide that we are justified in condemning them, only after considering the ideals and actions as they are portrayed. Jumping to conclusion based on a study of only a part of the source of information, convicts us of intellectual dishonesty.

That was the unchallenged dishonesty of General Danjumah when in an interview with Dr.Edwin Madunagu of the Guardian he attempted in futulity to justify his revisionist putsh of the July 29, 1966 by accusing the revolutionaries of ‘’killing my brother northern officers.’’

Drawing on the intimate profiles of the major actors of the January uprising, we reveal the soul of soldiers who were Napoleanic in the faith for the country and were ready to sacrifice themselves to accomplish their mission. Signifcantly, the majors elected to lead and stay in front without employing any surrogates as was the case with the series of the other Nigerian coups that followed .

But who are indeed these brother northern officers that fell on the night of January 15? We had expected the very respected Mathematician Edwin to press it on. Lt Colonel Yakubu Pam. The officer that was tainted by the Tiv operations. Lt.Colonel Aborgo Largema, commander of the Ibadan second battalion.

A serously compromised commander who was accused of using the federal troops against the popular and violent anger in the streets of wild west. British intelligence according to Smith was aware that this commander had finalized plans with the conservative power bloc and with the understanding of Brigadier Ademelegun were to destroy the intellectual and human rights/ progressive movement of the west.

These Ibadan school were the brain and the fuel of the violent resistance of the unstable west. On target to be eliminated were Wole Soyinka, Tunji Otegbeye, Christopher Okigbo, Tai Solarin etc. It is possible that as the chief of Nigeria Army intelligence Major Chukwumah Nzeogwu must have intercepted the thread and decades after, we confirm the singular reason the revolution was rushed to January 15.

For according to Wole Soyinka , in ‘The Man Died’, he speculated on the belief that his Human Rights fighters were to be crushed and the west totally normalized by force by January 17, 1966. It was to be very bloody.

Brigadier Zakariya Maimalari, Colonel Kur Mohammed very fine officers but were listed to be arrested on account of fact that the coup would not succeed if they were still in command of their units.

These senior officers were not different from Colonel Shodeinde in charge of the Brigade headquarters in kaduna. The Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Major General Aguiyi Ironsi and Arthur Unegbe, Quartermaster General were also listed and targeted to be demobilized for the same reasons.Never a supporter of any type of killing, be that of civilians in Kano, Ibadan or Gboko.

All the deaths were regretable but it will be disingenuous to pronounce that the blood letting was instigated by tribal motivations Like the Supreme Commander who managed a miraculous escape from his abductors, Arthur Unegbe like his other senior colleagues were all gunned down by patriots who were out to sacrifice a few of them to win the best for all.

As was predicted, the survival of Ironsi led to the death of the revolution and the eventual martyrdom of Kaduna Nzeogwu who had in all his short austere life worried about Nigeria and even surprised Remi Obasanjo that he would not be getting married!

In the many years that have passed, the young majors have been betrayed by the Awoists, the Northern masses, the Tiv nation, the Igbo senior officers led by Colonels Ojukwu, Madiebo, Major Obienu,Air force Captain Nzegwu, Majors Igboba, Okwechime, Awuna.

These senior officers did more than any other group to frustrate the only true Nigerian revolution that was January 15.

Three of them before the coke crew paid the supreme sacrifice for their misunderstanding of the Nigerian unforgivable feudal Leviathan. Major Obienu who was supposed to secure the January 15 Lagos operations, failed to show up with his armored unit from Abeokuta on the Zero Hour.

Without any armored support the Majors were unable to consolidate their hold of the strategic Ikeja garrison and that was the distraught mind that began the shooting of the arrested officers and marked the beginning of the failure.

In July 29, 1966, Major Obienu was one of the first officers to be shot in Abeokuta by northern soldiers. Under the orders of Ironsi, brilliant Col Igboba from Ibusa was the main officer who ruined the revolution in Lagos. As Commander of the Biafran Midwest operations Col. Victor Banjo did not forgive him for his role in January 15.

He handed him over to Benin hordes who awaited Col. Muritala Mohammed and Ogbemudia’a retake of Benin, in September 21, 1967.

Then they cut off his head. Captain Nzegwu immaculate former officer of the British Airforce was supposed to fly on the night of January 15 and release Chief Awolowo from Calabar prisons. Even if everything had failed but the Chief was released, there could have been an unprecedented earthquake from Ilorin to the Lagos Atlantic!!

Nobody would have stopped the revolution for the people were already in the streets fighting and dying for their ballots to be counted. The Airforce Captain Nzegwu from the prominent Onitsha family never made it to Calabar. In July 29, 1966, he paid with his life as a northern NCO bludgeoned him to death.

Finally, why did the very audacious western leader, Chief Awolowo never for one day made any commentary about Nzeogwu and the Majors’ plan of making good the chief’s lifelong ambition?

In the many years that followed his death and the bastardization of his revolution why have we not heard from veteran politician, Anthony Enahoro and other well informed Midwesterners like Chief Bokolor? What happened to most of his trusted accomplices like Captain Sawntong and the other Middle belt officers who saw action in January 15, 1966? For one more thing.

While others planned and executed coups for themselves to climb into power the January exercise was to uplift a man the Majors think can offer the best for Nigeria. Nzeogwu was not even to be heard from. If not for the Lagos disappointment the announcement was to be made by Major Ademeyoga . For whatever reasons he never made that announcement even though he was at the NBC station.

As we celebrate another January 15, we are satisfied that time and history will be kinder to those boys. In one fell swoop the uprising restored normalcy to the burning cities and villages of the wild west. The revolution stopped the hidden and planned extinction of the Tiv freedom fighters. Aminu Kano and the Talakawas were saved from obliteration.

The uprising postponed the emerging class warfare among the Igbo nation. Ojukwu’s declaration of Biafra had sharpened the contradictions. In that experiment, the January boys returned as the commanders of the ill fated Midwestern expeditionary campaign.

Still, impassioned by their unfinished mission and ready to sacrifice for a united but uncontaminated Nigeria, Col.Victor Banjo, Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Alile, Agbam as was the case in January 15, were willing to sacrifice Gowon, Ojukwu and his Biafra to get to Lagos and Nigeria.

In the end, they were eaten up by the revolution. In his lamentation, Wole Soyinka in ‘The Man Died’, cried for the loss of his friends....’’And Victor Banjo, if ever a revolution was lost to history, not now in one of those moments but by days!

What kept him in Benin while the naked underbelly of Lagos lay in its gross inert corruption, waiting only to be pierced?...Banjo forgot that his was a nation of fence -sitters, that in crisis , established power begins by an advantage which exerts a psychological paralysis on all but the most uncompromising few.

The revolutionary base, supposed to be consolidated by his continued presence in the Midwest began to crumble’’.

He paid with his life. And with him Alale, Ifeajuna, Agbam.
Source: Vanguard, 15th January 2009.

Back

 

 

Is the Civil War Over?
OPINION
By Obi Nwakanma

LAST week in Lagos, at the auditorium of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, in an event organized by Aka-Ikenga, the association of the Igbo elite in Lagos, Governor Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State declared that the civil war was over.

Let me refresh the mind of those who may either have forgotten that a war was fought, or who may never know because they were not born, and the civil war is not taught in Nigerian history classes; that is if Nigeria has any programme of history at all in its schools: the Nigerian civil war also known as the Biafran war commenced on July 6, 1967 when Federal forces launched an attack on the Biafrans from Garkem and from Nsukka.

There were two countries. The old federation of Nigeria had passed away, foreclosed by two momentous and terrible events: the January 15, 1966 coup of the "Five Majors," led by Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna (some erroneously say by Nzeogwu) which had toppled the parliament and therefore, the government of Prime minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

The picture that emerged had one eerie significance: it seemed, by the lopsided pattern of executions, that this was an Igbo coup, since most of the officers who were at the epicentre of the coup were young Igbo officers in the Army.

And so indeed, there was legitimate anguish and even justified anger by the interests wounded in that coup, which saw it in their own terms as an Igbo coup to "dominate Nigeria," especially with the emergence of General JTU Ironsi as the supreme commander and first military head of state of Nigeria.

The talk of "Igbo domination" was nothing new even then. It was a talk that had began in the 1940s, when the Igbo began to fully and forcefully establish prominence and authority over national life, and were set to play a modernizing and central role in the new republic, when Independence came.

And the Igbo had some of the most prominent and vociferous leaders of the anti-colonial nationalist movement, so much so that in some archive of papers by some of British colonial servants, they referred to the Nationalist movement in their writings, quite remarkably as "the Igbo movement."

The fact was that the Nigerian narrative of heroic resistance up till 1960 was emblematized by that eponymous figure of the 20th century called Nnamdi Azikiwe - the Great Zik. Zikism was the message of political freedom, of economic determinism, of spiritual balance, of the autonomy that inspired the "can-do" spirit of enterprise and invention, and Nigerians heard Zik and listened for at least two generations, particularly through his chain of newspapers that "imagined" Nigeria as an organic nation for the first time. Nigeria was a nation of possibilities.

The great future lay in its great unity; its nationalist enterprise; a Nigerianess without borders; a Nigeria of great dreams and heroic possibilities; a Nigeria where we could build the refuge for the black man in the world, and a great power that would shield it from a long history of vulnerability.

It was a place to build - a new frontier. Many Nigerians listened to Zik, but the Igbo, his kinsmen listen even more closely, and set out, to build a modern nation.

They fanned out from the Igbo heartland, and set out to build a new nation in their own image - of individual freedom, a disdain for hierarchies of monarchical authority; a curiosity for novelty and knowledge; a love of ingenuity and invention; a desire to "catch up with the white man" and to establish a domain of prosperity; and of course a capacity for unnerving competitiveness.

They Igbo brought their great gifts and their great flaws into the mix of their new neighborhoods, and into their upsurge, created eternal rivalries and fears among those with whom they made contact, by this hunger for transcendence. The centrality of the Igbo presence in Nigeria, in both the private and the public spheres of national experience doomed them.

By the early 1960s, people like Ayo Rosiji in Western Nigeria were making the subject of "Igbo domination" a campaign issue. Indeed, the 1963 Hansard of the Northern House of Assembly reports the debate about the Igbo presence in the North, with Bashari Umaru, representing Birnin-Kudu saying "The solution to the (Igbo) problem is to take over all the houses belonging to the Ibos (sic) and revoke all their certificates of occupancy," to which the Northern minister for lands, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Dagash responded, "Mr Chairman, Sir, I do not like to take much of the time of this House in making explanation.

But I would like to assure members that having heard their demands about Ibos holding land in northern Nigeria, my ministry will do all it can to see that the demands of members are met. How to do this, when to do this should not be disclosed now. In due course you will see what will happen."

This statement would prove ominous, and serves merely as a background, to what happened later, in what has been called the "retaliation coup" of July 1966, led by Gowon, Murtala Muhammed, Theophilus Danjuma and Martin Adamu.

They not only killed the head of state General Ironsi who was on an official visit to Ibadan, they killed his host Fajuyi; and began a systematic massacre of Igbo and Eastern Nigerian military officers in all the military formations. This was followed by a pogrom - the organized and systematic massacre of the Igbo across Nigeria, particularly in the north.

The Igbo fled Nigeria, went home, organized themselves hurriedly, and declared an independent state of Biafra, seceding, first to protect themselves, and secondly to establish the nation to which they would commit their talents and dream of creating "a great Black super power." Biafra was attacked, a painful civil war was fought for three years, in which Igbo land was devastated by warfare.

The war ended in 1970. But the Igbo have not survived the peace. The Igbo returned to Nigeria in 1970, committed themselves to rebuilding the nation, and to renewing the spirit of the land. But it was not long for them to find out that what was won was a fragile peace from Nigeria. Igbo land, and much of the former Eastern Nigeria was now war booty.

The oil was the issue. The very strategic attempts by the "winners" of the war, to appropriate the resources of the East, as their own pay check for fighting the war, has been the basis of corruption in Nigeria.

The alienation which the Igbo have suffered, particularly with deliberate policies that have closed them off in federal employment, education and professional opportunities; the gerrymandering of their population and votes; their group existence at the margins of nation since 1970 remains part of the effects of deliberate federal policies on the Igbo since the war.

The very policy to subdue Igbo energy and enterprise, so it does not rise and threaten Nigeria anymore is central to this policy. So Nigeria's postwar domestic economic and social policies have been mostly framed to reduce Igbo energy, and framed on a fear of Igbo resurgence.

Sam Ogbemudia gave the one example in his memoir, of how he tried to get the Gowon government to bring together the Igbo war scientists to form the backbone of Nigeria's post war industrial program in 1970. His colleagues in the council of state quickly shot this down.

The many deliberate discriminations against the Igbo have also meant that vital creative energy has been lost to the efforts to build Nigeria, and the Igbo really now, do not give a damn. So, it is remarkable that Ikedi Ohakim declared this week that the war is over.

Perhaps indeed, the war has ended. One cannot but note the irony of General Ike Nwachukwu who fought on the Nigerian side of the conflict, and Admiral Allison Madueke, who fought on the Biafran side, sitting side by side of Ohakim, while he made this statement. But there is a lot of Igbo skepticism to contend with. Many Igbo are saying, when did this war end?

We want it to end. But the signs are not there yet. Besides, the Igbo thought the war ended in 1970. But most Nigerians did not think so. If the war were over, perhaps, the discriminations would stop. The broken infrastructure in Igbo land would be rebuilt.

The structural containment of the Igbo would be lifted by the state. But then, an even greater civil war is raging now, and it is not with Nigeria. It's the internal civil war raging in Igbo land: the kidnappings, the high crime, the dismantling of communities. The aftershocks of the war. The war ends when the trauma is healed. Source: Vanguard, 18th  May 2008.

 

Back

 

 

 

COMMUNIQUÉ - Conference of Ethnic Nationalities of Niger Delta
Author: Prof. Kimise Okoko   
Tuesday, 30 December 2008 15:24

COMMUNIQUÉ

The meeting of the Steering Committee of the Conference of Ethnic Nationalities of Niger Delta (CENND) held today Wednesday, December 17, 2008 in Uzere, Delta State. The Apex body of the Conference deliberated extensively on the Report of the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta and some other issues of national importance and issued this Communiqué.

1. The Conference deeply regrets the loss of two outstanding and committed members in the persons of:
- Ukai (Sir) Fred Essien – Ibiobio Leader
- Chief Chris Ghomorai – Vice President, Ijaw National Congress (INC)
The two leaders died in the struggle to actualize the desires of the Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta. Conference prays that their souls and those of all the departed rest in peace.

2. The Report submitted to Government by the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta failed to meet the aspiration of the Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta.

3. It is manifestly clear that the final outcome has been programmed to become another ploy to ensure that business continues as usual and to encourage the perpetuation of social upheavals in the region such as bunkering, vandalisation of pipelines, etc. In such a situation, the region continues to remain poor, backward and insecure as has been the case since 1958.

4. It is to achieve the design that government was careful to nominate persons that would do its bidding with the usual expectation that the new set of Niger Deltans so negatively selected and manipulated and thereafter exposed to the criticism of our people would be further driven into the unfortunate situation of lackeys of government and enemies of their people. The forty-seven (47) members of the Technical Committee of which over thirty (30) are Niger Deltans selected have therefore been manipulated to produce a report that was intended to provoke the Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta.

5. Our people however, have learnt from the Ogoni experience when the Ogoni four were set up against the Ogoni nine and in one fell swoop the leadership of Ogoni was decapitated. We will not fall for the trick. All we want to say to our fellow Niger Deltans who were invited in the past and are likely to be invited in future is that the yoke of colonialism cannot be lifted by begging those who always adopt the strategy of inviting selected persons amongst those they colonize to 'come and eat,' the cake baked in the Niger Delta.

6.    As we are opposed to violence, we propose that the case of the Niger Delta must be understood by Niger Deltans and Nigeria and this can be done by courageously presenting our case so that no Niger Deltan should in future succumb to buy offs or the offer of "come and eat" by the internal colonizers.

7.    It is however unfortunate that the forty-seven men and women of the Technical Committee over thirty of whom are from the Niger Delta, pretend not to know that the Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta are not only struggling for development but also for basic rights such as the right to choose their own leaders as all civilized people around the world do and control of their resources, when they made themselves available for the unpatroitic assignment.

8.    The Conference of Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta [CENND] wishes to intimate our people that there is no distinction between neocolonialism and internal colonialism except that the former is controlled from the outside, such as Nigeria was until 1960 by the British, while the latter comes from within, which is the case at the moment.

9.    Since 1958, notwithstanding various Commissions, Committees and Panels, the internal colonizers of the Niger Delta have maintained a policy whereby the Niger Delta would produce the wealth for the benefit of Nigeria except the Niger Delta. This is exploitation.

10.    The various federal governments, military or civilian, have pursued the same colonizers' principles of divide and rule and CENND is aware that a lot of manpower and resources are spent to ensure that the Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta do not unite. In the same vein, any effort that is seen as seeking to foster the unity of Niger Deltans is discouraged, targeted and destroyed.

11.    Government, we are convinced, is in no doubt fully aware that the Conference of the Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta [CENND] was at the fore front of the rejection of Gambari and the so-called Niger Delta Conference. It is therefore not surprising that in selecting members of the Technical Committee, Government ensured that no member identified with CENND was appointed for obvious reasons so that its original designs of shortchanging the Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta would still be realized.

12.    The Technical Report in many regards is in effect therefore, a setback for our people who after the Obasanjo ill-fated Conference resolved that nothing short of allowing them to control their resources and in turn pay appropriate taxes to the Federal Government will assuage their desire.

13.    This is the situation which Niger Delta past heroes including Isaac Boro, Ken Saro Wiwa Alfred Rewane and many others tried to promote but ended up by paying the supreme price. It is this position that our youths retired into trenches to demand and after a lot of blood was spilled and other harrowing and dehumanizing methods were employed the internal colonizers could not break their will. It is regrettable that a Committee of persons who are all from the south could therefore allow themselves to be manipulated into a situation whereby they could, as individuals, work against the interest of their people and Nigeria.

14.    The Conference of Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta is convinced that the Federal Government is not sincere with our people as is clearly demonstrated by the provision for the Niger Delta in the 2009 Budget before the National Assembly. The sum of Eighty Billion (80 billion) Naira is voted for both the proposed Ministry of the Niger Delta and NDDC.

15.    We recall that the Federal Government voted the same amount in this year's (2008) budget for NDDC alone. In effect, nothing has changed except the concomitant waste that would arise in running the two separate agencies and consequential reduction in the actual funds that would accrue to the region.
16.    It is also instructive to recall and note that the sum of N400 billion was voted for security alone for the Niger Delta in this year's budget while no provision for this purpose is made for the 2009 budget. It is our belief that the security vote or a substantial part of it should at least have been added to the allocation for the Niger Delta.

17.    We discover  with a lot of regret that the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta only concerned itself with economic concerns of the Niger Delta albeit dishonestly and displayed an abysmal lack of courage to deal with political issues that leave the region in the sorry state it unfortunately finds itself. We consider this as deliberate and consequently a betrayal of trust by our people in the Technical Committee.

18.    CENND further strongly rejects any attempt to redefine the content and nature of our region (Niger Delta Region) and affirm that the Niger Delta for us are the six states of Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River. The nine states now being craftily designated the Niger Delta therefore do not belong to the terrain of Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta. In this regard, Government intervention agencies like the defunct OMPADEC and the NDDC cannot in any way be taken to represent the Niger Delta region which the Conference of Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta represents.

19.    All the Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta demanded the minimum of 50% derivation in the first instance and full control of their resources thereafter by the people who own the wealth. It amounts to a disservice to our people therefore for the Technical Committee on its own to recommend 25% and offer such excuses as would annoy any true patriot of the Niger Delta.
20. We note amongst other factors that the Technical Committee deliberately avoided specific dates for the Federal Government to implement the increase in allocation to the Niger Delta in their so-called COMPACT and instead preferred the non-committal use of "progressive" increase. The Technical Committee also failed to correctly identify the status of existing agencies as demonstrated on page 79 of the report. 

21. In the circumstance, the Conference of Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta [CENND] states therefore that:

a.    persons, men and women including religious and traditional leaders of the Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta must realize that the destiny of the Niger Delta is in their hands, and this cannot be realized when they create favourable atmosphere for internal colonialism in the region;

b.    its demand for a National Conference or the establishment of a Constituent Assembly for the purpose of writing a new Constitution is inevitable because the National Assembly Committee established to review the 1999 Constitution, and the Electoral Reform Committee are mere designs to reduce pressure on government because government knows fully well that the National Assembly cannot review the Constitution which effort started in 1999. The pressure however subsists and would progressively get worse as these ploys only succeed in postponing the evil day. 

PREAMBLE
The Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta under the aegis of the Conference of the Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta [CENND] in agreement with a vast majority of other Nigerians agree that the 1999 Constitution cannot be amended because it was not derived from the people as it was foisted on them by the military. They also agreed that the National Assembly does not have the constitutional power to review the Constitution as it is presently, as only a Constituent Assembly of all Ethnic Nationalities where the Ethnic Nationalities themselves nominate their representatives can prepare a new Constitution.

22.    We find it most pertinent with the prevailing situation to restate our position as contained in our Position Paper that was submitted to the Presidency, National Assembly, state Governors of the Niger Delta and the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta which include the following:
The Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta therefore in realisation of the need to aggregate their common desires held a series of meetings and after diverse consultations among them, agreed on a common position as follows:

(1) Support for continued existence of Nigeria as a country but one that is fair, just and stable.

(2) Nigeria to be a Federal Union.

(3) The Ethnic Nationalities to be the Federating Units where any member of contiguous Ethnic Nationalities can merge to form such federating units if they so desire.

(4) Each of the federating units to devise and operate its constitution in addition to the Union Constitution.

(5) The Union Government to be broad-based to reflect the diversity of the federating units

(6) The Union shall have a Legislature i.e. a House of States with each federating unit sending an equal number of representatives to the House.

(7) The country shall operate a parliamentary system of government to avoid among others the excessive cost implications of the Presidential System.

(8) There shall be a Union Supreme Court side by side with the Supreme Courts of the Federating units with the latter organised to reflect the peculiarities of the respective Federating units.

(9) The political system shall make provisions for multi-party system and Independent Candidacy.

(10) The Federating Electoral bodies are to conduct all elections within their Units. The Union Electoral body therefore should collate results for Union elections from the results obtained from the Federating Electoral Bodies.

(11) All election petition matters to be concluded before the swearing-in of elected officers from a particular election.

(12) Federating Units shall contribute troops to the Union Army organised in line with the new federal structure.

(13) There shall be Union police and Federating unit police with the Union police having powers over trans-border crimes only. The Federating Units police shall handle internal security within their units.

(14) Ethnic Nationalities to own and control their resources and pay appropriate taxes to the Union Government.

(15) Nigeria being a secular state should not promote any religion as, for example, the sponsoring of pilgrims to holy lands.

(16) Decisions at the House of States i.e. the Union Legislature to be by majority of Ethnic Nationalities.

(17) There should be compulsory military training/service for all Nigerians between the ages of 21 and 30 years.

(18) Laws to check and control environmental pollution such as oil spillage, gas flaring sand and rock excavation etc to be enforced in the states.

(19) In the interim a Marshal Plan to facilitate the rapid transformation of the Niger Delta be initiated and implemented without any further delay by the Federal Government as a public show of good faith.

Our position also outlines the responsibilities of tiers of governments and with respect to Union Government and their functions include:

a.    Defence
b.    Foreign affairs
c.    Customs
d.    Currency, coinage and legal tender
e.    Immigration
f.     Citizenship
g.    Banking, bills of exchange and promissory notes
h.    Aviation policy and regulations
i.     Formulation and regulation of standards in tertiary Educational Institutions
j.     Nuclear energy

We listed the following 19 Obnoxious Laws that should be repealed.
(1) Oil Terminal Drill Act
(2) Oil Terminal Act 
(3) Associated Gas Re-injection Act 1978 
(4) Exclusive Economic Zone Act 1978 
(5) Territorial Waters Act (Cap 116) 1990 
(6) National Inland Waterways Authority Act 13, 1993 
(7) Offshore Oil Revenue 1971 
(8) Petroleum Act 1999 
(9) Land Use Act 1978 
(10) Oil Pipeline and Lands (Title Vesting etc) Act 2, 1993 
(11) Land (Title Vesting etc) Act CAP 17 LFN 2004 
(12) Minerals and Mining Act CAP M13 LFN 2004 
(13) Exclusive Economic Zone Act CAP E17 2004 
(14) Territorial Waters Act CAP TS LFN 2004
(15) Oil Pipelines Act CAP 07 LFN 2004 
(16) Associated Gas Re-injection Act CAP A2 LFN 2004
(17) National Inland Water Ways Authority Act CAP N4 LFN 2004 
(18) Section 44 (3) of the Constitution Act CAP 123 LFN 2004 
(19) Oil Terminal Dues Act CAP 08 LFN 2004

We need to add however that before a National Conference can be convened and a new Constitution brought into being, the Federal Government should complete all ongoing projects including the East-West Road. The increase of Revenue Allocation from 13% to 50% if government is sincere can also be accomplished by the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission. The repeal of the 19 obnoxious laws do not also require constitutional amendment. The Electoral Laws should immediately be amended by National Assembly so that this would provide for free, fair and credible elections.
SIGNED BY:

Signature

 

Back