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Nobody can use Middle Belt to fight civil war again –Dr. Pogu



Nobody can use Middle Belt to fight civil war again –Dr. Pogu

The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) recently held a crucial conference to review the state of the nation as it concerns the indigenous ethnic groups in Northern Nigeria.  In this interview, President of the MBF, Dr Bitrus Pogu tells ONWUKA NZESHI that his people are the silent majority in the North but have been subjugated under the oligarchy and reduced to hewers of wood and fetchers of water




The Middle Belt Forum held a conference recently in Abuja and took some far-reaching decisions. What was the essence of that meeting?



The meeting was tagged: ‘Re-awakening’ because our people have gone to sleep; they are not on the alert and people are not having the correct information about what is happening to us to the extent that some of our people have lost their sense of direction. So we wanted our people to come back to the realisation of who they are as Middle Belters, different from other Northerners. We also want them to know their position in the developments that are unfolding in the country.



For example, we want them to put in correct and proper perspective, all the attacks launched by the herdsmen on our people and communities. We believe these attacks are a calculated agenda for land grabbing and change of demography rather than herder-farmer conflict as some people call them. If it was herdsmen clashing with farmers, it would have been a different thing.



During our conference, we had two papers-one, telling us who we are and the second paper telling us about the state of the nation as it relates to the Middle Belt region. These were the areas we dwelt on as a form of sensitization so that our people can be re-awakened to their responsibilities in the unfolding scenarios in Nigeria.



Who and who were at your conference?



It was a delegates’ conference, so we had people who were selected from various ethnic nationalities to represent each state of the Middle Belt.  We had very fruitful deliberations and took a number of important resolutions which we captured in our communiqué.



When you mentioned the term Middle Belt states, are you referring to the six states of the North Central?



It goes beyond that geographic space known as North Central zone.  Middle Belters are non-Hausa/Fulani people of the North and they are spread all over the North. Initially, it included the Kanuri but the Hausa/Fulani eventually absorbed them even though some of them had in the past benefited from the Middle Belt struggle.



The late Ibrahim Imam is a Kanuri whom Joseph Tarka, one of the founding fathers of the Middle Belt Movement took from Borno and fielded him on the ticket of the Middle Belt Congress and he was elected to represent the Tiv people..



So essentially, all ethnic nationalities in the North apart from the Hausa/Fulani are part of the Middle Belt. We span from the North West in places like Kebbi and Kaduna to the North Central where it is holistic down to the North East where we have some of our people in Southern Borno, Southern parts of Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba and even parts of Bauchi and Yobe. These are the states where the Middle Belters are found in Nigeria.



So when we talk of the Middle Belt as it is, a lot of people do not understand that we actually constitute a large chunk of the population in Northern Nigeria.



The leadership of the Middle Belt Movement has been rotating across these ethnic nationalities and states that I had mentioned earlier.



I am from Chibok in Southern Borno and my predecessor, the late  Bala Takaya was from Adamawa.  His predecessor in the struggle was Prof. Jerry Gana from Niger State. Before Prof. Jerry Gana, we had Chief Isaac Shaahu from Benue and before him, we had Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (rtd) from Adamawa; before Suleiman, we had the late Chief Solomon Lar from Plateau. Before Lar, it was the late Dr Olusola Saraki from Kwara and before him it was Gen. T.Y Danjuma (rtd). I am just taking you down memory lane so that you can understand the spread.



So, we have come this far because the Middle Belt Movement started even before Nigeria’s independence in 1960. In fact it started in the early 1950s and metamorphosed to what it is today. It used to be called the Middle Belt Congress but now it is known as the Middle Belt Forum.





If the Middle Belt is such a large group spread all across the North, why are you seen as minorities and crying of marginalization in the North?



Right from the onset, the Northern oligarchy, represented by the Hausa/Fulani had an undue advantage over us. The British colonial masters worked with them and handed over power to them at independence.



But before then, the British set up the Willinks Commission which went round and met with the various ethnic groups  across the   then Northern Region. They went as far as to Numan, Wukari and other places where ethnic nationalities other than the Hausa/Fulani and Kanuri occupied to feel the pulse of the people.




The Commission made recommendations that these groups considered to be in the minority needed to be treated separately but it was never done. Nigeria is where it is today because some of those recommendations were never implemented. We have copies of the Willinks Commission Report and you need to read it for you to understand to background of our struggle.



The truth is that we are not minorities when we come as a group because we constitute a larger group than these people in terms of numbers.



Unfortunately, the oligarchy and the Emirate system in the North, lumped so many of these ethnic nationalities together and subsumed them under the Emir and denied them of their independence. For example, my place, Chibok, is still under Borno Emirate till today. In fact, it took us revolting before the Borno Emirate started appointing District Heads of Chibok origin. There are such cases all over the place.



Let take for example, the Sayawa ethnic group, where the former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara comes from, also has similar problems with the Fulani oligarchy in Bauchi Emirate. They don’t want to recognise the Sayawa people as an entity of their own having their own traditional institution in spite of the fact that they have a large population. These problems have continued to exist within the Middle Belt.



Last year, when the massacre in Plateau took place, more than 200 Beroms were killed, the Miyetti Allah came out boldly to claim responsibility for the bloodshed because they felt that the lives of the Beroms don’t mean anything and they can wipe them out the way they wish.



But recently, when the daughter of Fasoranti, the Afenifere leader was killed, even though it was just one person, they were afraid to even not own up to what they did because they know that the Yoruba is one big block and there could be serious consequences.



Look at the Federal Capital Territory where the Gwaris constitute the local majority, yet no Gwari or Gbagi man has even been appointed a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.



So when we see all these things happening, we have to come together as a united group to be able to stand because we cannot just continue to allow the North to be using us and exploiting the whole country. Without us, they cannot even win any election because they don’t have the numbers.



In the communique issued at the end of your last conference, you said that henceforth, the Middle Belt will adopt a collective resistance approach to any further attack on Middle Belt people. What do you mean by this?



Ehhm… you see, the issue is that struggles, liberation struggles or what ever you may call them happen in stages. We are getting to the stage where we have to collectively come together and defend the weaker ones among us. There are groups in the Middle Belt that have been suffering continous attacks from forces of the oppressors in the North. The Fulanis will come, invade villages, kill the Middle Belters, they will own up to it, but nobody will be arrested and prosecuted for those crimes. Even those who will come out openly and say: We did it, will never be arrested.



By the time we have reached the threshold where we can call anybody’s bluff, you will know what we mean by collective resistance.



Are we expecting that when they attack Middle Belt people in Plateau, Benue, Taraba and other places, you will all rise up to the challenge?



We will continue to speak out against such attacks and as to what we will do, when the time comes, you will know.



We understand that since you made these declarations at your last meeting, you and some of you lieutenants have been under intense pressure from the Northern oligarchy to retrace your steps. Is this true?



As leader of the Middle Belt Forum, nobody has come to me or approached me to do anything. The truth of the matter is that I’ve been in this kind of struggle for a long time. I’ve been in it right from the Chibok area to this point and you know some people like us will not back down anyway.  But I know that so many of our members have been approached, some have been threatened and whatever… whatever.



The issue is that we have reached the stage where we can say categorically, as we have said, that the North as it is, we don’t belong because some people think we have no stake there.



Right from the time Obasanjo was President, there were ministers from the Middle Belt who were appointed and the far North said these are not their own. What do they mean? Are they saying that because the people so appointed were not Hausa/Fulani?  Or are they saying so because these people were not Moslems? What does that mean?



So as far as we are concerned, if you don’t want us, we don’t want you; we don’t need you. We can survive on our own and we are now putting up that pressure.  We are educating and sensitising our people on the need for self recognition and self determination, so that our people who constitute the larger part of the North can tell these people that: Look,  Enough is Enough. You’re using us to control Nigeria. Let every Nigerian chart the way forward for themselves



We have been used during the civil war. It was our people who fought the Civil War and today, the people who are enjoying the fruits of that war are these same people who used us. So many of these people did not go to the war. The bulk of the people who fought the war were Middle Belters. If today they say they want to fight another civil war, we will tell our people no; we’re not going to fight any civil war against anybody. If you want to challenge the people, go and challenge them and all of you will sort it out.



We are the true Nigerians. We are the aborigines of Nigeria. Even if they want to break up, let them go where they want to go. We are here and we are partnering with our Southern brothers because we believe that when you oppress people, they can forge a stronger alliance and rescue themselves and that is what we are doing.



The North is usually together whenever it is time for elections, are you saying that if there is an election today, the Middle Belters would be ready to take their destiny in their own hands?



Certainly. Just wait and see. It will require dedication and it will require enlightenment. As people get more and more enlightened about who they are, you will see the difference.



What would you consider as the greatest challenge facing the people of the Middle Belt in Nigeria today?



Of course, apart from the fact that we have some states that can stand on their own, Middle Belters are impoverished. Our people are largely impoverished and we are not in control of anything in Nigeria. This is why we have to start afresh to build ourselves.



Let me give you an example – in the 50s and 60s, the North depended on the groundout and cotton pyramids as well as the tin mining on the Plateau. Today, we have Ajaokuta which is in the Middle Belt but it couldn’t take off. Now let me ask you this simple question: If the Ajaokuta Steel Company were to be in Katsina, would it be where it is in spite of all its potentials?  So, the issue is that we are impoverished and our land is now being taken over forcefully whether through grazing reserve, cattle colony, ruga or aggression by Fulani insurgents and bandits. I think they are insurgents because even the international community sees them as such.



The result is all over the place for everyone to see. Go to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. It is the Middle Belters that you will find there because their communities have been sacked and taken over by these insurgents.



In Plateau State, they have even gone ahead to change the names of these communities that the Fulani herdsmen have taken over to Fulani names. That is now to say we are now practicing some kind of internal colonisation and annexation of territories. It is as if there is no democracy and rule of law in Nigeria.



How can some armed invaders come, sack a village, kill the people and take over their community when we have a government, the Nigeria Army and the Nigeria Police? Nobody cares. Nobody arrests anybody. They settle there and rename the place and it is now their own. Our ancestral lands are being taken; it cannot continue and we are going to resist it. Very soon, it is either they leave on their own or they will be sacked. We cannot continue like this.



Are there sons of the Middle Belt who are governors and are   working with you on this project?



Of course there are and we are consulting them. I can’t name them now. All I can say is that there are some who have come out openly to identify with us and there are also others who are covertly saying: Yes, we are with you, but we cannot come out.



Whatever may be the case, once you are a Middle Belter, we cannot say we don’t want you. All of us are one and the same. Middle Belt is not about religion, it is about collective interest for survival under an oligarchy that has been so domineering and so ruthless. Look at how appointment are being made under the current dispensation. Middle Belters contributed to President Muhammadu Buhari’s coming to office but he doesn’t see us as people existing in the country. So we are waiting. The time is going, the clock is ticking and everybody is wisening up every day as the time goes on.



What would be your message to your fellow Middle Belters and other Nigerians at this time?



Middle Belters should unite and be resolute that they are true Nigerians. They have no other place than Nigeria. They should stand firm wherever God has placed them in Nigeria.



To other Nigetians, I want to tell them that Middle Belters are the most peace-loving people; they are accommodating and they are true Nigerians. We are committed to having a united Nigeria where every one is equal and none is inferior to the other.



All the divisive forces whether it is Boko Haram, insurgents or bandits, came from the North. They didn’t come from the South; they didn’t come from the Middle Belt. They all came from the North. They should stop it so that Nigeria can move ahead. All divisive forces whether through government of through individuals, let them stop so that Nigeria can move ahead and let us have a better country.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Azeez

    August 18, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    you say let’s them come back home, are you going to feed them?

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Sunday Extra

Toothpaste reagents, household chemicals fueling infertility among Nigerians –Experts



Toothpaste reagents, household chemicals fueling infertility among Nigerians –Experts

•‘Nigeria ranks 8 in global fertility rate with 5.4 children per woman’

•A reduction from previous 6.35 –UN report

•Male responsible for over 50% couples’ infertility –Nordica Lagos


It’s expected that 50. per cent of women would conceive within three months of regular unprotected intercourse, 75 per cent in six months, and 80.0 to 85.0 per cent within a year, but this is no longer happening in the country due to continuous nose diving of ‘Total Fertility Rate’ which has been put to at 5.4 per woman in 2019 from 6.35 previous years. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports




n the recent time, there has been an observable but continuous reduction in both male and female fertility rates in the country, which have spurred a number of interventions to ensure that Nigeria’s fertility rates remain attractive and discourage other factors that intend to repudiate this desired achievement.



Thus, early detection of those factors that would lead to diminution in the fertility rates among Nigerian men and women; and addressing them accordingly, become the most attractive exercises to save a total of 48.5 million couples of reproductive age, who are currently facing fertility problem.



Experts, therefore, identify public awareness as a key to improving fertility rate in the country which had fallen to 5.4 rates per woman in Nigeria from 6.35 in the previous years. This, according to them, is the first point of call in addressing fertility problems in Nigeria.



The experts held that a simple and neglected issue or untreated disease can cause a woman or a man many years of fertility trauma in the future; hence, awareness creation and early diagnosis of these conditions would do the country a lot of good.



The 2019 edition of Endometriosis Walk and Carnival held at Muri Okunola Park, Victoria Island, Lagos was aimed at creating awareness against this condition, which is responsible for 40 per cent of female infertility in the country.



According to the organiser, the group that speaks up against Endometriosis in Nigeria, the Endometriosis Support Group Nigeria (ESGN), an initiate of Nordica Fertility Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos, the ailment occurs when the lining of the uterus called the endometrium grows in other places, than where it should be.



Sunday Telegraph learnt that the women affected by this disorder begin to experience severe pain, especially during her monthly menstrual period, which accounts for an estimated over 10 per cent of women all over the world.



A consultant obstetrics and gynaecologist, who is also the Managing Director, Nordica Fertility Centre, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, said the condition is equally responsible for 40 per cent of infertility-related issues in women and for the benefit of those who may not be aware, March is the month for Endometriosis.



He said: “This is why over the last 12 years, we, at the Endometriosis Support Group Nigeria, have tried to raise awareness along the condition from a time, when a lot of people could not even pronounce the word Endometriosis.



“We have raised the level of awareness, but we know that a lot still needs to be done. This year, the global theme for Endometriosis, is ‘Time to End the Silence.’ This is very apt, when you consider that most sufferers are misunderstood, misrepresented and mismanaged.



“They live their lives in pain and may never be able to share the feeling with anybody. Growing up as a child, she likely will be labeled a ‘truant.’ You don’t want to work, so you skip classes. At work, she will be termed the ‘Lazy woman’ – Are you the only one who does monthly menstruation?



“In her relationship, her partner may think she is not cooperating ‘when it’s time for Za Orza rom and you can imagine how much pain she will be going through all by herself. She is alone. No one understands her. No one can feel what she feels. It’s a really lonely place to be.”



According to the consultant obstetrics and gynaecologist, the group decided to host a carnival which is focused on getting youths to understand this condition better   to mark the 2019 edition, saying that the condition usually starts when a girl begins to menstruate and this happens usually when she in secondary school.



He continued: “So, we all have a sister, daughter, a niece, a cousin, or a grand daughter who may be suffering in silence, living with Endometriosis. Let’s encourage them to speak out, and seek help early before it gets late.



“In furtherance of our desire to raise awareness, we have instituted an annual essay competition for secondary schools. This year we have had entries from schools outside Lagos, which is a pointer to the fact that more and more people are getting to know about Endometriosis.



“This competition has, since its inception, last year, raised awareness among the young digital natives on social media about Endometriosis.



“We have embarked on a secondary schools advocacy campaign to raise awareness among teachers and students, so that they all have a better understanding of the condition as such that when they see their colleagues with symptoms of Endometriosis, they will empathise with them and not disparage them.”



He noted that the major concerns about living with Endometriosis is the fact that many of the sufferers are mismanaged because the symptoms may present themselves as other medical ailments, hence medical diagnosis is an area that requires urgent attention.

The fertility expert said ESGN has consistently provided training for medical practitioners to help them focus on getting the diagnosis right to aid the management on the condition.



“We have had top international doctors come and share their experiences with Nigerian doctors at our Physicians Roundtable. We are lending our voice to the clarion call for everyone to end the silence, to win the battle over the silent, yet reverberating source of unfulfilled dreams, shattered dreams, emotional and physical challenge…Endometriosis,” he added.



Meanwhile, while this is one serious and neglected condition that affects female fertility in the country, there are numerous others, including untreated infections, consumption of heavy metals and other conditions.



According to the United Nations Total Fertility Rate 2019, Nigeria ranks number 8 in the world, with a fertility rate of 5.4 children per woman. The relatively high fertility rate in Nigeria, according to the UN, can be attributed to a low use of contraception, early and universal marriage, the high child mortality rate, early child bearing and child bearing within much of the reproductive life span, and high social values placed on child bearing.





The world body noted that Nigeria’s fertility rate is on the nose dive from 6.35 in 1960 to 5.4 in 2019.

Also, for the Tropical Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, an official publication of Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria, infertility is defined as the inability of a couple to conceive following 12 to 24 months of exposure to pregnancy or the inability to carry a pregnancy to term.



This definition is reduced to six months for women over 35, women with a history of painful periods, irregular cycles, pelvic inflammatory disease and miscarriages.

“It is expected that 50.0% of women could conceive within 3 months of regular unprotected intercourse, 75.0% in 6 months, and 80.0%–85.0% within a year,” it said.



Sunday Telegraph learnt that infertility is a worldwide problem, affecting 8.0%–15.0% of couples in their reproductive age. There is a wide variation in the incidence of infertility in different parts of the world.



Institutional-based studies in some part of Nigeria within the last decades reveal an incidence rate of 4.0% 11.2%, and 48.1%, respectively, from Ilorin (North Central), Abakaliki (South East), and Oshogbo (South West).

According to the World Bank Data 2017, the fertility rate of a country is a figure that reflects the number of children a woman would give birth to under two conditions: if the woman were to experience age-specific fertility rates and if the woman were to survive through her reproductive child-bearing years.



Statistically, Sunday Telegraph learnt that this represents ages 15 to 44, or in some cases, ages 15 to 49.



It says: “The fertility rate isn’t a measure of how many children each woman in a specific area has. Instead, it’s interpreted as the expected number of children, a woman who survives to the end of the reproductive age span (49) will have during her lifetime if she experiences the given age-specific rates.



“This is also known as ‘Total Fertility Rate.’ The highest fertility rates are found in countries located in Africa.”



Based on World Bank data from 2017, the highest fertility rate can be found in Niger, where the rate is 7.2. Somalia has the next highest fertility rate of 6.2. The Democratic Republic of Congo comes in third place with a fertility rate of 6.0.



Causes and treatment infertility – Nordica



Addressing the causes and way out of female and male infertility, Nordica Lagos said infertility can result from a range of factors, saying that the problems with fertility may arise if a woman’s fallopian tubes have been damaged by pelvic infection, previous tubal pregnancy, or ruptured appendix.



It noted that many women with tubal problems benefit from in vitro fertilization (IVF).



It says: “Most women ovulate every 21 to 35 days. Women with cycles greater than 35 days are considered to have oligo-ovulation. Those who do not ovulate at all have anovulation. Medical therapy is often successful in these cases.”

It was gathered that advanced age is now the leading cause of infertility in the United States. For women, age-related infertility results from a decrease in the number and quality of her eggs over time. This is also the same with Nigeria’s situation.



Also, abnormalities of the cervix is said to affect fertility. One of the most common causes is prior surgery on the cervix, such as a cone biopsy, or laser therapy to treat cervical cancer, according to Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, saying that the treatment includes intrauterine insemination and IVF.



Sunday Telegraph learnt that abnormalities to the shape of the uterus can also impact fertility. Some of these include scar tissue, polyps, or fibroids. Hysteroscopy or a laparoscopy can be used to treat many uterine abnormalities.



More so, research has shown that the stress associated with fertility treatment can be at a level comparable to the stress associated with serious illness. Patients, who seek emotional support early in treatment are often better prepared for their experiences and find it significantly less stressful than patients who do not.



Centres like Nordica Fertility Centre and others, provide individuals and couples with counseling as well as group programmes where one meets other people who experience or have the same feelings.



Researches have showed that these programmes have been clinically proven to reduce the distress associated with infertility. It’s, therefore, believed that stress reduction and counseling can help one to be comfortable and confident while undergoing treatment.



On the other hand, doctors are worried about poor spermatozoa among youths with the rising cases of marriages crashing on the account of male infertility, especially low sperm count.



Experts have cleared the air that about the common misconception that infertility is only a woman’s problem, saying that almost 50% of infertile couples are related to the male partner, either alone or in addition to a female factor.



A Professor of Community Health and Consultant Public Health Physician at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr. Bayo Onajole, who is also a consultant obstetrics and gynaecologist said low sperm count can be as result of many things, saying that the cell phones being carried about emit radiation waves which can affect sperm count negatively.



According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), low sperm count is also called oligospermia. A complete absence of sperm is called azoospermia. Sperm count is considered normal when it is between 20 million to 200 million. It is lower than normal if it is fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen.



Prof. Onajole said radio waves can damage cell division in the body an impact negatively on the male fertility.



“We use a lot of things that emit radio isotopes like television sets, microwaves and others; it depends on how long and how close we stay with some of those products. How close and how long we stay with them can lead to damage of sperm cells and therefore the sperms,” he added.



The WHO noted that having a low sperm count can make it more difficult to conceive naturally, although successful pregnancies can still occur.



It noted that the problem with sperm, including a low sperm count and problem with sperm quality are quite common in modern time, saying that they are a factor in around one in three couples to five who are struggling to get pregnancy.



Corroborating these, German and Danish researchers, writing in journal ‘EMBO Reports,’ stated that chemicals in everyday products including toothpastes, soap and sunscreen could be damaging men’s fertility.



“For the first time, the study has directly linked common household chemicals with damage to human sperm,” he said.




According to the report, some of the chemicals are found in sunscreen. Also, on the list is triclosan, an antibacterial agent that is less used now than in the past but is still in some soaps and toothpastes.



“Laboratory tests, using a level of chemicals similar to what the body is generally exposed to, showed that these chemicals affect the way sperm swims. We know that obesity can reduce sperm count.  We know that alcohol can reduce sperm count and coffee can also reduce sperm count,” the researchers said.



For those in childbearing ages, who still want to have children, the consultant obstetrics and gynaecologist, said it is important that they know some of the things that could prevent them from achieving conception.



Highlighting the problems of low sperm count, a Consultant Public Health Physician, Dr. (Mrs.) Omowunmi Bakare said it is not only low sperm count that constitutes problem for some men, saying that morphology of the sperm in terms of structure could similarly pose a challenge.



According to her, a lot of abnormal sperms abound and that is why sperms with abnormal structure pose fertility risk. She listed sperms with small head, short tail, double tail, among others as those that could pose a challenge to men.



Bakare noted that a sperm that is not able to move effectively may not be able to achieve its function.



She, however, said among factors that could impact the quality of sperm include some medications, including cancer drugs, diabetes drugs, psychoactive drugs, locally formulated alcoholic drink and alcohol use among others.



She urged men to be cautious about too high temperature around their testicle area, saying it is important that men adopt lifestyles that ensure proper breathing space for the location of male organ as part of strategies to achieve healthy sperm drive.




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Sunday Extra

Buhari’s successor should come from South East –Gen Williams



Buhari’s successor should come from South East –Gen Williams

Major – General Isola Williams (rtd) is a one – time Head, Training and Doctoring Command (TRADOC), Nigerian Army. In this interview with JOHNSON AYANTUNJI, he speaks on President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term, who succeeds the Daura- born retired general in 2023 among others. Excerpts



President Muhammadu Buhari has just inaugurated his cabinet for the second term, which he dubbed the Next Level Agenda executors. What do you make of the composition of the cabinet?



First of all, I do not understand which level we are now, not to talk of what the next level is. I do not understand the next level APC (All Progressives Congress) wants to move us to. That makes it difficult to sincerely assess the people he has chosen as ministers or ministers of state or even people for other public sector appointments.



The second thing is that in every country, there are some well known technocrats, whether they have political affiliations or not. Therefore one would expect that in the second term of the president, like he himself said, ‘This my second term, I do not want politicians as much as possible. I want to look for technocrats to be in my cabinet and who can also perform, as long as they are citizens of Nigeria. ‘In addition to that, we thought it was going to be less of political interests of the God Fathers, choosing their own candidates and giving him the free hands to choose the people who can work with him. Then suddenly, he turned around and said ‘I am going to work with people that I know, in the first cabinet, we did not see any spectacular choices or the people that he knows from the first term and pushing them to the second term. If you look at, for example, the choice of the Minister of Finance in the first term, it was not at the level of the type of Minister of Finance that we had, that everybody knows and are respected internationally, known in the financial world or in the accounting world. The person that we got was completely unknown, even in West Africa or even within Nigeria. What did we benefit from that choice? For me, the choices of people for the second term and bringing back the old people, which is weak in itself, whether in Nigeria or any part of the world, barely to bring back the same old people. He needs people with fresh ideas and new approach of doing things



For three months Nigeria was on standstill because there was no cabinet in place. As we are talking, the 2019 Budget, though passed by the Eighth Senate, is not functional yet because of the time it took President Buhari to send the list of his nominees to the Senate for screening and confirmation, after which a committee was set up to attach portfolio to ministers, What does this portend for the country?



People have spoken about governance in Nigeria, right from the first term, it appears we are being governed by people who have passed their level of competence. That has continued into the second term. When you have people who have passed their level of competence, you have problems with the institutions of governance, especially with the situation in Nigeria, where our institutions are not strong and personalities dominate more than institutionalized practices. But people coming into position of leadership in the world today, they are lowering both in ethical, competence and other standards that are associated with political leadership of the party, whether in Africa or in the UK. What that boils down to is that the followership are becoming more and more irresponsible in their choices of leadership, either through ethnicity, religion or both or they just do not care. Like a corrupt society like our own, the impact is most felt.



Would that also have accounted for the insecurity that pervades and permeates every part of the country?



That is obvious. In every normal country where there is strategic thinking and you have a serious issue with your policing and your crime fighting, you don’t post the military to do what the police can do. Whereas the military is facing insurgency within the country and they are finding it difficult to cope. The same old story: “Technical defeat”. What is technical defeat? Do we want to be like Pakistan in which you continue to fight insurgency forever? It creates instability in itself, not only insecurity and not insurgency alone. To some certain extent, the governors themselves are responsible.


However, one is seeing some signs of respite like in the North. Some governors are taking responsibilities. Look at the causes of insecurity and try to find what the root cause is. What has happened in Zamfara is a good example.  See what the new governor is doing and bringing in some level of stability into the atmosphere. The Kano State Governor just announced that he is going to convert some forest areas into RUGA settlement. He has even said that there is no need for herdsmen to cross the Niger with their cattle. Most of the problems we create; we tend to put everything on the Federal Government. With this sort of thing, it will lessen the conflict between the herdsmen and the farmers.



In case of security, the South West governors have just woken up, especially now that the committee that was formed to look into how to solve the problem has recommended Community Policing and the President has said go ahead and do so. Already, some of them have a little of it. Neighbourhood Community Watch in Lagos, the same thing in Rivers State and there are state laws to back them up. What is the difference between Neighborhood Watch and Community Policing? All that is needed to do is to have standard of uniform training, Federal Government evaluating and monitoring constantly by head of policing all over the country. The governors should discipline themselves not to use what they have created for their own selfish ends. If not, those States where you have Community Policing will fall into the same trap like the Nigerian Police.



If you create Community Policing, do not create barracks. They should live within the people. If I am living in a house with a Community Policeman as a neighbour, if we are going on the street and he collects N100 bribe from me, I will say Baba Arinola, you are collecting bribe, I will tell your wife when I get home. I will tell my wife: ‘See what Baba Arinola has done o.’ Let them live with the people. That is what community policing is all about.



Recently, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, was in Aso Rock and he said that President Buhari has approved the deployment of Drones and CCTV across the South West to tackle crime and criminality. Is this the solution?


He is just speaking off the curve. He has not talked about how to develop Ife. I think somebody just brought a paper to him just for him to say something.



He was in Abuja and spoke after the meeting with the President, following the murder of the daughter of the Afenifere leader, Reuben Fasoranti.



They are just joking. What happened to all the CCTV they bought in the past? What happened to them? When they paid for them and they wanted to install them, they asked the Chinese contractor to let them share the money. Till today, the CCTVs are in the store in Abuja. Do a pilot project to know how it works before recommending it.



You mean the CCTV mounted along the highways cannot be used in the fight against crime?


Who pays for the CCTV?



The governors said they were ready to foot the bill.




It does not work that way. If the state governors said they would pay, these kidnappers, where did they stay, in the caves or where?



They take their victims into the forests where….



(Cuts in) Most of the forests they are talking about, some people stay there. If you have community policing like I have said, can’t they organize a patrol into the forest? Where are the dense forest is in the South West that people have not penetrated?  So people who go into the forest to do illegal logging have not seen strange people there? What is the job of Home affairs and Chieftaincy ministry in each of the states? What are the home affairs for? It is the State ministry of interior for intelligence and the like. What are they doing? People talk a lot of none sense. It annoys me, as if we do not think. He just came from Abuja, he said this he said drone and…



That was shortly after the Akure – Ilesha Road became a no go area as travelers abandoned the road as a result of the rampant cases of kidnap for ransom?



People live along that road. If you travel from Lagos to any part of South West, you see people living by the side of the road, you see market and so on and so forth. If people are operating there and you have the Community Policing system there, if you have this sort of situation, it means the people are not supporting the security agency. But like you reported recently, the people who become the enemy of the state suffer. Therefore, they have to help the state for it to be safe. The State becomes secure.


The recent IPOB attack and assault on former deputy president of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, in far away Germany. What does it portend for us as a nation and for our politicians? 



The way I look at it is in the first place who invited him?



The Igbos in the Diaspora did.



If they did invite him, they are responsible for his protection. The Igbos in the Diaspora, some of them are supporting IPOB, so they are the set of people contributing money to fund the activities of IPOB. They cannot deny that. Who are those responsible for propaganda on behalf of IPOB in response to what IPOB is all about, which means that in a country like Germany IPOB’s propaganda is stronger than the Nigerian government information system.



Secondly, his going there on the invitation of Igbos in the Diaspora should know the support of the Igbos for IPOB. He should have found out what the reactions of those people who are in support of IPOB would be to his visit. He played a prominent role in negotiation for the release of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, when he was arrested and was being tried by the Federal Government. I think that has not been explained properly to the IPOB members.


Above all, since IPOB is a secessionist movement, anybody that is against the secessionist move and supports the government of the day, is an enemy to IPOB. Before IPOB, MASSOB exists. It is still within Nigeria, going about its activities in a non violent way and trying to convince people in their own way and I think, it is conditional. If they get what they need in the federal structure, there is no need to secede. IPOB has gone beyond that level.



Even though they believe that there are some requirements they need to fulfill and if satisfied that it meet their need, of course they will not secede. Going beyond that, I am sure that neither the Deputy Senate President nor the people who invited him expected that sort of reaction from the IPOB. The IPOB boys in Germany went too far. Not only did it show lack of solidarity between the Igbos, it also shows that they carried the problem of Nigeria abroad. Already, we did not have a good image, and know they are aiding the shame the more. It is very, very sad.



But then, it is also good too. It is a warning to the Igbo leaders that IPOB issue has gone to the people, they must find a way just like the people in Borno State, and they must find a way to solve the problem of Boko Haram.



Some say that the attack is a dent or hurting the ambition of the Ndigbo for 2023. Do you believe in this?



He was not seriously assaulted to send him to the hospital.  Most of them should be careful when they go abroad. The IPOB went too far. That is not the best way to defend their interest.



The war against Boko Haram is 10 years old and Nigeria is yet to overcome it, rather it is mounting and the insurgents becoming more daring…



Obasanjo has said that we will fight them for another 15 years. Again that bothers on security architecture. Like I said, in every situation where you have security problems, you review and ask yourself, have I got the right institution and the right organisational approach to solve the problem? And if it continues for that long, then it tells you that you are doing it wrong. I think some people are deceiving the president by using the word ‘technical’.. The President himself does not understand what technical is. What is the meaning of technical defeat? People are dying every day and you are talking about technical defeat. Until people stop dying or being killed, there is nothing technical about that. There are soldiers’ graves all over the place.


There is the allegation that the war commanders do not want the war to end because they are making money from it…



(Cuts in) In every war, there is corruption. The only difference is that in our own here, there is continuity to the point that the other day, somebody was moving N400 million by road and the human beings and the money disappeared. That is why we need drones. We do things that make people abroad laugh at us. How can a general whose soldiers are in the war front, tell his soldiers to carry N400 million by road. It makes us a joke of the century all over the world. What they are saying is all crap.



The military has been compromised and the standard is being lowered. How would you compare the military in your days with what we have today?



When you compare the past to the present, there are socio economical conditions that have changed. What you consider to be bad then, today you consider it as normal. The way the younger ones greet their elders, it has changed. Obviously, there is something wrong with ethics in the military today. To some certain extent, you cannot blame the military.  There is political authority over them. When the political authority says something wrong, it calls for change. That is why you re- jig your security architecture, security sector reform, everything. Where there are no changes, what do you see? Rot.  While the Commander in Chief says I have told them to do new security architecture, put it down on paper. Give a directive on paper, executive order.  You did that for local government sector, why can’t you do that for the military as a whole. It is not only the military, the whole public sector. See the case of the Head of the Civil Service. But is it true? She has resigned and maybe she believes that if she resigns, the whole thing will die down. What she did… Many would tell you that many houses you see in Abuja belong to Civil Servants. Haven’t we seen many people in whose account money were paid into? Is it from their normal pay?  The answer is No!


There is this apprehension that the release of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) may lead to more trouble.


I do not think El-Zakzaky will be crazy enough to become like the Boko Haram.  The only thing that can happen is that if he dies in detention, then he loses control over his own people.  What I am afraid may happen in their own case will be urban guerilla warfare. It is worse than Boko Haram because they strike and go back into the bush. Their own, they will be in the city and be attacking anyone all over Nigeria.



The way out of it is that the Islamic Community in Nigeria must find a way out of it.  Nigeria is not the only country where you have the Shiite people.  The Shiite is like the Pentecostal. The Sunni and the Shiite must find a way to solve the problem. The government cannot do it.



The Buhari government, two months back, honoured The Late Chief M. K. O Abiola national symbol of the current democratic dispensation by naming the National Stadium, Abuja, after him. What do you make of this?


There is a difference between legitimacy and morality and to be honoured by the people is more honourable than government. I am very, very sad that Abiola’s children did not honour their own father. You heard of Ford Foundation, Bill Gates Foundation and so on and so forth. They were dead and long gone before they were set up. Their children are not even associated with it, but they carry his name. It was not set up by the American government but from the riches of the Ford family. What stopped the Abiola children from doing that immediately the man died? He was good to many people in this country. When I was in sports, he was very generous. If they ask me to contribute to an Abiola Foundation today, I will gladly do that. Not for helping me personally but for what he did for sports in this country. I will pay a monthly subscription. That is how I feel about it. I do not care about whether they recognize June 12 or not.



There are speculations that Bola Tunubu, even though he has not made it public, wants to succeed Buhari in 2023. How feasible is this?



Yes, he has the right to aspire to succeed Buhari. It is his constitutional right. But I have a different view about it. The next leader in 2023 should come from the South East.  Obasanjo has gone for two terms, Yar’ Adua who did not complete his two terms had Jonathan who did it for him. In addition, he had one term, Buhari making two terms now. We have been rotating it. How can the South have two? Secondly, Yoruba man as Vice President, two terms. Why don’t we have an Igbo president and somebody from the middle belt as Vice President? Within Middle Belt, Plateau, Kogi, Benue, as vice President. That is what I am looking for. Any ethnic group in this country can produce one very good leader.



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Sunday Extra

Nigeria’s prisons breeding hardened criminals –Psychologists, others



Nigeria’s prisons breeding hardened criminals  –Psychologists, others

Nigerian Prisons Reforms which came alive three weeks ago, following the Presidential accent to the 2018 Prisons Bill, may have reluctantly ended the country’s capital punishment for offenders and turned the service into Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS). CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports


…say facilities must be correctional centres



•Inmates  should be better when leaving –Dr. Obioha



t is anticipatory that Nigeria will gain a lot from the latest reforms that has taken place in the country’s offenders’ management, which efficiently changed the Nigerian Prisons Service to Nigerian Correctional Service, following President Muhammadu Buhari’s signing of the 2018 Prisons Bill into law.



Sought after many decades, the new Law, also hope that Nigeria will gain handsomely if such changes are not mere expression of ‘an old wine in a new bottle’ and go beyond nomenclature change.



Of most important changes, the commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment where an inmate sentenced to death has exhausted all legal procedures for appeal and a period of 10 years has elapsed without the execution of the sentence is an inclusion to be proud of.



In this situation, the new law prescribes that the chief judge  of a state, may commute the sentence of death to life imprisonment even as it re-echoes the need for prison’s routine inspection by the Prisons Comptroller to ensure that the custodian centres (prisons) are not overcrowded.



The new law signed into law by Mr. President provides that in the event that the custodial centre has exceeded its capacity, the state controller shall within a period, not exceeding one week, notify the Chief Judge of the state, the attorney-general, the prerogative of mercy committee, the state criminal justice committee and other relevant bodies.



Sequel to this, it prescribes sanctions for any state controller who fails to notify the relevant bodies when the custodial centre approaches full capacity within the stipulated time-frame.



The new law also empowers the correctional centre superintendent to reject intakes of inmates where it is apparent that the centre in question is filled to capacity.


According to the law, the relevant information about a person’s offence, biometrics, personal history, risk and needs assessment, including the person’s psychological or mental health status and his antecedents shall be kept in a centralised database management system of the correctional service.



In the area of parole and probation, the non-custodial faculty of the correctional service, as prescribed by the law, is responsible for the administration of non-custodial measures – community service, probation, parole, restorative justice measures and such other measures as a court of competent jurisdiction may order.



For the ‘restorative justice’ measure, the Act approved victim-offender mediation, family group conferencing, community mediation and other conciliatory measures as may be deemed necessary pre-trial, trial during imprisonment or even post-imprisonment stages.



Sunday Telegraph learnt that the law prohibits torture, inhuman and abusive treatment of inmates, which bring the prisons system into compliance with international human rights standards and correctional practices.



The law also creates custodial centres for treatment of long term first-offenders; farm centres for convicts with good conduct who have six months or less to serve; opens satellite custodial centres for convicts serving three months imprisonment or less, and awaiting trial persons charged for minor offences who are required to be presented in courts without major custodial facilities.



In the new law, the goal of the institution will be to correct, reform, rehabilitate, reintegrate all persons legally interned; provide safe, secure, and humane custody for inmates; identify the existence and causes of anti-social behaviours of inmates; initiate behaviour modification in inmates through provision of medical, psychological, spiritual and counseling services for all offenders, and provide support to facilitate the speedy disposal of cases of persons awaiting trial.



It will also empower inmates through the deployment of educational and vocational skills training programmes and facilitate incentives and income generation through custodial centres, farms and industries.



Sunday Telegraph notes that if these changes apply to all facets of the country’s correctional service, respite will be coming the way of many Nigerians serving different jail terms, including those on death roll and awaiting trial.



Sunday Telegraph observes that these      changes may have reluctantly ended Nigeria’s capital punishment posture for offenders on the death roll as there has been always delay in execution of condemned offenders due to one reason or the others.



In this instance, in the past decades, it was only former governor of Edo State Adams Oshiohmole that had signed necessary papers required that allowed the hangman to perform his duty on a certain offender.



Sequel to this, it is hoped that Nigeria has automatically stalked into the league of other countries of the world that have thrown capital punishment off-board.



According to Emeka Obioha of Department of Safety and Security Management, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa, the main reason for establishment of the prison institution in all parts of the world, Nigeria inclusive, is to provide a rehabilitation and correctional facility for those who have violated the rules and regulations of their society.



In the general issue of imprisonment as an aspect of punishment, he noted, the retributivists and the deterrent philosophers’ stress that a deviant should be punished in order to pay him back for his actions and to deter him or others from committing crime.

According to him, it’s on this basis that imprisonment is appropriately conceived as a formal perspective of inflicting pain on the individuals, which has been an aspect of the traditional criminal justice system in various societies in Nigeria.



“While imprisonment is a prescription, prisonisation is the process of living within a confinement known as a prison, a physical structure in a geographical location where a number of people live under highly specialised conditions, utilise the resources and adjust to the alternatives presented to them by a unique kind of social environment that is different from the larger society,” Obioha said.



He noted that there are obvious basic social and cultural characteristic that are present in the prison community and other total institution alike, which do not exist in the larger society.



Obioha continued: “The prison community with its distinct culture and way of life epitomises a complete design capable of changing the attitudes of individual members for good or bad depending on the personal experience and the social network action.



“The way of life in the prison provides the means and ways for the adjustment processes of inmates.  Its culture is a dynamic one, which consists of all sorts of value reorientation and internalisations.



“The Nigerian prison system was established in accordance with three forms of penal legislation which operate alongside each other in the country; the Penal Code and the accompanying Criminal Procedure Code Cap 81 Laws of the Federation 1990 (CPC); the Criminal Code and the accompanying Criminal Procedure Act Cap 80 Laws of the Federation 1990 (CPA) and the Sharia penal legislation in 12 northern states, which applies to only Muslim members of these states.”



Sunday Telegraph gathered that on the basis of imprisonment policy, the prison service was established to manage criminals in prison yards.



It constitutional function empowers the Nigerian prisons now Nigerian Correctional Service to keep convicted offenders (prisoners) for safe custody, keep awaiting trial inmates in custody, until law courts ask for their production, punish offenders as instructed by the law courts, reform the convicted prisoners and rehabilitate and to reintegrate prisoners who have completed the sentences in the prison.



It was based on this premises that Obioha inferred that the main aim of establishing the prison institution in all parts of the world including Nigeria is to provide a rehabilitation and correctional facility for those who have violated the rules and regulations of their society.



According to Benjamin Okorie – Ajah Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, a lot has been written and are available on the issue of criminal justice administration in Nigeria.



He investigated the nature and cause of criminal justice failure in Nigeria, and observes that Nigerian prisons have become breeding ground for criminals instead of being corrective homes, hence the reforms was inevitable.



He recommended that unethical practices by the criminal justice administrators should be checkmated and controlled effectively for efficient correction of inmates, adding that introduction of non-custodial sentence in the Nigerian justice system will correct imprisoned offenders as expected.



The prison system, according to Adebisi Oyewo, is the stomach of the state. This is because the institution is expected to serve as the melting point for the activities of the security agencies. The Nigerian prison system was established in accordance with three forms of penal legislation which operate alongside each other in the country.



He said, “The primary duty of the criminal justice system is to dispense justice in accordance with the due process or rule of law. In practical terms, justice system is concerned about the determination of the guilt or innocence of a suspect, and the allocation of punishment that is fair and proportional to the convict’s offence.



“The system according him it’s an embodiment of crime regulating techniques, which represents the whole range of government agencies that functions as the instrument of the state to enforce its set rules necessary for the maintenance of peace, order, and tranquility.



“Similarly, it is a system comprising of many bodies, groups, institutions or agencies that have been charged with the responsibilities of ensuring social agreement and mass compliance with the law, and deciding whether or not an individual is guilty of violating the laws of the society, and the appropriate punishment to be meted to such an individual.



“Indeed, the fundamental nature of justice is most glaring particularly in the field of criminal justice system where none of the parties should be denied of it. The person accused of having committed the crime, the victim of such crime, that is, the offended, and the society itself, all deserve justice.”

More so, the above assertion was given a judicial imprimatur by late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa while commenting about the necessity of doing justice in the administration of criminal law.



He said: “Justice is not a one way traffic. It is not justice for the appellant only. Justice is not even only a two-way traffic. It is really a three-way traffic justice for the appellant accused of a heinous crime of murder; justice for the victim, the murdered man, the deceased, whose blood is crying to heaven for vengeance and finally justice for the society at large, the society whose social norms and values has been desecrated and broken by the criminal act complained of.”



He noted that everybody deserves justice as citizens cannot survive unreasonable and unbearable social conditions, unless administration of criminal law is anchored in justice, both the person who set the machinery of justice on motion, the accused and the entire society whose law has been violated deserve justice.



“At the low rung of our national life, you have tens of thousands of persons languishing in jail on awaiting trial while at the upper echelon, you have intractable thousands of corruption and financial crime cases bogging down the judicial system as the manifestation of this failure,” Adebisi added.



Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari, last month, signed into law, the Prisons Bill, 2018, which changed the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) to the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS).



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Sunday Extra

Wild reactions across continent will force South Africa to its senses, says Keshi



Wild reactions across continent will force South Africa to its senses, says Keshi

Ambassador Joe Keshi is a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at various times Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of Nigeria in The Hague, Netherlands and Nigeria’s Consul-General in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. In this interview with BIYI ADEGOROYE,  he weighs in on the recurrent xenophobic attacks in South Africa and the retaliatory reactions of many African countries in their disappointment by the complacency of the South African government and the people’s ignorance of history


What is your general overview of the xenophobic attacks on some foreign residents in South Africa which have reportedly claimed about 200 lives since 2016?



My general view is that we should look at both sides.  We have spent the last few days dwelling on the negative and the rest of it, but what matters to me is what I consider the latest development as a result of attacks in South Africa.



For instance, for the first time we are witnessing a wild continental reaction, in the sense that quite a number of African countries, including Nigeria are reacting to the latest attacks. Interestingly enough some countries have taken some bold steps bearing in mind that this is not the first time such attack have taken place.



Nigeria, for instance has drawn the red line. So the fact that both government and citizens of various countries have reacted the way they did has escalated the matter and South Africa is beginning to feel the depth of the peoples’ feeling to the xenophobic attack on other Africans doing business in South Africa.



The other significant part of it is that this is the first time I’ve srrn some serious reaction from the government of South Africa. In the past they have been very complacent. For instance, you must have seen their Foreign Affairs Minister coming out to make a statement over the implication of this issue. The important aspect of these positive developments, either from the angle of African leaders or the people is that some concerted efforts should be taken to bring to an end these incessant killings of Africans doing business in South Africa.      



In particular, how do you see some African countries’ boycott of the World Economic Forum Summit and violent reactions in Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Congo DR?



You must have observed that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Malawian president too boycotted the event. The Zambian national football team too had shunned the match slated for South Africa. It is a welcome development, because it sent a very strong and unambiguous message to the South African government that enough is enough, and that we have tolerated this behavior for too long. And that that the government of South Africa should take the bull by the horn and deal with the situation because it is getting out of hand. So we praise the African leaders who carried out the boycott of the Summit and also got those who had arrived there to join the boycott such that they would not participate in the event. And then it sent a clear signal to the South African government to do something urgently about these attacks by the miscreants in their society.



It has been alleged that the attacks were precipitated by a campaign promise of President Cyril Ramaphosa. Don’t you agree the South African government is tacitly stoking the fire?



I’m not too sure that this was what the president had in mind during his campaign. Number two, I’m very skeptical about promises politicians make during elections, because during elections politicians make statements they don’t even remember after the polls. Bear in mind that the president was inaugurated not too long ago and since then, I don’t think he has done anything significant about it. The point now is that they are watching and seeing global reactions and protests against the attacks and that will definitely goad them to take some actions.



That is not to say that some politicians in South Africa might not be using the situation to promote their political interests. What we need to look at now is not those who stoke the fire or started it, but to inspire South Africa to be very firm in dealing with these miscreants that committed these attacks and looting of  shops in Ekurhuleni, Tsahwane and Johannesburg Central Business Districts of African residents in their country.



You must have observed that the South African president has also convened a security meeting to address these violent attacks, even as his government had also called on its people to stop the attacks on foreigners in Gauteng and Kwazulu Natal, Pretoria and other parts of the country. The fact is that no amount of criminality and sporadic attacks can address the grievances. The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and the South African High Commissioner in Nigeria, Bobbie Moroe have also held joint press conferences to douse the tension and articulate actions being taken by both countries.



How do you see the trending video where South African Deputy Police Minister, Bongani Nkongi, justified the xenophobic attacks because 80 per cent of residents of South Africa cities and towns like Hillbrow were foreigners who are taking their jobs and constituting a political threat?



Apparently, this young man has no good sense of history. He did not realise that he would not be in that post today but for the assistance, or external efforts, including Africans that compelled he whites to give up power, thereby dismantling apartheid.



Also, he is also telling us that he is more interested in protecting his job than helping to address the problem. For me he is playing to the gallery and we can afford to ignore the statement. One of the countries that suffered most in the war against apartheid is Zambia. Many times, the South African defence forces of the apartheid regime raised and bombarded Zambia and Angola Why? This was because President Kenneth     Kaunda was at the forefront of the battle against apartheid. That is why that minister and young people like him who have no knowledge of the apartheid struggle could make such statements. I must add that he also exhibited the fact that he has no clue of security management and protection of the people, and he should be on the side of the rule of law and order in the society not criminality. 



Giving African leaders’ support for and huge investment in the dismantling of apartheid as you have observed, would you say the current treatment of Africans resident in South Afrcan reflect that of gratitude?



Many of them are still alive, though a lot of them are dead, but I can tell you that they will feel very disappointed and I’m sure the governments of these countries have said so. But I don’t know how knowledgeable the bulk of the young men in South Africa today are of the assistance of the global community especially of the African continent to their struggle. They too, and the African National Congress members should educate the people and help them to be more accommodating of the Africans than they are now in their respective communities. 



Could it be said too that the level of criminality and youths restiveness were because of the failure of the ANC government to deliver, or that they went to sleep as soon as apartheid was dismantled?



Absolutely and this is because ANC went to sleep instead of rebuilding the nation after the defeat of apartheid. You have to look at the character, nature and level of these miscreants who carry out these attacks and looting of shops. These are basically uneducated or half-educated or are very lazy and lacking skills required for employment; these are people who are jobless and have no means of livelihood.



So these are people who believe that they have not benefitted from the dismantling of apartheid; these are people who feel that successive governments in South African have failed them. As part of that failure, they also believe that South African governments have allowed citizens of other African countries to ‘take over’ what belongs to them in terms of businesses and job opportunities, that these are these foreigners running their streets, their stores and the rest of them. When they see these people, they become envious and this invariably leads to these attacks.



You must also know that role poverty plays in this kind of situation. The other side of it is that we must not forget what Franz Fanon said in one of his works, the ‘Wretched of the Earth,’ that when the oppressed cannot go after the oppressor, he turns to himself. So you can see that these miscreants today have no courage to attack the white minority in South Africa who control 80 per cent of the nation’s economy.



They do not have the courage to go after the South African government that has failed to change their economic situation. And so the only people they can see who are within their community, who they perceive as their ‘oppressor’ are the blacks foreigners who are doing well. These fuel jealousy and they form part of the things that lead to these kinds of attacks. There is no doubt that the perpetrators of these acts are those who have failed, and there are millions of them who have not benefited from the black government that has been in power for so long. And you can see that in the last election the ANC lost considerable votes. If you have a very strong dynamic leader leading a pack of other people, I am sure he will beat the ANC mercilessly in the next election.



Don’t you think this may spell unimaginable problem in Africa economically too?



It is not only South Africa, but everyone. As you are conducting this interview, I got some pictures from a very good friend of mine whose auto shop was vandalised on Airport Road in Lagos during the protest. You are also aware of the number of Shoprite outlets and South African investments that have been vandalised across the country. For all you know, some of them are owed by Nigerians.



If I’m right I also read that the police killed one of the protesters in Nigeria on Wednesday and one or two others have been killed in some parts of Lagos during these protests. These people are Nigerians. That is why I want to tell you journalists to be more rational than being emotional about your reportage of issues like these because they can have far-reaching damaging consequences.



If they close MultiChoice, Shopright, PEP and MTN along with other South-African investments in this country, it is going to be a huge loss to their parent companies in South Africa and even to us here. Similarly, many Nigerian artistes and activists have canceled their various engagements and participations in some events slated for South Africa in the next few weeks to commiserate with those who lost their lives in the attacks. You can’t have this kind of situation without some economic consequences.



How do you think the current government action of recalling of Nigeria’s High Commissioner and sending of special envoy – timely or appropriate?


Government has taken three main actions. I thing the most visible was the boycott of the World Economic Summit in South Africa. I think that is welcome and the decision to send a Special Envoy to South Africa too. The idea of sending a Special Envoy was to convey a strong message and make it very clear, that the attack on Nigerians was very unacceptable, and also to gather information as to why these things re-occur. In this regard, they envoy will speak to the Nigerians, speak to the South Africans and the government and report back to the Nigerian president. That will help the president and his team take the next line of action.



I heard that we have also recalled our High Commissioner in South Africa. If I have to advise, I will say that we should have left our High Commissioner there because the Nigerian High Commission in Johannesburg at this time needs a string leadership because of the crises. I know that the Special Envoy has gone, but with the South Africa government trying to deal with the situation they will need the contributions of the ambassadors and high commissioners on ground. At this time, I can see the South African Foreign Affairs Minister calling a meeting of all the ambassadors and high commissioners there to brief them about government action over this. Even if our Charge d’Affaires attends such meetings, he is not given the same status as the High Commissioner but that be as it may, they have made our position clear to them and we leave it at that.



As it is right now, what should the AU do and who should it hold responsible?



The best the AU can do at this moment is to hold ANC and the South African government responsible for these attacks. They must also raise the issue at the next meeting of African Heads of Government because when a country signed the Free Trade Agreement,  it is actually promoting free movement by persons, goods and services as well as economic co-operation and the ultimate is common market across the continent.  No, a country cannot sign this agreement and begins to attack those who are trading or doing businesses and bringing these agreements into practical reality in their country. Or it begins to say ‘no, some people cannot live in my own country.’ That is unacceptable; it does not work that way. It is one agreement we have to live with and ensure Africans are free to move in different directions to promote trade and development. That is what happens in Europe that many people move around the continent in practical realisation of their trade agreements within the European Union.



What about the claims that some of the victims of the tacks are drug peddlers and perpetrators of other crimes?



The issue of criminality is no excuse for these frequent extra-judicial barbaric killings and other behavior of the miscreants. There is a saying that two wrongs don’t make a right. The fact that you have criminals in your neighborhood does not mean you should take laws into your hands. That is why you have the police; that is why you have what former governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajumobi called ‘constituted authority’ to deal with this matter. It is not just a very lame excuse but also attestation to the failure of the government to ensure security of lives and property and that is another reason the Deputy Police Minister should take responsibility for the attacks because he has failed his own people.



Policing is an executive function and it is government’s failure to rein in the criminals in those communities that made the people to take laws into their hands. The judicial system in South Africa has been lenient with the crimes even as the utterances of the young minister have contributed to this crisis. Secondly, anywhere you see illicit drug traders, you can be sure that some individuals in the police force are involved and I have no doubt in my mind that some police officers in South Africa are involved with the drug dealers and these policemen should be investigated too. It is instructive, though that over 100 of these miscreants in South Africa have been arrested for these barbaric acts.



How can we stem this tide of mass migration of Nigerians abroad?



That is what I call domestic dimension to these crises in South Africa – even though this is an area many of my colleagues are uncomfortable with me. We should not neglect our economy as a country. Indeed the earlier we develop this Nigerian economy the better for us to stem this tide of mass migration. Migration is fueled by under-development and we should stop taking back seat in this development of our industries and the entire nation to stem the tide. 



On the other hand, I will advise Nigerians abroad to desist from flaunting their wealth, but keep a low profile while making their money and plying their trade. Thousands of Nigerians are doing great in the educational and health institutions in South Africa and they operate within the law. They deserve government protection even as we reciprocate that here. They should live within the laws and keep low profile and avoid raising avarice among their neighours.




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Sunday Extra

JAKIN NGO distributes free school kits to 500 orphans to mark World Literacy Day






he International Literacy Day is celebrated all over the world every September 8 and to commemorate the day, JAKIN, a non-government organisation gave out free school kits to 500 orphans and vulnerable children.



The children are drawn from 86 government schools including 39 primary schools and 47 secondary schools across nine LGAs in Lagos State.



For the past 10 years, JAKIN NGO has been at the forefront to help eradicate illiteracy and promote education, especially for orphans and vulnerable children through their annual ‘Dress a Child for School Project’.



Between 2010 and 2018, JAKIN NGO has dressed 3, 750 children for school.



In her welcome address, the founder of JAKIN NGO, Mrs. Olubukola Adebiyi, recounted the laudable works of JAKIN NGO for the past 10 years since the inception of ‘Dress a Child for School Project’.



“In 2010, JAKIN NGO spotted this critical need for education and literacy and commenced our journey of joining the global community in commemorating the September 8 International Literacy Day by investing annually in education of Nigerian children with 200 orphans.



“With the help of our committed partners, this number has grown yearly from the initial 200 to 3,750 orphans and vulnerable children in this 10th edition. To further buttress our relentless dedication to improve the standard of education in Lagos State, we celebrated our 15th year anniversary in October 2018 with the renovation of a block of two dilapidated classrooms at Regan Primary School, Onike in Mainland LGA. Today we are dressing 500 orphans and vulnerable children for the next school year and we are encouraged to do much more for the education of our children,” she said.



She went ahead to present brand new school kits containing: two uniforms, a school bag, one pair of sandals, two pairs of socks, a dozen exercise books, math sets and branded pencil case containing all necessary stationaries to 500 beneficiaries comprising 255 males and 245 females out of which 234 are in primary schools, while 266 are in secondary schools.



The Chairperson of the occasion, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo, the Commissioner for Education, Lagos State said: “What JAKIN NGO is doing is a wonderful thing. Mrs. Adebiyi obeyed the call and is making a difference.  When you give, God gives you more and unbelievably, even to you and your family. Going to school is important and you cannot have a career without going to school.



“As I look at these children you clothed for the next school year calendar, I see our presidents and governors in the making one day. God bless you and your team.”



The event was hosted by veteran comedian, Koffi with songs rendition by Monique and dance by Cymbal dance group.



There were presentations from the JAKIN Children’s Club, which included drama, a fashion parade and news presentation which briefed the audience on current happenings in the organisation. Awards were also presented to the sponsors for their contributions.

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Sunday Extra

Demolition: Community where displaced residents live in wooden kiosks



Demolition: Community where displaced residents live in wooden kiosks

Occupants of the demolished Pako stalls, shanties and kiosks along Lagos-Badagry Expressway in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State, are currently living with their wives, children and relatives in wooden kiosks like poultry birds in search of daily bread. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA spoke with some of them



It was an unbelievable reality at Pako area along Lagos – Badagry Expressway where families and friends live in wooden kiosks as would poultry birds among other domestic pets. Such strange reality drew our correspondent’s attention to these physical features and kept him wondering what manner of hardship would warrant a mother, father, children and relatives to assume the lives of poultry birds and other domestic animals in a cage.


Come rain come shine, these nuclear and extended families find refuge in the kiosks which are no more than five feet in height and therefore, cannot allow anybody to stand in it. The kiosks itself can barely accommodate them. Perhaps, the only one with elevated height should be 4.9 foot while majority of others live in kiosks less than this as the pictures shows. During the Sunday Telegraph’s visit to the area, one could see them crawling inside the kiosks with their legs showing from the cave-like doors with polythene bags as their signature curtains.


The residents of the enclave sources materials with which to make these living kiosks the way one goes in search of the materials to build. The kiosks are not such that would allow for cross ventilation. While some of the residents have completed theirs and parked in with half of their loads outside, others whose ‘flats’ are yet to be completed go about scavenging on the site to complete theirs. Sunday Telegraph’s close observation showed that the kiosks were made from old planks, zinks,


PVCs and others rejected materials from the shanties which were demolished. These kiosks were built on waste and refilled area of the buffer zone along the axis. All waste materials, ranging from used carpets, tarpaulin, old zinks, and plywoods among other waste materials were present in their kiosks which formed raw or building materials for the new ‘estate’ on the filth. This, perhaps, underscores the level of poverty in the country, where the poor cannot afford the lowest price decent accommodation.



This also poses a danger for the state and other people as the area is gradually turning into a slum.


These people survive by supplying labour to building sites and carrying people’s load in the market, especially building materials to their destinations and get paid. Some of them also survive by scarvenging.


Further observation showed that they do not make use of mosquito nets yet living happily and roam about the market seeking for load to carry and eke a live. The trucks they use in carrying the loads are being registered and hired. In deed, the God of the poor is great.



For Ishakwu Abdullahi, he will continue to live in the kiosk at Pako until he is able to turn his fortunes around. He is looking forward to get a gate keeping job which will enable him to have a better house and sell small articles and make money from it, by so doing, he can bring his fiancee to Lagos to assist him.



He believes that once he has a gatekeeping job, he can easily aford a more decent house and still make a small amount of money from his stipend that can sustain him and his would be wife.


Adamawa born, has no regrets coming to Lagos or living in kiosks while waiting for better and rewarding tomorrow. Ibrahim Musa, another occupant of the ‘estate’ on filth is not scared of or being of snakes and scorpions in the kiosks even as their kiosks were built in a boundary with buffer zone forest which had never been cleared for at least 16 years running. He reposed all right of protection to God, saying, “God will not allow snakes to enter our house but if the snakes and scorpions come, we will kill them.”


He continued: “We have anti snakes (snake expellant). We put it around the house and snakes will not come near. We have seen anybody bitten by a snake here. We are many in my room, we are up to seven people; they are not my family members; they are friends.” Ibrahim, who supplies labour to customers who wish to buy wood and other building materials at the market, said water does not enter into the house when it rains but Sunday Telegraph wondered the possibility of that claim. He said: “Some people live with their families. Children also live here with us. Our women cook and sell food here; we buy food from them. We hire the truck or wheelbarrow that we work with since I don’t have enough money to buy my own.



“If I take this truck out of here, I have to pay for it. So, I have to see your load and we bargain price before I will go and get the truck to carry it.” Ibrahim Musa treks great distance just to feed himself and family. If he sees a load that will reward him handsomely, he can trek from Oshodi to Mile 2 with what he is carrying; he is a very fast walker. “At first, I was sympathizing with one of them who came to carry my woods and boards. I was trying to call a vehicle to carry them based on the distance and weight of the woods but I didn’t know that I was trying to take away job from him,” said a customer, Mr. Dike Ibemezina.


He continued: “Funny enough, when we had settled on the service fee, I went to my house to rest before I could get to the site where he will drop the materials considering the distance, but before I knew it, he was       already at the site calling me to come. “These boys are really taking jobs from motor vehicles. They are helpful because they do not charge as high as the vehicles do. Also, some of the are reliable as they can be your guarantor should your money finish in the market.


You can call your customer and tell him to send some materials to you through them and you pay upon delivery. “They can carry your load and on getting to your house, you will give them the customer’s balance and they will give it to the person and save you the stress of going to and fro the market.”


Wondering how safe it is for them to live there without the government coming to demolish the kiosks and their property, Ambrose Shekaru said, “No, they will not demolish it. “If they see that people are living in it, they will not demolish it. We don’t have anywhere to go to now.


We have been living in our shops before it was demolished and some of us just came to Lagos to make money and run away from killings in the North.” According to him, they decided to make these kiosks home in order not to attract government’s attention since it will not be too visible while travelling on the expressway, except somebody goes to report to the government. “We are managing here. May be we will move to another place after but we get our daily food from the market,” he said.



Sunday Telegraph learnt that these people, especially the Hausa extraction there deal on recycled goods like used glasses, woods, mattresses, roofing sheets, rugs and so many other places. For used window glasses, one can get one for as low as between N100 and N200 depends on the size of it while 2×2 roofing wood sells for N200 instead of N300 or N350 per new one. Also, 2×3 wood sell for N300 instead of N500 for new ones. It was learnt that many people who make use of these prefer these recycled woods because they appeared to have been fully dried and stronger than the new ones.


More so, it’s easier for them to know the wood that cannot be eaten by ternites when buying the old ones. According to a carpenter, Isaiah Moses, any old wood that has not been eaten by mots while it was in used cannot be eaten again, saying that they are stronger than the new ones.


Sunday Telegraph learnt that major of the Hausa extraction living in this place are those who just came to Lagos in search of greener pastures who had nowhere to stay. “I came to Lagos four months ago. My brother brought me to Lagos to help him in his business (recycling business) and we are living here together. I don’t know anywhere here; he is the one that knows where we get the used materials,” said Ismaila Audu from Zamfara State. “I have been hearing about Lagos and today I am here. I like here better than Zamfara. I carry loads for people and I collect materials that people don’t use. We sell it and make money.



Some Alaba Aragun people come to buy from us and send some of them back to the North,” he added. More so, it’s also worrisome that despite the filth on this axis, women were seen cooking food in commercial quantity. Some of them were seen cooking with 10 gallons of brass pot and other 20 gallons which they sell to their men and other people. A food vendor, identified as Ajiah, was selling her food on the debris together with a suya seller, who was processing his suya amid swarm of house flies in different sizes.


If one is a suya lover and sees this man and his suya, one might lose appetite for suya for ever. “I sell my food in the market and sometimes, I finish what I cook and sometime, it will remain. I cook rice, bean cake and our native foods,” she said. Ajiah, the mother of two, was thankful to God for the opportunity given to her to be in Lagos where, according to her, she makes money and send some home for upkeep of those in Sokoto.



Meanwhile, unofficial figures show there are thousands of others between the ages of 19 and 28 now in Lagos State. They live in inner city centres and in remote corners of the state. In fact, these people, especially those who buy disused materials are present in every remote community in the state. Aside other occupations, 80 percent of those coming into Lagos from the core-north Hausa Fulani enclave are from Chad, Niger, Somalia, Cameroun and far flung Sudan.


They are unkempt, but tend to provide an essential service to the citizenry, considering the state. Some of them have taken advantage of the services they have monopolised to commit all sorts of atrocities that have led to loss of lives and property.


They are regrouping again and forming cells. At this time, living in kiosks and have no form of identification. Perhaps, these are the things the Lagos State government feared and demolished the shanties, stalls and steads along the axis which it said hoodlums used as hideouts.


Recall that the Governor of Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had earlier in June, during an inspection of the dilapidated state of the road on the axis, directed relevant agencies to ensure removal of all illegal shanties, shops and other illegal structures impeding movement of traffic, constituting security threat as soon as possible to allow for smooth operation of the ongoing road rehabilitation project.


Sequel to this, the state government issued a seven-day ultimatum to owners of illegal trading kiosks and shanties along Lagos- Badagry and Oshodi-Abule Egba corridors to vacate the routes for a clean-up exercise aimed at reclaiming rights of way for free passage of vehicles and salvaging the aesthetics of the environment. After the elapse of the seven-day notice, the demolition started on the two major routes, affecting linear settlements obstructing free flow of traffic along the corridors. And today, kiosks are being built to replace the demolished shanties and steads.


According to Lagos State, the clean-up intervention is part of implementation of the Executive Order declaring zero tolerance for traffic management, public works and indiscriminate dumping of refuse, which was signed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on May 30, 2019.


Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Taiwo Salaam and Chairman of the state Task Force, Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, Olayinka Egbeyemi, led the enforcement team which commenced exercise from Eric-Moore Orile-Iganmu, area   of Apapa. Salaami, who addressed the media, explained that the state government had earlier issued a notice of ‘Removal Order’ to all owners of illegal structures which include; shanties, Kiosks and makeshift shops along Okokomaiko to Badagry and Iba-LASU road on the need to immediately relocate as taskforce had been mobilized to embark on demolition exercise of such structures.



On notice of ‘Removal Order,’ he said; “The Governor was touched by the discomfort being experienced on a daily basis along the axis as a result of these bad roads and vowed to ameliorate the sufferings of residents, commuters plying the Okokomaiko to Badagry Expressway by rehabilitating the road.


“Therefore, we have to embark on general demolition exercise of all the shanties, kiosks and makeshift shops within these areas starting from today, Tuesday.” Egbeyemi stated that criminals seized the opportunity to hide in some of the kiosks and shanties to carry out their nefarious acts, especially at night, hence, the need to clear the structures with immediate effect. “There were several complaints and reports of armed banditry along the axis where motorists and commuters were being attacked and dispossessed of their valuables, as well as maimed in the process,” he added.





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Sunday Extra

Ologbondiyan: Yahaya Bello should be ready to vacate govt House



Ologbondiyan: Yahaya Bello should be ready to vacate govt House

National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kola Ologbondiyan is confident the party will win the November 16 governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states. Ologbondiyan who spoke in an interview, advised Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello to begin to prepare his handover note, reports ONYEKACHI EZE


Recently, a group known as PDP South Youth Vanguard, accused PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus of interference in Bayelsa governorship primary. What do you have to say about this?



The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is very procedural and we won’t allow the party to be stampeded into taking actions that will negate the principles of our party as a democratic party.



Therefore, the process is on and the party has not reached any conclusion in respect to issues raised concerning those elected into office, either as chairman or councilors in Bayelsa State. The party is still holding meetings with respect to this.


It is absolutely misplaced for anybody or any group of people, to come together and say that the party has taken a decision and also make allegations that the National Chairman had played a role in whatever form in that process. We have constituted committees to go and conduct the three ad hoc delegates’ election. And I can clearly say that the governors who chair those committees, to the best of their ability were wonderful in their performances. As such other processes will follow.



Also, the party has a channel where there are grievances, there are channels that members and aspirants can explore when there are grievances. We have the appeal committee at every level of our internal democracy. So if there are issues or grievances, the aspirants or members should recourse to the appeal panels rather than coming out to make frivolous allegations.



Are you insinuating or suspecting that the agitation was being sponsored by any of the aspirants?



We run a political party that is very democratic and that is open, that is transparent, that is clear in its content and decisions. And as such we do not envisage that any member of our party or any aspirants on the platform of our party will instigate internal crisis in our party. We do not know whether this people were being sponsored or they acted on their own. Our position is that PDP has not taken an form of decision in respect of that issue, and it is totally and absolutely incorrect for any person or group of persons to make allusions to the character of National Chairman of our great party.



Why is it that the National Chairman was accused of trying to influence the primary in Bayelsa State alone and not in Kogi State. Do you think that there is more to it than meets the eyes?



Am telling you that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Working Committee, have not reached any decision in respect of that issue. People who are making these suggestions, as far as the party is concerned, are acting on rumours, not on the things that have happened in our party. That is the point I want to make clear. You cannot make allusions and allegations against the person of the National Chairman, whereas the party has not reached a conclusion on the issue. It is misplaced, it is wrong.



In the last general elections, APC won a senatorial seat, and about two House of Assembly seats in Bayelsa State. This is a state that was considered a PDP stronghold, and even produced the president of the country. Now APC thinks that it can take the state from PDP. And from what we are hearing, the house is divided in Bayelsa State. Don’t you think this is a serious threat to PDP?



Bayelsa State is a traditional home of the PDP. As a matter of fact if there is anything today, we, as a party call on Governor Yahaya Bello to begin to write his handover note in Kogi State because even Kogi State was a traditional home of the PDP.



On the issue of Bayelsa, the state is a traditional home of the PDP. We are in democracy so APC has right to run an election, but there is no way that the people seeing what is happening in Nigeria today across states and in Abuja, looking at the massive failure of the APC and its government, seeing the way they have reduced Nigerians to beggars, will now begin to gravitate towards APC. Bayesians will not do that.



Where we have issues internally as a party, we can assure our members and the entire Nigerians we will ensure that democratically such issues are resolved. However, we will rather advise APC not to waste Nigeria tradermoni in Bayelsa State under the guise of empowerment, because it is a no-go area.



Has there be any petition by any of the aspirants with regard to these issues?





There were petitions but these petitions will go to the Appeal Committee. For us in the National Working Committee, it is the report of the Appeal Committee that will come to us. And it is on the account of that the National Working Committee will act. So if the report of the Appeal Committee has not come to us, how can anybody make allegations against the person of the National Chairman or against the National Working Committee?



Recently, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Cross River State resigned and joined the governorship race in Bayelsa State. Your party has reacted to this. Does he not have the right to aspire to political position?



He did not just resign but he resigned within the premises of INEC, and that tells you the story: that he is a member of APC, that the APC and Buhari presidency, placed their members in the respective INEC offices to write the results for them. Otherwise, how could an umpire, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, right within the confines of the premises of INEC make a partisan declaration of being a member of the ruling party. That tells you the direction of what PDP has being saying, that APC manipulated the 2019 presidential election.



PDP in Kogi State appears to be in disarray. The two former governors, Ibrahim Wada and Ibrahim Idris seem not to be working together. Don’t you think this might affect the party’s chances in the election?



In Kogi State, the PDP will remove Yahaya Bello as a united political party. There are no divisions in the PDP Kogi State. What is happening is a normal democratic order, where interests contend. It is normal. So   there is no difference in the area that those who are making these vicious allegations are suspected. Whoever the members of PDP in Kogi elects as their candidate in governorship election will surely defeat democratically, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State. So the people have been energized in Kogi State.



They have seen suicide, they have seen sufferings, they have seen non-payment of salaries, they have seen a government that works for four years and yet they have no single project. They have seen looting, and as such the people themselves are ready to vote out Governor Yahaya Bello. And from what is happening in their party, you don’t need soothsayer to tell you that the APC is in disarray. Or do you need any soothsayer to tell you that just as Governor Bello was imposed on APC in 2015, they are trying to do another imposition. And as such, the people of Kogi State are prepared, they are ready to vote out Yahaya Bello and the APC.





Are you not worried that they might use federal might to rig the election?



Federal might! Was there no federal might in Adamawa and in Bauchi states during the last election?


Why did the party dissolve the exco in Kogi State to create a level playing ground but failed to do so in Bayelsa?



In Kogi State, it is not dissolution per se, it was that the life of the then exco has come to an end, and there was the need to elect a new exco. That was what happened; it wasn’t dissolved to create a level playing ground.



Former PDP National Chairman, Ahmadu Ali has not been participating in party activities in Kogi State. Is it an indication that all is not well in PDP in the state?



For outsiders who do not understand the character of Kogi people, this could mean something. The people of Kogi State are already fed up with Yahaya Bello. We are talking about a governor who couldn’t pay pension in many years. Some of our parents in Kogi State are being owned to the tune of 39 months pension.



As we speak, there are arrears of salaries that have not been touched, people have been sacked for no just reasons from their places of work, the economy of the state have nosedive because civil servants who are supposed to ginger the economy of the state are not paid. So the people are just waiting for who to rescue them. And the PDP will provide a better alternative to Yahaya Bello.



Naturally the people of Kogi State will vote for PDP.  The party is intact and we are all working towards a singular purpose of putting an end to the maladministration and the misrule of governor Yahaya Bello.



And Kogi people, for your information, cannot be bought with money. They are not goods on the shelves that Governor Yahaya Bello will just wake up and say ‘if I pay this amount I will win.’ Don’t also forget that Kogi State has history of changing their governors at their convenience.



In 2003 the late Prince Abubakar Audu was voted out of office because of non-payment of salaries. We are talking of a people whose culture is civil service. And you are owing them salaryies? That is the same reason Prince Abubakar Audu was removed from office.  So the people of Kogi State have natural way of determining who has done well or who has failed them and they will naturally replace anyone who has failed them.



So what you are saying that the Federal Government should not waste money in vote-buying?



Democracy can only thrive in an environment where peaceful conduction of election is allowed. So what we are saying is that the INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has the ample opportunity to cleanse his image with Bayelsa and Kogi elections. We expect him as a party to conduct an election that will be clean, clear, credible and that will be generally acceptable to majority of Nigerians. Anything outside of that, he will further not only diminish the INEC chairman but that institution.



So you are confident that PDP will win the elections?



In any free and fair election, PDP will win, there is no argument about this because they are traditional PDP states.

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Sunday Extra

Eulogies as Madam Ngochindo is laid to rest in Rivers



Eulogies as Madam Ngochindo is laid to rest in Rivers

Eulogies and tears flowed freely recently as residents of Ogale, in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, mourned the demise of Madam Evelyn A-ye Ngochindo at age 86.


The sympathizers and mourners said her death touched them because Madam Evelyn Ngochindo was like a benefactor by her motherly attentiveness and readiness to offer her counsel whenever the need arose. The Dean Emeritus, Archbishop Niger Delta Province, His Grace, Most Rev. I. C. O. Kattey, who spoke at the funeral, described Madam Ngochindo as a woman who dedicated her life to God while she was alive.



“I knew her in the 70s when she gave her life to Christ. And since then, she has been dedicated to God.” Also, one of her daughters, Rev. (Mrs.) Ntobari Y. Kattey, described her as a “strong woman” who sacrificed a lot for her children to attain their current status in the society, while the deceased’s son, James Epobari Ngochindo said he missed “a very hardworking and industrious mother.” He added: “Mama you welcomed everyone who came in contact with you with an open heart and also took them like your own.”



One of her in-laws, Archbishop (Dr.) Moses O. Kattey, fondly remembered her for being part of the Scripture Union for Bible studies decades ago after accepting Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. Kattey recalls that it was a period when women of her age rarely participated in such event.


“She showed our wives how to be faithful and committed to the things of God. And I must say that displayed strong commitment in her duties as a Christian in Seven Days Adventist Church,” he said.


For those she left behind, especially including her children, grand-children and great grandchildren, she exemplified love as a firm believer in benevolence, and the huge role the family plays in realizing goals of members, Madam Evelyn helped build a formidable family founded on love, unity and respect for others. For several others, including neighbours, and her peers, she stood out as a pillar who strengthened the faith of many in God in trying times.



Some of them said that she always had time to spare for others on issues bothering them. Born on April 20, 1933 to the family of late Nkpala Nkele of Ngesia and late Madam Lale- Obo Ajiwa in Oku-be Eba, also of Akajo, Eleme, she studied up to Standard 3 and got married to late Elder Victor Achi-Emereobo Ngochindo at a time the education of the girl child was not given priority.


But as a woman with a strong will to contribute meaningfully to her marriage, she learnt how to read, write and interpret the Bible and became an Adventist. Years later, Mama started several successful businesses, which she used in supporting the family. Blessed with eight children, she is survived by four, a man and three women, whom she instilled discipline into, especially the need to be humble, treat people with re

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Sunday Extra

Tension as cerebrospinal meningitis hits Lagos



Tension as cerebrospinal meningitis hits Lagos

•Outbreak kills 489 in Nigeria –Reports

•My son learning how to walk at 15 –Victim’s father

•Meningitis should always be viewed as medical, emergency, says WHO •‘Isolation of the patient not necessary’


The recent outbreak of deadly cerebrospinal meningitis in Lagos, a rare disease in the West, is currently sending shivers down the spines of Lagosians. This potents great danger to the state even as medical experts wonder the possibility of such sickness in temperate Lagos climate. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports



hat Saturday morning started like a normal day with hopes and aspirations for Master Justice Anya. He was happy and hopeful as he prepared for a wedding somewhere around Badagry. Had he known what was lurking, he would have wished it away.

It started like a normal high temperature which was calmed by the medicine his mother administered on him upon his complaint that he was having a fever.

The innocent boy and his mother didn’t suspect anything deadlier than fever as they administered another drug, suspecting malaria, on the Sunday morning when he woke up vomiting and still running temperature.

After he returned from church service, the parents discovered that the vomiting and high temperature were still there before he complained of stiff nake experience, which made them think otherwise.

It was at this point that his parents considered it necessary to call on their family physician who suspected a case of meningitis that sunday evening but nothing was done as it was late.

Early on Monday morning, he woke up, went to the bathroom and had his bath. He picked up his toothbrush to brush his teeth but midway, he noticed he couldn’t stand nor walk again.

He managed to sit and shortly after, his mother came calling, but his hearing had gone. He couldn’t hear his mum call and couldn’t speak either, which gave the mother a great concern to pick up her cell phone and dialled another doctor’s number.

Again, the doctor who was called upon, also suspected a case of meningitis and this prompted the parents to take him to the Federal Medical Centre, Ebutte Metta, where he was rejected on the reason that there was no bed space.

At this point, his system had collapsed, he lost the control of his nervous system and urinates as well as defecates without control. He lost feelings and sensations.

They immediately moved him to the Military Hospital, Yaba, where drugs were administered and spinal fluid taken from his spinal cord, lumbar puncture as it’s called medically, for examination.

But they couldn’t complete this procedure because the military facility lacked the requisite equipment to do so.

Sequel to this, he was referred to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos, where with doctors battling to save his life.

It was at the LUTH that it was discovered that the 15-year-old, Justice Anya had Acute Bacterial Meningitis, a diseased widely believed to be endemic to the northern Nigeria before now, owing to its intemperate climate.

Traumatised by this sickness, the father of the SS3 Justice, who is working hard in his career line to become an accountant in future, Mr. Emma Anya, is fearful and constantly praying to God that his son does not remain on the wheelchair.

“I’m constantly praying to God not to allow my son to be on the wheelchair. As a father, I’m depressed. It’s even better for my son to hear with a hearing aid than to be on a wheelchair, crippled,” he said.

He continued in optimism: “I know there is hearing aid which he is using now, but I can’t imagine him to be on a wheelchair, crippled after 15 years. I never knew that this is a vicious disease killing faster than AIDS.

“Of course, I have spent fortune in the hospital, staying almost a month in the hospital. Only hearing aid cost N500, 000 for one ear. There is another one for N750, 000 for one ear, and for two ears, you have to pay N1.5 million and so on.

“I watched my son’s system within the space of 48 hours slumped. It’s a traumatic experience. I’m psychologically depressed. I constantly pray that he bounces back and joins his mates in school to pursue his dreamed career in accountancy.

“He is currently on physiotherapy and the physiotherapist said it will take six weeks for him to get his posture back. My son is learning how to re-walk after 15 years of age. He walks and stagers. He had a renal failure; he can’t control his urine anymore and he wears

carteter at 15.

“We went for MRL and his spinal cord wasn’t affected so there is hope that he will walk again. We are believing God for his awesome miracles in his life.”

Thus, the recent outbreak of severe cases of meningitis in Lagos State is currently creating tension among the residents. Medical experts are wondering the possibility of such sickness in a moderate climate in Lagos.

Their worries were further compounded as why the rare sickness is known to be endemic to the hot temperate region of the northern Nigeria, found its way in Lagos during the rainy season.

Many people feel it’s totally abnormal to see such deadly disease in Lagos, which prompted the government to set out in search of vaccine to protect children in Lagos.

Professor of Medicine and the Medical Director, Chidicon Medical Centre, Owerri, Imo State, Dr. Philip Njemanze said meningitis is not much of a weather issue, rather issue of overcrowding and other factors.

He noted that the massive displacement of the people from the North to the West could be responsible for the unusual sickness.

He said, “Massive displacement of northerners, which results in many of them pushing westwards cannot be left out in the outbreak of meningitis in Lagos. It’s not all about weather, should anyone of those coming to the west escaped with the disease, it will manifest here.

“It’s a consequential situation as the people find their way to Lagos for succour, they may have come with untreated meningitis which now manifested in him in lagos or transferred it to another person. So, it doesn’t need to be weather thing.

“As you know, there is a high movement of people along the LAKAJI corridor. The Lakaji Corridor was named from the three largest cities along the trade route (Lagos-Kano-Jibiya). The corridor runs along eight major states: Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kwara, Lagos, Niger, Ogun, and Oyo states.

“Over 54 million people live along the corridor, accounting for almost 30% of Nigeria’s population. Agropreneurs along the Lakaji Corridor are involved in the production of cassava, cotton, fruits and vegetables, groundnuts, rice, maize, shea, livestock, and many other agricultural products.

“So this corridor allowed them to move through it and get to the west. They move from one border or the other.”

Meningitis is a serious infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, which can cause brain damage. ‘Stereotype C,’ a new strain of meningococcal meningitis, emerged in Nigeria in 2013.

According to a consultant Surgeon with Havana Hospital, Lagos, Dr. Cynthia Okafor, the average incubation period is four days, but can range between two and 10 days.

She noted that the most common symptoms are a stiff neck, high fever, sensitivity to light, confusion, headaches and vomiting, adding that in infants, bulging fontanelle and ragdoll appearance are commonly found.

She said, “A less common but even more severe, often fatal, form of meningococcal disease is meningococcal septicaemia, which is characterised by a haemorrhagic rash and rapid circulatory collapse.

“Even when the disease is diagnosed early and adequate treatment is started, 8 percent to 15 percent of patients die, often within 24 to 48 hours after the onset of symptoms.

“If untreated, meningococcal meningitis is fatal in 50 per cent of cases and may result in brain damage, hearing loss or disability in 10 per cent to 20 percent of survivors.”

Corroborating her, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said meningococcal disease is potentially fatal and should always be viewed as a medical emergency.

It noted that admission to a hospital or health centre is necessary but isolation of the patient is not needed, saying that treatment with an appropriate antibiotic must be started as soon as possible.

The world body said the treatment with an antibiotic should be ideal, after the lumbar puncture has been carried out if such a puncture can be performed immediately.

WHO continued: “If treatment is started prior to the lumbar puncture it may be difficult to grow the bacteria from the spinal fluid and confirm the diagnosis. However, confirmation of the diagnosis should not delay treatment.

“A range of antibiotics can treat the infection, including penicillin, ampicillin and ceftriaxone. Under epidemic conditions in Africa in areas with limited health infrastructure and resources, ceftriaxone is the drug of choice.”

Sunday Telegraph learnt that Nigeria is one of the 26 countries within the extensive region of sub-Saharan Africa known as the meningitis belt,’ where large epidemics occur.

According to Flourish Chukwurah, the outbreak peaks in the dry season in certain states due to the low humidity and dusty conditions and usually end as the rainy season approaches, saying that Nigeria records some of the highest incidences of the disease on the continent.

“Meningitis is a tough disease, especially during this period, and it is associated with overcrowding, understanding the living conditions in the country, people must keep their building ventilated,” he said.

The WHO’s fact sheet has it that meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis, a serious infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Sunday Telegraph learnt that meningococcal meningitis is associated with high fatality (up to 50% when untreated) and high frequency (more than 10%) of severe sequelae. Early antibiotic treatment is the most important measure to save lives and reduce complications.

WHO noted that meningococcal meningitis is observed worldwide but the highest burden of the disease is in the meningitis belt of sub-Saharan Africa, stretching from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east.

Sunday Telegraph learnt that a variety of organisms including different bacteria, fungi or viruses, can cause meningitis. Meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial form of meningitis, is a serious infection of the meninges that affects the brain membrane. It can cause severe brain damage and is fatal in 50% of cases if untreated.

In 2017, the WHO reported that a meningitis outbreak killed 489 people in Nigeria, saying that the country’s Center for Disease Control reported 4,637 suspected cases.

Speaking on the diagnosis and prevention of meningitis, Dr. Efekodo Wilson said Initial diagnosis of meningococcal meningitis can be made by clinical examination followed by a lumbar puncture showing a purulent spinal fluid.

According to him, lumbar puncture is a procedure that is often performed in the emergency department to obtain information about the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of a patient.

He noted that the bacteria can sometimes be seen in microscopic examinations of the spinal fluid, saying that the diagnosis is supported or confirmed by growing the bacteria from specimens of spinal fluid or blood, by agglutination tests or by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

“The identification of serogroups and susceptibility testing to antibiotics are important to define control measures,” he noted.

On the prevention, he said, “Licensed vaccines against meningococcal disease have been available for over 30 years, saying that there have been major improvements in strain coverage and vaccine availability.”

He, however, lamented that no universal vaccine against meningococcal disease exists till date, adding that vaccines are serogroup specific and confer varying degrees of duration of protection.

He noted that there are two types of vaccines available, which are polysaccharide vaccines used during a response to outbreaks, mainly in Africa and Chemoprophylaxis, antibiotic prophylaxis for close contacts, when given promptly, decreases the risk of transmission.

According to the WHO vaccines are either bivalent (serogroups A and C), trivalent (A, C and W), or tetravalent (A, C, Y and W). They are not effective before 2 years of age. They offer a 3-year protection but do not induce herd immunity.

“Conjugate vaccines are used in prevention (into routine immunization schedules and preventive campaigns) and outbreak response. They confer longer-lasting immunity (5 years and more), prevent carriage and induce herd immunity.

“They can be used as soon as one year of age. Outside the African meningitis belt, chemoprophylaxis is recommended for close contacts within the household.

“In the meningitis belt, chemoprophylaxis for close contacts is recommended in non-epidemic situations. Ciprofloxacin antibiotic is the antibiotic of choice, and ceftriaxone an alternative.”

In the meningitis belt, chemoprophylaxis for close contacts is recommended in non-epidemic situations. Ciprofloxacin antibiotic is the antibiotic of choice, and ceftriaxone an alternative.

Meanwhile, Lagos State government under the State Primary Health Care Board (PHCB), on Friday flagged-off meningitis vaccination in the State in order to get rid of ‘Men A meningitis’ and protect children against same.

Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Primary Health Care Board (PHCB), Dr. Tayo Lawal flagged off the exercise at the Primary Health Center, PHC, Palm Avenue, Muslim, Lagos.

Speaking during the flag-off Lawal said meningitis is a devastating disease and remain a major public health challenge, adding that “the wellbeing of our children is paramount to the future of Lagos State and Nigeria as a nation.”

He stated that meningitis is an infectious disease affecting the lining of the brain and capable of causing serious fatalities, “this is especially so for States in the Meningitis belt in Nigeria,” adding that many organisms cause meningitis including viruses, fungi and bacteria.

“For bacterial Meningitis, the most common cause is Neisseria Meningitidis, Meningitis is known to commence at the peak of the dry season and stops abruptly in the rainy season. People of all ages can be affected with the bacteria, children between the ages of 5-14 years being the most vulnerable,” Dr Lawal said.

He encouraged all parents and guardians in all localities in the State to embrace immunisation services in all the Primary Health Care Centres (PHC) across the State, especially the newly introduced vaccine Men A that is available in all Primary Health Care Centres in the State.





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Sunday Extra

RUGA shouldn’t be a national issue –Ganduje



RUGA shouldn’t be a national issue –Ganduje

Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, the governor of Kano State, is one of the governors who survived the recent re-election by the whiskers. In this interview with journalists, he speaks on some national issues, including the alleged crisis in his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). He also gives account of his achievements in the first tenure as JOHNCHUKS ONUANYIM reports



Can you talk about the achievements of your government in your first tenure?


During the last four years in Kano State, we witnessed a lot of developments. But I will just mention the very conspicuous ones because there are projects which you can see and programmes which you may not see, but may hear about.


We tried as much as we can to improve the outlook of Kano metropolis. Kano, being a mega city, the issues of transportation, road network and security as well as water supply are very important. In other to improve the transportation system and road network, we had to introduce a number of new designs in form of road inter change.


We introduced flyovers, constructing a flyover of almost two kilometres to Sabon Gari and an under pass at Kofar Ruwa and another one at Madobi Road and Zoo road. We also constructed hundreds of kilometres of roads across the various local government.


In the area of youth employment, we embarked upon the training of our youths in different skills and gave them employment. For instance, we undertook a survey and found out that most of the motor mechanics in Kano are road side mechanics and in the present transportation system, vehicles are computerised. So we signed an agreement with Peugeot Automobile Nigeria to train at least 1000 auto-mechanics engineers. We took 75 to them, they spent one year and graduated and were given certificates and empowerment. All of them are gainfully employed now.



We took another 200 made up of 150 boys and 50 girls who have graduated and so, women are now auto mechanics in Kano. We have taken another 250 made up of 200 boys and 50 girls who are expected to round up by November this year after which, we take another set. We also undertook another research to found out the skill that will give our youth automatic employment after training or become self employed. We identified 24 different skills and we employed a consultant to advice us on what to do with that. The consultant designed an ultra modern skill acquisition centre and prescribed the types of equipments that should be installed. Everything is being completed and will soon be commissioned by the Vice President. We spent over N5 billion on it including the equipment and we are naming it after Aliko Dangote because of his dexterity in providing employment to Nigerians.



Has any other sector benefitted from this?



In the health sector, we discovered that there was a big problem in the funding of health and we decided to introduce the contributory health scheme modeled after the National Health Insurance Scheme. This has been very successful in Kano. All our civil servants have cued in and we are now extending it to the private sector and the vulnerable will benefit free of charge from the scheme.


In order to increase funding of health, we introduced the Health Trust Fund.  Five per cent of our IGR every month goes into the basket and one per cent from the local government is also paid into the fund monthly. Every month, we have at least N150 million paid into the basket and that is assisting our drug revolving scheme and the funding of consumables in our primary health care scheme. We also decided to build an ultra modern hospital in order to reduce medical tourism. The Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital which was commissioned by the President himself is well equipped and the first brain and spinal cord surgeries were conducted in the hospital. We believe that this will reduce drastically, the issue of medical tourism abroad. In other to regulate activities of private hospitals, we decided to establish a governing board that will regulate private health facilities where people are not being over charged, ensuring that qualified doctors and nurses are employed there so that our people will be safe if they attend private hospitals.



In agriculture, fertiliser is no more an issue in Kano State. Most northern states are buying their fertilisers in Kano. The fertliser blending plant was built by late Abubakar Rimi, but abandoned for over 25 years until we reactivated it, put in new machines and is now working 24 hours. We are no longer suffering from fertiliser issue because it is all over the state. We constructed stores in local government areas where the fertiliser is stored. If you are looking for 100 trailers of fertiliser, you can get it in a day.



What is important now is how do we take Kano to the next level?  We have declared primary and secondary education free and compulsory, including girls education across the state. In fact, we are holding a stakeholders’ summit on education in Kano State on September 3 and the Vice President is coming to declare the summit open. What we intend to do is to ensure that instead of our population becoming a liability, it will be an asset. I am sure that you are aware of the Almajiri issue. It is a serious issue in Nigeria today and breeding a lot of security issues.



We decided to discuss with those who are operating the Almajiri system so that we integrate it with our educational system. They have agreed and will be part of the summit. We made it compulsory because any child of school age in Kano must go to school. But Kano, being a commercial centre, we have influx of Almajiris from all over the North, from Chad and Niger. So, we are submitting a memo to the Northern States Governors Forum so that we have common legislation on the movement of Almajiris from one state to the other. Unless we do that, the problem is difficult to solve in isolation and I believe that the memo will get the blessing of the northern states.



On agriculture, we are clustering our irrigation scheme and construct farm centres and irrigation facilities provided there. On the herdsmen/farmers clashes, we have succeeded in curtailing it in the state and have resolved the issue of cattle rustling and given amnesty to the Fulanis who are involved in that. Now, we are going to construct farm settlements so that the herdsmen will no longer travel from one place to the other. We have a technical committee in place involving the herdsmen themselves. We have five big forests which we are converting to grazing areas, including the Falgore Forest. We have already awarded contract and water is being provided there. We will construct some dams in some of the places. We will also provide social amenities like hospitals, veterinary clinics, markets, security posts, schools so that the herdsmen will enjoy basic facilities like any other Nigerian.



We have been saying that as a way of solving the problem of herdsmen/farmers clash, the Federal Government should ban the herdsmen from trekking from the Northern part of Nigeria to the South because along the way, you get so many problems, unless if they are domiciled in one place, then the issue of having peace and stability remain questionable. Not only that, the herdsmen men in Nigeria need to improve because herdsman issue is no more a socio-cultural issue, it should be a socio-economic issue. But the way they are managing it is socio-cultural because they have not succeeded in killing poverty and poverty had not succeeded in killing them.



You cannot call a herdsman, a poor man because his moving with cows that worth millions of naira. But if he trek thousands of kilometres you cannot distinguish him from a poor man. That is why I said that he has not succeeded in killing poverty and poverty has not succeeded in killing him. Resettling the Fulanis is the solution. Already, I have sponsored 75 of their children to Turkey to learn artificial insemination which they are practising all over now. Also, when they are settled, there is the need to introduce new system of rearing cattle.



Why did you create new Emirates?


There are three basic reasons why we created the new Emirates. First, it is because of history and demand by the people in the new Emirates. Secondly, to widen and deepen the participation of the traditional system in governance so that the traditional institution is no more an institution of regalia, but an institution that is functional, work with the people and assist the government in the implementation of important programmes and projects. Thirdly we want to create mini cities in the state so that some big towns can develop into cities while Kano Mega City will continue to grow, while other towns are improved upon to become cities.


By so doing, we believe it will improve the socio economic development of the rural areas. If we are talking of compulsory education, who will help you to ensure that all children go to school? It is the Emir, the District Head and the village and ward heads. It is the village heads that will help you in security system because the security agents alone cannot do it. It is also to improve the cultural activities. From the information we received, thousands things were bought during this Sallah because of the decentralisation of the Sallah celebration to major towns. The emirates have been created to involve them in governance which is very good. 


But that seemed to have reduced the power Emir Lamido Sanusi?


The Emir of Kano has no problem with the creation of new Emirates in Kano. Of course, he had a problem with anti corruption agency in the state and the committee did its own work and submitted a report to the state government. Many people have been appealing to allow peace and stability in the state. The state government has already said that we do not intend to remove the Emir of Kano. But at the same time, we are sceptical in controlling the anti corruption agency because it is an independent body. But I believe there is peace and stability in the state. The role the Emir played during the election has to do with his own conviction. What is important is that we have won the election and we are not going to look back.


So, the creation of Emirates has nothing to do with that misunderstanding. After all, Abubakar Rimi of blessed memory created Emirates. But Rimi was a much younger and radical politician, but he was not as experienced as we are. That was why his own emirates could not survive. But this time, I want to assure you that even though it is in the court, it will survive. This shows experience in politics and governance.


You asked the herdsmen in the South to relocate to your state. Of what benefit will this be to your state?


I don’t subscribe to the call for Fulani herdsmen in the South to come back to the North because RUGA should not be a national issue. It should be a state issue. If there are Fulanis in Southern states and want to remain there, the Constitution has allowed them to remain there. But they should negotiate with the inhabitants of that state under what terms they should carry out their herdsman issue without harming anybody. If you are existing in an environment, then you should not harm the environment and the environment must not harm you.

That can only exist when you negotiate. You cannot build a night club near a church or near a mosque. You have to negotiate with the owners of the church or the mosque. So, if you want to practice herdsman issue which is okay and beneficial, you must have a symbiotic relationship between the herdsmen and the farmers. Because of climate change and increase in population and the land is not increasing, grazing areas is scarce. You don’t have to be a herdsman now to rear cattle because anybody is free to rear cattle. That is my understanding of the situation. You can remain where you are and run your business, but you must negotiate.   


Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai says the party should abandon zoning for competency in 2023. What is your take on this?


The way I looked at it is that it is an issue between idealism and realism. Idealism is a situation whereby things should be done in accordance with ideas. If things are done like that, then everybody should have equal treatment and everybody has equal chance to contest and then, what the people decide should be done. Now, the issue of realism.


Nigeria is a multi ethnic, multi religious country with several geopolitical zones. In reality, people are yearning for participation of different political zones and not the politics of north and south. So, the reality of the situation is that people are crying of marginalisation in the leadership of the country. But the idealism is that people should participate and be elected based on their capacity. So, it is not the governor of Kano State that should decide whether it is idealism or realism. It is the party that will determine which should be applied in Nigeria and you know that it is a political strategy. So, the political party should decide which option to follow.



How sustainable is your free primary and secondary education programme and what is the status of the Tsanganyya Education policy?



The Tsanganyya system as started by the former President was a very good system. But it was a micro level. As of today in Kano, we have over two million almajiris. We don’t have the infrastructural facilities to provide classrooms for them. Even our children in the formal system, are about three million. So, you can see that the almajiris are trying to equal the number of our children in the formal system. But what we intend to do is to recruit volunteer teachers like the Federal Government has done with those teachers who are unemployed. We can give them allowances.



We are not uprooting the almajiri system because it has its own purpose. But we have already discussed with the owners of the almajiri system. What we intend to do is to post English and Mathematics teachers to those Tsanganyya schools so that the children should be able to take common entrance examination later which is a national examination.



With that they should be able to get admission into junior secondary school. That is what we intend to do to ensure its sustainability. Of course there is the issue of feeding and school uniform. For basic education, already, there is a law which makes it compulsory. So, we are not creating something new. The only thing is the senior secondary school and we intend to make a law on that. We are also inviting some corporate organisations to take part and provide corporate social responsibility in helping to sustain the system.



What is your view of Fulani herdsmen and how to tackle the problem?


There are three types of herdsmen in Nigeria. The first is those who are coming with thousands of cattle from West African countries and you don’t expect them to carry the food for the cattle. Along the way, they have to cut trees and provide food for the cattle and that create some problem. They are attacked by farmers and along the line; they have learnt to attack farmers as well.

They go about with their families on horses and donkeys and also carry arms and have graduated into being bandits. That is one category of herdsmen who are coming from West Africa. That is an ECOWAS problem which Nigeria should negotiate.

The second is the herdsmen who are from the Northern part of Nigeria. They trek through the North Central to the South. They normally don’t have a lot of cattle like the ones coming from West Africa. Those ones too create problems because of trekking from one place to the other.

The third one are those herdsmen who are born in places different from places of their socio-cultural and socio-religious origin. I am sure that in the South, you can get some Fulani herdsmen who are born there and are not trekking to come to the North, but are permanently there. They also have problems because when their young ones cannot go to school, they can also cause problems. This is my own classification and I am doing it because I am a Fulani man. So, I know what it feels to be a herdsman and business should not continue as usual. Herdsman issue should be a socio-economic venture and not a socio-cultural venture as it is right now.


What is your take on influx of almajiri to Kano


As I told you, we undertook a survey and found out that most of them are not from Kano. Some are from Niger Republic, Chad, Katsina, Borno among other. The almajiri system is not flourishing in the North-East because of the effect of Boko Haram. So, sometimes, you find a trailer load of almajiris dropping in Kano. That is how we had such large population of almajiris in Kano. There are a few of them who are from the rural areas of Kano.



What is your take on the call for revolution by a section of Nigerian youths?


This is unconstitutional and it is the creation of the opposition to some extent and those tribalists especially when you consider what happened to the former Deputy Senate President in Germany. So, it is in the imagination of all those who wants to destabilise Nigeria. It is also the hand work of those religious extremists like El-Zakzaky people. If you know what happened in Iraq, you will discover that it is all about revolution.




But in Nigeria, we have elected a government, we have a constitution, we have a legislature and if you want to change the government, you go through the Constitution. That is the most agreed means of changing a government in all countries of the world. So, the call for revolution should not be taken lightly. They should be taken to court and treated according to the rule of law.


What plans do you have for farmers?


The farmers are already enjoying their incentives from the federal and state governments. A lot of inputs are being provided by both the federal and state government. We have over 10,000 extension workers in Kano serving the workers. Our fertiliser blending plant is working 24 hours. It is not for the herdsmen, but for the farmers. I told you that we are going to cluster irrigation. We have the Islamic Development Bank coming to assist in the irrigation scheme for farmers. The farmers are the ones enjoying interventions from the Federal Government.



APC seems to be a house of commotion and plots against Oshiomhole, what is your taken?



I am not aware of governors working against the national leadership of the APC. I have not heard of any such thing. The Progressive Governors will soon meet with the National Chairman because he has invited us for a meeting. So, I have not heard of any gang up against the national leadership and if it exists, I am not aware of it and I am not a party to it.

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