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Posts tagged ‘American’

The Cold War Was Only on Vacation.


The Crimea is lost. The challenge now is to avoid a wider conflict with a Russia bent on absorbing more territory and further extending its influence into Eastern Europe.

To avoid an eventual choice between feeding Russia’s appetite for its lost empire and a hot war, European and U.S. leaders must embrace expensive and politically tough economic and defense choices.

Save petroleum, aluminum and a few less significant products, the Russian economy is broadly uncompetitive in global markets. Oil and gas account for 75 percent of exports and 50 percent of Moscow’s revenues, and Russia depends on imports from the European Union for technology and many consumer goods. It even buys ships to modernize its navy from France.

U.S. and European economic sanctions on Russian political and military leaders responsible for the Crimean invasion would make a statement, but are unlikely to have any tangible impact on Vladimir Putin’s behavior. However, if the Europeans phase out purchases of Russia’s gas, it has few options to sell it elsewhere. Putin would be starved for cash to finance his military and spread benefits to political cronies.

Replacing Russian gas — which accounts for 30 percent of European supplies — won’t be cheap or pleasant. They must frack to develop shale gas, re-embrace nuclear power and accelerate solar and other alternatives.

For French shipbuilders, German equipment manufacturers and technology and consumer goods producers throughout Europe, cutting off Russia’s most important source of hard currency to buy what they make would be wrenching. Still, it would impose far more systemically destabilizing penalties on Russia.

More than Russian guns won the referendum in the Crimea for Putin. The sad state of the economy and political corruption in the Ukraine made the former Russian possession vulnerable to reacquisition.

To halt Russian expansion, the European Union must do much more to assimilate the Ukraine and other former Soviet states into the Western economy by building infrastructure and moving significantly more industry into these regions, buying a lot more of their exports and imposing aggressive conditions for economic and political reforms in exchange for those benefits.

All of this would be provocative to Moscow and require rebuilding NATO forces, and moving those further east into Romania, the Baltic and aggressively courting cooperation with Belarus.

The Germans and the Americans have the economic resources, but have demonstrated inadequate commitments to giving real meaning to the economic and security commitments the West made to Eastern Europe, for example, through the 1994 Ukrainian security agreement, at the end of the Cold War.

Now, Putin and his political allies, chastened by the loss of an empire and emboldened by Russia’s petroleum wealth, are exploiting western neglect of former Soviet states.

In America, President Obama’s economic policies have boiled down to raising taxes, cutting defense spending and building out a European-style welfare state — universal healthcare and broadening the earned income tax credit. And he has ducked pension and benefits reform that greatly limit the punch of the U.S. military.

Stiffening NATO commitments to Eastern Europe would require German and U.S. governments to step up and pay for stronger militaries, and for the Americans to reform a bloated Pentagon.

In Germany and the United States, taxes are already quite high, even by Cold War standards, and the obvious tradeoff between guns and butter would hit the Obama and Merkel governments where it hurts most — their standing with voters who have come to expect wider and wider welfare benefits.

The greatest courage will be required from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Barack Obama, or each will bequeath to their successors a much more dangerous world.

Russia will enjoy a stranglehold over European energy supplies and boast a modernized military to gradually coop and reclaim former Soviet states and expand its influence throughout Europe.

The Cold War never really ended, it just took a Black Sea vacation.

© 2014 Moneynews. All rights reserved.

 

National Conference Nigeria’s unity, no-go area.


 

national-conference-001

*All 492 delegates to be nominated *75% majority to approve decisions *Conference may begin late February

THE Federal Government, yesterday, declared that the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria would be the only no-go area for the planned National Conference which may be convened before the end of February.

This was disclosed by Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, while briefing newsmen in Abuja on the Federal Government’s endorsement of the recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue which submitted its report few weeks ago.

During the briefing, Anyim was flanked by Chairman and Secretary of the Presidential Committee on National Dialogue, Senator Femi Okurounmu and Dr. Akilu Indabawa, respectively.

 

He also said the Federal Government had provided for the confab in the 2014 Appropriation Bill currently before the National Assembly.

Anyim further disclosed that a total of 492 delegates would be expected to attend the conference which is scheduled to take place in Abuja after the conclusion of nomination of delegates slated for February 20.

The SGF said that the confab which is scheduled to last for three months shall have a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson of “unimpeachable integrity.” He added that the exercise must be concluded before the commencement of political activities leading up to next year’s general elections.

According to Anyim: “The official name of the conversation/conference shall be “The National Conference”.
He stated that decisions at the National Conference shall be by consensus, but where it is not achievable, it shall be by 75 per cent majority.

He further stated that the National Conference shall advise the Government on the legal framework, legal procedures and options for integrating the decisions and outcomes of the confab into the Constitution and laws of the country.

Anyim disclosed that a Conference Management Secretariat shall be established to manage, administer and run the affairs of the Conference.

He also stated that nomination of delegates which shall begin immediately must be completed by all stakeholders before a date for the commencement of the confab could be fixed.
List of nominees
According to him: “The list of nominees shall be submitted either online to http://www.osgf.gov.ng or in hard copy to the Office of the Permanent Secretary (Special Duties Office), Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Federal Secretariat Complex, Phase I, 3rd Floor, Central Business District, Abuja.”

The SGF also released a list indicating the details of the proposed composition of the conference which showed that the Federal Government would nominate a minimum of 73 delegates.

A break down of this figure shows that the President shall appoint the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Secretary of the confab. He shall also nominate 37 elder statesmen representing the 36 states of the federation and the FCT. The document further indicates that the Federal Government shall directly nominate 20 delegates, of which six shall be women.

The confab shall also have six retired judiciary nominees which would be appointed by the President. Another six nominees who shall represent outstanding youths in the country shall be appointed by the Federal Government to represent the nation’s six geo-political zones.

The list further shows that state governments and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, would nominate a total of 109 delegates to represent the nation’s Senatorial Districts. Each state in the federation would be expected to nominate three delegates while the FCT would be represented by one delegate.

The list provides that ethnic nationalities in the country, alongside socio-political and cultural groups will produce a total of 90 delegates which shall comprised 15 per geo-political zone. Nominations for delegates in this category must reflect the ethnic and religious diversity of the various geo-political zones.

The comprehensive list
The comprehensive list is as follows: Retired military and security personnel:
Military – six delegates: one from each geo-political zone; Police- six delegates, one from each zone; State Security Service and Nigerian Intelligence Agency NIA, six, one from each zone.

A total of 13 traditional rulers in all shall be delegates at the confab. Every zone shall send two traditional rulers, while one would come from FCT. Retired civil servants would nominate six delegates from the six zones.

The Nigeria Labour Movement shall be represented by a total of 24 delegates which shall comprise 12 each from the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Unions Congress, TUC.

The Organised Private Sector would be represented by eight delegates who are to be nominated by NECA, MAN, NACCIMA and NESG. Each of them shall nominate two delegates.

Nigerian youths shall also be represented by 18 delegates at the confab: Six of them shall come from the six zones; six from NANS representing the six zones while another six ” outstanding youths and role models” would represent the six zones.

Women groups in the country would be represented by a total of 24 delegates. Among the groups that would nominate delegates are NCWS-12; Market Women associations- six, reflecting the six zones. Other women groups that would send two delegates each are NAWOJ, FIDA and WINBIZ.

Political parties in the country which have members in the National Assembly would also be represented by two delegates each; they include PDP, APC, Labour Party, APGA and Accord Party.

The two major religions in the country that is Christianity and Islam are to be represented by six delegates each, while civil society groups are to be represented by 24 delegates who are expected to reflect the nation’s federal character.

Nigerians in diaspora would not be left out as eight of them would also participate in the confab as delegates. The eight delegates are to represent Nigerians in the Americas-two, Europe-two, Asia and the Middle-East, two and Africa-two.

People living with disabilities would nominate six delegates to the confab, one from each zone.
The media would also be represented by NPAN, NUJ, NGE and BON which were allotted two slots each.
Professional bodies in the country would also send 13 delegates. They include NBA, NSE and CIB. Others include NMA, NIM, NIA, ICAN, ANAN, NIPR, AAPN, NIESV and Nigeria Environmental Society. They are all expected to send one delegate each.

The various academies in the country would send a total of five delegates. They include: Academies of Science, Engineering and Education. Others are academies of letters and social sciences. Each of them would send one delegate.

Former political office holders would also be accommodated at the confab. Former governors in the country would send six delegates- from the six zones. This also applies to former Senators, former members of the House of Representatives and Association of former Speakers. Former chairmen of local government areas would also send six delegates reflecting the six zones. They would be nominated by ALGON.

It would be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan had during his Independence Day broadcast last October, informed Nigerians that he had set up a Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue with the following composition: Senator Dr. Femi Okurounmu-Chairman; Dr. Akilu Sani Indabawa -Secretary and

Senator Khairat Abdulrazaq-Gwadabe as member.
Others included: Senator Timothy Adudu; Professor Olufunke Adeboye; Professor George A. Obiozor and Professor Ben Nwabueze, SAN, NNOM.

Also appointed into the committee were Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed; Malam Bukhari Bello, MFR, mni; Mr. Tony I. Uranta; Col. Tony Nyiam (Rtd); Alhaji Dauda Birmah, OFR and Dr. Mrs. Mairo Ahmed Amshi, MFR.

In his remarks while inaugurating the Committee on October 7, 2013, President Jonathan had said it comprised of ‘Nigerians with wide experiences from various disciplines. He also described the formation of the Committee as ‘a child of necessity.’ He stated that the foundational principle that drove the composition of the Committee was to work towards convening a national conversation.

By Okey Ndiribe

Source: Radio Biafra.

Lagos : Gleaming New City For The Wealthy Leaves Historic City In Dust.


Jan. 21 (GIN) – As developers rush to complete a dream city of soaring glass and steel high-rise buildings, luxury housing for 250,000 amidst a leafy boulevard with ritzy shops and tony restaurants, hopes for a better future are growing dim for the sister city of Lagos, the largest city in Africa with 21 million residents at last count.

Eko Atlantic, the new project, is rising on Victoria Island – now connected by an artificial land bridge to Lagos which sinks deeper into poverty as its neighbor’s income skyrockets.

Lagos, visited by the Portuguese in 1492, was the nation’s capital from 1914 to 1991. Today it struggles with aging infrastructure, unreliable electric power, fierce traffic jams and sprawling slums. Even in posh neighborhoods, sewage bubbles up from open ditches. Companies squeeze their headquarters into moldy midcentury ranch houses and turn off the lights at lunch to rest electric generators.

Two-thirds of the city’s residents live in “informal” neighborhoods, while more than one million of the city’s poor have been forcibly evicted from their homes over the last 15 years.

Eko Atlantic is a prime example of a trend towards walled-off cities for the very rich on a continent that is still home to the world’s poorest.

Writing in The Guardian newspaper, Martin Lukacs warned: “Eko Atlantic is where you can begin to see a possible future – privatized green enclaves for the ultra rich ringed by slums lacking water or electricity, in which a surplus population scramble for depleting resources and shelter to fend off the coming floods and storms.”

He continued: “Protected by guards, guns, and sky-high real estate prices, the rich will shield themselves from the rising tides of poverty and a sea that is literally rising… This is climate apartheid.”

Nigerian environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey added: “Building Eko Atlantic is contrary to anything one would want to do if one took seriously climate change and resource depletion.”

The developers, a pair of politically connected Lebanese brothers who run a financial empire called the Chagoury Group, received a 78 year-seal of ownership of Eko Atlantic to recoup their investment.

The Clinton Global Initiative, meanwhile, calls Eko Atlantic “one of the most inspiring and ambitious civil engineering projects in Africa,” according to the U.S. mission in Nigeria website.  Last year, former President Clinton participated in the ground breaking ceremony as did Ambassador Terence McCulley, and Consul General Jeff Hawkins, among others.

Woman To Lead Embattled Central African Republic As New President

Jan. 21 (GIN) – To the sound of cheers from the National Assembly building, the Transitional National Council of the Central African Republic on Monday tapped Catherine Samba-Panza, mayor of the capital city of Bangui, to be the country’s interim President and first woman to hold the post.

As the new leader of a country gripped by a ferocious sectarian war, Catherine Samba-Panza, 58, issued a call to the fighting groups, asking her “children, especially the anti-Balaka, to put down their arms and stop all the fighting. The same goes for the ex-Seleka. . . I don’t want to hear any more talk of murders and killings.

“Starting today, I am the president of all Central Africans, without exclusion.”

Born in Chad to a Cameroonian father and Central African mother, Ms. Samba-Panza is a former businesswoman, corporate lawyer, and insurance broker.  She also led a reconciliation effort during a previous civil war.

Paul Simon Handy, of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in South Africa, called her “a president who can unite both the country and the political elite” but warned: “I am afraid that this process will take longer than her period in office as interim president.”

The Central African Republic has been devastated by brutal fighting since a coup in March 2013 removed the unpopular president Francois Bozize. He was replaced by Michel Djotodia who suspended the constitution. Djotodia resigned this month under intense international pressure as the death toll mounted to over 1000 people and observers feared a genocide was in the works.

According to a New York Times report, “The state no longer exists in the CAR. Civil servants do not go to their offices, taxes are not collected, all the schools are closed. There is no budget, no army, no police force, no Parliament, no judges, no jails.”

Against these odds, Samba-Panza, no political novice, ran a successful campaign and beat seven other candidates for the post. Among them were two women and two sons of former presidents.

Now, her primary task will be to prepare the nation for elections in the coming year.  In addition she will need to temper the extreme animosity between the Christian and Muslim groups in the country.

Central African Republic has to hold a fresh election by February 2015 at the latest. France, however, wants the election to be held this year. Current law excludes the interim president from running.

“Everything we have been through has been the fault of men,” said Marie-Louise Yakemba, in a press interview. Yakemba, who heads a civil-society organization that brings together people of different faiths, added: “We think that with a woman, there is at least a ray of hope.”w/pix of Pres. Samba-Panza

Africa Was A Point Of Pride For Martin Luther King Jr.
By Rush Perez

Jan. 21 (GIN) – At a speaking engagement at Western Michigan University on Dec. 18, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recalled his first trip to Africa with his wife Coretta to attend the independence day celebration of the new nation of Ghana. The couple was invited by the new President, Kwame Nkrumah.

“We were very happy about the fact there were now eight independent countries in Africa,” he said. “But since that night in March, 1957, some twenty-seven new independent nations have come into being in Africa. This reveals to us that the old order of colonialism is passing away, and the new order of freedom and human dignity is coming into being.”

Later, on Dec. 10, 1965 he gave a powerful speech at Hunter College in New York City, where he attacked the Apartheid regime of South Africa, as well as the governments of Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe) and the Portuguese control of Mozambique and Angola.

True to form, Dr King utilized powerful language to make his points, beginning first with a deconstruction of the popular narrative of Africa at the time.

“Africa has been depicted for more than a century as the home of black cannibals and ignorant primitives….Africa does have spectacular savages today, but they are not black. They are the sophisticated white rulers of South Africa… whose conduct and philosophy stamp them unmistakably as modern day barbarians.”

He went on to call for an international boycott of South Africa.

After the independence day ceremonies in Ghana, Dr King said in a radio interview that: “This event, the birth of this new nation, will give impetus to oppressed peoples all over the world. I think it will have worldwide implications and repercussions–not only for Asia and Africa, but also for America….It renews my conviction in the ultimate triumph of justice and that somehow the universe itself is on the side of freedom and justice. So that this gives new hope to me in the struggle for freedom.”

GHANAIAN JOURNALIST WHO INSPIRED YOUNGER WRITERS IS RECALLED  

Jan. 21 (GIN) – An accomplished and much-admired news writer from Ghana was recalled as “the face and voice of Africa – a new young, enterprising, international connected, ambitious Africa, with a can-do attitude.”

Komla Afeke Dumor passed unexpectedly this week at age 41 from cardiac arrest at his London home.

“He was not a praise-singer,” noted BBC Africa editor Solomon Mugera. “He was determined to present a balanced story, warts and all, and to show the human face behind the headlines.”

Dumor was a BBC World News presenter and the host of the Focus on Africa Program. He joined the BBC in 2006 after working for a decade as a journalist in Ghana. He was so popular in his home country that many Ghanaians changed their profiles on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to show a picture of him.

After moving to TV in 2009, he anchored live coverage of major events including the funeral of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il,  the wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton, and the death of Nelson Mandela in December.

Born in 1972 in Accra, Komla Dumor received graduate degrees from the University of Ghana and Harvard University.

Even as a number of African countries were being heralded as among the world’s fastest-growing economies, Dumor wanted to dig deeper, recalled Mugera.

“He knew that a select few were wining and dining in five-star hotels and driving the latest luxury cars, while in the same neighborhood there were families struggling to live on $1 a day.”

The Media Foundation for West Africa, a regional independent, non-governmental organisation based in Accra, shared their deep condolences for the loss of “one of Africa’s best journalists.”

“Komla raised the standard of journalism in Africa, and brought a lot of pride to many Ghanaians and Africans when he joined the BBC Africa Service and later, the World Service…  He was an an illustrious journalist and a trailblazer for many young journalists in Ghana and Africa as a whole. .. We have indeed lost a talented gem in journalism, Komla, damirifa due! Rest in peace!” the statement concluded.

In the words of Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie:  “We have lost a star. Go well my discussant brother.”

Dumor leaves a wife, Kwansema Dumor, and three children. w/pix of K. Dumor

Democracy Versus Demon-Crazy: Why America And Nigeria Will Always Be Poles Apart By Dr. Wumi Akintide.


By Dr. Wumi Akintide

I spent much of my free time these days watching news analysis on television by the best in the business around the world. It’s been that way with me for years but more so for close to one month now due to a breaking news first aired on MSNBC by Rachel Maddow whose sexual orientation has been the subject for gossip in my circle of friends but who I so much admire for her guts and brain power. She suggested in her analysis  that the brilliant but abrasive New Jersey Republican Governor may have abused his powers and therefore will have some queries to answer on the rumors that his closest aides taking their cue from their boss or just trying to please him, might have done something unethical with regards to the 4 day hell of a traffic hold up around Fort Lee.

A trusted associate of the 2 term Governor had chosen to close down few of the major lanes to the Washington Bridge to deliberately embarrass a democratic mayor who has refused to  endorse the Governor for his second term bid. Evidently, the Governor was not satisfied with the number of democrats crossing party lines to endorse him because he wanted to send a message to  the Republican party he  should be their nominee for President in 2016 if the don’t want to lose by double digits again to the Democrats who have always been on the right sides of all the issues that are going to determine the outcome of that election.

The rumor started like a storm in a tea cup which was initially dismissed  as mere speculation or a fishing expedition  by some liberal reporters to dig up some dirt on Governor Christie the Republican front runner. The Governor and many people had thought the report would go away or fizzle out in a few days but instead of going away it has been gathering  momentum ever since because Rachel Maddow and much of the news media in America would not let go. That is the nature of American democracy. Unlike its Nigerian counterpart where a candidate can commit political murder or blunder and still go ahead to win a landslide victory  because elections are won or lost in Nigeria before the first vote is cast. It only takes a Houdini like Obasanjo or his political son, Jonathan who feel  the can  brow-beat or intimidate their opponents by  using their power of incumbency. In America such a behavior would have been a knock-out punch for them regardless of who they are.

The Fort Lee scandal has since been elevated from a storm in a tea cup to a tempest and could yet rise to a Tsunami pretty soon from depending on what Governor Christie does or does not do. The report has assumed a new dimension since January 8 because of a new revelation that the Sumo wrestler Governor  could only ignore to his own peril in a vibrant Democracy where  American voters expect anyone who would be President to be totally above board like Caesar’s wife. If you compare the 4 day traffic jam on Route 95 North to what routinely occurs on Ibadan-Lagos Express where the monthly Holy Ghost Night  and religious activities have become a public nuisance and nightmare that can only be tolerated for so long only in a third world country. Not even Saudi Arabia with her feudalistic Sheiks would tolerate such a traffic hold-up in Mecca, their city of faith during their Hajj operations.

Nigerian journalists, legislators and public officials, Ministers, Governors, Senate President and Speaker of the House and Mr President who frequently ply that so-called Express in their bullet-proof cars would not say a word because they are scared to death to say anything that could offend Cardinal Olukoya or Pope Enoch Adeboye and because the Nigerian Democracy is so terribly flawed. Rather than raising the type of alarm being raised in New Jersey today, such an uproar if it ever occurred in Nigeria would have been quickly swept under the carpet in a few days and that would be it. Don’t get me wrong. I love and respect General Overseers Olukoya and Adeboye, but in America their Mega Churches without anyone telling them would have taken the traffic situations on that road into consideration before hoping to get more than several millions of their followers disturbing the peace of other travelers on that Express the way they have always done in the name of God and without have any conscience about it.

In Nigeria, a fiery investigative journalist and whistle blower like Rachel  Maddow would have been quickly silenced or put in jail or intimidated and harrassed by hired assassins paid for by tax payers money. The whole Federal Government led by our clueless President is shaken to its pants by the one man battalion of a young man named Omoyele Sowore from Apoi in the Riverine areas of  Ilaje, Ese Odo in Ondo State. Unflappable and fearless Omoyele like Kenule Tsaro Wiwa or Jasper Adakar Boro before him, has had the courage of his convictions to challenge Mr. President for only paying a lip service to fighting Corruption in Nigeria. He is probably able to successfully do that because he lives in far away New York where his freedom of speech is guaranteed and protected by the Law. I am able to write a lot of what I write today only because I share the same privilege.

President Jonathan’s actions and body language suggest that he has become the real problem and not part of the solution to the Nigerian problem. The President could care less about all the noise the Nigerian Press and Omoyele and his Sahara crew have been making on the Nigerian Aviation Minister who has now dared the President to remove her if he can. The tail is wagging the dog in the Nigerian Democracy. The President is moving forward with his so-called transformation agenda which is a joke given all the scandals his Government is facing right now. In America he would have been impeached and his kins man from Delta who is telling Nigeria that hell would break loose and Nigeria made ungovernable if the ijaw President did not win in 2015, would have been kept under surveillance by Law Enforcement.

The President recently authorized an exchange of prisoners with the UK, one British prisoner for more than 165 Nigerian prisoners in his bid to finally help a PDP chieftain Ibori who can then be granted a state pardon like Alimiyeisegha once he is sent back to Nigeria. He could begin his freedom by being admitted to the Incentive Care Unit of St Nicholas for the remainder of his term in prison while effort is made to arrange a state pardon for him and the highest honor the country could bestow on any of his citizens. The President needed filthy-rich Ibori to bankroll his re-election bid in 2015 in pretty much the same way the terribly corrupt Governor has bankrolled Yar Adua’s election in 2007 with his loot from Delta State. Such a move would  have been seen as a heresy in America.

President Jonathan has again ordered the Nigerian Military to grant a general amnesty to suspected and actual terrorists who have done so much havoc in Nigeria because he now needed to appease voters in those segments of Nigeria including his own backyard in the Niger Delta in preparation for his re-election prospects in 2015 now that his megalomaniac father of the nation and his erstwhile mentor has disowned him. Such a move would never have been tolerated in America without the president paying a high price.

It is now clear that Governor Christie is being cleved by half when he gave the impression he was fully cooperating with the investigation because he had nothing to hide. What the Governor does about the “sub poena” powers of the New Jersey Legislature which is expiring next Tuesday would now have to be the litmus test to determine if the Governor would survive the Tsunami coming after him in the weeks and months ahead as preparations for the primaries gather momentum. If the Governor is dead serious about his promise to let  the chips fall where they may, he would not hesitate  to order the re authorization of the “sub poena” powers which would make it impossible or even illegal for most of the witnesses in the scandal to plead their 5th amendment rights against self incrimination. He would be seen as the “King of Kings” and “the Lion of Judah” if he could do that in America, a country governed by the rule of Law.

The third tier of Government, the Nigerian Legislatures were always more interested in sharing money or getting a Governor or a President to settle them to pass any bill the President or Governor has sponsored. They are ever so ready to sweep any scandal under the carpet if the price right just like the deposed Deji of Akure is today appealing to Governor Mimiko to reinstate him on a quid pro quo basis because he was sure the Akure king makers are ready to forget and forgive his transgressions if he is able  to grease their palms. Selection of the next Deji would probably be the first and the last the Olusoga Administration in the Akure Council of Chiefs would ever make because majority of the Chiefs including Olusoga himself  are in their late 60s and 70s and their chances of surviving the next Deji are very doubtful in a country where the average span of life for men is 46 and 49 for women. I am watching very closely what Sao Adebayo probably one of the appointees of the deposed Deji in the Akure Council of Chiefs is going to do. He would have a whole lot of explaning to do to those of us from Irowo Quarters who have as much stake as he has in that title.

If you factor in the shoddy manner most of the President’s or Governor’s nominees in Nigeria are confirmed or denied confirmation by the Senate in the the Federal and by the Legislature in the 36 states,, you will understand what I am talking about. Many of those nominees like the current Aviation Minister with all the scandals in her past including a certificate forgery was confirmed by a useless Senate which could not scrutinize her credentials and her deposition to be sure nothing they ought to know has fallen thru the cracks. They went ahead to confirm her thus giving her the license to commit murder so to speak. Our clueless President is today rambling and playing Russian Roulette with a Minister who has been irredeemably damaged and should have been let go a long time ago.

The President could not do it because the Minister is the one helping him to raise funds  for his re-election in 2015. Part of whatever money she may have made from the 255 million she paid for 2 bullet-proof cars might have gone to the re-election funds of Mr. President. Such a revelation should have been sufficient ground for impeachment of any American President. The President’s whole world now depends on his holding on to office beyond 2015 or else hell is going to break loose. His first lady would have a heart attack if for any reason her husband’s re-election is derailed. That is precisely why Nigeria is riddled with stench and corruption the end of which nobody can predict as the country is sinking deeper and deeper into oblivion from all we can see.
What Governor Christie and his aides in New Jersey are being vilified and pilloried for right now is a daily occurrence that nobody would have paid any attention to in Nigeria, based on our own variation of Democracy which I define as “Demon-crazy.” While the ideal Democracy in most developed countries preaches social equality and justice, “Demon-crazy” merely pays a lip service to those ideals as mere slogans. What Demon-crazy does is oppress, intimidate and perpetually keep Nigerians in perpetual bondage as our Government is actually run by demons, misfits and the mediocre masquerading as leaders.

As a retired political science major domiciled in the greatest city in the world, my daily routine is predictable. I wake up every morning Monday thru Friday at exactly 6 AM even if I went bed as late as 3 AM. I wake up to watch BBC News from 6  to 6.30 AM to have a glimpse of what has been happening around the world in the previous 24 hours. I then quickly switched over to “Morning Joe” and his amazing panel of pundits and political analysts which frequently includes many of the American news makers of the past and present. I do that from about 6.30 to 7 AM. If I am not going anywhere since I am now retired and have more time to myself, I either go back to sleep till 9AM when I have to  get up to watch the “Daily Rundown” by my favorite White House Correspondent-in-Chief, the one and only Chuck Todd of the United States.

I get all the analysis and information I need to last me till 5 PM to watch MSNBC  Ed Chultz and “Politics Nation” by Al Sharpton, “Hard Ball” by Chris Matthew at 7 PM, Rachel Maddow at 9 PM and Lawrence O’Donnel by 10 PM. I get everything I need to make an informed analysis or take a position on any topic that captures my fancy.

I cannot be happier about my life in America because if I never left home, I could predictably have been dead by now not just because of what I write and how I live my life, but because of other  pressures, frustrations most Nigerians have to endure from their own leaders and Governments in  all nooks and corners of Nigeria from Okrika to Baga on Lake Chad. A scandal like Oduahgate and numerous scandals our embattled President Goodluck and his aides have to routinely  live with, would have run me crazy and totally insane. When I add that the pressures from not  getting my pensions paid on time in Abuja  to my responsibilities as the first born in my family, I feel  forever grateful to America because those are some of the factors that would  have killed me in Nigeria where kidnappers and hired killers are two for a penny. All our docile, incompetent and corrupt President could do about it is take the 5th or send his mouth organs like Edwin Kiagbodo Clark or his hatchet men like Reuben Abati and Doyin Okupe to start defending the indefensible as they struggle to explain to the world what the President has been doing a how well he has been performing his duties and meeting his obligations to Nigerians. It was all a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury but signifying nothing, if you ask me.

You will never have a President Jonathan coming out like Governor Christie  did yesterday, taking the bull by the horns, showing contrition, and answering questions for no less than 2 hours in a Press Conference  and leaving no one in any doubt that the man who has had a reputation for throwing punches is finally taking a hit himself, and making the best of it like great Mohammed Ali did when he survived 15 brutal rounds of hell with late Joe Frazier in their epic thriller in Manila or the rumble in the jungle with great George Foreman in Zaire. Governor Christie had to do that to salvage his credibility in American politics.

Everything that was good in American democracy was in display in the awesome exchange the self-opinionated Governor had with the Press and most of the best whistle blowers in America who are ready to jump on him like a junkyard dog. They all look the Governor straight in the face,  telling him  before television cameras not what they think he wanted to hear but what he needed to hear loud and clear as a public figure.. “You stay out of the kitchen if you cannot take the heat.”  Political leaders in America  do not toy with public opinion and dissent the way our leaders do in Nigeria. They instinctively know and understand that the Opposition is the Government-in-waiting and therefore a must in a Democracy. They cannot think of any party holding on to power for 100 years as canvassed by Obasanjo who calls himself a “democrat” and the self-appointed father of the nation.

Can you believe that Governor Christie who is yet to openly declare his intention to run for President in 2016 is being given such an intense scrutiny roughly 3 years to that election. If you compare that scenario with how our own President Goodluck emerge as a running mate to Yar Adua in 2007, you will be amazed. Our own Baba Mero just woke up after being lobbied by our current first lady to please allow her husband to become the running mate to the terminally-sick Yar Adua on the platform of the PDP which already knew it was going to win the election even before the first vote was cast. The same Obasanjo is again arrogating to himself the power to pick the successor to Jonathan in 2015 based on his own calculus and self interest. Obasanjo fully understood that Goodluck Jonathan who was going to be only a heartbeat from the Presidency, could suddenly become President if Yar Adua were to die in office. Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. Yar Ardua died in office roughly a year or two to the end of his first term. That was how Goodluck became President.

Not once in the Governor Christie Press Conference did I hear the Press call him” Your Excellency”, a title which every Governor and every President in Nigeria love so much that they would have a serious problem if any of their children or family members including their first lady forget to address them as such. Governors and Presidents are not subjected to such indignities in Nigeria because by our calling them “Their Excellencies” every now and them, we are letting it sink into their consciousness that they are superhuman  even though we all know they are not. We do the same to our senators and Assembly men by describing them as honorable even when we know a great many of them were actually rigged into office and they are making more than 100 times the remuneration for their peers and counterparts elsewhere around the world.

Ibori of Delta State was “His Excellency” before he looted his state treasury and before commencing his 13 year jail in London for money laundering. D.S.L Alimiyeisegha was “His Excellency in Bayelsa and the boss of our current President before jumping bail in London, dressed as a woman to escape justice. He returned to Nigeria to be given a state pardon on a platter of gold by his former Deputy who was catapulted to the  President of the country by default. The same Obasanjo is nows engaged in a brawl with the President because he now seriously regretted picking him to begin with and the rest of us are now supposed to roll out the drums and to start cheering the same Obasanjo who has bragged so many times that his PDP was going to rule Nigeria for 100 years because Nigerian voters are dumb and because their rigging formula are going to be perfected by Professor Jega and his boys at I.N.E.C.

Has any of you reading this ever heard of a Democracy where one party is allowed to dominate  a country for 100 years and where the Opposition is never given a chance to have its own day in the sunshine. How do you tell if the Opposition will perform unless you give them a chance to prove their mettle. In the ideal Democracy which has now been embraced in Ghana, Jerry Rawlings to his everlasting credit had allowed the opposition party to taste power and to show that no one political party has a monopoly on wisdom and good government. In the UK and in America, the British or the American voters would never have tolerated a government however good to dominate power for as long as the P.D.P has done in Nigeria. Never. I don’t care what  the P.D.P may be saying about the new A.P.C, it is time for the P.D.P to go. If A.P.C does not keep their promise, ii too should be thrown out in 4 years. That is the way Democracy is supposed to work.

Obasanjo is back again at his game by flying a kite that Governor Lamido would be his handpick for 2015 while Governor Amaechi would be his running mate. Where for God’s sake did Obasanjo learn his punditry to be picking and choosing for Nigeria from one election circle to another. That was the guy who picked Shehu Shagari and his N.P.N over and above Obafemi Awolowo and his U.P.N in 1979. Look at where his judgment has led Nigeria. The man was released from an Abacha dungeon to come lead the PDP. He lost very badly to Chief Oluyemi Falae even in his backyard in Owu. Such a man would not have been allowed to become President in more civilized polity, but the PDP had their own agenda.

They wanted to use Obasanjo but he ended up using them to consolidate his power as President by fooling his Yoruba kith and kin to vote for him to be in a position to assert himself as a PDP nominee. Once he got what he wanted he threw the AD Governors under the bus, got rid of the only A.D leader, Uncle Bola Ige who could have stopped him. The PDP took over the whole of the Southwest until “Ololu” of Lagos, iron man Tinubu assisted by Chief Bisi Akande beat Obasanjo to a retreat taking back the Southwest from the PDP, a feat that only Awolowo could have achieved. They routed Obasanjo at his game and may well repeat the same scenario in 2015 if their new mega  party can prove or demonstrate it is different from  the PDP which has lost all credibility in Nigeria as far as I am concerned.

Demon-crazy is what we practice in Nigeria. It is time for Nigeria to uphold the real tenets of Democracy as practiced in America. If I have to choose between the  American and the Nigerian model, the choice is clear. Need I say more?

I rest my case.

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Inhofe: Gates Was Not ‘Honest’ With American People.


Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe said former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates should have outlined to the American people his concerns about President Barack Obama’s national security management style and wobbly commitment to the Afghanistan war while he was still in office, BuzzFeed reported.
On Thursday, Inhofe, ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Newsmax’s John Gizzi that he was becoming a “fan” of Gates after reading excerpts from his book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary At War,” to be published this week.
Interviewed on the WABC’s Aaron Klein Program, Inhofe said “I think, yes, we can justly criticize Bob Gates for admitting that he knew these things were going on and he did not reveal these to the American people.”
Inhofe continued: “If you go back and look at the history of some of the secretaries of defense that we’ve had, they have been very outspoken in being honest with the American people. And Bob Gates wasn’t.”
The senator also charged that the president and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were “both . . . playing a political game [in Iraq] with the lives of Americans and our allies [and that] is something that should be a huge wake up call to the American people,” Inhofe said.
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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Elliot Jager

The Deprivation And Collusion In The Ban Of Fish Imports By Ugochukwu Ugwuanyi.


Happy new year beautiful people and welcome back to our rendezvous.

Permit me to allow fish to engage our attention today. It seems the creature is angered by our letting goats, cows chickens and turkeys steal the spotlight as if it never existed. As if it wasn’t what we relied on for our animal protein prior to the yuletide. It is justifiably irked that within the last two weeks we’ve helped our favourite yuletide animals exit this wearisome world without visiting the same favour on it.

Hence, fish has taken us on in protest as we can see in their current prices. Its kind is apparently revolting. Maybe, it figured that we have been this contemptible because it wasn’t as costly as the others. That has led it to speak to us in that language we very much understand; when a commodity commands high price, it then becomes suitable to be offered to royals or served at special times.

That’s exactly what it has responded to! As a result, its price has rocketed by 20 percent, spoiling to go even higher. To be clear, a carton of the species we call Titus has increased from N10,500 to N13,500, while a carton of the Kote variety now sells for N10,200, up from the N7,500 it sold at a month earlier. The locally produced catfish is not left out of the fray as the hike in its imported kind has made its rate far removed from the reach of average income earners in the country.

You may not believe this, but fish-kind has found none other ally in subjecting us to this ‘correction’ than the federal government. Yes, the FG you know! While we understand the grievance of fish, that of the FG which made it get involved in this matter is what we need to decipher. So let’s now forget about the avenging and paranoid fish and focus our mind to better understand the relationship our FG has with fish.

To be fair to the federal government, it did tell us before hand. This instance is no where near the ambush it perpetrated against us in the 2012 removal of oil subsidy where it caught us totally off guard in the most cavalier manner.

It had in a letter dated October 29, 2013, to fish importers directed them to ensure that all Bills of Lading, conveying fish consignments, dates not later than October 2013 and arrived the Nigerian waters not later than December 31, 2013. This explains why major shipping lines such as Maerskline, Safmarine, Belmas etc stopped the transportation of frozen fish leading to the scarcity of the item.

Though government was fair in specifying exactly when this will happen, it fell short of fairness by not heeding the outcry that earlier greeted the policy. People have continued to argue that the directive was a ploy to deny the poor masses of their only cheap source of protein and enrich corrupt custom officers. Yet, the last has not been heard of it as the policy is targeted at an annual reduction of fish importation by 25 percent in the next four years by which time we would have attained zero importation of frozen fish.

The fish products that have become staple food in our country, that is the mackerel (titus) and horse mackerel (kote) are not farmed here. They  are caught in high seas in Asia, Europe and America, from where we import them. The variant that we cultivate locally is catfish. The problem with it is that it’s a tad too expensive for the poor and not widely available.

This situation caused the recourse to fish importation which costs government $600 million yearly. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina is not happy that government is losing such money, hence, he is all about conserving the sum. However, in doing this, he and members of his team appear to be overlooking some vital issues.

For one, it is a basic understanding that the fundamental ground for import ban is import substitution. It then flies in the face of logic for a country to ban what it cannot produce locally. Where this occurs, it becomes deprivation! That is why it is difficult to fault Daily Sun’s Steve Nwosu who, while commenting on the allocation of N34.5m for two animals in Aso Rock Zoo in the 2014 budget, wrote: “… the only assurance I can give those presidency animals is that any day any of them gets so over-fed that it strays into the streets, it would end up in our soup pots;”

I’m sure most Nigerians would be more than happy to devour those pets in the Aso Villa whenever they have the chance. They wouldn’t even mind if it be any of the ‘unclean animals’. For when a person is denied something important, anything else that come close comes in handy. Even if not as substitutes, there would be people who think their health status will improve if they feast on them as that would afford them nutritional benefits that animals better fed than princes have to offer.

Aside from these Nigerians who just hunger for GEJ’s pets, there will still be those who would gladly prey on the animals to free up the preposterous amount the government is spending on them. Who knows when they’re no longer there to quaff such humongous public funds, Dr. Adesina may have to tolerate the $600million government spends to avail us of animal protein.

Be that as it may, another reason the ban is seen as ill-conceived which derives from the former is that the species of fish being banned have proven difficult if not impossible to be  bred locally. For they are either too expensive to cultivate or do not adapt to our local conditions. With this in mind, it then seems as if the policy doesn’t give a damn about those with preference for the banned species of fish and would have none of the catfish brand.

You may say: heck, what do we care when their taste is milking the nation of $600million. But, remember we are practising democracy and if about 70 per cent poor Nigerians vote to have their favourite fish rather than conserving what is being spent on it for government to use and buy additional aircraft to its over-bloated fleet, why shouldn’t that be respected?

Further, we have seen that it’s not really that the catfish will come cheap when an embargo is placed on the others. The truth is that the unavailability of the imported brand will cause the price of the already expensive catfish to go up. We saw this happen and there is every possibility that it will get more expensive when the availability of kote and titus fish continues to shrink. Whence, then, should Nigerians go for cheap animal protein?

But, a major consolation most Nigerians have is that men of the Nigeria Custom will always play ball. Since it is in their DNA to play. After all, many years after government placed a ban on frozen turkey, you need not look too hard before you find out where they are sold. In the streets stalls and market shops they are displayed for sale.

Many other commodities had being banned by government but were un-banned by those at the customs. So, government still has to eventually spend the same sum it is working to conserve. Moreover, the smuggling activity that this ban will engender is sure to fester corruption and lead to more revenue losses to the government considering the porous nature of our borders.

With all this in mind, government should just tarry the policy till it had ensured that there is an alternative in place that the poor can relate to. Since we must have the titus and kote species, efforts should be expended on coming out with ways through which their production can be domesticated. Our academics should be engaged to research into ways this can be realised.

No one is disputing the good intention of the government in this policy. It’s just that it failed to properly do its homework before executing it. This has led it to unwittingly  play into the hands of fish kind that is now having a good time settling a score with us!

Ugochukwu, a freelance journalist can be followed on twitter @ugsylvester or reached via ug.ugovester@gmail.com

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters 

That Osu Caste May Die A Natural Death By The Rt. Rev.C. A. S. C.Hukuka.


By The Rt. Rev.C. A. S. C.Hukuka

It is on record that the gospel came to Igbo land more than one hundred and fifty years ago. Today we can boast of cardinals who are Igbos capable of standing for the office of a pope. The Anglicans have produced a primate and many denominations, have several Arch bishops, Bishops, whereas others have general Superintendents/Overseers and such high ecclesiastical offices.  In the academic world, we have world class professors and consultants; some are even advisers to the president of America. Legal Luminaries and medical practitioners of international repute abound. In the business world, our people have taken immeasurable strides.  All these are evidences of civilization.  Thatched buildings have disappeared so much so that some of our children do not know what they looked like.

The abolition of slavery was in our favor. The “white man” fought the abolition and enforcement of abolition on our behalf. They have since become history. Such vices like nudity and killing of twins have also been a historic event. But one idolatrous, barbaric and wicked practice still throws mud of shame to our faces – the Osu caste in Igbo land. Barbaric, because some people who are regarded as Osu don’t even know what it is? They just inherited the stigma. Idolatrous, because its origin is from idol worship – the ancient belief of our ignorant forefathers. Wicked because, we castigate and outlaw people who committed no offence – legal offence is not hereditary or transferable.

WHAT IS OSU

This is a very important question – what is an Osu? A young man asked his father that question and the father could not explain. The young man retorted, “Are you advising me not to marry an Osu girl yet you do not know what it is. This is wicked.” The father softly told him that he grew up hearing that they do not marry from Osu family and so they took it as a norm. Hopefully many readers may understand the origin of Osu from this write up. A few books and seminar papers have been written on this subject. What you will read from this write up is my  personal research and extract from such books written by personalities like Chinua Achebe, Ezeala Jol, Ogbalu F C, Arinze Francis, Obi Sebastine, Okpala Favour, Okigbo and Marnesschs  Ekere to mention but a few.

1 ORIGIN:

From every point of view Osu emerged from traditional religion. Somebody can become an Osu by dedication willingly or unwillingly. Prisoners of war, slaves or kidnapped people may be dedicated to appease an angry god to remove calamity from the land while some are dedicated as punishment for an offense they may have committed in the community. Others, in order to escape maltreatment, including being turned into slaves from powerful relations, dedicated themselves willingly by running into the shrine for protection. Those people become agents of the gods with marks and their hair uncared for.  There are still others who committed crimes punishable by death from the community, such people run to the protection of the deity and so lose every right of the society and serve the deity instead.

Others became Osu by marrying or sleeping on beds or having sexual relationship with an Osu. In some societies when one uses the same razor for barbing or eating with an Osu or helping to carry the corpse of Osu or cross the leg of an Osu. There are still others who became an Osu through suspicions and gossips. For example, if two women are quarreling and one calls the other Osu or even Ozu (death) which sounds like Osu; at later death, people will begin to associate that person with the Osu, and that’s it.

In some communities females born on Eke day (Mgbeke) or on Orie day (Mgborie) become Osu by traditional belief.

NATURE AND CHANLLENGES OF OSU CASTE

From what has been so far noted, generations who are ignorant of these cultural and idolatrous practices are today suffering from this stigma; whether their forefather willingly or unwillingly became Osu. It is wicked and very unfortunate. Moreover all those stories are antiquated and heathenish. In some parts of  Igbo land these people are not even today allowed to participate in government elections, much less town union elections. In other places, they don’t intermarry with those who are not. The later appears to be general in Igbo land.

I  make  bold  to  say  with  deep  disappointment  that  this  practice  is  a challenge to the enlightened  in  the  society  – the educated,  the traveled,  the Church as a whole, our leaders in the governments, our chiefs, Obis and Ezes, our legal luminaries, our senators and House of Representative members. What are we standing for? What is the church preaching? The “white man” fought against slavery and our fore fathers were liberated. Early Christians (still the whites) fought against the killing of twins.

Today many twins who would have been killed are making their marks in the society. The Americans have voted a black man to become their president, thereby removing the past obnoxious segregation  of blacks from whites. Why should we come back to our land to enslave our brothers and sisters? I call upon the church, the human right activists, the youth, the government and all that abhor victimization to rise in every quarter and act. Remember, that in some communities they are called Oru, Uchu, Ume. Whatever name, caste is caste and should be abrogated. In some communities it is an abomination for a wife/husband to see the corpse of his or her spouse. Our government abolished it officially since 1956 and put it into law. Let this law be enforced. I call on all those authors who had written against it to now join us to see the total eradication of Osu in our society through legal procedures and whatever possible way within the law and human right procedures. May I congratulate some town unions that have abolished it in their towns. Let the youth rise up, ignore wicked uncouth advices and marry whoever they love and ignore the societal pressure not to do so. When the youths do so Osu will become a thing of the past sooner than later. God will be glorified and our generation blessed.

We, the Igbos have come of age. We cannot continue to listen to fables. We cannot continue to dance to the wimps and caprices of the ignorant and barbaric cultures. We are known to be pragmatic, contributors of developments and advancements in diverse societies and enterprises. We cannot be associated with people who wash their outside cups whereas the inside is full of dirt. This is the time to show that we have fully come of age. Osu caste system and the like must go. Liberty, freedom and enfranchisement for all.

The Rt. Rev.C. A. S. C.Hukuka
(Bishop Emeritus, Anglican Diocese of Isuikwuato-Umunneochi)

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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