Saturday, June 18, 2011

George "Olili" Ilouno 50th Birthday Bash


Chief George Oranyelu Ilouno was born in 1960 to a devout Christian family of the late Chief Gabriel and Mrs. Christiana Ilouno. He hails from Ifiteani, Njikoka Local Government Area, Anambra State, Nigeria. Currently, he is co-owner and director of GB Medical Services, an outpatient substance abuse in Long Beach. Chief Ilouno, popularly known as “Olili” is a committed leader of people. He believes in serving mankind, which he takes as a lifetime commitment that requires one’s willingness to make ultimate sacrifices such as committing time, talent, knowledge and personal finance in order to achieve the ultimate goal of the people. In this exclusive interview, Ilouno tells me all he's done for humanity and hoped he could do more.

Excerpts:


I am here at Hollywood Park Casino Ballroom looking at a variety of landscape with people from all walks of life coupled with a cast of keynote speakers surrounding you. You are being roasted in a grand style, in an event commemorating your 50th birthday. It was electric and the crowd was overwhelming. What was going through your mind while being roasted?

Well, I would say satisfaction, looking at the crowd and all the well wishers, I was happy and thankful knowing for the fact that I am appreciated for my contributions in my community. And as somebody who loves people I wanted everybody to come and celebrate with me.


Tell me about the medical mission. When was it conceived and of what purpose?

Actually, the medical mission was conceived in 2004 when I became the President of Nimo National Union, USA and Diaspora and I was the president and one of my campaign promises was that if I’m elected president, I will organize a medical mission to Nimo, initiating a free medical mission at no cost to NBS Americas in 2004. It was not easy in the beginning but the mission eventually became a success. After the success of the medical mission to Nimo under my Presidency, Anambra State Association – USA (ASA-USA) got me involved and made me the coordinator of ASA-USA medical mission because of what they saw as the result of Nimo. Becoming the coordinator for ASA-USA, I lead a team of medical professionals from different countries to Anambra State for a free medical treatment under ASA-USA. I was visiting home two times a year. In August, I will go for ASA-USA medical mission and in December I will go for Nimo Town Union medical mission. We did that from 2006 to 2007 when another person took over the mission, and I said, listen, that Nimo medical mission must continue. Actually, this December, we are trying to make another medical mission to Nimo.

You facilitated the laying of the foundation phase of Nimo Civic Center and building of toilets in primary schools. Tell me about it.

When I took over the presidency of Nimo Town Union, USA, the civic center was in the formative stage and it’s still under construction and the whole idea for the construction is that it will attract a lot of jobs and other things for the people of Nimo.

On building of toilets in the primary schools, actually, when I became the president of Nimo, education was one of our executive agenda and building of schools. We thought about giving scholarships. We thought about building the schools. So actually when we visited home we found out that most of the pupils were going to toilet in the forest. So I presented the case to Nimo Town Union in Diaspora that we need to do something about it. So actually, our decision was to build toilets for all the primary schools in Nimo.

What you are doing is what the government supposedly should be doing, the civic center, building and equipping the schools and other social programs. What’s your take on the government not being held accountable?

Accountability has been what I do preach. The question is what are they doing with the funds the federal government gives to the states, especially for education and other things? What are they really doing? It is quite discouraging but what can one do. We cannot sit back and watch our loved ones at home be without basic necessities like power, water, equipping the schools and other things. And that is why most of us who are community leaders here in Diaspora try as much as we can. And the people here are better than the ones in Nigeria. So all we can do is help. But again, we the community leaders here, as watchdogs put pressure on the government hoping one day the right government will come and listen to the cry of the people. Especially, when Ngige took over, he was the one that did something. I wiil speak for Anambra State. Before Ngige took over Anambra State, Anambra was forgotten, nobody knew that roads will be built, schools will be built, but actually two or three years he took over, he was able to prove. Now he has set precedence. Governor Obi is trying because he took over where Ngige stopped. So their goal now is to make sure that whatever good they think of doing for the people will continue. So things are getting better and we are expecting for things to get better overnight. The goal is if you have the right person, then the people will be ok.

Tell me about Peoples Club International, Los Angeles Branch

I am the founding member of People’s Club International, Los Angeles Branch and also currently 1st Vice Chairman. The club was founded three years ago and the reason actually I came into People’s club is the way I do things. I am a social person. I went to an event in East Coast and saw how club members carry themselves. So I came back to Los Angeles and talked to few people, you know. Then I said Los Angeles is a very big place and we need to have something like that. Some few people agreed with me and we got together, talked over it and we consulted the Chairman of Philadelphia branch, Dr. Ezegozie Eze who helped us and came to Los Angeles personally and we talked it over, and that’s the way Los Angeles branch came. Now we are growing, you know. Actually, to be honest with you, we are a force to be reckoned with among clubs in Los Angeles and also most in the United States, because we are growing.

As a social club and all fraternities, there are objectives, short and long term goals. For instance, in the whole of Los Angeles, there are no banquet halls and things like that we can call our own. Is there anything in that order?

Thank you! You read my mind, you know, because if you follow the history of People’s Club, both in Nigeria and anywhere; and anywhere People’s Club are, they like to have a hall, and they always have their own hall. It’s not a choice; it’s something they have to because. the goal of the club is about members welfare and without them having club where members can socialize and going there anytime they want, then that’s not what people’s club is all about. Peoples Club is where a member can walk up go to a hall where he can eat and drink as the place belongs to them. So to answer your question, yes, that’s one of our agenda and we are working towards that. The goal is to get a People’s Club Hall of Los Angeles. I think we have the capability to do it within a short time because the members are actually excited, and it will be done.

I have heard about “Olili Cup” and it looks like a big project. Tell me about it.

You are right because “Olili Cup” is something I like because it involves youth. I connect to the youths because I have always liked to do something for the youths; in fact, all youths, because they are the great leaders of tomorrow I considered when I was still president of Nimo Town Union, and so, it was in 2006, after I stopped being president of Nimo Town Union, the youths approached me, saying Olili, what can I do for them, that they want, a cup. I said ok, I need a coordinator. “Olili Cup” started in 2006 and right now the tournament is played every year. Nimo has kept it lively. We had two presidents in Nimo then that actually helped me implement it. One was Chief Jones Akpu who was the national president of Nimo. Without him, I don’t think “Olili Cup: would have been able to go far. And after that, in 2010, when another person took over, Chief Obiefuna, actually, he was the one that said due to the status of “Olili Cup,” “Olili Cup” is going to be an institution. So he institutionalized “Olili Cup.” Institionalize means that even though I’m not there, “Olili Cup” has to continue. And they called it “Olili Cup Tournament.”. I’m looking forward to this year’s December “Olili Cup.”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Enough! The Nigeria state occupation of Igboland must now stop

By Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

BACKGROUND

Since 13 January 1970, Nigeria has implemented the most dehumanising raft of socioeconomic package of deprivation in occupied Igboland not seen anywhere else in Africa. This further scourge on the Igbo closely followed the Igbo genocide when Nigeria murdered 3.1 m...illion Igbo people between 29 May 1966 and 12 January 1970. Since then, Nigeria has locked down all of Igboland in a labyrinthical network of checkpoints to control the movement of people, goods and services. Two outcomes, each that inexorably feeds into the other, are sought in this brigandage: (a) Nigeria chokes off any rational and sustained economic activity in the land of the famed, enterprising Igbo and (b) the checkpoint is the site that the occupation military/police/other vicious personnel carryout their extortion of the population. For instance, there are 60 occupation police checkpoints between Abakaleke and Nsukka – a distance of 80 miles. In contrast, no checkpoint exists between Obolo-Afo (Igboland) and Lokoja (Nigeria), a distance of 250 miles.

Given the paltry state of its finances, Nigeria cannot afford its continuing occupation of Igboland without its simultaneous ravaging of the legendary wealth of Igboland. In essence, and perhaps most perversely cast, the Igbo nation subsidises its very own occupation – an indirect taxation thereof, amounting to millions and millions of US dollars of savings annually for the near-bankrupt Nigeria treasury. The Igbo therefore carry the burden of this occupation with all its tragic ramifications. There are no comparable occupations elsewhere in the contemporary world with the same viciousness and severity.

WAY FORWARD

1. A general, indefinite strike across the Igbo country should be called forthwith, demanding the unconditional dismantling of Nigeria’s barriers of extortion and expropriation and the evacuation of its military/police bases from their land.

2. The Igbo should today, now, stop paying the millions and millions of US dollars worth of expropriation tax that sustains the Nigeria occupation and subjugation. One must never, ever, be a participant in their incarceration, their deindividuation.

3. An extensive and continuing-evolving organisation is required on the ground as this march of freedom transforms. All strata of the 50 million Igbo population, at home and abroad, must be mobilised – particularly women organisations, farmers, youth/students’ bodies, the redoubtable umuada and umunna circuits, market/allied trade guilds, custodians and overseers of Igbo traditional spiritual/religious places of worship, the clergy and the rest of the intellectuals.

4. The Igbo clergy, for instance, has its work cut out. The role of the church in national freedom movements has been invaluable as the world has seen in places like Poland, the United States (the African American church, for example), several countries in Latin America and, of course, back home during the genocide as occurred 45 years ago – surely in the next sermon in the churches and cathedrals of Igboland, the congregation will be interested to learn of the legacies of the venerable Akanu Ibiam, Godfery Okoye, Benjamin Nwankiti…

5. The Igbo expect their intellectuals, many of who are part of the world’s best and brightest, to play a critical role in responding to this existential threat to their nation. Already, there exists a rich legacy of the outstandingly selfless role played by Igbo intellectuals to Igboland at the onset of the genocide in May 1966 to build upon.

6. Igboland must be Free. Now. If each and every one of us plays their individual role, however “small” or limited it is deemed, the mountain will surely move and decisively so.

7. Beginning now, no longer cooperate with the occupation; don’t be a party to your own subjugation – make this your personal pledge.

8. Igboland will be free so that we can embark on the construction of an advanced civilisation for the memory of the 3.1 million who were murdered and those who survived to tell the tale.

9. We will free Igboland.

10. Welcome aboard the Igbo freedom train. Forward this exaltation to at least 10 friends and family and ask each of them to send to at least another batch of 10… and 10… and 10…

11. Remain focused and steadfast. We will free Igboland.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Jonathan Says Terrorism A Domestic Issue He Can Manage


Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan said Islamic radicals who have attacked government officials and security forces are a “domestic problem” unrelated to his election or the nation’s split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.

“I can promise you that as a government we are committed and up to the task and will bring it down,” Jonathan told reporters at the United Nations in New York, ahead of a meeting today in Washington with President Barack Obama. “It does not rise to the level where we will have to ask President Obama or other world leaders for assistance.”

Authorities in Nigeria’s north have blamed a radical Islamic sect, Boko Haram, which draws inspiration from Afghanistan’s Taliban movement, for bomb attacks and killings targeting government officials and security forces. More than 14,000 people died in ethnic and religious clashes between 1999 and 2009 in Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer and most populous nation, according to the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

At least 14 people were killed and 17 seriously wounded when three blasts went off yesterday in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, including one at the state government secretariat, Borno state police spokesman Lawal Abdullahi said. In a separate incident, a gunman in the city suspected to be an Islamic militant shot dead Ibrahim Mohammed, a Muslim cleric, late yesterday at his home, Abdullahi said.

Jonathan, 53, a Christian from the oil-rich Niger River delta region, defeated his nearest rival, Muhammadu Buhari, a northern Muslim, in the April 16 vote by a 57 percent to 31 percent margin. At least 800 people were killed as protests by supporters of the opposition candidate, a former military ruler, triggered violence between Muslim and Christian ethnic groups, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.
Terrorist Attacks

“We have challenges, but it has nothing to do with the elections,” Jonathan said. “It has nothing to do with Christians and Muslims. Boko Haram would rather attack Islamic groups that embrace the western way of life. Even the most powerful countries are confronted with terrorist attacks. You have to manage it and gradually suppress it.”

Jonathan said he would use a “carrots-and-sticks approach,” of negotiations with Boko Haram and the use of military force if talks fail. He pointed to the negotiations and amnesty program that has reduced violence in the Niger Delta.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Conversations With Shanae Jackson


The term soul food became popular in the 1960s. The origins of soul food, however, are much older and can be traced back to Africa—and to a lesser extent, to Europe, as well. Foods such as rice, sorghum, and okra — all common elements of West African cuisine--were introduced to the Americas as a result of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. They became dietary staples among enslaved Africans. They also comprise an important part of the cuisine of the American south, in general. Many culinary historians believe that in the beginning of the 14th century, around the time of early Euro-African exploration, European explorers brought their own food supplies and introduced them into local African diets. Foods such as corn and cassava from the Americas, turnips from Morocco, and cabbage from Portugal would play an important part in the history of African-American cooking.

On one of the City of Angels first truly-like Spring days, Shanae Jackson is hunkered over some soul food at Roscos on the corner of Pico Boulevard and La Brea Avenue in West Los Angeles. I had been stuck in Downtown Los Angeles while she'd already through with her sessions at the multiplex So Westbred Studios in Los Angeles. Shanae takes soul food seriously and at the same time her intense gigs all around Los Angeles. She had waited at Roscos for part of this conversation over some soul food and had waited for about half an hour before I popped up from the hectic Los Angeles area traffic, especially taking Pico Blvd. at rush hour. Shanae also talked about her music, the future and all that, but food was first. When I checked in at Roscos, Shanae was on the phone for a local newspaper interview on a series of her related projects. The subject: Her intention to put more time in the recording studio and her desire for more gigs in the Los Angeles area. Shanae's parents migrated from the South West 34-years ago settling on the West-side in Inglewood.

But when it comes to everything that matters in this world of ours that has so dramatically changed we now live in a synthetic world; just like it use to be that if you loved cooking, you become a chef and spend the rest of your working days slaving away in a kitchen, largely unseen. But these days, you can sit on your porch and write a cookbook and if you are lucky it becomes a best seller. A whole lot has changed and when I engaged Shanae starting from her love of food and the recipes, she did not think about her destination, telling of writing a cookbook on soul food and vice versa.

Ambrose Ehirim: How did LA rocks girl like you from the hood out here in my neck of the woods got so interested in South Western meals and soul food?

Shanae Jackson: What do you mean? I'm a Southern girl though I was born and raised in LA. My parents moved from the South to LA before I was born. I learned from my mother and all the dishes she prepared for us while we were growing up. And through my mother and her cooking, I fell in love with all the southwestern ingredients: all the fresh and dried chili peppers, the corn, okra, rice, all the different dried and fresh beans, and all the varieties of seafood -- crab, lobsters, shrimps, including baby shrimps, and all different types of fish.

What's your impression of how LA fits into the world stage of food?

I think Los Angeles is very important in terms of what's going on in this country in general. Lots of exciting restaurants. More than ever, restaurants in LA have become more important. Years ago people would say 'if you don't have Eddie Murphy coming in, you can't be busy.' I think that's not so true anymore. I think it's LA and there's people from all around the world cooking their own recipe and people would like to go and try it and it's kind of fun. But when you see some of the restaurants that are going up and setting some food trends, I think the food is really becoming the star. Like you guys have your own kind of food, the fufu, that's the star and African restaurants are all over LA now which is good for the growing diverse community.


I have joined you in many barbecue picnics and still have no clue how it's prepared even though I love the stuff and you know it. What's the most crucial thing a first-time barbecuer should know?

[Laughs...] How to light the charcoal. [Laughs.] A lot of people use gas grills, but if you are going to use a charcoal grill, the thing that you want to buy for about fifteen bucks is a chimney. It takes the lighter fluid out of the game, and that's what you need to know right away.

On a cookbook.

I'm putting it together and it's going to be all around southwestern recipe.

Now let's get into what I would call the real deal. What's up with music and all that studio time at So Westbred Studios?


Well it all started from going to the studio supposed to try my demonstration I did elsewhere and I was required to drop it for the studio engineers to work on and give me feedback if my work was worth their time. I ended up spending more hours watching the sound engineer make bits and editing sort of. It was also nice to go back to the same studio and learn more about making beats.

Music seems to be baked in your genes. Why?

Music is in all cultures and it sends a very powerful message. One of the many things music magically conveys is great emotions. No matter what you are going through, there are thousands of songs that address that particular human experience. Music doesn't always need a lyric to convey feelings of great attraction. 'Some of the most get down with it' music is instrumental. Lust can be found in the tone of a player's instrument, be it piano, guitar or voice.It doesn't necessarily matter what is being played or said -- they bring it with them. For example, how about these two words: Jimi Hendrix. Hardly any of his songs don't have that thang thang. The sound of his guitar spoke volumes of raw, reproductive poetics.

Your favorite hangout these days?


I really don't hangout like I use to. Shoo, I like the Sunday Brunch with Doug MacDonald's live Jazz Trio at the Hilton Hotels and Resorts, by LAX. Live band, good music and good food. I like Shamshiriri Gril on Westwood Blvd. at UCLA. It's always fun and their food is good.

When do you think you album will be coming out?

Later this year why I keep up with the gigs.

Good luck!

Thanks!

Collection: Random Takes

Ndebele woman around ankles of a woman. The Ndebele people are African tribes located in South Africa and Zimbabwe, sometimes known as Matabele. (Undate). Image: Denny Allen/Gallo Images


People of the Samburu tribe. Samburu District is a district in Rift Valley Province, Kenya. ca.1983. Image:Panoramic Images.


Bopende tribesmen of the Western Congo wearing popeyed masks and costumes of fiber performing ancient ritual dances during initiation of boys into their tribal society. ca. 1951. Image: Eliot Elisofon.


Typical Vicotorian dress (12 meter material) and hats. Influence of 19th century German missionaries' wives. Yearly procession through the town. Red Flag Herero gather in traditional dress to remember fallen chiefs (killed in battles with Nama and Germans). The Herero and Namaqua Genocide is considered to have been the first genocide of the 20th century. It took place between 1904 and 1907 in German South-West Africa (modern day Namibia), during the scramble for Africa. (Undated). Image: Frans Lemmens/The Image Bank.



Northern Namibia, Himba tribeswomen in traditional clothing. October 2007, The Himba are an ethnic group of about 20,000 to 50,000 people, living in northern Namibia, in the Kunene region (formerly Kaokoland). They are a nomadic, pastoral people, closely related to the Herero, and speak the same language. Date: October 2007. Location: Northern Namibia. Image: Wonderlust Industries/The Mage Bank.

Mark, Enweremadu Lead Senate


By Gbade Ogunwale, The Nation

The Senate yesterday rubber-stamped the candidature of Senators David Mark (Benue South) and Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West) as Senate President and Deputy Senate President.

Their candidature was ratified by the body of senators without any opposition. Immediate past Deputy Majority Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba (Cross River Central) moved the motion nominating Mark for the office. It was seconded by Senator Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West).

Ekweremadu was nominated by Senator Zaynab Kure (Niger South). Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North) seconded the motion.

Ndoma-Egba described Mark as "a social pragmatist, a magnet that moves both friends and foes into his enchanting orbit, a man whose flame and fame continues to illuminate, a patriot, a true nationalist, a detribalised Nigerian, a social and political strategist of no means standing".

He went on: "His socio political charismatic personality ripples through the entire length and breadth of this great nation and beyond. He is a lover of democracy and the rule of law and, above all, a man of immense political sagacity."

Ndoma-Egba said Mark has "all his life displayed vigour without vanity, strength without insolence and courage without ferocity and all the virtues of a natural commander without his vices".

Mark said he was humbled by the confidence unanimously reposed in him by his colleagues, describing the gesture as a new Nigerian spirit, "birth of new National Assembly and increasing maturity in the democratic system".

He added: "As a mark of appreciation and reciprocation for the honour you have done to me, I promise that I will be honest, transparent, fair and will ensure that there is equity and justice. Above all, I will preside with the fear of God."

He described the mandate as a sacred trust, which he promised to hold in trust for the body of senators, and "to work for you, to work with you, and together, we shall all work for a greater Nigeria".

Recognising his position as first among equals, Mark urged collaboration, team spirit, networking and consensus building through dialogue and consultation.

"To accomplish more, we would have to listen and consult more with the civil society, the organised private sector and other major stakeholders," he said, adding:

"Our budgeting system needs radical change. We, as representatives of the people, must initiate legislations that will reduce cost of governance at all levels, thereby freeing resources to attend to the basic needs of the people."

"We would also seek to strengthen the analytical capacity of the National Assembly as it relates to budgeting and oversight functions," he said.

Mark continued: "Our target is that hopefully, this session of the National Assembly shall set a historic record by passing very critical legislations that would propel Nigeria to the 20 most advanced economies."

The National Assembly complex and environs started brimming with human and vehicular traffic as early as 7 am, with dozens of security agents searching incoming vehicles and frisking visitors to the complex.

Many of the lawmakers were accompanied by their wives or husbands and other relatives. They were accommodated in two sections within the Senate chambers.

Hundreds of visitors who came to witness the inauguration could not enter the complex. Many were seated at the Assembly’s main car park. Cars were not allowed in the main park.

Apparently to ease traffic congestion, the lawmakers were brought to the complex in buses and were taken away the same way.

The inauguration began at 10.05 am with the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Abubakar Salisu Maikasuwa, presiding. He was assisted by his deputy, Olumuyiwa Omojokun.

Clerk of the Senate Mr. Benedict Efeturei and his Deputy, Duduyemi Lawal, were there. Efeturei took the roll call.

Dignitaries at the ceremony included Secretary to the Government of the Federation Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, Acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Haliru Mohammed and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, among others.

Finland cautions on Chinese market dominance in Nigeria


By Ameto Akpe, Abuja/Business Day

Mikko Kosonen, president, Finland Innovation Fund – SITRA, has cautioned Nigeria on the extensive presence and dominance of the Chinese in the country, saying “dominance of the Chinese needs to be dealt with in a smart way.”

Notably, the EU late last year warned Nigeria on China’s increasing interests in the country, when Belen Uyarra head, political and economic unit of the EU delegation in Nigeria at a media chat in Abuja, noted that the “Nigerian businesses should be the ones worried about the Chinese because they are both looking at the same niche.”

Speaking at the Nigeria-Finnish Business Forum in Abuja, Kosonen noted that it was important Nigerians learnt quickly from this foreign presence and acquire the skill to manage these projects and handle the technologies independently.

The Nigeria-Finnish Business Forum is designed to deepen awareness on the business and investment opportunities between both countries within the context of the existing comparative and competitive advantages, and the development histories of both nations.

Kosonen noted further that Nigeria needed to invest in research and education if it hoped to become competitive and attain its developmental aspirations, adding that “there is no short cut to success.”

Meanwhile, also speaking at the same forum, Arete-Zoe Amana, executive director of the Nigeria-Finnish Business Group, said in order to enhance the competitive index of the nation, Nigeria must leverage on its bilateral and multilateral relations through a more strategic approach to trade and investment promotion.

Amana stated that this was in line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s inaugural speech where he emphasised the need for the formation of technical financial partnerships with global businesses and organisations.

She said: “Recognising the pivotal role in economic development, government needs to pay more than lip service to the objective of enhancing FDIs inflow by strengthening NIPC’s institutional capacity through adequate funding of it operations so that it can achieve its raison d’être and remain the regional beacon of excellence.

The Nigerian Finnish Business Group, which is the business networking platform of the Nigerian-Finnish Business Association, is poised to provide unparalleled membership services to enable members achieve their strategic objective in a professional and purposeful manner employing global best practices in its operations.

“We will continue to collaborate actively and then with the embassy of Finland and forge beneficial alliance with relevant local and international ministries, department and agencies to enable us serve our stakeholder public,” Amana said.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

My E-Correspondence With Ikedi Ohakim


I had bumped into Ikedi Ohakim, former Governor of Imo State, at Facebook and we became friends based on the network’s prescription for connection. Not only were we just Facebook friends, Ohakim was the governor of my home state, Imo, one of the 36 states in Nigeria, lying to the South of Nigeria with Owerri as its capital. It’s known to be the heart of Igbo land. Browsing through his (Ohakim’s) page on Facebook and reading notes he occasionally publishes, I found out he was not facing too many challenges since his friends tend to have been opportunistic, job-seeking, vulnerable and gullible Nd’Imo (Imo indigenes) based on the kind of comments I saw about his notes which relates to the well-being of Imo State and Ala-Igbo in general because his three thousand plus so friends at that time came from all around Ala-Igbo and elsewhere in the country. The comments were disturbing when one takes a look at how questions of conduct couldn’t be thrown to the governor. A people subdued.

So, too, going through President Goodluck Jonathan’s Facebook account, everybody seems to agree with what he says. I’m not sure if that is healthy for any democracy. But as it happened, after reading some of Ohakim’s note, I decided to send him a message so I could ask him questions on what he was talking about. I requested for a Q & A Interview. He Okayed it and said I should go ahead and send my questionnaire.

My encounter with Ikedi Ohakim:

March 14, 2010

Subject: Q & A Interview for Governor Ikedi Ohakim

Mr. Governor,

I would like a scheduled interview with you on a wide range of issues as the state’s Chief Executive. Imo Diaspora would greatly appreciate your kind gesture in letting them know the goings on in the affairs of state. I will send a questionnaire for your response. Let me know the possibilities of this request at your convenience.

Best wishes,

Ambrose Ehirim
Imo Diaspora
Los Angeles, CA

March 19, 2010: From Ikedi Ohakim, Imo State Governor

Many thanks for the message. Kindly send in detail to my email: ikedi.ohakim@imostste.gov.ng

March 31, 2010

From: aehirim@hotmail.com
To: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
Subject: Q & A Interview for Governor Ikedi Ohakim

Mr. Governor,

Attached are the questions for you from Imo Diaspora and it would once again be appreciated if the answers are detailed to your utmost best. My attempt to reach Dr. Julius Kpaduwa did not come through as a result of his visiting home. We’ve been in touch every now and then.

Best wishes,

Ambrose Ehirim
Imo Diaspora
Los Angeles, CA

Wed. March 31, 2010

From: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
To: aehirim@hotmail.com
Subject: RE: Q & A Interview for Governor Ikedi Ohakim

Ehirim,

Many thanks for the mail. Will get back to you soon.

God bless!

Ikedi G. Ohakim
Governor,
Government House Owerri
Imo State, Nigeria
Email: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
Website: http://www.imostate.gov.ng
This email is intended solely for the recipient in the header of the email and may contain confidential or privileged information. If you have received it in error please notify Imo State Government immediately and permanently destroy the email. You must not copy, distribute or take any action in reliance on it. Opinions, advice or facts included in this message are given without any warranties or intention to enter into a contractual relationship with Imo State Government unless specifically indicated otherwise by agreement, letter or facsimile signed by zn authorized signatory of the state government

The Attached Questionaire for Governor Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State:

1). What got you into politics and what motivated you?

2). In your own view as Chief Executive of Imo State, is your administration performing as required by the people of Imo State who elected you into office? Tell us why your ratings should go up.

3). You told the people of Imo State that “the outstanding Imo State University Teaching Hospital will be completed this year. The School of Nursing at Owerri and the School of Basic Midwifery at Aboh Mbaise will also be equipped and reaccredited this year”. Based on what you are saying, that’s a becoming conduct required of the state’s chief executive; but we are hearing it’s all political talk. What do you make of what the critics are saying and all the negativity about your administration?

4). On the disturbing scenario of armed robbery and kidnappings that is now pervasive in the state, we hear that lack of creating jobs by your administration for the youth and college graduates has been the backbone to what is now akin to a state of empire and anarchy. That if jobs had been created with opportunities, that the crime rate in the state will drop dramatically. What’s your take on that?

5). Several indigenes of the state have complained about infrastructures in the capital city – that more roads are needed to alleviate the traffic jams, that not much has been done by your administration since you took the oath of office three years ago, for example the construction of an overpass or underpass for through traffic in and around the metropolis and especially by the busy Alvan Ikokwu College of Education. What’s your take on that?

6). Despite the fact that you have been praised for your Clean and Green Initiative to clean up Owerri Township, we now hear that program is going down. What happened?

7). In your recent speech delivered at Igbo Leaders Forum in Owerri, you said “our people are getting tired of too much talk and little action.” Weren’t you referring to yourself and some of your Igbo-related colleagues since your ratings seem to be dropping way beyond expectation?

8). On revenue allocation to the local governments meant for infrastructures, maintenance and improvement strategies to improve basic needs in the areas, such as accessible roads, farming subsidies, equipping the schools, providing adequate medical care by way of establishing dispensary centers and other social programs, we hear no such thing exists and that whatever that was left by previous military and civilian regimes have either decayed or vanished, that the federated accounts is not showing in any of the local governments. How do you hold the local government chairmen and their councilmen responsible for misappropriation of funds?

9). And how are the funds disbursed to the local governments?

10). On World Igbo Congress, it has been obvious the “Igbo Umbrella” has not done much in protecting Igbo interests. Based on that how would you rate World Igbo Congress, and what was your experience like as a keynote speaker in its 2007 convention in Detroit, Michigan?

11). On Igbo Diaspora and its enormous human capital coupled with the ‘brains’ living in advance nations, how do you encourage them to come back home and put their experience to work in building a profound civil and organized Igbo nation?

Be well and good luck!
April 14, 2010

From: aehirim@hotmail.com
To: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
Subject: RE: Q & A Interview for Governor Ikedi Ohakim

Mr. Governor,

Just a reminder to see if we are still on track regarding the above subject-matter. I look forward to your response and it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Ambrose Ehirim,
Los Angeles, CA

April 15, 2010

From: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
To: aehirim@hotmail.com
Subject: RE: Q & A Interview for Governor Ikedi Ohakim
Ehirim,

I have replied your questions. Will forward once I get back from my trip.
My apologies.

God bless.

Ikedi G. Ohakim
Governor,
Government House Owerri
Imo State, Nigeria
Email: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
Website: http://imostate.gov.ng

June 30, 2010

From: aehirim@hotmail.com
To: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
Subject: RE: Q & A Interview for Governor Ikedi Ohakim

Mr. Governor,

I have been wondering if we lost touch regarding the subject matter when you said over two months ago that your response was in order. Now, a whole lot has changed and Imo Diaspora, including Nd'Igbo all over the globe are not speaking well of your administration, and I am yet to be critical of what I'm being compelled to take on, from around the goings on in Imo State -- the widespread spooky case of kidnapping.

My questionnaire is already old since a whole lot has popped up from the time you Okayed the interview. Let me know what your take is and we can revise all the stuff from the beginning.

Be well!

Ambrose Ehirim,
The Ambrose Ehirim Files
Los Angeles, CA

July 02, 2010

From: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
To: aehirim@hotmail.com
Subject: RE: Q & A Interview for Governor Iked Ohakim

Ehirim,

Many thanks for the mail. There's need to forward a recent interview with NTA which was aired live on the network. How do I get it across to you? It addresses all the questions you raised and even more. Your reply is needed for my aides to forward a copy to you both for duplication and your information.

God Bless

Ikedi G. Ohakim
Governor,
Government House Owerri
Imo State, Nigeria
Email: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
Website: http://www.imostate.gov.ng

July 03, 2010
From: ahirim@hotmail.com
To: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
Subject: RE: Q & A Interview for Governor Ikedi Ohakim

If the live interview with NTA is on disc, you can have your aides upload the disc on a computer and forward it to my email address for me to download, or you can have them mail the disc to me. And if it's already on the internet, you can have your aides send me the link.

I look forward to your immediate response and it would be greatly appreciated.

Be well and God Bless!

Ambrose Ehirim,
The Ambrose Ehirim Files
Los Angeles, CA

“Your reply is needed for my aides to forward a copy to you both for duplication and your information” -------Ikedi Ohakim in his last mail to me.

When I had sent the April 14, 2010 mail, he was part of President Goodluck Jonathan's entourage on state visit to the United States.

Well, apparently, what had happened was Ohakim and his regime in Imo State had collaborated with the ruling party, PDP, to have Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) use the questionnaire I furnished to the governor to respond in like manner, but only to be twisted in that NTA interview to prepare the governor for a second term. It did not happen despite all the PDP forces coupled with helps from former president Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan himself.

The people of Imo spoke; and it’s not yet Uhuru!

Nigeria Police Raid Stops 32 Pregnant Teens From Selling Their Babies

By Uri Friedman, The Atlantic Wire
Image: Reuters
Nigerian police are informing journalists that they've raided a "baby farm" in the southern city of Aba, rescuing four babies and arresting a doctor who authorities believe buys babies for $160 to $190 (males command higher prices) and illegally sells them to childless couples for up to $6,400, according to the AP. Reuters adds that the babies may also be sold to witch doctors who use the body parts of infants in rituals or sent to Europe--especially the U.K.--where they are used in welfare fraud schemes. The doctor claims he was simply placing unwanted babies in orphanages.

The news outlets reporting the raid aren't in agreement about the role played by the 32 pregnant teenage girls--some as young as 15--who were at the Heda clinic when police arrived. The AP, for example, notes that the girls were "arrested" and may face charges for "planning to sell their babies," and Reuters adds that some girls said they were directed to the clinic by friends who had been there before. But the BBC (and other outlets), citing a Nigerian police chief, claims the girls were "rescued" after being locked up at the clinic and forced to produce babies, noting that "desperate teenagers with unplanned pregnancies are sometimes lured to clinics." The BBC also provides some context for the raid. In Nigeria, where UNICEF estimates at least 10 children are sold daily, baby-trafficking is illegal, but it's very rare for traffickers to be caught and prosecuted.

New Book by Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, Readings from Reading: Essays on African Politics, Genocide, Literature (Dakar & Reading: African Renaissance, 2011), ISBN 9780955205019, paperback, 236pp., £19.95/US$29.95


The essays here in Readings from Reading underscore Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe’s continuing optimism about the possibilities of Africans constructing post-“Berlin-states” as the launch pad to transform the topography of the African renaissance. Readings from Reading is a timely publication, coming on the eve of the historic January 2011 referendum in south Sudan in which the people of the region will choose to vote to restore their national independence or get stuck hopelessly in the Sudan, the first of the “Berlin-states” that Africans tragically “inherited” in January 1956. Ekwe-Ekwe insists that the contemporary Africa state, imposed on Africans by a band of European conqueror-states and currently run by what the author describes as a “shard of disreputable African regimes to exploit and despoil the continent’s human and material resources”, cannot serve African interests. The legacy, as this study demonstrates, has indeed been catastrophic: “The [African] overseers pushed the states into even deeper depths of genocidal and kakistocratic notoriety in the past 54 years as the grim examples of particularly Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan ... depressingly underscore. 15 million Africans have been murdered by African-led regimes in these states and elsewhere in Africa since the Igbo genocide of 1966-1970”.

This is an engaging, incisive, wide-ranging and multidisciplinary discourse, salient features that have come to define Ekwe-Ekwe’s groundbreaking scholarship of the past three decades. The author covers an assemblage of diverse topics and themes which include the Igbo genocide, the Jos massacres in central Nigeria, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab’s failed attempt to blow up an incoming aircraft over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, African presence in Britain, Robert Mugabe, Muammar Gaddafi, Obafemi Awolowo, Omar al-Bashir, Yoweri Museveni, Charles Taylor, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ali Mazrui, Andrew Young, the G8 and Africa, Africa “debt”, African émigrés’ remittances to Africa, “sub-Sahara Africa”, reparations to Africans, African representation on the UN Security Council, African choices for the Nobel Peace Prize, Africa and the International Criminal Court, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, the Sudan and the Congo, arms to Africa, arms-ban on Africa. Finally, on the subject of the restoration-of-independence, the key connecting thread that links all the visitations, Ekwe-Ekwe critically examines the contributions made variously on this cord by an impressive line up of some of the very best and brightest of African intellectuals: Achebe, Adichie, Césaire, Damas, Coltrane, Diop, Equiano, Ngũgĩ, Okigbo, Senghor.


Worldwide sales and distribution
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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Rochas Okorocha and the New Dawn

Rochas Okorocha and Solomon Egbuho at The World Igbo Congress Convention in Los Angeles, 2005

I wish to draw everybody's attention to what has been going around as the new democratic fabric seems to be in what the pundits now call 'the progressives' and how it has helped effect change as the Fourth Republic enters its 4th Term, and by the time the 4th term will be over or should be over, we'll be talking about sixteen years of a fledgling democracy. I have always emphasized on situations like this when I say 'it's not yet uhuru' and there's no need to be bumping fists in a political environment that is still full of uncertainties.

In the past, I have predicted with near certainty in elections of this nature, with regards to the Igbo-related states, and particularly my home state of Imo, from around which a better election was held, this time around, and that the people of Imo State spoke overwhelmingly on the ground destiny was in their own hands. This may be because not that Ohakim was that evil as we all may have thought; it's because we have been learning how other states in the federation have been gradually doing well as time went by and as they kept learning from the nation's neo-democratic dispensation of the Fourth Republic; by correcting its ills as it came along.

As it has now happened, and applying other better performing states as model, we hope, we will not be seeing again Imo Diaspora endorsing a 4th Republic first 'elected' Imo governor in Achike Udenwa who nobody questioned his code of conduct through a second term without investigating a ridiculously managed regime in Imo. So, too, hopefully, we will not be seeing Imo Diaspora endorsing and applauding a fraudulently 'elected' Ikedi Ohakim's proposed visit to the shores of the United States by a confused Los Angeles area organizing committees.

And hopefully, we will not be seeing where backlog of teachers salaries are left unpaid as in Udenwa's regime. And, again, hopefully, we will not be seeing a Diaspora that will abandon its responsibilities, sit and do nothing about the affairs of state, by way of proffering thoughtful ideas based on its Diaspora grounds to help its home state grow through series of development programs typical of all organized societies. And too, for sure, we will not be seeing where Igbo-related states, especially Imo, in which that part of Ala-Igbo was deliberately turned into a state of empire and anarchy while kidnapping became the order of the day and we all sat idly watch it unfold.

We have arrived to the 'New Dawn,' and evidently Rochas Okorocha cleared the hurdle giving Nd'Imo a sigh of relief, and that, never again would people like Ohakim be given the opportunity to destroy the state in its entirety; and that, never again would such be accepted in any civil society if we really want democracy to prevail.

Okorocha, I would assume saw how Imo deteriorated by way of social programs and basic infrastructures he quickly dabbled himself to opposition to fight and have Ohakim removed. Okorocha did not all of a sudden pop up to an out of nowhere politician. During the World Igbo Congress held September 2-4, 2005 (Labor Day Weekend), at the Los Angeles Airport Hotel, while I reported for BNW News, I met and spoke with Okorocha when he told me he had intentions to run for president of Federal Republic of Nigeria. The keynote speakers included Senator Ken Nnamani, President of Ohan'Eze Nd'Igbo Prof. Joe Irukwu, Orji Uzor Kalu, Okorocha, among others. Despite the fact that, Nnamani, not impressed with the convention on a variety of reasons World Igbo Congress had not accomplished in its twelve years of gathering asking where Nd'Igbo were heading to as a result of a Los Angeles bad organizing committee that invited him to be a keynote speaker, Okorocha did not waist time in announcing his bid for the presidency noting Nd'Igbo must engage Nigeria and get what they want; and put the marginalization theory behind them.

But now, the question here is: How Would Imo Diaspora influence decisions in a changing Imo State as Okorocha declares free education in the state on the day of inauguration? Is free education what Imo State desperately need right now or is it by creating jobs which would gradually alleviate crime? Would free education do any good without equipping the schools? Would free education without equipping the schools by any standard bring about better scholars?

Free education for all, no question, is a good way to start. But let's not start celebrating. It's not yet Uhuru!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Farhud Memories: Baghdad's 1941 Slaughter of the Jews

Steve Acre witnessed the bravery of his Muslim landlord from a palm tree.

By Sarah Ehrlich, Reporter, Witness/BBC News

1 June 1941, a Nazi-inspired pogrom erupted in Baghdad, bringing to an end more than two millennia of peaceful existence for the city's Jewish minority. Some Jewish children witnessed the bloodshed, and retain vivid memories 70 years later. Heskel Haddad, an 11-year-old boy was finishing a festive meal and preparing to celebrate the Jewish festival of Shavuot, oblivious to the angry mob that was about to take over the city.

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