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The Exclusion Of Ogu (Egun) People From The Lagos And Ogun National Conference Delegates’ List.


The continuous marginalization of the Ogu (Egun) people of South-West Nigeria is common knowledge. The late sage and Premier of the then Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo has remained the reference point in leadership not only because of his selflessness and capability, but primarily because of his inclusiveness. For example, it was Chief Awolowo who appointed the Aholu, Claudius Dosa Akran from Badagry as the Minister for Economic Planning and Community Development (1958 – 1964) in the then regional government.

At the same time, Chief D. K Aihonsu (from Ipokia, present day Ogun State) was a member of the Regional House of Representatives through the support of Chief Awolowo. Since the demise of this sage (and the leadership style he represented), there have been spirited efforts to present the South-West Nigeria as a mono-ethnic region. In this vain, political representation (other than local elective posts) has largely excluded Ogu people.

For the records, Ogu people, who speak the language called Ogu (although erroneously called Egun) had been part of this space before colonization and amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates of Nigeria. The misfortune of colonization led to the partitioning of Ogu people into Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, and Ivory Coast. The geographical spread of Ogu people forms a trans-border continuum in all these countries, while settling Ogu people are found in various other places in Nigeria.

To this end, Ogu people were part of the struggle for Nigeria’s independence and have contributed in no small measure to national development. In today’s Nigeria, Ogu people are found mainly in Badagry area of Lagos State as well as in Ado-Odo/Ota, Ipokia, Imeko, and Yewa South Local Government Areas of Ogun State. They are found in most states that share borders with Benin Republic, including Oyo, Kwara and Niger States. In addition, there are various Ogu indigenous communities like Makoko and Iwaya in Lagos State, Ago-Egun in Abeokuta, among others.

The indigenous Ogu people of Nigeria have had their fair share of the troubles with Nigeria. The Ogu are the typical victim of ethnic crisis in South-West Nigeria. In recent times, there has been escalation of ethnic crisis between Ogu people and their majority Yoruba neighbours as often reported in Ado-Odo, Ipokia areas, and some parts of Badagry. A few years ago, Ogu people were, almost as a matter of policy, denied admission into Badagry Grammar School, Kakon Model College and other government-owned schools until sufficient pressure and protests were registered by their leaders. On account of the non-Yoruba names most of them bear (there are some who consciously and on account of accident of naming bear Yoruba names), Ogu people are still denied admission into the various tertiary institutions in South-West Nigeria today among other injustices arising from their minority status in the South-West in particular and Nigeria in general.

The situation, sadly, at times suggests a systematic intention to single out this particular ethnic group for persecution. To many, the Ogu are Nigerians only when it is time to vote. Lagos traditionally has five divisions with Badagry (comprising mainly the Ogu people and the Awori sub-ethnic group of the Yoruba) as one of these divisions. It is however worrisome that a lot of political decisions and other moves for development often exclude the Ogu as is playing out in the nomination of delegates for the forthcoming national conference.

The Ogu people had looked up to the national confab as a great opportunity to table their concerns and suggestions that will advance the Nigeria project. It was with anxious optimism that the Ogu people through the Ogu Concern Forum (and various other groups) made presentations and submitted memoranda to the Senator Femi Okurounmu-led Confab Committee when the panel visited the South West late last year. Among others things, the Ogu people canvassed for ethnic representation to the confab, just as many other groups had advised. The report that the Constitutional Conference Planning Committee ultimately presented recommended, among other things, that the selection of delegates from each state should reflect their ethnic composition. Following from the recommendations, the Ogu people had made presentations and suggestions to the Lagos and Ogun State governments to be represented at the national confab.

On Monday, February 24th 2014, Governor Fashola of Lagos released the names of the six nominee-delegates of Lagos State to the national confab — Alhaji Femi Okunnu, Mr. Supo Shasore, Mr. Rabiu Oluwa, Mr. Waheed Ayeni, Prof Tunde Samuel and Mrs. Funmilayo Bashorun. Just as the Ogu, who were not in any way given any consideration in the choice of delegates, were grappling with the misfortune that had befallen them, the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun also announced the names of Ogun State nominated delegates two days after to include Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Senator Biyi Durojaiye, Fola Adeola, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, Mrs. Titi Filani, Barrister Biyi Adegbuyi and Senator Iyabo Anisulowo. Once again, the reality of Nigeria having a non-political national conference without Ogu people represented stares the entire South-West in the face.

The all-Yoruba delegates’ lists from Lagos and Ogun States reek through and through with contradictions. Such an exclusive list has the potential of detracting from the constant claim to a progressive character with which the South-West has often been identified. Neither is such a move in consonance with the mantra of justice and fairness and a collective developmental partnership which often reverberate in this part of the country. How, for instance, could these two states with radio and television broadcasting programmes in both Yoruba and Ogu close their eyes to the existence of Ogu ethnic nationality in their choice of delegates to the National Conference? It is an established fact that, Ogu people are not Yoruba, and to that extent, the governments of the states should have been kind enough to allow for representation of the Ogu as a distinct ethnic formation in the states. Even the non-Yoruba people in Ondo (Itshekiris, Ijaws) get better treatment from the state government.

We believe it is not late to rectify this gross marginalization and injustice. We are persuaded that there should be at least one Ogu representative in the Lagos State delegates’ list. We are equally persuaded that the Ogu people in Ogun State deserve at least one representative out of the eight delegates nominated by the state. We reject every suggestion that Ogu people can be represented by non-Ogu people, as not only does this smack of an attempt to infantilize Ogu people, it also amounts to malignant paternalism. We reject the persuasive distortions that tend to lump us up as Yoruba. We make bold to say that the absolutism being projected by the current leaders of South-West Nigeria is against the spirit of national dialogue.

We demand from the Nigerian State equal rights as citizens, including the right to air our grievances through the national conference. We remind all, that persistent injustice breeds agitation and resistance. We reject all suggestions that diminish our persons, our identities, our dignity and our uniqueness. We do not affirm difference for its sake; we do so because it is the least logical thing to do, seeing that we operate by distinct cultural paradigms that are framed by equally distinct historical evidence.

Signed on behalf of Ogu Collective:
Dr Pius Fasinu
Ms Gloria Sevezun Agbaosi
Dr Senayon Olaoluwa
Mr Viyon Awhanse
Dr Jendele Hungbo
Mr Nunayon Samson Afodewu

Ogu collective, a representative body of the Ogu people of Nigeria can be reached atogucollective@gmail.com

 

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

As We Await Jega’s Imperfect Elections In 2015 – By Peter Claver Oparah.


By Peter Claver Oparah

I don’t know what was probably on the mind of Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently when he warned Nigerians not to expect a perfect election from his INEC in 2015. I am yet to fathom what message he wanted to send by that apparent admittance of failure before he sets out to deliver what Nigerians have rightly termed a crucial election that will make or mar the fragile country. It is not as if most Nigerian expected a perfect election; not from INEC and most certainly, not from Jega’s INEC that delivered an untidy farce in 2011 and had been delivering more egregious parodies in states it had conducted elections since that sordid show in 2011. Perhaps the high point of Jega’s incapacity to conduct elections in Nigeria was the November 16, 2013 tragedy in Anambra State which merely worked from an answer to a pre-determined question. The nationwide condemnation trailing that anti-climactic election jolted Jega, first to admit the infractions that besmirched the so called election while curiously approving the outcome (as is traditional with his questionable objectivity) and now, to seek to prepare us for the worst in 2015.
Yes, Jega wants to lower the high expectations Nigerians have built for a credible election in 2015.  Yes, he wants to pre-offload the seeming massive umbrage that awaits him should he play a predictable script of mismanaging the 2015 election to favour those that tele-guide him on the job. Yes, Jega was creating a convenient alibi for the predicted failure his INEC plans to shock Nigerians with in 2015 but I don’t think we should allow him such a cheeky escape route. Come to think of it, when did Jega wake up to the reality that his INEC cannot deliver a perfect election after he reveled in the syndicated applause that attended his abhorrent conduct in 2011? When did he wake up to realize that indeed, his INEC, with its present composition and carriage cannot be trusted to deliver an election that will even compete within the regional standard obtainable in West Africa? I ask the last question because Nigerians, I know, will certainly hail Jega and swathe him in flamboyant allure should he deliver an election that nears the standard obtainable in Ghana or even Benin Republic.

After his appointment, Jega was to embark on an expensive voter registration exercise that involved the capturing of the personal data of eligible Nigerian voters. From its face value, that looked a sure bet towards dealing with the virus of multiple thumb printing, which riles the country’s electoral process. It also stood to verify the authenticity of declared results for whenever the thumb printed votes come in contact with the captured data of voters, there is bound to be a scientific filtering to separate the actual votes from the fake votes. What should shock Nigerians was the first observation from curious Nigerians that there was no central server to store the cumulative data captured all over the country. That meant there was no base for the expensive data Jega captured at every polling booth in Nigeria. Also the deliberate manipulation of the voters’ register, as seen in the elections in Ondo, Anambra and Delta Central Senatorial constituency points to the fact that the data that were collated has been seriously compromised and cannot be trusted to form the cornerstone of credible election in Nigeria. Again, there was no known relationship between the data captured and the votes cast. On election day, one needs to present merely his temporary voters card for possible identification and nothing more. What really was the essence of the thumb print that was central to the voters’ registration? With this lacuna, desperate politicians were to corner all the ballot papers and in some cases, one person thumb printed as much as twenty booklets and all were accounted as real votes in the 2011 sham of an election. This was the magic behind the history-breaking 90 to 99 per cent votes the PDP appropriated in the South East and South South States in 2011.

Jega is being clearly mischievous by his latest warning to Nigerians not to expect a perfect election in 2015 and every Nigerian must tell him in unmistakable terms that we expect nothing more than a perfect election from him. If he cannot deliver, let him quit in time for the country to have for herself an election umpire that is ready to claim responsibility for his actions. Yes, let it be clear and candid that we will not accept any more of Jega’s farces again. I can attest that Jega’s INEC cannot conduct a credible election because Jega is too indebted to those that appointed him than disappoint their schemes to corner every election in Nigeria by hook or crook.

It has been the mantra of those that support the entrenchment of fraudulent elections in Nigeria to argue that there can no prefect election. Again, they freely charge that election losers in Nigeria can never accept defeat. These positions have been proven false by the conduct, outcome and reactions that trailed the June 12 1993 presidential election. Truth is Nigerians know a credible election when they see one and whenever it occurs, even losers will accept the outcome. Perfectness is a relative word and that elections are deemed perfect does not mean it is free from error. Nigerians know this and when they demand a perfect election, they want an election with minimal errors and not one that is deliberately schemed as a farce. A bigger truth is that apart from the 1993 presidential election, all other elections held in Nigeria have been mere concoctions put in place to dupe the electorates and further the ends of corruption and bad governance.

As it is now, Jega’s INEC is fully packed with leading PDP members. The rest are mere nominees of the PDP and President Jonathan. One wonders how a credible election can happen with the upper deck of INEC populated by members of a political party that had sworn to retain power till eternity through every available means. The process and procedures of elections are mere malleable tools at the hands of the PDP to arrive at pre-ordained ends. No foundation for credible election is built on such partial foundation and that is one of the burdens Jega carries and why Nigerian elections remain perpetually shambled with deliberately erected bulwarks stalking it at every end.

But this country has a well thought out report on electoral reform, as recommended by the Justice Mohammed Uwais Electoral Reform Panel. The panel is comprehensive enough as to remove most of the bulwarks that stand between Nigerians and credible election in its report. For understandable reasons, the ruling PDP sabotaged the report because while it stands to guarantee a free, independent and credible electoral organ and process, it threatens the plot by the PDP for perpetual fiefdom. The party rather prefers a system where we wobble through highly manipulated elections, executed according to its wills and by people of questionable integrity and party mercenaries. It rather prefers a situation where it enters the game both as a player and referee. It is within this pliable template that we locate Jega, his shoddy conducts so far and his frustration that gave vent to the recent warning. The question every Nigerian, especially the opposition must ask is whether we must continue to endure the process that threw up Jega and makes room for all his failures and still threaten us with future failures?

Methinks every Nigerian must rise up and tell Jega that we expect him to conduct a credible election in 2015 or find the exit door, if he feels he cannot guarantee that. We have collectively borne the brunt of fraudulent elections far too long that we cannot put up with another deliberately fabricated ruse in 2015. In fact, he should muster the courage and tact to steer off the way so as to enable the country address its electoral woes by strictly applying the Uwais Electoral Reform Panel Report. This must be made clear to Jega and the opposition should ensure that Jega is perpetually kept on his toes so as not to once again, dump another electoral charade on the country’s doorstep in 2015.

Peter Claver Oparah
Ikeja, Lagos.

E-mail: peterclaver2000@yahoo.com

 

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

Tribalism Is Like Biting Your Father’s Genitals: Dokubo And Other Tribalists.


By Peregrino Brimah

The heading of this piece may read strange, but some of the parties it primarily refers to will know its source. The original quote is, “He who calls for `Asabiyyah (nationalism/tribalism) is as if he bit his father’s genitals.” Also, “He is not one us who calls for `Asabiyyah, (nationalism/tribalism) or who fights for `Asabiyyah or who dies for `Asabiyyah.” “One of us,” here means, “a Muslim,” these quotes, being Hadith of the prophet of Islam (p).

There is no denying the disdain for tribalism by the prophet of Islam. In other narrations, of fighting for tribalism he said to “leave it, it is rotten.” Again he is narrated to have said, “…Behold, Allah (God) has removed from you the arrogance of the Time of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance) with its boast of ancestral glories. Man is but an Allah (God)-fearing believer or an unfortunate sinner. All people are the children of Adam, and Adam was created out of dust.” More references can be found on Zawaj website (http://www.zawaj.com/editorials/nationalism_ahmed.html).

Mujahid Asari Dokubo claims to be a Muslim, but according to these narrations, not only he, but all other northerners and other Nigerians, who clamor for and prescribe tribal based fire and blood regardless of the interest of the nation’s masses, simply for the best and most decent, progressive and non-corrupt leadership, are “not Muslims,” and are rotten people who are so low, they nibble and bite to chew their parents genitals.

A Muslim will never fight for tribalism or nationalism. It is one people and one world, all made from dust. All that separates people is their fear of God and their good and Godly behavior.

The New Testament likewise does not favor tribalism. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)

Many of us pray for and seek a day and a world without borders and without indigenship and ethnic regulations for leadership. A world where a Kenyan man’s son can become president of America, the world’s most powerful nation (That day has come already in America, but the reverse obtains today in political Nigeria).

The concept of tribalism is very foreign to Africa. Many great writers have penned and typed articles on this fact. When we look back at our ancestors, the one thing that defined pre-colonial Africa is the integration not only of citizens but of leaders too.

King Jaja of Opobo, Jubo Jubogha was an Igbo man from Orlu, who was assimilated into and became leader of Ijaw Opobo in Rivers/Akwa Ibom.

General Murtala Mohammed’s father Pam Iyatus from Vom in Plateau state was a Berom man, who assimilated into Hausa Kano and Murtala is recognized today as a Hausa hero, over his Berom ancestry.

Malam Umaru Altine was a northern Fulani man who was the first elected as the Mayor of Enugu; he was again re-elected to serve a second term.

There are tons more examples.

Indeed in pre-colonial Africa, all it took was to migrate into a new territory and prove your diligence and character to be fully accepted, acculturated and be eligible not only for ethnic citizenship but even to lead the nations.

We have Nigerian origin Yoruba chiefs in Ghana, Sierra Leonean politicians and chiefs in Nigeria, Nigerian top government officials in far away The Gambia and so on.

What is happening to Nigeria now as a few of us are so embroiled in dirty, filial genital cannibalistic tribalism is un-African and will actually make our ancestors turn in their graves. Those of us who wear tribal regalia and claim tribal loyalty would actually be discarded by our for-fathers as illegitimate offspring of their great hospitable and progressive legacies.

It must be added that there is a space for ethnocentrism. However this is only useful as regards competing with the positive achievements of those who came before us, to do better than their records; not in tribalism feats, defaming and disgracing what they valued and promoting what they rejected.

In an earlier article, “The Devil Was the First Ethnocentric,” I presented how by refusing to bow for Adam, the devil was the first to portray such shameful behavior, and is the father of tribalism and ethnocentrism. The devil had argued that he, made from fire should not bow for Adam, made of “mere” dirt. The devil was discarded into the pits of hell for such repugnant behavior.

Nigeria’s empty political elite, the enemies of the nation and the 168 million poverty ridden, humiliated masses, have copied a page from the colonial books, by taking advantage of, and festering tribal sentiments as a weapon to secure their inutile holds on power.

Nigeria needs good leaders, short and simple. Regionalism or disintegration is a legitimate quest if raised and sought respectfully and without direct and indirect celebration of, sponsorship and promotion of death; but promoting tribal based leadership is cheating as long as it is one nation and murderous.

The likes of Dokubo Asari, and others north, south, east and west, who argue to cheat Nigeria of its much needed race to recovery and development, by promoting rotational-presidency and ethnic selection and re-election of candidates, are in African terms, abominable inheritors of our great ancestors. Spiritually speaking, they are cannibals, who thrive off of eating the testicles of their fathers.

Written with contributions from Doctor Amadi Jnr. of Muslims Against Terror.

Dr. Peregrino Brimah
http://ENDS.ng [Every Nigerian Do Something]
Email: drbrimah@ends.ng Twitter: @EveryNigerian

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Okogie: A Profile In Discipleship, Lesson To Jet Pastors By Bayo Oluwasanmi.


By Bayo Oluwasanmi

For the Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, His Eminence, Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, it’s not easy taking a stand for what’s right when every Nigerian Jet Pastor around him is running after what’s wrong. It’s not been fun either for Okogie swimming against the current of public opinion or walking against the wind of selfish pursuits.

Standing alone may not be popular especially in a reprobate nation like Nigeria, but it is always profitable for Okogie who chooses to walk with God. Working with people is not so difficult. All you need is unfailing patience, insight, stability, and tremendous experience. And Okogie is abundantly blessed with all the four qualities – and much more.

God could have chosen to do his work another way, but he didn’t. He chose to use people. People like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and of course Okogie. God asked Moses to demand of Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” And God asked Isaiah and Jeremiah to prophesy to a rebellious nation. Moses said “I won’t.” Isaiah said “Woe is me!” Jeremiah said, “I can’t.” And God asked Okogie to fight for the poor. Okogie said “Here I am God, send me!” Yet God supplied the strength and training to prepare each messenger to deliver his message.

In like manner, when God asked the Jet Pastors to side with poor and oppressed Nigerians and confront the oppressors with truth only the truth, they said “We’ll rather begin our charity abroad in our executive jets than associate with suffering Nigerians.” In unison, they answered, “We can’t,” “We won’t,” and “We will never!”

Though I have never listened to Okogie’s sermon, that’s what he did with his life – in the choices he made, the wisdom demonstrated, the priority that he gave to prayer, and the diligence he demonstrated toward the plight of the poor and voiceless Nigerians. I’m not a Catholic, but Cardinal Okogie’s outspokenness against military dictators and tyrants of a democratic government almost persuaded me to become a Catholic.

Every successive government in Nigeria has received the full brunt of Okogie’s assault. Like a diligent watchman, Okogie guards the Nigerian multitude of poor by warning the “Ogas at the top” of the impending judgement. He calls and calls, but no one is listening.

The career of Okogie, presents the life and ministry of “theology of liberation” as he preaches to his once mighty nation – Nigeria – a withering flower or a passing shadow. For nearly half a century, Okogie proclaims an unpopular message to the politicians as well as the Jet Pastors: do not pray that the poor be fed unless you are willing to provide the bread.

His sermons go unheeded by the headstrong leaders who do their best to silence Okogie by ignoring his cries and counsel. Opposed, hated, and once arrested, the heartbroken priest lives to see the cruel political leaders unleash all forms of barbarity on Nigerians.

Okogie, one of Nigeria’s prophetic mouthpieces – what a privilege and a responsibility – for the 77-year old priest to peer into the troubled waters of 2015 and doles out unpalatable truth to President Goodluck Jonathan not to run in 2015.

In an interview published in The Citizen Online September 22 last year, Okogie focused on 2015 presidential elections. Headlined “Don’t Run, Jonathan, Don’t …” the interview is a deliciously satisfying encounter with the fiery priest. At 77, Okogie remains unbowed and unbought. He dispenses the truth with divine generosity. There is still fire in the belly of the lion.

Excerpts from his interview:

On President Jonathan and 2015: “If I were Jonathan I will not try it because the writing on the wall does not favour it. We have not even got to 2015. There is so much sycophancy and flattery. It is like telling Okogie now to go into politics, ‘come, you are the kind of person we want,’ you think I am stupid.”

“Apart from the story that Jonathan made an agreement that he would do just one term, if it is true, do you think those who were there when he said ‘just one term’ are stupid.”

On corruption: “It is quite true and corruption has been there, but not as strong as it is now. It is now a cankerworm. The only good Lord can help us out of it. But if we want to fight corruption, we should start from the top. The man at the top is thinking when I leave office, what happens to me and he want to build an empire for himself. How did it get it?”

“Why are so many people running into politics? 2015 is two years away; see how they are killing themselves. Who even knows who will get to 2015? What do you think they are looking for, money? Nothing else. They are not patriotic; they are not. All our political leaders, how many of them can beat their chests to say they are patriotic. It is just gimmick and pancake that they are doing.”

On government’s plan for the youth: “They often say the youths are the future leaders of tomorrow; it is not true, because where are the plans they have for the youths; how many of them are truly educating the youths or giving scholarships?”

“Look at the ongoing ASUU strike, then consider the amount of money the senators, president, and governors collect, compared to what others are getting in Europe. And look at our schools, the citadel of learning, where the youths are supposed to be trained for the future of the country, that they claim is for youths.”

“Why are they not sending their own children to those kinds of schools? And those who do not have enough money to take their children to Europe take them to Ghana and even Benin Republic. This is the problem we all have. And this is why corruption is there.”

On the political parties: “The parties are chop, I chop like Fela said; they are all the same. If we are all patriotic, you do not care where the person who rules comes from…” I am looking for job, but I cannot get the job simply because I am from a particular region. What is wrong with us? So, our political leaders should guide and guard their mouths, because some of the people listening to them are stark illiterates, they hear go they do not hear come.”

On unholy alliance between Jet Pastors and oppressors of the ruling class: “It is pity that a good number of those who call themselves religious leaders today are not religious leaders; they only became religious leaders because they want to feed their tummy… And they feel they can take it up, read, and interpret it (Bible) to suit themselves, but no way. And this is why they are not keeping to their calling.”

The iconic figure of the Roman Catholic Mission in Nigeria, Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie retired from the pastoral governance of the See of Lagos having reached the age limit of 75 years May 25, 2012.

Born June 6, 1936 in Lagos, to a royal family of Uromi in Edo State his father was Esan and his mother was Yoruba. He holds a licentiate in sacred theology and was ordained as a priest December 1, 1966. In 1973, he became the Archbishop of Lagos. From 1994 to 2000, he headed the Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria.

Archbishop Okogie is the ultimate friend and companion of the voiceless, the marginalized, the helpless, and the poor. He’s the people’s priest. In my opinion, Cardinal Okogie possesses one of the most revolting pens in the history of clergy in Nigeria. He’s a thorn on politicians and those of the clergy and other appendages who branded with reprobate scandals. He detests their pomp, their pride, and their luxuriousness.

Over the years, Cardinal Okogie has mystified both his critics and admirers of the courage that sustained his heart, and the peace that filled his soul, were reflected upon his countenance and struck the beholders. He once volunteered to die in place of a Muslim woman who had been condemned to death by stoning by an Islamic court for adultery.

A man of super intellect, he never hide his belief in an infallible Bible and the consequences of that belief in his conforming behavior to Biblical precepts. Okogie is a solid excellent Christian, a rare gem among his fellow clergy men both at home and abroad.  A man of great power with great piety. He was one of the few cardinal electors in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI.

With a cheerful countenance and more than stoical constancy, he confronts head on the workers of iniquities that continue to annihilate the very people they sworn to serve and protect.

In June 2005 when the police acting on the orders of the federal government, laid siege on 1004 Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos; Bishop Okogie condemned the action saying “If a soul is lost there (1004 Estate), I will not hesitate to call for civil disobedience and beckon the international community against this government.”

The estate has been a subject of dispute between the federal government who had one time sold the property to the highest bidder and consequently asked its occupants who are mostly civil servants to vacate the building.

Like other helpless Nigerians, the Bishop felt like a prisoner in an outworn, obsolete political and theological system. Worried that religious politics would tear Nigeria apart, the revered Bishop warned that no country could remain one when “adherents of a particular religion are being singled out for persecution and denial of their fundamental rights as citizens of this country.”

Addressing newly ordained priests August 2005, the Cardinal said many priests had failed in their responsibility because of their inability to match their belief with actions. In 2006 speaking on the spate of assassinations in the country, the eminent Bishop had this to say: “The assassination of the former justice minister Bola Ige, Dikibo Marshall, Funso Williams and now Ayo Daramola portends a very great danger for our country, because the killers have not been found and prosecuted to deter others…”

On safety and security, he warned that “A nation without security is not a nation… Such a nation slides gradually into jungle justice, barbarism, anarchy and chaos.” “I am no prophet,” continued the Cardinal, “but if care is not taken, the way we are going, there will be many more assassinations before the 2007 elections.” Events that followed however, proved him to be a prophet!

A champion of public education, Cardinal Okogie berated the federal government when seven private universities were approved. He accused government of promoting private education at the expense of public education. “They are (government) subtly killing education in this country and making same costly for parents,” said the Cardinal.

Never recoiling from torments of enemies of progress and accusers of the brethren, Cardinal Okogie never missed the opportunity to condemn the extravagant riches of secular and church office. In June 2007 in Abuja at the Ordination of Seven Missionaries of Society of St. Paul (MSP), the Bishop took a swipe at priests who enriched themselves in God’s name. With biting sarcasm he lashed out at their hypocrisy:

“We need good Priests to carry out the work of God and lead Nigerians to Christ,” he said. “Now you see men of God involving themselves in negative attitude, bad practices such as enriching themselves with material things under the pretence of working in the Lord’s vineyard. Priests of God should bear good fruits that last,” he warned.

He challenged Nigerians to hold their priests accountable. “You must correct the man of God when they are not getting it right. They’re not saints, they are humans… Do not hesitate to call them back when they go astray.”

Okogie, “Dare to be a Daniel” is more than an old gospel song. It is a timeless challenge for the ruling class, the Jet Pastors, and for each new generation of Nigerians, calling them to be God’s “change agents” wherever he might send them or whatever position he might plant them. Okogie’s confidence in God is nurtured by his communication with God. To Okogie, to trust God is to talk to God, and to talk to God is to trust him all the more.

No doubt, Cardinal Okogie has left a sting in the hearts and a gnawing worm in the consciences of the enemies of the people. The lesson from the Cardinal’s life to the Jet Pastors is clear: A godly life is the best advertisement for Christianity.

We wish the people’s priest a retirement full of happiness and fun.

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

 

 

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

Nigeria’s Retrogressive Anti-Gay Law By Abiodun Ladepo.


By Abiodun Ladepo

This past Wednesday, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan elevated crassness and primitiveness to the highest level imaginable by signing into law a bill banning homosexuality in Nigeria.  I deliberately crafted the previous sentence so unambiguously.  He did not just ban homosexual marriage; he banned homosexuality as a whole!  Perhaps if the law had only stopped at “persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison,” one might not feel so much outrage.  But it went on to state that “any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison”!  In essence, only heterosexuals are allowed to hold hands in public, sit on each other’s lap, hump each other while dancing in clubs or kiss publicly.  What, in the name of God, just happened to Nigeria?

Let me state upfront that I am a Straight (heterosexual) guy who is happily married to a beautiful woman.  So, this write-up is not about me or my sexual preference.  It is about Nigeria’s lack of originality and lack of creative instincts.  We the people, along with our leaders, fail to do the deep thinking, the due diligence, in many respects that will take our country farther and more quickly than we have hitherto done.  Lethargy is irredeemably ingrained in our psyche.  Otherwise, how does being openly gay draw our country back?  We already have thousands of gay people in our midst!  How does their gayness prevent those of us who are not gay from going about our businesses?

This law assumes that the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community just arrived in Nigeria yesterday.  No, the LGBT has been with us since, at least, when I was a young boy over 50 years ago.  I recall growing up in (yes) Zaria, Kaduna State, of all places, and going to watch evening dances of members of the LGBT.  We used to call them “Dandaudu.”  We, the kids, used to marvel at their public display of amorous acts.  This was in the early 60s.  They were not hidden behind the walls of any clubs in the middle of the night; they danced in open spaces and in early evenings.  I have also personally witnessed “Dandaudus” doing their dances in Bukuru, Jos, Bauchi and Maiduguri in the 70s.  And if you lived in the hostel during your secondary school years, don’t tell me that you did not catch a few of your guy friends “doing it.”  I have heard from some of my secondary school female friends of the sexual trysts that went on in their hostel.  Let’s not even talk about what happens in the dorms of our universities.  So, why are we just now finding out that their presence in our midst is anathema and antithetical to our moral fiber?

Reuben Abati, that formerly celebrated anti-bad government champion, who is now a turncoat and who I now detest with so much passion, defended the law with the pedestrian argument that since 90 percent of Nigerians were opposed to same-sex marriage, “…the law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs.”   Ninety percent?  First, how did we come up with that percentage?  When did we poll the country to ascertain that 90 percent of our people oppose same-sex marriage?  And even if they do, what right does the majority have to trample on the basic right of the minority – the fundamental human right to freedom of association?  What right does the majority have to deprive the minority of having sex with whomever it wants as long as it is consensual?  The worst that the Nigerian government should have been able to do should have been the denial of official recognition of such a union. But to criminalize it is akin to despotism, especially in a democratic dispensation.

And by the way, since when has this government or any past Nigerian government taken a decision in favor of an issue perceived to have received the support of the majority of Nigerians?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the removal or Stella Oduah as Aviation minister, Diezani Madueke as Petroleum minister and Reuben Abati as adviser?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the banning of government officials, especially the President, from seeking medical attention abroad until our medical facilities and personnel are of the same standard as those they use when they go abroad?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the supply of 24/7 uninterrupted electricity to all corners of Nigeria?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the revamping, rejuvenating and reinvigorating of the EFCC so it can better fight corruption?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support a massive overhaul of our educational infrastructures from elementary all the way to university systems?  Don’t 90 percent of our people oppose the blocking of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway by mega-churches and mega-mosques?  Have our lawmakers crafted any laws that criminalize the failure by government to do the things mentioned above?  No.  But these nosey people are eager to get into the bedrooms of Nigerians.

I find this homophobic inclination that is so rampant in our country as yet another example of religious zealotry and self-righteousness that have been the bane of our society.  Everybody is stampeding and trampling each other today in their quest to out-do one another as they condemn homosexuality.  But we will find out one day – tomorrow maybe –  just as we have found out in Europe and America that even family members of influential government officials can be (and are indeed) gay!  In fact, we will soon find out that membership in the LGBT community cuts across all spectra of our society – from the ranks of elected politicians, to traditional rulers, military officers, police officers, teachers, technocrats, pastors, imams, babalawos, traders and what not.  And what are we going to do when we find out that one of these influential people whom we had thought was heterosexual was indeed bisexual?  Would we throw OBJ or IBB or GEJ or Mama Iyabo or Dame Patience or any of their children into 14 years of prison terms if any of them turns out to be gay? What would we do when we discover that Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye or his wife, Folu do engage in homosexual acts (with other partners, of course)?  What about Sheik Muhammad Yahaya Sanni and his many wives?  Are we going to give them immunity against prosecution?

This is why I stated earlier that our leaders did not subject this law to a rigorous and intellectual discuss before allowing their emotion, religion and communal bandwagon mentality to overtake their sense of reason.  Before the bill was adopted by the Senate in 2011, a few Nigerian members of the LGBT community, supported by some civil rights activists, appeared before the Senate to argue against enacting such a law.  The lawmakers and religious zealots in the chambers of the Senate booed and heckled these gay folks till they cried and left in disgrace.  Among the booing and heckling crowd were men who maintain two, three, four or more wives – wives who are subjugated, mentally and are physically abused.  Among this crowd were women who cheat on their husbands with their pastors and imams to the extent of making babies out-of-wedlock while their husbands thought the babies were theirs.  These people, in my opinion, lack the moral right to tell a gay man or woman whom to love and whom to cavort with in public.

Believe me, gays are the least of Nigeria’s problems.  Graft in high places, greed in high places, hired assassination, kidnapping, murder, armed robbery, neglect of rural areas, neglect of urban areas, lack of functioning basic amenities like electricity, water, hospitals, education, transportation, youth unemployment – all take precedence over what my neighbor is doing in his/her bedroom.  I am ashamed that my leaders do not see this.

And I get it. I get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  Even if I wonder how truly religious we are when we watch our religious leaders steal from the religious houses and sexually abuse the laity; even if I sometimes wonder why our religious leaders live in obscene opulence while they watch their followers wallow in abject poverty, I still get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  It is the reason why an issue such as gay rights should have been thoroughly debated intellectually.  I hope the passing of this primitive and retrogressive law begins the rigorous discussion of how we allow members of the LGBT to bask in their rightful sense of belonging.  We should lead Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leon, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia out of the comity of nations still wedded to the archaic tradition of segregating their own people on the basis of sexual preferences.

We should join South Africa, Zaire, Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Mali (yes, Chad, Niger and Mali), Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau in the comity of nations that embrace the diversity of their people’s sexual preferences and have legislated to protect the rights of their LGBT people.

By Abiodun Ladepo

Los Angeles, California, USA

Oluyole2@yahoo.com

 

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

What To Do With All The “Witches”? By Leo Igwe.


There is a great problem brewing in Ghana – What to do with all the witches? The government has decided to eradicate witchcraft. The plan is to close down the safe camps where those accused of witchcraft fled to get away from their accusers. The victims are to be sent back to their accusers who will kill them in all likelihood.

Witchcraft is big business in Ghana. Soothsayers, priests and chiefs wield great power over largely helpless people through the threat of exposing common people as witches. Once accused, the “Witch” is usually killed or expelled from the village. The accused witches that escape with their lives end up in witch camps where they are protected from execution.

Now Nana Oye Lithur, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, wants to close the camps and send the “Witches” home to be killed. She has convened a committee with a mandate to eradicate witchcraft in the northern region of Ghana. The scheme she is proposing in closing down the camps would enable victims to “Flee(sic) their minds from the act.” I am not quite sure what this means but if the camps are closed down and the “Witches” are sent back to their villages as the government plans to do they will probably be killed.

To the superstitious, the witch is a very dangerous person that can cause illness, cast spells to kill livestock or murder innocent people with witchcraft. To the superstitious mind illness, deaths and accidents are all caused by witchcraft, not natural phenomena. When a calamity befalls a person they pay soothsayers and priests to interpret dreams and omens that point out the witch that is causing the trouble. Once accused of witchcraft, life for the accused can become a living hell that may quickly come to a sudden bad end.

The government of Ghana has recently been under local and international pressure from human rights groups and development agencies to take action against witch hunting in the country. The response from the government is to close the few places those accused of witchcraft can seek protection.

The witch camps are difficult places to live to be sure. There have been reports of inhumane and degrading conditions including cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of the victims by camp managers, local chiefs and priests. Still they provide a shred of support for people who have no place else to turn for help.

The government of Ghana is acting under pressure to redeem its image and its human rights record in the eyes of the international community. It wants to eliminate this embarrassing situation of witchcraft accusation in the region. But closing down the witch camps and sending the “Witches” back to the people who will kill them is clearly not the best choice.

Witch camps are the consequence, not the cause of witch hunting. Witch camps are at the end of an abusive process that starts in minds steeped in religion. Witchcraft is popularly believed to be a real crime punishable by death. It is fueled by lack of real world education and used by soothsayers, chiefs and priests for financial and political gain.

Witch camps are at least safety nets, however poorly run, for these victims of religion whose believers will kill them for crimes it is impossible for them to have committed.

Closing the rescue camps and sending their human wreckage to be disposed of by people who still believe in witches is not the answer. Educating the religious to look for real causes in the natural world so they are not hunting witches, or calling on supernatural forces, but rather finding ways to cure the problems they face would go a long way in making the camps unnecessary and Ghana a better place to live for all.

The government is clearly out of touch with reality concerning the camps. If the government of Ghana is serious about combating witch hunting in the country, it should first focus on addressing the cause, not the  symptom of the disease. The government should institute a program of public education and enlightenment that will bring about a mental and cultural shift.

Ghanaians need to abandon this notion that people can kill others spiritually and begin to come to terms with the fact that death is a natural occurrence. That misfortune is a part of life not some spell cast upon them.  Part of this program should be devoted to getting Ghanaians to abandon this notion that dreams are the way god reveals the witches in the family or community.

Soothsayers and local priests are largely responsible for promoting and reinforcing these beliefs in witchcraft and magic. These occult entrepreneurs need to be retrained  to make a living at a profession that adds to the productivity and well being of the community.

Belief in witchcraft is the problem, not the safe haven of the camps. If Ghanaians abandon the belief in witchcraft, the witch camps will simply fade away.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

A Plea For City/Town Self ­Rule In Nigeria By Adamu Muhammad Dankore.


By Adamu Muhammad Dankore

It drives me crazy no one is about about it.

In 1963, Nigeria adopted the United States Federal Republic structure, leaving behind the Parliamentary System of its colonial master, Britain.  In a Federal Republic, the executive, legislature and judiciary are each independent arms of government while one arm can perform the function of another in a Parliamentary System. In order words, elected legislators are also ministers in a Parliamentary System. Legislators cannot be ministers at the same time in a republic.

It was brilliant of our forefathers to have chosen to adopt the Federal Republic System. Here’s the conundrum though: US Economic Freedom Index, the overall health of the economy, increased 0.5% from 1999 to 2013, while Nigeria’s Economic Freedom Index reduced 0.6% over the same period. The point? The Federal Republic System is working for the US and not for Nigeria.

Same democratic structure, different directions? Maybe we should look a little deeper. Looking closely, our democracy lacked the bedrock of a Federal Republic­ harnessing the power of interest.

Interest is a loose concept I coined for things people do because they have to, because if they don’t there will be negative consequences. If they do, there will be positive consequences. And actually, democracy harnesses the power of interests in order to properly function. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is an example of an organized interest group. They have vested interest in the proper functioning of their staff and one of the ways they showed that is by going on strike. Farmers groups, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, student associations, the lists goes on, are examples of groups having restricted interests. In general, the wellbeing of our children, wife, husband, parents, town, state, country and so on are things we have a vested interest in. We have to care about these units otherwise there would be negative consequences.

The closer these units are to us, the more we care about them, the further away they are, the less we care. It is more likely we would care about an issue happening in our town than in another town 3 hours away. It is more likely we would care about an issue 3 hours away than 10hrs away.

Nigeria does not fully harness this concept. In fact, we left the mechanism behind after we remodeled the republic­ type democracy from the US, and that is the root cause of our problems. Yes, that is literally the root cause of our problems. Because we lacked the mechanism that empower people the most, no wonder Nigerians feel they don’t matter. When you make people feel they don’t matter, you can expect the worse from them. The Biafran War, Boko Haram, and Niger Delta Militancy are examples.

So how exactly does Nigeria’s Federal Republic fail to harness the power of interest? The answer is the absence of city/town self­ rule. This sounds mediocre but is one of the most, if not the major, indicators of how the common people have control over their democratic process. China, a communist country, has a city/town rule. South Africa, a parliamentary ­republic also has a city/town rule. Overall, countries that practice city/town rule do better in the Economic Freedom Index. The difference is glaring.

City/town rule is common sense than anything else. It’s not a privileged rule that works for some countries and not others. This common sense comes from the concept of vested interest I mentioned above­ people have the tendency to care more for things closer them, physically or emotionally, than those far away. Therefore, giving people the authority to manage the closest reasonable entity to them does not only deliver the most efficient results but also make the people in control of their future.  A city or town is the most reasonable governance entity closer to the people, not a Local Government Area we currently have in Nigeria.

Our Local Government Area/Wards structure is a good idea, except the local governments are not the closest reasonable entity to the people, compared to cities/towns/villages, more so, the Wards have few to zero administrative powers. It makes all sense to give cities/towns administrative authority rather than local governments. Supervisory, education, jail, hospital, and so on are examples of roles Local Government Areas should play. We should give our cities/towns the authority to collect taxes, manage roads, water, electricity, sewer system, environment, police and so on.

Unfortunately, not every Nigerian think local control is our main problem. I don’t blame Nigerians but the system. Our current democratic structure has made us accept top to bottom rule as the normal; a power structure that is not only ineffective at its best, but create takers instead of creators. Top to bottom means taking care of others instead of given them the power to do so. This kind of system cripples innovation, encourages money laundering, fuel godfatherism, create hopeless followers, and the root cause of 99% of our problems.

Adopting a city/town rule would give many more Nigerians, instead of the few, the opportunity to shape the future of their country by themselves. It would make Nigerians creators of wealth rather than takers. It would attract people and businesses into our communities creating jobs and securing our future.

Below is an outline of the logic behind why city/town rule produces the best results:

●     People have stakes (something to gain/lose) in their city/town; give them the authority, they will not allow it to rot. If they do, they suffer the consequences and make corrections themselves.
●     Better managed cities/towns attract people
●     The more the people in a city/town, the more businesses will relocate
●     The more businesses, the more economic activity and income for the city/town
●     The more money a city/town gets in form of taxes and fees, the more services it would provide
●     Improved cities/towns gives rise to financially strong local governments
●     Better local government makes a great state
●     Better states make a powerful country.

The top to bottom democratic structure we currently have in Nigeria does not work and it will never work. It is about the few babysitting the majority, a structure that does not only discourage being independent, but also encourages corruption (Nigeria is 144 out of 177 countries in terms of corruption says Transparency International), while also very incompatible with economic stability, the list goes on.

Countries that adopt city/town rule tend to be relatively less corrupt and have a more transparent local, state and national governments than those who don’t. Benin Republic, Botswana, Ghana, and South Africa are examples of countries that have city/town rule and have much less corruption, good elections, and of course investment­ healthy environments because it is the majority not the few that control their future.

Even though our problems are too many and with no apparent solution, local control aka city/town rule will solve our problems one after the other. It will create jobs and infrastructure, ease regional and tribal tensions, produce good leaders who would rise from local to national, conduct credible elections, and corruption will fall greatly because now millions more people would be responsible for managing their resources.

It is the majority that build cities, towns and villages so give them the power to do so. Safe and friendly cities, towns and villages make a strong local government, state and a country. It is not the other way round like we currently have in Nigeria.

City/town rule will put Nigeria on the path to economic freedom and corrupt­free society.

Adamu Muhammad Dankore
Hartley, Iowa, United States
+1-319-296-5799

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

Beyond Mo Ibrahim Ranking: ASUU And The Insincerity Of Federal Government By Anthony Kola-Olusanya.


By Anthony Kola-Olusanya

It is no more news that President Goodluck Jonathan met with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities on November 4th, 2013. By the end of the historic meeting between President Jonathan led team and ASUU leadership, it appeared the federal government (FG) was ready after all to resolve the lingering ASUU’s industrial strike action. According to Minister of Labour, Emeka Wogu, “the meeting ended positively and the message of the President to ASUU is full of hope and high expectations, and our prayer is that they come back with positive response.

They might not even come back to meet us; they might even take decisions there that will meet your expectations.” Labour Minister Wogu also noted that “the offer made by the president was in line with the 2009 agreement reached with the union. The offer is within the issues that led to the strike; the issues contained in the 2009 agreement and we did not go beyond the agreement”. The breakdown of the new offer from the FG was that “the Federal Government would give N 1.1 Trillion to public universities in the next five (5) years. The government will release N220 Billion yearly into the sector beginning from 2014” towards revamping the Nigeria’s public universities.  The NUC, NLC and TUC as joint guarantors of the agreement while the Minister of Education will be the implementation officer. Also, the meeting agreed that the money will be placed in a special account at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

To an average layman or woman, the outcome of the meeting was a nice way for President Jonathan to earn praise from Nigerians for helping to resolve the logjam, which all the small men and women in and around his cabinet couldn’t deal with. Like the animated saviour of the people in the cartoon movie ‘Spiderman’, President Jonathan’s resolve and his 13 hours sitting with ASUU was commendable. A meeting which has earned him comparative credentials liken to that of late Dr. Nelson Mandela, hero and former President of the Republic South Africa, who spent 27 years in prison.  Of course, we cannot take it away from President Jonathan, this is by no means an achievement in a country where political office holders hold the citizens with a ‘go and die’ disdain.  Be that as it may, the positive resolution of the ASUU strike in November could have helped the President put his much vaunted ‘transformation agenda’ back on track and probably Nigeria on the part to being a member of the top 20 economies in the world by the year 2020. But all that appears to be history now.

What could have gone wronged, despite the President’s 13 hour sitting-down meeting with the lecturers’ union leaders? Nobody except the President and his men and women of his cabinet can tell. But as an outsider, I like every other Nigerian believes that the President Jonathan led federal government team are neither committed to the greatness of this country nor the welfare of its citizens. Reflectively, 27 months earlier, in 2011, when President Jonathan launched the transformation agenda with the pomp and glamour nobody could have doubted the fresh air blowing round the Nigeria’s political landscape.

The Transformation Agenda is based on a summary of how the Federal Government hopes to deliver projects, programmes, and key priority policies, from 2011 to 2015 coordinated by the National Planning Commission (NPC). These key projects, programmes, and priority policies are not different from those contained in the Vision 20:2020. To attain the overarching goal of the vision 20:2020, key parameters such as polity, macro-economy, infrastructure, education, health, agriculture, and manufacturing would have to be met and sustained.

While the identified key parameters could be considered very potent, the education parameter appears to be the bedrock upon which all other parameters are built. The important role accorded education in this drive towards attainment of the vision’s goal for the country is crucial given that  the educational goal includes the provision of modern and vibrant education system, which provides for every Nigerian the opportunity and facility to achieve his/her maximum potential and provide the country with adequate and competent human power. By no means, education is a form of investment in human capital, which in turn yields economic benefits and contributes to a country’s future wealth by increasing the productive capacity of the people. Suffice to say that the success of other sectors of the economy largely depends on the extent of support for the country’s educational development. Hence, without the provision of a vibrant educational or training system, it will be very difficult, if not impossible for the country to achieve the lofty aims contained in the vision 20:2020 and Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

With the ASUU strike in its 6th month, it is gradually becoming obvious that the transformation agenda of the President Jonathan and Nigeria’s vision 20:2020 is in jeopardy. A revisit to the Mo Ibrahim IIAG ranking places Nigeria in the 41st position in Africa behind more serious countries like Mauritius (82.9%), Botswana (77.6%) and Cape Verde (76.7%) in first, second and third position respectively. Whilst the top three leaders at the West African sub-regional level includes Ghana (66.8%), Senegal (61%) and the island nation of Sao Tome  and Principe (59.9%). Comparatively, at the continental level, the leading country on the IIAG ranking, in 2012, Mauritius devoted about 15% of its GDP and between 30 and 40% of her annual budget on education during the same period. Also between Ghana and Nigeria, Ghana in 2012 spent 8.2 per cent of its GDP on education while Nigeria spends 0.8 per cent of its GDP on education. Meanwhile, the combined earnings of the two countries are by far less than Nigeria’s during the same period. In addition, Southern African countries are spending about 35 to 45 per cent of their annual budget on education. This, therefore, forces the question of which country is richer and serious about its national development goals in relative terms? Of course, the answer to this question is not far-fetched, as this is very obvious with 2013 publication of IIAG ranking and the FG’s handling of the ongoing ASUU strike which has paralysed the top echelon of the country’s educational sector.

It goes without saying that the seriousness and commitment of a country to national development and institutional performance can be viewed from education sector performance. Education is universally recognized as a form of investment in human capital, which in turn yields economic benefits and contributes to a country’s future wealth by increasing the productive capacity of its people. Universities all over the world are accepted as the citadel of knowledge, education and human resource development. The gross neglect of this sector by successive Nigerian governments over four decades, is a classical demonstration of the FG many double speaks on the issue of university funding. That President Jonathan would suddenly find solace in issuing threat of sack on the striking university teachers is a further demonstration of the fact that the FG and President Jonathan is not wholly committed to its own project and programs of both the vision 20:2020 and Transformation Agenda. Archetypically, the FG has not deviated from the norm, since it appears whether a military or civilian administration, there is a particular trend of line which must be toed. And this is to always obfuscate the issues; such that its resolution becomes a mirage, while the chaos continues in perpetuation.

This perhaps explains FG’s claim that ASUU was making new demands even when it was very obvious that there was nothing like that from ASUU and on the strength of that, the lecturers are to be sacked. On the issue of salaries for the period, ASUU is right to request for the withheld salaries since the strike is justified and rooted in the international Labour laws regarding lockouts and non-payment of salaries. International labour laws guiding lockouts or strikes stipulate inter-alia that “the employer shall not lockout employees during the tenure of the agreement” as well “employees shall not embark on strikes during the tenure of the agreement”. This clause is always fundamental clause in any labour agreements signed across the world to protect the system. I say this as someone who has previously participated in workers’ union negotiations both within and outside Nigeria. What this suggests, is, where the employer(s) lockout workers, the employers shall pay the workers remunerations and dues to them since the workers have not shown or demonstrate unwillingness to work. But where the employees embark on strike or lockout while the agreement subsists, the employees shall forfeit their dues and remunerations. There have never been troubles over this as parties are known to respect and implement agreements signed.

Now, what makes the present case of ASUU strike different is that the ongoing strike is aimed at forcing the FG to respect and implement an agreement it signed with the union in 2009. On the basis of this, the FG owe the university teachers hereto referred as the employees in the agreement their dues and remunerations for the period in question. Hence, ASUU justified in its request for the payment of the withheld monthly salaries as a condition for the suspension of the strike. Having said this, I need to quickly say that strike as a weapon is not a strange phenomenon throughout the world. Even in the global headquarters of capitalism, the United States of America (USA) and other G8 countries, workers do embark on strike when and if they needed to. Strikes are the only means with which employees can force their voice to be heard. No workers’ union is known to embark on needless strikes.

The accusation against ASUU strike as self-serving and politicised is grossly unfair and absurd. If anything, we should support ASUU in its fight against impunity and the revitalization of our universities. Our universities, polytechnics and colleges of education need serious intervention; otherwise the future of the country is doomed. I am at loss that it’s only when ASUU or any other workers’ union are on strike that things will collapse when it comes to funding issues. For the avoidance of doubt, it need be known that it was ASUU strikes that brought about Education Trust Fund (ETF) and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND). Of course, ASUU or the universities is not the only beneficiary of these gains on the long run, the major beneficiary is the government and Nigeria. Further, any labour agreement being signed after a strike all over the world always carry a statement that no one will be penalized for taking part in the strike.  As per ASUU insisting that N200 billion should be deposited in universities accounts is not out of place. This is December 2013, if truly FG wants to start implementation this year, I don’t think this should generate any issue. The entire sack threat thing goes to confirm that FG is actually not interested in implementing the agreement. Nigerians must not forget that the present strike was called after the union had written 351 letters and met various government officials at least 150 times to remind government on the need to honour the agreement promise.

Beyond the issue of trust, let’s look at this from another angle. ASUU has not made any demand that the money should be in a special account in the CBN, this was agreed to by the President as a guarantee that the money will be safe. ASUU had requested from the President that an official of the Federal Government at the level of a Minister preferably the Attorney General and Minister for Justice sign on behalf of the FG so that the agreement/resolution will have the force of Law. This, President Jonathan himself had guaranteed ASUU; that it will be done also. This is not too much to do if the President and FG actually love Nigeria and believe in the great future for the country.

After all the shenanigans, it’s a welcome development that the FG has acceded to ASUU by signing the memorandum of the understanding (MOU).  According to the MOU, the FG is to fulfill all the obligations agreed upon during President Jonathan’s November meeting with ASUU, including the non-victimization clause. For a country that has grown weary with FG’s lies and half-truths, let’s hope the FG will demonstrate good faith by implementing this newly signed MOU. For the avoidance of any doubt, the MOU among other issues stipulates that the FG will inject N200 billion yearly beginning from 2013 towards revitalization of the country’s universities over the next five years.

Anthony Kola-Olusanya is a teacher and citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

UK Court Hands Goldman Sachs Banker Four Years In Jail For Helping Ibori Launder Loot.


By Saharareporters, New York

A British court has sentenced Ellias Preko, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who helped former Governor James Ibori of Delta State to launder millions of dollars, to four and a half years in jail.

Mr. Preko, 54, is originally from Ghana.

Our correspondent reported that Mr. Preko remained impassive as Judge Anthony Pitts announced his sentence. Earlier, the disgraced banker had thanked the judge as he was taken into custody following guilty verdicts returned by the jury on two counts of money laundering.

“His world has very much fallen apart,” defense barrister Richard Horwell told the court in a plea for leniency before sentence was passed.

Mr. Preko was arrested five years ago as the net closed in around former Delta State governor, James Ibori. Mr. Ibori himself was last year sentenced to 13 years imprisonment by the same judge after he plead guilty to charges of money laundering.

The jury heard evidence that between 2000 and 2003, Mr. Preko took $5 million stolen by Ibori, his wife and mistress, and made it appear to be clean money so that the loot could be lodged in trusts held in the British tax haven of Guernsey.

The cash came from inflated contracts awarded by Mr. Ibori’s administration to three companies held in the names of Ibori’s wife and mistress.

Email evidence seen by the jury showed that Mr. Preko instructed the Iboris on how to fill out forms for businesses so that they could pass the Guernsey bank’s due diligence investigations.

With the benefit of Mr. Preko’s expert help, the rogue companies, named Sagicom, Zircon, Zeta and Onyx, appeared to be legitimate. But investigations by the Metropolitan Police revealed that the address of the companies’ head office was in fact an off-license on Awolowo Road, Lagos, prosecutor Sasha Wass told the court.

The money laundering scheme was the “first of many” future transactions Mr. Ibori promised to execute in email correspondence shown to the jury.

Mr. Preko’s defense team had argued that their client had never been paid for his help, and said the banker was unaware that the money was the proceeds of crime. The other members of the fraud syndicate, Mr. Ibori, his family and mistress as well as Mr. Ibori’s UK solicitor, Bhadresh Gohil, bore much more responsibility for the criminal activity, Mr. Horwell argued before Judge Pitts and the jury.

“Mr Preko was toward the bottom of the hierarchy,” the defendant’s attorney argued. But that line of defense was mostly swept away and discountenanced by the judge.

“You were a professional man, not under the pressures of a family member,” said Judge Pitts to Mr. Preko, adding that the defendant “had the ability to walk away.”

Judge Pitts however acknowledged that Mr. Preko had a limited role in the theft in comparison to Ibori’s wife, Theresa Ibori, and his mistress, Udoamaka Okoronkwo. Both women were each sentenced to five years in 2009. They have finished serving their sentence and been released.

Confiscation hearings are due to be held next year, where any of Mr. Preko’s ill-gotten gains identified by investigators will be liable to seizure by the court.

The court granted the prosecution four months to complete fresh investigations in Nigeria regarding the location and nature of illicitly acquired assets.

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