Exploitation Wearing The Toga Of Representation

May 1, 2018

CHIEF COMRADE CHRIS UKAH

SENATOR

The exploitative, immoral and unacceptable salary structure of our National Assembly members has consistently refused all access to ascertain its level. It is the determination to collectively shield their salary level that has created an unholy alliance among our National Assembly members.

Ghandi once observed that “you can wake up a man if he’s really asleep, no effort will wake him up if he’s pretending to be asleep”.

If what a National Assembly member collects is a day’s pay for a day’s job, why then the refusal to disclose their monthly salary?

This encounter may be a satire, comedy or real but the message therein is the face of political exploitation and insincerity by our elected representatives in the lower and upper chambers.

Follow up the encounter with patience

Citizen: Good day distinguished senator, we the docile, gullible and deprived citizens will like to have an idea on how much you earn as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?

Senator: Good day my dear citizen, the answer to your question is complex. It is like going to Mbaise from Ibadan or Akure. You must first of all get to Benin City. From Benin City you can access Mbaise via Bayelsa or through Onitsha. My answer may appear too advanced, that is because the National Assembly’s salary structure is complex. The ultimate goal of the house is to be sure that laws are made and bills passed. Like the traveler to Mbaise through Benin City, the target is Mbaise.

Citizen: Senator you seem not to be on the same page with me for the purpose of this encounter. My question is clear and straight forward. An average Nigerian out there will like to know how much one hundred and nine of you in the senate earn as salary per month. We are aware senators in all democratic climes especially those practicing the presidential system collect salaries. How much do you really net home as salary?

Senator: Law making and proposing of bills are no mean jobs. Most distinguished members have no legal background and they need maximum comfort to serve the nation properly. Moreover senators are not the olden day’s Christian missionaries who worked and waited on heaven for reward. We appreciate the sacrifices of Nigerians but the more comfortable we are as senators, the better for the nation.

Citizen: Senator, it looks like there’s an oath of secrecy among the senators on the salary and allowances issue. Are you senators afraid of mob action?

Senator: We are lawmakers, we have constitutional right to compel every citizen to disclose what they realised from businesses. The prophets, apostles and pastors do they account for offerings, tithes and earnings? We work on budget. In every glory there must be a cross. We are the dividends of democracy and salary is like the cross. You may feel that the glory of senators is unmerited. Opinions differ.

Citizen: Senator, one of your colleagues recently revealed the staggering and scandalous sums of money each senator callously carts away as monthly salary. What do you make of Senator Shehu Sani’s revelation?

Senator: Senator Shehu Sani’s revelation is a revelation without legislative vision. It is a truth that lacked legislative bill and therefore a second personal opinion that must be disregarded. What Nigerians must never lose sight of is that law making is a demanding job whether by illiterates, bench warmers, absentee senators or celebrated clowns. No serious lawmaker would concur to Shehu Sani’s one man’s hear-say opinion.

Citizen: Distinguished Senator, it is clear and obvious that you have been dodging the core issue of this encounter. You have rather been rigmaroling with words. Can you as a distinguished senator honourably and sincerely tell me how much you get as monthly salary? It is going to be between the two of us. I know you’re afraid of mob action and popular uprisings.

Senator: which mob and what type of action? You know that each senator controls one third of his state. It was the people that called the senator to leave their various comfort zones to represent them. Who will constitute the mob that will fight their senators? We are serving the nation satisfactorily; making laws and passing bills, even going extra miles of wearing wrong academic gowns to the floor of the senate.

Citizen: Senator, do you know the cost of borrowing a doctoral academic gown to defend a third class degree?

Senator: In that instance, the point needed to be made that the Red Chambers does not harbour illiterates and celebrated clowns the cost notwithstanding.

Fellow Nigerians, this is the same response you may get each time you try to get a senator or member of House of Reps to disclose how much they collect as salary. Senator Shehu Sani has disclosed staggering figures and Nigerians are still docile and stagnated. Where are Amnesty International, human right activists, labour leaders and student union leaders? We are all caged! Ride on Senators and House of Reps members! The coast is wide open and clear! You can even double your present salary scale.

 

 

Chief Comrade Chris Ukah writes from Lagos.

 

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The Outstanding Profile Of Hajiya Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu: APC National Women Leader

April 30, 2018

hajiya

This is a long read but necessary to give a vivid picture of the woman in the spotlight.

Recently we came across an encouraging comment by one of APC’ s top national leader. According to him, “contenders or contenders, Dr Ramatu Tijani Aliyu’s credentials academically, politically, and the extent of her struggle to bring APC to power is no match by any woman around. If hard work should be rewarded then, Dr. Ramatu should’ve been given an automatic ticket”

“Again, If APC wants to remain focused particularly from women’s angle, Dr. Ramatu got to be returned to her seat unopposed.
Those of us that are in this struggle from concept to delivery, know our level of commitment to PMB and his vision about this great country however, these committed loyalist have different stories to tell today but this will further ginger our resolve to be more committed in the interest of our dear country Nigeria”

This national leader is not alone in his eulogy. Many others and millions of APC members across the federation are also of the same opinion. Many others outside the party are also saying great things about Dr Ramatu.

This why we in APCA, apart from our conviction are convinced that these various testaments validates reality.

History has a way of throwing up persons with a difference to sharpen its perspective in any given epoch. Politicians are seldom known to think of tomorrow. It is statesmen who do so. Yet, through a curious interplay of fate and fervor, a glimmer pierces through the tunnel indicating that all hope may not be lost in the hunger and thirst for those with the right stuff who can break new grounds and open up edifying frontiers in our developmental space.
In our political clime, it is not common to locate those who can combine the statesman’s visionary convictions with the politician’s pedestrian fix it disposition. Perhaps this had accounted for the conclusion by many that at the root of the country’s woes are the problems of leadership. Yet, it will be uncharitable to refuse to discern beyond this bleak prism of resignation to fate in the architecture of society’s reconstruction.

Every society gets the type of leaders it deserves, it is often said. But beyond this veneer of contemptuous pessimism usually arise a ray of hope that society’s dynamic nature reconciles itself and makes good the inherent desire for and demand of modernity for remedial order.

Leaders are born, not made. Some argue. Yet, we are educated in the development school which elucidates the values of knowledge, conviction and willpower as instruments to shatter barriers and erect structures and institutions that will steer society towards a better order. Ironically, the geography of the way good things happen is akin to the proverbial manner a thief plies his trade; stealthily without a whisper!

Ramatu Tijjani, nee Sidi, curiously arrived mother earth unsung but on a rather significant date, June 12, 1970, in the quiet environs of Wuse in Abuja. Those who believe in clairvoyance could now liken the contemporary political symbolism of the day and month of her birth as foretelling her future robust role in the nation’s democratic usages and processes.
Born into the royal family of late Alhaji Sidi Ali Mamman Bawa Allah of Lokoja, Kogi State, she did not begin life like some lucky ones did. She started its journey, of course unsure of what it would offer as tomorrow lurked. At Dawaki Primary School, Suleja, in 1976, she began the search for the value of life. Six years after in 1982, after obtaining her first school leaving certificate, maiden Ramatu arrived the Federal Government College in Minna, Niger State, a restless pathfinder in earnest pursuit of secondary school education which culminated successfully in 1988.

Two years later in 1990, overwhelmed with the hunger to conquer her environment, she found succor in the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. After a remedial programme, she was to later earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning.

Armed with the enduring armour of knowledge and burning with a passion to positively engage humanity, she began a robust work life by serving her compulsory National Youth Service Scheme at the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing. After a successful service to her father land, Ramatu joined AZAH intermediaries Nigeria Limited, a civil engineering construction firm, as one of its Managing Directors.

In subsequent years, she embarked on a steady and conscientious pursuit of the proverbial Golden Fleece. To this end, she proceeded to the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, where she added another feather to her academic cap with a Masters Degree in Public Administration. Not resting on her laurels, she’s currently acquiring a PhD in Security and Strategic studies at the institute of governance and development Studies from the same Ivory tower.

In apparent recognition of her compelling erudite disposition, she was later conferred with a Doctor of Public Administration honorary degree by the Prestigious Commonwealth University, London, United Kingdom. Similarly, she earned another Certificate in Leadership Skills from the reputable Abbey College, London, also in the United Kingdom.

A young woman in a hurry but resolute to write her own copy of history. She bowed to the overpowering zeal to serve humanity. In 2004, she was appointed a Special Adviser on Women Affairs, Youth and Social Development to the Chairman of Gwagwalada Area Council. Ramatu was to later cut her teeth, rendering service to man and community at this grassroots anchor of the development chain. She later served as the Focal Person for the Federal Capital Territory (2), anchoring the implementation of the Millennium Development Goal in Nigeria’s Cosmopolitan political capital.
In 2007, she made a bold political career statement, not common with the conservative disposition of women of northern Nigeria extraction like her. She ignored traditional stereotypes, confident of her capacity, resolute in her capability and convinced that it takes courage to succeed. She threw her handbag into the ring of partisan politics. She ran for election to represent Kwali/Kuje/Abaji Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. A greenhorn in politicking and the nuances of electioneering, her foray crashed. Unknown to her, providence had secured another role for her to play. Mother nature had charted a detour enroute her locating a befitting residence on another political turf.

Barely a year later in 2008, she was emerge the first female National Vice Chairman (North Central Zone) of the then leading opposition political party in the country, the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP. A fearless woman in a man’s den, she dared both the lions and the hyenas that bared their fangs in the dark alleys of intricate political conspiracies.

For her, failure would never be a woman if it is not a man. After all, world history has tutored that gender posed no barriers of rivers to cross to breast the tape of accomplishments. Late Golda Meir of Israel had shown it. Late Baroness Margaret Thatcher of England had proved it as well.

In 2010, Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu shook hands again with destiny. She emerged the National Woman Leader of the then conservative All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP, a Party, whose ideology she had consistently subscribed to until its recent demise.

While holding court, she shone like a million stars in the sky. It was like an icing on the cake. Hajiya Ramatu Aliyu was to blossom; rich in content and profound in conviction. She mobilized women in the Party and organized them into a mortal political force for electoral combat. She raised the bar of intellectual political engagement among the women and ensured that their deserved place, no other took.

Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu who also doubles as the president of the council of African political parties “women wing” after she keenly contested and won the Pan-African body’s election in khartoum-Sudan has effectively left an indelible footprint on the sands of time as an irrepressible Amazon of change.

As a wife, happily married to debonair Ahmed Tijjani Aliyu, a seasoned banker, she knew the responsibilities of a successful marriage like hers. As a mother of three children, she also knew the obligations of responsible motherhood. As she cared for the well being of her family, she also dispensed with the responsibilities of providing leadership in order not to lose her women flock. She strengthened their place in the Party’s dynamics and used it as a platform to effectively market the Party’s programmes as it related to women empowerment and development.

Tirelessly, she soldiered on, initiating reforms and fortifying capacity building measures in the knowledge that it takes institutions, not individuals, to build enduring systems that change the course of history.

It is indeed instructive that long before her eventful sojourn in politics, she had crystallized a noble dream of providing succor to those who ordinarily could not help themselves. The milk of human kindness flowed so ceaselessly in her vein that she floated a Non-Governmental Organization, NGO, christened the Global Women and Youth Empowerment Strategy, GLOWYES.

As an achiever of the finest hue, she derived her motivation for this initiative from her priceless passion to reclaim and return the place of both the women and the youth to the positions of eminence they deserve as immutable catalysts for a new order.

Having been a product of education herself, she sought to use GLOWYES to emphasize the importance of knowledge, especially for the rural women and youth, as a functional basis to equip them to realize their potentials to the fullest.

By focusing attention on critical sectors of the development chain, more so in the rural areas, Hajiya Ramatu Aliyu further worked to use the platform to strengthen marginalized communities by placing emphasis on poverty alleviation programmes that would reduce poverty. This will release the creative genius of the youth and restore the pride of the woman as a fountain of moral armament and dependable custodian of a stable family unit.
Indeed, it was therefore not surprising that when plans were unfolded to engineer the birth of the All Progressives Congress, APC, her numerous good works in and out of politics, like the proverbial golden fish, could not be hidden. This was especially so considering that her now moribund ANPP was one of the three leading legacy Parties that mid-wifed the merger. Her background as a Regional and Urban Planner was to come in handy during the formative stages of Nigeria’s ruling political party. She was to emerge a member of the then ANPP Merger Committee which worked out the intricate modalities that led to the APC’s eventual registration as a political Party by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. Prior to this, she had earlier credibly served as a member of the Constitution Drafting Sub- Committee.

Later in June, 2014, the APC recognised her modest contributions. She emerged its first elected National Women Leader. Barely one year old on the saddle, the difference like they say, is clear!

First, she envisioned the importance of a novel institutional framework that would enable women in the party, from the Ward to the National levels, meet periodically and discuss issues of common interest. She dubbed the body, the National Women Caucus, NAWOCA, the first of its kind in any Political Party in Nigeria.

It is to her credit that NAWOCA is designed to serve as a regulatory ombudsman for women in the APC to enable them reduce internal friction, enhance dialogue for consensus building and engender informed contributions of women in the Party’s decision making process.
In the wake of preparations by her party, the APC, to begin its campaign for the 2015 presidential election, Hajiya Ramatu’s prowess as a resourceful mobilizer was to become an invaluable asset. She emerged the Director of Women Mobilization of the APC President Campaign Council.

On the saddle, she brought to bear, her penetrating vision on the task of mobilizing Nigerian women to support the Presidential ticket of Muhammadu Buhari and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

First, Hajiya Ramatu led a 5,000 strong contingent of her party women in a public advocacy campaign dubbed “Operation Restore Nigeria”. Wielding brooms, the women swept the Wuse Market in Abuja in applauded demonstration of their faith in the role of women as agents of positive change and custodians of edifying families.
Second, she mobilized parents, especially mothers, to support the APC’s free and qualitative education initiative. School kits were distributed to primary school pupils across the country; a campaign motivated by her conviction that the APC must keep its word of ensuring that never would there be a child without learning in any home if it wins the Presidential election.

Third, her boundless energy has found expression in her mobilizing women in her Party for a Voter Education Road Show which she aptly christened “Women can do it for change”. From Abuja to Keffi, Nasarawa State, Hajiya Ramatu stood in front of her fellow women in a long march for freedom and political engagement for democracy. “Your PVC is your APC for change,” she exhorted other Nigerian women as she urged them to use their numerical advantage to effect change for the sake of good governance.

A woman of relentless vigour, she initiated a grass root women mobilization alchemy with a penetrating door-to-door campaign in private homes in the six-geo political zones of the country as a strategic effort to market the Unique Selling Points of the APC presidential flag bearer and his running mate. To complement the gains of her insight, Hajiya Ramatu mounted a vigorous outreach programme with market women right inside their respective stalls and trade posts in virtually all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
An avowed crusader, she visited the homes of notable leaders of various ethno tribal associations in strategic parts of the country from Sokoto through Ile-Ife to Uyo, extolling the

virtues of Gen. Buhari’s antecedents as a bridge builder with consummate passion for a new Nigeria of equal opportunity for all, especially the women.

As a consensus builder, the enchanting orator, sought valour in the knowledge that unity is strength. She held countless consultative meetings with other women leaders of her Party with the aim of sharpening their perspectives for a broad based program of action that would ensure effective grass root women mobilization across the country.
In furtherance of this resolve, Hajiya Ramatu held interactive consultations with several interest groups, civil society organizations and a plethora of Non-Governmental Organizations, (NGOs), drawn from all parts of the country with the aim of bridging the gap between the aspiration of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of these bodies, especially on issues of women development and empowerment. This immeasurably fostered better understanding and eased the acceptance of the vision of the APC Presidential Candidate which later significantly influenced positive women voter preference for his candidature in the March 28, 2015, presidential election.
As a skilled mobilizer, she organized a special Universal Children’s Day commemorative event on March 3, 2015 in Abuja. During the occasion which attracted well over 2,000 women leaders, including the wife of the then APC presidential candidate, Her Excellency, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, she dwelled on the importance of strengthening the role and place of children in our development process as the leaders of tomorrow.

To achieve this, she urged emphasis on enhancing the value capital of the girl child as a veritable basis for nurturing a new Nigeria civilization that will impact significantly on global affairs. Not done, Hajiya Ramatu resourcefully maximized the political capital of the 2015 International Women Day celebration. To sway women’s voter support for Gen. Buhari’s presidential aspiration, she mobilized about 5,000 women leaders in a colorful public procession in Abuja and its environs, drumming up women support of the APC presidential ticket.

Earlier at a well attended ceremony, the political Amazon and admonished her fellow women in these words; “With our advantage during elections, women can make it happen by using the power of their votes to declare that never again will there be joblessness in the land. Never again will there be a child in any home who cannot read or write because his or her parents cannot pay school fees. Never again will a Nigerian go to bed on empty stomach when Nigeria is the sixth largest exporter of crude oil in the world. Never again will women be denied their rights of access to capital and technology and equal opportunity in employment and education, especially for the girl child”.

A woman with a velvet heart, she was to later in the days ahead, dispense with the milk of human kindness to the needy in a strategic and conscious effort to demonstrate the compassionate attribute of President Muhammadu Buhari.

In this pursuit, she mobilized about 100 women leaders on visitation to various Ante-natal Clinics and Hospitals in different parts of the country. In the process, children health Kits, among others, were generously distributed. Unrelenting, sensitization visitations were also

embarked on to Orphanage Homes where she continued with her crusade of touching hearts, healing wounds and stirring souls.
Internally Displace Persons also benefited from her tender heard as she touched them in many ways than one in Visitation Programmes which involved about 200 women leaders who stood faithfully with her in her passionate desire to sooth their pain and at the same time, cultivate their support for the APC presidential ticket. Relief materials, notably mattresses, generators, food items, clothing, blankets, among others, were distributed to fortify the electoral appeal of the initiative.
It is therefore not surprising that over 55% of the electorate, who elected Gen. Buhari as President, were women. A most telling endorsement of her tireless efforts in the emergence of Nigeria’s 4th elected president.
“It is this challenge that has given us the impetus to ensure that we commit ourselves to providing solutions to the various problems that have plagued our country, be it in education, health care, infrastructure or even agriculture,” she later said in an interview with one of Nigeria’s leading newspaper.

With the Presidential election now over, and considering her background as President General Emeritus of the Global Women and Youth Empowerment Strategy, a global human resource development think tank, it is expected that with a new government on the saddled, she would stridently champion those core values that have shaped and influenced her convictions as a robust political heroin, especially during the electioneering campaign.
“I believe that we need to provide economic opportunities for women, especially micro credit schemes to indigent widows will make them invest in small scale industries,” Hajiya Ramatu envisioned in an interview on a social media platform.

“The multiplier effect translates to jobs and a more secure means of livelihood for the overall benefit of strengthening the family which is the most important unit of development in every organized society,” she vigorously continued.
Further, she added; “there is also the urgent need to ensure that there is no discrimination in terms of gender equality in access to economy. Never should we forget to vigorously pursue vocational training for women in farming, especially those in the rural areas in order to enhance their access to land and technology as essential modern components for mechanized agriculture”.

A strong champion of added value capital for the girl child, she has strongly and constantly advocated the re-awakening of the girl child because in her words; “when you train the girl child, you have laid the foundation for the future preservation of strong family values, especially in the circumstance where we as a people have virtually lost our collective humanity by de-emphasizing those attributes that should refine our perception and conduct as decent honorable men and women.”

As a moralist, she further reasoned thus; “if you sent the girl child to school, you have free the woman in her from the lucre and lure of social vices, like prostitution. You have also

equipped a future mother who in turn will transfer the finer details of learning in the character and content of her children. The multiplier effect translates to the emergence of responsible adults who grow to become patriotic citizens and worthy gentlemen and women who cherish the attributes of hard work, honesty and love of country.”

This, in her thinking, would ensure that: “we nurture a future pool of fine leaders who can drive our economy, re-engineering our social oxymoron and anchor our politics along the hallowed path of service, good conscience and respect for the common good. Our young democracy will then grow stronger with a citizenry much more alive to their obligations and also better prepared to strengthen its practice and defend its ethos.”

Indeed, with a new dawn on the horizon, Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu may well be an indelible footprint on the sand of time as an irrepressible Amazon of chang.

IGBO, MARGINALISATION AND VICTIM MENTALITY

January 15, 2018

As the race for 2019 general elections is getting set, political zones, vested interests of different shades and colours, races and tribes are directly and indirectly mobilising for the all important exercise. Ambitions and aspirations are being articulated towards achieving future relevance.

From all indications, Ndigbo seem to be gearing up toward our usual political trademark – delusion and shadow chasing. One can discern from body languages, actions and inactions of the Igbo political elite that Ndigbo in PDP are not prepared to upgrade their near traditional second fiddle political ambition.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) few weeks ago concluded its elective convention where the position of the National Chairman was thrown open to all the Southern states. The Igbos in PDP did not consider it expedient to vie for the post. Attempt in most cases is no crime but can be recognised as a matter of seriousness and commitment. Instead of any show of interest in the exalted position, we know that Ndigbo in PDP are anxiously angling their usual noncompetitive and most of the time useless positions as “deputies”.
In the words of Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, “The Vice President, in Nigeria political setting, is merely a political vulture who waits to feed from the carcass of The President, if he dies. But in Nigeria, a president never TRULY dies. That leaves the Vice politically castrated”.

We keep on crying and blaming others for our self inflicted political woes but refusing to demonstrate seriousness when it matters. We always fail to realise that a victim mentality is a prolonged form of self-destruction, a.k.a suicide. Those individuals and their zones who attempted getting what belonged to every member of the PDP from the South will command respect and regard than those who were nonchalant and timid about their right. Byron Katie said, “As long as you think that the cause of your problem is “out there” –as long as you think that anyone or anything is responsible for your suffering –the situation is hopeless. It means that you are forever in the role of victim that you’re suffering in paradise”.

In every political contest like any human contest, a winner must emerge. But history records those who are part of the culture of competition in the electoral process. It is the civilisation of electoral competitiveness that yields dividends in democratic process. Sitting on the fence waiting for the second fiddle position is therefore a lazy approach to politics. And this is the bane of Ndigbo in PDP.

The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them. The constitutional framework allows individuals, states, and zones to attempt anything aimed at ensuring competitive democratic processes. What you get as a nonchalant party man/woman is a meaningless and useless gesture from an equal partner. Ndigbo should not be repeating the same thing all over and be expecting different results.

The second fiddle (Deputies) ambition is no longer feasible if we must stop the perceived marginalization of Ndigbo. Rochas Okorocha has in the past contested twice in the primaries against Buhari. He is respected and acknowledged as a faithful party man, and when he talks APC listens. Ndigbo must choose to deal with injustice humanely and break the chains of negative thoughts and energies, and not let themselves sink into them.

To our numerous “Deputy infested” Igbo political elite in all the political parties, make it a New Year resolution to reject this lowly selfish political ambition. It makes you a dog in the manger; it renders you impotent. Politics is about the greater good for the greater number. But your selfish ambition of deputy positions is seriously retarding the political and economic progress of Ndigbo. The time to beat a retreat and change is now!

–         KRESTAN UKAH WRITES FROM LAGOS

NDIGBO: CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME!

October 29, 2017

It is common in this part of the world for people
not to accept responsibility for majority of their
actions. They therefore are always pointing at
other people or giving lame excuses. But the truth
remains that problem identification is very key in
problem solving. We must strive earnestly
therefore to identify our problems and seek
genuine means and approaches to have them
solved because every knowledge is of no avail
where understanding is lacking.

Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu (Ezeigbo
Gburugburu), said that the First Republic
produced three major actors – two realists and
one dreamer. Unfortunately, the dreamer was from
the South-East. While the realists focused on
developing their regions, the dreamer was
claiming to be a Nationalist and we know better
now. Ironically, the South-Easterners are still lost
in the euphoria of Nationalism and their region
had remained far behind other regions in terms of
development and political consciousness.
Sadly, the worst network of roads in Nigeria can
be found in the South-East inspite of their heavy
presence and committed involvement in party
politics. They occupy different positions in
different political parties but it has not translated
to siting of projects that would better the region.
The Onitsha Port is there in name, Port Harcourt
port which is nearer is expensive while they
continue to clear goods from Lagos port. They are
always placated with some Federal appointments
which had only bettered the lot of the appointees
and their families and not the region. We are
always holding the shortest end of the stick and
are seen by others as only good enough materials
for campaign and propaganda, which can be used
and dumped at will.

Prof. Chinua Achebe said, “It is a taboo and
disservice to the Igbo Nation if we cannot transfer
our language and culture to our children.” It is
now very difficult identifying our people because a
good number cannot communicate fluently in Igbo
language. A study group predicted that our
language will become extinct in the nearest
future. What are we doing about that? We are
rather even becoming more English than the folks
from United Kingdom by not allowing our children
to communicate in our native tongue. Without
apologies, Pentecostalism has helped kill our
language and culture. Our people now change
names at will, making it more difficult for proper
identification; many no longer give their children
Igbo names. Many parents in the present
generation cannot speak or write Igbo language
not to talk of teaching their wards.
Elie Wiesel said, “There may be times when we
are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must
never be a time when we fail to protest”. Among
the regions in Nigeria, the South-East has the
least number of states. Our involvement in the
polity has only been limited to appointments;
even ethnic minorities are now stronger, more
respected and considered. May be many of our
people do not understand the implication of
having lesser number of states. It means we are
being cheated in the distribution of national
resources. It also implied that we have lesser
number of representatives in the National
Assembly, lesser voting power, and lesser voice
since democracy is a game of numbers. It should
bother us as a people and thereby push us to
speak with one voice and have it addressed in the
genuine spirit of equity.

The Biafra-Nigeria civil war should have taught
our people lessons. Our people lost lives,
properties and investments in different parts of
the country and had to start all over again after
the war from the scratch. Should such take place
again today or another pogrom, our people will
lose even more. In Abuja and other major cities,
our sons and daughters invest heavily on hotels,
plazas, and properties. Yet the same people
cannot boast of a piece of block in the South-
East. How long do we suffer this amnesia and
keep developing other regions at the very expense
of our own region?

How many people from our region think about
investing in the media and education? How many
radio and television stations are located in our
region? Is it that we do not understand the role of
the media in development and dissemination of
information to the rest of the world? The number
of media houses in just one state in South-West
for instance outnumbers the ones in the whole of
our region. The same in the educational sector.
Other regions are seriously looking to improve
their educational sector and are building more
schools while we have more children out of
school. Most editors of our dailies are from one
region and they keep shaping opinions of the
whole nation. Our people presume the Northerners
are disadvantaged yet they are more informed as
they stick to their transistor radios while our
people (traders and artisans) read only sports
newspapers devoid of national issues.

“The penalty good men pay for indifferences to
public affairs is to be ruled by evil men” – Plato.
If we genuinely love ourselves, we must spare
thought for the next person. It is rather absurd to
ask everybody to pay the same levies in our town
meetings and associations; It is a form of
oppression for the less endowed. Oppression of
the poor by the rich in our region is at the root of
kidnapping and other crimes. Ndigbo – the horns
cannot be too heavy for the head that must carry
them. It is time to look homeward! Charity begins
at home!

Alinnor Arinze A.

Sam Nda-Isaiah’s Presidential Declaration Speech

November 25, 2014

The Presidential Declaration Speech of Sam Nda-Isaiah on Tuesday, November 4, 2014@Minna Polo Ground, Old Airport Road, Minna, Niger State, Nigeria.

Hello Nigeria!

Protocol
To the Chairman of the APC, and all APC delegates all over the Federation of Nigeria, and all the good people of this great country, I am today declaring my candidacy for the presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

I would like to begin by paying tribute to the star-studded slate of presidential aspirants of our great party: General Muhammadu Buhari, my role model and political boss with whom I have been in the trenches for over a decade since he joined politics; Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who has lived a life of service; Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who has changed the face of Kano; and my friend, Rochas Okorocha, a true and proud Nigerian. Anyone of us who becomes President next year would be infinitely better than the one we currently have.

President Jonathan has been totally unable to perform the most basic responsibility of any leader, which is provision of security to the people of his country. Nigeria has been degraded to unimaginable levels. We are now laughing stock of those countries we used to laugh at.
Nigerians who are old enough know that this is not how it used to be. As a country, we are much better than this. The Nigeria we knew, even though far from being the ideal, was good enough to provide security and the basic necessities of everyday living. And we even had enough to cater for other African nations. That was when we were a regional superpower, but not anymore.

I have seen Nigeria as a child growing up in a neighbourhood not far from where I stand now; as a school pupil in a government primary school in Kaduna where primary education was free; secondary school student in Kaduna where secondary education was free; as an undergraduate at the University of Ife, when my Niger State scholarship was more than sufficient for me. I have seen Nigeria as a northern youth corps member serving in Ilawe-Ekiti and Ikere-Ekiti in today’s Ekiti State where I was treated like a special one. And I have seen Nigeria as a young graduate when I landed a very good job within one month of completion of the NYSC. I have seen Nigeria when our country’s schools and universities were among the best in the world and foreigners from all over the world trooped into this country to acquire world-class education. I have lived in a Nigeria when our hospitals were among the best, at least in Africa, and all drugs and medicines and surgeries were offered free by government. And all these happened when our revenues as a nation were far less than what we have today. That was when Nigeria fought a civil war without taking a loan; even the post-war reconstruction was carried out without a loan.
But to prosecute the war against insurgents, the Nigerian President has just taken a loan of $1 billion, even though oil sold for around $100 per barrel for as long as anyone could remember and Customs and Excise Department rakes in an average of N1trillion annually.

It is difficult to know the exact point this downward slide started but the misfortune of this country obviously accelerated from the time the PDP came to power in 1999. Many of us have seen Nigeria from different eras. We have seen our country gradually decay into one in which people are now afraid to carry on their lives as ordinary citizens. They are afraid of sending their wards to boarding schools in parts of the country because their kids could be burnt alive in their dormitories; they are afraid to send their daughters to school because hundreds of them could be kidnapped at the same time and turned into sex slaves. And there are many more who are afraid to go to church or mosque because they could be bombed out of existence. Yes, terrorism is globally a contemporary phenomenon but in no other normal country on earth would terrorists strike in the same place every other day like Nigeria and no arrests are made.

For the first time in the history of this country, Nigerian soldiers who are still among the best in the world have started fleeing from criminals. Many have had cause to flee to neighbouring countries where they were embarrassingly disarmed by those countries’ armed forces. And because the PDP government has incompetently made the military our first line of defence instead of the last, Nigerians are now in disarray, running helter-skelter and in a state of misery. For the first time, Nigerians who are normally happy, confident people have lost confidence in themselves.

Corruption under the PDP government has reached extreme levels, to the extent that the Federal Government is no longer able to pay state governments and other government units their due allocations. As a result, many state governments are now unable to pay salaries. Oil theft has reached such frightening scale that, sometimes, the oil thieves steal more than what is left for the Nigerian state. Yet, not a single oil thief has been arrested by the government. Much of the balance that eventually gets to the government coffers is also promptly stolen. Not long ago, Federal Government officials were publicly arguing among themselves – rather scandalously and in full view of the world – whether it was $48 billion or $20 billion or $10 billion that was stolen from the NNPC. This was money meant to run Nigerian state.

The North-East of the country may now be the base of insurgents but no part of this country is the safe place we would want to raise our children. Kidnappers, armed robbers and ritual killers all through the 36 states of the federation operate freely without any fear of any consequences.

Our education system has collapsed with public schools now counting for nothing because funds meant to sustain them have been stolen. Nigeria currently has 10.5 million children out of school, the highest in the world. And even those in schools here hardly pass their exams. This year, 70% of students who sat for the WASSCE failed.

Our hospitals are now where people go to die. Those who can afford it travel abroad for their healthcare needs

Nigerians no longer talk about electric power supply because, after 15 years of the PDP government and more than $25 billion expropriated on power supply, the country is worse off. Our current power supply fluctuates between 2,000mw and 4,000mw. But $25 billion has provided more than 20,000mw for other countries with more serious governments. By common consent, the President and his party have failed. The PDP has also proved to be totally incapable of presenting its best people to Nigerians. The PDP wants us to meekly accept Jonathan’s incompetence and his failures as our destiny and then continue with him. It is only a party like the PDP that will place the ego of one man above the wellbeing of an entire nation.

Nigerians from everywhere yearn for change. They cry for a new direction because the country cannot continue on this path. That is why I want to be President. I have come to offer that’ change that will change Nigeria forever. I do not seek to be President simply because Jonathan is not a good President. I want to be that President that will change the course of Nigerian history forever. That is why I come to you waving the scroll of BIG IDEAS – big and bold ideas that will move our beleaguered country into the league of First World nations. All our programmes shall be powered by big ideas and, today, I will mention only a few.

The first thing our government will do is to unite the whole of Nigeria as quickly as possible. As I have said in several fora, Nigeria is currently too divided to be called a nation. No country ever makes progress with the kind of divisions we see in our country today. Confronting this challenge is the simplest thing a serious leader can do. There is no magic about it. All a leader needs to do is be sincere about it. I will need to unite the whole of Nigeria behind me as quickly as possible in order to be able to work the big ideas that will change this nation forever. Any President who governs country with fairness, justice and charity to all will have no problem uniting his people, no matter how disparate they may be.
Under my presidency, all crimes will be punished, no matter how long it will take to apprehend the criminals. We shall send a clear message to criminals that whoever commits a crime will be apprehended and brought to justice according to the law – whoever they are, no matter where they come from and no matter how long it takes. I will not be that President who would say that people are killing themselves because they don’t like me. I will not only be in office, I will also be in power for the good of the majority of the people. All murderers will face the full weight of the law.

Concurrently with the business of uniting the nation, we shall also quickly secure Nigeria and Nigerians. Security is the most elementary duty of any leader. I will do this by retooling the entire security and intelligence infrastructure of the country and by being that President who takes his duty as Commander-in-Chief seriously. Luckily for us, Nigeria still has some of the best soldiers, policemen and intelligence service personnel anywhere in the world. All they need is competent leadership, training and re-training as well as 21st century equipment to meet the challenges of the modern world. One of our major problems is that we are still using the 1960s and 1970s methods and equipment to fight today’s crimes.

We are also going to expand the various security services to match the challenges of our current size. We are going to modernise and increase our police strength from the current 370,000 to at least 1,000,000 immediately and then gradually grow it to at least 4,000,000. We shall do most of the recruiting from among the millions of graduates that roam the streets in search of jobs. A serious nation of 178 million people should not have just 370,000 policemen.

As President and Commander-in-Chief of Africa’s largest country and its biggest economy, I will rebuild Nigeria’s military to be the most formidable fighting force in Africa. I shall rebuild the military not only for Nigeria’s security but for Africa’s stability, as I believe that Nigeria has a responsibility to lead Africa. We have a national interest in ensuring stability in other African nations. We shall also build a strong military in order to defend our currency and protect our economy. The Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) will also be upgraded to do much more than it is doing today to supply both our needs and export to other countries.
Under my presidency, the military will never be our first line of defence as it is today. We shall create special forces whose members would be drawn from the different services for the most difficult security challenges. The first line of defence for any country that has terrorism challenges should be its borders. Our nation’s borders are probably the most porous in the world: 1,497 illegal entry points into the country have already been identified and the government is doing nothing about it. That will never happen under our presidency.

Nigeria’s unemployment level is a bomb waiting to explode. By conservative estimates, there are 48 million unemployed Nigerians and a troubling 54% of the Nigerian youths are unemployed. Even though the economy has grown, poverty rates have increased, precisely because the sectors driving the growth are not the ones in which the majority of Nigerians are accommodated. We must, therefore, bring more youths into agriculture, online business, manufacturing and housing. Since 48 million jobs are not immediately available, they would have to be created. Only big ideas can solve a challenge this magnitude. Our government will create an army of entrepreneurs all over the country. We shall create five million small businesses in the first instance. A small business creates between two and five new jobs – that means potentially creating 25 million new jobs. That’s a heck of a big idea!

Another one. Our government shall construct one million new housing units yearly, for two reasons: one, to bridge the housing deficit and, two, to create jobs. It has been estimated that building one million housing units can create up to 30 million new jobs as several people including engineers, architects, plumbers, block makers, insurance companies, mortgage banks, estate agents, cement, tile and paint sellers, food vendors, furniture manufacturers, etc would be engaged. We will get the money for this huge project by borrowing from the pension fund which is now in excess of N4trillion; and, since the houses would be sold to the public through mortgage facilities, the borrowed funds would be paid back. We can also get the money from Quantitative Easing since a huge lot of economic activities, including manufacturing operations, will be created in the course of building the one million houses; so the risks usually associated with Quantitative Easing would be attenuated.

If we must remain the biggest economy in Africa, then, we must have the biggest seaports, the biggest banks, the biggest airports; and we must, by privilege and reason of location, be the aviation hub of Africa.
One of the very big ideas that we intend to work is the creation of a soccer economy. Nigeria has talent and Nigerians have passion for the game. There is no reason we should not profit from this as so many other countries do. We can organise ourselves to achieve this easily.

Also, we cannot be Africa’s biggest economy and the continent’s most populated nation (178 million people) and still be struggling with 4,000mw of electric power supply after squandering $25billion in the past 15 years. The world’s largest power station in a single location is the Three Gorges Dam in China which has an installed capacity of 22,500mw. It was constructed with $26 billion.

We cannot be Africa’s largest oil producer and still be importing fuel. That will stop under our government. And because oil will soon lose its critical global value due to improvements in fracking technology among the biggest consumers of oil, under our government, the country will invest heavily in non-oil sectors to diversify our economy. We shall do this as a matter of survival. It is no accident that God has endowed our country with so many resources. And we shall do it all over the country.

Our government will also aggressively encourage manufacturing, especially the small-scale manufacturing sub-sector. To do this, we will take bold and drastic steps to strengthen the naira. In the interim, we will strengthen the naira by paying the monthly allocations to all tiers of government in dollars since oil, our main revenue earner, is paid for in dollars. But instead of dishing out dollar cash which could encourage theft and capital flight, our government would issue dollar certificates to all the tiers of government. The different tiers of government would then have to convert these dollar certificates into naira in our local banks. If more dollars start chasing less naira, the value of the naira would improve at once. And when this happens, interest rates would also go down. Nigerian manufacturers would then be able to procure machinery and spare parts more easily, and, at single-digit interest rates, it would be possible for made-in-Nigeria products to compete with imported ones.
I have heard a few people say I have not had any experience in government and that, therefore, is a weakness. My answer to them remains this: Nations are today in a race for the future and nobody has the experience of the future. All experiences people claim to have are experiences of the past. And our uninspiring past cannot be a guide for our future, as we need a clean break from our past. Nigeria should be in a race to the First World and what is needed more than anything else is vision. I find my lack of experience in government a strength instead because I have not been part of the rot of the past.

In any case, I have the most important experience, which is being a serial entrepreneur. I have created institutions from Ground Zero. That is the most important experience anyone who wants to be President needs at the moment. In fact, a lack of entrepreneurial experience among those lead us has been one of our problems so far.
And talking about experience, you cannot have more experience than President Jonathan. He has been a Deputy Governor, a Governor, a Vice President, and Acting President before becoming President, and see what this huge experience has done to our dear country. So much for experience.

Most of the greatest leaders the world has had had no government experience before assuming power. South Africa’s presidency was Nelson Mandela’s first job in government. The Prime Minister’s job was Lee Kuan Yew’s first job in government. And by the time Tony Blair became Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1997, he had never worked in government. Ditto for David Cameron.
Most importantly, we intend to change how government works. Governments even in the best of countries, but especially in our country, have a problem of inefficiency, bureaucracy and, corruption impeding -well-intended plans. To change our country, we must change the way government works first. Our government will achieve this by the appointment of CEO-style ministers and heads of government agencies with clear targets and commensurate salaries and bonuses.

There are people who would tell you that it is not possible to implement all I have said. Don’t believe them. Those who know me would tell you that I am always unimpressed by what others say is impossible. Those who say certain things are impossible are continually being interrupted by those actually achieving them. All these and many more are possible but none of them will be easy. Nonetheless, we have to make the hard choices. If I am elected, I will take my election as proof that Nigerians want to change their country forever and I will, accordingly, use all the powers at my command as President to bring this about. We have seen how leadership has transformed countries ranging from small countries like Singapore, Rwanda and South Korea to the big countries like Brazil, India and China. I believe that, with faith in God, you and I together can keep this appointment with destiny.

God bless you all and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

November 6, 2014

TRANSFORMATION TO IMPUNITY?

“If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation. If I got any comfort as I set out on my first story, it was that in nearly every story; the protagonist is transformed. He’s a jerk at the beginning and nice at the end, or a coward at the beginning and brave at the end. If the character doesn’t change, the story hasn’t happened yet. And if story is derived from real life, if story is just condensed version of life then life itself may be designed to change us so that we evolve from one kind of person to another”. (Donald Miller) – The author of ‘A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life’.

 

Without sounding too philosophical, change is only change when it involves character transformation in individuals. We have experienced all manner of changes in this part of the world but it looks like our ‘character change’ tilted only to the negative end. And when character is lost everything automatically is lost. Transformation actually involves a complete change from somebody / something to / into something else better. We really experienced transformation but we did not become better people; we only became less human living an illusion. Probably, it may be ‘transformational grammar’!

 

Looking at the innumerable number of transformational grammar and songs in the land someone spoke up. Abimbola Adelakun said, “Nigeria, measured by nostrum of the Federal Government, is a primitive stratified nation of pretenders in power, pretenders out of power and, the insignificant others. The Federal Government, myopic for aeons, perpetuates the anomaly by deeming pretenders worthy of red carpets, security and protocols whilst the nation’s others – all who have never been in power; whose homes and addresses are a shame to humanity, and, whose stories never make the headlines – as insignificant and disposable.” So we transformed from caring for ‘the people’ to caring for ‘a privileged few pretenders in and out of power’.

 

Indeed, we witnessed transformation; we moved from people being afraid to commit crime for fear of imprisonment to people committing crimes and walking free without the law having its way. We metamorphosed from ‘judiciary being the last hope of the common man, to ‘justice for the highest bidders’. The paradigm shift is such that we actually need to approach Wikipedia and other updaters of words for the meaning of words like statesmen, heroes / heroines, leaders, achievers, and the likes as our value / reward system is below the zero line.

 

Peter Singer said, “If you go back in time you’ll find tribes that were essentially only concerned with their own tribal members. If you were a member of another tribe, you could be killed with impunity”. Nigerians are dying every day but their death can only elicit attention or stir up genuine reaction except they have relations in the corridors of power. No wonder Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon said our system of government changed but our people are still living believing in a democracy while we are practically in a ‘cabalocracy’ – government of the cabal, by the cabal and for the cabal. His comment only corroborated the earlier quote from Peter Singer clearly depicting that the pretenders on the red carpets would not mind total annihilation of the ‘insignificant and disposable’ just to make sure the potbellied hawks are satisfied.

 

Before the advent of the transformation toga, we looked forward to fixing of basic amenities and infrastructure whenever we talked about governance and peoples’ welfare. We have ‘ported’ in the spirit of transformation; governance is now all about ‘stomach’ infrastructure and very soon we will welcome a new ministry – Ministry of Stomach Infrastructure. As soon as the new ministry comes on stream probably all our socio-economic problems would be completely solved and we will find ourselves among the twenty largest and powerful economies in the world and ultimately the real giant of Africa with protruded stomachs!

 

We are in the era of denials: see nothing and say nothing. The people who died in the struggle for the emancipation of the people and enthronement of democracy are surely crying and regretting in their graves. They surely did not labour just to have civil rule instead of democracy. Even the very enemies of the struggle are gallivanting in the corridors of power to the utter dismay of the people who were either exiled, jailed or killed in their bid to resist and reject tyranny and injustice in the land. Most of them who are still alive and around in the polity (the activists and members of the pro-democracy groups) are now labelled detractors and enemies of the state by the same people who never wanted democracy. Many have been silenced but there are still a dogged few who believe that evil will continue when good people keep quiet, while others prefer living as if nothing is going wrong; stoic.

 

The people who were in the struggle for the emancipation of the neglected and impoverished Niger Deltans have suddenly abandoned the cause and have ‘transformed’ to billionaires. The amnesty programme may have stopped the incessant kidnappings and breaking of oil pipelines to an extent, yet Nigeria still loses more than 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day to oil thieves, the presence of the Navy and Joint Task Force notwithstanding. Excuses in different fora by the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the coordinating Minister of the Economy & Minister of Finance regarding the sophistication, organization and connection of the oil thieves can only mean outsourcing of responsibility or ignorance of responsibility. With the creation of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, have the issues raised by the ‘agitators’, ‘freedom fighters’ and environmental activists been resolved? The real issues are no longer discussed as some if not all the actors have joined the transformational train and abandoned the cause for the billions.

 

The anti-graft agency – EFCC was set up to check corruption even though it was an outsourcing of the responsibility of our Police. Many alleged it was a political tool in the hands of the former president – Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to check his political enemies. But many did not ask the right question then – Did the agency arrest or prosecute anyone for doing nothing? The once dreaded agency has been transformed to a toothless bulldog – powerful only in name. Without holding brief for the agency, the Attorney General of the Federation doing the biddings of the ‘ogas-at-the-top’ contributed in no small measure in making sure that the agency never succeeded in concluding any case in court because of vested interests. Charges are withdrawn once you come under the “Big Umbrella”.

 

In 2012 alone the defence budget for capital expenditure was N34.36 Billion with a whooping N5.71 Billion earmarked for the acquisition of equipment by the Army. If the words credited to the American Ambassador to Nigeria is anything to go by, obsolete equipment were purchased and the fight against insurgency jeopardised. If the funds earmarked back then were utilised probably the issues of going to South Africa and seizure of funds may not arise. What we keep getting is transformational grammar – “we are looking into the records, in fact a committee has been set up”.

 

It has been probe, probe and probe without probity. Teams of ‘transformational Committees’ are in place and are really doing good jobs at unraveling many cases of corruption and ‘very soon’ they will come up with their reports. If you have forgotten about the report on the Fuel Subsidy thieves, SURE-P will soon release the report. If you want the report on the allegation of bribery between Hon. Farouk Lawan and Femi Otedola, do not worry too much it will be out. Madam Stella Oduah has sorted the bulletproof cars issue and she’s free? Transformational grammar states that stealing is not corruption so the Minister of Petroleum Resources can afford to fly more private and chartered jets. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was drunk when he alleged that some money was missing or probably was not at home with transformational economics even though he was Governor of the CBN?

 

Many have argued that the pilot of the transformational train is the best thing that has happened to the nation. If under his watch lecturers (his former colleagues) were ‘allowed’ to go on avoidable strikes and left students at home for many months, it shows how much he has transformed the education sector. Under his watch, judges are beaten and he does not come out to condemn such action, then he must be a party to it. Under his watch, stealing is not corruption. Any rating we get for corruption now is not just for corruption; it is for corruption with impunity. Many ‘criminals’ are on their way to take cover under the ‘Big Umbrella’ as there is a standing order to canonise many as saints in a bid to have the numbers.

 

We have indeed experienced ‘transformation’ but it only brought a deterioration of our values. Simply put, transformation to impunity! Everything rises and falls on leadership! If you say that you do not eat pork meat but you’re using your teeth to share it for kids — you have eaten pork and your body language shows you’re not a saint!

 

Alinnor Arinze A. 08098001782 http://www.arinze198.wordpress.com http://www.facebook.com /arinze198

WHEN THERE’S NO BRIDGE…

November 9, 2012

When There Is No Bridge…
Alinnor Arinze A.
Arinze198@gmail.com

Many of us were born in very remote settlements in the ‘Third World’. These communities, and some now cities and islands were not accessible before now but for bridges. The bridges opened up those places to the benefit of ‘both sides’. These bridges had lifespan or periods under which they must be closed for repairs or reconstruction to make for continued usage. Most of the bridges in the developing nations or third world countries were built by the developed countries.

Looking at those bridges, many would believe that they were built to help improve the living standard of people in the third world. But in most cases they only helped the developed economies get more return on their investment in those places. The interest of the masses who were hitherto alienated from the ‘otherside’ was never the reason for the bridges.

If we take a look at the countries seen or regarded as Third World, all were former colonies of the developed economies. They all literally granted their former colonies their plea for political independence but never allowed them economic independence. They do not only build and repair bridges and other major infrastructure but would want to continue to do so to the detriment of the people; they would not allow the people to develop the capacity to do those things.

No wonder the Afro-beat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti sang ‘Teacher don teach me nonsense’. In his song, Fela remarked that it was the responsibility of the teacher to correct his students whenever they made mistakes. But in the case of our former colonial masters, they never bothered about correcting our innumerable mistakes which emanated from what they handed down to us, because our despicable situation bettered their economic status. Many people back in the days had accused the Abami Eda of acute verbal diarrhea, but we know better now.

Our people used to have their traditional concept about leadership and politics. But our teachers made us discard them and gave us theirs perceived as superior. Their redefinition of this part of our life had only helped destroy us; they gave us democracy. They said it meant government of the people, for the people, and by the people. But Fela Anikulapo Kuti looked analytically at it and said it meant ‘demonstration of craze, or crazy demonstration. They claimed that the system would make government or governance closer to the people. Take another look at most of the countries categorized as Third World and all you would see are imprints of the colonial masters; civil rule and not democracy.

The bridge they built for us was meant to connect the leadership and the followers. But it has not translated to anything meaningful in terms of the development of the people and our teachers are ‘silent’.
Our teachers are not unaware of the situation in all their former colonies but prefer to sit on the fence and mend it. They have people in different places in each of their former colonies who update them.
They set up different organizations and agencies who they make look like they are out to fight or cushion the effects of the absurdities and the abuse of human rights. After all, it is safe to say that slave trade was not evil but purely and strictly business with our forefathers who gave our people in exchange for perishable items.

It is said that, ‘if you say you’re leading and nobody is following then you’re only talking a walk’. John Maxwell also said that everything rises and falls on leadership. In this vein, we are sort of only replicating what our teachers taught previously which cannot be called leadership. The truth is that leadership in this part of the world had been ineffective because of the faulty foundation our teachers laid. Even now, our teachers would always meet with our ‘leaders’ but just to bargain and make sure their vested interest is protected.

In the past, we had a few people who were in the frontline of the crusade for the welfare of the people. Most of these people have had the privilege of being elevated (selected or elected) to take positions of leadership either because of their commitment to the cause of the people or for being ‘garrulous’. Our teachers also were in most cases the forces behind the elevation. The very moment these ‘our people’ got to those positions of leadership, the bridge that once existed between them and their people ceases to exist; the only existing bridge would be the one between them and our teachers. The same people who were championing the cause of their people changes like chameleon; their pronouncements, stance, and policies all of a sudden become elitist. They no longer feel the pulse of the people, then there is no longer a bridge.

Our teachers must have advised our ‘leaders’ on how to appear to be close to the governed. Their advice I guess must have prompted the creation of offices without portfolios. For our ‘leaders’ to be effective or appear to be so they must hire loads of aides. These aides would serve as the bridge that should have existed. What a great idea! No wonder we have senior and junior bridges. The senior bridges should be able to carry or convey what the junior bridges cannot. In every sphere of life, there must be a Special Assistant, then a Senior Special Assistant. All the Assistants (Junior, Senior and Special) must all have their own bridges while they were brought to serve as bridges. So they the Assistants are also entitled to Personal Assistants for smooth and effective coverage of fields of endeavour.

At this juncture, let us ask, why is the teacher silent in the face of all the mistakes and absurdities? The teacher may actually be enjoying sitting on the fence and mending the same. I do not think the advice of the teacher to our ‘leaders’ to construct those bridges was a bad one. But if the revelations from Wikileaks are anything to go by, we would then understand that there is no bridge because our teacher is the bridge having influenced the building, appointment or selection of the bridge.

If there must be meaningful development in the third world countries especially in our part of the world, the bridges must be in places where none existed and reconstructed in other places. A bridge in the real sense should not be an ostrich. Failure in most assignments starts from not understanding the actual role one is called to play.
From all indications, most of the people appointing or selecting the bridges do not understand why they are doing so aside rewarding political loyalty or the seeming loquacious. And the very ones so appointed or selected do not also know what their roles are.

No leader succeeds or governs effectively when there is a disconnect between the leader and the followers. It is obvious that most leaders do not read local newspapers, watch local television stations or listen to local radio stations. How then do they claim to know what happens to their people? Their claim is based on the report of the ‘bridges’ who are no bridges. You are left to wonder whether these bridges actually read the newspapers or have time for television and radio stations and their programmes which they have to relay to their principals.

From all available records, it is clear that most people in this clime live on less than one dollar bill a day. Invariably lack, hunger and abject poverty can be easily perceived. The folks who are so appointed or selected seek to first quench their thirst and hunger before looking behind their shoulders. In order to avoid having their butts kicked they resort to organisation of solidarity visits and praise singers; to tell their principals sweet tales. Every other person or group with divergent opinions is seen as a detractor and anti-progress. There would not be any meaningful change until our ‘leaders’ stop seeing from the distorted lens of these middlemen.

The bridge looks like the missing link based on the aforementioned. If the leaders cannot reach their people because of ‘security protocol’, then the bridges must be bridges and must be seen to be so. The bridges are not these folks who suffer from acute verbal diarrhea and never mindful of the use of words when addressing the people. The bridges are not praise singers; they are actually to feel the pulse of the ‘people’ and report same. They are not the folks who label people with genuine concerns detractors. Certainly, the bridges cannot be the ones who call the governed useless critics, senseless agitators, never do wells and all sort of names. I am sure the bridges are not these ones who speak from both sides of the mouth and who stop at nothing in disparaging concerned citizens.

When there is no bridge … there is no effective communication. When there is no effective communication, visions are misunderstood. When there is no bridge, the pulse of the people is not felt and there cannot be said to be real or meaningful development but impoverishment.

Alinnor Arinze A.
Arinze198@gmail.com
http://www.arinze198.wordpress.com
Tel: 08098001782

DARKNESS IN THE HEARTLAND

November 8, 2012

DARKNESS IN THE HEARTLAND

Thousands of years ago, Isaiah the son of Amoz saw vision concerning
Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah,
kings of Judah. In one of his pronouncements he declared, “Behold,
darkness shall cover the earth, and dense darkness all people”. Isaiah
in this quote may have declared it over Judah and Jerusalem but this
seems to have transcended that generation. It looked like he had the
‘Heartland’ in mind when he was making that pronouncement back in the
days.

The ‘Heartland’ – a creation of the military in 1976 along with
others, was previously part of the East Central State. The area which
is predominantly Christians covers an area of around 5,100sqkm. It is
very rich in natural resources including crude oil, natural gas, lead,
zinc, with economically exploitable flora like the iroko, mahogany,
obeche, bamboo, rubber tree and oil palm. However, with a high
population density and over farming the soil has been degraded and
much of the native vegetation has disappeared.

It is not in doubt that this area produces the largest number of
candidates for any examination in this part of the world. If not in
the spirit of federal character or quota system it can afford to fill
the whole spaces in the number of candidates to enter for both
secondary and tertiary admission in schools. It can therefore boast of
producing sound and educated minds in different fields of endeavour,
or the best around. It can also boast of producing the most highly
travelled sets of people in this part of the world; they are found in
every corner of the earth.

Based on the above mentioned, it is expected that the ‘Heartland’
would be far and above others in terms of exposure and development.
But the contrary is true based on the available indices. If human and
natural resources are anything to go by, it should be spearheading
moves towards the betterment of the wellbeing of the people in this
clime. Instead, it is trailing behind sluggishly and backward in
everything good or meaningful development. What then is the benefit of
education and exposure if the ‘Heartland’ is trailing others behind
while it should be leading the way in positivism?

You must agree with me that the ‘Heartland’ is a ‘dynamic place’, for
‘dynamic people’, and made up of ‘dynamic people’. All who had come to
administer the affairs of the place left it for dead. But for ‘Dede
Onunaka’, all (military and civilian) administrators made sure they
left it worse than they met it. All that could be felt were either
sold or liquidated. The Amaraku power station, The Statesman, Progress
Bank, Ada Palm, Concorde Hotel and many more were either sold or
brought to their knees. And the thick darkness persisted all these
years with not even a torchlight or candlelight anywhere near the
corner.

In the not too distant past, the one popularly known as ‘Onwa’ looked
at the sorry state of things and the myriad of problems that did not
seem to have solutions and arrived at a conclusion. He concluded that
there is a very big ditch in the ‘Heartland’. And this ditch cannot be
filled no matter how much you try with the ‘meager’ resources
available to throw into it. So for eight years the aforementioned
ditch could not be closed up and he did throw up his hands in
surrender. It was then the turn of others to continue the bid to close
this ditch of darkness.

Many are quick to submit that the darkness persisted because the
‘Heartland” became a haven of fraudsters and con-men. It meant that
the ones who administered the affairs of the place were con-men, their
stooges, associates or friends, whether in khaki or ‘akwa ishi agu’.
Some others blamed it on the corrupt civil service who are the ones
always left behind whenever those at the helm of affairs are booted
out. I may be tempted to believe the above mentioned as the likely
agents of this gross darkness but still have to hold my peace.

There is another ‘unique’ side of the ‘Heartland’. Credit must be
given to them that they are very ‘unique’ specie. The highest number
of autonomous communities in the whole of Africa is domiciled in the
‘Heartland’. As the autonomous communities multiply so do traditional
rulers and tussle for traditional stools. What are the qualifications?
You just need to be an ‘enterprising’ young man, have the capacity to
go to China or Dubai to import fake and substandard goods, or
containers of adulterated drugs, acquire one or two cars (fairly used
quite often) build a small house in the village, be bold enough to
cause confusion and division in your town meeting, confront your
traditional ruler ceaselessly (without cause or on infinitesimal
issues), then bolt and apply to have your own autonomous community and
one is guaranteed. It’s that simple only there!

Aside the fact that they have a penchant for investing outside their
home (okamma na ama syndrome), they resist change with all they’ve
got. They are a people not easy to please. Sometimes I wonder whether
they enjoy backwardness and lack of development. They are heavy noise
makers with their ‘big’ names but not impact. If you hear the ‘big’
names, and dare follow them down to their village you will be shocked.
In most cases, you have to transverse valleys, gullies, dusty roads
and inaccessible paths to get to their ‘country homes’. Most prefer
buying SUVs to putting the roads leading to their place in good shape.
They pride in intimidating their people with their coins just to show
off. What a people!

When a people are so used to darkness, it becomes difficult to
appreciate light. It is said that darkness disappears at the emergence
of light but it is almost looking like it is not true in the
‘Heartland’. May be because the darkness is very thick. But they truly
need emancipation from this sorry state. And it would require a
personality who is not homogeneous specie to bring light and liberty.
Many souls have been bestirred to push for emancipation and change but
they have many negative forces to contend with. And it would not come
cheap because of the fact that change would denude several forces
(internal and external forces) of their influence and vested interest.

As much as the roused souls yearn for light, the proponents of
darkness would not want anything to change the status quo. The agents
of darkness are obeying the law of attraction and have found a common
cover under the ‘Big Umbrella’. Under their cover they concoct and
conjure all manner of things to make sure they do not lose their big
enclave. They snipe at any move and anybody that looks like the
harbinger of illumination. But like in every contest, there must be
winners and losers. And the winners must be the ones who want it so
bad, more committed, and resolute in their bid.

About eighteen months ago, the voices and souls craving for change and
the light got divine attention. It was declared, “Arise o Heartland
and shine for your light has come and divine glory is risen upon you”.
Many who heard this divine declaration did not take it with any pinch
of salt because of the densely massed darkness and the ossification of
the machinations of the proponents of darkness. As the saying,
“impossible is nothing” so was the declaration to some optimists. They
hung to it and started navigating in the direction of the said
harbinger of illumination. The enormity of the hurdles on the way to
light never deterred these souls who earnestly desired departure from
the past. So they rolled up their sleeves to confront the nefarious
monster.

This team of determined people’s army nicknamed their operation – The
Rescue Mission. Rescue Mission indeed! They really needed to reclaim
the ‘Heartland’ from the forces of evil, darkness and backwardness.
But they must dislodge the forces that aggregated under the ‘Big’
collapsible shade, the incumbent emperor that can hardly lose grip of
anything in his domain, the ghost workers that milk the system dry,
pot bellied contractors who do nothing but get paid, godfathers,
pseudo ‘elder statesmen’, political traditional rulers, prayer
contractors, and a host of other proponents of darkness. Like in a
very tough football encounter, the team was declared victorious not in
the regulation time, but after extra time and penalties by the heavily
guarded umpire or referee.

The team has gone to work in their bid to salvage all the sectors. But
like the proverbial tortoise that was left in the pit latrine for a
long while until help came, they are now complaining about the stench;
they want emergency exit. Some are complaining again that so much is
going on at the same time and fear they might be abandoned. Others
fault how the change is taking place; expecting business as usual in
the name of due process. They forget too quickly that it is sheer
insanity to keep doing the same thing the same way while expecting
different result. The illumination is gradually but surely spreading
in the Heartland that used to be obscure but the dark forces are not
happy with the latest development. It is expected any way because
denuding them is ‘costly’ as their bankers are not smiling at this
time. But the truth is that darkness must be expunged so that the
‘Heartland’ can distance completely from retrogression and retarded
development. The time to move forward and lead the way is now o
Heartland!

Alinnor Arinze A.
Arinze198@gmail.com
http://www.arinze198.wordpress.com
08098001782

Nigerians need some explanations now!

January 13, 2012

 

 

1) One barrel of Crude oil = 42gallons or159 litres

… 2) Our Refineries (i.e 4) Installed
(combined) capacity = 445,000
… barrels per day

3) Actual refineries capacity due to
ageing equipment = 30% i.e. 133,500
barrels per day
.
4) . . 133,500 barrels = 21.2 million litres

5) Local required consumption (F.O.S) =
12millions litres

6) It means that even our MORIBOND
refineries can actually meet our local
consumption need of petroleum.

7) The cost structure of crude oil (i.e.
Qua Iboe Crude Oil) production;
– Findings / development – $3.5
– Production cost – $1.5
– Refining Cost – $12.6
– Pipeline/transportation – $1.5
– Distr/bridging fund Margin -$15.69

8) True cost of one litre of petroleum
anywhere in Nigeria;
– Total sum cost = $34.8
– 1ltr cost = $34.8/159 litres = $0.219
– Naira equiv. 0.219xN160= N35.02k
– Add Tax N5 + N35.02 = N40.02

9) Let FGN refute the above composition
and if not, they should tell us how
they came about N65/litre.

10) Locally refined products cannot be
sold at International price.

11) We really do not need FGN SUBSIDY
as there was NONE in the first place.

12) What is LACKING, is the WILL to
enforce LAW ON CORRUPTION.

We still stand a chance as a COUNTRY.
Analysis done by Professor Tam David West, former Petroleum Minister.

Jonathan: Man of Goodluck

December 26, 2010

 

Jonathan: Man of Goodluck

All activities in Nigeria at the moment are geared towards the general elections coming up in 2011. Many politicians are very busy combing the nooks and corners of the nation trying to convince the people to register when it’s time to register and be able to cast their votes. Many are used to these activities by politicians in any election year. The political atmosphere in Nigeria at the moment can be felt by all because of the different strategies adopted by politicians to get the attention of the electorate.

Many notable Nigerians have signified their interest to contest different offices. This signification of interest brought about the issue of zoning in the ruling party (P.D.P.). The zoning issue brought about differences amongst the members of the ruling party. Many were of the opinion that the ruling party had a zoning arrangement and it should be respected. Many also believed that the incumbent should go ahead and complete the mandate and work he started with the late President Umaru Yar’Adua. The issue of zoning dragged on until some people went to court. The court ruling left rooms for the incumbent to contest but some people were still not placated by that ruling.

It will not be out of place to say that the issue of zoning led to the emergence of a consensus candidate from amongst the other aspirants from the North. Former vice President- Alhaji Atiku Abubakar emerged as the consensus candidate and the other aspirants all resolved to join forces with him against the incumbent. The other political parties also have aspirants who they would field in the elections. We have seen the emergence of notable people like Major Gen. Buhari (Rtd.), Prof. Pat Utomi, Rev. Chris Okotie, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Dele Momodu, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa and others.

The politicians adopted different strategies including releasing of books; biographies and achievements. May be this is part of their effort to get our people back to the habit of reading books. Some people believe that the books are part of their campaign strategies. I have had the privilege of reading some of them. It is a welcome development having seen the likes of Barrack Obama’s Audacity of Hope. It is left to be seen if this approach will not be jettisoned in the near future.

Many things have been said and written about President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Most of the things are in the affirmative. His emergence with the late President Umaru Yar’Adua was heralded by many because of their academic background. Many were happy to see learned men take the driving seat in our history as a nation. I have the privilege also of reading the script of a seminal work on the President titled ‘Jonathan: Man of Goodluck’ about to be released and it was exceptional. It chronicles the life history of Goodluck Jonathan from his ancestral village of Otuoke, his formative years, elementary, secondary and university education in South-South Nigeria. His rise from being a Deputy Governor in his home state of Bayelsa, Governor, Vice President, the intrigues that finally led to his emergence as Acting President and President are epochal events seen by many as simply propelled by divine intervention. As events in his life and his name seem to suggest, President Goodluck Jonathan is a man staggeringly blessed with plenty of good luck. His meteoric rise to power bears testimony to what Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the 3rd president of the United States, once said “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” The fascinating story of this great Nigerian captivates from the beginning till the end, revealing how a delicate blend of elements of loyalty, luck, hard work and dedication to duty propelled Goodluck Jonathan to the highest office in Nigeria.

The book is a collaborative effort by two Nigerian journalists based in the United States of America; Dr Moshood Ademola Fayemiwo and Dr Jimmy Ndubuisi Imo, Publisher/Executive Editor and Managing Director/Chairman, Editorial Board of Chicago-based US-African Pointblank News respectively. The Foreword and Introduction to the book are written by Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, Prof. Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye and former Minister of Water Resources and now Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Mukhtar Shagari respectively.

I was moved to read the script immediately I saw the names of the people behind this seminal work particularly Dr Moshood Fayemiwo. He was the man behind the Razor and Evening News -a weekly and a daily evening newspaper respectively between 1992 and 1999. The pro-democracy and anti-military postures of the two publications incensed the Nigerian military authorities with several threats, intimidations, harassments and detentions. The last straw was when he was kidnapped from Republic of Benin where he had relocated to in 1996. Initially the Nigerian military government denied any complicity in his disappearance when prominent world leaders, human rights organizations and professional colleagues across the world demanded for his release including the late Pope John Paul II who had to pay an official visit to Nigeria in summer 1998 to plead for his release and other detainees.  All efforts and entreaties by well-meaning individuals and organizations on the Nigerian government to release him proved abortive. He was tortured, psychologically traumatized and kept in an underground military detention facility/cell reminiscent of the old Soviet Gulag and did not breathe air of freedom until September 30, 1998 when General Abacha died and his military successor, General Abubakar Abdulsalam ordered his release and shortly thereafter he relocated to the United Sates with his entire family. He is an author of four published books and several journal articles.

His colleague Dr Jimmy Imo is veteran journalist and pro-democracy activist. He was very active in the pro-democracy struggles in the 1990s in Nigeria during the military dictatorships of Generals Babangida, Abacha and Abubakar was also a member of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) steering committee. While in Nigeria, Dr Jimmy featured regularly on several T.V talk shows to comment on various issues of national importance. He is also widely published in several Nigerian national newspapers and magazines. His latest book titled The Press under Stress: Strategies of Resistance, Journalism and Military Rule in Nigeria published in London, UK has just been released into the market this summer 2010.

I do believe that going by the background of the duo that their seminal work on Mr. President is not biased because they are not resident in Nigeria and not part of the praise singing that we are used to here. When the book is out, many would understand certain things about our President that are not part of the everyday news and see many reasons why we need to have him at the driving seat.

From what I read I believe we need the good luck that goes with the man in many areas of our life as a people. There were many policies I read about in the book that he tried during the time he was the governor of Bayelsa State which I believe if implemented in today’s Nigeria would move us to the promise land. I do believe sincerely that it is time for us to allow him move the nation forward because he has the vision and is very committed. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is not only a man of good luck but a passionate Nigerian who desires not just change but Genuine Transformation of the country and we need to give a change. We do not need politicians with baggage of corruption, we need some fresh air. With the likes of Goodluck Jonathan Nigeria will be great again.

Arinze Alinnor

Arinze198@gmail.com

+234-8033001782, 08098001782

http://www.arinze198.wordpress.com