Thursday, February 28, 2008

Campaign Desk Thursday, Feb 28, 2008

Economy is on candidates' agenda

The economy took front and center on the campaign trail today as Democrat Barack Obama blamed both President Bush and Republican John McCain for a "failure of leadership" and McCain lashed Democratic trade policies for imperiling the economy. MORE>>>

Race a wild-card factor

COLUMBUS, OHIO -- When John McCain apologized to Barack Obama this week for the comments of his warm-up act at a rally, it was not the first time -- and probably won't be the last -- that the most competitive black presidential candidate in U.S. history has heard the words, "I'm sorry." MORE>>>

Clinton Hauls in $35 Mill; Obama Camp Says They'll Do Better

Sen. Hillary Clinton said Thursday she was incredibly gratified to learn her campaign hauled in a record 35 million dollars in the month of February, despite losing 11 contests during that time. MORE>>>

For The Record: Barack Obama

In the CNN debate Jan. 21, he said: "On issue after issue that is important to the American people, I haven't simply followed, I have led." From votes for abortion rights to lessening penalties for marijuana use to raising doubts about capital punishment, Obama is a traditional liberal, CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds reports. MORE>>>

Democrats Bring in $80 Million, With Obama in Lead

Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton both had a record-breaking month of fundraising in February, bringing in more than $80 million combined, but with Mr. Obama again raising significantly more than his opponent. MORE>>>

The Muddy Road Ahead, and What the Candidates Can Do About It

John McCain has a tiger by the tail. Twice in as many days, McCain's Republican allies have launched unseemly attacks on Barack Obama. Twice, McCain has tried to distance himself from them. Does anyone doubt they will continue? Can McCain really do anything to stop them? MORE>>>

Is Clinton’s problem as basic as her voice?

It was perhaps the most memorable line of perhaps the most memorable moment of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president. The night she won New Hampshire, in an upset that seemed as much a surprise to her as to everyone else, the candidate strode out before a sea of supporters in the cavernous gym of Manchester’s Southern New Hampshire University. MORE>>>

President Bloomberg: RIP
Will Mayor Mike’s op-ed finally end this nonsense?

“I am not — and will not be — a candidate for president.” Can we finally, finally, without any second thoughts, take Michael Bloomberg at his word? The man has been trying to get the press to understand for a long time that he is not running for president, but journalists and editors (based mostly here in New York, I might add) have refused to take the hint. MORE>>>

News Desk Thursday, Feb 28, 2008

3 feared dead as PDP, AC supporters clash

Supporters of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and those of the Action Congress (AC) yesterday clashed in Yola with about three persons feared dead.
Five other supporters of the AC were reported dead in a road crash while travelling from Madasali to Yola to solidarise with the party’s governorship candidate, Alhaji Ibrahim Bapetal. MORE>>>

Kenya rivals agree to share power, deal faces legal challenge

KENYAN President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga have signed an agreement to end the country's post-election crisis. At a ceremony in Nairobi, the two men put their signatures to a power-sharing deal brokered by UN ex-head Kofi Annan. MORE>>>

Controversy trails PDP state congresses

Members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had a taste of what may happen at the party’s National Convention scheduled for next weekend when controversy, complaints and condemnation trailed Thursday’s state congresses nationwide.
In some states, parrelel executive councils emerged. MORE>>>

FG proposes law to prosecute sitting govs

THE Federal Government on Thursday said it had sent a bill to the National Assembly seeking constitutional powers to commence prosecution of corrupt governors while still in office. MORE>>>

Fake results: Jail INEC officials for life - Nnamani

Former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, has advocated the amendment of the 2006 electoral law to ensure life jail or a minimum of 20 years imprisonment for electoral officials who declare phantom results after elections. MORE>>>

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Keep Moving On

Here they come again. According to a Vanguard Report, the nation's National Think Tank "has selected 56 prominent Nigerians" to review a constitution that has long been overdue considering the fact that the said constitution was enacted in a hurry, having not much effect to the population; thus a fabricated document by a military machinery.

First, the brouhaha became part of a big deal when the Fourth Republic came into being with calls for a Sovereign National Conference. That idea died a natural dirth because it had no base and the callers for such projects weren't serious about the whole issue. How long has the country gone through the mandate of reviewing the constitution from the first initiative? Well, after the idea was killed by a sitting president, the tune changed as it favored the callers who did not feel threatened as it was in the past when they thought the nation was slipping away from their hands.

Now that Professor Steve Azaiki has disclosed the gathering of a constitutional review committee and PRONACO as its blood bank, would there be another call for a sovereign national conference whereby indicated that the entire nation would have a sense of purpose in which a sovereign national conference would be the main focus of the constitution review committee? The National Think Tank made it clear where it will be getting all of its materials for reviewing the constitution. They include National Political Reform Conference, Presidential Technical Committee, National Assembly Joint Committee on Constitution Reform and the National Conference which has been PRONACO's doing from day 1.

We've seen all these before and hopefully if it becomes just blowing another hot air, there will be no other choice than to be moving on. Whatever it is, I think the constitution of 1999 should be entirely rewritten which should include people from all walks of life from around which the nation has been shaped. That would make sense, or else, we should keep moving on.

Whatever happened to that call for a Sovereign National Conference? Did the callers change their minds or they perhaps want to keep moving on? Time will tell.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

'Nigeria's' Electoral Mess, Yaradua Retains Seat.

Without a doubt, the contradictions, election flaws and massive irregularities in last year's general elections in Nigeria has now reached alarming proportions. Never before in the country has there been such a confusion in the outcome of an election which has involved and implicated the electoral process and its body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headed by Professor Maurice Iwu.

In an expected ruling today, the Presidential Election Petition Appeal Court threw out petitions filed by Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria Peoples Party and Atiku Abubakar of Action Congress on the ground the petitioners lacked proof to show Umaru Yar'Adua did not win the presidential election of April 12, 2007. The decision was reached while President Yar'Adua is in China on an official visit to strenghten bilateral relations with China.

In another ruling, the court of appeal sitting in Jos upheld the nullification of Murtala Nyako as Adamawa State governor and ordered the sacked governor to vacate office immediately with fresh elections to be held within 90 days.

The judiaciary is beginning to make sense. It is, however, not surprising that an independent judiciary is beginning to make headway in the nation's democratic dispensation. Many Nigerians place their hope on independent judiciary and a change of the country's leadership starting from every aspect of government -- the executive, the legislator, the judiciary, which has begun to prevail in respecting and upholding the rule of law; and of course, the local government and or municipalities.

Hopefully, every election that has a question mark to it should be well scrutinized and if necessary probe its flaws which has been the major problem in the country's electoral process. The time is now and the judiciary must act fast in eradicating the mess that has destroyed the nation's electoral process over the years, especially in the Fourth Republic.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Afternoon Newsroom, Friday, February 22, 2008

President George Bush has just concluded his six day tour of five African countries. He was back in the White House last night and conservative news commentators are cheering that the president's visit to Africa was the best by any American president. It's quite interesting to note from L.A. Times Editorial that construction for a six lane highway, The George Bush Motorway, will soon be underway. The contract will be funded by the United States and according to sources, the highway will stretch from Kumasi to Accra.

Serbians are outraged as they stormed and set the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade ablaze over Kosovo's independence declaration on Sunday. I'm not sure what the Serbians want when the principles of self reliance has been made clear during the course of Kosovo's struggle. Majority of Kosovoans are ethnic Albanians.

Well, the Academy Awards is around the corner and every major street in Hollywood is a bottleneck and road rage seems to be coming closer as the weekend set in for Hollywood's biggest night on Sunday. Advertisers are paying a whopping one point eight million Dollars for a thirty seconds spot for Sunday's show. Show will be hosted by John Stewart.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What Is Wrong With 'Nigeria'?

“…I understand the African man’s mind. This is why I still remain in the struggle, and I will not relent… I know I am a great man, I know I have big sense, I can play music, but I know my country is a stupid country. So I must be political…”

---------------------Fela, University of Lagos, 1981

Music has tremendous and awesome power. It can move an entire nation as the Chief Priest did with his protest songs against a government that never wanted to get things done, notably when he unleashed "Zombie" on the anniversary of the Second World Black Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC 77). Of course, the legendary performer and activist, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, did not intend to be "political" when he began his musical career dating back to the Koola Lobitos years. His protest music commenced when a collapsed nation-state emerged, regardless of the enormous resources which could have—no, should have—made that entrapment one of the most resourced and humanely capitalized nations in the world if a profound leadership had been in place for a concretely structured democratic fabric.

I am not going to delve into how a fabricated state, all of a sudden, popped up, just like that. We all know the story, so save your breath. I am weary of pointing out. I am focusing on the Fourth Republic and how it has made life meaningful for its citizens. Has life gotten any better? Is there an economic stability as we speak? Do we have a transparent and accountable democracy with a noted three chambers of government respecting the rule of law? Are the criminally-minded corrupt politicians being prosecuted to the limit of the law, or are they being left off the hook because they can afford to be let go? Is the current democratic dispensation intact and viable as supposedly should be? The answer to the above questions, without a doubt, is an "absolutely not!"

Before the sound off, the vow of "no sacred cows" and all that blah, blah, blah, Sani Abacha was said to have been the worst dictator ever to rule that entrapment, and that his regime was worst of its kind compared to other dictators and civil era presidents when it comes to economic instability, anarchy and bribery and corruption.

Now let’s see how it adds up. Abacha, a military junta usurped power and destroyed all aspects of civil liberties enacting draconian decrees and setting up death squads disguised as watchdogs to monitor opponents of his regime—most especially a desperately craved Moshood Abiola restoration to the "people’s mandate" on the verdict of "June 12" led by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka and his National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) colleagues—the despot thought was a hindrance to any progressive platforms he may have for the country. After all, many juntas have come and gone, and practically did the same thing he did, some with pass marks. And why should he be an exception? I agree on the part of NADECO’s activism, even though it was like preaching from the pulpit.

Also, the military junta, during the nation’s turmoil and trial period, caught on crossroads, targeted the press and had made journalism a living hell. The nuts and bolts of an effective and accommodating free press is the community bulletin board, the daily newspaper, the weekly, the biweekly and monthly journals, the news magazine, the staff writers, the columnists, the editors and editorial board who maybe or maybe not, doctors every report, and for sure, the publisher who provides us the opportunity to read what is fake and what is real; and sometimes what could have been a payoff to seal a lip in order to avoid cases of human rights violation like the case of Mamman Vatsa whose trumped up charges were all a doing of Ibrahim Babangida, who, up to date, destroyed the nation in its entirety and yet no charges could be leveled against him. Not even the characters and culprits in the cold blooded murder of Dele Giwa could be traced and followed. And no one has questioned Babangida’s ideologies of the end justifies the means and why he hasn’t been dragged by all means to pay for his atrocious and bastardized regime which did send the country back 50-fold in all aspects of life. That beats me. Whatever happened to the vow of "no sacred cows"?

I am going to avoid Abacha's responsibility for the deaths of thousands of people on one particular ground: He was a military junta and let’s assume, no, let’s say he killed thousands as claimed by an unreliable tally. Olusegun Obasanjo did the same when he was a junta. So, too, are other military juntas who killed their rivalries and dumped them in mass graves. Based on that, I should be justified for leaving out Abacha on all the brutal killings and things like that which does not mean Abacha shouldn’t be held responsible—posthumously—for his atrocities including his role in ethnic cleansing.

But the Fourth Republic came through a tiring, exhaustive options, political gimmicks and military tactics, pressuring the military to back off as the public interest in military machineries waned. Babangida’s regime was a saturating point for further military establishments in a country that has been unstable since its "birth" with military coups succeeding one another except at intervals where rigged elections ushers in a concocted civilian administration.

The Fourth Republic was welcome after a drilling Abacha iron rule which either had his opponents locked up or flee the country. One thing to be borne in mind "is," Abacha was no different to other military juntas, Obasanjo himself included. Abacha stayed in power just like his predecessors who kept power until they were no longer relevant, which normally brings about a topple of the old regime—in some cases bloodier, while in some cases, palace, by nature of its planning which ultimately boiled down to "army arrangement" ever since the beginning of coups and transitions in Nigeria.

My problem with the whole transitional thing is that, When Ernest Shonekan became part of a coalition government which brought about dissolution of the Third Republic during a nation’s critical era and in an election that was presumably clearly won which ultimately should have been upheld if the juntas in question had kept up to their words of a smooth transition at the time of the electoral process, what business had Shonekan at Aso Rock running a civil administration in a purported coalition government? Shouldn’t there have been a rerun election since the "June 12" drama was claimed by Babangida to be marred by irregularities? Why was Shonekan not ignored in an open display of civil disobedience? And why were the government offices he regulated, overseeing its civil activities not permanently shut down to send him packing with chants of a government that must not be accepted?

No amount of activism can change the course of human history if it is not carried out within the surroundings where the said problem emanates. If these "activists" had stayed put, fought Abacha diplomatically coupled with civil disobedience demanding immediate change, never minding the ominous consequences which comes along as a price tag for change, Nigeria, today, probably, would have been a better place with a better understanding that democracy and freedom is not really free but costly, and that there is a price to pay for it. It has been the case anywhere democracy is practiced on the face of this planet. India, the Balkans, United States from Jim Crowe to the civil rights era, and of course, Apartheid South Africa, will attest to this fact on the struggle for self-reliance, independence and majority rule.

The Egbas were good at running their mouth until Abacha figured everything out taking charge completely of the affairs of state abrogating every ordinance or constitution detrimental to military set ups, which did put the nation into a life support for another long haul of uncertainties that would set the country back many more years in its quest for a sound democracy. But the problem is when Abacha took charge, none of the chief commanding activists stayed put to challenge Abacha on why he should seize power that belongs to the people. The activists had gone in hiding carrying out their demonstrations from dark corners while their followers became victims of Abacha’s draconian laws.

However, as it also happened, the Egbas who became "victims" of Abacha’s iron rule couldn’t fight. They fled on the concept of Nigeria would one day change as long as "they keep fighting from the outside." Abacha died under mysterious circumstances while Abiola who had been the subject matter of the entire crisis since "June 12" 1993, would die about a month later following Abacha’s death.

A time for change and a new beginning seems to have left the country with no other option but an emergency rule which would perhaps pave way for general elections. That was just the case as two deaths of the nation’s most controversial men linger with questions. A shaky and nervous Abdulsalam Abuabakar who had just been appointed head-of-state by the armed forces ruling body did well handing over in less than a year he was on transit to another rigged election which gave birth to the Fourth Republic with every aspect of the society seemingly anew.

The Fourth Republic looked like the last straw ending military coups with second time around of Obasanjo, though as a civilian but still with military mentality on how to govern in a public square. He had vowed in his inauguration "there will be no sacred cows," meaning no stone will be left unturned in his administration regarding bribery and corruption, and that he was God sent to save a nation from the bastions of empire and anarchy in its time of need. He had set up the Human Rights Commission chaired by Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, to study, investigate, and recommend what would be appropriate for those who may have abused human rights during the nations troubled times. That commission was rubbished and nothing came out of it. The last time we heard of it, it was no longer important and Obasanjo had moved on beyond the ridicule he created to sort out the country the way his cronies—no, his onetime enemies—had recommended.

Among them, Femi Fani Kayode, who became his intellectual blood bank aligning him with Egbe Omo Oduduwa, descendants of Oduduwa, in a square off with his makers, the Hausa-Fulanis who put him in power supposedly as a puppet which brought in a lot of drama, doing things to appease his enclave rather than keeping up to a deal he had struck with his Northern ruling elite compatriots. Here is a man who came close to death under Abacha’s gulag, gotten lucky and taken up another mantle of leadership only to do the worst in the nation’s history in terms of good governance.

The pros of erstwhile Obasanjo’s administration argued that "it takes time" for a country to get back on its feet judging from how messy the juntas left it. But they are not saying that anymore now that President Umaru Yar’Adua has decided to listen to his people and disregard Obasanjo’s skeletons, the reasons why the former president handpicked Yar’Adua so he would have his back covered. Everything has just begun to come out. Obasanjo was a monster taking the nation to another level of chaos. Yes, he was a monster using that opportunity installed upon him to fight his nemesis including the ones that disagreed with him rather than a call to national duty. He had turned Aso Rock into a field of power tussle.

Starting with "Igbos can go to hell" when confronted with questions on why he hate Igbo people, the arrogant and abrasive intolerant president did not waste time insulting reporters when confronted in another unrelated incident on why he had not leveled any charges yet against Babangida. He had written a book with no substance. He had disguised himself as a born again Christian and full time comedian while stealing from the coffers of the government. He had likened himself to Puritans but yet his code of conduct is zero and stinks. He was not perturbed when hoodlums and Northern Islamic Jihadists were burning down Churches where Southerners worshipped. Obasanjo in his own word said "I dey kampe," when the Sultanate states nihilists burned down all that Igbos worked for. He had awarded bogus contracts on the power sector with nothing to show for it. He had run the oil-rich ministry single-handedly with selected cronies who ran errands and got paid. He had taken advantage of women of easy virtue and used his influence to commit all kinds of moral outrage. The resources of the state had become his personal tool using it to his discretion without due consultation of the legislature and the demolition of Odi being his first point of military invasion. And Obasanjo’s blood-lust was just beginning.

So when asked between Abacha and Obasanjo, who should be considered the worst of the two, and who was blood thirstier, the answer should be Obasanjo based on the fact he was democratically elected and was employed by the people to whom he must always answer to. Abacha was a dictator and that’s another thing altogether when one recollects what the despot did to the press during his iron rule which left most journalists in the country running for their lives, hiding and writing under fake handles. Cloak and dagger had surfaced in the country and secret agents and espionage were out there for subjects on Abacha’s watch list.

That era was the biggest blow to press freedom, not even the Islamic states infringed the press the way Abacha did. The mass movement of Nigerian journalists was quite disturbing when most of the major newspapers were shut down while hunting down writers, reporters and editors who had made stories Abacha concluded were damaging to his regime and becoming obvious Abacha’s regime lost its commitment to journalism, unlike previous regimes, even though, there were some atrocities, for instance, the closure of Newbreed in Obasanjo’s regime, the unjustified incarceration of Guardian’s Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor for not disclosing their source of investigative report and declining to cooperate with authorities in Muhammad Buhari’s regime and the brutal assassination of Newswatch founding member, Dele Giwa, in Babangida’s regime.

Meanwhile press censorship would continue in Obasanjo’s administration, which occurred in several occasions. A reporter from the Daily Independent was slammed because he would not reveal the source of his information gathering which Obasanjo’s Gestapo considered embarrassing to the president.

Somehow, the Fourth Republic has been full of drama, and it’s quite interesting. We have seen a nation of about 130,000,000 people that has huge amount of oil reserves, producing about 2.5 million barrels per day, and yet more than half of the population is wallowing in abject poverty with the basic things of life still far fetched in general. A nation that also has natural gas reserves and yet the infrastructures all over are in a deplorable state as crisis and insurgency continues apace intensified by rising tribal and ethnic brutalities.

We are seeing a nation where its politicians have stacked away billions of dollars in foreign based accounts and yet the country is riddled with all kinds of diseases where standard hospitals and medical equipments are lacking. We are seeing a nation where an ordinary local government chairman can boast of mansions and fleet of exotic cars all across the nation on the goodwill of public funds and yet the public schools and recreational centers in these communities have vanished. We are seeing a nation where it is now normal, especially in the Igbo-related states, to applaud the lewd heartiness of the women and the materially rich in slum, morally and socially poor lives of its people in general, and sadly only those who follow local politics closely in the jungle could understand what exactly I’m talking about.

We are seeing our graduates relocating elsewhere around the globe on the grounds of the "push factor," the economic hardship and social problems that has compelled them to leave in search for better living conditions, and we have a nation that produces about 2.5 million barrels per day of crude oil which is quite staggering if sharing should be done on headcount. We are seeing a situation whereby cities are flooded with human tragedy, swelling by the day as if an epidemic had clawed its way from the jungle into the cities. We are seeing our rural areas no longer the agrarian utopia it used to be but now taken over by skyscrapers on dusty alleys with no street numbering. It is a tragedy that we are seeing all these things in an era where infrastructures, adequate social programs, well-equipped schools, universal standard hospitals, normalcy and stability should have been the order. And all these socio-economic problems resulted from a tacky Fourth Republic spearheaded by Obasanjo and we still wonder why.

Talking about political journalism, I’m not sure if the liberal Lagos-Ibadan axis press and the nation’s capital style of yellow journalism is taking note of the trial balloons which helps the lame duck government boost its ego when it’s about to test the press and public opinion. But with the kind of journalism I’ve seen with a vulnerable Nigerian press, except a very few, it is honky tonk and a jungle out there. We still have a long way to go.

The saga continues!

The following is a response Mike Egi sent to my email regarding the above article and I have decided to post it underneath the body of the piece.

Good Job Ambrose. You are not only good at musical issues, you are up there also with the rest when it comes to politics. My only advice to you is never confine your political writings only to Igbo issues, because whatever is good for all Nigerians should also be good for the Igbos. I was shocked when most peopple applauded Obasanjo when he invaded Odi claiming the oil there was for all Nigerians. Those who supported him then were angry when he also sent troops to Zaki Biam in Benue State to kill many innocent people. We must not wait for the tyrant to get to us before we protest unjust tratment to any Nigerian. We must learn to be our brothers keepers.

Mike Egi

Note: Mike Egi is the compiler and producer of Flashback Series.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Governor Crying Blues

The governor of an Igbo related state in 'Nigeria' is sounding some church bells that the so-called most populous nation in Africa is 100 years way behind South Africa and Namibia. I hear you my friend, and I'm wondering what resulted to the wake-up call at this very critical time when all supposedly should be well with an oil rich nation which has enormous resources including human capital to sustain a nation that has permanently been on life support since its birth. According to the cry baby and I'm not sure if this was his first trip beyond his hut in Owerri, he acknowledged the fast pace of developments in South Africa.

The crying governor cited "credit, mortgage and pesion schemes" among others as a structure that effects any advance nation. If this governor is serious, he should start from his own bedroom in a clean up to turn things around and make his surroundings a better place. Of course, he wants everybody to get busy and now I know why.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Naija in Brief, Early Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008

After being slammed for laundering funds totaling four billion Naira plus, former Edo State Governor, Lucky Igbinedion was granted bail in Enugu where he had been remanded in custody since January. Igbinedion's bail has some strings attached to it. He is required to pay ten million Naira to the court and must provide two sureties who are permanent secretaries, and are credible with good track records of paying their taxes.

Well, I'm not sure if this is just a gimmick, a tactic to fool the public that justice and the rule of law is taking its full course. Who is fooling who here? What makes the High Court sitting in Enugu to assume the accused will go through hell in order to come up with the conditions of his bail? It's no big deal. These guys got money stashed somewhere. I'm not saying they shoudn't be granted bail. After all, what Igbinedion is accused of is a bailable offense, but my problem with the whole thing is this: will this guy be prosecuted to the limit of the law when he appears in court for trial considering how he looted public funds? I hope the courts pays attention to what he did to his people, leaving his poor folks empty and dry, wallowing in poverty.

Enter James Ibori who was also granted bail on Monday in the sum of fifty million Naira. Justice Mohammed Lawal Shuaibu in Kaduna High Court also required Ibori to provide sureties with properties in like sum as conditions of his bail.

But I do have a problem with Ibori's unnecessary compassion thanking all and sundry for their support since his incanceration two months ago. Listen to this:

My thanks also go to all Nigerians from all walks of life, who personally visited me in Kaduna, sent representatives or offered prayers — for their solidarity, support and unsurpassed love throughout these two months of detention. I particularly thank all the good people of Delta State. I extend such thanks too to politicians of various backgrounds and from all over Nigeria, most especially the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leadership and political family, for their unwavering support, uncommon confidence and huge out-pouring of love. I also wish to use this opportunity to assure Nigerians of my preparedness to pursue this case to its final conclusion for the growth and development of our nascent democracy. My confidence in the Nigerian Judiciary remains unshaken and I trust that at the end of this ordeal, justice will prevail.

Who cares about his pussyfooting. It's late and he must pay for his sins that caused the people of Delta State pain and sufferings. Of course, Ibori wishes to enhance the nations democratic fabric by justice prevailing for a man who looted his own state's treasury with impunity as chief executive. The thing is I hope EFCC and the judicial system lives up to its creed by dealing with all the corrupt politicians to the limit of the law.

Here they come again. According to a report by Emeka Anuforo of the Guardian Newspapers, Umaru Yar'Adua's administration has taken a bold step to revive the rural areas of the country with an initial amount for the project to cost about two hundred and eighty four point sixty four billion Naira. The idea is projected to take out thirty million Nigerians from the poverty line by 2011.

The question here is, how are they going to effect such a gigantic project when the local government chairmen are on standby waiting for any revenue that crosses their way? The possibility of such a task is far fetched considering what these local government chairmen have done in the past. They are not worried about going to jail like their predecessors. All they care is "money in my pocket first" and jail later. That's how it works in a corrupt and failed state. There are no two ways to go about it. So forget it Mr. President.

The News reported that officials of EFCC and journalists were attacked in a training seminar organized by the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism. This is craziness when one considers how we writers and journalists help keep the government in check and yet hoodlums and democratic gangsters would not let press freedom to prevail. Just read The News and other Naija papers including the tabloids and see the kind of nonsense that has taken shape in that banana republic.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Egypt Wins a Record Sixth Nations Cup

I had predicted yesterday after watching Ghana pound Ivory Coast in the Third Place match, that Egypt will be taking home the trophy for a record sixth time on the ground that Egypts Skipper Ahmed Hassan and veteran goalkeeper Essam Al Haderi "will not be moved by Samuel Eto'o and Mexican-based Alain Nkong's attacking force." The "psychic" is giving me seventy-five percent of all that bookmaking returns and who knows I might be heading down to Okija for some sooth-saying. Naaaaaaaaaaa, I don't think so.

Well, all the hype about the Ivorian Elephants, Nigeria Super Eagles, Cameroon Indomnitable Lions and Ghana Black Stars taking the tournament to a whole new level is now over. It took a less glamourized Egypt to sail through without losing a match and I think they deserved it based on their performance.

The highest scoring goals in the tournament's history is now over and Mohamed Aboutrika who scored the lone goal is Egypt's new hero. Egypt 1 - 0 Cameroon.

Photo by BBC Sports

News Desk Sunday, February 10, 2008

Presidential Election Petition:
Yar'Adua Plans Verdict Appeal

PRESIDENT Umaru Yar'Adua will appeal should the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (Appeal Court) return an unfavourable judgment against his election in the April 2007 polls. This is contrary to reports that he would not appeal such a decision. MORE>>>

Nigerian Leaders Have Stolen $400bn Since 1960, Says EFCC Boss, Larmode

OVER $400b have been stolen by Nigerian leaders from 1960 to date, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Larmode has said. MORE>>>

Iwu can’t conduct fresh polls —Yadudu, Balarabe, Rimi, others

Ahead of another gubernatorial election in Kogi State following the nullification of the election of Governor Ibrahim Idris, eminent lawyer, Professor Auwalu Yadudu, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, among others, say Professor Maurice Iwu is not fit to head the INEC that will conduct fresh elections in the country. MORE>>>

Tributes as Osadebe, highlife star, makes final journey

ENCOMIUMS were poured freely by prominent politicians, muscians and sympathisers, as the late highlife maestro, Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe was laid to rest in his country home, Atani, Anambra State weekend. Osadebe whose body was brought to Atani Primary School compound by undertakers at about 12.30 p.m was laid in state for friends, sympathisers and relations to have their last glimpse of the man who was a star in the highlife music in the country for almost 40 years. He was later interred in his compound. MORE>>>

Security alert in Niger Delta as gunmen threaten more attacks

Security agencies in the Niger Delta region have put their men on the alert following intelligence report that some armed groups plan to launch a massive attack on government structures and oil companies in the region. MORE>>>

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Nations Cup Finals, Third Place and all that 'Soccer' Madness

As I write, Ghana has just defeated Ivory Coast 4-2 in a robust match-up. Tough match, indeed, watching Didier Drogba celebrate the first goal of the Third Place match in a tense and physical display I had expected both teams to be playing in the tournament's final. I was wrong. But as game progresses, the Ivorian Elephants would lose steam when a Michael Essien assist would pave way in the 43rd minute of the Second Half which gave Ghana the lead with a magnificent Junior Agogo third goal in the tournament.

Just last night where I was hanging out, the discourse was Nations Cup and how a 'Nigeria' arrogance denied 'our' team a third trophy. But the fact of the matter is that, even though 'Naija' did not come out to play but to show off its 'elite football' class that never delivered from my earlier predictions, this year's tournament was the best I have seen, so far, besides the 1980 tournament which I watched every single match. It was electric. It had class and was well organized. A standard has been set for African football, and you bet, South Africa is going to explode with more soccer madness, come 2010.

I still remember the best squad ever assembled in 'Nigerian' football. Up until today, there is no comparison to the squad that Coach Father Tico had engineered matching up a nation of varied culture and ethnicity. Tico had prepared these 'lads' way back from the World Cup preliminaries but for that back heading into the post by Godwin Odiye, 'Nigeria' missed the World Cup. I still like that squad, though. It remains my favorite. Emmanuel Okala, (Best Ogedemgbe,) Patrick Ekeji, Godwin Odiye, Sam Ojebode, Christian Chukwu, Mudashiru Lawal, Segun Odegbami, Alloysius Atuegbu, Thompson Usiyen, Godwin Iwelumo, Adokiye Amesiamaka and the rest were the best back in the day and still the best ever assembled by a coach and its football organizing committee.

But what had happened today at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi, Ghana, shows Africa has arrived and can be proud of staging a spectacular event in the ongoing continent's troubled history. Watching these games, to me, was like watching "The Road to Wembley," "Serie 1" of the robust Italian League, the Latin American Leagues, the Spanish Leagues and the hyped Major League Soccer of which former 'Nigeria' and Newcastle defender Celestine Babayaro has just joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in a star cast of 25-year-old Landon Donovan and a flamboyant, Hollywood-hyped-injury-prone David Beckham whose overrating bothers me.

It has been a breathtaking dribbling, attacks and goals from day 1 of the 2008 Nations Cup. The Third Place match got me and I had lost my breath because Ghana was my pick neverminding they lost out to an aggressive and lucky Cameroon. Ghana won pounding Ivory Coast to a humiliating 4-2 victory and lifting the Third Place Trophy.

Ghana: Richard Kinson, John Painstil, John Mensah, Hani Sarpei, Anthony Annan, Michael Essien, Eric Addo, Sulley Muntari, Haminu Draman, Junior Agogo, Baffour Gyan

Ivory Coast: Trasse Kone, Emmerse Fae, Marc Zoro, Christian Ndri, Arthur Boka, Didier Zokora, Abdelkader Keita, Salomomn Kalou, Siaka Tiere, Didier Drogba, Boubacar Sanogo.

Tomorrow in the finals, it's either one side will be making history if Egypt stretches its win to six or Cameroon will be equaling Egypt's win with a tie of 5 a piece. The aggressiveness of Egypt since the beginning of the tournament gives The Pharoahs an advantage and with Cameroon losing its key player, Reading defender Andre Bikey to a Red Card, Pharaohs shouldn't have any problem at Accra Sports Stadium where Ghanaian fans will be beating the moko moko le kind of congas and the Djangbesi dance. And if Egypt wins, a back-to-back repeat will be made going back almost 50 years when The Pharoahs did it in 1957 and 1959. Only three countries have made it back-to-back in the tournament's history. Egypt, 1957 and 1959; Ghana, 1963 and 1965; and Cameroon, 2000 and 2002.

Though Cameroon should be popping up with European-based players, Egypt's Skipper Ahmed Hassan and veteran Goalkeeper Essam Al Haderi will not be moved by Sam Eto'o' and Mexican-based Alain Nkong's attacking force. My multi-ethnic neigbors are worried I might bring down the house in tomorrow's final. If olakooooooo and gooooooooooooooooal does not bring in the authorities for disturbing the peace, why should my chants of moko moko leeeeeeeee be a big deal. All in all, the tournament "is" great!

The Line: Egypt by 2

Photo: BBC Sport

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Nations Cup: That 'Nigeria'--Ghana War

The first time I paid attention to the Nations Cup was in 1978 and watching all the tournaments while in Port Harcourt when my fellow school mate at Nima Roman Catholic Primary School, Accra, Ahmed Polo, born Fanmi Ahmed, came out smoking as the "Dribbling Magician" helped the Black Stars lift the trophy for a record three time beating Uganda 2-0 at Accra Sports Stadium. In 1982, and I remember that episode very well when Ghana qualified for the tournament in Libya but could not make it on the grounds of economic hardship when Ghana's economy went down the drain. However, then Libyan strongman, Colonel Muammar Gadaffi said to hell with it and sponsored the bill giving Ghana an opportunity to stretch its record for a fourth Nations Cup victory.

By then, my fellow school mate, Polo, had relocated to Yemen to play professional football which took him to newer heights and all that commercial success. Polo started with a local clubside, "The Seekers," with Ruga Park as its home court, alongside "LB" Labaram, Anas "Thunder" Seidu, Eliasu, Jacskswine, Oko Ahmed (Polo's older brother who later played for Mighty Jets of Jos alongside Yakubu Mambo), Manma Naawu and Manma Sani. It was the dream team within the Accra metropolis even though the likes of Charles Ado Odametey, Joe Adjei, Addoquaye Larye of Accra Hearts of Oak and John Naawu of Accra Great Olympics (Oli Dade, as they were known) were the heroes of the time when Ghana reigned supreme in football. Ghana was the Brazil of African football with the best team ever assembled--Osei Kofi, Osumanu Orlando, Odametey, Adjei, Mamah Ankrah, Emmanuel Oblitey, Baba Yara, Wilberforce Awadwao Mfum, Edward Aggrey Fynn and Dodo Ankrah.

"Nigeria" had a fine squad too back in the day when its chief rival had that all star cast. On September 10, 1960, at Lagos, in a World Cup qualifying match, "Nigeria" had its all star cast and finest players of the era. Cletus Onyeama, Godwin Achebe, Fabian Duru, John Onyeador, Dan Anyiam, Boniface Okoro, Godwin Enamako, Clement Andre, Asuquo Ekpe and Dejo fayemi. That match was a 2-2 draw and none qualified for the World Cup to be held in Chile in 1962. Brazil's Pele squad lifted the trophy again with Vava and the magnificent Garrincha winning the Golden Boot. Pele was injured in the finals and had to leave the game.

In 1969, "Nigeria" and Ghana met again. This time around with different squads. Nigeria and Ghana had new line-ups. "Nigeria" won 2-1 at Ibadan and a 1-1 draw at Accra giving "Nigeria" the edge. In 1973, "Nigeria" assembled a new squad when the oil boom was at its peak and every fanatic was talking football. Emmanuel Okala, Tony Igwe, Morton Owolo, Sani Mohammed, Victor Odua, Dominic Ezeani, Gideon Njoku, Yakubu Mambo, Haruna Ilerika, Kenneth Olayombo and Josiah Dombraiye represented Nigeria. Lante France, Daniel Opong, Samuel Ayi Acquah, Joseph Ghartey, John Eshun, Samuel Amartefio, Robert Foley, Eric Amansua, Kwasi Owusu, Peter Lamptey and Malik Jabir represented Ghana. Ghana won on an aggregate of 2-0.

And then there was the Ghana-"Nigeria" Sports Festival which took place at the National Stadium, Surulere, in 1974. A 15-year-old "dribbling magician" had arrived the shores of Lagos to display his talents. He was "Mini Way," "Dribbling Magician" and all in all, the magnificent Ahmed Polo I hanged out with, including my childhood buddies, at Ruga Park. Polo was something else and he had shown the "Nigerian" squad of Emmanuel Okala, Christian Chukwu, Kunle Awesu, Sam Ojebode, Yakubu Mambo, Haruna Ilerika, Dominic Ezeani, Segun Odegbami and the rest that there was a new kid in town and his name is Polo. Ghana won 2-1.

The next time "Nigeria" and Ghana met again was in 2001 at the Accra Sports Stadium. It was an entirely different squad of a different era when football had exploded into a commercial success with most of the players, if not all, playing in Europe and elsewhere. There was Sammy Adjei, Jacob Mettley, Yaw Amankwa Mireku, Charles Asampong, Adjah Tetteh, Charles Akwei, Christian Gyan, Joseph Ansah, Edward Agyemang, Emmanuel Osei Kuffour, and Ishmael Addo on the Ghana side. There was Ike Shorumu, Godwin Okpakpa, Ifeanyi Udeze, Taribo West, Sunday Oliseh, Emeka Ifejiagwah, Finidi George, Tijani Babangida, Austin "Jay Jay" Okocha, Garba Lawal, Julius Agbahowa, Victor Agali and Nwankwo Kanu. "Nigeria won 3-0 at Port Harcourt and clinched a spot for the World Cup. In 2002, "Nigeria" of course beat Ghana and did it again in 2006 in the Quarter Finals of the Nations Cup. But that's then.

The next few hours Accra, Ghana, should be exploding with all sorts of fanfare and football fever between the archrivals in the continents most prestigious tournament. The line-up for Ghana doesn't look rosy but home court advantage counts a whole lot, especially with history in the making. With "Nigeria" playing bonus raised from $9,000 to $15,000 on each win, the spoiled and arrogant Naija players might give it their best shot never minding the fact that the tiny bonus is nothing to what these unpatriotic players earn playing in Europe. The bonus doesn't mean anything. What counts is commitment to the game, patriotism and passion for the great sport.

The line: Ghana wins by 2 points on the basis they have wit and a better attacking force.

Let's talk after the game!