Sunday, January 13, 2008

News & Views Sunday, January 13, 2008

The African Nations Cup is up again for grabs as football fever grips the host nation, Ghana, with petty traders cashing in big time selling mugs, jerseys and other football related gears. Michael Essien who missed the 2006 tournament in Egypt due to injury is a sure bet to take Ghana to the finals. Sixteen nations will be competing in the tournament and all are top contenders for the CAF Trophy when the tournament kicks off on January 20, 2007. A whole lot is being said about Cote d'Ivoire Didier Drogba and Guinea's Pascal Feindouno who wants the trophy so bad and would do their utmost best. But the Black Stars team is getting richer with sponsorships perhaps to boost the morale of the players. Good marketing strategy.

The government of Nigeria in gearing up to equip the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Force (NSCDF) with guns, committees in the Federal House of Representatives are having mixed reactions for NSCDF personnel to bear arms. In a nation where hoodlums and armed robbers have a better access to all sorts of ammunition, wha should be illegal in providing a government agency with arms to protect its citizens in time of civil unrest? I just don't get it and here is the Vanguard report on the debate:

...Also speaking to Sunday Vanguard, Oke stated that the arming of the Civil Defence Corps would enhance security in the country, adding that any attempt to stop them in the National Assembly would not see the light of day." It is important. We need it. The main issue is training, capability. Are they trained properly to handle gun? If they can, why not? If they can be trained properly, we need it for security in this country. I don’t see anything wrong about that,” the Defence Committee chairman declared. Meanwhile, the NSCDC has defended the move to arm its personnel, saying that arms and ammunition were necessary in the war against vandals...

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Random Thought

I’m not sure what to call myself anymore with the way society dramatically changed which did make hardliners look like punks with liberals sinking deeper and deeper and scary, while libertarians are evading both sides of the political spectrum as it has evidently turned the status quo into something else beyond ones imagination. I have quite often asked myself why the whole world seems to be losing its sense of purpose, going toward a different direction from around which nothing apparently would be the same again. And I am still wondering while penning this piece, why is it that peace shouldn’t be given a chance. Perhaps it has been beyond my reasoning which probably amounts to Bob Dylan’s perception that "it’s not dark yet but we are getting there." I have been bent worrying about the whole concept on why murder is a commonplace thing in the society that we live in today; why incest is no longer a taboo in this our beloved place called Earth; why brothers are killing brothers over greed and material rivalry; why politicking has become the most dangerous game in the universe with premeditated acts of Genocide—the Pogrom in my native land nobody wants to talk about, the Rwandan Genocide shown on live TV while the leaders of the world watched and did nothing about it when it unfolded, the murderous conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Chad, Ivory Coast and the list goes on and on—and those that runs the affairs of state uttering no word but strong of the opinion that a stable world is being kept in place through diplomacy and dialogue meaning there must be wars to stop the rogue states from harming the rest of us.

I find that very disturbing on many grounds. Now from the scheme of things many are wallowing in sorrow caused by human nature. The ongoing war in Iraq, and how national security is tied to oil. The Genocide in Sudan, the restlessness and Al Qaeda in Pakistan, the troubled Gulf States, and the Niger-Delta militants in a troubled and confused Nigeria are among a whole lot of mess that keeps one wondering if the world leaders are for real.

Take for instance, the entrapment called Nigeria. Nothing will be the same again ever since the beginning of its geography. The fabricated nation is not getting any better rather it’s getting worse by the day and the riff raffs are applauding because the leftovers are good enough to make them not worry in a nation corruption is baked in every gene. Most "Nigerians" who don’t seem to realize the dangers of an emerging, call it fledgling democracy with a gullible and vulnerable citizenry which empowers the ruling elite to take advantage of their weakness, makes a nonsense of that very experiment on the basis there is no resistance demanding equity, freedom and justice for all. We have been experiencing kangaroo courts and money bags exchanging a pleasantry which has let inept and corrupt politicians off the hook. The now shackled Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is not expected to be doing much with Nuhu Ribadu’s exit which gives every criminal minded and crooked politician the impetus to embezzle money without questions asked whatsoever.

As one dabbles into Nigeria related news stories and freeze journalists who are now writing as if all is well with a state that is bent on destroying what is good for the people, I have been reading a whole lot from our flamboyant newsmen, but with a very few who are focused to keep up with the unique tradition of journalism, the rest seems to be driving aimlessly in pursuit of what has to do with credible and investigative newsreporting. The sensational tabloid Daily Sun is good at doing that. To be precise, not even a Nigerian newspaper is worth reading these days. I had given the Guardian and Vanguard the props but they disappointed me when little office management issues came its way and shut a major newspaper down for weeks, especially the Guardian. What would amount to Guardian’s closure sending its online and on the street readers elsewhere beats me when one considers the magnitude of the nation’s leading newspaper I thought had been independent and free of sponsored and "carry go bring come" journalism. Any Guardian reader who was shut out for weeks would agree with me that the Guardian staff and management team did not care about the street vendors and news-thirsty populace who pay to read its daily; and of course, the advertisers whose source is what keeps the premium paper afloat.

For sure, the Guardian was not shut down as in a case of one operating under a tyranny where press freedom has its limits, or a case of a bully who runs his own paper his own way negating the tradition of quality journalism. Considering the fact that during the era of military juntas newspaper business was a gamble and an act of power play which sent shocking waves to entrepreneurs who eyed the press, for the press, the unofficial fourth organ of government has been the mouthpiece of the people even though it had been done under series of threats by dictators who are allergic to press freedom.

If a newspaper survived the days of Olusegun Obasanjo’s brutality of the press when the nation’s authentic newsmagazine, Newbreed run by the late Chris Okolie was permanently shut down and going through critically dangerous regimes of Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha, why would a token be reason for Guardian to close its doors for weeks to a point of dissolution? In many discussions I had engaged with my colleagues about the workers’ strike at the Guardian, I spoke with near certainty that the giant newspaper will not be making it back to the news stands, talk less of the web, knowing what that country stands for and how it goes about its business. I was wrong, the paper made it back but I’m sure it lost many of its online surfers. Frankly, I have not been checking it out much, lately. The reason is for weeks I couldn’t read from a daily whose quality work was desired and going elsewhere to pick up junks that may not be reliable I switched to getting my news wired directly into my mail box.

Virtually the Guardian workers’ strike boiled down to one thing: Money, money, money! "Show me the money." "Who has it?" "Who is getting paid, and who is not getting paid?" "Show me the money." "I want more money and I want it right now." "What are you going to do about it?" "Show me the Money." "I ain’t got it, what are you going to do. Shut this place down?" "What you are demanding is too high a stake for our management. I can’t afford it, and now what?" "Show me the money." The square off dragged on for weeks until somehow, who knows, the Guardian management team buckled up coming to terms with reality its paying a terrible cost which did increase defections of its readers to elsewhere.

My problem of early morning news read had just begun. I barely check my mails at this particular mail box I had used as conduit to read African-related dailies, but ever since that move in applying for direct mail box news related articles and journals, my appetite for news read died instantly. I mean, where do I start? It’s hundreds of mails one can’t even figure out which is junk and which is spam, the kind of stuff that could destroy your computer because hackers or the so-called black hats are out there looking for ways and means to level whatever one has built. I may be giving my readers a clue that is if they don’t already know about an unfiltered substance that runs through ones mail box. Meanwhile, I’m looking for another strategy. Maybe I should go back to my old ways, getting my news directly from the source on the spot.

I fancy journalism, but I hate the guts of those who think money buys everything on Mother Earth, the vulnerable ones whose concepts are "you give me money, I write good about you" even when it’s obvious the subject in question has been nailed in the court of public opinion. Nevertheless, the love of money has its own fair share, too. For those that think capitalism should be blamed by money being the root of all evils, equally money is the root of solving all problems in a society enslaved by bills of all kinds, from the gas company to the water and power company. There are no ways to go about it except if you live in the jungle where there are no rules and regulations and where only the fittest survives. But in our own very society of Homo Sapiens, the modern humans, life is supposed to be easier, meaningful and much, much better. The good things of life may have eluded us with what is going on right now and money shouldn’t have been the object. Just take a look around you and see how the world is drowning according to the Biblical revelations. It’s war all over which continues to amaze me.

The elections and uprising in Kenya is one perfect example to start with. Innocent people are dying for a man who stole the people’s mandate and for a man who is saying he’s the rightful winner and power should belong to him. Imagine! Do they really care about these hungry folks whose demand shouldn’t be far-fetched if it was in an organized society where good governance and rule of law is upheld? And why are these folks dying senselessly for political gangsters who are destined to destroy every aspect of civil liberties if nothing is going their way? Does it really matter who won the election when the pathological lying politicians will never live up to what they pledged during the campaigns? We’ve seen this over and over again, particularly in Africa which makes one begin to question what’s wrong with that continent, a continent blessed with every resources including human capital.

Where in Africa would one say a sound democratic fabric is making progress except and I think South Africa? Besides South Africa and perhaps Ghana after going through several reforms, the rest of the countries in that continent are a human tragedy and it is only a radical step like in Ghana that could turn things around. Zimbabwe is a case in point in this aspect. During the struggle for its independence, the founding fathers—Joshua Nkomo, Abel Muzereuwa and Robert Mugabe--had a platform. A platform that would in its totality bring Zimbabwe to an entirely free state which was the basis for the struggle to attain sovereignty. Zimbabwe’s independence was so unique all black nations embraced it which however signaled a trend that would free South Africa from an Apartheid regime. Eventually the walls of Apartheid came tumbling down and blacks in South Africa regained their freedom. But in Zimbabwe today, Robert Mugabe who has been power drunk since the nation’s independence in 1980, a whole lot has changed and putting it concretely Zimbabwe is worse than its colonial era. Mugabe, the dictator that he would be has chased away all his political opponents including protest musicians like Thomas Mapfumo who has been in exile ever since for his protest against misrule through his Chimurenga and the struggle to fight against tyranny.

So too are other nations in the continent. Nigeria for example is not getting any better since its fabrication as a nation state. The schools left by the missionaries long time ago has become an object of caricature. The once existed equipped school labs have all vanished. The playgrounds now have a resemblance of the jungle with thick forests. The youths are no longer interested in academics but the easiest way to make money. The culture-based programs have collapsed. Young girls are now “free” doing whatever that pleases them and parents have nothing to say for time has changed. Whiskey and whores is now a way of life in our institutions of higher learning and no one seems to be paying attention on the basis it is an acceptable behavior, coming with time. Struggling college professors are paid to grade students who ditch classes, in most cases, if not all, girls of easy virtue who are out there on the streets coupled with unbecoming conducts. This is of course widespread in the Igbo-related states which are the easiest explanation to this phenomenon. The case of Nd’Igbo is troubling and the reason for that is lack of profound leadership. A people whose history has been that of political impotence, powerlessness and the inability of its intellectuals and thinkers to put things into perspective considering how a colonial mandate put together a people with different nationalities which has nothing in common, from botany to cultural anthropology.

Given the historic attitude of the Yorubas and Hausa-Fulanis toward Nd’Igbo, it should be natural that Igbos anywhere on the face of this planet incline to ignore whatever that is taking place in that country and begin in earnest to building community. But how could that be achieved when Igbos home and in Diaspora are drenched with one Nigeria attitudes and assumptions? Up until now, there is no single Igbo newspaper out there that could teach generations of Igbo how to wield power and successfully defend Igbo interest. Check all the papers and the ones that just popped up—Guardian, Vanguard, Daily Independent, Daily Champion, This Day, The Nation, Leadership Nigeria, Tribune, Daily Trust, P.M. News, Observer, Independent Online, and the list goes on—none is Igbo owned except the Daily Champion owned by Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, which is national in tone. Obi Nwakanma writes all the time and where else? Vanguard Newspapers. Chuks Iloegbunam wrote extensively before becoming Governor Peter Obi’s special assistant, and where else? Vanguard Newspapers. Veteran Igbo journalist and Maharajah of the press, Okey Ndibe, had his column all over and where else? The Lagos-Ibadan axis press. And the list goes on and on.

For Igbo to pursue a political wisdom compared to her Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani competitors there must be an independent Igbo newspaper that teaches Igbo ideals and cultural relativism. And it means, in pursuing that one needs books to read, essays, stories, folklores, magazines and articles to read—all of Igbo interest.

I remember reading all the classics while growing up. Igbo folklore and tradition was the key to a successful Igbo upbringing. Today nobody reads Chinua Achebe. When I was growing up everybody read him which paved way for our path to cultural and political wisdom. Achebe, the man with vision no one seemed to recognize—the international community included—wrote "Things Fall Apart" when many of us weren’t born. We discussed Achebe at recess and the long holidays and our social concepts of Karl Marx theory had begun to emerge. What else could be compared to a book that foresaw a failed state fifty years ago? "Things Fall Apart" was a masterpiece. It told us before hand that nothing will ever work in an entrapment and fabricated state.

That reminds me of a kid I encountered sometime while attending a function at a nearby high school in the Los Angeles area. In exploring this kid and many other kids as we know them are likely to be in the know of their cultural heritage and why we should care, I sought out Igbo literature to check out their Igboness and what they have been up to. The Yankees have turned every structure of our second generation upside down; so perhaps not surprisingly, one of my encounters was with this kid, a teen we can call Chukwuma. Meanwhile the vibes of Jay Z, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg and the rest Hip-Hoppers is spinning into his head. I begin my conversation by introducing myself. I am Igbo and I speak the language fluently. How about you?

Chukwuma paused. "Nope" he would say. My parents are Igbo but I don’t speak the language. They try to get me to do that, Chukwuma explained. Chukwuma who wants to be a communications major plays football and hopes one day he will join the NFL for the money, not for knowledge-based programs, for instance, embarking on research work to understand the history of his parents who are Igbo. Chukwuma also told me there are many Nigerians in his school and from my understanding none speaks the language of his or her parents, and that they once had a classroom assignment culled from Achebe’s "Things Fall Apart" which is already out from his memory. He doesn’t remember any line or what the subject matter was all about. That’s another Igbo tragedy.

So as our second generation are now embedded into a popular culture that comes with the time, who should be sharing the blame for a lost generation whose parents refused to teach their children about their own cultural heritage? Would it be the 24/7 working parents who have no time to sit down with these kids teaching them the morals of our unique tradition? Would it be the high-pitched age of a nuclear society where kids are sent to day care institutions run by different ethnicity which deprives these kids of who they really are? Would it be Igbo Diaspora laid back and did not build community upon exploring the New World? Or would it be we lacked a sense of purpose and community?

I freely must confess that all the above questions are reasons why we have raised a lost generation. Compared to other communities—Jews, Armenians, Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, you name them—Igbos are the worst bred of second generation immigrants. For years, series of Igbo organizations have been holding conventions of all sorts for projects grand and small. Among the gigantic project is Igbo Cultural Center projected as a structure to research, teach and learn everything related to Igbo culture. The question now is: What happened to all the money that was raised for the projects? Who are the bookkeepers? Why is nobody questioning their conducts when there is nothing to show for the money donated and contributed all these years? Is there any evidence that funds for these projects are available when needed? Where are the records to show there is a valid account on behalf of these organizations? What are the names of the financial institutions holding these accounts?

I am afraid I'm trying to raise another Igbo hackles here when I have been confronted in the past to stop attacking Igbo "elites" for doing nothing to address the plight of Nd'Igbo. I'm not sure if I really meant to attack Nd'Igbo as presumed, based on my writings which suggests the Igbo leadership is taking us to hell, and that it requires a change of the guards. But in an organizations where the bookkeepers and managers maintain funny books, shouldn't it be appropriate for its members to ask what is being done to the funds owned by the entire members of the organization?

For the time being, leaders of these Igbo organizations are getting away with what should have taken them to the courts for embezzlement and misappropriation of community funds. But the irony is that members of these organizations who sit down and watch their hard earned money slip away into the hands of the organizations' funny bookkeepers and managers should have nobody else to blame but themselves for saying nothing. And keeping quiet and not reacting will continue to encourage the funny bookkeepers and managers with the belief that nothing is wrong and everything is in order.

Ekwuchanam!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

News Desk Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ayogu Eze,Ribadu, EFCC top shots in crucial talks

CHAIRMAN of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, yesterday, met in Abuja for several hours, with top officials of the commission, in what one source said might be the first in the series of his valedictory meetings. MORE>>>

EFCC: Oshiomhole faults Ribadu's removal

IMMEDIATE past President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Action Congress (AC) gubernatorial candidate for Edo State in April 14, 2007 election, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has faulted the removal of the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu on the pretext of a study leave, lamenting that there is hardly anything to prove that it was not politically motivated. MORE>>>

Nuhu Ribadu: The Anti- Corruption Cop They Feared

MALLAM Nuhu Ribadu, until recently, Chairman of Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is our Man of the Year, 2007. The context of his selection is worth defining. The year 2007 was a turbulent year for Nigeria in which both the Nigerian people and the government grappled with the issues of transition politics and misgovernance. MORE>>>

Senate to commence constitution amendment in January

The Senate will commence the amendment of the 1999 Constitution once it resume sitting this month. The Chairman, Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Ayogu Eze, who disclosed this at a news briefing in Enugu on Monday, said the review would take care of the many inconsistencies in the 1999 Constitution. MORE>>>

Ribadu is Silverbird man of the year 2007

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has emerged the 2007 Silverbird Man of the Year. This was revealed in a statement by the Secretary of a Lagos-based promotion outfit, BMG Promotions, Mr. Ladi Ayodeji, which was made available to our correspondent on Monday. MORE>>>