Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Should President Goodluck Jonathan Resign?

It has been noted in some circles that President Goodluck Jonathan should resign for his feeling very irresponsible and not showing possible leadership of the country by not demonstrating his ability to manage crisis - which case he is not intuned with the sadness being caused by the suffering Nigerian people. That the Christmas Day simultaneous bombings was not the first time, second time or third time it had occured in the country.

That by not doing much, he is giving credence to the perpetrators of injustice. That his statements demonstrates his lack of sense of leadership and very apathetic about the suffering of his subjects - the Nigerian people. That he needs to show more responsibility to handle every situation protecting Nigerians. That if he cannot perform to secure his own people from his ineptitude, he must resign.

Have your say/opinion

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Odumegwu Ojukwu's Message on the Pogrom to Biafran Students in America

“The people of the former eastern region of Nigeria had believed, as if it were an article of faith, in the concept of a united Nigeria. No section of then Federation of Nigeria worked assiduously for the attainment of this ideal as did Eastern Nigeria and her people. No section made as many and varied positive contributions toward the realization of true unity.

Having, over the years, spearheaded the movement for closer union, having demonstrated our faith in Nigeria in concrete terms by allowing our sons and daughters to sojourn in other parts of the country, thereby contributing tremendously to the development of such areas to the neglect of our own, it was a hard decision for us to opt out of a federation in which we had invested so much. But we had no other choice.

Over the years, our erstwhile compatriots made it clear in unmistakable terms that they did not want us in the Federation. Since the 1950s our people were expropriated and discriminated against in parts of Nigeria other than their own. Furthermore, the experience of three harrowing waves of remorseless genocide in 1945, 1953, and especially in 1966, involving a total of nearly 50,000 dead and countless others maimed or destitute, provided an object lesson which could not be but taken seriously.

Self-preservation is probably the strongest human instinct, and it is this that has compelled the harassed and prosecuted people of eastern Nigeria to seek refuge in their own home and among their kindred. As a proverb of one of our Biafran languages has it, “A man who is rejected by others cannot reject himself."

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu's "Message on the Pogrom to Biafran Students in America," November 24, 1967

The Red Bull Miss Florence Welch Interview


I read somewhere that you're still sleeping on a mattress on the floor of your mom's house. Is that true?

[Laughs] Yeah, that is true! I haven't had time to change my home--I'm hardly ever there, so it's quite hard to. I haven't had time to move out, so yeah, I'm just still on a mattress on the floor of my mom's house.

Speaking of your parents, your dad was the tour bus driver when you supported MGMT. How did that come about?

We didn't have any money, and they offered us tour around Europe. So my dad had this camper van, and he said that he'd drive us around. So we clattered around in this camper van, with all the pots and pans shaking, and we were all sleeping on the floor, but it was really fun.

He's not your tour-bus driver anymore?

[Laughs] No.

You were nominated for a Brit Award last year, and performed at the Grammys and the Oscars. Was there a personal highlight?

I really enjoyed the feeling after having just played the MTV Video Music Awards. It was such a huge undertaking, the performance was on such a grand scale. We had 10 blue people, tribal drummers, psychedelic choir people, and I had to sing on rotating platform without falling over in this big, floating dress. I was in shock after we'd finished, and then I realized that we'd done it. I was running down this hallway screaming with everyone I hadn't fallen over, and it wasn't a total disaster. I also really enjoyed playing places like the Greek Theatre in L.A. and san Francisco. Playing those big, beautiful ampitheaters was really enjoyable.

British acts have often had a hard time of it in the U.S. Is success here something you've always aimed for?

I don't know. If things haven't taken off in certain places, I've never really fretted about it. It's not really like my job to worry about that kind of stuff. I'm like, "I don't care, I just want to sing and make music. It's not my job to worry about the numbers.." We'd been doing a bit of stuff in the states here and there, but it was more of like an underground thing, and then all of a sudden it was like [gasps] "Oh my God!"--it was everywhere, and that was so strange, 'cause it happened so late in the game. So when I was doing US tours, I also had to be in the U.K. making the next record. I was still touring the first album while trying to make the second one. I'm really grateful about what happened in the Statesm 'cause they seem to have really embraced it.

Not just the audience. Beyounce cited you as an influence on her album "4." Has she ever told you that in person?

No. not in person, but I have met her, and I think she's so sweet [laughs]. I've been listening to "4" a lot trying to figure out which bit maybe might have influenced her, but I don't know, I can't figure it out. Listening to one song, being like, "maybe this guitar part?" [laughs]. I don't know, you'd have to ask her.

An old pop-music adage claims that the second album is the hardest one to make, because for the first, you had your whole life, and for the second, just a few months.

I think the first album was so hard. I don't know what I was doing. I didn't have an assured idea of who I was as a person yet because I was 21. Everything was so terrifying. I was drunk half the time, because it was my first tour. I was not in stable place, and right now I feel much more ready to cope with things, which is a good place to be in.

What music did you listen to while writing the songs?

I've been listening to a lot of spiritualized, and I was listening to a lot of stack-soul records like Otis Redding. I was also listening to more things, like Fuck Buttons and Suicide. It was real mix of stuff--Ariel Pink and things like that.

The material on your first album was a reaction to a temporary breakup with your boyfriend back then. Was there something similar that shaped the new one?

Not really, I think it's general feeling of conflict between wanting to be safe and secure--and that battle going on within your spirit and your body.

Do you throw yourself into something headfirst, or do you stay on dry land?

I think it's more about a question of growing up and whether or not I want that.

You once said that you're not very good at expressing your feelings in real life, and your songs are a way to do that.

I think especially with people I love the most, I have a hard time with face-to-face emotional interactions. I don't know if that's why I perform, or if it's because I perform--do you know what I mean? I feel maybe it's because in performing, I have such a huge emotional outlet, and everything is expressed on such a grand scale, that when I try to express things in a small, face-to-face way, it almost feels fake. I feel like I'm not doing it properly, because you're tearing yourself open in such a huge way it feels like there's all these layers in front of me, and I can't get past them--and when I'm on stage, they kind of open up.

What was the inspiration behind "What THe Water Gave Me"--the first single on the new album?

Sometimes I like to write songs just from things I pick up in a room, and what you can see around you can be really inspirational. There was this book on Surrealist paintings, and in it there was a painting by Frida kahlo called "What the Water Gave Me." Frida Kahlo has always inspired me, visually and lyrically--just her whole aesthetic, and how she viewed the world, and her clothes and everything. Then I got these images of Virginia Woolf walking toward that river with her pocket full of stones, and it was such a powerful image--that tragedy and that bucolic setting of an English countryside--and I just started thinking about water and my fascination with drowning, and being submerged in something. I don't know...that's kind of romanticizing it, I think.

Does visual art have an impact on your work, generally?

Yes, it really does--it's a really important part of it, actually. "Dog days" was inspired by an Ugo Rondinone installation. I love the artist Ed Ruscha. He just uses massive...what he calls "hot phrases," like "Went out for cigarettes, never came back" in this beautiful Ruscha font that he sometimes paints on these beautiful mountain backgrounds.

You said in reference to your first album that you have to listen to everything to understand the body of work. Do you still believe in the album as a concept of presenting music?

Yeah, I do. I don't mind people who just listen to a song. I do it all the time. I think a record like Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" is a really good example of how the album still stands, because it has such a good flow, and you really have to listen to it from beginning to end. I have tried to do that with this record, too. However people want to listen to it is fine by me.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How Shagari Granted Ojukwu Amnesty

The late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’s former media aide, Mr. Kanayo Esinulo, today concludes his account of life with Ikemba Nnewi
Saturday December 17, 2011
- Daily Sun

Gowon’s pardon

By 1981, particularly after President Shehu Shagari granted amnesty to General Yakubu Gowon, Emeka, who was fond of calling Gowon ‘Jack,’ felt that their ‘two cases’ could have been considered in tandem, but because the people of Plateau made a strong case for Gowon, while ‘the East’ was not able to present a united front on his case, it would appear to Shagari that Gowon’s case was a more pressing national issue. He then suggested that we pursue a new initiative by making the necessary contacts with those within the listening range of President Shagari and others outside of this orbit. The primary targets were Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, Dr. Ibrahim Tahir and Chief Victor Masi.

Okadigbo was to be the arrowhead, since he was the Political Adviser to the President. Tahir, then Chairman of the Board of Nigerian Telecommunications, was chosen because of his influence and political pre-eminence within northern political circles. Masi was an important Minister of Works in the Shagari administration and a brilliant Army Captain with the Biafran Army Engineers. General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu gave these as his reasons for preferring that we worked with these eminent Nigerians.

The meeting with Tahir and Obiano

In part two of this narrative that appeared last week, I traced the initial involvement of Okadigbo in the project of Emeka’s homecoming, and how I took him and Obiozo to Bingerville to meet and discuss with the General. Soon after we returned to Nigeria, we tracked Dr. Tahir at Ikoyi Hotel, where he was temporarily accommodated. He was very warm and polite to us and Okadigbo had tutored Vincent Obiano and I how to present the case to Tahir. As he chain-smoked, he listened us out and made promises he so dutifully fulfilled. We then moved to Victor Masi’s official residence in Ikoyi. He was waiting for us. Obiano had contacted him, for they knew themselves at the University of Nigeria in the early sixties. Here, again, the reception was warm and friendly. Before we knew it, Emeka called Chief Ike Onunaku, a top management staff of the United Africa Company (UAC) (I mean the UAC under Chief Ernest Shonekan), who was a part of us and who hosted so many of our meetings in those difficult days, to say he was getting feelers on how effective the team had become. By this time, Emeka had asked Colonel Joe Achuzia to join us and to handle the security component of the project. We continued to meet regularly at Onunaku’s Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi residence – Bless his soul.

Ojukwu met Shinkafi in London

One early Saturday morning, Onunaku sent his driver to bring me to Ikoyi. ‘What about’? I asked the driver. He wouldn’t know beyond the instruction to get to my Ikeja residence and “get Kanayo here before two o’clock.” When I arrived, I was told that the General wanted to give me a new brief by 3pm, and since I didn’t have a telephone at home, Onunaku’s place at Ikoyi was the best option. At exactly three o’clock, the call came through and Emeka said he had just returned to Abidjan from London, where he had “fruitful and rewarding discussions” with the Director-General of the Nigeria Security Organization (NSO), Alhaji Shinkafi. I was to constitute a strong media team to start working on softening the ground for his journey home. His meeting in London with Shinkafi had increased his optimism that his days in exile were, indeed, coming to an end, he said. He sounded slightly excited, and I was happy and so was Chief Onunaku.

The media campaign

Two days later, I traveled to Enugu on a Nigeria Airways flight, in the company of Vincent Obiano. We were in Enugu to ask for the support of a good friend and colleague, Obinwa Nnaji, who was then Editor of Sunday Satellite of the Satellite Newspaper Group in Enugu. We confided in him and told him precisely how the General wanted the media aspect of the project handled from the East. After getting his advice, support and firm commitment, Vincent and I came back to Lagos. The following day, I drove to Iwaya Road Yaba, Lagos to brief and request the support and sympathy of veteran journalist and editor, Gbolabo Ogunsawo, the former editor of Sunday Times. Emeka knew him by reputation and specifically advised me to reach out to him. In his days as the editor, the weekly was reputed to be the highest circulating newspaper in Africa, south of Sahara. And from exile, he was a loyal reader of Sunday Times.

We secured Gbalabo’s sympathy and through him the understanding of the Unity Party of Nigeria, as well as access to as many editors in the Lagos/Ibadan media axis as possible. Obinwa Nnaji also inherited the duty of getting his editor colleagues in the South East to step up the media campaign. Before we all knew it, Ojukwu’s return to Nigeria had developed into a huge national discussion and conversation. Indomitable Tai Solarin added his voice in an article that was published in both the Nigerian Tribune and the Daily Sketch.

The debate was now widening and going in the direction we had planned. And Emeka was letting us know that he was following developments closely but warned: “You must not relent until Shagari pronounces the magic word ‘Emeka, Come Home.’” Dr. Chuba Okadigbo was doing just fine in the political turf. He called me one day to say that the media tempo must not go down at all. Gbolabo, Obinwa and I were taking care of the media angle. Colonel Achuzia (now a chief in his native Asaba and its Ochiagha) was making progress with security arrangements. Everything was going good. Everybody was cooperating and the end of Emeka’s days in exile was nearing its terminal stage.

Shagari’s declaration

In a terse statement issued by the presidency, Shehu Shagari allowed Emeka to come home and a huge volley of joy and jubilation were unleashed. Preparations for his trip home began in earnest. Individuals and groups that were afraid to mention Emeka Ojukwu’s name in public since January 1970 began to come out of their holes, like termites. I remember one fellow who refused to touch the letter from Ojukwu to him in 1972, and even warned Emeka Enejere and I never to mention that we ever saw or came to his office located in central Lagos, was busy granting elaborate press interviews soon after the amnesty announcement. He was hailing the General as “my infinite hero,” who is on his way back home. Such is life.
At the end of it all, however, many genuine Igbo groups made contacts with us and began to donate time and buses that would convey people to Lagos and back.

The Cote d’Ivoire angle

Many Ivorians, too, voluntarily donated huge sums for the printing of thousands of T-shirts. Emma Ackah, an Ivorian presidency staff, was in-charge of that. Emeka had instructed what should be written on the shirts – simple Igbo words, ‘ONYEIJE NNO.’ What happened at the airport the day he arrived Nigeria is now history. The day his body arrives Nigeria will record yet another history.

It is on this note that I say, with tears in my eyes, to my General, mentor, adviser and ogam: sleep well and good night – Chukwu nabata mkpuru obi gi. Ka emesia!

Interview: Ojukwu Never Repeated His Instructions - Orderly

Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka - Daily Sun Exclusive Interview

Sixty-five-year-old Elder Chief Godwin Okeke-Ejim was the Police Orderly to the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu for three years when he was Head of State of Biafra till the day he left the shores of Nigeria to Ivory Coast (now Cote d’Ivoire).

In this exclusive interview with Saturday Sun at his Enugu residence, Elder Ejim confessed that he felt terribly bad on hearing the news of the death of his former boss, saying, “My father died, my mother died I did not shed tears, but when Ojukwu died, I shed tears.

Elder Ejim, who hails from Ugbawka in Nkanu East Local of Enugu State, was 25 when he started working with Ojukwu. The orderly revealed some intimate aspects of Ojukwu including the fact that the late Ikemba never repeated his instructions.
He also graphically related a day Ojukwu had a brush with death.

Posting to Ojukwu

I served as a police officer and retired in 1978. I came to serve Ojukwu in 1967 till the last day he departed to Ivory Coast in 1970 as his personal and police orderly. I was so close in a way that he trusted me so much. We were seven of us slated. We didn’t know why we were called, because in the police force, we had a routine called Daily Order. We go there every evening to pick or know where you may go or about anything at all that might concern you. In the course of that day, we read the Daily Order; we were seven short-listed sergeants and it said we had to prepare for special duties tomorrow morning and to report to Commissioner of Police’s office by 8 o’clock. The Commissioner of Police of the Eastern Region then was P. I. Okeke, now late. When we assembled, seven of us that day, around 10 o’clock, the Commissioner of Police arrived and addressed us. He said: “Well, I’m tired of sending orderlies to Col. Ojukwu. Each time, none serves up to one month to three months before he comes back for one accusation or the other”, that now, he was taking all of us to go and see him in his office at the State House. Whoever he picks, it’s his luck because this was a man that when his name is mentioned, you begin to shiver.

We were driven to that place from the Police Headquarters, Enugu to what is now the Orthopedic Hospital where we had the State House. We got to that place around 11a.m. Ojukwu arrived. We were marched before him as he sat down and when we lined up, they introduced us and he looked from left to right and immediately he pointed at me and said, “You, come out, the rest can go”. That was the verdict. Every other person left in jubilation. I didn’t know how I felt, it was a mixed feeling but I thank God. He told the ADC, who was the Major, to tell me what to do. He told me exactly why others left; that I am the 7th person now, that I should look very sharp because I am serving him directly.

His job

From there, the job started. The next thing he did by the time he was retiring by 6pm in the evening was that he gave me one key to the office and said: “Look, I am having one key to this office and I am giving you one. So, make sure that nothing leaks, make sure that no information leaks from my office and that nothing is being searched for, otherwise…” he nodded. I said that by the grace of God that nothing will go amiss. So, he said okay. He didn’t even ask me questions about where I come from. We have worked for almost two to three years before one day he asked me: “Where do you come from, Edwin?” He calls me Edwin instead of Godwin and I said, from Ugboka.

Our movement from Enugu started when Enugu fell. We were the last to move. He likes truth and he likes cleanliness. He told me that whenever he calls me, I should be at least one yard away from him; that he need not be shouting to me. I agreed and I maintained that. Even if he was in a meeting and you know he always stays at the extreme, once I hear him through the signs he made electronically, I will march and go there, greet him and then he will give me the instructions.

It so happened that, throughout my service with him, he trusted me and I maintained it. The instructions made me to deny every other association with everybody even friends. He gave the instruction, I feed from the kitchen; they give me food three times or as much as possible because I wouldn’t have time to go to my house to do anything. I prepare, anytime he goes out or has occasion to wear military uniform, I do it because the ordinary squad wouldn’t starch it well or do maintaining because this is what I was trained for as a policeman. I maintained my own uniforms. As the war developed, I wouldn’t go to war because I was not a war cabinet member but he made sure that every other domestic matter, I take care of them, he instructs me and he never repeats his instructions. He was very strict. He liked me so much that, throughout three years, he never for one day scolded me; he never scolded me at all, having learnt what made others to be brought back. Even as I was there, my promotion ran up to the ASP within the war period. I was promoted. You know, after the war, you have to abandon your old rank and go back.

The man Ojukwu

He was a man who loved work more than anything; that is why, when I got to hear that his eyes were bad, I knew exactly that he overstressed his eyes even though I’m not a doctor. He was always reading, he was writing always, he was always there buried in books. Imagine a man who read in Oxford, obtained a Master’s degree and everyday he was there – day and night – holding series of meetings, writing, doing all these and giving out instructions. So, the much I can remember is that we worked very cordially as much as I could and the family members all know me. I know the mother, the father; I got to know him when he died at Nkalagu. That was where he passed on. Maybe he didn’t want to be carried overseas because the money was there. I liken Ojukwu to Jesus Christ because he was a man who obtained his degrees from overseas and shunned every other work only to join army and in the army, he proved beyond every reasonable doubt that he liked the job.

He rose very well in rank and because of his love for the Igbo people, he denied himself of everything and later became Head of State of Biafra as mandated by the people then. You can imagine how he ran that war, using everything; I think he might even have used his father’s money. But what I’m sure of is that he used every opportunity he had to see that the war progressed, aimed at making his goal to be achieved by establishing the Republic of Biafra. But due to the fact that so many things were against him, it had to be abandoned. You know Jesus came into this world, abandoning the best things God set for Him in heaven only to come and suffer and die for us. So the man, Odumegwu Ojukwu, picked that attribute of Jesus because, with his wealth and his father’s wealth, he needed not suffer for us at all. He was as a sacrificial lamb, which people are now realizing. In fact, his actions tended to stabilize Nigeria, otherwise it would have been a different matter. I don’t condemn him for the actions taken, otherwise you and I would not have been talking. We would have been decimated long ago.

Close shave with death

I met him when he was just three months old as the administrator of the Eastern Region. Everything was going normal until the Biafran was declared. That time, we never slept again. The moment Biafran nation was declared, there was no rest for him; there was no rest again for anybody serving him. Wherever he was, I will be at the door. I screen anybody entering to see him. You do not enter unless I announce you and before then, I must have searched you and announced you and he said okay, come immediately or give me five minutes to finish up. I took up security at the doorpost before you go to meet him.

We were close to death on one particular day due to aircraft bombing. We would have perished at Madonna, Mbano area because that very day, during the heat of the bombing mission by the Nigerian aircraft, we were there. He was interviewing people and doing his normal duties, suddenly an aircraft zoomed in around 12 noon. When the aircraft came, myself and the security officers zoomed into his office because the canon fires were too close, even the aircraft bombed the Mercedes car with which we arrived. I know exactly that it was targeting us and the car was very close to the office. We pushed him (Ojukwu) down and all of us lay on him as protection but when this aircraft became desperate and the bombing became intense, we remembered there was a temporary bunker. We said, let’s go into the bunker and he reluctantly rose up and we walked into the bunker. The moment the last of us entered the bunker, there was darkness everywhere. His table, chairs, books and documents, which were on the table where he was working, all got shattered and burnt. That could have been a calamity. This happened at Madonna near Isieke, Mbano in the present Imo State.

That was the only close shave with death I witnessed by myself and you know that whatever happened to him that time will affect us. I wouldn’t have been here with you by now. That was the day I shivered. When we came out, there were so many casualties. I remembered that one European came to our office in the name of offering relief few days before the attack, I suspected him. It was when the aircraft took the first dive; it was so low that I noticed his face. We didn’t know that he came to sabotage us and it was less than a week. He was an Egyptian pilot because it was a Russian-made aircraft that could have destroyed us, but we thank God really. That was an incident that was touching.
The next one was when Ugwuta was falling; he (Ojukwu) went there too. I was there and he was at the war front. He taught me how to load HMG. Until water bomb finished our cars there, the cars we took there, we had to retreat. We came back in the night with another car. The man suffered. He took strange actions, which a Head of State wouldn’t even take. So, these were the sacrifices he made. It would have been a tragic event for us.

Lessons from Ojukwu

You know, he is not a relation, he is not a friend, and my approach with him was always instructional. You do this, you go there, and so, we have no social contact. He was a man who didn’t drink. He takes coffee and by then he was a chain-smoker. 555, that’s what he takes. He never tasted alcohol and he wasn’t eating too much. He never told me anything that was not instructional or related to my duties. He kept me at a distance and I kept him at a distance, knowing that there were other people ahead of me and his immediate brothers who he could always converse with.

Ojukwu’s departure

We sojourned longer at Umuahia. We got disorganized. We even ran to Ogwa in now Mbaitoli Local Government of Imo State in the house of Iheanacho. After about a day or two, we moved to Nnewi and that was in January. The last day, all the dignitaries you can think of in this Biafran setup, they all went in and held a meeting. I don’t usually stay in their meetings, I can’t be there. I will be at the corridor. Eventually, that meeting held for a whole day; from morning till around 1 O’clock in the night. Suddenly, vehicles were set up, heading for Uli Airport. I normally sat in the front to open the door and close it as an orderly. On getting to Uli, it was just like a market, filled with people with a very large plane; Super Consolation, stationed. He entered with most of these dignitaries that went out with him and I realized he was leaving.

Before the door of the aircraft was shut, he sent somebody to the door of the aircraft to say I should come in. I replied to that man to tell him that I didn’t know we were leaving here. That, in fact, I cannot enter the plane. If my wife had been around or if I had known that it was a movement of that nature, I would have joined him to fly. That was the last I saw him and that was the end of my service to him. That was also the end of the war. Since then, I was communicating with his brothers and at a certain time; they wanted me to come to Ivory Coast because when they come, they would say they want that honest orderly.

Yes, that’s what they branded me honest orderly. They came to my house and said my master wanted me to come to Ivory Coast; that there is a job I will do for him. I told them that my family has expanded and that I can’t just be moving like that. They needed me then but I said no because I know it was either to take care of some of his businesses there or things like that.

Ojukwu’s return

When he returned around 1983, I went to him. He was happy. He received me and asked me to take lunch with him. When it was announced that that orderly came, he left every other thing, came and embraced me. He said I shouldn’t go until I take lunch and I obeyed. You know, he was not a person you visit anyhow without having something serious. He was down-to-earth, he likes you to come but the duty of the work wasn’t really giving him the chance to be receiving people anyhow because he was not a man you go to gossip to about anything. He was a very intelligent man. I later became President of the Customary Court; writing and doing other court duties. I saw him when he was at Hill view area this Independence Layout. There was a day he was passing through this area, eventually he stopped at a suya spot. I raced to that place and called him ‘master.’ He said ‘orderly.’ He came down and we embraced. People converged and were surprised. After asking about my welfare and family, he bought what he wanted to buy and left. He was a very brave man. When he went into politics, people were skeptical about his involvement in politics. When you have your facts at your fingertips and you know that God is with you, you can go to your enemies’ camp and come out. He will tell you the reality; he will tell you exactly what happens.

After Ojukwu’s depature

Immediately he left, there was order for me to return to police. I rejoined police and I got resposted like every other person. Along the line in 1970, I was in Lagos where I was posted, I attended an interview on two occasions and I was confronted with “you served the rebel”. They threw the accusation to me during Board members promotion interview in 1976 because we used to have annual Board Interview. I said how, sir? The then Commissioner of Police said, “look at your picture with Ojukwu.” I said, “yes, I served him, sir, but I was there on posting. I did not apply for it.” He said but why didn’t you refuse it? I said that if I declined it, I would be declared a saboteur; that was why I had to be there. I didn’t apply.

In 1977, they confronted me in Lagos again when I went, “you are a rebel agent” and I told them I didn’t apply. I was on posting by the Commissioner of Police then, later IG. So, there was noting I could do. My situation was defenceless. Immediately after that interview, I planned to leave before I would be dismissed, because there were people who could take action against you. I had to quit the force at least to have a good record that I wasn’t dismissed. Till today, I get my pension with the little rank that I held, otherwise by then, I was having more than 15 years to serve and by then I would have risen but today, I thank God, its no longer an issue.
So, that ended my career abruptly. I didn’t think of it, there were no consultations. I said why should I be defending one thing, instead of asking me questions on my police duties, why do you then come to blackmail me? I can’t defend what is indefensible and I thank God because now, I’m not indebted to anybody. God has blessed my family. I have children and almost all of them are now graduates and they are doing well. It’s God who leads. He provided and He makes provisions for my children.

News of his demise

I saw the news of his demise as I was watching CNN. I saw only that Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Biafran leader is dead. The spoon with which I was taking my jollof rice, I didn’t know when I dropped it on the ground instead of the table, I dropped it on the ground. I shivered. I felt it to the marrow of my bones. I thought he would have made it. I never expected his death now. I did not; if he had been in Nigeria, maybe but in overseas? No. But I am praying that God never abandons him in His kingdom. When Jesus came, He liberated the oppressed, He gave the blind sight, Ojukwu followed that example, he liberated the oppressed. Igbos are being desecrated, I was there; from time to time, we will go to the airport to receive corpses during the pogrom. He had the mind to carry the people, unshaken for that period of three years. God didn’t want him to go beyond this.

So, I thank God for his soul because God will not abandon him because His ways are not our ways, His plans are not our plans, His thoughts are not our thoughts. It’s there in the Bible; people might condemn you but God will not do so. God is a powerful God and He gave him the chance to do all these things. He could have been eliminated during the war, but no, he did as a human being, Jesus is a Spirit. I’m only sorry that much time was not given to him so that he would eventually live to see more progress in Nigeria.

Utterances of Bigotry and Hatred against the Igbo, Northern Nigeria House of Assembly, Feb-March 1964

“On the allocations of plots to Ibos, or allocation of stalls I would like to advise the minister that these people know how to make money and we do not know the way and manner of getting about this business. We do not want Ibos to be allocated with plots, I do not want them to be given plots.”

---------------Mallam Muhammadu Mustapha Maude Gyari

“I would like you, as the Minister of land and Survey, to revoke forthwith all certificates of occupancy from the hands of the Ibos resident in the Region. [Applause from the assembly floor].

--------------Mallam Bashari Umaru

“I am very glad that we are in Moslem country, and the government of Northern Nigeria allowed some few Christians in the region, to enjoy themselves according to the belief of their religion, but building of hotels should be taken away from the Ibos and even if we find some Christians who are interested in building hotels and have no money to do so, the government should aid them, instead of allowing Ibos to continue with the hotels.”

--------------Mr. A. A. Agigede

“I am one of the strong believers in Nigerian unity, and I have hoped for our having a United Nigeria, but certainly if the present trend of affairs continues, then I hope the government will investigate first the desirability and secondly the possibility of extending the Northernization policy to the petty Ibo traders. [Applause].

--------------Prof. Iya Abubakar (special Member: Lecturer, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria)

“I would like to say something very important that the Minister should take my appeal to the federal government about the Ibos in the Post Office. I wish the members of these Ibos be reduced. There are too many of them in the North. They were just like sardines and I think they were just too dangerous to the region.”

---------------Mallam Mukhtar Bello

“Mr. Chairman, Sir, well, first and foremost, what I have to say before this honorable House is that we should send a delegate to meet our honorable Premier to move a Motion in this very Budget Session that all the Ibos working in the Civil Service of Northern Nigeria, including the native authorities, whether they are contractors, or not, should be repatriated at once.

--------------Mallam Ibrahim Muse
“There should be no contracts either from the government, native authorities, or private enterprises given to Ibo contractors. [Government Bench: Good talk and shouts of “Fire the Southerners.”] Again Mr. Chairman, the foreign firms too should be given time limit to replace all Ibos in their firms by some other people.”

--------------Mallam Bashari Umaru

“It is my most earnest desire that every post in the region, however small it is, be filled by a Northerner. [Applause]”

-------------The Premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sarduana of Sokoto

“What brought the Ibos into this region? They were here since the colonial days. had it not been for the colonial rule, there would hardly have been any Ibo in this region. Now that there is no colonial rule the Ibos should go back to their region. There should be no hesitation about this matter. Mr. Chairman, North is for Northerners, east for the easterners, West for for the Westerners, and the Federation is for all. [Applause}.”

--------------Alhaji Usman Liman

“Mr. Chairman, Sir, I do not like to take up much of the time of this House in making explanations, but I would like to assure members that having heard their demands about Ibos holding land in Northern Nigeria, my ministry will do all it can to see that the demands of members are met. How to do this, when to do it, all this should not be disclosed. In due course, you will all see what will happen. [Applause]”

-------------Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Cashash, Minister of Land and Survey

(Statements on the floor of the Northern House of Assembly on what to do about the Igbos - [Feb-March 1964] presented by Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu at the OAU Special Session, Addis Ababa, August 05, 1968.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

C. Odumegwu Ojukwu on "The Future Of Africa"

“...Colonial state generates a colonial posture. This automates a series of complexes which remain with the African long after the colonial stimulus has ceased to have direct contact. The continuation of these complexes is seen in a state of mind which permits colonialism as a reflex. During this period the remoteness of the stimulus is often misinterpreted as nonexistent, thus generating a false sense of security in the minds of Africans lately out of bondage. The stimulus exists, its virulence undiminished. In fact, what happens is that the imperial power at this time, finding itself undisturbed, conserves energy, spreads its contagion, prepares the ground, and concentrates all its efforts toward the achievement of its main objective--that of economic exploitation.

These were my views as a student, discovered in a pile of my student-days essays. Today, after fifteen years, my views remain sunstantially unchanged. The future of Africa depends entirely on the ability of the African to overcome his own colonial mentality, which permits his erstwhile colonial masters to manage him by impulses generated from a remote control station, usually some European capital.

For the African, therefore, to measure up as a man in the full sense of the word, for him to be truly free, it becomes imperative that he must first understand himself, his psychological disability, then recognize his enemy--still his erstwhile colonial master--recognize the fact of neocolonialism, its destructive potential, and then take urgent and drastic steps to rid himself of this malignant blight which, if left unchecked, will surely destroy him. This is why I believe that the Black man will not emerge until he is able to build modern states based on a compelling African ideology.

The need for an African ideology arises from the fact that the withdrawal of the colonial masters and the effect of a long period under tutelage left most emergent African countries with an ideological vacuum. In order to fill this vacuum, the battle for men’s minds continues in Africa today. The African leaders is often left with very little to choose between one ideology or the other, each designed to serve needs other than his own. It is this that creates in Africa a state of instability, and this instability is bound to continue until Africa generates from within an ideology of equal dynamism that can fill the vacuum and act as a bulwark against foreign imposition. Our struggle, therefore, is African nationalism conscious of itself and fully aware of the powers with which it is contending...”

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Biafra Lodge, Owerri, May 30, 1969

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Ojukwu on "Our Role In The Development Of Nigeria"

Christian education and Western training stimulated and enriched our native resourcefulness, industry, and dynamism and so contributed in no small measure to the leading role we played in the development of Nigeria during the half century before 1966. In all spheres of life in the former Federation of Nigeria--economic, social, cultural, political, and constitutional--we were in the forefront of the struggle for unity and equality, justice and progress. Economically, down to the late 1950s, our territory was relegated to the backwaters as a destitute area. national institutions, projects, and utilities were deliberately sited outside our territory.

Nevertheless, we invested confidently in the development of whole of Nigeria. We unhesitatingly built houses, hotels, shops, market stalls, etc,. in various parts of the country, sometimes on the strength of mere certificates of occupancy which could be, and indeed often were, revoked at will in Northern Nigeria. We provided intermediate and high-level manpower for the development of Nigeria, only to be later frustrated and expelled from positions we had earned on merit.

After the fashion of the Christian missionaries, we built schools and colleges and supplied teachers and lecturers for general education throughout the country. In the same manner, we established hospitals and nursing homes and provided doctors and nurses for healing and tending the sick. We strove in every way to identify ourselves with the peoples of the areas in which we settled. We spoke their language; we intermarried with them; and Northern Nigerians even declared that, because we wore their dresses, they had conquered us culturally. Yet, in spite of all this, in Northern Nigeria we were physically and socially segregated from the indigenous people. In contrast, the people of Western Nigeria who shared the same education and cultural experience, took pride in being “traditionally reluctant” to settle in and contribute to the development of places outside their region...”

In the field of political and constitutional development, while we advocated a strong united Nigeria and had for our watchword one country, one constitution, one destiny, Northern Nigerians consistently and openly maintained that the Amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria in 1914 was “a mistake.” Not surprisingly, in January 1950, at the General Conference Summoned at Ibadan to discuss proposals for the review of the Nigerian Constitution, the Northern Nigerian delegates announced that “unless the Northern Central Legislature it would ask for separation from the rest of Nigeria on the arrangements existing before 1914.” In other words, Northern Nigeria would secede. Eventually, to avoid breaking up the country, we conceded this demand.

At the Ibadan conference of 1950, also, Northern Nigerians insisted that “only Northern Nigerian male adults of twenty five years or more, resident in the region for three years, should be qualified for election to the Northern House of Assembly.” In reply, our delegates were obliged to enter a minority report in which they raised an issue of fundamental principle. They asserted:

“It is our view invidious that any Nigerian could under a Nigerian Constitution be deprived of the right of election to the House of Assembly in any region in which he for reason of the accident of birth or ancestry.”

Three years later, in May 1953, during one of the recurrent constitutional crises of those years, Northern Nigeria again agitated for secession. They published an eight point proposal for the establishment of a “Central Agency” to maintain what was in effect a Common Services Organization. To secure the implementation of this proposal by force, Northern Nigerian leaders organized and carried out violent demonstrations, during which they slaughtered and wounded hundreds of our people then resident in Kano, Northern Nigeria, acts of genocide which they had perpetrated at Jos in Northern Nigeria earlier in 1945. In the end, we had to abandon the idea of a strong and united country which we had been advocating and, with difficulty, persuaded Northern Nigeria to accept a stronger federal system of government than that which was envisaged by them.

The following year, as a result of its failure to absorb Lagos, Western Nigeria also threatened to secede and was only prevented from proceeding to make good the threat by a stern and timely warning from the British Secretary of State for the colonies, Mr. Oliver Lyttleton (afterward Lord Chandos).

Address Delivered at the OAU Special Session, Addis Ababa, August 05, 1968

Interview With Los Angeles Fashion Designer Porscha Starr

Tell me about yourself

Porscha Woodard was born in Los Angeles, California. She is a 22 year old entrepreneur. Her interest is designing Lingerie. She is currently the CEO and Founder of Porscha Starr.

What inspired you into fashion and modeling?

For as long as I can remember I have been interested in fashion. I can think back to being a little girl and playing dress-up in my mother’s clothes, shoes and accessories.

I used to wish that I was old enough to wear her clothes and imagine my friends and myself going out and wearing the hottest clothes and driving the fanciest cars to accent our wardrobes. For Christmas I would get lots of dolls in all shapes, heights, colors and sizes and lots of clothes to dress them up in. My friends loved coming over to play and to see what amazing new thing that I have done to my dolls. As I got older, my friends began to call me up and ask if I could go shopping with them and assist them in finding the perfect outfit, especially at the beginning of the school year.

So what is fashion modeling to you?
Fashion Modeling is Classy, Sexy and very Edgy. Fashion Modeling introduces all the new hot and upcoming trends to the public eye.

What’s your take on the fashion industry?I believe the fashion industry is changing to a more futuristic style. The two female artists that have a huge impact on the fashion industry are Lady Gaga and Beyonce.

What are your best moments in the fashion shows you’ve featured?

My best moments are watching the models walk the runway; I love the walk, the wardrobe and the energy.

Do you play any musical instruments?

Who is your favorite performer?

Beyonce. She is an amazing performer, brings lots of energy to the crowd, and has awesome wardrobe and hairstyles.

What are you working on now?
Porscha Starr Lingerie new designs and upcoming events, currently preparing for Porscha Starr Launch event.

Any clothing line yet?

Yes. Clothing line is Porscha Starr.


Porscha Starr Lingerie Fashion Photo Shoot by Arthur St. John

Monday, December 05, 2011

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (1933-2011)

“Our struggle is a positive commitment to build a healthy, dynamic, and progressive state which will be a bulwark against neocolonialism, and the pride of Black men the world over. The failure of the Nigerian experiment was a tragic result of a refusal by both Nigeria and the world to recognize, accept, and accommodate the obvious and painful fact that Nigeria was not and could never be a nation. The nations comprising the Federation lacked all the necessary factors for cohesion, and her peoples the necessary will. The center, therefore, could not hold.”

----------------------Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, 1969

Mississi, ele ebe umuazi gara? where have the kids gone, my father would ask my mother upon his return from his daily routine of trading at Mokola market in Accra, Ghana. My father never called the woman (my mother) he spent his lifetime savings to marry, by her first name until death did them part. It had always been mississi, and my father never added the letter “m” to lay a claim. It was just respect for the lady who bore all his children. Mma and Mpa, we hope you are all doing well out there in the environment only our Creator knows, and, still, beyond our reasoning.

We talked a lot about a country and ethnic group we knew nothing of; just that our parents spoke the language to us even though we talked back sometimes in Ga, having identified themselves as a people with distinct language and culture, way far from where we lived.

We were little brats, diversified in culture and ethnic origin, growing up, playing together on the playgrounds and amusement parks at Ruga, Nima and Kanda Estates. We watched all the television movies and knew all the casts by their names, including the sports telecasts--Bonanza, High Chaparral, “Marverick,” The Lone Ranger, The Saint, Ghanaian National Football League engagements and often times, the Black Fire card playing games in our neighborhood--together with my childhood pals; Theodore Onyeji, Eugene Onyeji, John Bull and Hellistus and on occasions, with Chukwu Egbejimba.

While growing up in that multi-ethnic, multicultural and multireligious community, I watched my father and his Igbo kins in the neighborhood, gather and talk about developments in their homeland, the fate of their brothers, sisters and relatives. I had noticed something out of the ordinary brewing in my native-land as my father’s gestures and expressions obviously indicated, which as it appeared, was full of uncertainties. It was not to be pleasant; the consequences would be ominous when Yakubu Gowon’s-led genocidal campaign against the Igbo nation was all over.

Afrter my first experience during the time Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in Ghana, February 1966, some five weeks before the military juntas carried out a coup that would fail in Nigeria from around which the Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and a few northern Nigeria politicians and military personnel lost their lives. My father and his kinsfolk within the Accra metropolis wore troubling looks, and had been restless on what they have been hearing over the air waves and reading all along from the news reels, including the speculations which spread all over, in form of propaganda about declaration of war.

Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi had been flogged, kidnapped and brutally murdered in a counter coup, organized by a Murtala Mohammed-led northern Nigeria military mutineers, six months after taking the nation’s affairs of state, during which time he sacked the regional administrations and appointed military governors, promulgating new decrees, particularly Decree no. 34, also known as the Unification Decree in attempt to unite the country after the January 15, 1966 coup.. Lt.-Col Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was assigned to the Eastern Region. “Decree 34 was intended to establish a National Executive Council for the whole country with the regional military governors as members and to unify the top cadres of the civil service to ensure the efficient administration of the country for the duration of the military regime. Ironically enough, it was this decree that sparked off widespread rioting and violence directed against the lives and property of Eastern Nigerians in Northern Nigeria. It did not seem to matter to the leaders who planned the riots that Eastern Nigerians were in a terrible minority (3 out of 9 members) in the Supreme Military Council that took the collective decision.”

But the pogrom which would erupt in the aftermath of Ironsi’s assassination by the bloodletting nihilists would be a case of a shocking realization to my father and his kinsfolk who had become worried on the sudden about face in the country’s state of affairs that would place Nd’Igbo in fear, being sought from place to place, persecuted and murdered in the most brutal way; and, which would eventually lead to the thirty-month civil war.  Igbos would be desperately starved to death, outnumbered, plundered and demolished.

While my father and his folks focused on the next line of action as to the fate of their country men all around Nigeria, coupled with the fear of what was unfolding; we, the little kids, also, wondered what was going on, even though we were clueless of what had become of my ancestral home, especially on relatives in a far away land we knew nothing of or have seen, and yet to encounter.

However, it came to a point when we got the drift--that war had broken out between the federal Nigerian vandals and a newly created sovereign nation of Biafra. The chant of Biafra begun to fill the air in our neighborhood with my father and his folks clung on to the transistor radio my father used to check for updates and the goings on in and around a war torn Biafra-Nigeria world. A new nation had been born and, Ojukwu had justified the declaration of Biafran nationhood from series of consultation with the international and diplomatic community; his regional kith and kins; the Consultative Assembly and Council of Elders and Chiefs; and a war-mongering Yakubu Gowon-led federal Nigerian invaders and vandals who would not respect and uphold the decisions reached at Aburi, Ghana.

Ojukwu was born on November 4, 1933, in Zungeru, Northern Nigeria, a very small town the colonial administrator Frederick Lugard picked as capital over Jebba and Lokoja on the basis Zungeru was in the center. Before the crisis of 1966, many Igbo people lived in its proximity. Zungeru, also, the birthplace of the Great Zik of Africa, the nation’s keystone founder, as well, had a population of about 3000 by then.

Ojukwu’s military conversion took place in 1957 when he joined the Nigerian Army as the first indigenous university graduate. He would enter Eaton Hall Cadet School in Chester, England, that same year, and would be commissioned with the rank of second lieutenant. He would later attend officers courses at the Hythe and Warminister and would return to Nigeria in 1958; and would be appointed Company Commander of the Fifth Battalion of the Nigerian Army, in Kano, immediately. In May 1969, he was promoted to general by unanimous decision of the Biafra Consultative Assembly. Upon his return from the Ivory Coast on unconditional pardon by President Shehu Aliyu Shagari in 1982, countless honors were bestowed on him. Among the honors, the first title granted an Igbo by his kith and kin, the Ikemba 1 of Nnewi; Dike Di Oranma 1 of Igboland; Eze Igbo Gburugburu and numerous other titles as title holding in Igboland had become paramount.

Ojukwu had been the subject of uncountable literary works by writers, journalists, documentaries and scholarly projects. Practically everything known about Ojukwu up to his return to Nigeria from exile through his jail time under the despotic Muhammadu Buhari-Tunde Idiagbon military juntas, had been based on what he said and wrote in his books, and countless newspaper articles by writers and journalists; and speeches and interviews.

And like in his book “Biafra: Selected Speeches and Random Thoughts,” (Harper and Row Publishers, New York: 1969), he talked about a Nigeria the Igbo had given much to in order to make it work only to be faced with bigotry and hatred by a collaborative Hausa-Fulani-Yoruba and foreign backed nihilists who had proclaimed Igbos to be the nation’s problems. Nevertheless, as it was clearly known that the Hausa-Fulani northern Nigeria had been the architects of secession with a mandate to opt out of a Nigerian national state they had said was not workable, until they ate up their words from a British guided thinking to stay put with the opportunity to take control of the fabricated nation, in its time of crossroads and foreseeable conflicts leading to the pogrom of May 1966 through Declaration and then a terribly costly civil war which by all accounts could have been avoided had Gowon and his murderous gang heeded to the genuine mandate at Aburi.

And despite all the efforts for Nigeria to work, avoiding the current trend of friction in the country after the July 29, 1966 murder of Ironsi and a continuous pogrom that followed, which had begun to spread all over the country from region to region as Igbos flee wherever they were and a federal Nigeria guaranteeing no Eastern Nigerian lives, the Consultative Assembly and the Advisory Committee of Chiefs and Elders of eastern Nigeria in its ever tasking assignments after its August 31, 1966 session, passed the following resolution:

1. We the representatives of the various communities in Eastern Nigeria gathered in this Consultative Assembly, hereby declare our implicit confidence in the military governor for Eastern Nigeria, Lieutenant Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu, in all the actions he has so far taken to deal with the situation which has arisen in Nigeria since May 29, 1966.

2. In view of the grave threat to our survival as a unit in the Republic of Nigeria, we hereby urge and empower and advise him to take all such actions that might be necessary to protect the integrity of Eastern Nigeria and the lives and property of its inhabitants.

3. We advise constant consultation by His Excellency with the Consultative Assembly.

4. In view of the gravity of the present situation, we affirm complete fault in and urge the need for solidarity of eastern Nigeria as a unit.

On September 12, 1966, Ojukwu’s broadcast with regards to the Eastern Region delegation to the regional conference in Lagos was seen as a move to seek mediation to the crisis in the country and possible agreement on agitated confederation. As it turned out, all said and endorsed was negated by a preplanned Gowon’s-led nihilists, erupting a new cycle of pogrom in Makurdi, Minna, Gboko, Kaduna, Kano and several other cities against folks of theEastern Nigeria region, killing thousands of people in a body count that included women and children.

It was not until January 1967, that after much bloodshed and, looting and coercion and theft of Igbo properties by the bloodthirsty cannibals of northern Nigeria, that another mediation was sought by the international community on advisory and, on how the pogrom could be brought to an end; giving peace a chance. Gowon’s-led genocidal campaign to wipe out Igbo from the face of the earth had agreed to submit to a meeting that probably would amount to cessation of the widespread killing of Igbos in the north and elsewhere in the country with resolutions seeking and mandating moderate ways and means to living as neighbors. Ojukwu had organized his entourage in an occasion to be chaired by Ghana’s Joseph Ankrah, who had called for the meeting in Aburi, Ghana. The meeting was well attended and a resolution reached after presentations were made from both sides.

I remember the time when the federal Nigeria delegation  and Ojukwu’s-led Eastern Nigeria entourage had arrived Aburi, and my father and his kinsfolk listened and watched each other talk about the conference, and the ongoing conflict in Nigeria; being bold and confident that a presentation so compelling and posturing brought along by Ojukwu and his eastern Nigerian delegates presenting its case of pogrom, an act carried out on a wholesale enterprise to eliminate the Igbo nation, would come to an end and both sides could move on until a path to good and normal governance was generated. But that wouldn’t be the case; Gowon and his murderous gang would change their minds disagreeing with the decision, and would fire the first shot to declare a full blown assault on the Eastern Region.

Even as little kids, we were conscious of these things and able to read the dailies including the late editions. I remember the day Teddy’s father walked in one evening with a copy of the “Evening News” its headline read, “Ojukwu wants Gowon.” I had read out loud the headline as Teddy’s father held the newspaper. Teddy’s father was uplifted in spirit though somehow astonished that a kid my age could read and perhaps knew more about the forbidden war.

The year was 1967, and Biafran troops, in a minute, on August 9, had overrun Benin, and had mounted a flag, proclaiming the Midwest a republic of its own, the Republic of Benin, with Lagos, its next target of invasion to end the unnecessary war, had a simple resolution held at Aburi was respected and upheld; which was what begun all the betrayals. First, the Igbos were determined to distance themselves from their Igboness by collaborating with a federal Nigeria initiatives to put to stop what was going on. That did not happen. There was an agenda. Igbo must be eliminated.

The case of one of Igbo intellectuals in the likes of Anthony Ukpabi Asika who had taken up the assignment of administrator of the East Central State Gowon had mapped out as war strategy to plunder and demolish the Igbo nation, was a typical example of intellectuals of Asika’s magnitude who succumbed to gullible, vulnerable rhetoric in a situation their own people were massacred anywhere they were found by the British-Russia backed federal Nigeria vandals. Asika was in Lagos as absentia administrator of the East Central State when his own very kith and kins had been denied access to the outside world, capsuled and destroyed beyond comprehension, Ojukwu compassionately mentioned of those who had betrayed “our” confidence in a blink of an eye to wipe out Igbo in its totality, and from its existence. Asika would turn out to be the worst thing ever to happen to Igbo people when he had returned to Enugu after the war to sit in as administrator on his own slogan that “onye ube ruru le ya rachaa” which was the beginning of bribery and corruption in post-civil war Igbo nation.

The Lagos government of Gowon had panicked on Biafra’s fast pace development in catching up with federal Nigeria war of annihilation which extended to the military governor of the Northern Nigeria, Lieutenant Colonel Usman Hassan Katsina, “not ruling out compulsory military service for Northerners” bragging Biafra would cease to exist in “a matter of hours.” A very long war and the most blood soaked event in the entire continent’s history, would continue apace, even when the Midwest governor Lieutenant Colonel David Ejoor had sworn while addressing Asaba people, said he would not live to see a Midwest turned into battlefield, while Gowon, in his so-called “tactical move” warns against tuning in to Biafra radio, arresting “500 people” in its violation.

The external service of the Broadcasting Corporation of Biafra (BCB) was indeed a powerful tool by way of its efficient, effective and thorough broadcasting, announced by Ikenna Ndaguba, among others. My little neighborhood on the outskirts of Accra would be unusually spooky and normal when Ndaguba is on the air proclaiming that:

“Nigerian troops had entered Ogoja. Chief Awolowo, leader of of the Nigerian delegation to OAU meeting in Kinshasha, leaves Lagos for Congo. He tells the press that before the end of the meeting Biafra will be crushed and the Biafran government will be overthrown.”

Though such announcements did not fly, it was something serious and a more formidable, strategic Biafra, well placed to resolve the drama, ending the war after Major A. Okonkwo had made the “Declaration of the Republic of Benin.”

But there would be an interference in that major breakthrough which gave Benin its sovereignty as Biafrans were western hinterland bound to Ore and then in a move that would have closed the ugly chapter. On September 20, 1967, the Biafran Liberation Army under the order of Brigadier Victor Banjo would withdraw Biafran troops from Benin to Agbor for no apparent reason which would bring about the fall of Benin to federal Nigerian troops, shattering all the hopes of liberation and “ceasing hostilities” by “offering peaceful settlement and by publishing proposals for a future relations bewteen Nigeria and Biafra.”

With the unfolding events as Ojukwu had prepared to present to OAU in its next meeting to be held in Kinshaha, Congo, a coup plot would be uncovered to overthrow the Biafran government through a high profile Biafran intelligence. Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Ifeajuna who would collaborate with Banjo and two others in their command, would be apprehended while leaving the compound of the British High Commission. During the course of Biafran intelligence work, thousands of Nigerian pounds would be found at Banjos apartment given to him by the British High Commission as fee to mastermind the overthrow of the Biafran government, with intention to abrogate the sovereign state of Biafra.

As it happened, Ojukwu would make a national broadcast with the notification of the fall of Benin because of the “deliberate withdrawal of our troops by the coup plotters.” On September 23, 1967, the four major actors of the coup--Banjo, Ifeajuna, et al.--would be court-martialed and summarily executed, which begun a whole new chapter in a war that was almost done with a Biafran victory--liberation, jubilation and celebration.

Upon the summary execution of Ifeajuna and his sabo-colleagues, traitors, the name Ifeajuna instantly became a notoriously household name as the brother who sold his own brother on the way to fight the enemies. There was a song for it: “awee mu na nwanne kwuru gaa ogu, Ifeajuna di na uzo ree nwanne ya...”

Ifeajuna had fled to Ghana on the warmth embrace of Nkrumah (who had applauded the first coup of January 15, 1966 masterminded by Ifeajuna and his colleagues in the Nigerian Army) but would return home an Ironsi’s amnesty.

As seemingly the war would drag on accounts of Banjo, Ifeajuna, et al. betrayals conniving with the Gowon-British High Commission deal, and the recapture of Benin by federal Nigerian troops, Ojukwu, before addressing the joint meeting of the Council of Chiefs and Elders, January 27, 1968, to introduce Biafra’s new currency in circulation, compiled the following in his diary:

December 25, 1967: Pope Paul VI sends two representatives to Lagos on a peace mission.

January 1, 1968: Gowon gives March 31, 1968, as the deadline for crushing Biafra...Lagos government announces change of currency as an economic measure against Biafra.

January 5, 1968: Gowon boasts about his “biggest military machine in Africa” which is to crush Biafra by March 31, 1968.

January 6, 1968: Collin C. MacDonald, Headmaster, Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar, in a letter to the London Times, accuses the Lagos government of not providing the “fundamental requirements” of security of life and property of law abiding citizens. This letter arouses protest from the International Red Cross against the conduct of the war by Gowon’s troops.

January 16 1968: Poisoned foodstuffs being smuggled to Biafra by Lagos government are seized by Nigerian troops at Ena Ora (Midwest) and mistakenly distributed to areas in Benin, Western Nigeria, and Okene in the North. Cases of death.

January 22, 1968: Nigerian currency notes cease to be legal tender in Biafra.

January 27, 1968: Biafra new currency introduced at meeting of the 7th Session of the Consultative Assembly and the Council of Chiefs and Elders.”

The nasty war would, however, rage on; losing all options to have overcome a British-Russian backed vandals, until formal ceasefire in January 1970. The war, would be declared “no victor, no vanquished,” by the leadership of a blood-lust Gowon. Ojukwu would leave and seek exile in the Ivory Coast, where he would spend thirteen years.

In Accra, the reactions was a cold feeling for a lost battle, and warmth feelings of euphoria for a bitter war begun from the pogrom, eventually ended with staggering casualties. Without much ado, my father summoned meetings, like he had done during the course of the conflict, to monitor and analyze the effects; but this time around by which the war ended, the meetings had been on body counts, family loses and what would be next step to follow. Apparently, every of my father’s kins residing in the Accra metropolis lost at least one soul to the civil war. Some had left immediately back to homeland while some had stayed for one  reason or the other. My father did not leave for reasons behind his children’s education until he was able to figure something out, especially for this writer who had to be homeward bound; and getting to know a people whose history had been unique and profoundly rich in culture, and whose history would turn out to be of political impotence and violence, of late.

As the relative discourse of the war and the wondering of Ojukwu’s plight which took center stage in every aspect of life among my father’s kinsfolk, and with the mental exhaustion of a pogrom-civil war era, and a downsizing Ghana’s workforce and collapsing economy due to an inept, corrupt and mismanaged Ghanaian resources by the Emmanuel Kotoka-Joseph Ankrah-Akwasi Amankwaa Afrifa-led military juntas, upon overthrowing Nkrumah’s administration, most Igbo residents in Accra made up their minds to leave with their families back home and start life anew or seek life elsewhere.

Ojukwu would arrive Lagos on the coach of Chuba Okadigbo, the presidential adviser on Political Affairs to Shagari, and who also had been Ojukwu’s personal friend and counsel, and chief negotiator and spokesman on matters of pardon to the erstwhile Biafran leader. Okadigbo had left a legacy during the political debates and series of television interviews that led to Ojukwu’s pardon. And when asked why Gowon had to be pardoned before Ojukwu on the basis Ojukwu was the first casualty of the nation’s most wanted men. Okadigbo, in a nutshell, came up with the riddle of the African continent where big trees falls on one another, on the road, and that lifting the one on the ground one must start from lifting up the one on top of the one on the ground.

Lagos had to be “bursting loose” upon Ojukwu’s return clouded all around the coast by Igbo men and women from all walks of life, gracefully appreciating a pardon and return that was seen in some circles as politically motivated. Ojukwu’s pardon was preceded by that of Gowon, who, too, had been declared a fugitive for masterminding on February 13, 1976, the brutal murder of Mohammed, who had relieved Gowon of his post in a coup, six months earlier, and had begun the immediate purge of the civil service that had no sense of purpose and mostly corrupt.

Within the trend of inexplicable events, Ojukwu would register his membership with the ruling party, National Party of Nigeria (NPN) that granted him unconditional presidential pardon, declaring his senate candidacy for Nnewi Senatorial District, his home base, on the platform of the NPN. There would be shouting matches, fights organized on political thuggery, deadly gangs, road rage in bitter political campaigns at Nkpor Junction, incitements of division among the Igbo elite, and all sorts of friction between Ojukwu and his political opponent, Dr. Edwin Onwudiwe, in the senate race.

Ojukwu would lose in that bitter election, and the administration that had granted him pardon would be overthrown in a bloodless coup three months after the incumbent, Shagari, was inaugurated for a second term.

Ojukwu’s political rebirth would surface again in the Fourth Republic when the Abdulsalami Abubakar’s-led military juntas had lifted the ban on political activities. In Ojukwu’s political reawakening, Chekwas Okorie, who had founded a new political party, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) with the intention of an Igbo stock, had shopped around the United States for a Igbo Diaspora alliance and stalwarts to add flavor to the party’s agenda. I was in many of the meetings on the arising matters regarding the direction of APGA before Okorie went back home to place APGA’s agenda on the table and ballot for the presidential election.

As it also happened, Ojukwu was nominated APGA’s presidential candidate and a shot at the presidency with incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo, and numerous other parties’ presidential candidates. Ojukwu lost the presidential election to Obasanjo and would henceforth be active in all Igbo-related politics which came with making political enemies along the way, typical of the saying, politics makes strange bedfellows.

Ojukwu would be struck with a major stroke and would be flown to a London hospital for treatment. On Saturday, November 26, 2011, Ojukwu died after more than a year battle trying to recover from the stroke. He was seventy-eight years old.

Ambrose Ehirim

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Anti-Igbo Pogrom--Wole Soyinka

“And there, with the shift of power, the nation hoped that the bloodletting would cease -- but no. A progressive pogrom of the Igbo erupted in October the same year, a hunt for Easterners of all ages who were unfortunate enough to have heeded the call of the new regime to return to their places of work and residence in the North, reassured that all was well. They were gruesomely mistaken. Not merely from the North but from every corner of the nation, the Igbo fled homeward, wheeled contraptions every kind bearing their dismal remains and possessions into Igboland. The trainloads of refugees from the North bore pitiable cargoes; some survivors with physical mutilations, some women in such a state of shock that they clung to the severed heads of their spouses or sons, cradling them on their laps. Even within Lagos, the hunt for the Igbo continued unabated, in their homes and at roadblocks. The depletion of my wife’s wardrobe during the months of October and November was only one of many private testimonies to the desperation of one’s Igbo male acquaintance--not all of them soldiers--who resorted to female disguise to escape detection as they fled eastward. Images of death and mutilation in eastern journals and the television coverage of a savaged humanity erased the final sense of belonging in a people who saw themselves isolated within the nation and catalyzed their resolve to secede.”

Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka from his memoir “You Must Set Forth At Dawn.” The Random House Publishing Group; New York: 2006

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Remembering 11.11.69 On 11.11.11

By Ike Chime

It was like every other morning since my ordeal started. I woke up from the cold bare concrete floor that had become my bed from the day I was thrown into the guardroom in the quarter guard of 1st Div Nigerian army in Enugu in February 1969. I have earlier spent some months in the concentration camp further down the main street of the army barracks, ironically, a long house with barbed wires I have known since my childhood as we usually walk through the barrack during our usual childish adventures. Little did I know that the gruesome abode we often wondered what it could be used for will one day become my prison.

The concentration camp was the first place I was brought to after long tortuous interrogation on the very day I was apprehended. When I stepped into the overcrowded house, the first thing that hit me was the raw smell of human filth, an odour I have come to get familiar with. You live with it during long operations. It is a combination of body filth, due to many days without bath, rotten skin from the stockings and boot, decaying wounds, and putrefying dead bodies.

Most of the inmates were suffering from malnutrition. They were mostly bones and hollowed, but determined eyes. I was greeted by most of them with smiles of courage. They urged me to be strong, that whatever the case, victory will be ours. I was marvelled by their courage despite the hopelessness of their condition. I was in handcuffs, indeed the only one in handcuffs among hundreds of inmates in the camp.

We lay packed like sardine in the open hall; everyone kept to his little space for lying down, and sitting or standing in the day. It was the most inhuman of a situation reminding one of situation in boats during the middle passage. I have never been exposed to a situation like this before.

As a new entrant, I was taken to the inner room which was more crowded, and I could not find any space for myself as most of the inmates there were standing. I realised that in that room there was a trash can with a cover which served for the offloading of human excrement. On top of its cover I found myself the comfort of at least sitting down, but I had to get up intermittently as someone is pressed to use the can. The concentration camp was organised by the inmates, and as usual there was hierarchy. The veranda section of the house was where the seniors stay, then there was the main hall, and the smaller inner room where the newest entrants stay. The GOC of the camp stays in a comfortably spaced area in the corridor. In the evening there was a call for silence that the GOC was coming. He came into the central hall with his retinue of lieutenants. He announced that there was a new entrant today, and according to their custom, he has to introduce himself and tell what led to his coming to the house. I was nudged forward by some of the boys, and I introduced myself and what led to my ordeal. This way I was formally initiated. In the evenings, we sang and said prayers, the song that stayed with me up till date, and brings tears to my eyes when I think of it, an Igbo song that translated thus-

See that child sitting on a rock

Sitting on the rock, weeping

Rise up my child and wipe your tears

For everyday is not made for weeping

Jesus commands you to rise up and dry your tears

Every day is not made for weeping

I did not last long in this human dungeon, for I was taken away one day to the front gate of the barrack, the quarter guard area in a military guardroom where offenders of the Nigeria army serve their term. It was an open hall with three narrow rooms, one, much narrower with an iron bar. It was in that one with bars I was locked in. The soldiers were one by one taking out their frustrations on me. They will call me unprintable names, pii on me, spit on me and so on. I had to keep to the end wall of the room to avoid their humiliation. Some of them compete on whose pii can hit me from the distance.

A few days later, an elderly man in his 70's I guess, was brought into my cell, and was made to share the hand cuff with me, me on the left hand, and him on the right. It was an awkward situation as we eat and use the toilet tied together. Think ot, waiting on him to poo-poo and vice versa. He told me his story, he said he went to the bush to ease himself in the bush behind the Holy Ghost Cathedral when he found some shiny metal objects and thought they will be nice for putting snuff. He collected them and displayed them for sell in Ogbete market. I was really touched because I knew what the objects were, I knew the location he got them from, but what can I do about it? Well we were interrogated and tortured on a daily bases. The guards were instructed to beat us with bulala (horse whip) every morning. My back was so sore that it was difficult to bend down. The wounds could not dry as they were opened up every morning with fresh flogging. But there was this tall gentle provost whom whenever he was on duty will take me behind the house and ask me to start shouting while he hit the bulala on a bundle of tarpaulin by the corner. He was a very kind and fatherly type and will always smile at me. I was always happy when he was on duty, and often look forward to that.

This was the routine until 11.11.1969.

It was like every other morning during my ordeal. Our cell door was opened and there was among the regular guards a military police officer dressed in a ceremonial outfit. He exchanged some words with the guard who ordered us to come out. Outside was a waiting military Land Rover with about seven fully dressed military policemen sitting in rows holding their rifles upright with the butts on the floor of the land rover. We were aided to sit onto the floor of the vehicle. I found this kind of wired and I started feeling butterflies in my stomach. We were quiet as the vehicle left the guardroom area and started heading towards the gate. It turned right towards the city, and turned left at the New Haven junction and then right into a compound that was in those days used as the military police headquarters. There was a bevy of activities going on as I suspected they have just dismissed from their morning 'Stand to' parade. The vehicle stopped in front of the main building and turned to face the way out. This way I could see what was going on the grounds. The military policemen sat still in the Land Rover as I noticed another Land Rover being loaded with shovels and a large coil of rope. Also there was a constant communication going on with the officer who picked us up and the people loading this other vehicle. I simply put two and two together to understand what was going on. I turned to Baba and said "Baba, I think they are going to kill us"

Our vehicle left the compound with the second Land Rover trailing behind. The convoy drove back towards the barrack gate and stopped in front of the gate but along Abakaliki road. The officer in the front seat by the driver came to the tailboard and spoke some words in Hausa to the military policemen. Then it happened, we were both blindfolded. I mumbled to Baba, “Baba, you see, I told you, they are going to kill us! they are going to kill us” I shouted. Then he spoke for the first time, and that was also his last words “Nwam kachie obi” ‘My son be brave’ he said to me.

From this moment I felt cold sweat run down my body in constant waves. My mind was racing from one place to another, from one issue to another. It was more like the fast scrubbing rewind while editing a video. I was having flash memories of faces of dear ones, my parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends. I mumbled their names and tell them I am going home. This experience I find very hard to fully describe. Also at the same time I was consciously trying to trace where we were being taken. I realised that the vehicle turned left after a while, registering in my mind that we were heading towards Abakpa Nike. After a while I felt the hollow echo you get while on a bridge, this further strengthened my hunch that we were heading towards Abakpa. Then after a while there was sound of increased human activity, suggesting a market area, and I thought this must be Abakpa market. After that it became very quiet except for the sound of the moving vehicle, and I thought we are now in some Nike village.

After what seemed several minutes, the vehicle stopped and we were led out of it. We were dragged through some bush and I remember falling into a ditch, probably an abandoned trench, and was dragged out of it. We went further into the bush until we stopped. I started hearing more voices, and there were some activities going on of which I could not phantom with my eyes blindfolded. Then suddenly the blindfold was removed, the blaze of the sun dazzled my eyes, and when I managed to focus, a voice said, “Hei you boy look in this direction”. I recognized that voice. It was that of the senior officer who had once interrogated me, a major by rank. I looked in the direction he ordered and saw Baba firmly tied on a stake.

Then the major continued “You are a condemned man already, the GOC have signed your death warrant, I am the only one with the power to save you, only if you will give me a reason to do so by telling me the truth and everything regarding your operation. You are too young to be wasted. If you play along I will make sure you are sent to Lagos or Kaduna to continue you education........” Then he added “But if you fail to cooperate, what will happen to this Baba, will happen to you, the ball is in your court”

All the while he was talking my mind was racing, what to do, spill the beans and expose other operators. But if I do, how do I guarantee he will keep his side of the deal. Then I remembered what happened the year before when one of us got caught in action, he spilled the beans and his two accomplice where arrested. Three of them were shot by firing squad and people were forcibly taken to the field in military trucks to witness it, and I was there. That was it, I am going solo on this, if this is my fate, I am accepting it with honour. Then I spoke thus, “You people have tortured me enough, i have told you all I know, I have nothing left to say” “ Okey o!” the major said, “ I have tried my best”

That moment there was an aircraft flying overhead, and for some reason I can’t explain, I looked up at it, and the major said “Yes you can look at an aircraft for the last time, yes, look”

He then spoke to his men in Hausa, and the military police officer took over from there. He shouted some command and the seven armed men fell in line facing Baba at the stake. At a second command they knelt down and cocked their riffle, “fire” and seven gun barrels roared, and as I watched, Baba did not flinch one bit. I thought this could be a show off; maybe they were using mock bullets. The military police officer was mad at his men for some reason I did not understand, maybe they missed their shots. He commanded them to fire again, and the guns roared one more time. Then I noticed something. Baba had a netted singlet on, and I noticed that it was split at several points, that was when it dawned on me that this was for real. I became agitated. I knew he was innocent, and they should know that. Here is an illiterate old man in his 70s selling used wares he picked from things people abandoned while running for their lives from Enugu. It is simple logic that if he knew what he picked from the bush behind Holy Ghost Cathedral was a dangerous explosive; he wouldn’t display it for sale. Now they shot him.

The soldiers quickly untied his body from the stake after the medical personnel inspected and declared him dead. This was when I saw his blood all over the stake and I could not control my emotions anymore. I shouted “You bloody vandals, you have killed an innocent old man, and you will all pay for this. The man did nothing why kill him” I was totally hysterical and out of control, I knew I had nothing to lose. The whole place was a bit out of control at this time. My shouting, the major shouting at me to shut up, the military police officer shouting to his men to dig Baba’s grave and mine at the same time. It was totally a crazy moment.

It was a hot mid morning and during the dry season. The hamattan season was early that year. In that heat I was feeling cold sweat running down my whole body, and I could not stop talking even as the major kept shouting at me to shut up. As the confusion continued, I started walking towards the stake and shouting, “Come on, let’s get this whole business done with, let’s get it done with. There is no need wasting my time, I cannot wait any longer, the die is cast, the die is cast” and some other stuff like that. To be honest I did not know what was pushing me, but I was so determined. Suddenly the major shouted “Hei! You stop there, shut up and stop there” and I obeyed. He walked over to me and said “the die is cast, the die is cast, where you got that nonsense from”. Then after staring me in the eyes for a moment while tapping his staff on his leg, he took a deep breath and gently asked me, “Are you really sure someone gave you that bag” to which I defiantly replied ”I am tired of repeating the same thing every time, I have told you this time without numbers and I took your men to the home of the fellow that gave the bag to me, I am tired, just get this done with, the die is cast” He shook his head, walked away from me and motioned to the other three officers among them. They came over to him and they put their head together in a kind of mini emergency summit. They nodded their heads, and he then raised his head and ordered “Pita de shi” Hausa word meaning, bring him out. He quickly reminded them to put the blindfold back on me.

This way I was again taken, this time out of the bush to the waiting Land Rover and put to sit on the floor, flanked by armed military police firing squad, but without Baba.

May his gentle soul and those of other innocent victims of the Biafra war keep resting in peace.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

[Nigeria] State creation: Bottlenecks, agitations, new challenges


That new states are on the agenda of the National Assembly with respect to expected constitution amendment is no longer in doubt. The focus is on which of the new state movements is likely to get the nod, even as new realities from the Senate appear to stand against the target. Regional Editor, OLAWALE RASHEED, writes on the politics of state creation from the country’s inception and likely new states to emerge from the impending exercise.

MANY justifications have been advanced for the push for new states out of the existing 36 in the federation. Similarly, countless reasons have been canvassed to support non-creation of states. Indeed, a couple of days ago, calls had been made for some states to be merged. The argument had been that some states were becoming non-viable. Politics of the time is, however, driving fast towards the emergence of new states between now and 2015.

Many citizens worry about the effects of further balkanisation of the federation. Those in support of new states, however, regard it as part of national restructuring to ensure equity and justice.

Since the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorates of what now is Nigeria in 1914 and the subsequent creation of states in the country, the issue of state creation has always been a strenuous and delicate matter. Instructively, all the states in Nigeria, apart from the Mid-Western State, were created by the military government that had ruled in the past.

The last National Assembly took the bull by the horn as it started a process for the creation of new states. Although the Assembly could not complete the business, the new and present National Assembly has picked it up from where the last Assembly stopped. Shortly after its inauguration, Senate President, David Mark, and the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, gave indications that creation of new states would feature prominently in the proposed amendment of the 1999 Constitution. A stamp of legislative authority has been given as the presiding officers of the two chambers have declared their commitments to the project.

There also appears to be a presidential support. President Goodluck Jonathan, while seeking the presidential mandate, had cause to promise new states in some zones of the federation. What is more, some Ijaw leaders see the Jonathan presidency as an opportunity to add another predominantly Ijaw state to Bayelsa. Checks also revealed that key actors in power and out of power are resolutely behind the project.

The framers of the constitution are conscious of the possible agitation and so the procedure was deliberately complicated. The constitutional requirements for creating a new state are as follows:

According to the 1999 Constitution, to create a new state requires that such creation be supported by at least two-third of members (representing the area demanding the creation of the new state) in the Senate, House of Representatives, the House of Assembly in respect of the area and the local government councils in respect of the area that the state will be created in. That is not all; a referendum on the new state must be approved by two-third of the people in the area where the state is to be created and the result of the referendum approved by a simple majority of all the 36 states of Nigeria supported by a simple majority of members of the Houses of Assembly. After all these stages have been completed, the state is then approved by a resolution passed by two-third majority of members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

This stringent guideline has not deterred successive civilian governments from commencing moves towards state creation. In the Second Republic, A Senate committee set up in 1981 under Senator Abubakar Tuggar shortlisted 50 new states to be created. The then National Assembly approved the list for subsequent referendum in accordance with the provision of the constitution, but the process was aborted when the military overthrew the Sheu Shagari-led government in December 1983.

In the current republic and even with those stringent constitutional provisions, the legislature has received more that 40 requests for state creation. Among such proposed states are Igboezue, Adada, Aba, Njaba, Orlu, Orimili and Orashi (South East); Anioma, Oil Rivers, Ogoja, Afemaiesan, Toru-Ebe and New Delta (South South); Oduduwa, Ijebu, Ibadan, New Oyo, Oke-Ogun (South West); Apa, Idoma, Edu, Okun, Oya (North Central); Amana and Savannah, Katagum (North East); and Gurara (North West).

The underground scheming is almost akin to what happened in previous state creation exercise under the military. Most states created under Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha were due largely to the influence of highly placed people from the fortunate states. Even new state capitals were determined more by who was closer to the military rulers. Osogbo, for instance, got the capital of Osun due to such figures as Dr. Olu Alabi. Dutse upstaged Hadejia just as Asaba got the nod due mainly to influence peddling factors.

In the subsisting scenario, some of these personalities have promised their kinsmen a state of their own. What is more, some are hoping to emerge as chief executives of the new states after the expiration of their existing tenure. Hence, there are elements of personal and tribal agenda in the on-going exercise.

But part of the criteria used in the past for a state to be created included the economic viability of the area demanding the new state, especially the ability and potentials for sustainable internal revenue generation, provable cases of demographic strength and underdevelopment arising from denial of access to human development; provable evidence of socio-cultural affinity and geographical contiguity; the need to redress lopsided cartography and boundary lines resulting in endless border and resource-based conflicts; provable instance of consensus among the demographic groups demanding the new states.

Others included the ability of the new states to provide their structure and resources to take off; ability to ensure internal security and cohesion and peaceful co-existence with their neighbours and the existence of human resource and personnel to run the state.

Talks of merging current states emerge
Some of these conditions that, perhaps, seem to be witnessing erosion in some states and this might explain the alarm raised by the Senate last Thursday where it claimed that some states in the country were on the verge of bankruptcy.

The development pushed the upper chamber of the National Assembly to mandate its committees on National Planning; States and Local Governments; and Finance to study the situation and make recommendations on possible remedial measures to avoid total collapse of the economy of the states.

Some of the states said to either in critical conditions or unhealthy are Ekiti, Plateau, Benue, Edo, Adamawa, Cross River, Enugu and Taraba.

Others are Ogun, Kogi, Yobe, Ebonyi, Ondo, Kaduna, Oyo, Bauch, Bayelsa, Nasarawa, Gombe and Rivers.

Against this backdrop, some senators have suggested the merging of some of these states, though there have also been other suggested solutions, such as readjustment of the revenue sharing formula. The question now is with the current agitation for more states, how does this new development affect the process believed to have been set in motion to actualise the goal?

Current agitation
A zone by zone analysis focussing on the politics of the exercise can be done as follows:

South East zone
Of the six geopolitical zones, the South East has been the most vociferous in the agitation, citing the need for zonal parity as it has only five states, while others have six or more. To the advantage of the zone, it currently has the deputy Senate president, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives and, strategically, the coordinating minister for the economy.

This connection within the administration is, however, generating divisions, rather than the unity needed to make the project a reality. The deputy speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, is believed to have his eyes on a Njaba/Orlu state to be create from Imo and Anambra states. But the deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, and the SGF, Chief Pius Anyim, appears to be poles apart on this issue. Anyim is reported to be interested in the creation of Old Ohaozara/Igboeze Orimili out of the present Anambra State. Senator Ekweremadu hopes a new state can emerge from Enugu State.

An Igbo writer attempted to resolve the riddle when he analysed the history of state creation in the South East. According to him, South East zone was first divided into Anambra and Imo states. Anambra got divided again into Enugu and Anambra states, the same time Imo was divided into Abia and Imo states. At last, Ebonyi State was created from Enugu and Abia states. So, the next or sixth state in the South East is obviously to be created from both Imo and Anambra states.

Apart from the above, there are those who also believe the Igbo can never agree to get a new state, even as the race is being blackmailed based on alleged ruling presence of Igbo in Delta and Rivers states. Interests from the North which are waiting in the wing to stop a new state for the Igbo cited the notion that the Igbo, indeed, have seven states as they are substantially present in controlling stature in Delta and Rivers.

But only last week, the Ambassador Ralph Uwechue-led Ohanaeze Ndigbo rose from its meeting in Enugu and reiterated its quest for an additional state in Igboland.

In Enugu State, agitators for Adada State creation have called on the National Assembly to stick to the guidelines spelt out by the Senate President Mark who emphasised that the exercise should be an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past which have resulted in perennial misgivings among many Nigerians.

Adada State also prominent
Leading the Adada group was a former speaker of the defunct Eastern House of Assembly, Igwe Charles Abagwu. Also in the lead of agitators were chairman of the state Committee on Actualization of Creation of Adada State, Major General Godwin Ugwuoke (rtd); chairman, movement’s Tactical Committee, Chief Cletus Opata; and the spokesman for the group, Chief James Ugwu.

Who will have the upper hands among these heavyweights spearheading the Igbo cause is only a matter of conjecture. Anioma state, from current Delta and Anambra states is, however, being touted as a likely option.

Why Anioma is likely
The creation of Anioma State is, perhaps, one of the oldest in the country. Records show that agitation for the creation of the state dates back to 1951. It is an attempt by the Igbo-speaking people of Delta State to have a state of their own. The word, Anioma, was a coinage used by the late Anioma state agitator, Osita Osadebey, to group the Igbo-speaking people of Delta State in Aniocha, Oshimili, Ndokwa and Ika areas.

According to Emeka Esogbue, a native of Ibusa in Oshimili North Local Government Area, the proposed Anioma state will also bring together other Anioma communities, such as Ndoni in Rivers State, Igbanke and Ekpon in Edo State and other Anioma communities in Edo, Imo and Rivers states.

Igboezuo State
Perhaps, the most convincing of all the agitations for state creation in the South East, agitators of Igboezuo state just want the creation of a state from the five states in the region to make up for the imbalance. By not citing cultural affinity or historical antecedents as reasons for its creation, it appears proponents of Igboezuo state have demonstrated correctness of perspective and have placed the overall interest of the Igbo nation before any other mundane consideration. What is their argument? To them, Igboezuo is like a union of the five Eastern states; the new heartbeat of the Igbo nation.

They are proposing that some existing local governments from the five states of the region be excised to form the new state. From Anambra State, Orumba North and South local government areas; from Enugu, Awgu and Aninri local government areas; and from Ebonyi, Ivo and Ohaozara local government areas. Abia will cede Isuikwuato and Umunneochi, with Imo producing the bulk of the local government areas by giving up Okigwe, Onuimo, Ideato North and South, Isiala Mbano and Ehime Mbano. With these, the new state will be ready to take off with 15 local government areas with headquarters at Okigwe.

Njaba State/Orlu State
In the vanguard of Njaba state is former Governor Achike Udenwa, while Senator Hope Uzodinma is behind Orlu state. The proposed Njaba state, according to its promoters, should be carved out of the 12 local government areas that make up Imo West (Orlu zone) of Imo State and Ihiala in Anambra State. The local governments are Orlu, Orsu, Oru East, Oru West, Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema, Nkwerre, Nwangele, Isu, Njaba, Ideato North and Ideato South. Njaba state, according to them, will ensure fairness as regards state creation in the former Eastern Region.

They recalled that the region was split into Imo and Anambra and from Imo; Abia was carved out while Enugu was created from Anambra and out of Abia and Enugu, Ebonyi later emerged. They, therefore, maintained that equity demands that the sixth state for the area be carved out of the present Imo and Anambra states. In the same senatorial district, agitators of Orlu state want the 12 councils that make up the zone to be accorded a state status.

South South zone
The zone, though with six states already, seems also set to get additional state. Those in the know said the president is under pressure to ensure the creation of a new state for the Ijaw in the Niger Delta. The argument is that as the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria, Bayelsa alone should not be the only predominantly Ijaw state. This is the genesis of the proposed Toru-Ibe state which is generating heated controversy between the Bini people and the Ijaw of the Niger Delta.

The Bini and Itsekiri recently accused the Ijaw of annexing their riverine areas to increase the land areas of the new Ijaw state. The opposition has been very vociferous. The Ijaw have also responded, claiming that the said riverine areas belonged to them as the Bini met them while on migration.

The Ijaw of Edo State said their demand for the creation of Toru-Ibe state from Edo and Delta states was to save them from the oppression they claimed to be suffering in the hands of the Bini people, which they said was more than what the Israelites suffered while in bondage in Egypt.

They described the claim by the Bini that all Ijaw riverine communities in the state belonged to them as “a bundle of lies and deliberate falsehood carefully crafted to bamboozle, misinform and mislead governments of Nigeria, especially members of the National Assembly who must be very wary.” Spokesman for the Ijaw in Edo State, Professor Christopher Dime, insisted that the Ijaw would never cede an inch of their land to any ethnic nationality in the country, adding that “the Ijaw had been the aborigines and the customary owners of all land covered by the proposed Toru-Ibe state.”

He said “despite their posturing, blind guessing and recent attempts at historical revisionism, it is clear that the Bini do not know and, indeed, cannot know when the Ijaw came into the Ijaw lands of present Edo State because the Ijaw were on the land long before the Bini migrated from Yorubaland.

“That the Ijaw were among the oldest ethnic nationality in Nigeria and, indeed, in the West African sub-region is not in doubt. That they are indigenous to the Niger Delta and its fringes to the West, East and North is equally no news. There is a pool of incontrovertible scholarly evidence and documentations in support of these claims. Among them is Chief Jacob Egharebva of blessed memory, the best known and celebrated Bini historian with Bini royal blood, who in his A Short History of Benin, said, ‘many, many years ago, the Bini came all the way from Egypt to found a more secure shelter in this part of the world. After a short stay in the Sudan and Ife, tradition says that they met some people who were in the land before their arrival.”

Agitators of Toru-Ebe State are said to aim to bring together the Ijaw in Delta, Ondo and Edo states. The demand for the creation of the state is, therefore, aimed at satisfying the long-standing yearnings of the people for self reliance, peace, stability, self-determination and development.

According to Dr. Felix Tuodolo, the clamour for the Ijaw to have a state of their own did not stop with the creation of Bayelsa State in 1996 and that agitation for the creation of Toru-Ebe State dated back to 1976. They are also insisting that Ijaw in Edo, Delta and Ondo states have become minorities in these states, a situation they believe can only be remedied if they are given a state of their own.
Appartr frome Dime, some of the other prominent Ijaw leaders agitating for the creation of this state include Chief J. O. Mieyebo, Lieutenant Colonel Edwin Okokolo Carter, Mr. V. B. Bamuza-Mutu, Brigadier-General Broderick Demeyeibo, Chief Edwin Clark, Rear Admiral Festus Porbeni (rtd), Chief Joshua Fumodoh and Chief F. J. Williams.

They asserted that the proposed Toru-Ebe State was viable with abundant minerals, oil and gas, river-bed sand and gravel, oil palm produce, timber, raffia palm for the production of industrial gins, mangrove trees for salt making, deep sea coastal and river fishing, shrimp and also farm produce in commercial quantities. The proposed state has natural landscape with beautiful beaches which can be developed into revenue generating tourist industry. The proposed state is also said to have enough human resources.

Beyond historical disputations, many insiders appear sure that if new states are created, Toru-Ibe is certain to be one of them.

North Central zone
Many are clamouring for new states in this zone as earlier listed. A factor very potent in the exercise is Senate President David Mark, an Idoma from a Tiv dominated state of Benue. Mark is seen by his people as the one to liberate them from the alleged hegemony of the Tiv.

This is why the creation of Apa state is very central to the political life of the Senate president.

His detractors were even as mean as to suggest that Senator Mark is to secure the creation of the new state and emerge as its first governor. This is if, as rumour mongers noted, he fails to secure the presidency come 2015.

According to the Senate president, the Assembly would break the jinx that states could only be created by the military. He assured Nigerians that the committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution would be fair to all in the consideration of states to be created.

The Mark factor is, thus, seen as set to stop a very historic opportunity for the Yoruba to have another state in the zone. In the North Central, Apa state and Senator Mark hold the key.

South West zone
The agitation for new state is also very strong in the South West. Three prominent expected states exist in the zone namely, New Ijebu, Ibadan and Oduduwa.

Oduduwa state is facing challenges due to change of government in Osun state, in addition to other associated development in the state. This is especially so in view of the constitutional requirements.
The two leading movements are basically those of Ibadan and Ijebu. Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Ms Jumoke Akinjide, was upbeat about the chance of Ibadan state. According to the minister, the creation of Ibadan state is realistic and nobody should doubt it.

“Ibadan state, when created, will be one of the most viable states in the country. The reason, as you know, is that we have the Ibadan metropolis and the Ibadan less city. We also have strong economic potentials in view of the large number of people in Ibadan.

“In terms of economic viability, population and landmass, Ibadan ranks number one in terms of earning state position. If any state will be created, Ibadan state will certainly be one of them,” she stated.
But some analysts are pointing at change of government in Oyo state with a rationalisation that he minister may not be in a position to be so hopeful. While not doubting her good intention, the thinking of some pundits is that Ibadan state will be a mirage, unless the incumbent governor, Senator Abiola Ajumobi, pursued it as his agenda.

There is also the doubt as to whether Ibadan can stop the highly influential Ijebu from getting a state of their own in the new dispensation. The Ijebu are anchoring their agitation on records of history.

According to proponents of the new Ijebu state, its creation was long overdue because out of the old 24 provinces in Nigeria, only Ijebu province was yet to get a state, while three states had been created out of the old Sokoto province and two out of Kano.

But will the Egba let the Ijebu off the hook by backing the creation of the new state? Analysts premise that question on the history of rivalry between these two great ethnic stocks of Yoruba race, a competition a prominent Egba writer traced to political power struggles after the fall of the Oyo Empire and commerce, as to who controlled the slave market or route.

Interestingly, Ijebu and Egba lands extend beyond the present Ogun State with Ijebuland reaching up to Somolu and Epe and Egbaland extending to Oyingbo, Mushin and Abule Egba in the present-day Lagos State.

Sunday Tribune was, however, told that Egba and Ijebu elites are unanimous in the drive for the new Ijebu state. What remains, according to pundits, is for the new state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, to publicly support the bid for the new state.

Proponents of the new state are, however, very hopeful of having a new state possibly rich in oil and gas, good sea port and a rival to Lagos State. Unless the state government opposes the new state, insiders are sure Ijebu state will beat the proposed Ibadan and Oduduwa states, if new state were to be created from the South West.

Oke Ogun State
But there is also the issue of the proposed Oke Ogun state. The creation of the state from present Oyo State is among the most prominent agitations in the South West. With a land mass constituting about 60 per cent of the present Oyo State and a population of about 1.4 million, the Oke Ogun area in Oyo North Senatorial zone believes it deserves a state of its own. Other reasons being given is that the area has for long suffered neglect as a result of the distance between the area and Ibadan, the state capital, which is as much as 130 kilometres, as well as lack of development in the area.

But according the proponents of Ibadan state, which is the main road block to the proposed Oke Ogun state, of all the former regional capitals in Nigeria—Enugu, Kaduna and Ibadan—only Ibadan has not got a state of its own. It is based on this historical fact that backers of Ibadan state believe that it will become a reality if the National assembly eventually considers state creation.

North East zone
Two new state creation movements are very prominent in this zone, namely Katagum, wanted out of the present Bauchi State; and Savannah state, out of present-day Borno State.

Historically, Katagum is a province which leaders have been agitating for a state for long. Possibly due to geopolitics of the state, Katagum, despite producing key national leaders, has not been lucky in the quest for a new state. It was one of the 50 states shortlisted in 1981 and one of the 20 recommended during the Abacha-led regime.

In the present scheming, Katagum is truly strategically placed to realise its dream. A likely new Emir of Katagum is a prominent leading player in the present power structure in the country. Additionally, decision-makers are bending towards the scarce values of equity and justice in treating the Katagum request.

But there is a possible new equation to the situation in the North East. With low-level insurgency ongoing in central and Northern Borno, many are proposing the creation of a new state of Savannah to cover Southern Borno, which, interestingly, is predominantly Christian.

Leaders from Southern Askira/Uba, Bayo, Biu, Chibok, Damboa, Gwoza, Hawul, Kwaya-Kusar and Shani local government areas of Southern Borno had constituted committees to pursue the ambition. What is hard to determine is whether the mainstream Borno political elites will support such a move.

The Savannah state proponents are facing the same challenge as those of Gurara state in North Western zone. The leader of the movement, Bawa Magaji, said the creation of the proposed Gurara state was approved by the Kaduna State House of Assembly in its resolution on November 18, 2009.

“The proposed Gurara state, with headquarters in Kachia, has a population of 3,383,207 and a land mass of about 28,393 square kilometres,” he said.

But will mainstream Kaduna elites allow the separation? And again, can the North West have another state, since the zone is already with seven?

In the meantime, Katagum holds the ace in North East zone.

North West zone
Agitation for the creation of Southern Kaduna state from the present Kaduna State has been on for a very long time, but the aspiration has never yielded any positive fruit, despite that many states were created by the military governments. Their cry received further impetus after the religious crisis which rocked Kaduna State in 2000. As a result of the crisis, a committee (leaders of thought) formed by former governor of the state, Ahmed Makarfi, recommended the splitting of the state. Motion for the creation of the proposed state was also moved in the Kaduna State House of Assembly in 2002. Upon the declaration by the National Assembly to create additional states in the present dispensation, agitators for the creation of Southern Kaduna have returned to the drawing board.

One issue that comes up each time the debate for the creation of Southern Kaduna state is raised is about where the state capital will be located. It was even said that this singular issue prevented the creation of the state by the government of the late General Sani Abacha in 1996. Although the proponents of the state seem to have accepted making Kaduna metropolis the capital of the new state, they are still undecided over the choice of the capital between two towns—Zonkwa and Kachia.

Options for National Assembly
Again, the process is complicated and allows for unhappy elements to spoil the realisation of the project. For the National Assembly, many are suggesting the creation of five new states, one per zone, minus North West. But the former leadership of the National Assembly suggested 10.

If new states are to be created, the nation may well be expecting the following states: Ijebu, Katagum, Apa, Anioma and Toru-Ibe.

But with the new development over the unhealthy state of some states, which is sending jitters down the spines of stakeholders in the affected states and has made some notable Nigerians to call for the merging of some states, the death knell of new state creation might have been sounded.