Thursday, May 31, 2007

News Desk Thursday, May 31, 2007

Yar'Adua names Kingibe SGF

A former Minister of Internal Affairs, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, has been named the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation.more>>

Kingibe is SGF, Muhtar NSA, Mohammed, Chief of Staff; Onovo, Acting I-G

ABUJA — PRESIDENT Umaru Yar’Adua, yesterday, began to unveil the character of his administration by making the first set of appointments into executive and security offices. These include the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, who was the running mate to the late Chief Moshood Abiola in the June 12, 1993 presidential election. more>>

Monarch tasks electorate on LG Polls

OWERRI—As Imo people prepare for the forthcoming local government elections, the traditional ruler of Ihitte Okwe, Ngor Okpala local government area of Imo State, Eze Barnabas Obirieze, has charged his subjects to properly educate members of their individual families on the urgent need to vote in credible candidates into the elective positions instead of voting en-block for any party. more>>

Discontent over Mark as Senate President

ABUJA — THE choices of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the leadership of the next Senate have triggered disaffection among Senators-elect.
All through yesterday, as the out-going Senate began the process of winding down its session, returning and first term Senators were strategising on the issue with some allegedly plotting to kick against the party’s decisions. more>>

Flawed Polls may hurt Nigeria's bid for UN Seat

NOTWITHSTANDING the successful inauguration of the Umaru Musa Yar'Adua administration on Tuesday, the international community is yet to put behind it the controversial elections that produced his government. Several nations, which are unimpressed with the conduct of the April polls, are reportedly reviewing the support for Nigeria for one of Africa's seats in an expanded United Nations (UN) Security Council.more>>

PDP: Maduekwe, Egwu, Okorocha Bid for Ali's Job

With the confirmation of the zoning of key political offices by the ruling Peoples Demo-cratic Party (PDP), frontline contestants have emerged for the office of National Chair-man of the party. It was also gathered that the national caucus of the party has given tommorrow as the deadline for all its governors to submit names of their nominees for ministerial appointment by President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. more>>

Chimaroke to shun Senate Seat

There were strong indications yesterday that former Enugu State Governor and Senator-elect, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, who left the country before the Tuesday hand-over ceremony may not return to the country to claim his seat in the Senate.more>>

Suspect in INEC-HQ 'bombing' released

A man arrested in connection with the attempt to bomb the Independent National Electoral Commission during the elections was released from police custody yesterday, but headquarters opposition parties are demanding that police open up about the alleged incident. more>>

EFCC begins crackdown on fleeing politicians

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said it is prepared to move against corrupt politicians, especially those who have reportedly fled the country at the expiration of the last administration on May 29.more>>

Million Naira fraud in Senate: Officials in detention...

A large scale fraud involving some officials of the Senate has been discovered in the last days of the end of the current Senate.

Consequently, the Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani, has queried the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Nasir Arab, over deductions from the salaries of legislative aides running into millions of naira. more>>

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

We Lived Here in Amukoko City

How time flies.

For a city desperately founded and developed by a working class in the 70s without tarred roads, pipe borne water and other basic amenities of life, one should be wondering why the government deliberately abandoned a slum like this where humans dwell and go about their routine businesses and social gatherings. Did humans explore this place and left it that way in this modernity?

Amukoko is a city full of small-town slums and ghettos, where the streets are filthy and not motorable, and where the population can drive you crazy. The buildings are great, ain't it? Nevertheless, Amukoko celebrates the good life in the great outdoors and neigborhoods - Orile-Iganmu, Layinka after the kpako bridge, Ojo Road - with crazy motorists, motels and all kinds of pubs at every spot. Of course, it's a great city, and that's why Naijas are the happiest people on Planet Earth.

But, today, most of us, if not all, in Diaspora, are so proud to proclaim the American dream living in posh neigborhoods with uninterupted electricity, tarred roads to our doorsteps, efficient water system, access to supermarkets, recreation facilities and orderliness as in all civil societies.

The question now is, how many people can afford to live typically of an organized and civilized society in Naija?

Nothing much has changed, and one begins to wonder!

Full Text of Umar Yar'Adua's Inaugural Address


ABUJA, MAY 29, 2007

His Excellency Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, President of the Senate, the Speaker House of Representatives, my Lord Chief Justice of Nigeria, President Obasanjo, distinguished Presidents and Heads of Governments who have graciously honored us with their presence today, leaders of our nation, guests from far and near, fellow citizens.

This is a historic day for our nation, for it marks an important milestone in our march towards a maturing democracy. For the first time since we cast off the shackles of colonialism almost a half-century ago, we have at last managed an orderly transition from one elected government to another. We acknowledge that our elections had some shortcomings. Thankfully, we have well-established legal avenues of redress, and I urge anyone aggrieved to pursue them.

I also believe that our experiences represent an opportunity to learn from our mistakes. Accordingly, I will set up a panel to examine the entire electoral process with a view to ensuring that we raise the quality and standard of our general elections, and thereby deepen our democracy.

This occasion is historic also because it marks another kind of transitional generational shift when the children of independence assume the adult responsibility of running the country at the heart of Africa.
My fellow citizens, I am humbled and honored that you have elected me and Vice President Jonathan to represent that generation in the task of building a just and humane nation, where its people have a fair chance to attain their fullest potential.

Luckily we are not starting from scratch. We are fortunate to have been led the past eight years by one of our nation’s greatest patriots, President Obasanjo. On behalf of all our people, I salute you, Mr. President, for your vision, your courage and your boundless energy in creating the roadmap toward that united and economically thriving Nigeria that we seek.

Many of us may find it hard to believe now, but before you assumed the presidency eight years ago, the national conversation was about whether Nigeria deserved to remain one country at all.

Today we are talking about Nigeria’s potential, to become one of the 20 largest economies in the world by the year2O2O. That isa measure of howfarwe have come.And we thank you.

The administration of President Obasanjo has laid the foundation upon which we can build our future prosperity.

Over the past eight years Nigerians have reached a national consensus in at least four areas: to deepen democracy and the rule of law; build an economy driven primarily by the private sector, not government; display zero tolerance for corruption in all its forms, and, finally, restructure and staff our government to ensure efficiency and good governance.

I commit myself to these tasks.

Our goal now is to build on the greatest accomplishments of the past few years. Relying on the 7-point agenda that formed the basis of our compact with voters during the recent campaigns, we will concentrate on rebuilding our physical infrastructure and human capital in order to take our country forward. We will focus on accelerating economic and other reforms in a way that makes a concrete and visible difference to ordinary people.Our economy already has been set on the path of growth. Now we must continue to do the necessary work to create more jobs, lower interest rates, reduce inflation, and maintain a stable exchange rate. All this will increase our chances for rapid growth and development.

Central to this is rebuilding our basic infrastructure. We already have comprehensive plans for mass transportation, especially railroad development. We will make these plans a reality.

Equally important, we must devote our best efforts to overcoming the energy challenge. Over the next four years we will see dramatic improvements in power generation, transmission and distribution.

These plans will mean little if we do not respect the rule of law. Our government is determined to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies, especially the police. The state must fulfill its constitutional responsibility of protecting life and property.

The crisis in the Niger Delta commands our urgent attention. Ending it is a matter of strategic importance to our country. I will use every resource available to me, with your help, to address this crisis in a spirit of fairness, justice, and cooperation.

We have a good starting point because our predecessor already launched a master plan that can serve as a basis for a comprehensive examination of all the issues. We will involve all stakeholders in working out a solution.

As part of this effort, we will move quickly to ensure security of life and property, and to make investments safe.

In the meantime, I appeal to all aggrieved communities, groups and individuals to immediately suspend all violent activities, and respect the law. Let us allow the impending dialogue to take place in a conducive atmosphere. We are all in this together, and we will find a way to achieve peace and justice.

As we work to resolve the challenges of the Niger Delta, so must we also tackle poverty throughout the country.

By fighting poverty, we fight disease. We will make advances in public health, to control the scourge of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases that hold back our population and limit our progress.

We are determined to intensify the war against corruption, more so because corruption is itself central to the spread of poverty. Its corrosive effect is all too visible in all aspects of our national life. This is an area where we have made significant progress in recent years, and we will maintain the momentum.
We also are committed to rebuilding our human capital, if we are to support a modern economy. We must revive education in order to create more equality, and citizens who can function more productively in today’s world.

To our larger African family, you have our commitment to the goal of African integration. We will continue to collaborate with fellow African states to reduce conflict and free our people from the leg chains of poverty.

To all our friends in the international community, we pledge our continuing fidelity to the goals of progress in Africa and peace in the world.

Fellow citizens, I ask you all to march with me into the age of restoration. Let us work together to restore our time-honored values of honesty, decency, generosity, modesty, selflessness, transparency, and accountability. These fundamental values determine societies that succeed or fail. We must choose to succeed. I will set a worthy personal example as your president.

No matter what obstacles confront us, I have confidence and faith in our ability to overcome them. After all, we are Nigerians! We are a resourceful and enterprising people, and we have it within us to make our country a better place.

To that end I offer myself as a servant-leader. I will be a listener and doer, and serve with humility. To fulfill our ambitions, all our leaders at all levels whether a local government councilor or state governor, senator or cabinet minister must change our style and our attitude. We must act at all times with humility, courage, and forthrightness.

I ask you, fellow citizens, to join me in rebuilding our Nigerian family, one that defines the success of one by the happiness of many. I ask you to set aside negative attitudes, and concentrate all our energies on getting to our common destination.

All hands must be on deck.

Let us join together to ease the pains of today while working for the gains of tomorrow. Let us set aside cynicism and strive for the good society that we know is within our reach. Let us discard the habit of low expectations of ourselves as well as of our leaders.

Let us stop justifying every shortcoming with that unacceptable phrase “the Nigerian Factor” as if to be a Nigerian is to settle for less. Let us recapture the mood of optimism that defined us at the dawn of independence, that legendary can-do spirit that marked our Nigerianess. Let us join together, now, to build a society worthy of our children. We have the talent. We have the intelligence. We have the ability.

The challenge is great. The goal is clear. The time is now.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

News Desk: Inauguration, Etc.

“For the first time since we cast off the shackles of colonialism almost a half-century ago, we have at last managed an orderly transition from one elected government to another.

“We acknowledge that our elections had some shortcomings. Thankfully, we have well-established legal avenues of redress, and I urge anyone aggrieved to pursue them.

“I also believe that our experiences represent an opportunity to learn from our mistakes. Accordingly, I will set up a panel to examine the entire electoral process with a view to ensuring that we raise the quality and standard of our general elections, and thereby deepen our democracy.

"This occasion is historic also because it marks another kind of transitional generational shift when the children of independence assume the adult responsibility of running the country at the heart of Africa.

“My fellow citizens, I am humbled and honoured that you have elected me and Vice President Jonathan to represent that generation in the task of building a just and humane nation, where its people have a fair chance to attain their fullest potential.

“Luckily we are not starting from scratch. We are fortunate to have been led the past eight years by one of our nation’s greatest patriots, President Obasanjo. On behalf of all our people, I salute you, Mr. President, for your vision, your courage and your boundless energy in creating the roadmap toward that united and economically thriving Nigeria that we seek.

“Many of us may find it hard to believe now, but before you assumed the presidency eight years ago, the national conversation was about whether Nigeria deserved to remain one country at all.

“Today we are talking about Nigeria’s potential, to become one of the 20 largest economies in the world by the year 2020. That is a measure of how far we have come and we thank you.
"The administration of President Obasanjo has laid the foundation upon which we can build our future prosperity."more>>

Kalu hands over to Orji in Abia

UMUAHIA—THE embattled new governor of Abia State, Chief Theodore Orji and his deputy, Comrade Chris Akomas were sworn in yesterday in Umuahia by the chief judge of the state, Justice Sunday Imo in the presence of former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, thus showing that the alleged swearing in at the state Liaison office in Lagos last Friday was merely a hoax. Orji thus became the third civilian governor of the state since its creation in 1991.more>>

Uba vows to build cargo airport, sacks commissioners, others

Awka—Dr. Andy Uba was sworn-in by the state Chief Judge, Justice Umegbolu Nri-Ezedi, with a promise to build a cargo airport in the state within 12 months. more>>

Chime Pledges equity, justice in Enugu

ENUGU —MR Sullivan Chime yesterday took the oath of office as the third Executive Governor of Enugu State with a firm promise that his administration would ensure equity and justice for all irrespective of political persuasion or affiliation.more>>

Ohakim pledges to exploit oil, gas in Imo

OWERRI—The new Governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, has promised that “in the new face of Imo under his administration, the state will no longer be a passive participant in the oil and gas sector to be pacified with the crumbs from the rich oil revenue accruing to the federal government”.more>>

Sanction await former Imo council chairmen still keeping govt properties

Imo State Government has sent a warning to former chairmen of the 27 local government areas still in possession of government properties almost two months after vacating office.

Special Adviser to the former governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Ogbuagu Bons Nwabiani regretted that in spite of several appeals, some of them have refused to surrender the properties in their possession, warning of dire consequences.more>>

Uduaghan promises honesty, diligence

Uduaghan, who was inaugurated by the state‘s Chief Judge, Justice Roseline Bozimo, promised to lead the state with honesty, diligence and excellence.

He vowed to recognise the plural nature of the state‘s polity.

Uduaghan added that his administration would be committed to the pursuit of equity, justice and fairness in the handling of all issues.The new governor, who subscribed to the relevant oath of office by 9.45am at the Government Cenotaph, Asaba, said the government was prepared to build a bridge of understanding across the state.more>>

Omehia challenges youths on peace

The governor of Rivers State, Celestine Omehia, yesterday appealed to the youths of the state to embrace peace, dialogue and productive service for the overall development of the people. more>>

Police beat up Benue NUJ boss, 14 other reporters, disrupting the swearing-in ceremony of governor Gabriel Tor-Suswam, in Makurdi

A team of mobile policemen yesterday beat and injured the Benue State chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and 14 other reporters, disrupting the swearing-in ceremony of governor Gabriel Tor-Suswan, in Makurdi. more>>

News Desk Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Offering Puppies is the newest twist in Nigeria Scams

The Council of Better Business Bureaus and American Kennel Club were to issue a warning today about fraudulent Web sites, MySpace postings and print ads asking people to help save puppies that are in desperate straits. more>>

Oil recovers in London on continued worries over Nigeria tensions, US gasoline

LONDON (Thomson Financial) - Oil prices recovered in London from losses posted yesterday as traders focused on continued tensions in key crude producer Nigeria and remained concerned about US gasoline supplies. At 10.22 am in London, benchmark Brent crude contracts for July delivery were up 21 cents at 69.93 usd per barrel. more>>

EFCC's Reprieve for Orji

Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu yesterday declared that Abia State governor-elect, Chief Theodore Orji has secured reprieve from prosecution till the next four years.

Speaking in a telephone interview with Daily Champion, Ribadu, an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) said, Chief Orji who is expected to be sworn-in today as governor would not be arrested by his agency by the virtue of the bail he secured in a Federal High Court Lagos last week. more>>

We may sack Akala, Uba from office after swearing-in -- Supreme Court

ABUJA—The Supreme Court yesterday refused an invitation by Senator Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State and Mr Peter Obi of Anambra State to stop today’s inauguration of their successors. more>>

PDP chooses David Mark as Senate President, Etteh for House Speaker

ABUJA—RETIRED Brigadier-General David Bonaventure Mark (Benue South) is the choice of the leadership of the ruling PDP as the nation’s next Senate President, and Mrs. Patricia Etteh (Aiyedade/Irewole/Isokan Federal Constituency in Osun State is its choice as the next Speaker of the Hosue of Representative. Senator Mark was nominated as the PDP upon the strong backing of President Olusegun Obasanjo who leaves office today. more>>

BPE hands over PH, Kaduna refineries to Dangote, Otedola, Others

LAGOS—The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), yesterday handed over Port-Harcourt and Kaduna refineries to Bluestar Oils Services Consortium, floated by business mogul, Alh. Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola of Zenon Oil, Rivers State Government and other Nigerian investors. more>>

Tight Security at Eagle Square as Yar'Adua takes over

At every corner of the square and under the pavilions are gun-wielding soldiers and plain-cloth security men under a strict instruction to prevent movements into the expansive arena. Please by one of our correspondents to some of the operatives for permission to get into the area for a closer appraisal of the state of readiness, were turned down. more>>

Monday, May 28, 2007

8 Spooky Years of Olusegun Obasanjo's Fourth Republic (1)

Curious viewers and readers who have been concerned on what I have been up to lately since I stopped my political commentary particularly on Igbo matters, wondering what may have happened to the ardent Igboist should hold their breath. Of course, I was almost nailed for cricizing a politically suicidal Ichie Chibuzor Onwchekwa for taking Igbos to hell. Some assumed I may have thrown in the towel on a series of grounds that the heat was becoming unbearable and it's time to quit. The point is, there is nothing else to write about on a subject matter that no longer makes sense especially on Igbo issues now that it's patently clear Igbos are a conquered people. Even the lame duck Imo State Governor, Achike Udenwa, who should be handing over any moment now admits Igbos are a finished people. Udenwa in his own words:

"Today the Igbos have no place in the leadership of this country. The Igbos have never been as low as we are today in the society called Nigeria. We are so incapacitated; we have no say. We blame others but at the same time we have not done anything to help ourselves; instead we have aided such situation where we are completely relegated to the background."

I'm kind of shocked reading Udenwa made the above statement, when he, Udenwa, for eight doggone years as governor has little or nothing to show for his stewardship to the people of Imo State. Udenwa should be blaming himself and the Igbo-related governors and commissioners for such failures not the unemployed graduates who have nothing to do with it.

Was it not the same Udenwa who at a time held teachers and civil servants salaries for months while he and his cronies including the coattails who trooped on the death traps, the so-called roads while unemployed youths roamed around like hobos? Was it not Udenwa who had been tight-lipped while bad things happened all around Igbo land, for instance, the invasion of Okigwe to "smoke" out Ralph Uwazuruike? Was it not Udenwa whose political loyalty and salesmanship denied Nd'Igbo infrastructures required to propel industries in Igboland to the forefront? No question, we've seen eight years go away just like that and Nd'Igbo have been reduced to nothing; and Udenwa has the guts to blame a crop of new Igbo leaders. Imagine!

Enter Olusegun Obasanjo, a man whose regime as military junta discharged armored tanks on students who complained of school fees hike. A man whose regime levelled Fela's Shrine and locked up every inhabitant during that fateful raid. A man who banned Chris Okolie's New Breed Magazine from circulation on the basis the magazine's journalists interviewed Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu in Ivory Coast. A man whose regime destroyed all aspect of civil liberties. A man who snatched cameras from journalists and smashed it. And, a man who by a stroke of luck survived Sani Abacha's reign of terror. Ironically, this same man would take over the affairs of state in a purported democratic fabric only to make things worse.

Now, after eight years of President Obasanjo initially thought by every observer (precisely the international community) hopefully to be the most viable and intact representative government since independence, where does our democracy stand today? No one would deny the fact that the quest for sound democracy was long overdue after years of misrule by the military juntas. A miltary junta will always be a military junta. Obasanjo flogged a peace officer in public and got away with it even when the peace officer could have punched his big belly in retaliation. He said Igbos can go to hell when questioned about his hatred of Nd'Igbo. He promised to fish out Ibrahim Babangida's hidden assets if made known that the wizard dribbling evil genius stashed away money in foreign accounts swearing "no be my papa born me" if there is evidence. He made the world know that "I dey kampe" upon all the civil disturbances and mayhem during the satanic Sharia riots from around which Igbos were the victims losing lives and properties.

On May 29, 1999, a little bit after a year Obasanjo came close to death under Abacha's iron rule, a new beginning in the nation's political dispensation began. In his vow of "no sacred cows" upon being sworn-in, Obasanjo convinced the world he was a changed man, that he had found God and a born again christian. That Nigeria would change within a short period of time, and that he would fight corruption to the last man. And that he would uphold democracy and respect the rule of law. We have seen the worst and let's take a look at some of the spooky events all these years of maladministration:

On September 01, 1999, Obasanjo and the 36 states governors scrapped the monthly envoronmental exercise as unconstitutional negating the constitutional rights of the local government councils that was not part of the said decision.

On October 6, 1999, Gbenga Olarinoye of the Vanguard Newspapers Group reported thousands of residents of Pateji and Edu Local Government areas of Kwara State were drowned, and about 300,000 displaced by River Niger, following the release of excess water from the Shiroro, Kainji and Jebba Dams by National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).

On November 1999, Obasanjo and his Defense Minister, Theophilus Danjuma summoned one Colonel Agbabiaka to invade Odi for the shooting death of some police officers in the oil rich region. Odi was totally demolished and plundered and will never be the same again.

On December 14, 2000, a petition signed and copied to the President of the Senate, Senator Pius Anyim; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Na'Abba; Governors of the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; major Nigerian Newspapers and media houses by then radicals at Nigeriaworld including my humble self in a complaint titled "The Invasion of Okigwe Township by a Combined team of the Military and Police Forces" extracted from This Day December 04, 2000 news and UNIRIN report in an operation carried out to arrests Ralph Uwazuruike for his non violent approach agitating for Biafra nationhood. Regardless, Uwazuruike was remanded in custody for a while.

On June 2001, Jilian Okenwa of This Day and Nnamdi Onyenua, editor of Glamour Trends Magazine were arrested and tortured on a publication about obasanjo over an alleged defamation of the president.

August 21, 2001: Vanguard reports a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Mr. Monday Ndor was fatally shot by suspected assassins at his No. 4 Elelenwo Street, Rumuomasi, Port Harcourt.

December 23, 2001: Federal Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige was shot dead in his bedroom at his Bodija, Ibadan residence in an apparent assassination. A single bullet to the heart killed the Cicero of Esa Oke.

January 28, 2002: BBC reports "at least 100 people are now known to have drowned in a canal in the Nigerian city of Lagos while fleeing a series of huge explosions at an army mutinous dump" A number of others died when the fire ripped through the dump, setting off many bombs at the barracks. Many people, mostly children, were missing and thousands were homeless as a result of the inferno, which started the previous day.

August 03, 2002: Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun deploys about 500 policemen who stormed the premises of Enugu State House of Assembly to shoot at sight and to prevent further breakdown of law and order.

September 17, 2002: Victor Akiuwa of Vanguard reports about "120 factory workers feared dead after a massive fire swept through a rubber slippers/aluminium spoon/bottled water factory in the early hours of yesterday, at Odogunyan, in Ikorodu, Lagos State."

October 10, 2002: BBC reports "The international Court of Justice has awarded the disputed oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon, rejecting Nigeria's claims." The court based its decision on a 1917 document between colonial powers Britain and Germany. The colonies have clashed several times over the peninsula and Cameroon referred the dispute to the Hague in 1994.

October 16, 2002: No fewer than seven people were gunned down in separate clashes in Ikorodu and Mile 2 areas of Lagos between the police and on one hand commercial bus drivers, and on the other motor park touts. A police post was burnt down in one of the incidents.

In Mile 2, five people lost their lives in fresh outbreak of crisis between the police and members of two rival transport unions - NURTW and RTEAN.

October 17, 2002: Daily Champion -- "Litigations Stall Oputa Report." "Government yesterday deferred consideration and implementation of the Justice Chukwudifu Oputa-led Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission (HRVIC). This was due to series of legal actions instituted against adoption of the report by former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida and other interested parties"

November 5, 2002: Vanguard Anayo Okoli reports "the police have taken over the Onitsha provisional headquarters of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) located on the busy Onitsha-Owerri Road. The police action followed a raid on the camp weekend by the police. At least one person claimed to be a member of the group was killed. The police said it was part of a clampdown on militia groups in the country."

November 13, 2002: En environmental rights group, Environmental Rights Action Friends of the Earth (ERA) has alleged that the military invasion of Odi in Bayelsa State claimed 2,483 casualties comprising of 1,023 females and 1,460 males. In extract from report entitled "Blamket of Silence, Images of the Odi Genocide."

Part 2 next as the saga continues.

News Desk Monday, May 28, 2007

...10,000 Policemen to Provide Inauguration Security

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) police command will deploy about 10,000 policemen to provide security during the May 29 presidential inauguration ceremony at the Eagle square, Abuja, FCT police commissioner, Mr Lawrence Alobi, said in a radio programme in Abuja yesterday. more>>

Crude cools as Nigeria's unions simmer down

Singapore - Oil prices edged lower in Asian trade on Monday as Nigeria's oil unions suspended a two-day-old strike on Saturday, relieving concerns of possible disruptions to shipments, said dealers.The market remains focused on tight petrol supplies as the peak-demand US summer driving season got underway Saturday, they added. more>>

...FG hikes fuel price to N75

LAGOS — BARELY 48 hours to the end of its tenure, the Obasanjo administration, yesterday, effected its sixth increase in the price of petrol in eight years. Petrol now costs N75 per litre from N65— a 15.4 per cent margin, with indications that the in-coming government may move it up to N85 per litre in an effort to keep the level of subsidy within manageable limits. more>>

Igbo leaders have failed

After a critical appraisal of eight years of democracy and the political dividends that have accrued to the various ethnic nationalities in Nigeria during the period, outgoing governor of Imo State, Chief Achike Udenwa has cause to lament that the Igbos have been destroyed politically, just as he blamed the present generation of Igbo leaders for this unfortunate development. more>>

Group backs Orji's swearing-in as Abia gov

Warri — HUMAN Rights Defenders Organization of Nigeria (HURDON), a Warri-based human rights group has thrown its weight behind the swearing-in, weekend, of Mr. Theodore Orji as the governor of Abia state by the erstwhile governor, Dr. Orji Kalu, saying that “it is quite in order in the spirit and intendment of Section 180 (1) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. more>>

PDP se to announce choice for senate president

ABUJA — THE People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has extracted a commitment of firm loyalty from the four principal contenders for the office of Senate President ahead of a decisive meeting today with all Senators-elect on the party’s platform. more>>

N'Assembly leaders may emerge today

The leadership of the National Assembly may emerge on Monday (today) as the Peoples Democratic Party has summoned all the senators and House of Representatives member-elects to a meeting. The meeting, which holds at the State House, is to be attended by all the principal officers of the party, including President Olusegun Obasanjo. more>>

EFCC declares Enugu deputy gov-elect wanted

ECONOMIC and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday declared the deputy governor-elect of Enugu State, Mr Sunday Onyebuchi, wanted in connection with alleged "charges of criminal conspiracy, abuse of office and money laundering". more>>

Buhari asks court to commit Iwu to prison

ECONOMIC and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday declared the deputy governor-elect of Enugu State, Mr Sunday Onyebuchi, wanted in connection with alleged "charges of criminal conspiracy, abuse of office and money laundering". more>>

Count Me Out of May 29 Inauguration - Atiku

VICE President Atiku Abubakar yesterday said that he would not attend the swearing-in of Alhaji Umaru Yar'Adua as President tomorrow to avoid conferring credibility on the April general elections. In a statement, the outgoing vice president maintained that the election that threw-up Yar'Adua "has been condemned worldwide as falling short of the basic minimum of electoral standards". more>>

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Biography: Ali Farka Toure

Ali Farka Touré was born in 1939 in the village of Kanau on the banks of the River Niger in the north west of Mali. He was his mothers’ tenth son but the first to survive infancy. When Ali was still an infant his father died while serving in the French army, and the family moved south along the river to Niafunké, the village Ali called home for the rest of his life. People make their living by farming, cattle herding and fishing. There is no tradition of music in his family, but he had a calling early on in life, becoming drawn to music by its power. He was a child of the river. View Details>>>

Saturday, May 26, 2007

News Desk Sunday, May 27, 2007

48 hours to Yar'Adua's swearing in: We'll march against Ehindero's tanks -- Labour, Opposition groups

The stage appears set weekend for a showdown between the police and a coalition of Labour and Civil Society groups who have scheduled mass action and rallies for Tuesday. The action, to protest alleged fraud in the April elections, coincides with the inauguration of the president-elect, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and the governors-elect in the 36 states more>>

Why military chiefs won't go with Obasanjo, Battle for IG splits police

Indications have emerged that the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Owoye Andrew Azazi, the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Paul Dike and the Chief of the Army Staff, Major-General L.N. Yusuf, may not go with the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo as they are likely to be retained by the incoming administration of Alhaji Umar Yar’adua for a minimum of six months in the first instance with a view to helping the new government to stabilise. more>>

New 'Abia gov' illegal - FG Tongue lashes Kalu

THE Federal Government, yesterday, dismissed as illegal and unconstitutional the purported swearing-in of Mr. Theodore Orji as the new governor of Abia State. Specifically, the government said his swearing-in was in flagrant conflict with provisions of sections 180 (2) and 191(1) of the 1999 constitution. more>>

Heightened Security as Abuja waits for Yar'Adua

IN the next 48 hours, the Presidency will receive one big tenant, this time round, not from the Owu Kingdom, but from the ancient city of Katsina. The person is the incoming number one citizen and winner of the April 21 presidential election, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua more>>

El-Rufai's bulldozers sack Utako Traders

Utako Market traders who had earlier considered the expiring tenure of office of the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Mallam Ahmad Nasir el-Rufai, a harbinger of an end of the demolition exercise in the Abuja metropolis have had to bite their fingers as they were made to contend with the minister's bulldozers yeaterday. more>>

US Government Sends Delegation To Yar'Adua's Inauguration

OUTGOING President Olusegun Obasanjo's request to visit the White House on a farewell visit has met with a diplomatic stonewall from the Americans.

The US government has, however, decided to send a delegation from Washington, DC led by the US Assistant Secretary of State, Dr Jendayi Frazer, to attend Tuesday's inauguration of President-elect Umaru Yar'Adua.

Authoritative sources explained that when a request was forwarded from the Nigerian government to its US counterpart for a farewell visit, the response from the US was that President George W. Bush was busy and otherwise engaged. more>>

PDP Expels Osakwe, Udeh, 32 Others

Despite his emergence as a Senator-elect on the platform of the Accord Party (AP) to which he defected after losing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senatorial ticket for Delta North, Senator Patrick Osakwe has been expelled from PDP.
Osakwe, defected to Accord Party from where he defeated Dr. (Mrs.) Mariam Ali, the wife of the National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Ahmadu Ali. more>>

Saturday News Desk May 26, 2007

New Chief of Defence Staff, Army Chief Appointed

Barely four days to the end of his eight year reign as Nigeria’s President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday made changes at the command structure of the nation’s highest military command appointing new chiefs of Defence and Army staff. more>>

Theodore Orji...Sworn-in as Abia Govenor

Embattled Governor-elect of Abia State, Chief Theodore Orji yesterday made history when he was sworn-in as Abia State Governor with 3 days to the May 29 hand over.
The swearing-in of Orji as the Abia Governor followed reprieve by the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos which granted him bail. more>>

Ige's Killers Planned with Mariam Abacha's Driver - Ehindero

ABUJA—Alhaji Moshood Enefeni, the prime suspect paraded in the killing of the former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige, yesterday publicly denied ever having a hand in it, saying he is being framed up by the government agent posing as witness in the murder case. more>>

Inauguration: Police Roll Out Tanks, as Soldiers are put on Red Alert

ABUJA, the Federal Capital Territory, now wears a new look, courtesy of the swearing in of Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua as the next President of Nigeria precisely three days away, just as the Nigeria Police Force is to deploy no less than 50,000 of its personnel within the capital city alone. more>>

Fear Grips Obasanjo...As Yar'Adua Courts IBB

There is palpable fear in the inner camp of President Olusegun Obasanjo as president-elect, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua, increasingly asserts himself over certain issues and key appointments, including his believed refusal to accept Gen. David Mark as the next Senate President. more>>

Andy Uba Wants to kiil me - Ngige

FORMER governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige, yesterday alleged threats to his life by the state's governor-elect, Dr. Andy Uba, declaring that there would be a clan war if he is attacked by any person or group of persons.

But washing his hands of the allegation, Dr. Uba urged relevant security agencies to investigate Dr. Ngige's claim, which he described as “wild and wicked.”Dr. Ngige, who spoke with journalists in Lagos, alleged that his life was being threatened, following the petition he recently filed before the Anambra State Elections Petitions Tribunal seeking a quash of the April 14 gubernatorial poll in the state. more>>

Tension in Awka, 500 Policemen Deployed

BARELY four days to the expected hand over to a new government, palpable tension has gripped Anambra State following deployment of 500 heavily – armed policemen to Awka, the state capital.

The policemen who have taken over government establishments in the city, yesterday, prevented some legislators and civil servants from carrying out their responsibilities. more>>

PDP Zoning Formula Out...South-West Gets Speakership

A source at the meeting of the National Caucus of the party which was held at the Presidential Villa on the night of Thursday, told our correspondent on the condition that his identity be protected that the position of the Senate president has been zoned to the North Central while the Speaker of the House of Representatives will come from the South-West. more>>

Igbo In America Protest Poll Result

The Council of Igbo States in America (CISA), will on Saturday (today) hold a
peaceful demonstration to join voices with Nigerians in rejecting the results of
the just concluded elections in Nigeria.

The Igbo group has invited all Nigerians living in America to participate in the
protest rally. more>>

Court Stops Soludo From Possessing Abuja Land

An Abuja High Court has stopped Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, from disturbing the quiet possession of plot number 704 Ahmadu Bello Way, Garki II in the Federal Capital Territory belonging to an indigenous company, Dubu Nig. Ltd. more>>

Friday, May 25, 2007

Eko Traffic, How Man Miss Molue

Before all the gas guzzling trucks and exotic cars began flooding Lagos' death trap roads--but not before nnabe crota (Volkswagen Beetle) and 404 (Peugeot), and not now that Okada riders had taken over-- there had been the kia-kia bus (Volkswagen van)and molue (Los Angeles Unified School District school bus look alike). From Ebute Ero to Orile, Iganmu; from Mile 2 to Oshodi; from CMS to Lawanson; from Ijora Causeway to Boundary, Ajegunle; and from Wilma Peoples to Kirikiri, bus conductors and happy passengers had a joy ride coupled with salesmen who sold ampicillin, tetracycllin, amoxycillin, pennicillin and rimactane in the bus without prescription. No wonder Naijas are said to be the happiest people on Planet Earth. How about the bus conductors' gestures of "Oshodi straight, Ilasa Maja ma wole O?" "Lagos bin dey good o!"

As I thought about the terrible Lagos traffic, the above picture popped up and I was like, wow, is this my Lagos. "Overtake Don Overtake Overtake," as Baba would say in one of his lyrics. Baba is the Chief Priest who preached on how to alleviate social ills like the congested Lagos traffic. Baba sef, na real agbalagba. The man see road sha! I'm not sure if that's Oshodi Bus Stop or is it Mile 2? I really dunno! But Lagos is always Lagos, sha!

Nothing much has changed as Okada has become the best transit system. From molue to Okada. Ain't that something?

Breaking News

Abia State Gov-Elect Granted Bail

Abia State governor-elect, Theodore Orji who has been in custody for numerous offences was granted bail by the Court of Appeal. more>>

Ehindero Parades Suspected Ige Killers

The Inspector General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero this afternoon paraded four suspects whom he alleged murdered the former Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Chief Bola Ige, at his residence in Ibadan, Oyo State on 23 December, 2001 more>>

Dateline Ehirim Files Friday, May 25, 2007

Gunmen Shoot at Crowded Nigeria bus stop

Port Harcourt - Unidentified gunmen shot and killed two people when they opened fire on a crowd at a bus station in Nigeria's southern city of Port Harcourt, witnesses said.


EU Parliament Wants Aid To Nigeria Stopped Until Fresh Polls

ADVOCATES of fresh elections in Nigeria have secured a strong ally in the European Parliament.

The parliament, in a resolution yesterday, urged the European Union (EU) to withhold all financial aid to the country until fresh elections are held.


Senate: Obasanjo Can't Dissolve N/Assembly

The Senate yesterday sent words to President Olusegun Obasanjo that the National Assembly cannot be dissolved before June 3, which is the day the four-year tenure of the lawmakers would lapse and that he has no power to take any such action before or as he leaves office on May 29.


Nnamani Pledges Loyalty to PDP

Senate President Ken Nnamani said yesterday in Abuja that he would continue be a loyal member of the PDP.
Nnamani was summoned by the party's NEC to appear before its National Working Committee (NWC) over newspapers reports of his views on the April general elections. Speaking shortly to newsmen after his closed-door meeting with the NWC, Nnamani said: ``I am a loyal party man.


Egwuonwu, Agballah Petition Enugu Tribunal

Enugu—TWO more petitions have been filed before the Enugu State Governorship Election Tribunal against the election of Mr. Sullivan Chime, the PDP governor-elect


Uba Files Protest Appearance at Election Tribunal

Awka—Anambra State Governor-elect, Dr. Andy Uba has filed a Conditional Memorandum of Appearance at the Anambra State Governorship and Legislative Houses Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka


United States Lauds Nigeria's Intellectual Property Regulation

The United States of America (USA), in recognition of Nigeria’s spirited efforts at checking the incidence of copyright violations, has removed the country from the Special 301 lists of countries blacklisted for condoning the rising incidence of intellectual property thefts referred to as piracy and counterfeiting.


Little Has Changed in Nigeria

The three Nigerian elections held under military rule between 1979 and 1999 were riddled with controversy where in some cases, the military would "resolve" the controversies summarily. The 1992/1993 elections for instance, were frequently delayed, cancelled or postponed and eventually adjusted to produce predetermined results


How PPA Confirmed Imo - Obasanjo

The President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Thursday explained how the candidate of the Progressive Peoples Alliance, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, emerged as the governor-elect of Imo State.

Obasanjo recalled that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party had some problems in the state which could not be resolved satisfactorily in spite of his intervention in the matter during the last election


Senate Considers Warrant to Arrest Iwu

The Senate is considering issuing a warrant of arrest on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Maurice Iwu, for refusing to obey the summons by the ad hoc committee investigating the appropriated funds for the 2007 general election.


Ehindero Parades Suspected Ige Killers Today

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, will on Friday (today) parade the four suspected killers of the former Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Chief Bola Ige (SAN).

They were accused of killing him on the instruction of a drug baron.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Naija's version of the Grammys Showcases the Unknown in any Music Category

I have followed the last three months relating to the much talked about in the Nigerian tabloid press regarding the Nigerian Music Awards (NMA) held at the International Conference Center in Abuja on May 19, 2007 to promote the nation's music industry universally. Reading the so-called tabloids and how the event unfolded, I couldn't but laugh at how the organizers talked about having a great show. Only in Abuja, without a doubt, that NMA is big story parading artists never heard of in any jam session. Let me be blunt here, I am a music freak and I do know about music dating back to the swing and be-bop era which initiated the big bands, but it's quite disturbing when a nation that produced legends like Fela would stage a musical award and nobody around the globe heard about it. Poor promotions?

Sadly, it is a Nigerian show featuring local champions who have made mockery of the music industry in Naija and had limited capabilities for exposure worldwide like aspiring new artists and legendary musicians who have left a mark in the entertainment industry. Where in the universe has Tuface Idibia been given air time, or where in broadcast news have we heard of Sunny Neji who took home Song of the Decade and Artiste of the Decade Awards, respectively?

If the late South African legendary star Brenda Fassie should perform today in Diaspora, she would be playing at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, UCLA's Royce Hall, Coach House, San Juan capistrano and other major events all around the United States. The irony, though, is, we find ourselves caught up with our local musicians playing at naming ceremonies, recreation parks and events of that nature when they should be supposedly playing at big events; for eaample, dates at the Hollywood Bowl, House of Blues, Jazz Bakery, Mixed Nuts and places in that category where live audiences recognizes masterpiece performances and are given the exposure required to blow up. And who among us here in Diaspora ever heard of the Nigerian Music Awards' Tony "Juliana Play Me Wayo" Okoroji is iconic to the music industry's projects that has no history and which is all news to my ears? We make too much noise, yet, we can't feature in local pubs here in the Yanks. Not even a roadside coffee house.

But it's ok, though, when we play gigs at related naming ceremonies and "community launchings for worthy causes" to portray ourselves as societal nouveau riche and spraying money in your face kind of stuff with all that "Ogbuefi,", "Omemgbeoji," "Ebubedike," "Ori ewu na azi," "Iyi," Osimiri," "Dikeanatuegwu" and stuff like that just to make ourselves relevant to a conquered people who lost every sense of belonging and had hoped deliverance would come from Diaspora in terms of building a profound community. The Diaspora community is a lost cause and nobody really cares. They are a finished people. They have failed to build community like their other Diaspora counterparts. It is a sad reality.

I still remember, back in the day, Kris Okotie's second album launched at National Theatre, Iganmu, promoted by Silverbird Production in a quest to introduce World Music, reflecting on 70's era pure funk which brought about the "funkitified" music of the time. Brothers Johnson, Kool and the Gang, Shalamar, Dynasty, Delegation, and many other foreign ensembles of the time in the Disco and razzmatazz funked-up era which had Quincy Jones as we read Right On Magazine believe in a situation music was not all about the be-bop era, but a change in the scheme of things. Showbiz(ness) will never be the same, henceforth. Quincy Jones sprang up from that era, the swing and be-bop, including the Big Bands. And Quincy brought about the modern era that would change music spending hours as a "studio rat" in jam sessions making beats and producing quality music 24/7 trying to figure out why a pot-smoking-generation Woodstock shouldn't be changed for the better.

Be-bop is fine with me. When it comes to music, I don't discrininate and have no reason to as long as the targeted audience gets the message. And, that's the problem, especially when our local musicians have no clue what it means to get the message through in terms of a universal language in the culture of music. No Los Angeles club or the airwaves has heard of Tuface Idibia and the much talked about "African Queen", Crooner, Yinka Davies, JJC and Diya Ojo as popular artists who have made the breakthrough in popular music. I "wanna" see these guys play the Greek Theatre and the Wiltern; not isi-ewu joints and all that bragging about a good show. But, hey, alas, enter a Naija crowd in Diaspora to check out who is who in pop and reggae; and you will be hearing names like Yinka Davies and JJC. Names not even heard of anywhere on Planet Earth as far as music and showbiz is concerned.

But I have no qualms, as long these dudes are getting paid from playing gigs at our local facilities, especially in Los Angeles. That's not the case. It is a case of opportunists who deliberately took advantage of these aspiring artists requiring airtime and promotions only to be dumped and abandoned by a greedy group of "promoters" who've not attended big shows in their entire lives as in Playboy Jazz Festival, Newport Beach Jazz Festival, Reggae Sunsplash, concerts in any category at auditoriums and jam sessions seen at high profile night clubs.

Even though the legendary Fela received a posthumous award coupled with lifetime achievement awards presented to King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey and co., last weekend's Nigerian Music Awards is big deal only in Naija, and they should stuff it where it belongs. No fuss about that and no big deal.

News Desk Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Police Arrest Ige's Killers

ABUJA—THE police confirmed yesterday they had in their custody, the drug baron suspected of masterminding the December 23, 2001 assassination of the then Attorney-General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Chief Bola Ige.


Yar'Adua's Presidential Inauguration To Gulp N820m

ABUJA — THE May 29 inauguration of Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua as Nigeria’s next president will cost N820,306,727.10k, according to Information Minister, Mr. Frank Nweke (Jnr).

Mr. Nweke at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, on the events lined up for the change of baton at the federal level listed the inaugural lecture as top of the events.


Obi Loses Tenure Elongation Bid

Enugu—THE Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu yesterday dismissed the application filed by the outgoing Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi seeking the elongation of his tenure by three years for lack of merit.

In a unanimous verdict on the suit filed by Mr. Obi the five-man panel of judges held that the determination of tenure of the governor was an exclusive jurisdiction of the Election Petitions Tribunal and not that of the courts saying the Federal High Court which had earlier dismissed the matter for lack of jurisdiction was right in its decision.


6 vDays To Go, Obasanjo Vacates Official Residence

With six days left before handing over power on May 29, President Olusegun Obasanjo has moved out of his official residence in Aso Rock to another house within the Villa to allow for renovation of the official residence for his successor, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
According to presidency sources, the out-going president vacated the residence Sunday night soon after he held series of meetings with some of his friends and associates for a house that is called “Glass House”, a small house adjacent to the main residence.


48 Nobel Laureates Calls For Election Re-run

As preparations for the handover of power gets into its final stages, a group of 48 Nobel prize winners has joined the call for a re-run of Nigeria's recent elections, warning that not doing so could lead to violence.
The laureates, in a statement issued through Elie Wiesel Foundation (EWF) for Humanity yesterday, recommended the convocation of a Conference of National Unity that will oversee the conduct of fresh polls within 18 months.


PDP Moves to Censure Nnamani, Obasanjo Insists on Party Loyalty

FOR publicly criticising the conduct of the April 2007 elections, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday asked its National Working Committee (NWC) to summon the Senate President, Ken Nnamani, for explanations within 48 hours, failing which he will face dire consequences.

The NEC took this decision at a meeting at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja during which President Olusegun Obasanjo apologised to the National Chairman of the party, Col. Ahmadu Ali (rtd), over the demolition of the PDP chief's house in Abuja by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).


Nigerian Diplomat Caught With N300m In India

A senior Nigerian diplomat was reportedly caught by Indian authorities on Monday as he was trying to board a flight from New Delhi to Lagos with $2.27 million (about N300 million) in cash in his possession.

The diplomat, Defence Adviser to the Nigerian High Commissioner in India, Captain G.A. Ojedokun, was reportedly caught when Indian Airlines staff members handling baggage on the early morning shift at the Indira Gandhi International Airport were alerted by the X-ray images of the contents of his bag.


How Bribe Money Entered N/Assembly

VICE-President Atiku Abubakar yesterday gave insight into how bribe money entered the National Assembly. He alleged that President Olusegun Obasanjo used bribes to scuttle the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) choice of first Senate president, thereby destroying the unity and solidarity in the rank and file of the National Assembly.

In a release made available to Daily Champion, Atiku said: "On May 29th, 1999, the day the new civilian administration was sworn-in, the PDP called a meeting of its senators-elect at Agura Hotel in Abuja . At the meeting, which minutes were taken, the party said that it wanted to involve the senators in the choice of their presiding officer and other principal officers. When the choice of the Senate President was put to vote, the overwhelming majority cast their votes for Dr Chuba Okadigbo. In fact, only four senators declined to support Okadigbo, namely: Nwobodo who wanted to be Senate President and therefore, voted for himself; as well as Nzeribe and Enwerem who also harboured a similar aspiration. Chief Joseph Waku, the fourth of the dissenters voted for Nwobodo.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

An Interview With Pascal Atuma, Filmmaker and Actor

Image Courtesy of Pascal Atuma

Pascal Atuma, who now has three blockbuster movies (Only in America, My American Nurse and Hurricane In The Rose Garden) to his credit talked to me after a long chase trying to corner him for this interview. I had talked him into this pleasant chat when we met in February at a jam session, the PAFF Bistro African Night. With a very busy schedule, he shuttles around cities in the United States and Canada. When not in Toronto, he is somewhere in Atlanta; and when not in Washington, D.C., he is probably in Atlantic City or New Orleans cutting deals. And when he is a little bit done midway, he pops up in the City of Angels where it's all happening.

At a particular time, when I thought we had a done deal for an early morning breakfast somewhere in Culver City, California, his agent called and that appointment had to be cancelled. Then, another move was made by Pascal himself for us to meet in a dinner and isi-ewu at Dozie Ozoemena's Joint. That, too, had to be rescheduled due to series of his Hollywood engagements. Nevertheless, we became buddies and talked on the phone all the time discussing how Nollywood can turn things around and start making movies not only for commercial purposes but for change to reflect on human events of our time and beyond.

We talked more about what inspired him and how his career in showbiz started. Born in Umuahia, Pascal attended Government College, Umuahia and University of Port Harcourt, and at that point he knew what exactly he wanted in life. Not satisfied with the scholarly work that has nothing to do with his destiny, he travelled home to notify his dad he was through with academics realizing "America is the land of opportunity" and Hollywood is the dream. Landing in Dallas and enrolling in a film school, the rest now would be history. His movie was the first ever Nigerian movie to be released all over Europe and his success in the US is quite telling.

Pascal had told me his ultimate goal in moviemaking "is" to set a standard pledging to help generations to come. While we were at it, he introduced Tony One Week who had just arrived Los Angeles to explore opportunities to start playing gigs and concert series to promote his new CD. Pascal, with a very good sense of humor, likes to tease me every now and then when he calls me Oga Ambrose. "You know say you be my oga now," Pascal would say with a smile.

However, we talked about a whole lot of things including the pogrom and the fate of Nollywood ten to fifteen years from now. Excerpt:

Ehirim Files: I wasn't used to watching Nigerian movies until I ran into you. Recently, I reviewed a movie called "Girls Cot," starring Genevieve Nnaji, Rita Dominic, Ini Edo and Bonita Nzeribe. Based on Nollywood movies that I have watched so far, they pretty much has the same resemblance. I mean the plot and story line runs to the same direction. Love, voodoo and things like that which to me is becoming boring and I'm quite sure movie goers would feel the same if they are in my shoes. In analogy, how come Nollywood is not making movies related to human events and tragic moments of our time as in Hollywood's "Schindler's List," about the Holocaust, "We Were Soldiers," about Vietnam, "The Pianist," about the Nazis invasion of Poland, "The Last of the Mohicans," about a Native American Confederacy of subtribes who were driven out and things of that nature? When will Nollywood start making movies based on human events and tragic moments of our time, for instance, "Blood on the Niger" and "The Aba Women Riots"?

Pascal Atuma: I think with time we will change the way business is done in Nollywood, you know. You see, I saw Stephanie Okereke the other day and Stephanie told me she is here to take some courses and I was so proud of her. With moves like this, I can see the future of Nigeria film industry shaping up because now they know that they want to conquer this; that we need training. The only thing our industry lacks right now is priofessionalism, you see what I am saying? The only thing that is stopping us from the stories you are talking about is professionalism in Nollywood. You see, there is a difference between a job and a career. A job is something you have to do to survive. A career is something you choose to do. Once that is done, we will be able to make the kind of movies you are talking about, like the Aba Women Riots. Nollywood can say all they wanna say, the thing is professionalism. And the problem is most of the people are not professionals. You see, Hollywood has the capability and you can see my movies are in a different class. We need more people to come up and do what we are doing. Stephanie has taken the right step.

Ehirim Files: I don't know how you put all the stuff you do together. The scripts, the production team and all that is attached to movie making. How do you do that?

Pascal Atuma: I have not started yet. You see, my scripts are original and it comes from stories of life and I give thanks to God because God gives the beginning, the middle and end of every story. God provides.

Ehirim Files:From Nollywood perspective and in my own humble opinion, how do you guys take over independently and carry out projects without interference from the sponsors who bankroll the movies and magnates alike who seemingly manipulate how the movies should be made? How do you take charge as it's done in Hollywood?

Pascal Atuma: You have to go through the system. You see, the catch is you have to fight and work hard. If you are consistent in what you do and you are committed to it, like my first movie, "Only In America," they will give you money to go and do the movie because you have estalished that trust that you can produce a good movie because if not they will know that when they give you the money it's going to finish. I have been consistent and have featured movies three years in a row at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival. On the other hand, you see, when you give a Nollywood producer ten million Naira to go and produce a movie, he wil put only one million Naira in the project and before you know it he is building a foundation whereas he can produce a movie and make one hundred million Naira and still go and build his foundation. You see, as you are looking at me now, anytime I come to L.A. I have been in position of solid cash because of the connections and the movies that I have made. Once you get to that level, you see that people can relax and say take this money go and do this movie and bring it back. You see what I am saying? So it's a problem of trust, that's number one. Number two, the last movie, "The Hurricane," the budget was five-hundred thousand Dollars. When you came to Magic Johnson, you saw that it was sold out because people were watching it. And they thought they were watching a one million dollar movie, but that movie, that "Hurricane," I did it with five hundred thousand Dollars, you see what I am saying. And I promise you, the day I finished shooting, I didn't even have a dollar to buy hamburger to eat.

Ehirim Files: Yes, I saw that during the question and answer session after the movie. You mentioned how you guys ran out of money and had to cope up and come up with the money, struggling to make sure the project is finished. That's courageous.

Pascal Atuma: But you see in Nollywood, the producers will take the money and just find a way to finish it haphazardly. But here, I put the whole money to the point that the investors were there, you see what I am saying. Now I am doing a new movie which we are working on right now. You see, my job now and all I'm doing for the last three months is flying around meeting with actors. Money part is not my business. I am not worried about the money part. My lawyers and all the investors, they are the ones doing their own meetings trying to get the money. My job is what I am doing. The only thing they do for me is to provide the money for me to run around to make sure I put a good cast together. And now I promise you when you see my next movie, you won't believe that a Nigerian did it. I promise you that.

Ehirim Files: So let's go back to Nollywood. It has been said Nollywood is the third ranked or fourth ranked movie industry in the Universe, but when you look at it closely you will find out Nollywood is still far from Hollywood and that to me is a long journey. Is there a kind of union that protects the rights of writers, producers and actors in Nollywood?

Pascal Atuma: You see the problem with Nollywood is that with what you just said, they have unions. The have the Producers Guild of Nigeria and they have the Actors Guild of Nigeria. But the thing is this, are they the people that can stand up and fight for the actors and producers? That's the problem.

Ehirim Files: How do you see Nollywood in the next ten, fifteen years from now?

Pascal Atuma: In the next few years, Nollywood is going to change. The way is going to change is when they look at my movies and ask themselves questions why is my movies in theatres and not their own. Then they will go back home and they will buy my movies and they will look at it, and they will look at their own. Now they will see how things are done professionally and that is how Nollywood is going to change because I know the next professionals will put the unprofessionals out of business. By then professionals like us will have money. If you have money and don't have the professionalism, nobody would want to work with you, they would want to work with professionals like us because I will still give them the same amount of money. I know Nollywood is gonna change. There is no where in the world I'm gonna be born in Nigeria and I'm playing Hollywood and am gonna see Nollywood die. It's not gonna happen. If they don't want to accept it, they will be forced because if you can't beat them, you join them. You see what I'm saying?

Ehirim Files: Very impressive. Goodluck, man!

Pascal Atuma: Thanks for having me.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Dateline Ehirim Files Friday May 18, 2007

US Denies 150 Nigerians Visas Weekly

No fewer than 150 Nigerians are denied visas weekly in the U.S. Embassy for non-compliance with the requirements.

This was disclosed at a news conference on Thursday in Lagos by the Chief Consular Officer in the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, Mr Allan Latimer.

Latimer, speaking on problems associated with non-immigrant visa, appealed to Nigerians to avoid applying for visa through third parties or touts operating within the corridors of the embassy.

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Okonjo-Iweala tipped to head World bank

Two Africans have been tipped as likely replacement of Mr. Paul Wolfowitz as World Bank President. They are former Nigeria’s Finance Minister and vice president of the bank, Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the South African Finance Minister, Mr. Trevor Manuel.

Already, high-wire politics is currently going on over who of the two Africans may likely take over the position. It was gathered that while South Africa is already intensively lobbying to get the post by reaching out to the United States which may decide who will get the post, the Nigerian government is yet to make any contact on the issue.

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Senate President under probe: Over INEC contract--7-man panel to investigate him

THE Senate on Thursday resolved to set up a seven-man panel to investigate allegations that its President, Chief Ken Nnamani, benefited from contracts awarded by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the run-up to the April general elections.

Senators moved to ascertain whether Nnamani actually benefited from the contracts as reported by a national newspaper on Thursday by setting up the ad hoc committee.

Members of the committee are Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, who is the chairman; Senators Victor Kassim Oyofo, Robert Kolesoho, Joy Emodi, Lawal Shuaibu, Idris Kuta, and Baba Tela.

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I Know The Bonbers--Goodluck, VP-Elect

Shaking his head in disbelief and with tears welled up in his eyes, Governor of Bayelsa State and the Vice President-elect, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan yesterday inspected the bombed remains of his home in Otueke, Ogbia Local Government Area and declared: “We know those who did this. “We know who they are and where they came from. The attack is politically motivated and it is a follow up to the earlier attack on my official residence in Yenagoa on the eve of the Presidential election.”

Although Dr. Jonathan refused to reveal the identity of the militants he claimed bombed his country home for security reasons, P.M.News gathered that the security forces had been briefed and a manhunt was already on for the attackers

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Groups declares two-day strike, NBA opts for judicial process

THE battle line appears drawn between civil society groups and the Federal Government over the outcome of last month's general election, ahead of the scheduled handover of power to new helmsmen across the country on May 29.

But from a critical sector of the civil society has also come words of caution on the modalities for upturning the results, as the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) yesterday said that an Interim National Government being proposed by opposition political parties is unknown to the 1999 Constitution.

Labour leaders and the civil society groups yesterday declared May 28 and May 29 for sit-at-home protests. The NBA, which shares similar sentiments against the elections and has fixed today for court boycotts, has, however, insisted that the judiciary is the appropriate place for redress.

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Expose my contract deals, Nnamani dares agencies

FURIOUS Senate President Ken Nnamani yesterday challenged any government institution in Nigeria, which has proofs of his role in any contract with it, to publish it.

Nnamani specifically refuted a report (not in The Guardian) linking him with an alleged N50 million contract with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which he said had been engaging in a "bazaar" with Nigeria's funds.

He said: "I have tried to avoid applying to any ministry or parastatal. And I challenge any ministry or parastatal in Nigeria from 2003 to publish any transactions Ken Nnamani or his company has had with that ministry, talk less (not to talk) of the bazaar, the bazaar that went on at INEC."

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Army's refusal to release suspects for prosecution stalls murder suit

OWERRI—The robbery and murder case involving Lance Corporals Bassey Asinya and Augustine Nwolisa of the 34 Field Artillery Brigade, Obinze, was yesterday stalled as the Brigade refused to release the accused persons to the Imo State Police Command for prosecution.

Giving this explanation when the matter HOW/13c/2007 was called up by the presiding High Court Judge, Mr. Justice Ngozi Bernadine Ukoha, the State Counsel, Mr. Silas O. Amaechi, told the court that spirited efforts were made to get the suspects released for prosecution.

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Presidency warns on threats to May 29 handover

ABUJA — THE Presidency, yesterday, warned leaders of the opposition to desist from making inflammatory statements or threatening to cause civil unrest, even as the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) enjoined Nigerians to ignore the opposition’s call as security agencies were on full alert to their responsibilities.

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Blair Seeks Early Meeting with Yar'Adua

British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair, has said he looked forward to "an early meeting" with the President-elect, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua in order "to begin our discussion on future co-operation."
Blair in a letter to President Olusegun Obasanjo said the British Government will work with the new administration on reforms and governance among others.

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Why We Attacked Jonathan's Home, By Militants

Twice they have threatened the life of the Vice-President-elect and Governor of Bayelsa State, Dr. Jonathan Goodluck and twice he was lucky to escape the evil plans. At the eve of the presidential election last month, militants invaded the Government House, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital in an attempt to kidnap the governor. In their usual commando style they struck but however missed their target: Jonathan Goodluck.
Like the April attack, the Wednesday attack at the country home of the Vice-President-elect was a clinically planned operation, which caught the mobile security unit attached to the country home of the Governor napping.

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Obasanjo Cronies Takes Over Port-Harcourt Refinery

Dangote Group, Zenon Oil, Transcorp and Rivers State Government under the name: Bluestar Oil Services Limited Consortium, yesterday emerged the preferred bidder/core investor for Port Harcourt Refinery Company. The consortium submitted a bid of $561 million (N71.808 billion) for 51 per cent of Federal Government’s equity in the ailing crude oil refining company.

This is coming against the backdrop of protest from National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NU-PENG), and the shutting down operations of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Lagos, Port Harcourt, Mosimi and Kaduna.

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Chukwumerije Uncovers Plot Against Ndigbo

Chairman of the 2007 Movement, a caucus in the National Assembly opposed to third term, Senator Uche Chukwumerije yesterday alleged plot by the powers-that-be to zone the South East out of power in the next government.

Senator Chukwumerije alleged that the plan to zone the post of deputy senate president, and the national chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the South-East was a calculated attempt to reduce the bargaining turf of the zone in the next dispensation.

He lampooned some Igbo leaders whom he alleged are being used by the anti-Igbo to impose the two weak positions on the South East people.

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Our Population now 150m--Obasanjo

The President, who recalled the figures of the last headcount by the National Population Commission last year, reasoned that by the three per cent growth rate projection, there was no doubt that Nigeria ‘s population now stood at 150 million.

The results of the last census showed that Africa’s most populous nation had a population of more than 140 million.

He spoke at the inauguration of the new headquarters of the National Bureau of Statistics in Abuja.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007




Ambrose Ehirim

ONCE UPON A TIME, Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo and Samuel Udechukwu Ifejika wrote a book entitled, Biafra: The Making of a Nation. In the book, Nwankwo was the idealist who lamented the failed Biafran revolution and the unsuccessful liberation war. Now, three decades later, Nwankwo has written another book. This time, the book is entitled The Igbo Nation and the Nigerian State. In this book, Nwankwo recalled the Igbos unending tragedy in BiafraNigeria. Since these two publications and other books related to the pogrom, growing animus toward Igbos and the question of Igbo assimilation, Nwankwo has written numerous essays and commentaries on Igbos arguing that other Nigerians should accept the Igbos as equals.

But, Arthur Nwankwo is a man of ironies and multiple loyalties. From his recent writing on the pogrom, the quest for Biafran sovereignty, Igbo reintegration and equality in the Nigerian state, and the many contradictions in those writings, one must now conclude that Arthur Nwankwo is a man who has lots of explaining to do considering that Nwankwo’s flirtations with arch enemies of Nd’Igbo persist in the face of the sad state of Igbos in Nigeria today and the continuing display of hatred for Nd'Igbo by the people with whom Nwankwo has crawled into bed. It is in that context that one encounters Nwankwo’s more recent effusions as they expose his blind eagerness to cuddle the enemies of the Igbo Nation.

Let’s not be confused here. The contents of the two books Biafra: "The Making of a Nation" and "The Igbo Nation and the Nigerian State" differ significantly. With hardly any parallel for one to draw between the two books, one wonders if the same man authored both books. Biafra: The Making of a Nation is an insightful book. Surely not just one of the better books about the Yakubu Gowon-led genocidal campaign against the Igbo Nation, but also one of the better accounts of the pogrom, the Nigerian renegades at Aburi, Ghana, and the Nigeria-Biafra War. That the book is out of print so soon is a sad commentary on our current literary and historical situation. Even though The Igbo Nation and the Nigerian State proffers a little splendor and sorrow, it did not come close to Nankwo’s first work.

In narrating the mass killing, rape, and the destruction of Igbo property in Nigeria, which began in the North, Nwankwo and Ifejika’s book is like no other survival account I know of from that period. It was essentially written during the pogrom and Civil War, unlike most survivor accounts, which are memoirs after the fact.

Nwankwo was born in 1942 in what was then Awka Province in the colonial era. When British mandate made its prescription for a nation state for what Obafemi Awolowo later referred to as a “mere geographical expression,” Awka, an Igbo town, came under the Eastern Region in post-independence Nigeria. A whole lot of points make Biafra: The Making of a Nation a well written book, including the circumstance in which the book was written as Nwankwo and Ifejike acknowledged:

"Writing under the strains and stresses of the Nigeria-Biafra War, amidst the rattle and rumble of machine guns and shells, the whizzing and roaring of Nigerian jet bombers and fighters—pouring down demolition and incendiary bombs, and spouting and spraying canon bullets on Biafran civilian populations—the staccato of defiant Biafran anti-aircraft guns, the authors have not found the production of this book an easy task. Often without scripts under our arms, we have had to dive for cover from raids from the Anglo-Soviet supported Nigerian Air Force. On one occasion, cannon bullets have whistled into our study; shattering window-panes and missing us by inches. Naturally the speed of our work fluctuated with every turn of the war..."

The position of Igbos during the pogrom and civil war was unique: Despite the fact the book gave a detailed account of a world without conscience—the mutinies in the garrisons, the brutal assassination of Major-General Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi and annihilation of civilians, references can be found on a suffering people in its postscript. Nwankwo-Ifejika’s work portray a supreme example of a tragedy allowed to take place while the world watched. Regardless of his pains toward the atrocities against the Igbos—the mowing down of “two hundred military officers of Eastern Nigerian origin” of which most of them, if not all, were Igbos; the “systematic massacre of 30,000 Igbos” and Gowon’s failure to honor the Aburi Accord, which supposedly should have offered real hope, Nwankwo and Ifejika described the emergence of a new nation born out of sufferings and a struggle against hatred. Nwankwo’s sensibility in the postscript (pp265-294) was clear in as he narrated a telling and chilling tale where every Biafran and sympathizer of Biafra who reflected on the economic blockade suffered “insomnia” caused by the presence of death in their thoughts and the thoughts of everyone around them:

"I have seen things in Biafra this week, which no man should have to see. Sights to scorch the mind and sicken the conscience. I have seen children roasted alive, young girls turn in two by shrapnel, pregnant women eviscerated, and old men blown to fragments. I have seen this things and I have seen their cause: high-flying Russian Ilyusin jets operated by federal Nigeria, dropping their bombs on civilian centers through out Biafra."

The Sunday Times (London), April 28, 1968

The sight that met my eyes gave me a feeling of nausea. Sprawled along the street was a rippling sea of violently writhing bodies. Chilling means charged the hot noon. At my feet, on the steps, the mangled body of the ten-year-old boy with the starry eyes lay in a poll of his own blood. Instantly I stooped and felt his pulse. His body was still warm but the boy was certainly dead. Just then his mother rushed out, saw her dead son and fell on him, wailing piteously.

Every time I read this passage I ask myself why the world stood and watched and did nothing as a people marked for genocide were slaughtered. Why was it just fine for others to suffer even after they had managed through their leader to communicate their condition to the world? That takes one back to the Aburi Accord in which Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu presented himself well on behalf of the suffering Biafran children who were mercilessly and callously murdered by the vandals who killed on the orders of Gowon. So, instead of threatening war and secession, considering the senseless killing of Igbo and the looting of Igbo property, Ojukwu and the Biafran delegation to Aburi , well prepared, focused on the possibility of improving relations with the Nigerian vandals who later made up their mind that Aburi was not the solution and Aburi’s prescription to avoid the war of genocide was to be negated. The Nigerians opted for a genocidal invasion of Biafra.

The monstrous merger of the Hausa-Fulani vandals and bloodthirsty Yoruba tribesmen led to more pogrom and the worst case of human tragedy in that era. The Aburi communiqué, was unanimously adopted by both the Biafran delegation led by General Ojukwu and by Gowon’s assassins and mutineers. The Aburi Accord was backed by African nations and some countries in the West. At the prompting of Yoruba arch-tribalist, Awolowo, and his British handlers, the agreement was in a sudden about-face reneged upon by the Nigerians on the pretext that it was just a group of individuals led by Murtala Mohammed and his fellow mutineers attempting to usurp or undermine the legal authority of the country at in international stage.

Nor was it a meeting of a group of individual Biafrans or Nd’Igbo with no power to commit the state of Biafra or its government. Later, it became clear that the Nigerian vandals were only in Aburi to study the willingness of the Biafran delegation to give up its aspirations for safety within Nigeria or surrender any aspirations for Biafran statehood should safety in Nigeria prove elusive.

Aburi was well organized with a genuine mandate to resolve what had been seen as tearing the country apart. It had delegates appropriately and adequately representative of the populations in the country tasked to reach an agreement for the time being until a permanent solution was sought based on upholding and respecting the decisions. The Aburi paper was designed to avoid any further internal strife, and had the guidelines to propel the country to the forefront without bloodshed. The Aburi document was not designed for Mohammed and his mutineers to carry out a genocidal campaign against Biafra in order to keep Nigeria one. The Aburi paper was not designed to send innocent children, men and women of Biafra to their graves. The Aburi paper was not a Gowon-Obafemi Awolowo-Anthony Enahoro’s own personal document, sealed to plunder and demolish the Igbo Nation and the Biafran Republic. The Aburi paper was not Western/vandals propaganda to make a justifiable war in retaliation to a previous attack or invasion. The meeting at Aburi, Ghana, was resolved on consensus toward peace not genocide, period!

But the irony here is, even as one has become weary of pointing out a great number of Nigerian apologists, Igbos in particular, and most of them lacking perspective and knowledge of historical facts, have succumbed to the brazen Enahoro propaganda that the Aburi Accord was a product of military despots and that the document is inadequate for a democratic settingc. Here is what a friend said to me while discussing Aburi: “The Aburi Accord is a military document. We need a sovereign national conference whereby each community and ethnic group is duly represented to decide on the best possible way to govern the country.” I have equally argued on this very subject time without number that even though there happens to be a gathering of these “sovereign nationalists” that the subject matter is bound to fail on the same premise that these “sovereign nationalists” have attacked the Aburi Accord.

And, probably, what that suggests is “Aburi Accord is a military document” and in that context justifies Gowon’s genocidal campaign against the Igbo Nation. It also suggests accordingly that the Awolowo-Enahoro’s initiatives that disregarded the decisions reached at Aburi and carried out a full blown genocidal assault on the Igbo Nation and the Children of Biafra. Some Nigerian sadists have even said that the genocide against Biafra was a due and normal step to bring about the anticipated peace reached at Aburi. However, the failure to respect the decisions reached at Aburi signaled the beginning of a country that would never live in harmony in decades that would follow. The bastardized country has never been the same again, and history has proven the refusal to implement the Aburi Accord to be a fatal blow to the country.

The ultimate reason a meeting was scheduled in Aburi, Ghana, between the Gowon-led vandals and Ojukwu’s delegates was to put an end to an on-going carnage pre-planned and well-orchestrated by the bloodthirsty Hausa-Fulani and their Yoruba hoodlum and nihilistic allies. Ironically, too, the Aburi meeting was senseless because Gowon’s vandals had already made up their minds to start what would be the most murderous campaign in African history. Too often, it is asked why compare the talks at Aburi created out of the confusion which erupted when the military juntas took laws into their hands with to a more consensual dialogue with the people’s mandate, the so-called SNC or the conference of ethnic nationalities as some have preferred to call it.

Nevertheless, if Gowon and his fellow vandals were not so bloodthirsty, the decisions at Aburi would have been substantially upheld. And, had the decisions at the meeting been respected, the war would not have been necessary and no further blood would have been shed. Had Gowon and his vandals followed what was required after the Aburi Accord, the desperate starvation of innocent Biafran children on Awolowo and his cohorts' initiatives would not have occurred. So what mistakes were made over the Aburi that prevented the Accord from averting war? And what were the options available to the country in the aftermath of the pogrom and Gowon’s vandals’ premeditated and diabolical acts that made the Aburi dialoge necessary?

I have read the Aburi Accord over and over again, and found no flaws that justify the disregard by the Gowon-led vandals. In particular, the inexplicable and tragic events of July 29, 1966 in which Ironsi was flogged, tied to a moving jeep, dragged, and murdered mandated that the Aburi Accord be repected. Noteworthy is Nwankwo-Ifejika’s argument that Gowon’s “dismissal of the AD Hoc Constitutional conference and assumption of dictatorial powers” killed any hope for peace. But never minding Gowon’s dictatorial powers, the idea to carry out a full-blown assault on the Igbo Nation and Children of Biafra took wings.

In the poisoned minds of the vandals, especially Mohammed, Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, Mohammed Shuwa, Benjamin Adekunle, Obasanjo, David Ejoor, Samuel Ogbemudia, Ibrahim Alfa, Zamani Lekwot, Joe Akahan, Nuhu, Muhammadu Buhari, Michael Adelenwa, Augustus Aikhomu, Ibrahim Babangida, Mobolaji Johnson, Joseph Garba, Ike Nwachukwu, I.D. Bisalla, Domkat Bali, Oladipo Diya and the rest, predisposed of the view that Igbo wanted to take over all aspects of the country’s polity embellished to include the claim that during the first coup of January 15, 1966, Igbo dignitaries and eminent politicians were warned in advance of the bloody coup which was about to take place leaving them with the opportunity to survive the “putsch” by either traveling out or going into hiding until the execution of the so-called Igbo coup.

In his book “Why We Struck,” Adewale Ademoyega noted the “January Boys Coup” was never an Igbo revolution as claimed by the bloodlust vandals who had used the term “Igbo coup” to successfully employ its gruesome acts of unnatural taste: the pogrom. That the coup, according to Ben Gbulie who testified at the Oputa human rights commission, was organized and launched to install Awolowo as president for his “vision” and ambition. In this view, as in that of Ademoyega and other sincere observers who know what truth is, the January coup, however, was not an Igbo coup; and was not the beginning of Nigeria disunity. And a greater Nigeria did not emerge, either, after the Chukwuma “kaduna” Nzeogwu-led coup and the one that followed six months later which erupted the pogrom and civil war leaving the Children of Biafra with no other option than secession, and the events from which so many of today’s problems emerged. An accord like the one at Aburi, which is now an oft-told tale of a superb document had never been put together before. Most people who read it subscribe that it should be reexamined carefully again, if the country really wants to take care of its troubled past and the pervasive present tension.

On that point, the Aburi Accord made progress until the civil-military dysfunction of Awolowo-Enahoro-Gowon-led vandals—along with the obvious bloodsucking Hausa-Fulanis—decided it was irrelevant, yearning for the destruction of the Igbo Nation and the Children of Biafra. Having decided to renege on the decisions reached at Aburi, the Nigerian vandals further singled out and murdered rank and file Igbo military officers in the barracks, and in the horrific war that followed, drowned, shot, tortured, and massacre male Biafran citizens at Asaba. That a people should be marked for destruction because of the acts of some individuals is still beyond my comprehension—yes, still beyond my comprehension. No one embodied this atrocity more than Murtala Mohammed, the drug addicted, mentally unstable, notorious bank armed robber, was allowed to die and go to hell without apologizing for his cold-bloodedness.

Ironically, Mohammed who took his Igbo blood stained hands to his grave, was canonized by his sluggish crony and murderous Igbo-hater, Obasanjo, who succeeded him and worked hard to maintain the pace of anti-Igbo bigotry and hatred. But the plan to run over Igbos in a matter of days was wrong and miscalculated. Biafra fought the vandals and did what it viewed was essential to its survival, resisting in a heroic effort against a long bloody war waged by British-Russian backed vandals. Regardless, the Gowon-led vandals never took its foreign backed advantage into anything resembling military effectiveness. When war did come, and in what had been envisioned to end in a couple of months, Gowon’s bloodlust vandals found out Biafrans were singularly ready.

Isolated and with limited or no resources , Biafran scientists went to work. They produced the Ogbunigwe which in its capacity matched the “sophisticated” foreign weaponry of the vandals. They had the best propaganda machine and resisted the invasion of the vandals to run over Biafra in a couple of months as predicted. The statehood of Biafra was recognized by many nations and organizations. Among them: Ivory Coast and Tanzania for its strength to sustain her existence despite not firing the first shot, and not initiating secession.

The vandals had earlier called for breaking away from the country and leaving alone a people they saw as a “sorry lot” insisting their survival was wanting out. Were the vandals allowed say goodbye to a “sorry lot” and specifically had the Aburi decisions been respected and upheld, the consequences would not have been ominous in its aftermath. Gowon, who would later be humiliated in the course of the country’s history when declared wanted for masterminding the assassination of the hoodlum Murtala Mohammed on February 13, 1976, had this to say when the civil military tension of 1967 reached crisis proportion, dismissing the articulated Ad Hoc Constitutional Committee:

"The day we say confederation, it would be goodbye to Nigeria since confederation meant a willing grouping together of independent sovereign states."

The above comment ultimately sealed the fate of the Aburi Accord. Surprisingly “sovereign nationalists” who now tells us an SNC would address the ills of the country fail to indicate when their thinking changed from the sentiments that Gowon expressed above, the same sentiments for which many in the SNC Now bunch followed Gowon to a genocidal war. When I hear things like that I shudder at the shallowness of some of those calling for an SNC. I shudder partly because such self-important positions seem weightless and implausible coming out of the mouths of people for whom “history” is whatever happened during the Sani Abacha terror years. Thus, the sudden call for SNC was initiated in the Abacha years by the same people who would assure us in their next breath that a call for SNC is unconstitutional, if the call were made to stop atrocities in Biafra or Igboland. They would argue that there is an existing workable and integral legislature formed through a democratic fabric and based on the rule of law, and that there should be no SNC since it would create tension, breaking up the country, and realizing Gowon’s fears. That Nigeria is for all of us, and that we should stay together and work things out. Imagine that. We should stay together amid chaos.

Nwankwo’s book nearly three decades after his first has what might be described as a proposal for a change of strategy in Igbos road to assimilation into mainstream Nigeria. In Igbo Nation and the Nigerian State, there were some things in common with what Nwankwo narrated in his earlier book during the pogrom. There is also much difference between the present book and the earlier book. But, there is indication that hard economic times had pushed Arthur Nwankwo into loyalties to enemies of Nd’Igbo, betrayal of principles, all eviles that Nwankwo attempts to mask as a new strategy and an effort to reach out to non-Igbos. This new pattern of betrayal of Nd’Igbo by one of their own masked as an outreach effort should be cause for concern, especially when the self-delusion is perpetrated by one who has in the past pretended to champion justice for the Igbo Nation.

The case of Aburi was the last straw for a peace path in what degenerated and tore the country apart. Compounding the peril after Aburi has the fact that Gowon’s vandals and the Hausa-Fulani Igbo haters came to a conclusion that upholding the decisions at Aburi would amount to the entire country being locked in a conflict over the oil-rich Biafra region and likely would seal the fate of Nigeria economically. Ojukwu made it clear on the plebiscite for peace (Biafra, 1969) with regards to the “oil-rich” Biafra that the Eastern ethnic minorities by all accounts based on the principles of self-reliance, should be free to agitate for her own freedom. To complete the picture, the Gowon-Enahoro-Awolowo team was desperately concerned about controlling the resources from the region without caring for the plight of the Children of Biafra. Using every weapon, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) supplied by Russia and Britain, Enahoro, Awo, and Gowon set out to achieve their desired goals of wiping out the Igbo Nation from the face of this planet.

As it happened, in exchange for territorial control and in agreement with Russia and Britain, Gowon and his vandals paid for the conquest of Biafra by barter. That illicit trade resulted in the loss of the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon.The deal allowed the Nigerians to carry out full blown genocide and assault in a conflict that left tens of thousands of infants and children dreadfully starved to death and tens of thousands of civilians outnumbered and massacred in the most horrible way.

Naturally, then, in searching for the “root cause” of an anti-Igbo hatred so deep that it led to a pogrom, the jealousy of other Nigerians over Igbo prosperity in BiafraNigeria must not be overlooked. But Nd’Igbo, it should be clear, should not assume blame themselves for being successful when the environment permitted competition. They Igbo were republican in orientation and would mingle with anyone even when not accepted. They meant well to a collective national state regardless of the varied ethnicities. They were in for a one united Nigeria. Alas! They were not wanted. The hatred was ingrained and not much could be done. The most dramatic of this hate was exposed during the civil war when Benjamin Adekunle admitted shooting at every creature that moved in Biafra. The graphic scenery was applauded. Adekunle in his own words:

"I want to see no Red Cross, no caritas, no World Council of Churches, no pope, no missionary and no UN (United Nations) delegation. I want to prevent even one Igbo from having even one piece to eat before their capitulation. We shoot at everything that moves and when our troops march into the center of Ibo territory, we shoot at everything even at things that do not move."

In violation of the rules of war and the Geneva Convention, the vandals assaulted children, scorched churches, raped Igbo women, killed infants for no reason, then plundered the Igbo Nation in the name of keeping Nigeria one. As the assault continued apace, the vandals gained their way, declaring the Aburi Accord null and void, justifying the pogrom and starting anew Igbo killings wherever they could lay their hands on an Igbo man, woman, or child. Whatever the shortcomings of these approaches may be, I firmly believe the cause of the “disease” was envy and hatred, and the only way to cure it was if only Igbo didn’t exist.

The Yorubas made it clear and were more vocal in proclamation to “cure all Nigeria's ills” by wiping out the Igbo Nation from the map. (1967). The satanic and Hutu-style Radio Kaduna filled with hate and bigotry could not hide its feelings when it aired loud and clear its own theme:

"Let us go and crush them. We will pillage them, their property, rape their womenfolk, kill off their menfolk and leave them uselessly weeping. We will complete the pogrom of 1966."

No less revealing is what might be called “tongue tying” by the world when the Hausa-Fulanis refused to abandon its genocidal ambitions encouraging their allies to help eliminate the Igbo Nation.

Internationally, these poisoned minds and haters of the Igbo enjoyed the tacit support of the impotent Organization of African Unity, OAU, which failed to impose sanctions on Gowon’s genocidal vandals. With the OAU looking the other way, Gowon assembled vicious Hausa-Fulani Islamic Jihadists and bloodthirsty Tiv, Juku, Idoma, and Igala, and Yoruba tribesmen to launch a war of genocide. The weak OAU and its Secretary-General Diallo Telli who witnessed the mayhem committed by the vandals against Biafran Children practically and morally did nothing when the Soviet Union was providing technicians, high-flying jets, and key components of strategic facilities to the vandals in order to decimate the entire Igbo Nation.

All the same, one thing that must be borne in mind is that “Nigeria” as a country is nothing but fiction. We all know that. There is in reality no nation called Nigeria. Thus, the imperialists who were only interested in coercion and theft, did not envision a morally, politically, culturally, intellectually, corrupt and chaotic country in its aftermath. In fact, it wasn’t just too long after the carving in the so-called amalgamation of northern and southern Nigeria that its troubles of ethnic and political disputes erupted making it clear that there was nothing upon which to build a nation. Indeed, the different nations that came together to make Nigeria were better off on their own before the uniting took place.

Inasmuch as the carving was designed to benefit the Imperialists, as fair-minded as ever, Nd’Igbo saw nothing that should stop them from coexisting with a bunch of other nationalities that later turned out to be haters and bigots with whom the Igbo Nation had nothing in common. The problem, however, rested on the “Founding Fathers” who were either anxious or in a hurry, hence having to do with being left with one of two choices—“get the damn independence under our prescription” or stay right where you are and better not complain again. Somehow, it sounds likely the founding fathers succumbed to the British gimmicks ignoring the fact that an independent national state of different ethnicities would result in total chaos and would leave the fabricated country permanently in a comma.

Nwankwo, seemingly seriously “troubled” about the sorry state of the country since the “legacy of the Southern and Northern Protectorates of the British colonial empire” (Vanguard, December 29, 2003) joined together a people whose tradition, culture and language varied in many ways and with further trial of the process perhaps as a litmus test—all to an experiment that has left the country permanently paralyzed sought after ways and means to solve the country’s growing mess. For sure, it has not gotten any better. The total failure of the polity is a nightmare in Nwankwo’s own imagination. Nwankwo wondered if the failure of the “Nigerian experiment,” could be traced to the British and the way they originally designed it or if the blame should go to the so-called founding fathers for lack of vision in enforcing a contract fatal to the country’s interests.

Equally disturbing is Nwankwo’s multiple loyalties, “changing strategy,” subscribing to and compassionately wooing the unapologetic bigot, Enahoro, the former infamous information minister who considered “mass starvation” of infants and children “a legitimate weapon of war.” I can understand that politics oft-times makes strange bedfellows. But, I cannot think through Nwankwo dining comfortably with the devil and knowing without being told that dining with devils like Enahoro requires one using a very long spoon. It is a bad behavior. In The Igbo Nation and the Nigerian State, there was a Nwankwo contradicted the ambitious statement in his preface:

"Nigeria tragedy arises from the conspiracy of successive regimes to exclude the Igbo from occupying responsible positions in the armed forces: the army, navy, air force, and the intelligence services not because they are not qualified but because they are Igbo. Consequently the Igbos have been deliberately prevented from occupying leadership positions within the commanding heights of the economy. The fact that these attempts will fail is a foregone conclusion but what worries me is that the continuous pursuit of the ethnic formation inexorably leads to social and political upheavals."

Also, while Nwankwo is at his incoherent game of visions of collectivity in a “Nigerian State,” and delusions that others would include Igbos in all aspects of what he calls “position within the commanding heights of the economy,” which is being denied now, one is compelled to take a look at the present political dispensation of the war criminal Obasanjo and his inept, corrupt administration. Of course, one could see Obasanjo’s appointment of ministers, a kitchen cabinet, service chiefs and manipulation of local government “bureau chiefs” whose ultimate goal has been to antagonize the Igbos. Even using this basic measure, was there fairness and were the said appointments proportionally distributed or based on merit?

Although I recognize Nwankwo’s previously expressed concerns and the plight of the Igbo Nation and their marginalization, I am worried about his flirtation with a personage like Enahoro who hates everything Igbo and does not want the Igbo Nation to survive Some of the passages in Nwankwo’s Biafra: The Making of a Nation, indicate that nothing justified meaningless killing of Igbos, and the terrible cost was highlighted in Nwankwo’s charge at the beginning of the “Igbo Nation and the Nigerian State” when he indicated that the Igbo Nation and her Eastern Minorities neighbors have suffered tremendously since the post-civil war era. This kind of situation illustrates the dangers involved when most likely money and favor changes hands and forces men to alter accounts of historical events. Obviously, I have a problem with Nwankwo’s thesis (pp15-16) adding up incidents like this when he writes:

"Relatedly, the Igbo and the rest of the Eastern minorities have been experiencing a sustained policy of institutional and structural marginalization since 1970, simply because they lost the civil war. The feeling of acute, social, political and economic alienation makes them one of the most aggrieved segment of the polity, to the extent that any dialogue or discussion about the restructuring of the Nigerian state on the basis of equity, fair play and social justice without them is bound to fail."

As many political scientists and historians of Igbo extraction would agree, Nwankwo’s sympathy with “Eastern minorities” is severely flawed because it includes a call for the minorities to retain stolen Igbo property, which the minority thieves call “Abandoned Property.” The danger in Nwankwo’s view is mind-boggling, and Nwankwo knows that the minorities of the “East” did not suffer the boding evil cost of the pogrom and civil war, except to the extent that some of them were mistaken as Igbos. The case of Awolowo’s initiated reimbursement of twenty pounds to Igbos who left their life savings and fled did not affect the Eastern minorities. The wickedness of the economic blockade also initiated by Awolowo in his quest to starve his enemies to death did not affect the minorities either.

Nwankwo also delves into the drama of June 12, 1993 annulment where Moshood Abiola was said to have overwhelmingly won, insinuating Igbo patriotism toward a democratic state gave Abiola his presidential ticket for the still-borne Third Republic. Didn’t Abiola brag Igbo votes was not relevant for him to win overall, in an outrageous election savagely stricken by all sorts of malpractice in which he had been the ring leader? Is not a shame that Nwankwo is calling Nd’Igbo to die and perish when the Yoruba nation who could not and would not fight for Abiola’s mandate and right to form a government that suits them fled Nigeria en masse until saved by a stroke of luck: the death of the nasty dictator, Abacha.

Enter the three word cliché Sovereign National Conference-SNC, coined when Ernest Shonekan was compelled to abandon his responsibilities in the made-up Interim National Government and the conquered Yoruba nation came under Abacha. They could not, and would not fight for what they believed in: freedom, democracy, “the right to self-reliance” and the rule of law. Abiola also took to his heels showing up in the West where he made incoherent and unintelligible speeches.

My question here, before I proceed further: why did the SNC cry which threatened Obasanjo's presidency in a hyped O’dua Peoples Congress-led media frenzy during the first few months of the bigot’s presidency fizzle out without much ado? And why has Nwankwo turned out to be a stand up guy for the Enahoro and NADECO “drivel” that the SNC call has become, especially since Enahoro was key in killing the Aburi Accord? And why are the dovish Igbo efulefu, the worthless and confused bunch so much concerned with an SNC with a Yoruba lot who are very likely to make a swift 180-degrees turn in the eleventh hour? And why is Nwankwo determined to be an errand boy to Enahoro, of all people?

Nwankwo needs to think over his courtship with a double-faced satanic personage like Enahoro if only for the fact that once a traitor would always be a traitor. Enahoro and his cohorts cannot be trusted. Even if Enahoro has repented for his sins, perhaps he did and only Nwankwo knows, upon what mandate does Nwankwo purport to speak for the Igbo in his slave service to Enahoro?

Somehow, a gathering of these “sovereign nationalists” has been seen as the last resort to the woes of this troubled country since its birth as an independent state.

As it also happened, however, and ironically, no call for a national conference was made during Gowon’s regime following a genocidal campaign against the Igbo Nation. The country was locked in a conflict between the military juntas and civilian “lootologists,” the Abiola types, over the control of the country’s economy.

Could it be that during the 1970 to 1993 military dictatorships save for 1979 to 1983 when Shehu Shagari's inept and corrupt administration was briefly ushered in, the horde of sovereign nationalists did not know how to go about calling for a sovereign conference? Why did they wait until Abacha surfaced? Does this mean that Babangida who encouraged and promoted bribery and corruption to the highest level and drowned the country in its entirety had a sound, effective regime, which did not deserve to be disturbed by calls for national conference?

Why did the call for a conference not go out during Shagari’s era. Were the widespread scandals of looting the treasury one of the country’s better days which did not require calls for SNC? Were things really so good that the brutes Mohammed’s and Obasanjo’s and their military gangsterism did not need the interruption of an SNC call?

Does it mean that that Gowon’s administration, most corrupt and self-styled “Reconstruction Era,” or “post-Civil War era,” whatever that is, was not the appropriate time to assemble for SNC or “Conference of Ethnic Nationalities”? Or that the present crop of fraud in Obasanjo’s administration whose appointments and elections as ministers, advisers, “commissioners,” local government chiefs, legislators and governors were based on personal connections and political reliability rather than merit and dedication to service, would be patriotic enough, honest and truthful to make good judgments?

The idea that an endorsement of SNC would solve the country’s problems politically without defeating the root cause of the problems is ludicrous. letter. A humorless prank. For more than two years, the Oputa panel, the media and we, we who had relied on an independent commission of Oputa’s magnitude, were stuck with research work, reflections, witnesses, testimonies, material evidence, cross examinations, and seemingly endless discussion about what the human rights commission meant for our constitutional order, our political culture, and, inevitably the fate and survival of the Fourth Republic. The government’s deliberate obfuscation and erasure of the atrocities committed against the Igbo Nation and the collusion of the ngbati-ngbati press and the drugged public in forgetting or ignoring history’s abomination was zeroed and finally reduced by Oputa’s investigative commission, to a mere rhetorical balderdash.

So, and, who now cares for SNC when a rubber stamped confused bunch, the “Justice Oputa Human Rights Investigation Commission” sat for two years to study, investigate, deliberate and recommend only having its findings trashed? If Oputa’s panel at tax payers expense could not be allowed to work independently doing its job in point of fact and sufficiently recommending under due process that war criminals like Danjuma should be found liable on the circumstances behind Ironsi’s death, how then could SNC arrive with resolutions or conclusions on how the affairs of the country should be run with similar characters in session?

If the Oputa panel could not come up with evidence that Babangida was the brain behind the destruction of an entire generation and should be held responsible, locked up behind bars indefinitely until justice is done in so many of his cruelties, how then could SNC reach a consensus on a right constitutional order based on accumulated precedents? If the Oputa panel could not make recommendations that “Abandon Property,” an avalanche of insanity, was wrong, and that properties should be returned to the rightful owners, how then could SNC know what is right and wrong, again, when the same characters are in session?

A number of SNC apologists, and Nwankwo is one, have addressed this issue in a similarly one-sided manner by trying to demonstrate that the country will go down the hill if a conference is not held. Their central focus is the undoubted enmity between the military juntas begun in Babangida-Abacha era and the Yoruba-led National Democratic Coalition-NADECO, during the “June 12” nullification crisis.

They point to Abacha’s assumption to the throne, denying the Yoruba nation privilege to the presidency. But these apologists somehow miss the point. NADECO was borne out of singing the blues for what Babangida did in his infamous “Maradona politics” and what would later lead to Abacha’s “hammer time.” The Yoruba failed to imagined what goes around comes around when persecution and ethnic cleansing reappeared in Abacha’s government. In this respect, and if the pogrom was seen as necessary to keep Nigeria one negating the resolutions at Aburi, shouldn’t the ethnic cleansing by Abacha equally be seen the same way, thus there is need to avoid an SNC in order to keep Nigeria one?

Addressing this question is where I have a problem with Nwankwo’s multiple loyalties. I am Igbo and I do not hate the Yorubas or the Hausa Fulanis who slaughtered my kith and kin and yet have not shown remorse or offered apology. I am still wondering why the pogrom took place. I am having nightmares. I was just as amazed at Abacha’s reign of terror and ethnic cleansing. I believe it is only the truth that can set us free acknowledging nothing justified the pogrom and nothing by the same token justifies extermination of ethnic minorities and or ethnic cleansing. I proclaim that truth myself. I am pained by all the tragedies and atrocities incited on the country throughout the military regimes and civilian uprisings. I am also pained by the apologists that minimizes the injustice done by the Hausa-Fulanis and their Yoruba collaborators to Igbos in history, or seek to relegate it to oblivion.

Even as we pretend to be moving forward, it pains me that all we are doing is promote our own ideological agendas than in seeking the truth. There has not been an explanation why Igbo happened to be the country’s problems suffering more casualties than any in history. Even after the cycle of September-October 1966 pogrom—never minding the assassination of Ironsi and a host of high ranking Igbo military officers—the only Yoruba person to speak out was Wole Soyinka (later Nobel Laureate in Literature), whose protest cost him prison time, and whose book The Man Died was ultimately banned from the book shelves for what the military juntas claimed threatened national security.

This defense of the juntas, however, bent on mischief and covering the truth, fails to account for a number of important facts. It ignores the existence of a specifically Igbo hatred, shared in varying degrees by Yoruba and Hausa-Fulanis. It justifies the photographer Emmanuel Ogbonna who was abducted at Dugbe Market, Ibadan, tortured and murdered because he was Igbo. It makes valid the inexplicable and mysterious death of Chu-Chu Nzeribe in the hands of the mobs at Ikoyi Prison under Gowon’s dictatorship and genocidal campaign in opposition to the Igbo Nation. It justifies Hausa-Fulani nihilists who fatally stabbed a female teacher in a Minna elementary school classroom. And of course, Mohammed’s “bravery” was applauded by Gowon and his vandals for the greatest single massacre in Asaba.

Still, as the world heard, read, watched and commented on the carnage against the Igbos, the outcries were never designed to help the Igbos and Children of Biafra. Take for instance the following comments from a universal media:

"In some areas outside the East, the Ibos were killed by local people with at least the acquiescence of the federal forces… 1000 Ibo civilians perished in Benin in this way."

(New York Review, December 21, 1967)

"After the federal takeover of Benin…troops killed about 500 Ibo civilians after a house-to-house search."

(Washington Post, September 27, 1967)

"There has been genocide on the occasion of the 1966 massacres…the region between the towns of Benin and Asaba where only widows and orphans remain, federal troops having, for unknown reasons, massacred all the men. According to eye witness of that massacre the Nigerian commander ordered the execution of every Ibo male over the age of ten years."

Le Monde April 5, 1968)

"A Red Cross official said Equatorial Guinea had given no explanation for her ban on the relief flights. He recalled, however, that the Nigerian government had announced last week that there were to be no more flights over its territory. It is possible he said the Equatorial Guinea had interpreted this as an immediate ban on relief shipments. (Economic blockade). The Red Cross announcement said that for every night the airlift did not operate, the 850,000 people who depended on it for their 70-gram-a-day subsistence ration would ‘have to go without even this meager allowance"

(New York Times, December 23, 1968)

"More than 60 civilians killed and about 300 injured during…during federal raids on Umuahia."

(Washington Post, December 1968)

"Until now efforts to relieve the Biafran people have been thwarted by the desire of the central government of Nigeria to pursue total and unconditional victory and by the fear of the Ibo people that surrender means wholesale atrocities and genocide. But genocide is what is taking place right now—and starvation is the grim reaper. This is not the time to stand on ceremony, or to go through channels or to observe the diplomatic niceties. The destruction of an entire people is an immoral objective even in the most moral of wars. It can never be justified. It can never be condoned."

Richard Nixon, The Presidential Campaign, September 9, 1968)

"650 refugee camps…contained about 700,000 haggard bundles of human flotsam waiting hopelessly for a meal; outside the camps…was the remainder of an estimated four and half to five million displaced persons…kwashiorkor scourge… a million and half children. suffered from it during January; that put the forecast death toll at another 300,000 children…More than pogroms of 1966, more than the war casualties, more than terror bombings, it was the experience of watching helplessly their children waste away and die that gave birth to…a deep and unrelenting loathing…It is a feeling that will one day reap a bitter harvest unless…"

Frederick Forsyth, Ojukwu’s biographer, Umuahia.

Unfortunately, despite the extensive media coverage, including Time magazine, Newsweek, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, British Guardian, Midstream Magazine, Ghana Daily Graphic and Evening News, eyewitness accounts, and numerous other international publications, not only were the above citations belated with lost of thousands of Igbo lives, it was also inadequate to counter the continued assault on the Igbo Nation by Gowon’s vandals considering the widespread indifference to the fate of the Igbos. Given the view Igbo men were a target of extermination, comments from the above media reports, then, came far too late to be of any help to Igbos. In spite of the urging by the international community, including the media and Papal State to stop persecution and killing of Igbo children, men and women, Igbo hatred continued when the Hausa-Fulanis and some Igbo traitors had proclaimed that the sad lot of Igbos was the result of the cause that they had called down upon themselves when they murdered Ahmadu Bello and Tafawa Balewa.

Upon all this, and after three decades of assertions by other Nigerians that Igbos are not needed and are not part of the rest who saved Nigeria, and therefore that Igbos should be made to feed from the crumbs of the Northern caliphates, Yoruba bigots and war criminals, Nwankwo seeks a one-united Nigeria yet again on the back of the Igbos, asking Igbos to blind trust the Enahoros without seeking their apologies and return of the properties that they stole. Nwankwo writes:

It concludes that for Nigeria to make progress what should be urged is not the accentuation of the logic of Igbo isolation and exclusion but the principled and relentless participation of the Igbo in building a new democratic, just and genuinely federal Nigerian state.

I’m not sure why Nwankwo finds himself obsessed with a Nigerian state even at the cost of one million Igbo lives. Perhaps, Nwankwo knows what may have been beyond our reasoning and control, that Igbo persecution and marginalization was a normal process that we as a people should go through for assimilation into “Nigeria’s democratic culture.” Perhaps Nd’Igbo were a lot who enjoy sacrificing their lives as guinea pigs to keep a contraption of a country united.

Ever since he joined the bandwagon and became SNC’s public relations stuntman and right-hand man to Enahoro who knows every detail of the task of gathering and murdering ethnic nationalities, Nwankwo has written at length on this subject matter of trying to convince and persuade his audience that SNC may be the only remedy for a fractured and worn out country. Unfortunately, no conference will achieve any results if the participants are the same unrepentant instigators of genocide who destroyed the Aburi Accord. Put it simply, a conference of ethnic nationalities without reflections on the pogrom and Aburi Accord would be nothing but fiction.

To understand this requires a look back at the history of the country over the past forty years. The first post-independence election found the Yoruba nation overwhelmingly shattered when the drama within Action Group began to unfold. Realistically, the Western regional crisis, the starting point of the country’s troubles when Awo and his colleagues were indicted and slammed for treasonable felony was the genesis of the country’s continued predicament. Worst of all, is what followed, henceforth—January 15, 1966 through the Civil War. The end of the civil war found Igbos totally isolated, liquidated and marginalized. With the chant of “no victor no vanquished” as if Igbos reinstatement into government jobs and private corporations would be effected, Igbos were dealt another stunning blow. They were relegated and had to start all over again with a clean slate. The bigotry and hatred continued apace.

In this light, what would one make of the image of the beleaguered Igbo Nation surrounded by a sea of haters and bigots yearning for its ruin? Perhaps the Nwankwo-Enahoro team of SNC and other conference of ethnic nationalities advocates have figured out everything with efforts to resolve the country’s problems of constitutional crisis and lack of good governance. Perhaps, too, Nwankwo in his “right thinking mind” believes the SNC convention, like Aburi, and SNC convention in an existing legislative body of a democratic structure, unlike Aburi, could be expected to restore a sense of purpose to the country’s economic, socio-cultural, political and intellectual environment. And, perhaps, after SNC or conference of ethnic nationalities, dismantling the country and mandate for several republics would be very palpable and inevitable.

For Nd’Igbo, Biafra and the rest of Nigeria today, the Aburi Accord appears a far more a coherent initiative that should have provided the country with some approximation of peace, no doubt. And for the vandals, if they had respected and upheld the decisions at Aburi, their cause of commitment to destroy the Igbo Nation and Biafra would not havematerialized.

No peaceful solution and dialogue of a sovereign national conference has any chance unless every child in the country and Diaspora, every adult, every analyst in every news media and political forums knows and concurs that Aburi had no parallel on the way out for the country. And on that note, SNC endorsed and subscribed without specific reference to Aburi would spell another doom. Again, it’s time we dust off the Aburi Accord and take its lessons seriously.

We must not forget!


Note: This article was first published exclusively on February 01, 2004 at BNW MAGAZINE

Ojukwu, Gowon, Ankrah and delegates at the Aburi Meeting