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Posts tagged ‘Nnamdi Azikiwe’

A National Insult Rejected By Okey Ndibe.


Okey Ndibe

Okey Ndibe

For those unaware of its source, I might as well state from the outset that the title of this column is not original. It’s adapted from a statement released last week by Wole Soyinka. The statement, which bore the Nobel laureate’s stamp of revulsion at moral impunity, chastised the Goodluck Jonathan administration for its bizarre line-up of 100 personalities worthy of honor at a ceremony marking the centenary of Nigeria’s amalgamation.

The centenary list, typical of such rolls in Nigeria, was a hodgepodge. It bracketed imperial personages, so-called “contributors to the making of Nigeria”—including Queen Elizabeth 11 of England and Lord Frederick Lugard, first British overseer of the forcibly amalgamated territory—with such notable nationalist fighters as Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, and Anthony Enahoro. It squeezed Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Michael Imoudu, Aminu Kano, Kenneth Onwuka Dike, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, John Pepper Clark, Chike Obi, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Dagogo Fubara, and Moshood Kashimawo Abiola into the same tent as Sani Abacha. In an even weirder development, Mr. Abacha shows up—along with Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida—under the category of “Outstanding Promoters of Unity, Patriotism and National Development”.

How did we quickly forget that Abacha’s looting of public funds from the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria was a patriotic act? Or that he gave his cronies licenses to import toxic fuel into Nigeria because he so fiercely loved Nigerians and fervently desired their development? Or that Babangida’s annulment of the June 12 presidential election was a recipe for Nigeria’s unity?

Anybody who only followed the Aso Rock version of the centenary could have run away with the impression that Nigerians are ever grateful to the coalition of British merchants, bureaucrats, adventurers and royals who cobbled their country together—and named it Nigeria. But the deeper truth lies elsewhere. There were two sets of memory at play last week, two attitudes to Nigeria—a so-called nation bereft of a national spirit, a space that is unformed, ill-formed and malformed.

Those who preside today over the looting of billions of dollars of Nigeria’s resources may deceive themselves that the 100th anniversary of the amalgamation of Nigeria is an occasion for celebration. Many—I’d argue, most—Nigerians think otherwise. For several months, the Internet was abuzz with speculations that the legal instruments of amalgamation stipulated one hundred years as the event’s expiry date. With a great sense of expectancy, many looked forward to the formal cessation of the tragic, nightmarish, and blood-soaked experiment called Nigeria. Was the Jonathan administration unaware of this swell of hope that Nigeria should cease?

In the build-up to the centenary, the band of Islamist extremists known as Boko Haram carried out one of their most savage and outrageous attacks yet. They stormed a secondary school in Yobe under the cover of darkness, slaughtered 60 boys, and set their victims’ dorms on fire. In any serious country, one such act would forever scar the collective conscience, provoking a resolve of “Never again!” Not in Nigeria, a place where a human life is worth far less than a chicken. How did Nigeria’s “transformational” leadership respond to this latest callousness by Boko Haram? It responded in its accustomed soft, indifferent manner. It issued the same tiresome, obligatory condemnation of the carnage, nothing more. The Presidency did not consider the shocking abbreviation of so many innocent lives an occasion to devise and announce a bold, effective plan to assure the safety of all citizens, especially school children, in the Boko Haram-plagued, terror-infested areas. It was, as usual, a do-nothing stance.

But then the government did something even worse than habitual abdication. Apparently, Reno Omokri, Mr. Jonathan’s point man on social media, orchestrated a release that sought to link Nigeria’s suspended Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, with a spike in Boko Haram’s gruesome activities, including the Yobe slaughter. Apparently Mr. Omokri did not reckon with the fact that many Nigerians are quite adept at cyber intelligence, deft at the kind of detective work that can unmask those who exploit the seeming anonymity of the Internet to slander others. Mr. Sanusi is the Jonathan administration’s Public Enemy Number One. The sacked CBN Governor committed the unpardonable sin of telling the world that a major agency of the Nigerian state had failed to deposit $20 billion earned from crude oil exports. In response, the government accused Mr. Sanusi of squandering the funds of the bank he ran, awarding contracts without following requisite laws, and dispensing Nigeria’s funds as if they were his private treasury.

If Mr. Sanusi committed these crimes, I’d like to see him prosecuted, convicted and punished. I’d also like to see the administration account fully for the funds that Mr. Sanusi alleged to be missing. Here’s what the government doesn’t have a right to do: sending Mr. Omokri, its cyber warrior-in-chief, to concoct and disseminate horrific lies against Mr. Sanusi or any Nigerian. Unless Mr. Omokri can demonstrate that he did not mastermind the craven forgery, he ought to resign immediately. Or be fired.

It’s tragic that the Nigerian government, from the president to his aides, continues to fiddle while the country burns. It’s shameful that President Jonathan and Nigerian legislators prioritize a phantom war—going after gays—when the country is besieged by mindless, well-armed zealots who see unarmed Nigerians, including children, as fair game. How does the targeting of gays solve Nigeria’s infrastructural problems? Are gays the reason elections are massively rigged in Nigeria; public funds looted with depraved greed; our educational system a shambles; our healthcare system ghastly?

Nigeria fought a civil war that claimed anything from one to three million lives. It was a war to defend a British-made idea, to uphold the sanctity of a space wrought by British imperial fiat. The mantra was: To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done. To their credit, the British had an excellent reason for keeping Nigeria one. Nigeria was their largest holding in Africa (and their second largest anywhere, after India). It was a prodigious source of raw materials for British firms as well as a huge dumping ground for British-made goods. It made sound sense, from the British point of view, to keep Nigeria one.

As British rule ended, the Nigerian elite who inherited the spoils of the state adopted as an article of faith the idea that Nigeria must remain one entity. But they shied away from asking the hard questions. What’s so sacred about Nigeria? Why should we remain one? What ends are served by remaining one? What does Nigeria represent? And—if unity was not negotiable—then what must be the irreducible terms of our engagement?

I’ve argued before that a central part of Nigeria’s tragedy arises from the fact that the country fought a costly war, but has never permitted the lessons of that war to inform its conduct, to shape its ethos. It’s as if we went to war to defend the right of a few to continue to plunder, to continue to feed fat at the expense of the rest of us, to perpetually rig themselves into power, and to add their contemptible names to every roll of honor, even though they refrain from doing anything that is remotely honorable.

As Mr. Jonathan feted the so-called giants of Nigeria’s centenary, a different, oppositional narrative played itself out. The collective memory of the vast majority of Nigerians beheld Nigeria, not as a splendid monument, but as a sordid, wretched edifice. They saw what Mr. Jonathan and his ilk refuse to see: that the Nigerian state is a provocation, a moral affront, a failed, misery-dispensing state.

Soyinka captured part of the spirit of that deep split in the way Nigeria is regarded. He acted bravely by excusing himself from the insouciant official ritual that amounted to an insult to the outraged sensibilities of the majority of Nigerians. In a statement of renunciation titled “Canonization of Terror,” Mr. Soyinka called attention to the wasted lives of the students in Yobe. He drew our attention to “the entire ethical landscape into which this nation has been forced by insensate leadership.” He would not succumb to the summons to collective amnesia, the only condition under which an ogre like Sani Abacha would be invited to arise, ghost-like, to accept national veneration as a patriotic champion of Nigerian “unity and national development.” Stated Mr. Soyinka: “Under that ruler, torture and other forms of barbarism were enthroned as the norm of governance. To round up, nine Nigerian citizens, including the writer and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, were hanged after a trial that was stomach churning even by the most primitive standards of judicial trial, and in defiance of the intervention of world leadership.”

In the end, Soyinka spoke for me—and I suggest, for many other enlightened people—when he stated, “I reject my share of this national insult.”

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe




Jonathan’s 2015 Onslaught By Charles Ofoji.

By Charles Ofoji

Only the naive would still be waiting for President Goodluck Jonathan to formally declare his intention to seek reelection in 2105. The body language of the president and his calculated speeches, inactions and actions leave no one in doubt that he will not only ask the Nigerian people to renew his mandate, but in fact he has started campaigning for reelection. The firing of his Chief of Staff and four ministers last week are unmistakable canons, kick starting a reelection bid.

At last, Jonathan, albeit reluctantly, sacked his controversial political ally, Stella Oduah. Undoubtedly, if not the fact that 2015 is dangerously too close, he would never have fired the woman, who not only played a pivotal role in his emerging as president in 2011, but also, despite her malfeasance, arguably did a good job in the aviation industry as minister. Jonathan was awfully disinclined to sacking Oduah for the two reasons I have mentioned. Her discharge is a loss to Jonathan personally and the Nigeria people. The Aviation Industry will miss the vision this ambitious woman had for it. She wanted to reform the rotten industry and she did well in this direction. I guess her greatest undoing was that she failed to realize that no matter how well you mean or how well you might be doing your job, public service has rules which are sacrosanct.

Oduah got carried away. In that way, she unwisely played into the hands of her enemies, who are predominantly the cabal holding aviation industry hostage – those who want business to remain as usual. At the end, she paid the price for not playing by the rules and her enemies rejoiced. Her greatest mistake was that you cannot be a reformer and live below board. Reforms hurt special interests. The owners of such interests would naturally fight back to retain the status-quo which guarantees their profit.

I was one of those who personally admired Oduah. I had wished she did well, being a woman. It would have gone a long way in bridging gender inequality in Nigeria. I also, on a personal note, wished her well, being a friend of her brother during my times in Cologne, Germany. Nevertheless, her misbehaviour was not tolerable, neither was it pardonable. You don’t bend the rules because people you like broke them.

Jonathan had tried to bend the rules for Oduah until he found out that the heat was unbearable. She had only become an agonizing political liability. This is why I refrain from congratulating this president for sacking those enmeshed in corruption, who dined with him. There is no sincerity in their sacking. They were not sacked because Jonathan was interested in ethics or in the fight against corruption. It was only onslaught towards 2015 – a selfish move aimed at winning back the trust of the Nigerian people.

It is useless to inquire if Jonathan would be successful in getting Nigerians to trust him again. Even if Nigerians would not trust him again, who would they? The so-called Alliance for Progressive Change (APC) has not presented Nigerians with a viable alternative. It takes only an extraordinary candidate to defeat an incumbent anywhere in the world, more so in Africa, where it rarely happens. The names I hear of in the APC do not come near to even being average candidates. In fact, they are worse than Jonathan.

Based on the covenant between Nigerians and Jonathan and his performance as president, he should not bother asking for another mandate. He failed to deliver on his promise – a breath of fresh air. The air got worse under his watch. For those who love Nigeria, it saddens to know that he would remain president beyond 2015. There is simply no credible challenger.

This cast a big question mark on Nigeria’s recruitment and reward system. The mere fact that all those within a touching distance of challenging Jonathan are people of questionable character simply goes to underline that something is terribly wrong with the country. No thanks to a dubious recruitment and reward system bequeathed on the Nation by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, those who are competent and those who genuinely love Nigeria and have something to contribute to her forward-march never get a chance to serve their fatherland. As a result of godfatherism, mostly unqualified people and charlatans ambled their way up Nigeria’s political ladder.

Recently, I listened once more to the brilliant speech of former Prime Minister, late Tafawa Balewa before the United Nations. Again I cried for Nigeria. You could only ask yourself, where did people like Balewa, Azikiwe and Awolowo go? Nigeria did not stop producing such people. The truth of the matter is that there is an abundance of people like them. The only thing is that the sycophants the military handed over power to, so that they could protect their interests, hijacked the country. And they would do all, including assassinating, to make sure that people like Balewa are prevented from coming close to power.

Jonathan is the biggest beneficiary of a system that encourages mediocrity. He should never have been president in the first place. He was propped up by a dubious system. Unfortunately, as he said recently, he is still better than those calling him names.



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

Nigeria was born deformed 100 years ago and has died long before, says Bakare.

bakare 2

PM NEWS LAGOS – The General Overseer of Nigeria’s Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has said that the country called Nigeria was born deformed 100 years ago, adding that it died when Major General Aguiyi Ironsi abolished the regions in 1966.
The convener of the Save Nigeria Group, SNG, said this while speaking on the topic: “Birthing A New Nigeria Without Complications” during a live programme on Eko FM 89.75, on Tuesday, and monitored on the SNG’s twitter handle @savenigeria. Bakare added that the “Federal Republic of Nigeria” is a lie.
He said with the way the Nigerian is currently structured, we can never produce the Nigeria of our dreams.
“If we are going to become a united nation, we need to sit down and renegotiate our destiny. The foundation of our problem is that the British ensured that for 46 years there was little interaction between the North and the South. The British ensured that the military was basically north. Where ever there is economic interest you will see military. The British were here for the economic interest
“The January 1 1914 amalgamation was merely administrative. The amalgamation of the judiciary was in 1916 and that was of the legislature was in 1947. Awo and Zik were nationalists, they set up AG and NCNC but the northern parties were given northern identities. Nigeria died a long time ago when Major General Aguiyi Ironsi abolished the regions
“The “Federal” Republic of Nigeria is a lie. This baby (Nigeria) was already born deformed. The way the Nigerian government is currently structured can never produce the Nigeria of our dreams. If we don’t restructure and have a people’s constitution, we are deceiving ourselves. Elections cannot produce it. We must not put the cart before the horse,” he warned.
Bakare wondered if there are still people in this nation capable of birthing the new Nigeria.
“George Washington refused salary as president but Nigerian politicians go into elections to make money. But there are people who will put the nation first. I am a beneficiary of Awolowo’s free education policy”
“Don’t trust anyone who has never been tested with power. The way we are going, America is beating the drum that there will not be a Nigeria by 2015 and we are dancing to it. We can avert disaster by going to the negotiation table,” he said.
Speaking on the National Confab, he said,”no matter by what nomenclature the government sets up a national conference, let’s go to the negotiation table. Any constitution that will not bend will break.
“Time has come to recaliberate prayer, evangelism and social activism. There is no time better than now for Nigerians to talk. This confab must produce a new constitution. There is hope for Nigeria.”
“We have had so many low men in high places but we have had good leaders as well. Sixty five per cent of the electorate are youths and they are the ones that can actually change things. When the youth refuse to bow they will not burn
“It’s not difficult to fight corruption. First you must be incorruptible yourself. The reason I teamed up with General Buhari was his anti-corruption track record.
“Pepper thieves are sent to jail while corrupt bank executives are kept in 5-Star hospitals,” he laments.

Source: Radio Biafra.

100 Years Don Waka…Is the Land Green? By Prince Charles Dickson.

By Prince Charles Dickson

Chorus: Hundred years don waka We still dey carry go Nobody waka, nobody go solo Baba God o lawa ke si o, na your grace o Adupe o.

Verse 1

People talk say khaki no be leather

But we have stayed through the rain and the stormy weather

Whether dem like am or whether dem no send or whether dem pretend We still dey o.

People talk say one day e go better But I say na today, it’s already better

Verse 2;

People say we go breakup when we make money

But we have met and have stayed as a family

Whether we fight o Or whether we quarrel Over money or girl We still dey o.

People talk say na me go first go solo Then I wander how they can see tomorrow o Where would I be without Ibo, Yoruba, Hausa, Christians and Muslims… Maybe I go wound e

Repeat chorus;

Verse 3;

1914 was the year we were joined… Whether by consent of by force
Truth is while we hate each other
We love each other in same measure
The home of champagne and Moet
Parties and holy Hajj
Bound in contrasts and comparisons
Alhajis and Jerusalem Pilgrims…

The above is a song by one time popular R&B fav in Nigeria called Styl-Plus. They reigned for a while dishing out sumptuous lyrics and hits, “Four Years Don Waka” was one of them. I have added a line here and there to the original lyrics.

This week is the last of the year 2013, and I will end my admonition for the year in this manner. By 2014, the entity called Nigeria would be 100 years old, whether it has been a success, can be a success, is the subject of everyday debate.

It remains a nation largely believed to hold huge potentials, but one that has remained under-developed and suffering multiple challenges, equally taking one braggadocios step forward and scores of false steps backwards.

In 2013, whether it was the return of Danbaba Suntai, or the APC train, or we debated Senator Yerima, it was always narrowed to Christians Vs Muslims. Whether Sanusi was writing the letter or it was Ayo Oristejefor buying a jet or making a comment everything narrowed to a Muslim or a Christian.

It was all about personal interest and very little in terms of a collective forward patriotic thrust. The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, was viewed by many as the religious wing of Peoples’ Democratic Party PDP. And the ‘new old’, or rather ‘old new’ conglomeration called the All Peoples’ Congress APC was viewed by many as the Nigerian Muslim Brotherhood and with heavy suspicion given the caliber and timber of wood in its forest.

When ole Edwin Clark was not venting, Asari Dokuboh was preparing to load and shoot his missives and Professor Ango or Baba Junaid was tying bombs around the waist to explode on the South/North Dichotomy.

Every discussion centered on 2015 was about how Christians would vote, Jonathan would not lose here and there and if here was there and there was here.

My friends Labaran Maku and Gulak, Abati, Doyin Okupe, Lai Mohammed, Amaechi, Patience, Tinubu and Buhari, Akande, did well in their jobs, ventilating and getting under the skin of every camp, and little mind on what they said and what they did not do.

In case we forget, after the controversial Governors Forum Election both Jang and Amaechi, the two gladiators were in church praying and thanking ‘god’.

Don’t forget that for almost six months ‘our kids’, both Muslims and Christians, from Abia to Sokoto, without bias stayed home because the strike could not become ethnic or religious.

A friend puts it in context, “look. If you hate Igbo, you will hate any and all things Igbo or relating to Igbo. Chukwuemeka Okala is not Igbo, but try telling that to Boko Haram if they get a hold of him. If you hate Yoruba, you will hate anyone named Kehinde or Babatunde even though they are Igbo. That is where my enemy’s friend is my enemy. Goodluck Jonathan is Ijaw. Whether real or imagined, any Igbo name associated with him implies some Igbo sympathies. A guy who hates Igbo is not going to love an Ijaw man with a name that appears Igbo. And tell me he is not Igbo when Igbos want 2015 or 2019 zoned to them.
And that’s it, you would hate Allah even though it means God, and despise Oluwa or Oloroun because it is Yoruba and stereotyped Christian.

Let me conclude with these reflections, in December 1964 a Time magazine  article under the caption Nigeria: Toward Disintegration? Quoted then President Nnamdi Azikiwe, as saying “If Nigeria must disintegrate, then in the name of God, let the operation be short and painless. It is better that we disintegrate in peace and not in pieces.”

“Azikiwe was overthrown as President in last January’s military coup, but Nigerians last week had ample cause to recall his warning. Another coup had just rocked the nation, and as the details began to emerge, they confirmed the fears that Nigeria, traditionally torn by regional rivalries had gone through another violent tribal uprising. As a nation, in fact, Nigeria seemed perilously near disintegration.”

In another Time magazine article on Friday, Oct. 07, 1966, under the title Nigeria: Man Must Whackthis paragraph catches “On the surface, Nigeria seemed tranquil enough. A dozen ocean-going freighters thrashed seaward from Lagos’ Apapa Quay, laden with cocoa, groundnuts, rubber and timber. In the Eastern Region’s capital of Enugu, helmeted coal miners queued up as usual at the “Drink Tea and Eat Fried Meat and Radio Servicing” shop. At the Iddo Motor Park, beside the Bight of Benin, the lorries and “mammy wagons” of Ibo refugees were drawn into a frontier-style circle, while families clustered around huge pots of palm-oil chop—a bubbling mass of rice, meat, fish, and coconut squeezings…”

The above catches because whether Obasanjo, Iyabo, Jonathan, or Ibrahim Mai Doya wrote the letter, they are all a repeat episode. The stench in the air is mutual hate and suspicion, intrigues and twists with threats. It has always been there and let us deal with it.

One of the landmarks of the year 2013 whether we like it or not is the Presidential Advisory Committee PAC on National Dialogue, which went around cities. The bulky report has been submitted and 2014 is the centenary, what really do Nigerians want is the question.

Fact is that 100 years don waka, we still dey carry go, nobody waka, nobody go solo at least yet, so while we can, let us get it right, what binds us together seems more than what separates us. Look at South Sudan and ponder, is the land green, can we survive another 100 years like the last 100—only time will tell.

Read more: Nigeria: Toward Disintegration? – TIME,9171,842599,00.html#ixzz…

Read more: Nigeria: Man Must Whack – TIME,9171,842870,00.html#ixzz…

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

Jonathan’s Response To Obasanjo Is A Master Piece From A Great Mind! By Dr. Wumi Akintide.

By Dr. Wumi Akintide

What amazes me about Nigeria is why in spite of all the talents and geniuses the country has continued to produce in all walks of life, Nigeria still remains a poorly-led country with little or nothing to show for her God-given blessings in good weather, mineral resources, manpower, and diversity. One out of every 4 Africans is a Nigerian. There is strength in our cultural diversity, our land mass and population which places Nigeria on the cutting edge of power among African nations.

Nigeria was destined by God to be the land flowing with milk and honey, but the country is being held back and impoverished by very weak leadership and our failure to have and to elect selfless leaders like Nelson Mandela  who places his nation’s interest above his own and was more than ready to lead by example by not preaching what he did not not practice like most of our leaders who are also in denial about the real state of things in our country. Hear Jonathan tell the world that Corruption is grossly exaggerated in Nigeria. Under his leadership and transformation agenda corruption has spread to all of the Nigerian embassies overseas. Right here in the Nigerian Consulate in New York getting your passport renewed used to take just one day under one Ibo ambassador. Today you will have to bribe your way to getting or renewing your passport and you may have to wait for a month or more as the consular staff tell you their Consulate is short of ink to print or their cameras have malfunctioned in the greatest city in the world where those items can be replaced for chicken change at Staples or any other stationery store in New York.

Nigerian leaders including Jonathan would be well advised to go read “MADIBA  A to Z” – A profile of the many faces of Nelson Mandela authored by Danny Schechter.” I have just read the book from cover to cover. Once I started reading it I could not put it down until I finished it. The same Mandela has correctly analyzed the problems of Nigeria as caused by the heartless indifference and corruption of our leaders. Nigeria ought to have been given a front seat at the burial of Mandela by reason of the Nigerian contributions to the South African Liberation Movement under Murtala Mohammed in particular. Nigeria forfeited that right and recognition because of the caliber of the Nigerian leadership at this time and their notoriety for corruption and kleptomania of the worst order.

The Mandela advice to Nigeria which was well publicized at his burial would appear to have been validated by the 18 page letter recently addressed to the current Nigerian President by our longest-serving Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. Just when we are still digesting the full import and implications of that letter, another 11 page letter from the eldest daughter of the same Obasanjo who became a Senator by riding on the coattails of her famous father, is right now circulating on the Internet. I have just finished reading a copy of the letter and I am baffled as I linked that letter in my mind with an earlier indictment of the same Obasanjo by his first son not too long ago. The general impressions of the enigma named Obasanjo by other Nigerians who have been very close to him reveal the same scandal. It occurred to me to delay writing this article until I am able to see more reactions of Nigerians to the latest indictment of Obasanjo by one of his own blood and flesh again. I wanted to do that before going ahead to comment on Obasanjo’s letter to Goodluck Jonathan and his “impersonated” response to that letter by a top notch journalist and brilliant mind, Sonala Olumhense, a man I so much admire as I gather up my thoughts to do this piece..

You can say all you want till you turn blue in the face about the motivation and the hypocrisy of Obasanjo in writing his 18 page letter to our current President, one thing you cannot deny or take away from Obasanjo is the fact that the man may be devilish  but he sure knows his onions and he spoke the truth about President Jonathan and the current state of affairs in Nigeria.

In writing this piece I draw a lot of strength from my experience as a one-time speech writer in my career in the Federal Public Service of Nigeria for 25 years. What a good speech writer does is put himself in the position and mindset of the person for whom he is writing. The speech writer imagines what the person going to deliver the speech would have wanted to say to his audience and he reflects such opinions and sentiments in his draft in the hope and expectation the person delivering the speech would reserve the right to add or take out anything from the draft that is not true. Given that presumption, I just cannot see any one statement Mr. Olumhense has made in that satire that President Jonathan can deny. It was a brilliant and truthful write-up from the beginning to the end.

I honestly believe that Mr. Olumhense has done a marvelous job in putting himself in the shoes of President Jonathan and giving such a wonderful response that places Obasanjo and Jonathan in the same bracket of culpability for the shortcomings of Nigeria. Who would have thought the same man who gave Jonathan his chance to be President of Nigeria to begin with, could be so frustrated with him to a point that he could now write him such a letter and make it public without expressing any sense of guilt. For those who may not know, Goodluck Jonathan was the brain child of Obasanjo. There was no way in the world, Jonathan would have emerged the President of Nigeria had he not been picked to be the running mate to a terminally-ill Umaru Yar Adua who Obasanjo knew could hardly live long enough to finish his first term as President based on his medical record as Governor in Katsina which ought to have been scrutinized or properly vetted if Nigeria was not a banana Republic.

Obasanjo had to know that Jonathan was only a heartbeat from the Presidency in the event of Yar Adua dying in office, which was exactly what happened. That Nigeria would allow that scenario to play out like that without lifting a finger says a lot more about Nigerians than it said about Obasanjo. A chain is as strong as its weakest link. A country which would reject candidates like Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo to go settle for a Tafawa Balewa or a Shehu Shagari had to be sick in the head. Shagari or Tafawa Balewa were no where near Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo by their readiness to be President or Prime Minister of Nigeria. Nigeria always settles for a compromise choice rather than looking for a candidate best equipped and qualified to lead the country. Little wonder the country has always been poorly-led and served by Lilliputians whose only claim to office is their place of origin..

Before I comment any further, I urge any of you who have not read Olumhense’s satire to go to Sahara to get a copy of Olumhense’s rendition of the kind of response President Jonathan, the Obateru of Owu in Egba land might have given to the 18 page letter from his political god father, the controversial Balogun of Owu. You could call the 2 letters an exchange of correspondence between two high chiefs of Owu in Abeokuta. The wizardry displayed in that letter by Olumhense is what has captured my fancy in writing this piece.

As a speech writer in my days in the Federal Civil Service, I used to put myself in the mind set of the big boss be it a Permanent Secretary or a Federal Commissioner or a Head of State of Governor for whom I was preparing a speech. I used to incorporate in my drafts the kind of information or advice I thought the big boss was most likely to want to put in their speech. In other words I had to know the boss very well and be a good mind reader just like Mr. Olumhense has shown in his very entertaining response supposedly written by a President whose eloquence in the English Language is so profoundly mediocre that he always ends up saying the opposite of what he has been coached to say by his speech writers. He embarrassed Nigeria in making his own comments at the world-celebrated funeral of Nelson Mandela.

President Jonathan has become a loose canon who has to be carefully watched because his own verbiage as President is only one or two notches better than that of his egomaniac first lady with a Ph.D from some back wood university in South Korea. The President has earned his own Ph.D in Zoology from Port Harcourt. He would have been better off serving as a leader in an animal farm kind of setting than a big country like Nigeria.

I remember once drafting a speech like the one Mr. Olumhense has brilliantly crafted for our clown President. I was writing the speech for the first lady Permanent Secretary in the Federal Public Service of Nigeria. I am talking about  Mrs. Francesca Yetunde Emanuel aka (Franco) who recently turned 80 and was a guest of honor  at the Sahara TV studio on October 5 on the occasion of the 53rd celebration of Nigeria‘s independence in the big apple. The woman is still alive and well, and can  testify to what I am about to say in this write-up. I knew that my projecting her as the first lady Permanent Secretary in the Federation could be easily misconstrued by her audience. I let them know up front,that the late Mrs. Ighodalo  and late Mrs. Alakija nee Adesoji Aderemi were Permanent Secretaries before her, but that the two of them were Permanent Secretaries in the old Western Region and not the Federal Service of Nigeria.

I knew it was important to let her audience hear that up front. I was very proud of what I wrote before I passed on the draft to Mrs Emanuel for her approval. I was apprehensive she might not like everything I have put in my draft, but I was confident from my knowing her very well that she was probably going to like my draft, and she sure did, praising the draft and thanking me for a job well done. She made me feel a few inches taller than I was because she was an extremely smart Permanent Secretary and arguably one of the best among her peers which included at the time, the four musketeers or super permanent secretaries comprising Allison Ayida, Philip Asiodu, Eme Ebong and Ahmed Joda.

That draft became the foundation pillar to my more than 40 years of close association with Mrs. Emanuel. She respected me and I adored her. She actually told me I surprised her with that speech because up to that point she used to think of me as “a dapper don womanizer and God’s gift to women” to use her exact word.  I did not deny being a womanizer in my youth,  but I was also an independent thinker and I take my job seriously. I do love women even now in my twilight years, but I try not to allow that weakness to get in the way of my objectivity and natural desire to excel. Mrs. Emanuel found out first hand I was not what a few of my colleagues in the Ministry had thought I was because I love to dress well and it still remains part of my DNA till tomorrow. I was an average student at school, but I recognize a good write-up when I see one. The Olumhense satire blew me away in the way it was put together. How I wish I could write like that..

I did pass the test as a speech writer for Mrs. Emanuel but I failed woefully when I tried to repeat the same scenario with Chief Obafemi Awolowo. After my posting from the Federal Ministry of Establishment, I had the fortune or the misfortune of being posted at one point in my career to go serve as Secretary to the the Special Task Force on Student Financing set up by the Yakubu Gowon Regime with Awolowo as Chairman and the former President Shehu Shagari, Wenike Briggs and Shetima Ali Monguno as members. Also serving in the Task Force as adviser was late Abdul Azeez Attah, the first son of Ohinoyi, the Attah of Igbira land who was the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Finance at the time.

It was a high visibility Task Force in Nigeria and I was proud to serve as Secretary. The year was 1974. Awolowo was then Chancellor of the the University of Ife that was later named after him. Awo was to deliver a speech at the  Convocation where the late President Leopold Senghor of Senegal  and late Sir Eric Williams, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago were to be honored with honorary doctorate degrees.

I was asked by Abdul Azeez Attah to prepare the draft of the speech Awolowo was  going to deliver  at the Convocation. I was scared to death about the assignment because I only knew Awolowo by reputation and from what I read about him on the pages of newspapers as a former Premier of Western Nigeria. Putting myself in the mindset of the “Lion of Ikenne and one of the most articulate and brilliant minds Nigeria has produced was very intimidating for me. It was an assignment I could not dodge or refuse so I had to do the best I could to write a speech I knew was going to be cleared with Dodan Barracks since all Federal Commissioners or Ministers had to clear their speeches with the highest seat of Government.

I found myself between the Devil and the deep sea and there was no escape. So I ran around seeking advice from some of my trusted friends on what I could write to satisfy Awo. I traveled out of Lagos to Ibadan and Ile Ife to look for samples  of convocation speeches I could find anywhere. I went back to the old West to look for copies of previous speeches Awolowo had delivered as Premier. I thought I had enough information to do a draft I could be proud of. I wrote the draft after 2 weeks and I passed it on to the then Deputy Permanent Secretary, Aminu Saleh who  read the draft, approved it without changing a single word word in the draft. He too passed it on to the Oxford-trained Abdul Azeez Attah. He too read the draft, made one or two corrections before passing it on to Chief Obafemi Awolowo. I was monitoring the movement of the file  from one desk to another till it landed on Awo’s desk. The Lion of Ikenne read the draft, thanked Abdul Azeez for a good draft and the file came back to me passing thru the chain of command. I received a pat in the back for doing a good job and I was very proud of myself.

I confided in a few of my friends that Awolowo was going to read my draft at a convocation at Ife. Unknown to me and the chain of command in the Ministry, Awolowo had written his own speech without taking a word from our draft.  How did I know that? I knew it because I had accompanied Awolowo to the Convocation. The title of Awolowo’s speech for the occasion was “the 1974 Nigerian  Census” and why it must be annulled with immediate effect. As it turned out Awolowo had prepared that speech without clearing it with anybody including his boss , General Yakubu Gowon who was among the guests at the Convocation.

The Awolowo speech was the last straw that broke the 1974 Census back. When Murtala and Obasanjo sent Yakubu Gowon to the turkey farm in 1975 in a bloodless coup, one of the first acts of Murtala Mohammed as Head of State was to do what Awolowo had canvassed in his once-in-a-life-time speech. Murtala Mohammed annulled the Census by decree quoting verbatim some of the exact words Awolowo had deployed in his Convocation address. I would never forget that speech till I die.

Why am I bringing this up in assessing the efficacy of the beautiful satire Mr. Olumhense had put out as the kind of response President Jonathan should have given to Obasanjo’s 18 page indictment or condemnation of Jonathan’s Administration. I am doing it to show my appreciation for the genius of Mr. Olumhense in writing that satire. I think the man really knew President Jonathan and the way the man thinks. He did it in a way to bring laughter to the mouth of anyone reading it including Jonathan’s aides like Reuben Abati and Dr. Okupe who have become the President’s mouth organs, who are only interested in telling the President what he wants to hear and not what he needs to hear loud and clear. They are probably not aware as pointed out by Obasanjo that they have become the worst enemies of the President.

Once upon a time, I used to think a whole world of Reuben Abati who has now become one of the greatest turn-coats in Nigeria. I used to consider him a fire eater before his appointment to the kitchen cabinet of President Jonathan. I was hopeful that President Jonathan was going to succeed by having the courage of his conviction to let a fearless journalist like Reuben Abati serve in his Government. I never knew, for the life of me, that Mr. Abati was only positioning himself for power and drawing attention to himself by writing all those powerful editorials in the Nigerian Concord that make him the darling of many of us at home and abroad..

Once Abati has eaten out of the forbidden fruit of Power and Influence in Abuja, he has forgotten what he used to be. He has himself become one of the oppressors in Nigeria. If the President wanted somebody killed what Reuben Abati would be asking is what method he wanted them to use to carry out his order and not why the person deserves to die. When a President is served by useless aides like that, he should begin to sing his “Nunc Dimitis” because his downfall is around the corner as correctly predicted by Obasanjo.

I never thought Dr. Abati was a card carrying member of the P.D.P before he joined Jonathan’s Government. I thought he was the kind of man who was going to resign  from the Government if he found he was losing his soul by working for a President who is acting and behaving as if his entire life depends on clinging to that office like some of the African dictators before him like Mobutu Sese seko Kuku Ngbendu Waza Banga, Robert Mugabe or Idi Amin Dada of Uganda.

I read in total amazement the information Obasanjo had to know that the President was sponsoring and paying hired killers to go after individuals he did not like like the current Governor of Rivers State and so many others who did not see eye to eye with him and his first lady. I could care less about the terrible letter Iyabo Obasanjo has just put out to irredeemably and forever damage the credibility of her father as a public figure and elder statesman in Nigeria. Olusegun Obasanjo, for all his conflict of interest, indiscretion and double jeopardy as a leader actually did Nigeria a favor by indirectly admitting or regretting he totally misled the country by picking Jonathan as the running mate to Yar Adua and by tolerating him for close to 6 years before parting ways with him as revealed in that letter.

The satire by Mr. Olumhense is a masterpiece that gave out so much information on why President Jonathan has been an unmitigated disaster for Nigeria. Mr. Olumhense has done it in a way that is most entertaining and friendly. He has used one satire stone to kill so many birds in one shot. That satire has done as much damage to Obasanjo himself like it did to President Jonathan and all the current power brokers in the ruling P.D.P who deserve to be given the boot in 2015 if the country does not implode before then.

The opposition mega party in Nigeria may have its own problems it needs to work on, but I still think Nigeria would be better off with the opposition than keeping the P.D.P in power beyond 2015. Nigerian voters must appreciate there is some merit in giving the opposition a chance to prove their own mettle. If the opposition fumbles  like the P.D.P, it should take only 4 years to get rid of them like is done in the ideal democratic countries of the world. The Obasanjo hypothesis to keep the P.D.P in power for 100 years has been deflated as the hallucinations of a mad man. A one party dictatorship is as offensive and destructive in a Democracy. The parties should rotate power based on performance. Keeping just one party in power forever is a recipe for retrogression. If President Jonathan,, the P.D.P  and Professor Jega and his I.N.E.C would allow a free and fair election in 2015. there is no way in the world the President and the P.D.P would be returned to power with all the revelations in the Obasanjo’s letter and the latest from Obasanjo’s first daughter and former Senator of Nigeria. What goes around comes around. The P.D.P has outlived its usefulness. Unto your tent O Israel. Merry Xmas to all of you.

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 

Sailing To The Saro-Wiwa’s Side (3) By Patrick Naagbanton.


By Patrick Naagbanton

There were too many potholes and cars could not freely overtake one another on the road. We were at Biara community. On the right was a large cleared site. I was told that crude oil had spilled from one of Shell’s pipeline, and it was trying to clean the site. I shut the window of the car by my side because crude oil odour was oozing out into the car. On fourth August, two thousand and eleven, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) presented its report of ecological calamity in Ogoniland to the Federal Government. Some kilometres away from the oil polluted site was the abandoned Biara-Kibagha Road. Bushes had taken over the road. I was also told that the State Government awarded the construction of the road to a well-known Ogoni female politician at the early days of the government. There was the Kpopie – Gokana Road. The road ends in the Bodo community, south of Gokana. I was also told that two leading Gokana politicians got the contract from the state government to construct it. The road was poorly done – some part completed, some not. The road looks like a crooked creek path to nowhere.

The car was quiet, except the wailing of its engine. On the left of the Kpojie junction was an uninhabited police post. As the Deeken-Deeyor crisis re-escalated the police ran away. Deeken and Deeyor are the two Gokana communities facing each other at the Kpopie junction. On sixth September, nineteen seventy-four, two persons (both male) palm wine tappers from both communities quarrelled over a small swamp on their borders which had lots of raffia palms (the palm-wine producing tree). The matter was not resolved until it degenerated into the gory Deeken-Deeyor war. Both communities are now fighting over a large expanse of farmland, and no longer a small raffia tree swamp.

We had passed Kpopie advancing towards Bua-Yeghe when I saw six children in tattered clothes with basinful of yams and cassava tubers on their heads. They were escorted by their mothers also tattered farm clothes too. Childhood memories sped through my mind- I did that with my now ailing mother when I was like them. By the roadside was a small board, “Welcome to Bua-Yeghe – Home of the Sun of Ogoni”. There were tall raffia palms, banana, mango, and guava, plantain, and palm trees on both sides. The place was a bit warm. In the middle of the road ahead were some young men – some tied wrappers around their waists. Some bare-bodied and their heads plastered with white powder. Like the concrete step barrier we saw at Onne junction, a fresh plantain tree was uprooted and placed in the middle of the road as a demarcation. Vehicles getting to the point were moving slowly on both sides. Commercial vehicles passing there were dropping about two hundred naira each (not up to two dollars).

There was a funeral. A fellow driver was being buried that day. Our car was intercepted by the charging powdered mourners. They knew our driver too well. “O boy! Bring your money.” One of them stretched out his hand to hold our steering wheel. The alcohol stench oozing out of his mouth nearly made me drunk. “I don’t have any money. I nor tell you for park when you called me?” The driver said impolitely. Our driver’s response angered the man, “You must pay oooo. You nor go die?” He said. “Ah, Boyee, make una come ooo”. In a few seconds, fierce-looking young men like a swarm of locusts took over the whole place. The driver didn’t want to stop the car; he was pulling it gently, pushing young mourners aside. I perceived danger looming. I appealed to the boys to wait, and I appealed to the driver to bring out just two hundred naira to give them. He refused. The remaining passengers were crying that the driver should pay. The driver appeared as if nothing was happening. I called one of the boys I suspected to be their leader to my side of the vehicle’s window. His eyes were as red as gas fire and gave him five hundred naira (less than four dollars). “Master we don’t want your money. I want to deal with this man. I am even bigger than you for that side,” he said while pointing his fingers precariously into the eyes of the driver. I interpreted to mean their cult gang affiliation. I pleaded and eventually he took two hundred naira from the five hundred and returned three hundred naira to me. They allowed us to go.

Yeghe, which is in the present day Gokana Local Government Area, is the hometown of Timothy Naakuu Paul Birabi. In one of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s pamphlet, letter to Ogoni Youth (1983), he lamented, “Under the leadership of the late T.N. Paul Birabi, the first Ogoni University graduate, the Ogonis were an important arm of the Rivers State Movement …In 1953, Birabi died. The Ogoni had looked up to him as the harbinger of the new ways…” Rogers T. Ntor-ue, the Ogoni journalist and writer who fled into exile following military assault on Ogoni activists, wrote a book, The Biography of Hon. T.N. Paul Birabi (1951-1953). According to Ntor-ue, “… page two in the editorial column of the West African Pilot newspaper of Tuesday, October 27, 1953. In a unique tribute in honour of late Timothy Birabi titled,” Passing of Great Ogoni Son,” the paper said, “it is very rare to find young men who spurn all offers all offers and prospects of lucrative appointments in order to serve their people in a very selfless manner. It is even more difficult to find young men, who, after brilliant scholastic careers abroad, agree to remain in their more backward home in order to help their less privileged people.”Birabi, who was a member of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), the party led by Nnamdi Azikiwe represented Ogoni at the House of Representatives in Lagos.

Ken Saro-Wiwa was just thirteen years old when Birabi died. He and his comrades under the platform of MOSOP converged at the tomb of Birabi in his Yeghe community on third January, nineteen ninety -three to kick-start the Ogoni non-violent struggle.  Saro-Wiwa emphasized that he and others were struggling for justice and not for power.

We passed Yeghe, approaching Bori, the famous Ogoni Township. Yeghe is on the west of Bori. At the entrance to Bori were the signs, “Welcome to Khana L.G.A. HIV/AIDS is real.” In a unique use of apostrophe, the 27-year-old Ogoni poet and writer, Nwilo Bura-Bari Vincent adorned Bori in his collections of poems, Salute To Bori (2012). He puts it, “O Gbene Bori/when I see thee tears run down my cheek/beautiful Bori/Thy kindness is awesome/Thou hath soft spots and hot spots/…. Thy fragrance reeks above political dirt/thy water tasted better/Until the cruel crude came/…. Thy heart is beautiful/Like the rising sun, I adore thee/But thy thighs hath lost flesh”.

Nimbari Anokari (1955-2008), a prolific writer, historian and journalism teacher in his book, The Story of Bori – Land of the Hill (1986) wrote, “However, to the Gokana people, those from their ancestral homeland, the town of Bori was to be christened BEEAGU; meaning, Land of Hill,” as a nickname. That was because the journey from Gokana to Bori through the old main road placed the town on an elevated hill, difficult at least to climb by foot especially market women with load. This hard journey made them to so nickname the town.” General Alabi-Isama again, in his book, The Tragedy of Victory, described the disaster at Bori during the civil war (1967-70). “ — At 1600hours, 18th May, 1968, — we lost one officer from the main body, Captain Fashola at Bori Ogoni, Captain Fashola was to arrange for security for the meeting of the main commanders, after crossing the Opobo River. He was also to arrange for breakfast. The meeting at Bori was attended by Lt. Col. Ayo Ariyo, Eromobor, Abubakar, Aliyu, and I( Alabi-Isama. Just as we seated for breakfast, there were exchanges of shots fired between our troops close to the conference centre. Fashola asked for, and obtained permission to see what was happening out there. In a few seconds, he was hit by a stray bullet and his dead body was brought back”.

Few metres from the entrance of Bori, stands the secondary school founded by Birabi four months before his death, the school was later named after him, “Birabi Memorial Grammar School.” Nineteen days after Birabi’s death, Sir John Macpherson, the first Governor-General of Colonial Nigeria visited Bori as part of his official visit. Many other colonial officers had visited Bori before. At the opening chapter of the twentieth century, Ogoni was created as a separate administrative unit. The Ogoni resisted colonial rule which resulted into many bloody clashes with armed colonial forces throughout the land and several Ogoni traditional worship centres which the colonialists considered as the source of their resistant power were also razed down.

A bit to the right is the State School. We got to the Kaani junction, north of Bori town, I asked the driver to drop me. I saw a procession of young boys and girls, all dressed in black attire with different placards, candles and chanting pro-Saro-Wiwa songs, marching to the junction. The Kaani junction leads to Kaani 1 and Kaani 2 communities. Ten years ago, crisis consumed both communities over a local council election. Rivers State election body, Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) allegedly announced a candidate of the PDP as the winner of the election, contrary to the candidate of the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP) said to have won. Both communities went to war over this. Until now the negative impacts of that war are still felt over the communities. Rampaging Deebam and Deewell cult gangs are still there.

Instead of leaving the Kaani junction to meet the  Saro-Wiwa’s mourners, I stood there. Few minutes after, they were at the junction. They were members of the Ogoni Movie Practitioners (OMP). In their hands were placards which had the wordings, “Ogoni Movie Practitioners Mourns Ogoni Hero,” “Ogoni Movie Practitioners urges Government to implement UNEP report,” “you can kill the messenger. But you can’t kill the message – Ken Saro-Wiwa”, “Our hero rest in peace.” I took several pictures of them. One of their leaders, a male walked up to me, and we talked. He said he has been reading my articles and even recollected few I can’t remember again. We exchanged numbers. While they walked to the State School compound I “marched” through the Hospital Road area, passing through the NextTime Supermarket and the huge complex of Inadum Medical Centre.  At the clinic balcony, I saw a group of men and women looking in all directions anxiously and talking among themselves. It appeared somebody was in a critical state there. The clinic is owned by Owens Wiwa and said to be one of the best in town.

I kept marching like the Ogoni Movie Practitioners folks, passed by the secretariat of the Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI), a political association loyal to Nyesome Wike, Nigeria’s Supervising Minister for Education.

Bori looked like a hypertensive patient. It is a city under stress of over-population and under-development like most of Nigeria’s urban centres. A city which years back, bicycle was the major means of transportation. Nowadays, cars, motor bikes and tricycles had taken over with their resultant noises and pollutions. In Bori, human beings poured into the main road from the sides. Bori township and its environs need proper design and plan that will take care of the overflowing population and its pressures. I passed by the old Bori Motor Park, behind it is the big Bori market. At the Polytechnic road, leading to the State Polytechnic; I met a young man who wore a white t-shirt. On it was a huge face of Ernesto Che Guevara (1928 – 1967), with the name and inscription, “Rage August the machine”. I interacted with the young man in his late twenties who is a HND student at the Polytechnics who described Guevara as one of the top musicians. I subdued my laughter and asked him to get one of the t-shirt for me. I explained to him who Che, the legendary Marxist revolutionary guerrilla, humanist and travel writer was. He said his elder brother who lives in the US sent the t-shirt to him. His brother fled into exile following the military offensive on Ogoni.

During the Ogoni -wasting military operations, several Ogoni folks fled abroad. There were some who had to leave because their lives were in real danger. There were others who were fleeing the harsh Nigeria’s economic environment, with the hope of finding a better place abroad. There were also non-Ogonis like the latter group who had to impersonate being Ogoni suffering the Sani Abacha’s torments. They came up with all sorts of made-up stories.

All over the junction were several posters glued to houses, electric poles and motor park walls with lots of interesting inscriptions. “Gbene Ogoni. It is time to rise again! Demand for UNEP report implementation now. Resist further land seizure in Ogoni. Join the campaign to end political marginalization of Ogoni- Leave Ogoni Oil in the soil-issued by Ogoni Solidarity Forum (OSF), Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and Social Action (Social Development Integrated Centre)” with a picture of Saro-Wiwa smiling. There was another poster –“Night of Remembrance. Date – 10/11/2013. Venue – 30 Prince Igbara Street, Bori. Time – 6:00pm till your Mama Call-featuring White Class, Don 12, Mugi Boy, Virus Soldier, Mapuka Dancer etc. Gate fee – N300. Couple – N500 V.I.P – N2,000. V.V.I.P – N4, 000 – the great hero” with a picture of Saro – Wiwa.

Around two fifty pm, I saw a clean, white 99 model of Camry car, it was parked among other cars few metres from the Polytechnic junction. It was a commercial car. I negotiated with the owner, and he agreed to take me to Bane and return to Bori for two thousand naira (about twenty dollars). Inside the car was extremely neat. There were two American flags on both ends of the dashboard- funny enough, no Nigerian flag. The driver was a very tall man – about six feet and some inches. He was dark, but his eyes were as wild as that of the driver I travelled with from Eleme junction into Bori. I suspected that he was a Marijuana (Indian hemp) smoker. Young people nowadays are taking to alcoholism, smoking Marijuana and other hard drugs. Is really not good for the nation’s growth, they need to be discouraged from doing so. When I told him about my voyage to Saro-Wiva’s graveside, he was so excited and said I should pay him something like one thousand naira less than the agreed amount. But I wouldn’t do that. I had to pay him the agreed fare and even more. Business is business. He was one of those who never had the opportunity to have met Ken, but fell in love with his campaign and ideas.

We took off, and he turned on, the soulful song of Nigeria’s famous singer and photographer, T.Y Bello’s Greenland”. “This land is green… it’s green can’t you see? I the harvest is ready….” I rolled my head gently like a snake to the rhyme of Bello’s Greenland”. Do you like it? The driver asked me. “Yes, I do”. The driver wanted to increase the speed of his car, but I advised him to drive gently. The driver told me that he likes Bello and her music and that if he sees her, he could propose to marry her. I laughed, and the driver reminded me that he was serious.

We passed the new Bori motor park on the left, passed the first Ogoni general hospital (now Bori General Hospital) established a year before Birabi’s death. According to the government, the Bori general hospital is the referral hospital for all the Local Government Areas (Andoni, Eleme, Gokana, Khana, Oyigbo, Opobo/Nkoro and Tai) in the Rivers East senatorial district. The hospital has only five doctors on day and night duty with few nurses and workers. The hospital looked like a neglected refugee camp. Its corroded zinc sheets and walls are falling apart. No regular electricity. The hospital is said to record more deaths on a daily basis than a local herbalist home. We passed by the Police Area Command headquarters. There was an open football field which oversees it. Some youngsters were playing football there. A lot of young people in Nigeria want to be footballers –so as to earning too much money and living big since the society celebrates money and materialism.

Naagbanton lives in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.

To be continued.


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

Madiba (A Tribute To Nelson Mandela) By Obi Nwakanma.

The 19th century was the age of colonialism in Africa. It was a bewildering moment in the historical transition of the African world. The colonization of Africa, Scott Keltie wrote in his 1893 book, The Partition of Africa, was “one of the most remarkable episodes in the history of the world.” It led to a gargantuan shift in the cultural and economic balance of the world. It began quite simply; innocently even, masked as missions of exploration, when the key European powers, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Germany of the second Reich, Spain and a newly united Italy, and of course, that Belgian parvenu, King Leopold II, sent out their spies in the mask of missionaries, anthropologists and explorers, to take the full measure of the mysterious continent.

The foremost of them all, Dr. Livingstone had sent out a call to Europe to open up Africa to the three principles – Commerce, Christianity and Civilization – the so-called “triple alliance of Mammon, God and Social Progress.” I would here, take the liberty of quoting extensively from Thomas Parkenham’s important book, The Scramble for Africa, to illustrate the situation of Africa in the period: “Each responded to Livingstone’s call in his own fashion. But they all conceived of the crusade in terms of romantic nationalism. There were journalist-explorers like Henry Stanley, sailor-explorers like Pierre de Brazza, soldier-explorers like Frederick Lugard, pedagogue-explorers like Carl Peters, gold-and-diamond tycoons like Cecil Rhodes. Most of them were outsiders of one kind or another but no less ardent nationalists for that.

To imperialism – a kind of ‘race patriotism’ – they brought the missionary zeal. Not only would they save Africa from itself. Africa would be the saving of their own countries.” There is a strange, eerie feeling today in the first decade of the 21st century that we are back in Africa to the 19th century. Africa is once more the stomping ground of missionaries from the two most dangerous fundamentalist religions – Islam and Christianity, explorers, spies, soldiers, mercenaries, and racketeers coming in the same old disguises – NGOs, missionaries, investors, privateers, and all kinds of left-handed charities purportedly to save Africa from itself. Today, a new scramble for Africa is afoot with the new flash points in North Africa and Central Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa is once one the stomping ground of all kinds of mischief. The tea leaves say that the new scramble and conquest of Africa will be longer, more deadly, and costlier in human and environmental terms. Yet it feels not too long ago, when Africans rallied to free themselves from the clutches of colonialism and alien rule. Postcolonial Africa has been buffeted by all manners of subversion – internal and external – and rendered almost prostate and outside of history by the political, economic and social upheavals that trailed the nationalist, independent movements of the 20th century. There is no doubt that Africans themselves must take clear responsibility for what they’ve made of the nations they inherited from European colonialism, but it is equally critical to constantly interrogate where the rain began to beat us. If the 19th century was the age of colonization, the 20th century was the age of African liberation from European colonialism.

By the interwar years, Nnamdi Azikiwe had blazed the trail with his fierce opposition to alien rule, and with the book, Renascent Africa, which in the words of one of the greatest icons of that movement, Dr. Julius Nyerere of Tanzania opened their eyes to a broader conception of Africa. “Until my generation read Renascent Africa” Nyerere said once at the Zik lectures at Lincoln University, “we did not know that Africa was possible.” Among that generation of young men who heard and hearkened to Azikiwe’s clarion for African freedom was Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918-2013), then a young South African lawyer. From 1948 to 1952, Mandela was active in organizing the ANC in Johannesburg, and was one of the founding members of its youth wing. In a sense, Mandela took the torch from another great legend of the struggle, the inimitable Albert Luthuli, who himself was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1961, and who was President-General of the ANC until July 1967, when he was killed as he was taking a walk by a train. Many still believe he was assassinated by the apartheid regime.

Mandela came to prominence on the wings of Luthuli and in his role in organizing the famous 1952 defiance campaign against the apartheid regime, and the treason and sedition trials from 1956 to 1961. In that space of the struggle, Mandela and the ANC operated on the principle of non-violence. But by 1960/61, many of the countries in Africa had achieved political independence. In South Africa and Rhodesia which had the invidious form of settler colonialism that led to apartheid and minority rule, it became clear that the fight would not be simply won on a “platter of gold.” Mandela changed tactics and was one of those alongside Walter Sisulu, who formed Umkhotho Sizwe (Burning Spear), the military wing of the anti-colonial, anti-apartheid movement in 1961 which organized a sabotage campaign against the apartheid regime. Mandela was declared wanted. For Six months between 1961 and 1962, Nelson Mandela was in Lagos attached to the NCNC Training School at Yaba and living with Mbazulike Amechi.

It was while in Nigeria that the decision was made to politicize the trial, and widen its symbolic meaning in the struggle to free South Africa and Rhodesia, the two hot-button foreign policy issues of the day for Africa. Mandela thus returned to South Africa to face his charges – a different form of defiance – and was jailed. Mandela’s imprisonment, and the political capital made of it changed the trajectory of the struggle in important ways. He remained defiant; committed, unbowed in the toil and suffering of prison in Roben Island. He became in the dignity he gave to suffering on behalf of the cause of freedom, the most important symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle. It was therefore to him, at the death of Luthuli, that the rest of the world looked for the solution to the problem. In 1990, he was freed after 27 years amidst the escalating violence in South Africa.

On regaining freedom, his first request was to meet with Dr. Azikiwe, and a meeting was thus arranged, and he visited Nigeria in 1991, and conferred with Zik at Onuiyi Haven before embarking on his American journeys. Thus Mandela completed the full cycle of the African liberation movement in the 20th century Mandela’s greatest contribution; his stature was in adhering to the three greatest principles on which he agreed at Onuiyi: a compromise of reconciliation and inclusion rather than retribution – the very same Zikist principle that ended the Nigerian civil war: No victor no vanquished; a compromise of accommodation and peace, a unity in diversity; an open, humane, and enlightened leadership in which  Mandela embodied the will of a new nation. There are those today who say he made too much compromise. But history will vindicate Mandela.

Dr. Nwakanma writes the “Orbit” column in the Sunday Vanguard.

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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