Nigeria has been in socio-political and economic turmoil since 2015 as a result of the under-performance of the APC-led Federal Government. There are several dislocations across the country. There are several Nigerians living in Internally Displaced Camps, there is poverty in the land, there is hunger everywhere, there is hopelessness, there are deprivations all over, the psyche of an average Nigerian has been badly affected because of the inability of the leadership to deliberately create stop gap measures that could arrest the prevalent drifts across the country.
Our image has been badly affected as a result of the released list of 77 Nigerian fraudsters and the copious allegations of drug business by Nigerians in South Africa. This has sustained the xenophobic attacks in a manner that has brought Africa and Africans in very bad light to the entire world. It has thrown up the leadership question and foreign policy agenda of Nigeria nay Africa in the global arena, in a new world order that dwells on the development of the continent.
Within the Nigerian Federation, trust is broken down, mutual suspicion reigns supreme, ethnic bigotry prevails, nepotism has occupied a prime place in the scheme of things, while there is near absence of nationalistic vision to drive the narratives of a new Nigeria built on equity and fair representation. The anti-corruption agenda of the government has lost steam because of perception crisis. People are seeing the crusade more as a witch-hunt than any serious interrogation of the processes that could yield any positive outcomes in our collective effort to chart a roadmap for a holistic appreciation of the challenges confronting us as a country. There are too many contradictions in the system. Hypocrisy has become second nature to a government that loves praises for doing virtually nothing. We hear sounds without sounds. The sound bites we get are made up of empty rhetorics and high sounding sweet nothings. The nation is at a crossroads and the need to begin the process of national conversation is more urgent than ever before.
President Buhari does have a huge moral burden on his hands as a result of discrepancies on his claimed secondary school certificates. There have been too much hoopla hovering around the issue in the last five years and the discourse has refused to peter out because certain revelations have come to the fore. Prior to 2015, chieftains of the party, the APC, have argued that the president did have a certificate, but that it was misplaced and could no longer be found. Rather than own up to the certificate item and lay the issue to rest once and for us, further interrogation on the matter has exposed several contradictions. The issue now borders on lying on oath and under our laws, it carries a huge penalty if found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. It has also become one of the grounds against the outcome of the 2019 presidential elections. It has gotten to a time that the president, in line with his “integrity” claim, must speak out on this issue and finally lay it to rest once and for all. The process is simple; accept the flaws, apologise to the country, and resign your position as President of the country and forever remain a statesman built on integrity. But once we are still rotating on this circus show of travelling from Cambridge, through WAEC to School A or B, searching for attestations to prove what seemingly appears non-existent, it will tell on the acclaimed integrity of the President.
Leadership carries a huge burden of trying to live above board. Leaders should not be found wanting in every sense of the word. Leaders are expected to behave differently from the ordinary man on the street. Leaders are chosen because they possess certain credentials that distinguish them from the maddening crowd. Leaders are problem solvers. They possess the cutting edge knowledge that spices up their leadership roles. They give a sense of direction to all concerned and offer solutions to problems and challenges. But when a leader becomes part of the problem rather than the solution, it becomes cumbersome to create the right temperature to dispense with leadership essentials. The certificate question has continued to be a pain in the neck of President Buhari and the opportunity of the tribunal would have been a veritable platform for him to resolve the issue once and for all. But he bungled the opportunity. The same narrative has refused to go away. A nation that desires moral healing must be prepared to confront the challenge than sweeping every item under the carpet. This is why it is extremely important for the president to own up to this certificate issue and throw in the towel for the sake of posterity.
It is ridiculous for us as a country that in a 21st century Nigeria, we are still talking about certificate or no certificate of the number one citizen of Africa’s most populous country, especially in a country with massive human capital and huge intellectuality. This age of ideas is one that is knowledge-driven if any country aspires to catch up with globalisation. In a new age, with massive investment in information technology, we need leaders that have the capacity to create the right synergy to pull together all centripetal and centrifugal forces to get the right momentum that could stimulate enterprise and productivity. We are in an era of ideas and intellect. An era where creativity and innovation become handy tools to drive a new narrative that would engender a harmonious inter-relationship amongst all the competing forces. This is not an age for weather beaten rhetorics of searching for result or certificate that doesn’t exist anywhere. The president must come with clean hands. Aside from washing his hands clean, he must be seen to be above board. A nation in crisis must not have a president in crisis with his certificate. Rather than setting agenda for the country, his certificate crisis has now become an agenda unto itself. The distraction caused by this nagging issue has the potency to derail national consciousness desirously needed to build bonds and uncommon relationships across ethnic divides in the country.
The President of Nigeria as giant of Africa must not be an individual that will become a butt of jokes for other African countries, but one who possesses unquestionable credentials in his trajectory through the four walls of knowledge-based institutions. The president of Nigeria must be a leader with a hands-on approach to leadership and governance. He must possess a broad mind to accommodate all manner of persons from across a broad spectrum of the country. He must not be ethnic biased or seen to be nepotist in his conduct. He must possess a pan-Nigeria orientation and be seen to be for all irrespective of creed, religious inclination or geo-political considerations. The country needs moral healing and rearmament, and a man whose certificate has become a thorny issue cannot market hope and moral suasion.
A country that is poised to regenerate its moral fibre cannot possibly rely on a man who is burdened by his own past in terms of his academic certification. We must be bold to declare without fear of contradiction that this is a new age that comes with a different approach to doing things to meet up with the high expectations of a country that is seriously encumbered by insecurity, unemployment and gloomy economy. The present leadership of the country has shown a manifest disdain for performance and its certificate burden remains a minus for him and for the country.
The leadership lessons from the life and times of Robert Mugabe
The life and times of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe present very interesting lessons for despotic, authoritarian, absolutist and dictatorial African leaders.
That life is vanity upon vanity, all equals to vanity. That no leader transports to heaven or hell, when he dies, brute force, greed, avarice, power, money, influence, body guards, siren-blaring, motorcade, property, wealth, women, mistresses, opulence, bootlickers, praise singers, etc.
That a leader, like any other person, dies and leaves this world empty-handed, desolate, deserted, lonely, and as poor as a church rat, in the same poor state he had come into this world. He is buried alone six feet in the ground, forgotten by all, detested by the unfortunate recipients of his misgovernance, cursed by his traduces, or praised, euologised and canonized by all, if he governed well. That it is a leader’s positive impact on his people, especially the vulnerable, the poor, hapless and hopeless peasants, the rejected hoi-polloi and the denied and dejected Frantz Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth”, that determines his place and space in history. Some are remembered for the vilest of historical misdeeds and misgovernance.
Some are remembered for the greatest deeds of nobility. Late President Mugabe, who had started well and zoomed into the consciousness of his people and the world from the latter angle, when he helped save his beleaguered people, ended up consigned into the ignoble pantheon and historical oblivion of the former. Such is life. Such are the lessons for our African leaders who play tin gods, who believe that their imperiousness and power inebriation will last forever. No, it will not. Power is like the vapour of the sky. It apparent now and disappeareth the next moment. A word is enough for the wise. To say more will be otiose.
XENOPHOBIC ATTACKS ON NIGERIANS IN SOUTH AFRICA AND THE INACTION OF NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT (Part 1) INTRODUCTION
The apartheid era in South Africa saw Nigeria as one of the foremost supporters of anti-apartheid movements, including the African National Congress.
It is on record that Nigeria spent well over sixty-one billion US dollars in fighting apartheid in South Africa. Nigeria has since been in the fore front in peace keeping operations in South Africa and other African countries with devastating effect on her human and material resources.
The Nigerian government issued more than 300 passports to South Africans seeking to travel abroad during the apartheid era. Sunny Okosun, the late popular Nigerian musician, wrote the hit song “Fire in Soweto” in 1977 to commemorate the 1976 Soweto uprising against apartheid in South Africa.
He waxed others for our brothers and sisters in Southern Africa: “Which Way Nigeria”, “Papa’s land”, “No More Wars”, “Tire Ni Oluwa”, etc. In fact, all Nigeria’s Civil Servants and public officers made a 2% donation from their monthly salary to the Southern Africa Relief Fund (SAFR).
These donations were widely known in Nigeria then as the “Mandela tax”. Nigeria even boycotted the 1976 Olympics and Commonwealth Games in 1979 to protest against this hideous apartheid system. The Nigerian government and her people contributed over $10.5m to the SARF.
These included students. In 1960, the Nigerian government set up the National Committee Against Apartheid (NACAP). It provided about $5 million to the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) annually. Nigeria later founded the SAFR in 1976 to enable her bring relief materials to Apartheid victims.
When apartheid eventually ended in 1994, several South African businesses sought for Nigerian professionals to immigrate and help build their battered economy.
Over 24,000 Nigerians are estimated to be currently living in South Africa. Much of South Africa’s good will towards Nigerians for supporting the ANC during apartheid suddenly disappeared due to wrong perception by most South Africans as a result of activities of some Nigerian organised crime in their land. Truth be told, many Nigerians have engaged in criminal activities. But, this can never be justification for taking it out on all Nigerians, most of whom are innocent, clean and hardworking.
THE TERM, XENOPHOBIA
“Xenophobia” is a singular term used to describe the irrational fear developed against foreign elements, which manifests in hatred, discrimination and violence against such foreign elements. The recent horrific and agonizing wave of xenophobia which has swept through South Africa is mostly directed at Nigerians.
The tragedy of Elizabeth Ndubuisi- Chukwu marked the commencement of a reign terror against Nigeria. She was murdered in cold blood through xenophobia anger, and strangled in a hotel room in Johannesburg. Elizabeth’s only crime was being a Nigerian, a non-South African.
Till date, the culprits are still walking freely on the streets of South Africa. Businesses of non-nationals, especially Nigerians, have been vandalized, looted and burnt in areas around Johannesburg, including the Central Business District and the township of Alexandra.
The glaring failure of the government of South African to deal with the rampaging blood-thirsty crowds is seen by many as a tacit endorsement of the advocacy. South Africans have been attacking foreign nationals, particularly Nigerians, whom they scapegoat as the reason for rising rate of crime in their society and diminishing jobs and social benefits.
One wonders how Nelson Mandela would be feeling in his cold desolate grave. His idea of a truly democratic and free South Africa anchored on a society where all persons live together in harmony with equal opportunities, is furlong and distant.
The increasing competition between the two countries for positions at multilateral organisations across the globe appear to have worsened relations between Nigeria and South Africa. Nigeria has been championing the course of South Africa without corresponding benefits to her national interest.
Nigeria’s foreign policy should be “Nigeria! Nigeria!! Nigeria!!! No more, no less.
As we speak, Nigerians are being cheaply maimed in large number. Our government cannot forestall same. Many have been killed. By way of mutual retaliations, some South African brands and interests are currently facing attacks as their shops are being closed in fellow African nations such as Nigeria and Zambia. More worrisome is that just between 2000 and March 2008, at least 67 people died in South Africa in identified xenophobic attacks. In May, 2008, a series of attacks motivated by xenophobia left 62 people dead.
In 2015, another nationwide spike in xenophobic attacks against immigrants in general prompted a number of foreign governments to begin repatriating their citizens.
The Nigerian government led by President Buhari has been virtually helpless about these gruesome and unprovoked killings, looting, and arson of properties belonging to Nigerians. Most Nigerians were shocked by the irrational action of authorities at the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa, when they locked the gates against our compatriots in the face of bloody attacks. This left them to the cruelty and savagery of their assailants.
A report credited to the CEO of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri, said as at 2016, 118 Nigerians had been killed extra-judicially in South Africa, while an additional 88 had been killed since then.
These orgies of violence against Nigerians have been continuous because the Nigerian government has been too weak in defending Nigerians and Nigerian interest. The glaring failure of government to run an economy that provides jobs and reduces poverty has also greatly contributed to the mass exodus of Nigerians abroad where they are faced with human carnage. If our government were to be alive to its responsibilities, the government of South Africa would have been made to pay heavy and deterrent compensation and make restitution for the killings of Nigerians, This would have awaken the South African government to their responsibility to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians and other Africans in that country. (To be continued).
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“There are many people who feel that it is useless and futile to continue talking about peace and non-violence against a government whose only reply is savage attacks on an unarmed and defenseless people.”
(Nelson Mandela). LAST LINE I thank numerous readers across the globe for always keeping faith with the Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project, by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb., Ph.D, LL.D. I enjoin you to look forward to next week’s bumper treatise. We must revive our history. It helps us renew and rediscover ourselves and eschew past mistakes.
• Follow me on twitter @ MikeozekhomeSAN
Solving sexual problems in marriage
Last week, I promised to address some challenging issues of sexual condition of many adults. This is a common problem that is ravaging many homes and tearing apart quite a number of promising relationships. Unfortunately, it is one issue that people shy away from discussing in the open on the pretext of moral or religious grounds. Sex education has over the years been advocated that it should be incorporated into elementary school curriculum in order to equip the mind of children and teenagers for the future. Considering the alarming rate of paedophilia and misconstrued notion of sex in our society, I think now is the time for teaching sex education as a moral subject in schools.
Many homes have broken up primarily on the issue of sex. Some religious organisations do not help matters either. Sex is coded in conversation as if it’s a taboo. In the years gone by, some conservative counsellors do scare dating couples from the issue of sex. It’s almost a shame for a woman to complain if her husband starves her with sex. Such women were being derided for behaving like sluts or nymphomaniacs. Except for child bearing, women of yesteryears were schooled and conditioned to believe that sex had no other benefits.
A sexless marriage will ultimately fail. Couples that keep their sex life active regardless of moments of quarrel or disagreement will last till death comes. I know a great couple that drew a line between their personal issues and bedroom duty. They do quarrel, sometimes hotly, too. In the bedroom at night, even if the wife feels hurt or angry with her husband for whatever the issue might be, the man often demand for his right. That ends the face-off. A woman had argued that the couple did not actually quarrel. If they did, “they might not greet or like to interact with each other for days.” My response was that it was once like that with them but incidentally both of them share demanding traits for sex. One day, the man told his wife that “we are bound to disagree and quarrel; it’s normal with humans but it must never be allowed to affect my bedroom duty. I can’t take it any longer.” Thank God the couple didn’t buy into the “rape” madness where the husband could be standing trial for raping his wife. The decision didn’t allow acrimony to have a foothold in their home. Unfortunately, the woman passed on recently.
No matter how responsible and loving a man is, he has to complement with a satisfactory sex life. Ideally, between the ages of 18 and 40, men, naturally, shouldn’t have issues with their sex life. Using sex pills to enhance performance within this age bracket is abnormal. Erectile dysfunction, quick ejaculation and waning libido are indications of poor health or early genital abuse like masturbation. There are four major factors that account for weak sexual performance in men at 50 and above. They are: infections, enlarged prostate condition, poor diet and sedimentary lifestyle (lack of regular exercise). Likewise, women have frigidity, infections and psychological conditions to grapple with.
For men, the higher percentage of poor sexual performance is traceable to infections. Apart from commonly diagonised urinary tract infections, others like candidiasis, herpes and staphylococcus often deal severe blows to a man’s sex life. Half-treated infections are more dangerous. They could ruin a man’s virility completely. Therefore, men suffering from sexual weakness should consult their doctors who will prescribe the types of tests to be done. The treatment should be total and completed.
Prostate enlargement is a killer of sex life. Irrespective of sex enhancement drugs being used, it will be of a very low effect, if any, in a man with enlarged prostate. I do warn men against trying to impress women like porn stars. Sex, like a race, is at individual’s pace. The most important thing is to be satisfied. Going three or six rounds when it’s not a competition is unnecessary. Young men could do that, maybe those in their 20s and 30s could go any length using their natural energy but not so for men in their late 40s, 50s or 60s.
Women on their part need to tap energy from their men. An active sex life make the woman younger, healthier and stable emotionally. Such women do think straight, clearer and relaxed. A highly temperamental woman needs more of her husband to balance her mood. Haughty, saucy women scarcely enjoy the warmth of men. Men feel safe in the bosom of mother-like women.
I want to advise that some of the sex enhancement drugs (herbal supplements or pharmaceutical products) do not work as loudly advertised. You will realize that the hyped drug is not as effective as you were told; surprisingly, you will be encouraged to buy more to truly feel the impact. Again, many of the imported drugs have grave effects on human system on the long run. Even some foreign herbal products don’t work for our men here due to climatic conditions and herbs species.
The most annoying thing is the outrageous price tags attached to the drugs. It is a rip-off! Most of the products are sold at N15,000 whereas their unit cost might be about N5,000 or less. I have taken my time to investigate and trace the supply sources of some of these products. You will be shocked that a product that was released at N4,500 is being advertised at N16,000 online. In fact, our local herbal drug makers have joined the fray. It is argued that Nigerians only value products according to the market prices. Get yourself treated by professional and qualified healthcare providers. Herbs are much more lasting in treatment but it must be prescribed by experts. Get your life back on track by reactivating your sex life for healthy living and successful marriage.
As judiciary casts its own vote
“Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere” – Martin Luther King Jr.
The primary function of a judge is to interpret and apply the law not make it. The making of law is reserved for another arm in the doctrine of separation of powers which runs conspicuously in a democracy. Nigeria has been in this democratic journey epileptically since 1999. The three arms of government were actually institutionalized to compliment and check one another for growth and development bearing in mind that a deficiency in one automatically robs off on the other.
Since 1999 the three arms of government, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary have all performed below average. In all, judiciary is seen more as the conscience of the rest because of its revered and strategic position that allows it take the final decision when there is a dispute in the system. What it means is that the judiciary more than the other two is supposed to be above board, no wonder it’s regarded as the last hope of the downtrodden in the society. A nation with a sick judiciary is a ruined nation.
Yesterday September 11, 2019 was a special day for the country’s judiciary. It was the day the nation’s judiciary took one of the most critical decisions in country’s political life. Before yesterday, September 11 had emerged as an international date although from negative point of view. On this day in 2001 the world was visibly shaken to its foundation as the then emerging new brand of crime called terrorism took a strange and dangerous dimension. A group of religious fundamentalists led and directed by a Saudi Arabian terror kingpin Bin Ladan coordinated four terrorist attacks on the United States that brought down the twin building housing the World Trade Centre in New York, easily the tallest building in that country killing over 3,000 persons drawn from over 50 counties of the globe. Since then 18 years down the line the date has remained a day to remember
For Nigeria yesterday became a significant day not for any act of terrorism but for judicial rascality that has stood the nation’s polity on its head. The five-man 2019 Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) headed by Justice Garba Mohammad delivered its ruling on the petition filed by the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in February 23, 2019 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his party, the PDP against the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and his own party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Before Wednesday’s ruling the lead counsel of Atiku and PDP, Dr. Livy Uzokwu (SAN) had told Nigerians through the media that the outcome of the tribunal was going to affect the country’s jurisprudence significantly one way or the other. Which way for you readers will depend on how you perceive Wednesday’s ruling of the Presidential election tribunal.
Earlier also the 88-year-old nation’s constitutional law icon, Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN) who made brief appearance for Atiku and PDP had told the tribunal that the outcome of the deliberations and rulings of the tribunal was going to define the place of democracy in this country. All democratic watchers both home and in diaspora are in agreement that yesterday’s ruling was going to have far reaching effect on the way future elections are to be conducted in our clime.
In the last 24 hours the social media, the crazy platform for discourse courtesy of modern means of communications has been awash with varying reactions from the tribunal ruling. Social media warriors on these platforms had even been threatening possible political apocalypse should the outcome from the tribunal not be reflective of the public opinion and the position of the law. Not a few are in agreement that the outcome of yesterday’s tribunal will go down in history as a day to remember given the sombre mood that enveloped the nation. Pundits had maintained that the importance of the tribunal ruling lies in the fact that what was at stake was Nigeria and its democracy not just Atiku or Buhari or APC or PDP.
The ruling generated all the interests, anxiety and expectations because of so many variables, what was at stake being the highest job in the land. Now that the ruling has come and gone where do we go from here? Did the judgement agree with the public perception? If no why, if yes why?
What is it that informed the Justices arriving at their various decisions, is it law, ethnicity, religious or group political interests or what? Were they induced or intimidated by whom and for what purpose? Fact remains that this appeal level is not the final as the case is certainly going to the final court in the land, the Supreme Court. To what extent will the ruling of yesterday at this level affect the final decision of the apex court? All these permutations and even more will continue to dominate the public space until the Supreme Court puts the final nail.
But my concern which is at the centre of this week’s musing is the consequences of yesterday’s ruling on the nation’s electoral behaviour.
Judiciary as electoral ombudsman has been noticeable in mitigating and lessening the gravity of the do or die politics in the country since 1999. To what extent can we say that Wednesday’s ruling measured up to the expectations? Was the ruling able to establish the age long holding that judiciary is the last hope of the deprived in our society?
Some of the questions being raised here may never get an answer immediately because they would require some theories or philosophy of law to properly decode it, but there are some pertinent areas that does not require any technical knowledge of the law to determine. Any ruling on political matter that fails to reflect the public feeling of the matter is not going to provide the anticipated service.
Even though APC and PDP have been reacting based on their biased interests as ruling and opposition parties, there exists some aspects of the ruling that stood out beyond the technicalities.
A court ruling on sensitive political matters is supposed to be in tandem with vistas of majority of the populace. That explains why Suzy Kassem, an American of Egyptian origin writing in her book Rise Up and Salute the Sun cautioned that “if we want truth and justice to rule our global village, there must be no hypocrisy. If there is no truth, then there will be no equality. No equality, no justice. No justice, no peace. No peace, no love. No love only darkness.”
Many political watchers had expected the Justices on Wednesday to stand up and be counted among the great jurists in history but to many it did not happen but others they did their best. Charles Evans Hughes of US Supreme Court perhaps captured it well when he said “when we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.”
No matter how much long we can continue to pretend that injustice can strive in certain circumstance, an American social reformer and US Supreme Court Justice, Joseph Story here lays bare the implications of undelivered justice in a society and I totally align my views to his in this circumstance. “Without justice being freely, fully, and impartially administered, neither our persons, nor our rights, nor our property, can be protected. And if these, or either of them, are regulated by no certain laws, and are subject to certain laws, and are subject to no certain principles, and are held by no certain tenure, and are redressed, when violated, by no certain remedies, society fails of all its values; and men may as well return to a state of savage and barbarous independence.”
A word they say is enough for the wise and we should also not forget that wisdom is a virtue that comes to us as grace from God if we ask and work towards it.
Lessons from South Africa
n the “xenophobic” response to the xenophobic attacks on foreigners by black South Africans, useful lessons which ought to have been learnt, first to prevent a reoccurrence and, secondly, to avoid and or avert a tragedy of greater monumental proportions here in Nigeria, will be lost if care is not taken. “Sunkun muus, riran muus”, as they say! It sounds like Latin but it is not! It is a slang which means that even though we are weeping, we must still make efforts “to see road”; otherwise, tragedy will become double. That will be akin to what Fela called “double wahala for deadi bodi and the owner of deadi body”!
Xenophobia simply means fear/hatred (phobia) for foreigners/strangers (xeno) by citizens or owners of the land. There are citizens and foreigners in every country or community of the world, hence the saying that a slave somewhere is a free born elsewhere. So many factors cause a free born or bonafide citizen to become foreigner/stranger in another land. There is the phenomenon called emigration, in which citizens move from their country to another country to pursue some objectives which may include tourism/holidaying/visiting, schooling/studying or search for the proverbial “golden fleece”, running away from persecution/asylum-seeking; and search for the proverbial “greener pastures” or better living conditions.
There are two types of immigrants – legal and illegal. A legal immigrant stays in a foreign country with the consent and permission of the host community. He has all his papers and therefore enjoys the protection of his host community. He has virtually the same rights as a citizen for as long as his papers are okay. These papers are renewable periodically. After a period of time and having met some conditions as set by the host country, a legal immigrant can even acquire the status of a citizen through a process called naturalization. On the other hand, an illegal immigrant is a criminal in the eyes of the law and does not enjoy the pleasure of his host community or the protection of the law. Many enter legally but soon become illegal immigrants because they overstay; because they convert brief stay to permanent stay, in order words, they knew right from the time they were applying for short stay that they had no intention of returning home, so on getting to a foreign country, they just “miss”, as they say; and others because they work when they have no work permit. Some immigrants run into trouble when they engage in criminal activities, that is, when they break the law. There are also those who “stow away” by various means and who, from day one, are illegal immigrants.
Try as the xenophobic South Africans may, they will never completely eradicate immigrants from their country. There are immigrants who just must be there, such as members of the diplomatic corps and employees of international organisations. Every country is home to multinational corporations that reserve the right to recruit their staff from countries of their choice; ditto businesses legally owned by foreigners and lawfully established and run by those foreigners. It is, therefore, plausible to say that when the nationals of a country are up in arms against immigrants, some categories of lawful immigrants must be excluded. Those usually at the receiving end are illegal immigrants and legal immigrants engaged in illegal or criminal activities. It need be said, however, that in xenophobic attacks, legal immigrants can also be victims, even where they are not necessarily the target; they can also be part of the target as the divide between the legal and the illegal is often blurred in mob attacks. It is therefore advisable for everyone, both legal and illegal, to be security conscious and stay out of sight when mobs are on parade. Even where the authorities embark on well-structured efforts to clean the society of illegal immigrants, as Trump is presently doing in the U.S., legal immigrants often find themselves in the web until the wheat is separated from the chaff.
Many factors cause xenophobic attacks, chief of which is economic. When a country faces economic problems, the first scapegoats are usually immigrants who are seen as having taken jobs meant for citizens. Usually, this is just an excuse because such jobs are mostly menial, which citizens snub but which immigrants, far away from home and desperate for survival, grab with both hands. Nigeria has sent illegal immigrants packing in the past, hence the popular “Ghana-must-go” saying. Ghanaians, too, have sent Nigerians packing. There is a house in the Sabo area of Ogbomoso with the inscription “Olorun se nwon le mi ni Ghana”; meaning, “Thank God I was driven out of Ghana”! Usually, immigrants whose country’s economy is on the downward slide get derided by their more prosperous hosts. Immigrants do all sorts of menial jobs and are paid peanuts. Ironically, however, immigrants over time usually get more prosperous than their arrogant hosts. Jealousy sets in. It is exacerbated where the immigrant community is not humble but boisterous and loud. The Yoruba say “If your yam is very succulent, make sure you cover it with your hands while eating it”. Don’t expose yourself for your hosts to see how greatly you have been blessed. Abraham and Isaac suffered this kind of fate in foreign land. Jacob suffered similarly in the hands of Laban. The same Jacob chided his sons who insisted on avenging the harm done their sister in foreign land because he feared a backlash from his hosts. Lousy, arrogant, uncultured, uncivil immigrants bring ruins upon themselves.
Where an immigrant community grows to the extent that it swarms their hosts, there will be problem; as happened to the Israelites in Egypt when a Pharaoh that knew not Joseph mounted the throne. Statements emanating from South Africa reveal fears that the immigrant population in some South African cities has overgrown the citizens in their own land! Where an immigrant population is noted for crimes and criminal activities, be sure they will soon run into trouble. It is not enough, like some commentators have said; that the hosts themselves are also into the drugs trade. It is their country; if they like, let them ruin it! They do not expect you as immigrants to join or even overtake them in that enterprise. Only legal immigrants should be encouraged to travel out of any country – and it should be impressed on them to be law-abiding, humble and respectful of the sensibilities of their host communities. No country has the right to insist that its nationals must behave willy-nilly or ride roughshod over their host communities. Illegal immigrants must be punished and repatriated home. Law-breakers and the criminally-minded must also be similarly treated. Then, of course, we must fix our own country. It is because our country is hopelessly broken that our people are “Andrewing” out.
Many have reacted sharply to the ongoing xenophobic attacks in South Africa because of the gory details of some of the killings. Sheer hypocrisy! More gory killings have taken place here on a daily basis and for years and we have taken them all in our strides. Are we suddenly discovering our “humanity” simply because a foreign country, learning from our bestial ways, now treats us as we have treated ourselves? Many are also miffed because of the help we gave South Africa during the dark days of apartheid. I must admit that, in this, we did so well! Unfortunately, however, we did not build on that foundation but eroded it; not only in Southern Africa as a whole but elsewhere. Always, we make monumental sacrifices but fail to reap commensurate dividends. Failure of leadership is why Nigeria is a laughing stock everywhere. With Robert Mugabe dead, we can have some respite from his wicked, cruel, and malicious jokes – and whether David Cameron, Putin, the Chinese leader or Donald Trump, the story is the same! Gradually, one step after another, we lost the respect South Africa had for us – with the vile dictator Sani Abacha’s treatment of Olusegun Obasanjo (the darling of South African leaders) and the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and others despite Mandela’s pleas. We also worked against South Africa at the AU and in Cote d’Ivoire, among other foreign policy debacles. Mandela himself led the campaign for Nigeria’s suspension from the Commonwealth for two years over Saro-wiwa.
Rather than cry over spilled milk in South Africa or shed crocodile tears over happenings in a foreign land while same storms are gathering at home, let us address the swarming of the South by illegal/foreign immigrants before it is too late. Let South-West leaders also urgently address the taking over of their land, commerce, and, slowly, politics by “foreigners”. Already, there are rumblings underneath. A stitch in time, as they say, saves nine!
Last week’s “Like Buhari, I love cartoons” was brilliant. I read it from beginning to the end. It was unputdownable! You wove humour, satire and realism into such an interesting and compelling read. Well done! – Reno Omokri.
Xenophobia: Curing the SA perfidy once and for all
f the occurrences in South Africa weren’t that tragic and inhumane, Nigerians could vote for them as a cure for the dangerous divide in the polity, especially after the 2015 general election.
Since the news broke, Nigerians have unusually “spoken with one voice” in condemnation of the xenophobic assaults, and called for retaliatory actions on all fronts.
Although opposing forces were always at play prior to the 2015 polls, the aftermaths have polarised the country to the extent that critics cite the periods of the Nigerian Civil War as more cohesive and united than today’s society.
Nigerians no longer see “eye to eye” on any issue, thanks to the deployment of politics, religion and ethnicity by politicians and sectional irredentists to put us further asunder.
The unifier of old, “football,” which Nigerians are crazy about, may be unable to do the magic of getting the diverse tribal and linguistic groups talking on level and friendly terms. It’s as bad as that!
Compounding the situation are the latter-day security challenges posed by insurgency, farmers-herders clashes, banditry and cattle rustling, and kidnapping and other forms of criminality that have seized the country by the jugular.
This was the reading in the polity when the latest round of attacks on foreign nationals reared their heads in South Africa. Nigerians and other Africans bear the “anger” of black South Africans over alleged “take-over” of their jobs by “foreigners.”
Thus, immigrants in South Africa, many of whom engage in legitimate endeavours, have been attacked, maimed or killed, and their businesses looted or destroyed. About 200 Nigerians had died in the circumstances.
No meaningful results had come from repeated appeals to the government of South Africa to stop the xenophobic attacks, and take stern actions against the perpetrators of the bigotry.
The latest assaults, which have resonated globally, have finally roused Nigeria from its presumed docility and slumber, to take “Enough is Enough” steps to protect its citizens.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is leading the charge with its robust and yet diplomatically-couched condemnation of the attacks, and South Africa’s government failure to stem the tide.
Besides summoning the South African High Commissioner for questioning, it dispatched a Special Envoy to South Africa; withdrew participation of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town; and called for compensation to victims of the racist attacks.
Should the South African government snub the quest, as hinted by its Foreign Affairs Minister, Naledi Pandor, the Buhari administration is contemplating a legal redress, even as it wants a firm guarantee that no Nigerian would suffer future assaults in South Africa.
The fiery voices from Nigerians are all-embracing of the polity: The political class; the elite and opinion moulders; the business community; the student bodies; the organised labour; the ethnic nationalities; the ordinary Nigerians; and the media.
The novel rage is directed mainly at the failure of the government of President Cyril Ramaphosa to checkmate the wave of violence against foreign nationals on the shores of South Africa.
Two powerful platforms in the Nigerian polity: the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, sum up the feelings of Nigerians, with a series of demands to tame the South African perfidy, once and for all.
The National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, on Thursday, September 5, said the APC’s giving President Buhari the needed support base “to go on the offensive, in order to sound a note of warning to other African countries that may want to copy the antics of the South Africans.”
The party wants the government to nationalise telecommunications giant, MTN; cable television operator, Multichoice (DSTV); and Standard Chartered and Stanbic, while the landing right of South African Airways, and licenses of other franchises should be revoked.
Similarly, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Nnia Nwodo, on Friday, September 6, warned that instead of allowing the attacks to promote divisive local (Nigerian) conversations, the government should seize the opportunity to “dramatise our unity of purpose.”
His way forward is as follows: “The Federal Government must be courageous enough to announce retaliatory measures that will make it clear that enough is enough. Such measures must address specific South African assets in Nigeria, especially in the communication, oil, banking and aviation sectors.”
These suggestions came in the wake of the uncoordinated “Alluta” by principally young but infuriated Nigerians on some outlets of franchises established by South Africans in Nigeria.
But to prevent maximum damage, and earn similar rebukes directed at South Africa, security operatives, including the Police, Military and other specialised agencies, were deployed to guard South African interests nationwide.
And to indicate that Nigeria is a nation of law and order, as opposed to what the South African authorities had demonstrated repeatedly, the Nigeria Police spared no identified persons that attacked some outlets of Shoprite in Lagos.
Eighty-three persons arrested were promptly charged to a Chief Magistrates’ Court on a six-count charge of stealing, wilful damage and conspiracy, riotous acts and harming of passers-by.
Kudos to the Nigeria Police for showing their South African counterparts how law and order works: Swift and decisive, so as to deter future untoward happenings.
Save undisguised condonation and abetment, we haven’t seen such a determination from the South African government, as noted by Comrade Oshiomhole, in response to the brewing controversy.
There have been conflicting claims on the number of casualties from the instant occurrences, with President Ramaphosa giving 10 deaths, on both sides, while the Police put the figure at five. Even on the reported arrest of 80 suspects, the Police didn’t disclose the stage of their investigation, and prosecution.
It appears the attitude of the South African authorities towards the killing and destruction sprees in their land is that of “good riddance to bad rubbish” – aligning perfectly with their vain attempts to blame the series of attacks, and crimes on foreign nationals.
Indeed, Ms Pandor, South Africa’s Foreign Minister, is on all fours with this reasoning. In an interview with eNCA, a South African outfit, she said South Africans believe that many Nigerians are “harming our young people.”
Quizzed on the failure of the country’s security agencies to protect foreigners, including Nigerians, she responded: “I believe that Nigerian nationals are involved in human trafficking and other abusive practices. These kind (sic) of assistance of ensuring that such persons do not come to our country will be of great assistance to our nation.”
It’s no surprise that Ms Pandor claims there’s no compensation laws in South Africa, perhaps to counter the persistence of Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, that Nigeria would press for compensations for victims of the xenophobic attacks.
Pronouncements, and mindsets of the nature of the South African Foreign Minister’s do not help matters, especially as relations between South Africa and Nigeria are tottering.
Gladly, on Friday, September 6 in Abuja, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on behalf of the Green Chamber of the National Assembly, responded appropriately to Ms Pandor’s awful theorising about the attacks.
He said: “We reject entirely the obvious attempt to change the true narrative of events, by casting the recently organised acts of violence as merely internecine conflict between gangs fighting for turf.
“Unless it is the position of South African government that all Nigerians living in South Africa are gangsters and criminals, we demand that they reject these claims without equivocation.”
Notwithstanding the magnitude of our anger and consternation over the actions of some misguided South Africans, and the tepid, and unhelpful responses from the country’s authorities, Nigerians should exercise restraint, and await the outcome of the Federal Government intervention on the matter.
Again, the words of Gbajabiamila give assurances we should pin our hopes on. The government, he said, would not rest the xenophobic attacks on Nigerian nationals until justice was served.
His words: “Let no one be left in any doubt, we will seek, and we will obtain, by whatever means available, due restoration and recompense for all that has been lost in this latest conflagration and all the ones that have come before.”
Nothing to add except that, in order to assuage the angst sweeping the African continent, and particularly Nigeria, South Africa should apologise, and pay compensations to the victims of its citizens’ orchestrated attacks.
Shaibu Usman Dan Fodio and the Sokoto caliphate in history (Part 9)
In our last eight parts of our discourse on the above topic, we have been able to show the importance of studying history and why it should be encouraged in our educational curriculum. Today, we shall x-ray this great issue with the study of the personae of Shaibu Usman Dan Fodio.
SHAIBU USMAN DAN FODIO (15 DECEMBER, 1754 – 20 APRIL, 1817)
Usman was born in the Hausa state of Gobir, in what is now northwestern Nigeria. His father, Muhammad Fodiye, was a scholar from the Toronkawa clan, which had emigrated from Futa-Toro in Senegal about the 15th century. While he was still young, Usman moved south with his family to Degel, where he studied the Qurʾān with his father. Subsequently he moved on to other scholar relatives, traveling from teacher to teacher in the traditional way and reading extensively in the Islamic sciences. One powerful intellectual and religious influence at this time was his teacher in the southern Saharan city of Agadez, Jibrīl ibn ʿUmar, a radical figure whom Usman both respected and criticized and by whom he was admitted to the Qādirī and other Ṣūfī orders.
HOW HIS LEADERSHIP SURGED
Throughout the 1780s and ’90s, Usman’s reputation increased, as did the size and importance of the community that looked to him for religious and political leadership. Particularly closely associated with him were his younger brother, Abdullahi, who was one of his first pupils, and his son, Muhammad Bello, both distinguished teachers and writers. But, his own scholarly clan was slow to come over to him. Significant support appeared to have come from the Hausa peasantry. Their economic and social grievances and experience of oppression under the existing dynasties stimulated millenarian hopes and led them to identify him with the Mahdī (“Divinely Guided One”), a legendary Muslim redeemer, whose appearance was expected at that time. Although he rejected this identification, he did share and encourage their expectations.
During the 1790s, when Usman appeared to have lived continuously at Degel, a division developed between his substantial community and the Gobir ruling dynasty. About 1797–98, Sultan Nafata, who was aware that Usman had permitted his community to be armed and who no doubt feared that it was acquiring the characteristics of a state within the state, reversed the liberal policy he had adopted towards him 10 years earlier and issued his historic proclamation forbidding any, but the Shaykh, as Usman had come to be called, to preach, forbidding the conversion of sons from the religion of their fathers, and proscribing the use of turbans and veils.
In 1802 Yunfa succeeded Nafata as Sultan, but, whatever his previous ties with the Shaykh may have been, he did not improve the status of Usman’s community. The breakdown, when it eventually occurred, turned on a confused incident in which some of the Shaykh’s supporters forcibly freed Muslim prisoners taken by a Gobir military expedition. Usman, who wished to avoid a final breach, nevertheless agreed that Degel was threatened. Like the Prophet Muhammad, whose biography he frequently noted as having close parallels with his own, the Shaykh carried out a hijrah (migration) to Gudu, 30 miles (48 km) to the northwest, in February, 1804. Despite his own apparent reluctance, he was elected imam (leader) of the community, and the new caliphate was formally established.
With regards to the structure of the caliphate, the Shaykh attempted to establish an essentially simple, non-exploitative system. His views are stated in his important treatise Bayān wujūb al-hijra (November 1806) and elsewhere: the central bureaucracy should be limited to a loyal and honest vizier, judges, a chief of police, and a collector of taxes; and local administration should be in the hands of governors (emirs) selected from the scholarly class for their learning, piety, integrity, and sense of justice.
Initially the military situation was far from favourable. Food supplies were a continuing problem; the requisitioning of local food antagonized the peasantry; increasing dependence on the great Fulani clan leaders, who alone could put substantial forces into the field, alienated the non-Fulani. At the Battle of Tsuntua in December 1804, the Shaykh’s forces suffered a major defeat and were said to have lost 2,000 men, of whom 200 knew the Qurʾān by heart. But, after a successful campaign against Kebbi in the spring of 1805, they established a permanent base at Gwandu in the west. By 1805–06, the Shaykh’s caliphal authority was recognized by leaders of the Muslim communities in Katsina, Kano, Daura, and Zamfara. When Alkalawa, the Gobir capital, finally fell at the fourth assault on October 1808, the main military objectives of the jihad had been achieved.
Although the jihad had succeeded, Usman believed the original objectives of the reforming movement had been largely forgotten. This no doubt encouraged his withdrawal into private life. In 1809–10, Bello moved to Sokoto, making it his headquarters, and built a home for his father nearby at Sifawa, where he lived in his customary simple style, surrounded by 300 students. In 1812, the administration of the Caliphate was reorganized, with the Shaykh’s two principal viziers, Abdullahi and Bello, taking responsibility for the western and eastern sectors, respectively. The Shaykh, though remaining formally Caliph, was thus left free to return to his main preoccupations, teaching and writing.
Usman was the most important reforming leader of the western Sudan region in the early 19th century. His importance lies partly in the new stimulus that he, as a mujaddid, or “renewer of the faith”, gave to Islam throughout the region; and partly in his work as a teacher and intellectual. In the latter roles, he was the focus of a network of students and the author of a large corpus of writings in Arabic and Fulani that covered most of the Islamic sciences and enjoyed—and still enjoy—wide circulation and influence. Lastly, Usman’s importance lies in his activities as founder of a jamāʿa, or Islamic community, the Sokoto Caliphate, which brought the Hausa states and some neighbouring territories under a single central administration for the first time in history.
Readers, to see that these were all done in primary schools, not secondary school!
Fast forward to secondary school. The real big history started with renowned teachers like Mr. Ilevbare and Pabo Ozimi. We were taught the history of important historical figures and great Empires; their rise and fall. (To be continued).
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“You can’t change history. These things happened the way they did. What you can change is how you look at it and how you understand that it takes the good moments and it takes the difficult moments to move forward.” (Margot Lee Shetterly).
I thank numerous readers across the globe for always keeping faith with the Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project, by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb., Ph.D, LL.D. I enjoin you to look forward to next week’s bumper treatise. We must revive our history. It helps us renew and rediscover ourselves and eschew past mistakes.
IPOB’s pothole road to Biafra
If you want to go quickly go alone, if you want to go
far go together” – African Proverb
History tells us that the idea of Republic of Biafra came into being following the massacre of citizens of old Eastern region in Northern Nigeria in the 60s. The massacre was fallout of a military coup that disrupted the civilian administration at the early age of our independent and which was perceived to have been engineered by military officers from the East. The coup was largely seen as partially executed because of its failure in some regions.
The counter coup and the accompanying massacre were revenge from their Northern counterparts. The military Governor of the Eastern region then, Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu- Ojukwu, opened the first road to Biafra as a reaction to the continued senseless killing of his people in the North.
When he tried in vain to halt the killing he decided to take the extreme option which led to the 30-month brutal war. Over three million people lost their lives in the war. The war ended in 1970 in an understanding of no-victor, no-vanquished. Ojukwu had to go into exile in the West African country of Ivory Coast. Almost five decades after the end of the war, the issue of Biafra has refused to die down. Why? One may ask, the simple reason for that is injustice in the land and the refusal of successive leaders in the country to follow the spirit of the no-victor, no-vanquished understanding.
There was also the deliberate proxy persecution of the war by the military operatives that took over political power for over 30 years. When democracy returned to the country in 1979, nine years after the war ended with an Igbo, Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme as Vice President, the military had to rush back in 1983 among other reasons to truncate possible return of power to an Igbo as then President Shehu Shagari was contemplating. Even today some of these juntas still relevant in the polity are said to be willing to disrupt the system rather than power come to Igbo. With the military usurpation of political power again in 1983, the civil war heroes in Nigeria returned to power and literarily continued the war.
In all their political fixings, they made sure the region housing Ndigbo was put at a demerit. Even when the idea of creating six geo political zones to help in the administration of the states came up, Ndigbo got the least number of states notwithstanding that the laudable idea came from Ndigbo at a constitutional conference. Since then the marginalization of Ndigbo by successive regimes has grown rather diminish. When democracy returned fully in 1999, the Igbo phobia sprout even the more this time civilly.
The significant outcome of it being that the tripod upon which the geo-political foundation of this country was laid got distorted just to ensure that Ndigbo remain choked out of the equation. As the political asphyxia of Ndigbo continued unabated, their angst also remained on the rise giving birth to quasi militant groups to help herald the marginalization protest.
That was how Ralph Uwazurike’s Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) came into being in 1999. It was MASSOB that made sure that the candle of Biafra never goes dim at least in the heart of the people. Uwazurike did all he could both at home and in diaspora ending up in jail in 2005 for treason.
At the moment MASSOB appears to be in abeyance paving way for the arrival to the scene of the irrepressible Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu. This group arrived by opening a radio station called Biafra Radio where the marginalization of Ndigbo are highlighted in the most enraged manner living not a few including Ndigbo disgusted and aghast at the uncouth language used in carrying out these propagations. The idea of calling Nigeria a zoo country was not palatable to many Nigerians.
The popular radio station lost a lot of its listeners due to this crude unprofessional broadcast. Expectedly IPOB and its leader Kanu started losing support as a result of the illmannered approach until President Muhammadu Buhari came to their rescue by locking up Kanu and some IPOB leaders on trump up charges of treason. This needless incarceration changed the equation and returned IPOB to the heart of the people again.
Pressure was mounted on the government who got Kanu off the hook riding on a very high plinth of the public opinion. A cross section of Ndigbo leaders were happy and facilitated his release from stringent bail bond put by the court. Kanu was admonished to do everything to keep the crescendo of the struggle by returning home to harmonize strategy with Ohanaeze leadership under Chief John Nnia Nwodo that was also enjoying terrific support from the people.
The dream was to have IPOB operate as utility militia arm of Ohanaeze to push for justice for Ndigbo through restructuring from where a referendum clause could be inserted into the constitution with Biafra in mind if justice remains elusive and Nigeria fails to halt the marginalization.
The rest is now history that Kanu snubbed every advisory even from the iconic Igbo leader, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, and elected to chart his own course. He turned away from the craggy militant leader we thought he is to a mini King. He abandoned Christianity dominant among Ndigbo and embraced alien religion called Judaism.
Kanu became like the symbolic Eze onye agwanam. Even in this strange showing he still enjoyed tremendous support from Ndigbo youths enough to attract the attention of the country’s intelligence leading to the python dance that forced Kanu into exile and the declaration of IPOB as a terrorist group. An action the President General of Ohanaeze rose in brutal condemnation wondering why when the group was never armed with any weapon unlike the Ak47 carrying Fulani herdsmen who have not been so treated. Since going into exile Kanu has turned into a monster insulting Igbo political leaders and making unsubstantiated allegations against them just to ensure that their esteems are lowered in the eyes of the public.
The President General of Ohanaeze whose leadership has enjoyed extremely good support from Ndigbo became Kanu’s prime target of relentless attack. Notwithstanding Nwodo’s outstanding battles that have successfully galvanized the entire Southern Nigeria and like minds from the North pushing for a new Nigeria where justice could be paramount, Kanu and his group have continued to distract with their inflexible attack on Nwodo, reason unknown to many.
He refused to recognize all the efforts of Nwodo to free Ndigbo from the unjust hand of Nigeria current administration. Kanu continues to pursue Biafra blindly following the road full of potholes. All efforts to bring him to reason has gotten no measurable attention rather it recently degenerated into physical threats on leaders as was experienced by the former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu who was physically attacked at Ndigbo gathering in Nuremberg in Germany on the orders of Kanu. Kanu has every opportunity to be a hero and an outstanding Igbo leader but if only he humbles himself taking introspective look at his activities. It’s criminal and unjust to run away with what is dear to a people and use it to undermine them.
Biafra means a lot to Ndigbo and is in the heart and blood of every true Igbo. It’s therefore curious that the same thing is being used to sow seed of discord among them. This is clearly unacceptable and against the spirit the late Biafra hero Emeka Ojukwu frowned at when he said “What I have become, in this struggle is the mouthpiece of my people. I go where they push and no more.”
Can Kanu sincerely say today that where he is, brutalizing and demonizing partners in the Biafra struggle with his IPOB is where Ndigbo want? Certainly not, therefore, this is time for him to recoil to avoid being peremptorily ditched. Anybody hoping to realize Biafra using Kanu’s method is daydreaming and on a fantasy journey. When the ethnic Yoruba felt fatally injured politically over the annulment of June 12, they deployed all arsenals at their disposal but ensured that the unity of Yoruba race was never endangered.
The militant Yoruba youths operating as Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) subordinated themselves to the direction and counsel of Yoruba leaders. That was how the military juntas had no choice but to rest the Presidency with them in 1999. Kanu and his IPOB group are by their uncanny behaviour clogging the restructuring struggle which Ohanaeze as presently constituted is perfectly pushing. Any Biafra struggle not within the confines of standard practice for such power negotiation amounts to ramble rousing and a journey to nowhere. God help us.
Like Buhari, I love cartoons!
eno Omokri, one of the most virulent and partisan – even if forthright – critics of President Muhammadu Buhari, his administration and party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), took the president to the cleaners on his just-concluded trip to Japan (“A tale of Buhari, Nana Akufo-Addo and Toyota). That is vintage Omokri – expectedly (and justifiably?) so. Reno was one of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s aides; in fact one of his spin-doctors and social media gurus. He has, since Jonathan’s exit in 2015, proved an unrepentant and incorrigible defender of the ex-president, his administration, and party. Reno has not jumped ship like many others, defecting or crossing the carpet from PDP to APC to enjoy the now famous, even if notorious, soft-landing, a euphemism for an escape from EFCC persecution.
It is obvious Reno is not one of those desiring an “invite” – as social media language has now corrupted the word – to “come and eat” on Buhari and APC’s table. “Come and eat” was how the late Chief Sunday Afolabi, an Obasanjo Minister, described the ministerial invitation to his former boss, ex-governor of old Oyo State, Chief Bola Ige (later assassinated as sitting Minister of Justice and Federal A-G). We thank God that of all the issues with Buhari – cluelessness, incompetence, indifference, diffidence, colourless, lifeless, ruination of the economy, destruction of the nation itself, playing King Nero, nepotism, sectionalism, religious fundamentalism, name it – he has not added wilful assassination of political opponents. So we do not yet have to cast suspicious glances over our shoulders to see whether or not a Sergeant Rogers Jabilla is trailing. Except for the irritants called DSS and EFCC, critics are still free to go, as they say. So we can still enjoy the vibrant, virile, and delectable community of critics who light up our spirit and give us hope of a better (post-Buhari/APC) tomorrow. But I digress!
It interests me to hear from Reno that I have something in common with Mr. President: That Buhari reads newspapers – well, not newspapers, really, but cartoons! That is something! Many would wager a bet he never – or ever can – read anything, including memos brought before him but that, at best, aides summarise everything in a few words and then brief him about the decisions arrived at and actions taken. And Mr. President – Yes, Mr. President! – would simply nod and say with a voice full of gratitude, “tooo mad Allah!” and continue to mind his own business! Many of the cartoons Buhari reads are critical of him –that he does not call for the head of the “errant” cartoonists is very instructive. Remember: Cartoons critical of Muhammed has led to terrorist attacks in France and elsewhere. I think Buhari once joked that his nose is not as long as the cartoons portray it! Compare this with the fact that mere criticism of some state governors has landed some journalists in jail; there is one journalist who is being charged with treason right now just for being critical of a governor! Petulant tyrants! Impetuous tin-gods! Imagine if such pig-headed local champions were President/Commander-in-Chief! I remember a story about Gen. Raji Rasaki – of the “who build this gada (bridge)” fame! – that Dele Oguntayo told me: As Lagos State governor, Rasaki’s press secretary had come with “prayers” – that is what request for money is called in official, bureaucratic parlance – to take care of “press boys”. Rajaki jocularly quipped: Ki lo n pressi? Apo re lo n pressi! Ojojumo l’ori n tobi t’ese n tirin ninu paper”; meaning, “What are you pressing; it is your pocket you are pressing. It is every day they cartoon me in the papers with big head and tiny legs”. How many of our so-called democratic leaders will laugh off such as inanities?
I, too, read cartoons. Yes, I not only read cartoons, I really, really love cartoons; especially cartoons that are political and didactic. Without mentioning names, I dare to say that some of the most profound political commentators and critics of our time have been cartoonists. It is not love for cartoons that has made Buhari the flop that he is; the reasons for his abject performance are glaring for all to see, many of which Reno briliantly highlighted in his piece under review. I love cartoons that make me laugh. These days, you must laugh to kill sorrow that daily mounts in Buhari/APC’s Nigeria. I feel sad and cheated when cartoons are repeated. I mark out silly errors on cartoons. It pains that few editors pay good attention to their cartoon pages. I start to read my newspaper from the back page – after having taken a glance at the front page.
I read the columnist, then the Sports pages. I love Sports, especially foreign sports. Sadly, local sports have lost its allure. It is evidence of how the generally-pervasive decadence has spread to all hitherto vibrant sectors of our national life. I read obituaries – religiously. That may surprise many. In fact, I study and analyse the wordings on obituaries. If you devote some time to obituaries, you will marvel at the advancement our people have made in communicating with the dead. It is like the dead are listening to, reading and hearing what their loved ones and those they have left behind have to say about them. I imagine what my own children and other loved ones will say of me when my own time is up. I calculate the age of the departed and wonder at what age I, too, will depart this plane. I consider what killed who and who and wish such would not be my portion. I shudder when parents announce the death or paste the obituary of their children and say “Lord, I reject this in Jesus mighty name” In my many years of reading obituary pages, I have not come across one where expletives were poured on the departed or where their evil deeds were brought into remembrance. “Say no evil of the dead” rules the waves on obituary pages. Here, William Shakespeare is turned on his head: The evil that men do, do not live after them but are interred with their bones; only the good is remembered and adumbrated.
Being the deeply religious people that we are, we leave judgement unto Baba God, as they say. I also love reading foreign news. This could not have been otherwise since I was a foreign affairs correspondent and travelled far and wide, meeting with foreign dignitaries like Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Sam Nujoma, Nicephore Soglo, Gnassingbe Eyadema, Polisario president Abdulaziz, Gaddaffi’s number two, Major Jalloud, to mention but a few. I feel cheated anytime adverts take over any of the pages mentioned above – even though I can understand why. These are some of the pages where newspapers still manage to be different these days. The news pages are practically the same. Once you have read the news in a newspaper, you can take it for granted that you have read the news in all the other newspapers. I was aghast years back when I learnt that press secretaries write the news, together with headlines, for correspondents – and that is how the silly thing will come out the next day! No urge to be different. Critical angles are neglected. Industry is lost. It was not like that during my days – but I must hasten to add that mine was the analogue age, today is the digital! But I wonder if they do not understand that, this way, they are killing the newspaper, making it irrelevant day after day. Reno, thanks!
As far as cartoons go, I should henceforth be able to exchange notes with Buhari through my brother, Femi Adesina or my brother, Louis Odion, if issues to be discussed are technical in nature! Despite my unyielding criticism of Buhari, Femi has not failed, not even once, to respond to my SMS. I know this is grace. Michael Awe, a better friend of Femi, has not been that lucky. I thank Reno also for his lucid expose, as usual, on Buhari’s jamboree to Japan where the “Oyinbos” preferred small Ghana to giant Nigeria, making no pretence of the fact that Nigeria, under Buhari – just like it was under vile dictator Sani Abacha – has once again relapsed into a pariah in the comity of nations. They say once bitten, twice shy: How many times will Nigeria get bitten before it learns a lesson?
Buhari, if he is sincere in his fight against corruption, should also look at the sanity aspect, which was what mostly played out in the nasty judgement by the London court. He should summon all CBN governors, Finance ministers, and Attorneys-General when this debt was initially $40 million till it became $850 million, which Buhari inherited. The question Buhari should ask himself and his economic team is: How come this claim skyrocketed to $9.6 billion within four years of his regime? Does that not show how irresponsible, careless, and insincere his government and its anti-corruption fight have been? – Frank, Aba.
In Nigeria, bandits are lords
Nigeria is rapidly wearing the mega attire and ridiculous robes that easily give it away as one huge joke of a country. Decency has given way to indecency. Reason has eloped from the national fortress of citizenship participation, and unreason is implanted as the normative order of the day. Jokers are everywhere, walking along the corridors of power, in starched flowing garb, making some look like masquerades waiting for ostentatious performance at the village square. Political comedians are swelling in their numbers, each one putting up a classic display to outdo the other, in a manner that suggests unhealthy competition of the bizarre. Thieves are calling out to thieves. Kidnappers are calling out to kidnappers. Bandits are calling out to bandits. And now, governors are calling out to bandits, negotiating with them in order to stabilise an already polluted atmosphere by the unwholesome activities of criminals. The moment governors now negotiate with bandits, I knew the game was up. Perhaps, it might be more instructive to hand over the reins of power to bandits to assure us of safety and security. It is like securing the bone by giving it to the dog.
I have read a couple of opinions about the propriety or otherwise of the indecent action taken by the Governors of Zamfara and Katsina states to negotiate with bandits as a sure way to arrest their perennial hostages. Once a legitimate government now descends to the level of negotiating with criminals, it tells a sordid story of failed leadership. It is an unequivocal verdict that they no longer have the competence, ability, legitimacy, resourcefulness, and capacity to govern their state. It is a huge, undiluted insult to the psyche of security agencies who are constitutionally empowered to provide security for lives and property. It is an inelegant statement that our security agents have become part of the problem rather than be the solution to our problems. It is like saying, “we have given up, let us negotiate with bandits for some kind of breather.” It is a sorry pass that exposes the failure of this government and its crass incapacity to provide result-driven leadership that we seriously desire at this point of our national life.
Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State was taking inspiration from his name-sake and colleague Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, who got upbeat at the wrecking activities of bandits when he became the governor by court verdict. Bello Matawalle took the strange step to negotiate with bandits as a way to assuage the people that his own leadership style was different from his predecessor, Abdulaaziz Yari, who has first class degree in lamentation. At some point, former Governor Yari was ready to surrender the state to emergency rule if that would put paid to the nefarious activities of the bandits. He became helpless as much as the security agents. He was agonising all the time, lamenting his helplessness, while the funds of the state were being pillaged on the excuse of combating crimes and criminalities. Wanting to show a remarkable difference from his predecessor, Bello Matawalle went for the bizarre: got into negotiation with the bandits to extract a commitment from them to at least cease fire.
Often times, the details of the bargain are never made public, but there are indications that huge financial resources are the main motivation. Some also nominate their loyalists into cabinet positions to feel a sense of belonging. Whatever pyrrhic relief being sought by such dubious engagement, it is purely bad politics for constituted authority to surrender to bandits in whatever form or guise. It is clear admittance of failure in its rawest form and a clear indication that we are now operating jungle politics, where survival is for the fittest. Since the bandits are the fittest in the jungle, instead of the security agents, then, the governors have to go cap in hand to seek for protection from the bandits. In Nigeria, bandits are now Lords. They are the philosopher kings. They are the feudal lords. They lead the jungle. When they roar from the jungle, the governors are expected to catch cold. They have nothing to lose. They love the sounds of AK-47. They hold it with enthusiastic celebration. They look ramshackle but decorated with caché of arms and ammunition as they stand shoulder to shoulder with constituted authority to dish out their terms.
How did we get to this sorry state in our political evolutionary process? Where are the operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) who often develop irresistible erection each time they mobilise to arrest a hapless citizen? Where are the SARS tycoons, who often mete out punishment on hapless citizens for no discernible offence? Where are the combat ready military operatives, who usually drill civilians who fall out of favour with them on their line of duty? Where are the operatives of the Police, the Crime Investigation Department (CID), who are often dreaded when it comes to gathering intelligence reports? Where are the men of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) who are reputed for ensuring there is adequate checks on our borders? For negotiating with the bandits, it is almost certain, that these categories of security agents are presently in slumber. They need to be urged to wake up. It is day break in Nigeria. Hell is let loose. Insecurity has become a defining principle of our daily endeavours. The roads are unsafe, the homes are unsafe, the offices are unsafe, the villages are in perpetual fear, while the farms have been abandoned for fear of attacks by bandits and their collaborators.
On Sunday, 1st September, 2019, hell was let loose between Lokoja and Abaji axis of that busy road, when kidnappers feasted on the highway in their usual tradition. Three persons were reportedly killed while about 12 persons were said to have been kidnapped. The kidnappers had a field day for hours and as soon as they escaped into their fortress, the Police, in its usual drumbeat, appeared at the scene. Similar incidence happened on the ever busy Abuja to Kaduna road last week, when footages of the encounter of the security aides to former Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo with kidnappers went viral. After that encounter, other operations had been carried out without any confrontation by security forces. The road has become a den for kidnappers. Travellers from Abuja to the North-West zone of the country, now resort to train transportation. Even, Generals of the Nigerian Army and other high profile security officers, struggle with the commoners for the limited tickets at Idu Train Station, in the suburb of Abuja. When Generals and security chiefs find our roads unsafe for road travel, what will become the fate of the ordinary traveller that has no other option?
Edo State has continued to remain a flash point as a result of the unwholesome activities of kidnappers and armed robbers. From Edo North Senatorial District to Edo South, through Edo Central, it has been a theatre of one kidnap after another. From Igarra, in Akoko-Edo through Owan axis, to Uromi, and down to Benin City, the heart of the state, it has been one kidnap too many. It is fast becoming a helpless situation, no thanks to the decayed state of the roads, now worsened by rainfall. The government of the day both at the state and federal, appears helpless and incapacitated to generate any realistic solutions to halt the menace. Day after day, Nigeria’s rot is growing at a geometric proportion. It does appear we are surrendering to bandits and kidnappers, reason why elected governors are finding it fashionable to pose with gun-wielding bandits as a show of bravado and uncommon breakthrough. What a mess of a country we have become, total bunkum and complete absurdity. That is what you get when your security architecture cannot texture to new dynamics and sophistication of crimes. It is what you get when tired bones are those who occupy the epicentre of your security architecture, especially in an era when corruption has become the code of conduct.
Negotiation with bandits, insurgents and kidnappers did not just start today, but it has assumed the normative order in some states. Katsina is the president’s home state, yet the Federal Government has become handcuffed in churning out remedies to combat the menace. Zamfara State Governor stopped short of beating his chest to announce to his predecessor that what he could not achieve in his eight years of being governor, through negotiation with bandits, he has been able to achieve that within 100 days in office.
When a 21st century governance devotes time and energy on negotiating with bandits, it is ingenuously preparing the way for more criminal tendencies in the future. It is like announcing to the potential criminal that “crime pays, after all”. That is what you get when the critical policies are never formulated, when government programmes are never followed through to fruition, and when implementation of its policies suffers huge human capital development gap. Rather than use human intellect as a reservoir to generate ideas, they deploy AK-47 as the watering pen to situate or drive the narrative. Behold, we are in a season of AK-47, where bandits are lords.
Agony of a diseased nation
n a daily basis, one keeps ruminating over the litany of moral decadence afflicting our society. What seems more disturbing is the prevalent cases of rape and defilement of children, toddlers and babies across the land. Rape should never be tolerated. It dehumanises and is emblematic of degradation of societal values and ethos. It becomes unpardonable when an innocent and harmless child is attacked by an adult that is old enough to father her, if not by her father. That is the rot that we are witnessing in our sick and diseased society today.
Few days ago, it was widely reported that doctors at the Federal Medical Centre Yola, Adamawa State battled to save the life of a five-year-old girl allegedly raped by an unidentified man. Doctors at the hospital said the development had caused severe damage to the girl’s body such that it would require major corrective surgery to save her. The little girl was said to have been rushed to the hospital after the defilement in a critical condition. There are ample examples whereby children and toddlers have been sexually abused, raped or killed in the country.
Before the Adamawa episode was the one involving a headmaster in one of the schools in Lagos State, who was caught having sex with a primary school pupil in one of the school’s toilets. Similarly, a 15-year-old girl was discovered to be impregnated by an elderly man and close confidant that it took a lot of persuasions to get the girl to confess. This dire situation inflicting our nation requires urgent attention more than ever before. A 2015 United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) report showed that six out of 10 children in the country are vulnerable to sexual abuse before the age of 18. With this statistics, it can be seen that the plague of child sexual abuse has eroded the moral and social foundation of the society that we all live in.
Unfortunately, parents, guardians and the government appear helpless and clueless because of the moral question, poor legislation and enforcement. The stigma and criminal procedure involved in establishing a prima facie case of rape in the country is highly complex and cumbersome, making victims to prefer to remain silent and making the circle of criminality to continue. At times, some females lure men into rapping them. The prevailing situation in the country suggests that full tracking of rape and rapists is still not available. What this simply means is that previously rapists or paedophiles can still be employed by schools without knowing, to teach children and make them further vulnerable.
There seems to be conspiracy of silence against rape and rapists as people prefer to avoid talking about it as if it’s a non-issue. From the rape child cases recorded lately, most of them occurred in schools. To arrest this disturbing trend, parents and wards should be more vigilant by ensuring that they look out for the moral integrity of the teachers and workers in their children’s schools. They are also encouraged to teach their children the basics of sex education. This is to ensure that unnecessary myth centred about sex is made known to the girl-child early in life.
Despite being classified as one of the countries that signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Nigeria can said to have done little to ensure that school authorities and government adequately protect children and girls at crèche, nursery, schools and educational institutions from sexual abuse. The convention prescribes that children should have right to survival, develop to the fullest, protection from harmful influences, free from abuse, exploitation and ensure full participation in family, cultural and social life. We recall the story of a failed society when a 13-year-old girl, Elizabeth Ochanya died from Vesico-Vaginal Fistula disease that she suffered from sexual assault in the hands of a father and his son in Makurdi, Benue State.
The fate that befell Ochanya was one of the reasons the Child Rights Act was enacted to cure. Regrettably, poor enforcement of such laws continues to make thousands of girls from less privileged families to be constrained by serving as housemaids or slave labourers, where they are daily sexually-exploited and limited in the realisation of their full potentials in life. Some are bodily deformed and made barren for life due to no fault of theirs when raped. It is saddening that only about 20 out of the 36 states of the federation and Federal Capital Territory have domesticated the Child Rights Act meant to ensure that every girl-child is protected from abuse.
The continued cruelty against our girls and women is vividly captured by the Ghanaian writer, Amma Darko, in her fiction titled, Faceless. In the typical state, as depicted by her Sodom and Gomorrah, criminality, corruption – immorality and injustice are order of the day – where women and girls struggle to live in the harsh, greedy and merciless in the male-dominated world. In Faceless, there is an attempted rape of Fofo by Poison, as a weapon to silence and intimidate her cursed mother, Maa Tsuru, to cover up his (Poison’s) complicity over the murder of Baby T, Fofo’s elder sister at the Agbogbloshie market despite the calculated attempts to cover-up.
Maa Tsuru herself, a victim of sexual abuse, is faced with the huge challenge of raising her children alone as a single mother. Along the line, Fofo manages to escape from Poison’s trap unlike the submissive Baby T, who is unlucky and sexually abused early in life by Kpakpo, her step-father and mother’s irresponsible husband. Not only is Baby T serially molested by the ‘apparently kind neighbour’ and superstitious Onko; Baby T could not overcome the overbearing pressure of the lustful men, as she was eventually turned into child prostitute and exploited by elders and even close relatives. Poison, notorious and greedy for money, is equally a product of a bad family upbringing and known for habitually using fear to intimidate girls and women.
Maa Tsuru’s non-challance, stupid manipulation by men, lust for money and poor decision-making, led to the tragedy that befalls her innocent children and family. Partially lucky Fofo, a very confident girl, who wants succour for vulnerable children like her, wants to see the government at all cost. She believes that seeing the government would liberate her and her sister Baby T from bondage, not knowing that our governments are helpless and dysfunctional to meeting the yearnings of citizens. Fofo’s benefactor, Kabria, through her non-governmental organisation, eventually saved her from jungle justice and later rehabilitated her into normal life without any governmental intervention.
In Nigeria, rape can be said to have reached an endemic level. No female is really safe from being raped. The country’s criminal justice system should be better activated against the growing aberrant behaviour through stiffer penalties. In the many countries where rape cases are promptly dealt with, including the United States of America, sex offender registers are kept by all states and districts. We should replicate this policy in the country to tag serial rapists and reduce the possibility of them committing the same offence. Rape victims should summon courage to come out to fight this social cancer.
Borrowing from Faceless, collective effort is required to end the scourge as government alone cannot end it. Rape should never be deployed as an instrument for settling rift and difference. Mothers should shield their daughters from being vulnerable. Until rape is taken as a national tragedy, it may remain the same and difficult to eradicate by making life miserable and worthless for our toddlers, girls and women. More importantly, boys and men should take a vow never to rape.
λKupoluyi writes from Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) email@example.com
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