Prof. Uzodinma Nwala is a former university teacher, activist and nationalist. In this interview with Sunday Sun, he spoke on a number of burning issues on restructuring, place of Igbo in Nigeria, state of the nation, among other things. Excerpt:
You appear to be angry with the state of affairs in the country, why?
The word is not angry because anger does not solve anything. I’d rather say disappointed. I’m truly and generally aware that things are not moving in the right direction, particularly as they concern our people Ndigbo. I was one of those who were brought up in an environment where we believed that Nigeria was a genuine nation state that was being built up to be the pride of the black man and the pride of Africans. In the hay days of pan-Africanism, Nigeria was being built as a nation that will bring together all the blacks. While we were studying in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the spirit and air of Nigerian nationalism was oozing all over the whole place. I was the Chairman of Awolowo Hall in Nsukka. You also had Bello Hall, Isa Kaita Hall. All those ones were named after genuine actors in the process of building a great African nation and we were great Zikists, great nationalists until something happened; there was a coup of 1966. But before that coup, we witnessed the census crisis, we witnessed the election crisis, with NCNC boycotting the elections and later rejoining. We witnessed the Midwest crisis and all the killings and so on, we witnessed all the wars of attrition, killing of the Igbo. Some of us went to Enugu and saw headless bodies and bodies of pregnant women and we started asking ourselves whether we were really building a nation of the dream of Zik and others. While we were reading Zik, we were also reading Kwame Nkrumah, Nasa, Jomo Kenyata and others. We were great pan-Africanists who believed that we should build a great nation that will supplant the colonialist traps.
But from that civil war, we saw all the horrors and it dawned on us that something was wrong; there were differences, not only in tongue and culture, but in totality of what you call nations. We remembered what Aminu Kano was fighting in the North. Aminu Kano was not a mad man, but he woke up to fight for the interests of what he called Talakawas, meaning the Hausas, who were already being usurped by the Fulani hegemony. We also knew about Tarka trying to fight for the liberation of the Tiv nation. Boro was with us at Nsukka. But during the crisis, he went back to his place and realised that what was more fundamental was not Eastern Nigeria or Nigeria, but the interest of the Ogoni people and the Ijaw nation. So, it was there that we started realising that something was wrong. We took part in the war that was fought for the Igbo to come back home and rebuild ourselves since they didn’t want us to be here. But the war was unleashed on the Igbo with conspiracy by the international community. I was one of those that said okay, we’ve lost the war and I read religious meaning into it, but I found out that it was a wrong religious meaning. I said to myself that we lost the war maybe because God wanted us to remain in Nigeria and I took part in trying to see whether we can build a new nation.
Why did you say you read a wrong religious meaning?
We thought that the defeat of Biafra was God telling us no, you don’t need Biafra; you need Nigeria. But that was a wrong meaning to what happened. We lost the war, not because God wanted us to go back to Nigeria. We lost the war for obvious reasons, which I found when I went to New York in 1973 for my post graduate work. I spent days and time at the United Nations and I was searching for an answer to the question, why Biafra fell. At the end of those days of working in the United Nations and other places, I found an answer. It was not because God hated us or because he wanted us to go back to Nigeria. It was because politically, we did not understand the dynamics of world politics at the time. Ojukwu didn’t understand. A bit of the lesson on the dynamics of world politics was being imparted to him by Zik, but Ojukwu didn’t understand. He was a young man, very committed to Biafra, an Igbo patriot, but he had limited knowledge. When you move out of Biafra and then into other nations that had the same problem at the same time, first of all during the war, the Soviet Union sought to help us, I don’t know if you heard the story. They offered to help Biafra because most of the socialist leaders in Nigeria, most of the Marxist leaders in Nigeria were Igbo, the likes of O. C. Ememe, Ikenna, were great socialists. They were close to the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union wanted to come and help us. But Ojukwu said no. Nwajekwu said no because they felt doing that would mean we would now become communists and we would socialize property. That’s why they rejected the Soviet offer for help. What did Soviet Union do? They can’t force themselves on Biafra. They didn’t want to be isolated from that momentous developing world history of events in Nigeria at the time. Therefore, they had to fall back to the United Nations principle of respect for the territorial integrity of nations. That was why they now went and supported Nigeria, since we rejected their help. But compare us with other nations, people that were fighting the same battle of liberation at the time. Take Mozambique, take Namibia, take South Africa and take Cuba. All those countries, because they knew they were fighting against forces within what we call the world capitalist system, they had to seek help from the socialist world and they succeeded. The most spectacular was Cuba. Fidel Castro was not a socialist when he attempted to dethrone Batista. In 1956 he failed; 1959 he succeeded. When they took over Cuba, he was not a socialist. It’s when the American forces now came to flush them out and they knew they were in a battle to save the soul of their nation, therefore, they must seek help from where they can sustain their battle. They had to go to the Soviet Union to get help and the Soviet Union guaranteed the success of Cuba. The lesson Ojukwu failed to understand is that at that time in the world, the world was split into two. I’m sure you heard of what was cold war, East and West. You are either here or you are there. You can’t be here and there. But Ojukwu wanted to be here and there. If you remember the popular slogan at the time, they would say Biafra for the free world is a task that must be done. Who are the free world? It’s the capitalist countries, Britain, France and so on and these are the countries that didn’t want Nigeria to be divided because Nigeria was their marketplace and we are seeking help from them to destroy their market place. That is the height of contradiction. That is the levity of Ojukwu at the time.
What is actually the key problem of the Igbo?
The key problem of the Igbo is the same old problem. Ndigbo is a nation, a people with one language, one culture, like France in Europe, like Germany in Europe, like Spain in Europe, like Portugal in Europe, like the English Europe. Don’t mind the hot porgy called Britain. Britain is a collection of nations, English, Welsh, Scotland and Northern Ireland and you know they have been struggling to be on their own. In the world arena of soccer, each of them has its own team, not English team. That shows you they are nations of their own. They are only trying gradually to see how they can free themselves and become autonomous nations. Sometime ago, Europe was being ruled by empires that connected many of these nations together, but those empires have crumbled and they have come to be nations of their own. If you read Obafemi Awolowo, you will get the point that Nigeria is an artificial creation. It’s the bringing together of separate nations against their will. The old concept of tribe is ancient European ideological concept. There is nothing like tribe. What you have are nations – the Igbo nation, Yoruba nation, Benin nation, Tiv nation, Ijaw, Efik, Fulani, Hausa. All these are nations of their own that were brought together against their will. That is the problem you and I have today, until we realize that separate nations can only be brought together in a political nation state through the principle of self determination.
So, where you stand is not even about restructuring?
It’s about renegotiation of how separate nations can live together. Restructuring is a very vague, misleading and treacherous concept. When you talk of restructuring, you are begging a super power, the Federal Government to please reorganize the whole thing. Give us more power. That’s what you mean by restructuring. But that’s not the issue now. The issue now is sitting down and renegotiating how we go forward. We tried to do it in the 2014 National Conference. That Conference went very far, but not as far as it should. When the Fulani saw that that conference was going to lead to liberation of the separate nations, they stepped forward and said no war. They put their feet down and canceled that conference.
Are you talking of a confederation?
I’m not talking about confederation. By confederation, you mean bringing together separate nations into a nation-state by particular design, but not by their own free will. Even if it is confederation, that confederation has to be agreed upon by the people. There are certain semi-confederations in the world, but they are all created by the self-determination of the various people.
Let’s take this thing we call Biafra. When you talk of Biafra, they mean a nation-state comprising Ndigbo, the Efik, the Ijaw. That’s what they call Biafra. But that Biafra can only come when the forces controlling Efik come forward and say we want to be part of it, the forces controlling Ijaw say we want to be part of it. When everybody say they want to be part of it, we sit down and work out the modalities for running that multi-nation state. That’s what Biafra is. We can’t assume that all of them are part of it. We will only be working towards a point where all of them will come and say we are part of this nation. Unless they say so, you can’t rope them into a nation-state they have not decided to be part of.
– Some people will also argue that asking for a renegotiation is not something that is achievable. Those who push this argument believe that the country has gone past that stage and the stage they are is how do we really structure the country in a way that it will favour everybody?
The way to favour everybody is the way to make Ndigbo fully in control of their affairs. Let me give you some little practical examples, which some of you ignore. Let’s take elections, which is one of the instruments they use in enslaving you and me. I don’t know if you know one election in America involving El-Gore and George Bush. What held it back was the Florida election if you remember. Where was the final decision?
The Court of Florida?
The Court of Florida and not of America. So, a situation where the Hausa-Fulani controlled judiciary decides who becomes your governor is anomalous. So, when you are talking of renegotiation, that’s part of the things you have to renegotiate and say we are an autonomous region, we want to control our judiciary. Let us even take education; in America, which is a super federation, there is nothing like one institution of the American state controlling all the universities in America. There is nothing like one institution in America controlling admission into universities in America. If you want to go to an American university, if you are a graduate, you take what is called GRE. If you are undergraduate, you take what is called TOEFL. If you pass TOEFL, you take your result to any university you are seeking for admission and they admit you. You are a graduate who wants to go to America to do graduate programme, once you pass the examination, you take your result to Harvard, New York, anywhere and they give you admission. That examination does not decide where you go. They don’t give any quota limits.
But it’s that not the restructuring that people are talking about?
Many of you talk about restructuring without understanding what it is. I’m giving you the nitty gritty of it. It is not something the Federal Government can give you. It’s something that the nations of Nigeria will come together to sit down and say let us rebuild this through a political conference. That political conference will decide a political arrangement for the nation and all legislative body will affirm it. You don’t have the right to alter it. There was a time this battle was very strong in those days when they were talking about national conference. That is the issue today.
Are you saying that the clamour by the Igbo and other leaders to produce Nigeria’s President at this time is immaterial?
Who are the Igbo leaders talking about president? An Igbo President under the present condition will keep us where we are. Igbo President that will be produced by the present INEC without reorganizing it as a new institution will be meaningless. Can Orji Kalu become President without the Hausa-Fulanis endorsing him? As things are now, who pulls the political strings in the North? It’s the Fulanis. Do you know that in the North, most of the governors are Fulani governors? Most of the Senators are Fulani Senators. Most of the House of Reps members are mostly Fulani. The Fulani through a historical process is in charge of the North.
You said the current INEC is not in a position to conduct an election that will enthrone an Igbo President. Have you lost total confidence in the INEC?
It’s not losing confidence in the INEC. It’s that by its very nature, INEC is not capable of giving you and I the kind of democratic election, the kind of free and fair election that you and I need in a federal union. It’s controlled by outside forces.
Are you okay with the representatives the Southeast have now at the federal level and what do you think they should be doing?
You and I have a duty to our people. If we really mean business, we have to tell ourselves our problems. We mean well for our people. Most of the chaps elected into positions, some of them are well meaning, but they don’t understand the dynamics of the power struggle in Nigeria and this is where you and I can come in to educate them, to direct them. That’s the duty you and I owe them. It is not a question of Orji Uzor Kalu wanting to be Deputy Senate President. Can he be and who will anoint him under the present circumstances? If he becomes, he will owe his allegiance to them to be able to sustain his position. That is the reality of it. We want a situation whereby an Orji Uzo Kalu, a very vibrant young man will get in there as an Igbo man and not waiting to be anointed, knowing full well that if he becomes a hero, he can only be a meaningful hero of an Igbo son, not a Fulani son or surrogate. At the end of the day, he knows what bothers the people, all these killings, all these overtaking of our territories, he will stand firm as an Igbo and say no, we can’t have it. He should defend our fatherland.
You actually sound as if this renegotiation is not done, the Southeast will have no future in Nigeria?
The only future they have is as slaves. They have no future of freedom. If things remain as they are, you cannot produce your governor, you cannot produce your legislator and be sure it’s your legislator. I’ve told you the example of America. There shouldn’t be any super electoral body for the whole country. They will knock him out through INEC and through the judiciary which they now control. The highpoint of it was the removal of Onnoghen, because they were afraid Onnoghen will upset the applecart.
Is there anything the Alaigbo plans in doing beyond what it is doing now?
We will continue enlightening our people. We have put up a document called the Green Book because the first step in any political battle is to understand ourselves and say what the problems are. This book is called the future of Alaigbo and the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The battle before Alaigbo is not noise making. We should know our weaknesses and how to systematically move along.
Ramadan heralds new probe for Nigeria’s Emir of Kano
The holy month of Ramadan began on a good and peaceful note for many Muslims around the world, but not for Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the former Central Bank governor who is Emir of Kano, in northern Nigeria.
Officials of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission have reopened investigations into allegations of corruption against Sanusi, at the supposed behest of Umar Ganduje, governor of Kano and its most influential citizen.
Sanusi, who was recently named to the board of MTN Nigeria, has been Emir of Kano since succeeding his late grand-uncle in 2014. The flamboyant monarch is regarded as one of the top three in the hierarchy of traditional rulers in northern Nigeria.
His ascension to the throne came after he was controversially suspended as central bank governor by former president Goodluck Jonathan $20bn that went missing earlier that year.
Two years ago, the Kano state parliament suspended a probe into Sanusi’s lavish spending and alleged misappropriation of council funds. The affairs and needs of the Emir and his council are funded by the emirate council, which has done the same for previous emirs for centuries now. The investigation was suspended after vice-president Yemi Osinbajo and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote – who is also from Kano – intervened.
The payments being looked into span the years 2013 to 2017, going back even before Sanusi became Emir. While he himself has not yet been questioned, four of his staff have been.
Legislators in the Kano state House of Assembly are also considering a bill to create more emirates in the state, which would reduce the Emir’s constituent territory.
Pot calling the kettle black
Ganduje’s feud with the Emir stems from the latter’s often sensational comments about Northern leaders. The outspoken Sanusi had criticised the governor’s many foreign trips and romance with Chinese contractors.
Interestingly, more than five videos showing Ganduje stuffing wads of dollar notes into the folds of his robe – alleged kickbacks for infrastructure contracts – surfaced in 2018 and almost marred his election during the March 2019 polls.
The former Central Bank governor is believed to have backed opposition candidate Abba Yusuf of the PDP in the elections, which analysts say were marred by violence and widespread intimidation of voters.
Yusuf is a political godson to Ganduje’s foe and former benefactor Rabiu Kwankwaso, the ex-governor who is still apparently on good terms with Sanusi.
Does Ganduje stand a chance?
It will be a hard task to dethrone the Emir. Should Ganduje and his band of killjoy lawmakers take the easier route of creating new emirates, they will successfully weaken his influence and leave him as a glorified district head, thus stripping away the powers of what is historically one of Africa’s most celebrated royal positions.
The royal father will have to fast steadily this Ramadan and pray for a déjà vu: to triumph like his predecessor Ado Bayero. In the 1980s, the then governor Abubakar Rimi, in a bid to settle scores with Bayero, created new emirati councils to whittle down the Emir’s powers. Rimi’s successor reversed the action a few years later.
Nigerian police accused of abusing prostitution suspects
ABUJA – Nigerian police are investigating allegations that officers sexually assaulted women arrested in nightclub raids during a crackdown on prostitution.
There has been widespread public outrage over last month’s raids in the capital Abuja.
Various women among the dozens arrested said they were not prostitutes but were detained randomly.
“They did all manner of things to us,” said one 27-year-old student, speaking on condition of anonymity among around 200 people during a protest march over the weekend.
The woman told Reuters she was groped, beaten and pepper-sprayed after being picked up in a club and held for three nights at the end of April. Other women said they were raped.
Long accused of widespread human rights abuses, the Nigeria Police Force said it was looking into the accusations.
“Investigations have commenced,” Usman Umar, deputy commissioner for Abuja police, said on Saturday, promising anyone found guilty would be “fished out” and punished.
At the protest, marchers carried messages such as “to be a woman is not a crime.”
Marcelle Umar, a member of Coalition to End Rape, said police were ignoring men involved in the prostitution business and targeting women indiscriminately.
“Women are walking on the street, wearing short skirts and they are tagged prostitutes for nothing,” she said, as protesters chanted behind her.
Similar to the global #MeToo movement, Nigerians have been using social media to highlight mistreatment of women, using the hashtags #SayHerNameNigeria and #AbujaPoliceRaidonWomen.
Obiano, Ambode are NACJ Integrity Governors of the Year
Nigerian Association of Christian Journalists (NACJ) has declared the Governor of Anambra State , Willy Obiano and his Lagos State counterpart, Akinwumi Ambode , as the Integrity Governors of the Year, for their Annual Integrity Lecture/Award holding later this month at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos.
Their nomination was predicated on their transparency and accountability in governance with high sense of integrity.
The annual event which is designed to discourage corruption, especially amongst leaders would have distinguished Senator Dino Melaye as the keynote speaker on the topic: Integrity: Essential Ingredient for Effective Legislation and Building a Virile Nation. Also, the famous journalist and ace broadcaster, Mr Patrick Oke will be on hand to speak on the theme: Integrity is Everything.
A statement from the Secretary General NACJ, Charles Okhai, said: “The focus of the annual event is on Integrity because integrity is the direct opposite of corruption and if our leaders are mentally integrity conscious, cases of corruption in our society will be drastically reduced.”
Other eminent Nigerians to be equally honoured include at the ceremony are Hon. Alex Egbon, Hon Nkem Abonta, Hon Chris Azubogu, Senator MAO Ohuabunwa, Engr Chinedu Orji Majority Leader Abia State House of Assembly, Hon Sunday Ibuot, and Hon Daniel Chimezie Okeke all in the parliamentary category.
Others in the religious category are Apostle Wole Aladuni, Prophet David Babalola, and Dr. Paul Obadare. The entertainment industry is not left out as popular DJ Jimmy Jatt and Charles Oputa, aka Charlie Boy will be honored as Young person of integrity and man of integrity award respectively.
In the Judiciary Category, Justice Morenike Obadina and Justice Sedoten Sosi Ogunsanya will be conferred Woman of integrity Award. His Royal Highness Sir Henry Micah and a few others are also on the roll call of honor at the event.
Several eminent personalities have been slated to grace the occasion in their support for the fight against corruption in our society.
Willie And Ebelechukwu Obiano, Like Minds In Development
BY COMR. IFEANYI OKECHUKWU
More feathers were added to the already congested caps of the first family of Anambra state, Chief Willie and Chief Dr Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano last week when the workers in Anambra state, under the aegis of Trade Union Congress, TUC, bestowed another award on the duo. The awards were jointly presented to them at the Dr Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka during the 2019 May Day celebration.
The workers, who spoke through the state chairman of TUC, Comrade Ifeanyi Okechukwu, said, quote; “Our labour-friendly governor has shown a lot of goodwill and favorable disposition towards the welfare of workers. Since the inception of his administration, salaries, pensions, gratuity and leave allowances are regularly paid as and when due. This has earned him the nickname, THE ALERT GOVERNOR, because workers receive the alert of their salaries on or before the end of every month. His Excellency’s kind dispensation and goodwill towards workers are equally manifested in his promise to be one of the first governors to implement the new minimum wage”. End of quote.
The TUC chairman acknowledged Governor Obiano’s concept that it is nice to take good care of human beings at the same time social amenities which the governor often say, “analu olu, ana alu mmadu. It is therefore for these reasons that the workers honoured the Obianos with the award.
No doubt, workers, globally, remain the engine room of every civilized society. They constitute about five to seven per cent of the population of every society. This infinitesimal percentage does not however, in any way dwarf their influential capabilities towards policy formulation and charting the modus operandi for societal development. This truism reflected in the United Nations resolve to set aside first May every year to celebrate workers globally
Happily, the multiple award-winning governor of Anambra, Chief Willie Obiano, soon after his inauguration on March 17, 2014, keyed into the vision of the United Nations by recognizing the imperative of a motivated workforce. This he proved by increasing workers’ salaries by fifteen percent in 2015. In addition, his administration formulated an unprecedented policy of ensuring that on or before the twenty-fifth of every month, workers smile to the banks to receive their salaries.
Furthermore, the governor has demonstrated in unmistakable terms that workers’ welfare is sine–qua-non to enhanced productivity by ensuring that every year their leave allowances are paid along their December salaries. Also, workers are given a bag of Anambra rice every December. This innovation, which has been running for five years, was made possible by the Obiano administration. No other state government in the federation has achieved this feat.
The governor has equally directed the civil service commission to commence the process of promotion in line with the civil service rules. In the area of transportation, the present administration procured mass transit buses to ply the Onitsha, Ekwulobia, Nnewi and Otuocha routes. The essence is to convey workers to work from their places of residence at highly subsidized rates.
To further demonstrate his penchant for motivation, the governor inaugurated a 10-man committee to study the issues concerning the welfare of workers in the state. The committee is headed by the state deputy governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke. Graciously, Akpokuedike announced, in the last May Day, that government had accepted in principle to implement the recommendations of the committee. What a worker friendly governor.
Fortunately, the same milk of human kindness equally flows in the blood of the governor’s wife, Chief Dr Ebelechukwu Obiano. There is no jewel in the world so valuable as a chaste and virtuous woman. Osodieme is clothed with strength and dignity and she touches the poor and the vulnerable without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise and she gives instructions with kindness.
Chief Dr. Ebelechukwu Obiano, Osodieme, is by all standards, the icon of our time. The assumption of office by her husband, Governor Willie Obiano, in 2014, thrust her forward for the role of first lady. She assumed the responsibility and within a very short-while, she acquitted herself creditably as an icon and beacon of hope, to the admiration of many, including widows, children, youths, women, the physically and mentally challenged and indeed the hoi poloi in the society.
Glory be to God that the first family of Anambra state, the Obianos have paid their dues in the governance of the state and every member of the different strata in the society are better for it. Her Caring Family Enhancement Initiative, CAFE, projects have brought solace to multitude-orphans, helpless ones, fatherless and the rest. Hence, he has won many awards, nationally and internationally.
For sure, it is well with Anambra state, the Light of the Nation.
The Duchess of Sussex gives birth to a baby boy
Meghan Markle has given birth to a baby boy, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.
MEGHAN, THE Duchess of Sussex has given birth to her first child with Prince Harry.
The Duchess gave birth to a baby boy on May 6 at 5.26am, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.
In a statement shared on the couple’s official Instagram page, it reads: “We are pleased to announce that Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcomed their firstborn child in the early morning on May 6th, 2019. Their Royal Highnesses’ son weighs 7lbs. 3oz.
“The Duchess and baby are both healthy and well, and the couple thank members of the public for their shared excitement and support during this very special time in their lives.
“More details will be shared in the forthcoming days.”
The baby is seventh-in-line to the throne and is the Queen’s eighth grandchild.
It is believed that the birth took place at the Sussex’s home in Frogmore cottage. It was confirmed that Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland is also at the cottage with the couple and their newborn.
The Duke, 34, and Duchess, 37, married nearly one year ago in a lavish ceremony at Windsor Castle after dating for 16 months. They announced their pregnancy in October 2018 at the start of their first official royal tour in Australia.
At the time, Prince Harry said: “We couldn’t think of a better location to announce the upcoming baby…be it a boy or a girl.”
Prince Harry spoke to the press following the birth and has confirmed that the couple plan to make an appearance as a family in two days time to introduce their son to the world.
kidnappers paradise : In Nigeria, the rich also cry
Nigerians great and small are living through a kidnapping pandemic.
Two weeks ago, I took the train from Kaduna to Abuja for a reporting assignment. I turned up over an hour early at the Rigasa terminal after being warned that tickets could be completely sold out.
Still I had to join a very long queue that looked like child’s play when we got to Abuja, where ticket racketing and hoarding schemes have become the norm. Despite train tickets being almost double the price of interstate vehicles and both journeys being approximately the same time, no one wants to go by road.
The reason is simple.
The Kaduna-Abuja Expressway is one of the most dangerous in the country, thanks to kidnappers who now lurk in the bushes day or night.
Not even the wealthy in their chauffeured SUVS ensconced within security convoys want to travel by road.
To put it plainly, the entire Northwest region is currently the most unsafe place in the country outside northeast Nigeria where Boko Haram still routinely attacks.
The fear of being abducted is now the beginning of wisdom.
Outside the region, there has also been a resurgence of kidnapping elsewhere as criminal elements are emboldened by the exploits of their comrades in the North West.
According to the acting Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Adamu, at least 685 persons were kidnapped across the country in the first quarter of 2019 alone. This is in all likelihood, just a conservative estimate.
Consequently, millions of naira in ransom have been exchanged over the last few months, with each transaction further stimulating the kidnap-for-cash industry.
While the rich have been able to squeeze out monies needed to secure their release, the poor have kept faith in charms and ethnic militia who are gradually joining the bandits to make quick bucks.
To add salt to the injury, the government of Zamfara is officially recruiting over a thousand charmers to keep citizens safe. That an elected official deems it necessary to recruit shamans and spend taxpayers’ money borders on ridiculous if not insane.
So what is Nigeria doing keep its citizens safe?
President Muhammadu Buhari – currently overseas for a private trip – has proved exceedingly nonchalant about the situation.
Earlier this week, the district head of his hometown Daura in Katsina State and father-in-law to his aide-de-camp, was captured by unknown gunmen. Perhaps that will finally push him to act decisively seeing as few things change in Nigeria until a big man or his relative becomes a victim.
Little has changed since separate convoys of Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai and popular policeman Abba Kyari both dramatically charged into the bushes surrounding the road like cargo-cult Jack Bauers, claiming to be in pursuit of the criminals’ and their hideouts.
On some levels, the government is moving: but it still took injury to the powerful to drive action: “MTN was fined $2.2bn as Nigeria was unable to trace owners of SIM cards used by kidnappers of former finance minister Olu Falae, who was freed after his family paid a ransom”.
And beyond the noise, there are more questions than answers. For instance,
What are governors doing with the monthly millions (billions perhaps?) they get as security votes?
Why are the governors paying large sums as ransoms and amnesty to gangsters who then reinvest in newer, more sophisticated weaponry?
While the current constitutional structure does not permit for state and communal policing, how well equipped and regulated are the local vigilante and neighbourhood watch services they are setting up?
Is the federal government properly financing the intelligence unit so security outfits can share information in real-time?
It is imperative that a state of emergency be declared first on Zamfara and Katsina States ahead of a proper overhaul of Nigeria’s security apparatus.
The ineffectual security chiefs who like most of Mr. Buhari’s cabinet in his first tenure have been ornaments possessing neither shine nor lustre, need to go ahead of the president’s second (democratic) coming.
If Nigerians have to provide their own electricity, water, healthcare, transport and security on a year-to-year basis despite paying taxes in a country that parades itself as socialist, of what importance are the elected officials at every tier of government to them?
Would it not be better the country were divided into small lots, with each household having its own governor to administer to their wants and needs?
This article was written by Eromo Egbejule
Osodieme Lends Support to Anambra born Mayor of London Borough of Brent
By Emeka Ozumba
The wife of the governor of Anambra State, Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme), Wednesday lent support to first Anambra born new Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi at an impressive Annual General Meeting and Mayor Making ceremony held at the Brent Council Centre, London.
The new Mayor of the London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi who until the investiture was the Deputy Mayor, is an illustrious son of Anambra State and the state government under governor Willie Obiano has a clear policy of supporting Anambra indigenes who through hardwork and dedicated service to community have brought honour and dignity to State in particular and Nigeria as a whole.
In view of the political weight of this development, the wife of the governor attended the London event to reassure the new Mayor that Ndi Anambra are with him in this moment of glory and high responsibility and expect him to do his best in the service of his mayoral district and humanity.
Speaking on the significance of the event, Osodieme said that we came to support our son who has made us proud by distinguishing himself and is being honoured with more responsibility by the people of Brent as their Mayor. According to Osodieme, “I am particularly happy because it is not every time that we get to hear bad story about our country. This is one good example and ndi Anambra and our governor are delighted and we have no doubt that he will continue to excel.”
In his reaction, a member of Anambra State delegation to the Mayor Making and Member Representing Ayamelum Constituency in Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon Uche Okafor, eulogized Mayor Ezeajughi for showing good focus and competence while presiding over the Council meeting and commended the governor of Anambra State and his wife Osodieme for rallying round the new Mayor.
Earlier in his acceptance speech, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi expressed his appreciation at the honour done to him by various dignitaries who attended the event from across the world especially Nigeria. He singled out the wife of the governor of Anambra State and thanked her and her delegation for their support. He also pledged to work closely with her NGO, Caring Family Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ) and others in his chosen cause for charity during his tenure.
Ezeajughi, a 1998 graduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka is a native of Awgbu, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, was elected Councillor by the College of Councillors of Brent, London as a member of the Labour Party representing Stonebridge Ward at Brent Council in 2014, re-elected in 2018 and was until recently Deputy Mayor of Brent.
Other members of Anambra State delegation to the epoch Mayor Making event include; three members of the Legislators Wives Association (LEWA) led by Wife of Deputy Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, Mrs. Sylvia Oseke, and wives Honorable members of Mrs. Lilian Ibuzo and Mrs Uche Enwezor.
Pix 1(L-R): Wife of the governor of Anambra State, Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme) and Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi after his Investiture.
Pix 2(L-R): Wife of the governor of Anambra State, Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme) and Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi (centre) flanked by Member Representing Ayamelum Constituency in Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon Uche Okafor, and Wife of Deputy Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, Mrs. Sylvia Oseke, and wives of Honorable members of Mrs. Lilian Ibuzo and Mrs Uche Enwezor after the Mayoral Investiture at Brent.
Pix 3(L-R): Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi and his wife the Mayoress.
Pix 4(L-R): Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi signing after investiture before the Brent Council Executive, Mrs Carolyn Downs and his predecessor,
Pix 5(L-R): Wife of the governor of Anambra State, Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme) and new Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi flanked by Anambra community in London after the Investiture.
Anxiety grips Ministers as cabinet reshuffle looms
The joyful disposition of Nigeria’s ministers as they arrived for Thursday’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council belied anxiety over who would be retained in President Muhammadu Buhari’s next cabinet.
President Buhari had, last week, directed ministers to submit status reports on policies, programmes and projects on their ministries, departments and agencies to the Audit Committee in the Office of the Vice President, fueling speculations over imminent dissolution of the cabinet.
The deadline for the submission of the reports was Wednesday, the 24th of April, but the cabinet meeting was postponed to Thursday because of the Easter holiday.
The ministers arrived for Thursday’s meeting accompanied by their aides who had boxes and bags, probably containing the reports in compliance with the president’s directive.
Before the commencement of the meeting, which has Vice President Yemi Osinbajo presiding, the ministers were seen exchanging banters excitedly.
However, uncertainties still pervade how the new cabinet will look as President Buhari prepares for his second term in May.
Nigeria must tackle its doctor brain drain
Nigeria’s minister of labour, Chris Ngige, has caused a furore by denying that Nigeria has a medical brain-drain problem.
The minister, a trained medical doctor himself, said on national television that the country has a surplus of doctors:
“We have surplus. If you have surplus, you export… Who said we don’t have enough doctors? We have more than enough. You can quote me. There is nothing wrong in them travelling out. When they go abroad, they earn money and send them back home here. Yes, we have foreign exchange earnings from them and not just oil.”
According to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, doctors cost an African country between $21,000 and $51,000 to train. Nigeria is one of nine countries who have lost more than $2bn since 2010 training doctors who then migrate.
Meanwhile countries like the UK benefit. With one in 10 doctors working in the UK coming from Africa, the country saves around $2.7bn by recruiting these doctors.
Ever-faster brain drain
And the Nigerian medical brain drain is accelerating. Prompted by a comment from former Commonwealth secretary-general Emeka Anyaoku, Africa Check revealed that the UK had 5,250 Nigerian-trained doctors on its books in April 2018, a rise of 10% on the previous year. That is an average of 12 doctors a week fleeing to the UK. A recent NOI poll showed that 88% of Nigerian doctors are considering working abroad.
Other countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and South Africa are also attracting Nigerian doctors in droves, with Saudi Arabia aggressively recruiting in the country.
Why the exodus?
With its status as the poverty capital of the world and home to an estimated 13.2 million out-of-school children according to UNICEF, Africa’s most populous country is battling to keep the attraction going for its citizens. In September 2017, its economy marginally exited its first recession in over two decades and experts warn that it could yet dip again.
- Nigerian state-employed doctors earn as little as N150,000 ($416) a month, with top salaries for consultants rising to N800,000 a month – still way below what they could earn in Western countries.
- Medical professionals are also frustrated at the lack of investment in the health sector, where a paucity of equipment and frequent strikes prevent them from doing their job to the best of their abilities. In 2019 only 3.6% of the annual budget of N8.8trn was allocated to health services.
No support from politicians
Contrary to what labour minister Ngige said, the country has not got a surplus of doctors – at least by global standards: the World Health Organisation recommends one doctor to 600 people. Health minister Isaac Adewole argues that at one doctor to 4088 people this is better than other African countries. He also made the facetious comment when questioned on the lack of residency placements for young doctors that “we can’t all be specialists… the man who sews my gown is a doctor. He makes the best gowns.”
- The data cannot be ignored, however, that Nigeria has one of the worst health records in Africa, including the second highest population with HIV and the largest number of deaths from malaria. Although its has significantly reduced its maternal mortality rate since 1990, Nigeria’s is lagging behind other nations.
- That Nigeria’s number one citizen, President Muhammadu Buhari, regularly jets to London for medical checks is a damning assessment on the state of the health sector. He too is unfazed by the brain drain: “Others who feel they have another country [to go to] may choose to go”, he said casually.
Bottom line: Only greater investment in health will reduce the brain drain of Nigerian doctors. This needs to start with an acknowledgement by the government that the brain drain is costing the country more than it benefits it in remittances.
Nigeria vows to capture killers of aid worker couple
Nigeria’s government vowed Tuesday to track down gunmen who stormed a luxury hotel and murdered two aid workers, a British woman and a Nigerian man, before abducting three other people.
“The security agencies will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to apprehend the killers and bring them to justice,” the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said.
Police were doing “everything possible” to secure the safe release of the three kidnap victims, he added. The hostages are understood to be staff at the hotel.
Gunmen burst into the Kajuru Castle resort late on Friday night, spraying bullets as people relaxed at the top-end hotel over the Easter weekend holiday.
The luxury resort, built on a hilltop and resembling a medieval fort, is in Kaduna state, some 230 kilometres (140 miles) north of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
Faye Mooney, a British aid worker employed by Mercy Corps, and Matthew Oguche, a Nigerian working for the International NGO Safety Organisation (INSO), were both shot dead.
The pair were reportedly inside the hotel when the gunmen opened fire, and fled the building at the sound of gunshots.
“They rushed out of the room in panic,” one local resident said. “As they descended down the open staircase, the gunmen took aim and shot them. This was why they were the only ones killed.”
Mooney had been based in Nigeria for nearly two years, working on a programme to help countering hate speech and violence. Oguche helped train aid workers on staying safe in dangerous areas.
-‘Brave and dedicated’ –
Both organisations paid tribute to the murdered pair. Mercy Corps called Mooney “dedicated and passionate”, and said her colleagues were “utterly heartbroken”.
INSO said that Oguche was “a kind, intelligent and outward looking young man with a passion for learning, and a deep commitment to helping others.”
The UN aid chief in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, mourned the “brave and dedicated aid workers” in a message of condolence.
“This horrific tragedy has left the entire humanitarian community in mourning,” Kallon said.
In Kaduna and the wider northwest region, kidnapping for ransom has become rampant.
Local residents claimed the kidnappers had made extortionate cash demands for the three hostages, but Kaduna state police spokesman Yakubu Sabo said he was “not aware” of ransom demands.
Kidnapping in Nigeria’s oil-rich south, has long been a security challenge, where wealthy locals and expatriate workers are often abducted.
Yet the problem has escalated in northern areas too, like Kaduna, where criminal gangs made up of former cattle rustlers have been pushed into kidnapping after military crackdowns on cattle theft.
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Five years after Boko Haram kidnap, 112 Nigerian girls still missing
Announcements, Arts & Books
Driving Job Creation for Africa’s Youth: Mentor to Watch.
Ada Osakwe, CEO of Agrolay Ventures
Ada is an award-winning food entrepreneur and investor. She was also a lead in the launch of the Youth Employment in Agriculture Program (YEAP) that supported the rise of a new cadre of food-entrepreneurs in Nigeria through training, mentorship and financing. Ada is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and a Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow.
In 2016, she was Entrepreneur of the Year and featured on Choiseul 100 Africa list consecutively from 2016 to 2018. She received the ‘Achiever in Agriculture’ Award and was on the 2014 Forbes 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa list. She is also a mentor on the Future Global Leaders Fellowship.
Uzodinma Iweala : CEO of The Africa Center in New York.
Uzodinma is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, and medical doctor. He is the CEO of The Africa Center in New York, promoting a new narrative about Africa and its diaspora through a focus on culture, policy and business. He is the author of three books: Beasts of No Nation (2005), a novel also adapted into a major motion picture; Our Kind of People (2012), a non-fiction account of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria; and Speak No Evil (2018), a novel about coming-of-age in Washington, D.C. His books have been mentioned by Time Magazine, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Times and Rolling Stone. ‘Uzodinma Iweala completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard University and he earned a medical degree at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.’
ENTER NIGERIA Winning Sunday with The Young Netpreneur for the Week :Ken Nwadiogbu @kennwadio
Ken Nwadiogbu (b. 1994) is a Nigerian born Multidisciplinary Artist, popularly known as KenArt, whose practice is primarily centered around hyper-realistic drawings and works on paper.
Nwadiogbu believes that the society speaks- This voice inspires his art, which evaluates, interrogates and challenges socio-political structures and issues within the society. In his reply to this society, he is able to inspire one or two people to also re-valuate their socio-political structures as we know it. The desire to change his society and the way people think is what drives him to create art every day. Gender equality, African cultures, and Black power are a few aspects of his current research and artistic practice.
Nwadiogbu was born in Lagos, Nigeria and holds a B.Sc in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. His art career started in the university, and with no formal training, has pushed him to become one of the most interesting young contemporary artists from Nigeria, creating works that question life- calling out some of the problems and becoming very grounded in human consciousness..
Nwadiogbu has been featured in lots of local and international group exhibitions and fairs, including the Insanity exhibition, sponsored by Frot Foundation, in Omenka Gallery, Nigeria; the TMC’s It’s Not Furniture, curated by Winifred Okpapi; the Artyrama’s group exhibition curated by Mr Jess Castellote; Art X Lagos, sponsored by Artyrama Gallery, in Lagos, Nigeria; the Moniker Art Fair, sponsored by Creative Debuts, in Brooklyn, NYC; the Anti-Trump show organised in UK; the Afriuture Exhibition by Ramati Art Africa in association with Commonwealth Africa Summit, in Toronto, Canada; amongst many others. He has been televised and publicized on different platforms like Guardian Life, Tush Magazine, WIRED Magazine, Candid Magazine, Bored Panda, BBC, CNN, and more as well as inspiring and encouraging young creatives through public speaking appearances like TEDx. He co-founded Artists Connect NG, the largest Nigerian artist gathering that took place at Lekki Leisure Lake, in Lagos, Nigeria.
To Nwadiogbu, Art is indeed timeless, it is his solace and hiding place, a safe haven he has found to be devoid of restrictions, boxes and boundaries.