Monday, October 31, 2016

Bad Boy Reuben Abati, What Is He Going To Do Now?

AMBROSE EHIRIM
OCTOBER 31, 2016


Abati Image Courtesy Of Twitter



The elite Nigerian Journalist, Reuben Abati, sat comfortably on the Guardian Nigeria Editorial Board and wrote extensively to near exhaustion on topics grand and small, ranging from Nigeria's social and economic ills to the fate of the military juntas he had loathed.

Upon ignition of the 4th Republic, he criticized his own kin, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, called him all sorts of names, labeled him with arrogance, inept, corrupt and ineffective on the affairs of state. Then, on the Sharia debacle which had erupted during Uncle Sege's regime, he chimed in to condemn the blood-thirsty Islamic Hausa-Fulani hoodlums and nihilists who assaulted the Christian South, of which majority of the victims originated from the East as carved by the Yakubu Gowon-led genocidal campaign. 

Following the Holy Jihad blows, came the MASSOB agitation as a result, and Abati wasted no time to deride the entire Igbo enclave as losers and should go to bed, and forget mentioning the word Biafra and, deal with it as losers on the basis they deserve whatever had been happening to them, that Biafra had died naturally and had been buried, and shouldn't be part of Nigerian history. 

Abati was just running his mouth from the desk of Guardian Nigeria, becoming, as most of his admirers had taken it, well engaged in fine journalism the way he had designed his pen. 

Ironically, Abati was not picked up by former junta, President Muhammadu Buhari's hit men, the EFCC, for his thought-provoking write-ups on the government's clampdown regarding a radical press and populism, or some of his comics about loose women who flirt with the juntas. The EFCC had knocked on Abati's door for questioning about cash money he had received and wanted to know how he shared the favor among his belly growing journalists, if at all there was any. 

Abati had agreed he collected money, 50 million Naira to be exact, according to the EFCC, but came short of the bail amount required by the Federal Nigeria agents to uncuff him and let him go home. 

What is poor boy Abati going to do now? Provide a list of his comrades who benefited from his goodwill? Or confer to former President Egbon Goodluck Jonathan and say to him, did I not tell you? Or plead with the Buhari admirer who opened a Go Fund Me account for his sake, to hurry up with the bail amount as he cherishes his freedom and that designer's pen he had used for years...Maybe, it's time for Babalawo to set in since it's only Abati who knew all the evil spirits that invaded Aso Rock Villa.


Ahaa!

(Abati's Image Courtesy Of Twitter)

Rwanda Names 22 French Army Officers Accused Of Genocide

ASSOCIATED PRESS
OCTOBER 31, 2016





KIGALI, RWANDA (ASSOCIATED PRESS) — Rwanda's government on Monday said 22 French senior military officers helped to plan and execute the 1994 genocide, in which more than 800,000 people were killed.

The French officers were involved both as perpetrators and accomplices, Rwanda's National Commission for the Fight against Genocide said in a statement Monday.

"The refusal to end the judicial investigation and pronounce a dismissal against Rwandan leaders who ended the genocide is an attempt to conceal their responsibilities," the statement said, referring to France.

The publication of the list, including four French generals, comes after French investigators this month reopened an inquiry into the plane crash that killed a Rwandan president and sparked the genocide.

The list published by Rwanda names Gen. Jacques Lanxade, who was the special chief of staff for French President Francois Mitterrand from April 1989 to April 1991 and army chief of staff from April 1991 to September 1995.

According to Rwanda, Lanxade received reports of abuses by the Rwandan army but maintained assistance that included the provision of military equipment and trainers. Other senior army officers cited include Gen. Christian Quesnot, Gen. Jean-Pierre Huchon and Gen. Jean-Claude Lafourcade.

The cause of the crash has been a contentious issue. The plane had a French crew.

Militants from Rwanda's Hutu majority blamed minority Tutsis for the death of then-President Juvenal Habyarimana, sparking the slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The Rwandan government insists the plane was shot down by extremists who opposed the government's efforts to forge a peace deal with Tutsi-led rebels who had invaded Rwanda from Uganda, where they had lived as refugees.

A French investigation completed in 2012 found that the missile fire came from a military camp.

But Kagame, the leader of rebels who ended the genocide, has been accused by a prominent Rwandan exile of ordering that the plane be shot down.

French judges in charge of the investigation have filed an international request to hear the exile, former Rwandan military chief Kayumba Nyamwasa. That decision angered Kagame, who said France should be on trial for its alleged role in the genocide.

Nyamwasa told The Associated Press in 2012 that he has evidence Kagame ordered the shooting down of the plane.

Nyamwasa, once a close ally of Kagame, now lives in South Africa and has survived multiple assassination attempts that he blames on the Rwandan government.

How Far Does Saudi Arabia’s Influence Go? Look At Nigeria.

WASHINGTON POST







In recent months, Iran’s foreign minister blamed “fanaticism from the Dark Ages,” exported by Saudi Arabia, for sparking extremist movements around the world. Defenders, meanwhile, have argued that blaming Saudi Arabia for global terrorism is a mistake. Both of these arguments are wrong, because they either attribute too much or too little influence to Saudi Arabia. So how far does Saudi Arabia’s religious influence extend beyond its borders? Let’s look at northern Nigeria, home to a huge but diverse Salafist movement and the extremist group Boko Haram.

There is no question that Saudi Arabia had significant influence over the development of Salafism in northern Nigeria. One of the key movers in early, proto-Salafist activism in northern Nigeria was Abubakar Gumi, a senior judge and skilled preacher who supervised the creation of the mass-based, Salafist-leaning Izala movement in 1978. Gumi had a lifelong relationship with Saudi Arabia, representing northern Nigeria at meetings of the Saudi-founded Muslim World League in the 1960s, serving on the consultative council of Saudi Arabia’s Islamic University of Medina in the 1970s and receiving the King Faisal Prize in 1987. Gumi and Izala received significant financial support from Saudi Arabia as well, which helped Izala to mount a serious campaign against Sufism, a form of organized Islamic mysticism that was, and remains, widespread in northern Nigeria.

Another, more recent Salafist leader in northern Nigeria was Jafar Mahmud Adam. He began his career as a young preacher in Izala, graduated from the Islamic University of Medina in 1993 and returned to Nigeria to pioneer a more independent and more globally attuned form of Salafism. In the process, he won a mass audience and helped propel a circle of other preachers, many of them also graduates of Adam’s alma mater, into influential positions as preachers and government officials. Adam regularly invoked his learning in Medina as part of the foundation for his religious authority. For much of his later career, he also received financial support from al-Muntada al-Islami Trust, a London-based charity with ties to Saudi Arabia.

Yet neither Gumi nor Adam was a Saudi puppet, and both men adapted their preaching to the context of northern Nigerian society and politics. Intellectually, Gumi remained deeply immersed in the world of North and West African Islamic scholarship, professing admiration for core thinkers in the Maliki school of religious law until the end of his life, even though Salafists largely reject adherence to any such school.

Although Adam was more in tune with global Salafist thought than Gumi was, he and his companions were also pragmatic actors who made compromises with their environment. Despite his reservations about the fairness and viability of democracy, Adam briefly served as an official in the government of Kano state, where he lived. Gumi went even further in his political activism, at one point urging Muslim women to vote by arguing that “politics is more important than prayer” — a position that would horrify many Saudi scholars. Adam was also open to compromises with Sufis, suggesting in one speech that Salafists and Kano’s two major Sufi orders should have equal shares of an annual, public Ramadan service.

If the Salafist movement in Nigeria has relatively strong ties to Saudi Arabia, it may be surprising that Boko Haram has extremely weak organizational ties to the kingdom. Whereas Gumi and Adam had lifelong, public contacts with the kingdom, Boko Haram has been led by figures who were trained almost entirely within Nigeria.

The group has some intellectual ties to the kingdom. Boko Haram’s founder, Muhammad Yusuf, visited Saudi Arabia for pilgrimages and spent a brief period of self-imposed exile there in 2004, but no evidence has shown that he enrolled in an institution or had contact with senior Saudi scholars and officials. Yusuf’s successor, Abubakar Shekau, had even less contact with Saudi Arabia — there is no evidence that Shekau has ever left Africa. Meanwhile, Adam – although he had mentored Yusuf during the early 2000s – publicly repudiated Boko Haram by the mid-2000s, drawing on his credentials from Medina to paint Yusuf as an ignorant opportunist.

There has been some suspicion that al-Muntada al-Islami Trust funneled money to Boko Haram in the early 2000s to help the group prepare for jihad, but the evidence for this is inconclusive. Even if it is true, this would indicate only an indirect tie between Boko Haram and Saudi Arabia itself. At the same time, though, Yusuf claimed religious authority partly on the basis of his interpretations of senior Saudi scholars’ views. It would be false to say that Saudi Arabia supported Boko Haram, but it would be equally false to say that Saudi Arabia had no influence on the movement’s worldview.

The careers of Gumi, Adam and Yusuf all involved multiple factors. It is unlikely that Gumi would have embraced anti-Sufism without his long experience in British colonial schools; he began to question the religious authorities around him by the late 1940s, well before he ever left Nigeria. It is unlikely that Adam could have become so prominent and independent without the broader transformations that occurred in Africa’s politics and media landscape in the 1990s, which allowed young Muslim preachers to build mass audiences by distributing their sermons through technologies such as cassettes and CDs. Yusuf, meanwhile, probably benefited from the early patronage of political elites in Borno, his home state. For all three men, local ties were just as important as transnational ones.

Saudi Arabia’s influence in Africa, then, should neither be exaggerated nor minimized. Support from Saudi Arabia has boosted the careers of certain religious leaders on the continent, increasing their opportunities, funding and stature. But such support has not determined the content of what those leaders say.

There are also profound limits to the influence of Saudi Arabia’s African partners. Despite decades of anti-Sufism from Gumi and others, Sufism continues to remain vibrant and influential for millions of Muslims in northern Nigeria and beyond. Sometimes, Saudi Arabia is neither arsonist nor firefighter, but simply one factor among many in shaping the religious lives of Muslims around the world.

Alexander Thurston is an assistant professor of teaching for the African studies program at Georgetown University. His first book, published in September, is “Salafism in Nigeria: Islam, Preaching, and Politics.”

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Getting Serious About Made-In Nigeria

October 31, 2016



Made in Aba Shoes. Image courtesy of Ebal's Blog


The current frenzy about promoting Made-In-Nigeria goods is the third attempt in living memory. It invariably occurs when we run out of petrodollars accumulated during years of oil boom in our external reserves, only to abandon it once crude oil prices start rising again. In 1978, the General Olusegun Obasanjo regime introduced a package of economic reforms termed Austerity Measures. 

For the first time since the end of the Civil War, we took a $2.8 billion foreign loan, which the technocrats of those days assured Nigerians would be easily repaid. Not much is known of how the loan was spent to improve Nigeria’s economic situation. The scale of our foreign indebtedness eventually rose to over $30 billion, which was liquidated through a debt buy-back.

1978, the Austerity Measures were anchored on the BUY MADE IN NIGERIA GOODS platform. Obasanjo personally led the campaign. All tiers and departments of government were compelled to buy their cars from Peugeot Automobile of Nigeria (PAN) or Volkswagen of Nigeria (VoN). 

The idea was to drastically reduce the flow of dollars abroad. Imported goods which could be sourced in the country were also placed on the Federal Government’s prohibition list. The Head of State got his ministers and advisers to start wearing Nigerian attire to the office – except serving military officers. Also the menu at Dodan Barracks the seat of power then became heavy with Nigerian dishes – except when banquets were held for foreign visitors. 

That policy ended with the Obasanjo military regime. With the return to civil rule in 1979 “Shagari Benz” quickly replaced the Peugeot 504 of the military regime. The politicians allowed importation of brocades and designer suits. Champagne became readily available, all because the price of crude oil took a temporary upswing. 

Nobody in Shehu Shagari’s government wanted any part of the “hardships” of buying Nigerian goods. The leaders started to sabotage the effort; the people followed their lead. The campaign was forgotten in less than two years after Obasanjo, and local industries started dying one after the other. Now that we are in another recession, the campaign is up again. Nigeria has all the basic requirements to grow our economy and create millions of jobs if we collectively embrace the Made-In-Nigeria project. 

We require a visionary, exemplary leadership with a priority list and patriotic citizenry, not empty rhetoric. Nigeria must go into massive production of certain foods, clothes, selected drugs and other consumable items which we can easily handle, and ban the importation of same. 

We must emphasise quality in Made-In-Nigeria products. This will make Nigerians prefer their own products to foreign-made goods. Experience from our entertainment industry where Nigerians prefer Nigerian music, movies and comedy speaks volumes about what can happen if we are serious about the Made-In-Nigeria campaign.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

FG Not Interested In Arresting Jonathan - Osinbajo

LEADERSHIP, OCTOBER 30, 2016


Goodluck Jonathan



Vice president Yemi Osinbajo has said the federal government is not interested in arresting former President Goodluck Jonathan over various allegations of corruption during his administration.

The Lagos state chapter of ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) recently called for the arrest and eventual prosecution of former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

But addressing US based Nigerians in Houston, Texas, on Friday at a Townhall meeting, Professor Osinbajo said the federal government was not contemplating probing the former president.

According to a statement issued by his spokesperson Mr. Laolu Akande, the VP gave the hint when he interacted with US-based Nigerians who asked questions live at the event and also via the Internet.

The Vice President fielded about thirty questions at a well-attended townhall event moderated by Mr. Rudolf Okonkwo of Sahara Reporters and Prof. Nimi Wariboko of Boston University.

Answering question from the internet on when former President Goodluck Jonathan would be arrested, Osinbajo pointed out that the Buhari administration is not in the business of arresting just anyone anyhow.

He said all the Buhari administration does is to empower the security agencies and the anti-corruption agencies to do their jobs, without the administration trying to teleguide them.

He also added that the fight against corruption in the country is not fought on ethnic, hasty or premeditated grounds.

According to him, “ corruption is not an ethnic thing, there is an equal representation in the stealing as no one operates with his/her ethnic group alone, the culprits are in every case seen so far, united by greed to steal and not by ethnic or religious interest.”

The VP frowned at a situation where for instance as much as $15 billion has disappeared from the national coffers into private pockets, pointing out that no responsible government would wave that aside so as not to offend people.

He also said Security agencies in Nigeria have arrested about 800 suspected violent herdsmen across the country.

Asked about the issue of Fulani Herdsmen attacks in certain states across the country and what the Federal Government was doing to curb the problem, the Vice President said “the President has given firm instructions to the security agencies to arrest not only herdsmen who are attacking communities anywhere in the country but anyone of them or anyone at all in possession of firearms.”

“There are about 800 of suspected violent herdsmen in the country that are currently in custody” The Vice President said but however decried the slow pace of the criminal justice system which is affecting the prompt trial of such suspects.

Prof. Osinbajo reminded the audience that the issue of killings by such violent herdsmen has been a perennial issue especially as grazing lands continue to disappear over the years and the cattle feed on people’s crops on the farmlands. He clarified that the matter just did not crop up when President Buhari assumed office.

The Vice President warned against the tendency of interpreting the herdsmen issue as a religious issue, stressing that it is important for all Nigerians to refuse such divisive narratives and tendencies.

He reminded his audience that there has always been conflict between herdsmen and communities across the country and that people should disabuse the notion that the problem has just started because President Buhari, a Fulani is currently at the helm of affairs in the country.

Answering question on the need for community policing, the Vice President indicated that community policing via State Police is indeed a cardinal program of the ruling APC and noted however, that the party agenda cannot be introduced until there is an amendment to the nation’s constitution.

He gave a scenario where a policeman from Bayelsa State for instance is working in Borno State where he cannot even speak the language or understand the culture of the people he is policing, noting that such is counterproductive.

“The current situation where police activities is controlled at the federal level sure has some limitations”, he conceded adding that the “the federal government is currently working to introduce community policing that would be in line with the constitution.”

Commenting on the recent arrest of judges in the country, Prof. Osinbajo told his Nigerian audience in Texas that impunity could be very dangerous in any sector and that the federal government is only exercising its executive function in attempting to check excesses.

He pointed out that the important thing is that due process is being followed as the judges were released about 24 hours after their arrest and once they had given their statements.

The Vice President also responded to a question on the state of the nation’s economy and attributed the current recession to the loss of about 60 percent of government revenue due to pipeline vandalism and endemic corruption in the system.

He however stated that getting back oil production is a sure way to get out of the recession and the federal government is working to sort it out.

Commenting on the declining fortunes of Nigeria in international sporting competitions occasioned by poor funding by the government, the Vice President said that a long-term solution to inadequate funding of sports is private sector involvement.

According to him, looking around countries that have excelled in international sporting competitions, the private sector in those countries are directly involved and that is exactly what should happen in Nigeria. By the time companies and organizations take up sports sponsorship, he believes that the tide would change for good.

Nigerians from all walks of life in Houston, Texas and from other parts of the US attended the town hall meeting which was preceded by a Nigeria Infrastructure summit which showcased opportunities for foreign investors in Nigeria.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Officers: 83 Nigerian Soldiers Missing In Boko Haram Attack

BY HARUNA UMAR AND MICHELLE FAUL
ASSOCIATED PRESS





MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA (ASSOCIATED PRESS) — Some 83 Nigerian soldiers are missing in action since Boko Haram Islamic extremists attacked a remote military base in the northeast, senior army officers said Sunday.

The soldiers were unable to fight back and fled because Boko Haram had superior fire power, the officers told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to give information to reporters.

Morale also was low among the troops because they were being rationed to one meal a day and their allowances were being pilfered by their commanders, the officers said.

Army spokesman Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman reported last week that “some” soldiers were missing and 13 wounded when the insurgents on Oct. 17 attacked their base in Gashigar village, on the border with Niger. Usman has not responded to requests for the actual number.

Dozens of fleeing troops jumped into the Niger River and 22 were pulled from the water by soldiers from that neighboring country, officers said. Many soldiers are feared to have drowned, they said.

In a separate development, hunters killed seven Boko Haram fighters who were burning buildings and huts in northeastern Makwaa village, the hunters and villagers confirmed Sunday. “We engaged them in a fierce battle for close to three hours, we overpowered them, resulting in the killing of seven,” hunter Aisha Gombi said of Saturday night’s firefight. “One was caught alive with gun wounds and others escaped into the bush.”

President Muhammadu Buhari promised to better arm Nigeria’s military when he was elected in March 2015, blaming corruption for the deaths of thousands including soldiers in the 7-year-old Islamic insurgency that has killed more than 20,000 people.

Billions of dollars meant to buy arms were stolen or diverted to the presidential campaign of former President Goodluck Jonathan, according to ongoing court cases.

Military officers also are currently facing courts-martial for allegedly selling arms and ammunition to Boko Haram, indicating the corruption bedeviling the country’s fight against the Islamic extremists continues despite government efforts to halt graft.

Still, the military in the past year has succeeded in dislodging the insurgents from most towns and villages where they had set up an Islamic caliphate. But the extremists continue to attack remote villages and main roads that they have mined. Nigeria’s army has reported thwarting and killing several suicide bombers in the past month.

The United Nations has warned that tens of thousands among the 2.6 million people forced from their homes by the insurgency are facing famine-like conditions that already are killing children.

Faul reported from Lagos, Nigeria. Associated Press writer Ibrahim Abdulaziz contributed to this report from Yola, Nigeria.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Author Of 'Concussion' Speaks At Cal U

Cal Times



Author Jeanne Marie Laskas,discusses her book ‘Concussion’. Image: Jessica Crosson



As part of the Noss Lecture Series, author Jeanne Marie Laskas visited California University of Pennsylvania last night to talk about her process for writing Concussion.

Laskas admitted that she does not consider herself to be a sports writer or a science writer, which was surprising given the topic of Concussion.

When Laskas first began researching she explained that the hardest part was untangling everything. She gave an example of her process by explaining that when she was looking into the brain of a deceased NFL player, which was supposed to be at Boston University it was actually located somewhere in West Virginia.

In order to fully understand the story from Dr. Bennet Omalu’s side, Laskas had interviewed him for years. On top of interviews, Laskas traveled with Omalu to Nigeria and met his family. She discovered that two large influences in Omalu’s life were his father and Dr. Wecht.

Laskas stated that due to his father being so overbearing Omalu felt like he had to do good work in his life because his father told him that he had to. Further into his life, Omalu went on to work for Dr. Wecht, who was even more overbearing than his father, but embodied what Bennet was looking for in America. Laskas explained that both Omalu’s father and Dr. Wecht believed in Omalu and gave him the permission he needed to seek the truth.

At the end of the book talk, Laskas was open to questions from the audience. There were many questions ranging from advice to students to questions about criticisms Laskas received about the book topic and ending with questions about the actors chosen for the movie.

When asked about what Dr. Omalu is doing now, Laskas informed the crowd that he is currently working to figure out if there is something chemical occurring in the brain as to why some people with depression commit suicide and some do not. She also informed that crowd that she will only continue to write about this topic if more information begins to come forward.

To finish up the question and answer session Laskas offered two pieces of advice. The first piece of advice was for the writers in the audience.

“The main thing is to stop listening to the people who tell you that you can’t do this for a living or to do something more practical. There is something everywhere for writers. Immerse yourself in it. Everyone is always looking for who the new writers are and who the new voices are.” offered Laskas.

The final piece of advice that Laskas shared was for the athletic trainers in the room,

“The only thing I can say is keep an open mind and listen. Be the kind of almost parental figure for the people. Be straightforward and honest and open to new information. Be open to new ideas.”

Following the question and answer session, Laskas met with members of the audience and signed copies of Concussion for them.

Sophomor, athletic training major, Brianna Frable shared her thoughts on the lecture after the show.

“I thought she was very subtle with her work as well as humble with what she accomplished with having her work made into a movie all while not being an author that typically writes about sports or science,” Frable said.

When all was said and done, many of those who were in attendance were glad they were able to have this experience.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Nigerian President Buhari: First Lady Belongs In Kitchen

BY RAY SANCHEZ
CNN, OCTOBER 14, 2016






(CNN) -- Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari did not take kindly Friday to reports his wife may not support his re-election: The first lady's place is the kitchen, he said.

Buhari's blatantly sexist remark came during a Berlin news conference with one of the world's most powerful women, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"I don't know which party my wife belongs to but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room," said the president, whose popularity at home has plummeted amid a deep recession.

Buhari was responding to a BBC interview in which his wife, Aisha, a businesswoman and activist, questioned his leadership and suggested she may not back his re-election bid unless he shakes up his government.

Buhari told reporters that he can "claim superior knowledge over her and the rest of the opposition" after running for president three times and succeeding on his fourth attempt.

There was no immediate reaction from Merkel, who is called a Machtfrau -- a woman of power -- in Germany for managing to reach the top as an outsider in a male-dominated world.

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu later took to Twitter to dismiss Buhari's comments as "banter."

"Politics sometimes should be spiced with humour," he tweeted. "Those of us around him know there is never a dull moment with him."

Shehu tweeted that the fact that a woman, Kami Adeosun, holds one of Nigeria's most sensitive government posts as finance minister, was evidence of Buhari's confidence in women.

But critics took to social media to denounce Buhari's sexist remarks.

A UK-based cinematographer, writer and filmmaker with the Twitter handle @iamMrBoro wrote: "This is not about Aisha provoking Buhari, this is about Buhari's mentality about the role of women in society."

Editor and writer Maryam Kazeem tweeted: "President Buhari's lack of respect for his wife and women should not come as a surprise."

Buhari took over last year from Goodluck Jonathan, inheriting a nation with a stubborn militant insurgency and lingering fuel shortages, a paradox for one of the world's largest oil producers.

He was sworn in as president in May 2015 but the former general was among military strongmen who dominated Nigeria decades ago. A military coup first brought him to power in 1983, and another military coup toppled him two years later.

Buhari's regime was known for its "war on indiscipline," which critics say was marred by human rights abuses.

Last month, what was supposed to be a rallying cry for unity in a nation deep in crisis quickly soured as Nigerians took to Twitter to vent their frustrations.

The launch of Buhari's "Change Begins With Me" campaign was widely met with scorn. Some felt the sentiment was tone deaf and failed to address the myriad problems Nigerians face on a daily basis, including mass youth unemployment.

Nigeria's second quarter GDP fell by more than 2% in August, compared to last year, after slipping by 0.4% in the first quarter. Two consecutive quarters of decline mean Nigeria has now slid into recession.

While he has been tough on corruption, Nigerians feel his authoritarian approach is out of touch when he should be inspiring hope for better times.

Since taking power in 2015, Buhari has been fighting a war on many fronts, including the Boko Haram insurgency which has been blamed for a looming famine crisis in the north east of the country.

Milena Veselinovic contributed to this report.



TM & © 2016 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Africa’s Political Class Fails To Rise To The Brain Drain Challenge

BUSINESS DAY LIVE






There is a saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same. This seems to be true of the brain drain in Africa.

In 1999, the IMF voiced concerns about the scale of the skills flight from the continent to developed countries. At its annual meetings in the US last week — 17 years later — the organisation again raised the issue, saying migration from sub-Saharan Africa to developed countries had picked up sharply over the past 15 years.

Most of the emigrants are professionals with tertiary education — academics, computer experts, lawyers, doctors, teachers, nurses, bankers and engineers — multiplying the opportunity cost for a continent already dealing with a dearth of educated and skilled people.

The IMF predicted the number of migrants from Africa living in developed countries could increase to 34-million by 2050 from 7-million in 2013, attributing the growth to a "profound demographic transition" in the region, where the working-age population was growing faster than the total population.

The brain drain from Africa, understandable in 1999, is less comprehensible in 2016. The African growth story of the past decade attracted many professionals back to the continent to take up jobs in expanding foreign multinationals, growing African-owned companies and entrepreneurial enterprises.

Pan-African conferences are packed with the new well-heeled elite, many of them young and mobile and a good number speaking with American and British accents.

International recruitment companies are flooding the continent, fighting for the slim pickings at the top of the pile. It is common to see top executives moving swiftly into and out of plum jobs. Money is ploughed into incentives to keep the head hunters away.

As the corporate pie grows, so does the skills base as companies are forced to develop capacity in-house. Companies, particularly African firms, are building teams of management professionals and moving them around their different country operations. But this is getting more difficult as countries, driven by deepening nationalisms, cut back on work permits and expatriate quotas. While the politicians talk about pan-Africanism, many are battening down the hatches.

Despite improving governance across much of Africa, there are still many reasons why educated and skilled Africans want to leave. They include political risk, which has a knock-on effect on the growth of private enterprise, a shortage of quality education and medical facilities, and limited lifestyle options.

According to the World Health Organisation and others, between a third and half of doctors who graduate in SA migrate to developed countries, an annual loss to the country of millions of dollars. More than 21,000 Nigerian doctors are practising in the US alone, while Nigeria suffers from an acute shortage of medical skills.

The African emigration story is not just about skilled professionals. In fact, far more people leave the continent via treacherous sea crossings to Europe, with hundreds dying annually in their quest for a better life.

The needs are great across the spectrum. Underdevelopment and poverty continue to loom over the continent, casting a shadow over areas of progress and growth.

Private sector initiatives are supplementing state failure in critical areas such as health and education. But this is barely scratching the surface of the need.

Governments tend to put roadblocks in the way of private sector enterprise in Africa, with unsupportive policies, regulations and rent seeking, while the states themselves fall short on providing services to their citizens.

Africa’s political class appears unconcerned about the flight of citizens to other parts of the world.

The cost to economies and to future generations is seldom raised as an issue.

The continuing brain drain is a crisis on many levels. But mostly it is a crisis of leadership.

• Games is CEO of African advisory Africa @ Work

Saturday, October 08, 2016

'Why We Blocked Autopsy On Chuba Okadigbo'

BY ABUBAKAR ADAM IBRAHIM
DAILY TRUST, OCTOBER 9, 2016


CHUBA OKADIGBO


Mr. Melville Ebo was a long-standing political associate of the late Senate president and the 2003 presidential running mate to Muhammadu Buhari on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Chuba Okadigbo. September 25th marked 13 years since the political icon died during a political rally in Kano. In this interview, Mr. Ebo spoke about Okadigbo’s political dreams, his alliance with President Buhari and why they blocked attempts to have an autopsy performed when Okadigbo died. He also spoke about the rumblings in the South-East since the 2015 general elections.


As a close associate of the late Senate president and vice presidential candidate of the ANPP in 2003, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, how would you say the last 13 years without him have been?


It has been a work in progress for his dream Nigeria. One of the last dreams he had was for the country to be led by an honest, hardworking, straight-shooting soldier- politician. It was a dream he crafted and was excited about and allied by choice with the general (Buhari), a man who chased him out of power in the 1983 coup. But he kept faith with that dream and moved on. Wherever he is now, Chuba will be happy that the dream he had with the general has been actualised.


Was this dream something he really nurtured, or simply an arrangement of convenience, seeing that he was a staunch member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before he was eventually forced out of the party? Was this what led him to ally with Buhari?

Let me say that Chuba wasn’t forced out of the PDP. My association with him was such that we always discussed intimate political issues. I was always involved in his public politics. It was by choice that he left the PDP. I was there from 1976 when we first met. We were in constant conversations even when I wasn’t in the country. And when he became a senator, we always talked about everything. After he had the experience as Senate president we had extensive sessions on what went wrong, soul-searching sessions. I asked why he was still in the PDP when it was obvious that the then President Obasanjo had set political booby traps for him in the Senate and in the Anambra North senatorial zone, using prominent sons and daughters of the PDP. My view was that he should leave them and seek political ambition elsewhere, taking a shot at the presidency. 

He said he wanted to do that but he didn’t have money. I said we could do that using his long-standing relationship with politicians in the North and the South-West. Money isn’t everything. And he agreed. If he had gone ahead and contested for the Senate with the obvious booby traps and failed, then I would have agreed that he was forced out. But he never gave them the chance. He said to me, “Enough of speaking English, join me let’s do this.’’ So I left Europe and joined him. The choice at the time was the All Peoples Party (APP), which was at the point of metamorphosing into the ANPP where the tall, slim General Buhari was holding sway. And he said, “That’s the man to beat.’’
We did the rounds and he excited the Nigerian people. Inevitably, the two of them (Okadigbo and Buhari) clashed. Chuba had the mastery of the political terrain, he had charisma and was eloquent. Consequently, instead of a clash of two titans, it became a marriage of minds between two great friends. I remember the evening of the ANPP convention at the Eagle Square, and when the General moved into the arena, he (Okadigbo) turned to me and said, “The masquerade has come. The gentleman remains a soldier in his carriage. I think I want to do business with him.’’ It wasn’t surprising that at the end of that evening, the General chose him to be his running mate.

So it hadn’t been pre-arranged for him to be chosen as running mate?

No, no, obviously there had been groups within and outside the party talking to the General about him (Okadigbo). I recall our political swing through the North-West and our emotional trip to Sokoto, Shagari’s village, our meeting with governors in the North and our party’s National Assembly members, and it was clear to all that a political union between Buhari at the time and Okadigbo would be a winning ticket. It remains a post-independence most celebrated, dynamic and strong union across this country. It actualised what, in Zik’s time, they called a handshake across the Niger. I don’t think we will ever see anything like that again.

As celebrated as that union was, it still didn’t deliver. What do you think went wrong?

No. The jury still remains out on that. Look at the damning reports of both national and international observers on the 2003 elections. I have reports from various international organisations that clearly indicted the electoral body at the time. That election was massively rigged. That was the electoral process on which General Buhari attended court effectively four years. Chuba kept faith with that process, but unfortunately, he moved on. I know the exit polls. I have the actual reports that showed the traditional ANPP states, the votes we got and how they were tampered with. Chuba had a robust defence on that. 

I saw a report in the Sun newspaper this weekend, featuring an interview with my friend, Buba Galadima. I don’t know the point he was trying to make when commenting on South-East’s political relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari when he said the region had a choice in 2003 when Chuba was there and they didn’t vote for Buhari. I think that is an unfortunate comment as we know there were no elections in the South-East in 2003, as Chuba had in his reports. I think Galadima was on the fringes of the 2003 presidential campaign team for him to say that the region did not support the candidacy of Chuba and Buhari. I think it was mischievous.

Don’t you think it may be as a result of the impression that the South-East wasn’t inclined to supporting a Buhari candidacy?

That’s not correct. I was involved. Yes, there were challenges. The Igbo are a business- driven people. Unfortunately, after the generation of Zik, and Chuba as the last of the political Mohicans, they lost out as a people and have been driven by mercantile politicians. It is said that goats follow the man with palm fronds because they like palm fronds. 

The PDP has ruled the South-East extensively, so if you go by that analogy, the people will follow the man that has his finger in money. So we had that challenge. There was General Buhari at the time, who was purposeful and straightforward, and there was Chuba in the same mould, same profile, but the two lacked money. Whereas Buhari had permeated the entire North and Chuba was well loved in the South-East, we had a challenge convincing people that there was life beyond money. It had nothing to do with rejecting the presidential candidate at the time because we didn’t like him but because we lacked the wherewithal to change mindsets. But now that he is the president, if he can focus on the basic things, if the roads in the East are fixed, if he can link the East and the West, particularly the rail thing, link the seaport by rail to the South-East, they will begin to connect. Just do it right this first term and they will see him as the man with the palm frond. Of course there was the fear of him being a devout Muslim. We are in the third world where fear and suspicions govern thoughts, and that played a role. I know the effort Chuba’s campaign made across the zone to make them see the man, his integrity and the promises he made to us.

Realistically speaking, do you think the union between Buhari and Okadigbo would have worked, considering that both men are seen as unyielding or strong-willed?

I will also add that they were both born in December. The union was not forced. It was a chemistry made in heaven and adopted on earth. Like I said, Buhari overran the democratic process in 1983 when Chuba was acting as an adviser to the then President Shehu Shagari. Everyone kept their own side of the politics leading to the 2002/2003 convention. I am 99 per cent certain that before then, there wasn’t any serious meeting or consultation between the two; people did all that juxtaposition and lobbying for the two to meet. And once that meeting happened, that was it. There was no looking back. I never saw any friction. Buhari was happy to come to Chuba’s house for every meeting. The two had telephone conversations when they were not in the same town. The question of clash was not there. Chuba never shared any suspicion or misgivings about the General. He always saw him as a kind and committed gentleman who had a vision for the people.

Incidentally, that union or political adventure was the last Okadigbo would participate in as he died in a rally trying to actualise this vision. And 13 years after, speculations about how he actually died still persist. What really happened?

He died in the cause of actualising and redeeming our political process. What we have was that he died at a rally in Kano. At the time, I was recalled to Europe to attend to some family matter, so I missed the rally. There were so many things said about what happened. I wasn’t there, so I wouldn’t know. I understand that there was a rude interruption by security forces who fired teargas. It was unnecessary, it was callous, it was uncalled for. I have been to Kano a couple of times, and if Buhari was visiting Kano, it was anarchic because everyone poured out to see this man, to have a piece of him, if possible. So after the general elections, which we believed he won but was massively rigged, it was a deeply emotional period. So for the security forces to fire teargas into such a mammoth crowd was callous. The government at the time should take responsibility for it. The international community should hold the then inspector-general of police and the commissioner of police at the time, as well as the presidency at the time responsible for what happened. Why didn’t anyone see the risk of throwing teargas at the place? What if there had been a stampede as a result? How would they have controlled that?

One of the theories was that Dr Okadigbo was asthmatic . . .

He wasn’t asthmatic. Those were rumours spread to diminish his capacity. But he ran the process, he walked his talk and went practically everywhere. There is no photo or video evidence of him using an inhaler. He was so public; if he were asthmatic, someone must have seen him using one or losing his breath, or collapsing. What I knew he did was that he smoked. If he had been asthmatic, why would he smoke like that?

In whose interest was it to circulate the rumour that he was asthmatic and the teargas was targeted at him?

Chuba was a fine gentleman who was committed to working for the downtrodden. If their plan was to throw teargas and hasten his demise, well, only God knows. But I believe that when your number is up, it is up. If God, in his grace, said he would drop out at that height of his political career, so be it.

You were not there when he died, but you were there immediately afterwards and there was no autopsy performed. Why was there no autopsy?

My position was that there shouldn’t be an autopsy. Chuba used to say things that seemed weird at the time. He would say if a man was healthy and was shot by the police or armed robbers, we know that it was the bullet that killed him, so why cut him up to find out that it was the bullet that killed him? If we opened him up and saw that the bullet hit his lung or his heart, would that bring him back? He was very squeamish about these things. If you talked to him about medical procedures like surgeries, his reactions were amazing. With particular respect to autopsy, he said he didn’t understand it and he kept that position until he died. So I said to his family, the man never liked it, why do an autopsy? The man was okay, went to the rally in Kano and was tear-gassed and died. Why open him up? The man is dead. Can we leave him the way he wished others be left? But the presidency took a strong position because they wanted to do an autopsy. I remember we were hauled off to the police headquarters and I got the impression that they were trying to muscle us into agreeing to do an autopsy and I said no. The family kept faith. We were let off when we agreed that we weren’t going to take the corpse elsewhere for an autopsy. We had to strike a deal that we and the government weren’t going to do an autopsy before they released the corpse to us.

Were you not curious to know precisely what killed him?

Would that bring him back to life? It won’t bring him back to life. My mother was in the medical profession, so I grew up around medical people. I have read extensively about medical reports. If you brought seven pathologists to do an autopsy, they would tell you seven different things. If they had done the autopsy, they could have used the strength of the system to say this man wasn’t killed by teargas. They could have said maybe it was stress. Or they could say, this man smoked a lot and that it was the cigarettes that killed him. They were trying to railroad people into seeing it their way, but they didn’t have the opportunity. No one could predict tomorrow; but probably, if they hadn’t tear- gassed him in Kano, he could have had a long life.

He died for a cause, which was to actualise a Buhari presidency. Now that Buhari is president, do you think he should investigate the circumstance of Okadigbo’s death?

It’s 13 years now. The president is challenged by deep-rooted national issues. Chuba was a man of peace. He was gentle. He was kind. If he were asked this question, he would tell you that what happened to him was a dot on the history of Nigerian democracy, a staining dot in the process to actualise a free and fair electoral process. He would not have advised a president so challenged to commit state resources to investigating what happened. He would ask you to focus on the Nigerian state rather than what happened in Kano.

As someone who was close to Okadigbo, and by extension, has been close to President Buhari, what would you say concerning the thinking in the South-East that the region is being sidelined? 

Consequently, we have seen increased agitations for Biafra. You see, let me say that the Biafran experiment ended 46 years ago. Nigeria has moved on. And the people of the South-East have moved on. There is no point looking back at that fight. People who push that agenda are not being fair to the Nigerian state. I know so many countries that have progressed beyond their conflicts, and we know that even immediately after the war, there were efforts to reintegrate the people of the South-East into the Nigerian state. Look at Kosovo. What has been the status of the people in that community after their crisis? 

I know there was a national policy that allotted a greater slot for people in the South-East and South-South to enrol in the army in order to give them adequate representation. The consequence of that policy is that Igbo people have been service chiefs, police chiefs, navy chiefs. If that deliberate policy wasn’t there, then you could ask: What is the problem of these people? Of course there are challenges of full reintegration, I am not saying there is none, but if you compare us to Congo, Lebanon, Kosovo, look at Was this dream something he really nurtured, or simply an arrangement of convenience, seeing that he was a staunch member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before he was eventually forced out of the party? Was this what led him to ally with Buhari?
Let me say that Chuba wasn’t forced out of the PDP. My association with him was such that we always discussed intimate political issues. I was always involved in his public politics. It was by choice that he left the PDP. I was there from 1976 when we first met. We were in constant conversations even when I wasn’t in the country. And when he became a senator, we always talked about everything. After he had the experience as Senate president we had extensive sessions on what went wrong, soul-searching sessions. I asked why he was still in the PDP when it was obvious that the then President Obasanjo had set political booby traps for him in the Senate and in the Anambra North senatorial zone, using prominent sons and daughters of the PDP. My view was that he should leave them and seek political ambition elsewhere, taking a shot at the presidency. 
He said he wanted to do that but he didn’t have money. I said we could do that using his long-standing relationship with politicians in the North and the South-West. Money isn’t everything. And he agreed. If he had gone ahead and contested for the Senate with the obvious booby traps and failed, then I would have agreed that he was forced out. But he never gave them the chance. He said to me, “Enough of speaking English, join me let’s do this.’’ So I left Europe and joined him. The choice at the time was the All Peoples Party (APP), which was at the point of metamorphosing into the ANPP where the tall, slim General Buhari was holding sway. And he said, “That’s the man to beat.’’ 
We did the rounds and he excited the Nigerian people. Inevitably, the two of them (Okadigbo and Buhari) clashed. Chuba had the mastery of the political terrain, he had charisma and was eloquent. Consequently, instead of a clash of two titans, it became a marriage of minds between two great friends. I remember the evening of the ANPP convention at the Eagle Square, and when the General moved into the arena, he (Okadigbo) turned to me and said, “The masquerade has come. The gentleman remains a soldier in his carriage. I think I want to do business with him.’’ It wasn’t surprising that at the end of that evening, the General chose him to be his running mate.

So it hadn’t been pre-arranged for him to be chosen as running mate?

No, no, obviously there had been groups within and outside the party talking to the General about him (Okadigbo). I recall our political swing through the North-West and our emotional trip to Sokoto, Shagari’s village, our meeting with governors in the North and our party’s National Assembly members, and it was clear to all that a political union between Buhari at the time and Okadigbo would be a winning ticket. It remains a post-independence most celebrated, dynamic and strong union across this country. It actualised what, in Zik’s time, they called a handshake across the Niger. I don’t think we will ever see anything like that again.

As celebrated as that union was, it still didn’t deliver. What do you think went wrong?

No. The jury still remains out on that. Look at the damning reports of both national and international observers on the 2003 elections. I have reports from various international organisations that clearly indicted the electoral body at the time. That election was massively rigged. That was the electoral process on which General Buhari attended court effectively four years. Chuba kept faith with that process, but unfortunately, he moved on. I know the exit polls. I have the actual reports that showed the traditional ANPP states, the votes we got and how they were tampered with. Chuba had a robust defence on that. 

I saw a report in the Sun newspaper this weekend, featuring an interview with my friend, Buba Galadima. I don’t know the point he was trying to make when commenting on South-East’s political relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari when he said the region had a choice in 2003 when Chuba was there and they didn’t vote for Buhari. I think that is an unfortunate comment as we know there were no elections in the South-East in 2003, as Chuba had in his reports. I think Galadima was on the fringes of the 2003 presidential campaign team for him to say that the region did not support the candidacy of Chuba and Buhari. I think it was mischievous.

Don’t you think it may be as a result of the impression that the South-East wasn’t inclined to supporting a Buhari candidacy?

That’s not correct. I was involved. Yes, there were challenges. The Igbo are a business- driven people. Unfortunately, after the generation of Zik, and Chuba as the last of the political Mohicans, they lost out as a people and have been driven by mercantile politicians. It is said that goats follow the man with palm fronds because they like palm fronds. 

The PDP has ruled the South-East extensively, so if you go by that analogy, the people will follow the man that has his finger in money. So we had that challenge. There was General Buhari at the time, who was purposeful and straightforward, and there was Chuba in the same mould, same profile, but the two lacked money. Whereas Buhari had permeated the entire North and Chuba was well loved in the South-East, we had a challenge convincing people that there was life beyond money. It had nothing to do with rejecting the presidential candidate at the time because we didn’t like him but because we lacked the wherewithal to change mindsets. But now that he is the president, if he can focus on the basic things, if the roads in the East are fixed, if he can link the East and the West, particularly the rail thing, link the seaport by rail to the South-East, they will begin to connect. Just do it right this first term and they will see him as the man with the palm frond. Of course there was the fear of him being a devout Muslim. We are in the third world where fear and suspicions govern thoughts, and that played a role. I know the effort Chuba’s campaign made across the zone to make them see the man, his integrity and the promises he made to us.

Realistically speaking, do you think the union between Buhari and Okadigbo would have worked, considering that both men are seen as unyielding or strong-willed?

I will also add that they were both born in December. The union was not forced. It was a chemistry made in heaven and adopted on earth. Like I said, Buhari overran the democratic process in 1983 when Chuba was acting as an adviser to the then President Shehu Shagari. Everyone kept their own side of the politics leading to the 2002/2003 convention. I am 99 per cent certain that before then, there wasn’t any serious meeting or consultation between the two; people did all that juxtaposition and lobbying for the two to meet. And once that meeting happened, that was it. There was no looking back. I never saw any friction. Buhari was happy to come to Chuba’s house for every meeting. The two had telephone conversations when they were not in the same town. The question of clash was not there. Chuba never shared any suspicion or misgivings about the General. He always saw him as a kind and committed gentleman who had a vision for the people.

Incidentally, that union or political adventure was the last Okadigbo would participate in as he died in a rally trying to actualise this vision. And 13 years after, speculations about how he actually died still persist. What really happened?

He died in the cause of actualising and redeeming our political process. What we have was that he died at a rally in Kano. At the time, I was recalled to Europe to attend to some family matter, so I missed the rally. There were so many things said about what happened. I wasn’t there, so I wouldn’t know. I understand that there was a rude interruption by security forces who fired teargas. It was unnecessary, it was callous, it was uncalled for. I have been to Kano a couple of times, and if Buhari was visiting Kano, it was anarchic because everyone poured out to see this man, to have a piece of him, if possible. So after the general elections, which we believed he won but was massively rigged, it was a deeply emotional period. So for the security forces to fire teargas into such a mammoth crowd was callous. The government at the time should take responsibility for it. The international community should hold the then inspector-general of police and the commissioner of police at the time, as well as the presidency at the time responsible for what happened. Why didn’t anyone see the risk of throwing teargas at the place? What if there had been a stampede as a result? How would they have controlled that?

One of the theories was that Dr Okadigbo was asthmatic . . .

He wasn’t asthmatic. Those were rumours spread to diminish his capacity. But he ran the process, he walked his talk and went practically everywhere. There is no photo or video evidence of him using an inhaler. He was so public; if he were asthmatic, someone must have seen him using one or losing his breath, or collapsing. What I knew he did was that he smoked. If he had been asthmatic, why would he smoke like that?

In whose interest was it to circulate the rumour that he was asthmatic and the teargas was targeted at him?

Chuba was a fine gentleman who was committed to working for the downtrodden. If their plan was to throw teargas and hasten his demise, well, only God knows. But I believe that when your number is up, it is up. If God, in his grace, said he would drop out at that height of his political career, so be it.

You were not there when he died, but you were there immediately afterwards and there was no autopsy performed. Why was there no autopsy?

My position was that there shouldn’t be an autopsy. Chuba used to say things that seemed weird at the time. He would say if a man was healthy and was shot by the police or armed robbers, we know that it was the bullet that killed him, so why cut him up to find out that it was the bullet that killed him? If we opened him up and saw that the bullet hit his lung or his heart, would that bring him back? He was very squeamish about these things. If you talked to him about medical procedures like surgeries, his reactions were amazing. With particular respect to autopsy, he said he didn’t understand it and he kept that position until he died. So I said to his family, the man never liked it, why do an autopsy? The man was okay, went to the rally in Kano and was tear-gassed and died. Why open him up? The man is dead. Can we leave him the way he wished others be left? But the presidency took a strong position because they wanted to do an autopsy. I remember we were hauled off to the police headquarters and I got the impression that they were trying to muscle us into agreeing to do an autopsy and I said no. The family kept faith. We were let off when we agreed that we weren’t going to take the corpse elsewhere for an autopsy. We had to strike a deal that we and the government weren’t going to do an autopsy before they released the corpse to us.

Were you not curious to know precisely what killed him?

Would that bring him back to life? It won’t bring him back to life. My mother was in the medical profession, so I grew up around medical people. I have read extensively about medical reports. If you brought seven pathologists to do an autopsy, they would tell you seven different things. If they had done the autopsy, they could have used the strength of the system to say this man wasn’t killed by teargas. They could have said maybe it was stress. Or they could say, this man smoked a lot and that it was the cigarettes that killed him. They were trying to railroad people into seeing it their way, but they didn’t have the opportunity. No one could predict tomorrow; but probably, if they hadn’t tear- gassed him in Kano, he could have had a long life.

He died for a cause, which was to actualise a Buhari presidency. Now that Buhari is president, do you think he should investigate the circumstance of Okadigbo’s death?

It’s 13 years now. The president is challenged by deep-rooted national issues. Chuba was a man of peace. He was gentle. He was kind. If he were asked this question, he would tell you that what happened to him was a dot on the history of Nigerian democracy, a staining dot in the process to actualise a free and fair electoral process. He would not have advised a president so challenged to commit state resources to investigating what happened. He would ask you to focus on the Nigerian state rather than what happened in Kano.

As someone who was close to Okadigbo, and by extension, has been close to President Buhari, what would you say concerning the thinking in the South-East that the region is being sidelined? 

Consequently, we have seen increased agitations for Biafra. You see, let me say that the Biafran experiment ended 46 years ago. Nigeria has moved on. And the people of the South-East have moved on. There is no point looking back at that fight. People who push that agenda are not being fair to the Nigerian state. I know so many countries that have progressed beyond their conflicts, and we know that even immediately after the war, there were efforts to reintegrate the people of the South-East into the Nigerian state. Look at Kosovo. What has been the status of the people in that community after their crisis? 

I know there was a national policy that allotted a greater slot for people in the South-East and South-South to enrol in the army in order to give them adequate representation. The consequence of that policy is that Igbo people have been service chiefs, police chiefs, navy chiefs. If that deliberate policy wasn’t there, then you could ask: What is the problem of these people? Of course there are challenges of full reintegration, I am not saying there is none, but if you compare us to Congo, Lebanon, Kosovo, look at Morocco, Germany (East and West), how long did it take from the end of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall? 

We spend so much time deriding our capacity. Since the war, I don’t know a time, whether in civilian or military administration, when the federal government doesn’t have people of the South-East being key members of that administration. If these calls are being made as pressure group mechanism, you could say there is a strategy there, but if it is being used as a distraction to the people, then there is a problem. During the last census, the South-East lost its numbers because those pushing for Biafra asked people not to be counted. They intimidated the people, shops were closed, and as a result, the figures that came out of there were horrible. Now, if these figures are used for infrastructural development, who loses?

If you consider the recent elections, the people of the South-East decided that Jonathan was their son. I don’t know that Otuoke was part of Igbo land, but they did anyway. That government had 70 per cent of the key positions being occupied by Igbo people. And the challenges the region is facing now were there; they were created by their mismanagement of opportunities of the presidency of their ‘son’, Jonathan. Now if their ‘son’ was the president and they supported him and had 67 per cent of decision makers in his government, what happened to the roads in the South-East? Is it that Buhari became president in 2015 and overnight dug up the roads and flooded the area? Or that the educational system was dilapidated suddenly because he caused mental or spiritual problems for the Igbo? I am not speaking for the president, he can defend himself and has people who can do that, but I read recently in the papers that there is a conference coming up, to be chaired by the deputy Senate president, to call on Igbo people to come home and invest because they are not happy that a dry port is being set up in Kaduna, Lagos gets a second or third seaport while 90 per cent of our people are the ones importing. For the six years that your ‘son’ Jonathan held sway and you had 70 per cent of decision makers in that government, why didn’t Jonathan, with all of you in tow, build the Lagos-Calabar rail that would veer through the East? Under their watch, the PDP was building the East-West road that avoided the core South-East states, and everyone knows the basic economics that if a major road passes through your villages it empowers your people. This road will relegate the Lagos-Ore-Benin road to the background while the new one cuts out your community. When these documents were drawn up, why didn’t the Igbo people in the government question them? Why didn’t they say they didn’t have an airport of international standard? And their daughter was the aviation minister? The second Niger Bridge has been in deplorable condition for years, and in the six years that their ‘son’ was president, he didn’t’ take it seriously.

Germany (East and West), how long did it take from the end of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall? 

We spend so much time deriding our capacity. Since the war, I don’t know a time, whether in civilian or military administration, when the federal government doesn’t have people of the South-East being key members of that administration. If these calls are being made as pressure group mechanism, you could say there is a strategy there, but if it is being used as a distraction to the people, then there is a problem. During the last census, the South-East lost its numbers because those pushing for Biafra asked people not to be counted. They intimidated the people, shops were closed, and as a result, the figures that came out of there were horrible. Now, if these figures are used for infrastructural development, who loses?

If you consider the recent elections, the people of the South-East decided that Jonathan was their son. I don’t know that Otuoke was part of Igbo land, but they did anyway. That government had 70 per cent of the key positions being occupied by Igbo people. And the challenges the region is facing now were there; they were created by their mismanagement of opportunities of the presidency of their ‘son’, Jonathan. Now if their ‘son’ was the president and they supported him and had 67 per cent of decision makers in his government, what happened to the roads in the South-East? Is it that Buhari became president in 2015 and overnight dug up the roads and flooded the area? Or that the educational system was dilapidated suddenly because he caused mental or spiritual problems for the Igbo? I am not speaking for the president, he can defend himself and has people who can do that, but I read recently in the papers that there is a conference coming up, to be chaired by the deputy Senate president, to call on Igbo people to come home and invest because they are not happy that a dry port is being set up in Kaduna, Lagos gets a second or third seaport while 90 per cent of our people are the ones importing. For the six years that your ‘son’ Jonathan held sway and you had 70 per cent of decision makers in that government, why didn’t Jonathan, with all of you in tow, build the Lagos-Calabar rail that would veer through the East? Under their watch, the PDP was building the East-West road that avoided the core South-East states, and everyone knows the basic economics that if a major road passes through your villages it empowers your people. This road will relegate the Lagos-Ore-Benin road to the background while the new one cuts out your community. When these documents were drawn up, why didn’t the Igbo people in the government question them? Why didn’t they say they didn’t have an airport of international standard? And their daughter was the aviation minister? The second Niger Bridge has been in deplorable condition for years, and in the six years that their ‘son’ was president, he didn’t’ take it seriously.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Colombian Leader Juan Manuel Santos Wins Nobel Peace Prize

BY MARK LEWIS AND KARL RITTER
ASSOCIATED PRESS



Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos talks during a news conference after a meeting with Colombian former President and Senator Alvaro Uribe at Narino Palace in Bogota, Colombia, October 5, 2016. Image: John Vizcaino/Reuters



OSLO, NORWAY (AP) — Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to end a five-decades-long civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people in the South American country.

The award came just days after Colombian voters narrowly rejected the peace deal that Santos helped bring about, and Nobel authorities conspicuously left out his counterpart, Rodrigo Londono, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, from the honor.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said that voters' rejection doesn't mean the peace process is dead.

"The referendum was not a vote for or against peace," it said. "What the 'No' side rejected was not the desire for peace, but a specific peace agreement."

Santos and Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, signed the peace deal last month, ending a half-century of hostilities, only to see a major setback in the shock vote against the agreement in a referendum six days later.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it believes that Santos, "despite the 'No' majority vote in the referendum, has brought the bloody conflict significantly closer to a peaceful solution."

It said the award should also be seen "as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process."

The agreement was reached during more than five years of at first secret negotiations in Cuba.

Santos, 65, is an unlikely peacemaker. The Harvard-educated scion of one of Colombia's wealthiest families, as defense minister a decade ago, he was responsible for some of the FARC's biggest military setbacks. Those included a 2008 cross-border raid into Ecuador that took out a top rebel commander and the stealth rescue of three Americans held captive by the rebels for more than five years.

Under the peace deal he negotiated, rebels who turn over their weapons and confess to war crimes will be spared time in jail. FARC will also get 10 seats in congress through 2026 to smooth their transition into a political movement.

Santos and Londono met only twice during the entire peace process: last year when they put the final touches on the most-controversial section of the accord — the part dealing with how guerrillas would be punished for war crimes — and again last month to sign the accord before an audience of world leaders and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

It was the first time the peace prize went to Latin America since 1992, when the committee awarded Guatemalan human rights activist Rigoberta Menchu.

A record 376 candidates were nominated for this year's award.

Last year's peace prize went to Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet for its efforts to build a pluralistic democracy.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Nigeria Doesn’t Know Exactly How Much Oil It Produces, But Is Pretty Sure $17 Billion Is Missing

BY CHRIS STEIN



Nigeria is unable to accurately account for all the oil it produces. (AP Photo/George Osodi)





Nigeria’s president has claimed “mind-boggling” sums have been stolen from the country’s oil industry. Just how much is now becoming clear.

Lawmaker in the House of Representatives Johnson Agbonayinma alleged last month that $17 billion in oil and liquefied natural gas was exported from Nigeria without being properly declared between 2011 and 2014.

It was the latest allegation of multibillion-dollar graft directed at Nigeria’s oil industry. Nigeria has long been Africa’s top-oil producer, and oil proceeds make up 90% of the country’s exports and a large part of its budget.

The reliance on oil revenue dragged Nigeria’s economy into hard times when the price of crude on the global market started dropping in 2014. The situation worsened earlier this year when militants began sabotaging pipelines in the country’s oil-rich Niger Delta.

As a result, production fell to around 1.5 million barrels per-day from its normal level of over two million barrels, and the country officially entered a recession in the second quarter of this year.

President Muhammadu Buhari has cast himself as a corruption fighter and claimed that the petroleum industry is riddled with graft.

The government believes international oil companies are at least partially responsible for the missing money. In a series of lawsuits filed earlier this year, Nigeria claimed several oil majors, including American firm Chevron and Italy’s Eni, didn’t declare $12.7 billion worth of crude and natural gas exports.

How could a foreign company make off with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of petroleum without declaring it? The answer, analysts say, lies in the unique deficiencies of Nigeria’s oil infrastructure.

Nigeria doesn’t measure its oil production based on how much individual oil wells produce, but rather how much oil leaves through its export terminals, says Dolapo Oni, head of energy research at Ecobank. That approach is vulnerable to undercounting.

Faulty or non-existent meters on pipelines and wellheads occasionally lead to disputes between well and pipeline operators over how much oil an individual well is sending through a pipeline.

And thieves have also been known to tap into pipelines and syphon off oil, either to refine or just to sell.

If pipelines and wellheads had meters, Oni said regulators would be better able to track where Nigeria’s oil is going, and figure out exactly how much oil the country produces.

“That’s part of where the corruption in industry is, because once the metering is done, there’ll be no more gaps or loopholes,” Oni said. “If we had efficient metering, there’s no way either party would be lying.”

Nigeria Officer at the Natural Resource Governance Institute Dauda Garuba says oil companies have rejected calls to put meters on oil infrastructure, saying it would be too expensive.

But Nigeria’s government hasn’t pulled its weight either, Garuba said.

The Petroleum Industry Bill would reform Nigeria’s oil sector but has languished in the national assembly for years. One of those reforms could be to mandate metering on all segments of the oil supply chain, Garuba said.

“For me, I think they’ve been sleeping on their rights and their responsibility forever,” Garuba said of the lawmakers. “It’s also getting worrisome that each time you hear of scandals like this, nothing gets to come of it.”

Filing lawsuits would solve one immediate need for Nigeria’s government—cash. The government is in desperate need of new revenue, and plans to borrow billions from lenders like the World Bank and African Development Bank to fund its budget.

Payouts from these lawsuits would go a long way to funding the $30 billion the country wants to spend this year, Oni said.

“The government is just broke and willing to go through every transaction in the oil and gas business to make sure that if there’s any money that they didn’t earn, they can get it now,” Oni said.

Putin Suspends Nuclear Deal With US

ASSOCIATED PRESS
MONDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2016




Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, walks with Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoi on arrival in the Urals city of Orenburg, about 1300 kilometers (800 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)



MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin has suspended a Russia-U.S. deal on the disposal of weapons-grade plutonium. A decree Putin issued Monday cited "unfriendly actions" and the United States' inability to fulfill its obligations under the 2000 deal as reasons for the move.

Under the agreement, Russia and the U.S. each were to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium, enough material for about 17,000 nuclear warheads. When it was signed, the deal was touted as an example of successful U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear non-proliferation. However, Putin has accused the U.S. of failing to meet its end of the deal.

Construction of a U.S. plant where weapons-grade plutonium would be turned into commercial nuclear reactor fuel has been years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Global Trade Of Wild African Grey Parrots Banned

THE TELEGRAPH, OCTOBER 2, 2016




African Grey Parrot





The global trade in wild African grey parrots has been banned after an agreement forged by countries meeting in Johannesburg for a United Nations endangered wildlife conference.

The birds are the third most traded in the world and make popular pets in Britain and elsewhere because of their ability to mimic speech, their intelligence and longevity.

But the capturing of an estimated fifth of their numbers in the central and west African nations to which they are native has meant that now it is extremely rare to see them in the wild.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) estimates that between 2.1 and 3.2 million African greys were captured between 1975 and 2013. Around two thirds of their number die as they are shipped to market in “deplorable” conditions, it claims.

The parrots were first listed for limited trade under a Cites quota system in 1981 but destruction of their habitat, illegal poaching and inefficient and sometimes corrupt regulation of sales has seen their numbers decline by between 50 and 90 per cent in 14 of 18 states where the birds range.

Their monogamy and low reproductive rate has also been blamed for their demise.

The proposal for them to be listed under Cites Appendix I, which prohibits all international trade, was submitted by five range states, Gabon, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Togo, with co-sponsorship by Chad, Senegal, USA and EU. It was agreed by 95 votes in support, 35 votes against and five abstentions.

Dr Colman O Criodain, the World Wildlife’s Fund’s global policy manager, hailed the ban as a “huge step forward” for the much-loved, and beleaguered, species but said for their numbers to rise, illegal traffickers had to be targeted more fiercely.

“Fraud and corruption have enabled traffickers to vastly exceed current quotas and continue to harvest unsustainable numbers of African grey parrots from Congo’s forests to feed the illegal trade,” he said. “Banning the trade will make it easier for law enforcement agencies to crack down on the poachers and smugglers, and give the remaining wild populations some much-needed breathing space.”

The largest gathering in Cites’ 43-year history has also banned the trade in pangolins, a scaly ant-eater, and will in the coming days consider proposals to lift the ban on the elephant ivory and rhino horn trade, more tightly regulate lion hunting and trophy exporting and safeguard dwindling shark populations.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Military Managed Nigeria's Economy Better -- Shagaya

VANGUARD, NIGERIA
SUNDAY, October 2, 2016




John Nanzip Shagaya



General John Nanzip Shagaya, a Minister of Internal Affairs under Babangida military regime, represented Plateau South on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the Senate between 2007 and 2011.In this encounter, Shagara speaks on Nigeria at 56 against the backdrop of the current economic recession among other issues, saying the military managed the economy better. Excerpts:

Nigeria is passing through economic recession and has never had it so bad. From your experience since independence, what do you think could have happened?

It is not the first time this is happening. Nigeria has been on economic recession before but it was not this bad. Nigeria had a recession when Alhaji Shehu Shagari was President. I was in the armed forces. But this recession is worse. You asked how we got here but I can say from commentaries in newspapers by financial gurus, communiques issued at various fora, commentaries from manufacturers and others that the reasons are not far-fetched. Reason number one is that we are not a producing nation. We are a consumer nation. The second is that our economy is dependent completely on oil because we abandoned agriculture. We became an importing nation. We import almost everything including refined fuel. So, I’d say that our economy is dictated by the dynamics of the changing perspectives of oil economy. During Obasanjo administration, we were lucky. The President at that time was very prudent. He was able to save about 65 billion dollars in our foreign reserves.

The succeeding administration did not add anything to it. In fact, it spent all the money. The last administration that Buhari succeeded left only 20 billion dollars in the reserves. And so, to me, who is a non-economist, I know that once you lack negotiating power in terms of the strength of your currency, of course, your currency gets weaker and that is what we are facing, meaning that it’s something that has gone on for over seven, eight years due to our lack of prudence in spending and not saving. In traditional societies, when a farmer harvests so much crops, he divides the crops. The first part he keeps for the family, the second, he sells, the third, he keeps as seedlings and the fourth, he keeps for emergency. Common sense dictates that we should know that once we don’t have enough in our foreign reserves to back up whatever our insatiable love for import is, then we should suffer what we are suffering today. 

There was a time in this country that a dollar exchanged for 68 kobo. How did it get to this stage where dollar is exchange for more than N400? 

You cannot go beyond the example I have given you. I’m a beneficiary of the exchange of the naira in the early 70s when one naira exchanged for $2.2, because our currency was strong and because we had enough money in our foreign reserves. And then, of course, when we abandoned production, all our factories became dead. So, what do we do? 

It is believed in certain quarters that it was the military that damaged Nigeria’s economy. Do you agree? 

How can I agree? I don’t believe that. The military managed the economy better. When I said a naira was exchanged for $2.2, it was a military administration and under Obasanjo and he had a sound economist, a lawyer and a financial adviser in the person of the late Obafemi Awolowo. Sound persons ran the economy of the country at that time. The economy died under a civilian adminstration. 

We talked about recession, it has never been this bad

… I agree with you that it has never been this bad. Most of us are lamenting that we have never had it bad in leadership, where one person or a person’s wife will keep thirty-something million dollars. It has never happened, not even in a military administration. There was discipline under the military. But you know when everything is destroyed, criminals rebuilding will be difficult. Strong discipline is required to get things right again.

 For the first time, people are exchanging their children for bags of rice. A man left a suicide note for President Buhari. Kidnappers and ritualists and all manner of criminals are on the loose. Can Nigeria ever get out of this? 

This is the first time I’m hearing that people exchanged their children for bags of rice. It shows that after everything has been destroyed, rebuilding is difficult. It therefore means that in rebuilding, some discipline is required in our communities and among the people holding key executive offices or privileged positions and that if they compromise their positions, they should know that one day, the system will catch up with them. It’s a very big lesson for everybody. But I’m one of those who believe that after these hard times we are passing through, things will pick up. Nigeria is not the first country to go into recession. Many great countries like the United States went into the worst recession in 1946 because of the Second World War. Britain went into recession before Margaret Thatcher became the Prime Minister. She came into power in a recession but, of course, their economy picked up. What is happening now is that we are paying for certain mismanagement of the economy. All Nigerians have to contribute to the rebuilding of this country.

Let me share with you also, that some years back, between 2007-2011, when I was in the Senate, if you remember, the then Minister of State for Finance, Babalola, raised the alarm to the effect that the recklessness and the impunity with which the economy was being run, saying if nothing was not done to check it, by the year 2016, Nigeria will be insolvent. I’m quoting him word for word. He said that Nigeria shall be insolvent by 2016. So, it is not like we didn’t know. Somebody raised the alarm. Later, saying Governor of Central Bank joined him in raising the alarm. So, we had the warning all along and we didn’t care. The administration at that time didn’t care. Babalola was sacked for daring to say that the economy would be insolvent. I represented a constituency in the National Assembly at that time. I raised the issue. It was discussed, passed second reading, after that, it was no longer deemed fit for discussion because somebody felt at the time that he was being exposed. Today, we are paying for it. I’m a living example of the fact that there would have been some Nigerians who would have raised the alarm 10, 15 years ago that if they continued to run this country the way they were doing, our country would go aground. And we didn’t care. So, we are paying that price and Nigerians must be told the truth that, amongst us, there are very good Nigerians who spoke out 10, 15 years ago that things were not going well. 

Sometime ago, a former CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, alleged that the people responsible for the high cost of the dollar are those who sit in their sitting rooms, buy the dollar by mere phone calls and re-sell at exorbitant prices and that is the cause of this high cost of the dollar.

 Yes. I did say that when Babalola raised the alarm that things were not going well, Sanusi supported him. 

You said we can get out of this…?

 Yes, if we remained disciplined, if government begins to do the right thing… Let us encourage agriculture. Let us feed ourselves. If government is trying to rebuild the economy by ensuring that the industries that have closed down start production, if we also improve the mining capability of solid minerals and start exporting, definitely, we will pick up. So, I should be hopeful. But we should know that Rome was not built in a day. If Obasanjo for eight years saved 68 billion dollars and somebody wiped it off in six years, for God’s sake, it will take another two years, three years to rebuild what damages have been done by the impunity and recklessness in the handling the economy, because some of us in politics have served in the military and we know the cost of handling the economy and I hope that we will come up. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I wouldn’t join those who are lamenting. One should not lose hope when there is life. 

Workers are lamenting over non-payment of salaries, banks are sacking workers and people are lamenting…

 I am a pensioner. I’m in the village. I share in the problem. I have dependent relations who come to me but I must be frank that I was amongst those in the past few years who were vocal in raising the alarm that the economy must be handled well by the administration as a senator. So, if you go into the verbatim report of the Senate, you’d find it documented. So, what else can I do than to believe that, because at a certain period in our history, certain things were handled badly and, hopefully, and with good people coming around and with the support of Nigerians, we will be able to overcome? It’s not a matter of crying and pointing at one person. There are one hundred and seventy million of us and there is only one person on the seat of leadership. It requires the contributions of all of us to ensure that we picked the pieces. 

Do you think President Buhari has the right economic team to get Nigeria out of recession or are they square pegs in round holes? 

I do believe strongly that the man that became the President of Nigeria belongs to the constituency of the thirty-six states of the federation including Abuja, meaning therefore that the search in picking the team that works with him is done through the gift of wisdom that God has given him and also based on the advice of the political party that is ruling and also based on the philosophy of the political party. So, we all have a share in whatever, round pegs or square pegs in round holes, meaning that there are many more people beyond the President who may have contributed in recommending those people who are working with him. So, it is not enough to be pushing a blame on one person, what are we doing ourselves as individuals? So, I do not belong to Nigerians who because they want to be heard, have to criticise to be noted. No, what is it that we need to do? We have a role, each and everyone of us.

 Do you have any specific thing, maybe economic policy you think could be applied to turn things around? 

Honestly, I cannot tell that to a Vanguard reporter. If you read a Governor of the Central Bank who spoke out years ago, a Minister of Finance and other ministers like that of Agriculture and Solid Minerals and Minister of Industry, Tourism and many of them, they discussed this matter over and over again. So, they are more competent based on the specialists that surround them. I think I should leave Nigerians to take a look at all those policies that have been presented and make suggestion to the various Ministers or even to the Presidency direct. It is our right to suggest that which is good for our country and not enough for us to be criticising alone. 

Now, in the face of all these, we have all kinds of agitations. People are expressing dissatisfaction in curious ways like we have the Niger Delta Avengers, Biafra agitators and so on… 

It is the right of every Nigerian as provided by the Constitution to agitate, just like it is the right of any faithful, any believer, any Christian who believes in the Book of Lamentation. The holy book itself accepts that there are times in our lives that we have to lament. There is nothing wrong with it. It is not a crime under our Constitution to feel the way individuals feel and for them to express what they feel. 

Is it right when these lamentations are made violently like in the case of Niger-Delta Avengers, Fulani herdsmen wreaking havoc in Plateau, Benue and south-east Nigeria, apart from Boko Haram and Biafra agitators? 

I’m sure that government at various tiers and community leaders are handling the issue of insecurity that you are talking about within our system. But it is not enough to lament without making a contribution as to how we can influence a change. If there are ugly situations in my village for example, it is my responsibility, as a senior citizen and one who has served the military before, to go back to the community to assist in solving the problem. It will not be right to sit and criticise the television or be shouting for Nigerians to know that I’m still alive. And those who contribute positively are those who are never heard, it is just the same with those who pray fervently for this country. They are never known, they are never heard. Another thing is that the issue of insecurity is not peculiar to Nigeria alone. It is all over the world. Certain things make people agitate. People in authority can only address the issues that bring agitations but members of the society must also show understanding because it’s members of the society that should support government.

 In the last few weeks, if you watch the CNN, the BBC or Al Jazeera, you will hear of the killing of blacks in certain states in America. There must be a reason but it’s not enough for people to just agitate. But in those civilised societies, you’d see the authorities addressing the reasons as to why those agitations come about. And that is what we are not doing in this country. Instead we go about shouting off our heads. And it doesn’t help matters. It only encourages criminals to do what they are doing as against many of us coming out to condemn it. I don’t know how many senior citizens in the South-South have come out to condemn the activities of the Avengers, how many senior citizens who have been in government in the South-East have come out to condemn the Biafran agitation that is going on there. We as members of the society have a role. 

The South-East feels it is not well represented in this regime and Nigeria. Don’t they have a case? 

Unfortunately, I’m not in government. What I have said is that people have the right to agitate but, at the same time, they should be responsible Nigerians and not aim at destroying because destruction does not mend. And for God’s sake, anyone who starts a revolution does not ever live to see the end of it. This is how it has always been, so we must be very careful in agitating. Suppose Nigeria breaks apart, what will they gain from it? They still be a part of another ball that is called a country. Would you say if they get what they want, they would be free of problems and crises? Take a look at the South-South in 1964, Isaac Boro took up on Nigeria. What was the cause? There was agitation of domination by Igbos. Of course, the 1966 coup led to crisis, then the civil war. And Gowon, looking at the agitation by Isaac Boro and his five colleagues, that is the six Ijaw boys, created a state for them. The agitation was that they were being dominated, being ruled by a particular sector or a community in Nigeria. Now, you have your own governor, you have your own state, has it stopped the agitation? It has rather worsened it. So, they moved from domination to economic war. What did the military administration do after the civil war? Another level of administration was created for them to manage the Delta region. ‘Oh, River Niger is no longer bringing fish, and because of Kainji Dam, our economic strength and power is being reduced’. That was economic war. It was addressed. OMPADEC was created. Now, we have only one source of livelihood as a country and these boys go blowing up the source of the livelihood, the oil wells. They go blowing pipelines. For what gains? They want to create their own country. When you kill every human being, who do you rule over? It doesn’t make sense.

I want you to talk about Biafra...

I’m not competent to talk about Biafra because I’m not in Biafra. 

They said the war ended at that time, no victor, no vanquished… 

It’s not that they said. The head of state at that time, General Yakubu Gowon, pronounced it, so, it is not that they said. 

If the war ended and there was no victor, no vanquished, why are the Igbo in Nigeria still being treated as defeated people and why are they so hated? 

I don’t think you are right. I think you have to go back to your Vanguard newspapers where they published the appointees of government since the civil war and then you tell me where and when the South-East was edged out of government.

 In this regime particularly? 

No, no, no. To make such kind of accusation and insinuation, you have to go back in history. In this particular administration, who is the Minister of Labour? 

That is not a core position. Igbos are given inconsequential positions. 

I see. Is there any appointment that is inconsequential? I know that the most important appointment is the number one citizen. The rest are all supporting elements. So, whoever, from whatever tribe or religion, is only supporting a man that was voted by Nigerians. The Igbo don’t have a case here.