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USAfrica: Fashola’s “deportation” action exposes Nigeria’s crisis of citizenship.

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Fashola’s “deportation” action exposes Nigeria’s crisis of citizenship

By Prof. Okey Ndibe 

Special to  USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston. Follow Twitter.com/Chido247Facebook.com/MandelaAchebeChido Facebook.com/USAfricaChido , Facebook.com/USAfrica247

 

USAfrica, Houston: The debate over Lagos State’s deportation of some Igbo persons to Anambra State has done two things at once. One, it has underlined the shakiness of the idea of one Nigeria. Then, two, in focusing too narrowly on an ethnic explanation, the debate has obfuscated what is a much broader, and fundamental, issue.

Babatunde-Fashola-Governor-Lagos-State-Nigeria_

Babatunde-Fashola-Governor-Lagos-State-Nigeria_

 

Initial reports suggested that several Igbo persons were herded in one bus or several, driven across the Niger Bridge, and dumped in Onitsha. Late last week, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos stated that only 14 persons were removed. He also echoed other defenders of the policy by disclosing that the “deportees” were vagrants, some of them with varying degrees of mental problems.

 

The governor’s was not an excellent argument. For one thing, poverty does not – should not – vitiate citizenship. Nigerians who are psychiatric cases are still deserving of the same basic rights and privileges of citizenship, unless they pose a threat to others. If Nigeria translates as a nation, then its citizens, including indigent – even homeless – ones ought to be free to reside wherever they choose within the 36 states and the federal capital territory.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan in-kano2011.pix-by Joe Penny/Reuters

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan in-kano2011.pix-by Joe Penny/Reuters

 

A policy that forcibly removes “undesirable” citizens from their state of residency to their state of origin does grave violence to the concept of national unity, to say nothing of the grave violation of the affected citizens’ right of movement. In that light, one is appalled by the deportations. And it doesn’t matter if only one person was shucked off, as opposed to, say, 100.

 

Having made that point of principle, it is meet to offer a corrective to the ethnic reading of the Lagos policy. It has since emerged that Lagos State had sent other ostensible undesirables “home,” to a number of northern as well as southwest states. If the “deportation” policy is at odds with the idea of one Nigeria – and I suggest it is – then Lagos State would be an equal-opportunity abuser of the rights of Nigerians, not just those from Anambra or Igboland.

 

If the particular removal of Igbo has generated the kind of heat not witnessed in the past, it is, in part, because Igbo – by their pattern of dispersal within Nigeria – most deeply embody the national spirit. Besides, they have shed more blood than any other ethnic group in the name of maintaining the unrealized, farfetched dream of a Nigerian nation. Therefore, any time it appears that the Igbo are being handed a red card in any part of Nigeria, the act of rejection reverberates, reminding us all that we occupy a space that falsely accuses itself of being a coherent, cohesive community.

 

It all brings me round to a point that begs to be made with regard to Lagos State’s shocking policy. That point is this: that we are shouting ourselves hoarse at an action that is a mere symptom, even as we fail to address the core of the problem.

 

That problem is an identity crisis, the emptiness of Nigeria as a nation – and, especially, with regard to the question of what it means to call oneself a Nigerian citizen. We have spent more than fifty years at the game of pretending to belong within the same nation. In fact, our ethnic identities remain dominant. Our ethnic ties easily trump any consideration of a national identity. It’s not as if ethnicity, as a rule, is incompatible with national cohesion. But Nigerians – at any rate, too many – have made an idol out of their ethnicity. For too many Nigerians, ethnicity is not merely a virtue, it is the sole virtue. It is a case of – to adapt a popular idea in political ideology – “My ethnic group, right or wrong.”

 

There are Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Efik, Ijaw, and so on who vehemently abhor embezzlement of public funds – unless the embezzler happens to part of their (ethnic) number, in which case graft becomes absolutely excusable, if not heroic. Besides, to read comments on any website frequented by Nigerians is to witness the savage verbal bricks that Nigerians – many of them holders of advanced degrees – hurl at each other across ethnic lines. Name any unprintable name, and you’d find that Nigerians use it against their fellows from other ethnic groups in daily verbal warfare. I fear that, should the occasion arise in Nigeria – God forbid! – many Nigerians would be quite ready to butcher members of the ethnic “other” with a genocidal glee that surpasses the horrors the world witnessed in Rwanda.

 

Again, it’s all proof of a country whose fault lines are numerous and turning into a maze of chasms, a deeply riven, fragmented patchwork of a nation. In today’s Nigeria, an Igbo who is born in Sokoto and lives all her life there would still be expected – indeed, required – to enter her father’s Igbo state as her “state of origin.” The same rules would apply to a Fulani man born in Onitsha. Nigerians must face up to their failure to found a nation within their shared space.

 

If the foregoing leaves an impression of ethnic solidarity, that impression is – on closer examination – a mirage. One or two Igbo governors have ventured outside their states to hire one or two aides. But you need only juxtapose that kind of tokenism against Abia State’s mass purge of civil servants from the other Igbo states – and the portrait of intra-ethnic resentment is writ large.

 

There’s some irony in the fact that Governor Fashola has done far more than most Igbo governors in recruiting people from other states, including Igbo, to work in his government. But that does not justify his government’s policy of seizing Nigerians in Lagos and deporting them to their states of origin.

 

To insist on the point does not mean that one dismisses the profound challenge of running a state whose dramatically exploding population is a strain on resources. If Nigeria is to be achieved as a nation, then the likes of Fasholas ought to respect the right of Nigerians to reside wherever they wish. Even so, some of Mr. Fashola’s critics must also decide whether they wish to commit themselves to build Nigeria into the semblance of a real community – or merely postpone the day when we would all need visas to visit each other’s ethnic enclave.                                                                    Ndibe, a professor of English at Trinity College in Connecticut and a novelist, is a contributing editor of USAfrica multimedia networks since 1995. Follow him on twitter @okeyndibe.

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WHY I CELEBRATE THE LIFE AND WORKS OF NELSON MANDELA. By Chido Nwangwu  http://usafricaonline.com/2010/07/15/mandela-why-i-celebrate-his-life-works-by-chido-nwangwu/

Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica, USAfricaonline.com and the Nigeria360 e-group. http://usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/ : IF any of the Nigerian President’s 100 advisers has the polite courage for the extraordinary task of reminding His Excellency of his foremost, sworn, constitutional obligation to the national interest about security and safety of Nigerians and all who sojourn in Nigeria, please whisper clearly to Mr. President that I said, respectfully: Nigerians, at home and abroad, are still concerned and afraid for living in what I call Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. FULL text of commentary at USAfricaonline.com http://usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/

• Nigeria’s bin-Laden cheerleaders could ignite religious war, destabilize Africa. By USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwuhttp://usafricaonline.com/chido.binladennigeria.html http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=USAfrica+Chido+Nwangwu+al-qaeda+terrrorism+nigeria&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 http://usafricaonline.com/tag/al-qaeda/ 310 killed by Nigeria’s ‘talibans’ in Bauchi, Yobe n Maiduguri; crises escalate. USAfricaonline.com  on  July 28, 2009. www.usafricaonline.com/chido.ngrtalibans09.html http://www.groundreport.com/World/310-killed-by-Nigerias-talibans-in-Bauchi-Yobe-n-M/2904584

Jonathan’s Boko Haram problem and firing of Ringim. By Chido Nwangwu http://usafricaonline.com/2012/01/25/jonathans-boko-haram-problem-and-firing-of-ringim-by-chido-nwangwu/

Related and prior reporting on the Jos crises on USAfrica, click here: http://usafricaonline.com/2011/08/16/10-killed-in-renewed-violence-near-jos/

News archives related to Jos, here http://usafricaonline.com/?s=jos 310 killed by Nigeria’s ‘talibans’ in Bauchi, Yobe n Maiduguri; crises escalate. USAfricaonline.com  on  July 28, 2009. www.usafricaonline.com/chido.ngrtalibans09.html http://www.groundreport.com/World/310-killed-by-Nigerias-talibans-in-Bauchi-Yobe-n-M/2904584

 

Trump looks foolish and crazy screaming about Obama’s birth certificates, college records and Muslim connection. By Raynard Jackson

Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, is Africa’s writer of the century. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica, and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com http://usafricaonline.com/chido.achebebest.html

• For seasoned insights and breaking news on these issues, log on to USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica powered e-groups including Nigeria360 at yahoogroups and USAfrica at googlegroups. Follow USAfrica at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido , Facebook.com/USAfrica247 and Twitter.com/Chido247

For racist Soccer actions, Liverpool’s player Suarez should be suspended.  By Chido Nwangwu. Follow us at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido and Twitter.com/Chido247

USAfrica: As Egypt’s corrupter-in-chief Mubarak slides into history’s dustbin.  By Chido Nwangwuhttp://usafricaonline.com/2011/01/30/chido-nwangwu-as-egypt-corrupter-in-chief-mubarak-slides-into-historys-dustbin-egyptians-not-waiting-for-obama-and-united-nations/

The greatest Igbo ODUMEGWU OJUKWU’s great farewell in Aba. By Chido Nwangwu   http://usafricaonline.com/2012/02/28/the-greatest-igbo-odumegwu-ojukwu-farewell-in-aba-by-chido-nwangwu

 

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Why Obama’s late to symbolic, historic meeting with Mandela. By Chido Nwangwu.  http://usafricaonline.com/2013/06/26/obamas-late-to-symbolic-historic-meeting-with-fit-mandela-by-chido-nwangwu/

President Barack Obama, an inheritor of the global fruits of the multi-racial, progressive and inclusive works of Nelson Mandela (and others like Mandela), will never meet a very physically fit and totally aware Mandela. As a student of history, leadership and communications, I believe that Obama’s handlers made an egregious error, a critical, even if symbolic failure to have planned and scheduled and executed since 4 years for the 44th President of the United States, the first African American to hold the most powerful office in the world to engage and fraternize face-to-face, to meet the same great man that the 51-years old Obama said he spoke to on the phone, a couple of times, in seeking his wisdom on a few matters.  I think they waited 4 years and more, too late….                                                                                                                          ———

 

CNN International profiles USAfrica’s Founder Chido Nwangwu. http://usafricaonline.com/2010/06/29/cnn-chido-usafrica/

Also, see Tiger Woods is no Nelson Mandela

Obama’s Africa agenda, our business and democracy. By Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com

—— Forthcoming 2013 book: In this engaging, uniquely insightful and first person reportage book, MANDELA & ACHEBE: Footprints of Greatness, about two global icons and towering persons of African descent whose exemplary livesMandela-n-Achebe-by-Chido-book-frontcover-Lrsand friendship hold lessons for humanity and Africans, the author takes a measure of their works and consequence to write that Mandela and Achebe have left “footprints of greatness.” He chronicles, movingly, his 1998 reporting from the Robben Island jail room in South Africa where Mandela was held for decades through his 20 years of being close to Achebe. He moderated the 2012 Achebe Colloquium at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.”I’ll forever remember having walked inside and peeped through that historic Mandela jail cell (where he was held for most of his 27 years in unjust imprisonment) at the dreaded Robben Island, on March 27, 1998, alongside then Editor-in-chief of TIME magazine and later news chief executive of the CNN, Walter Isaacson (and others) when President Bill Clinton made his first official trip to South Africa and came to Robben Island. Come to this island of scourge and you will understand, in part, the simple greatness and towering grace of Nelson Mandela”, notes  Chido Nwangwu, award-winning writer, multimedia specialist and founder of USAfricaonline.com, the first African-owned U.S-based newspaper published on the internet, in his first book; he writes movingly from his 1998 reporting from South Africa on Mandela. http://www.mandelaachebechido.com/

 

Margaret Thatcher, Mandela and Africa.  By Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica, and the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com. Click for newscast video of London-based SkyNEWS, the global, 24-hour British international tv network’s interview with USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwu on April 11, 2013 regarding this latest commentary http://youtu.be/G0fJXq_pi1c )

ACHEBE Lives As an Immortal Writer In Our Hearts and Minds. By Chido Nwangwu.
USAfrica, May 22, 2013:

——–

POPE FRANCIS, champion for the poor and evangelistic dedication’ by Chido Nwangwu

USAfrica: Awolowo’s Starvation Policy against Biafrans and the Igbo requires apology not attacks on Achebe. By Francis Adewale. 

Long Live, CHINUA ACHEBE! The Eagle on the iroko.                    

FULL text of this tribute-commentary at USAfricaonline.com click link http://usafricaonline.com/2013/03/22/long-live-chinua-achebe-by-chido-nwangwu/

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AFRICA

World SOCCER SHOWDOWN: South Africa backs Morocco; U.S under pressure

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  • USAfricaonline.com  •  @Chido247  @USAfricalive

“It is an old myth that Africa doesn’t have the capacity, and naysayers should stop using the political argument. Africa hosted the best Fifa World Cup ever and with good support, Morocco can emulate South Africa,” said the SAFA president Jordaan.

Johannesburg – South Africa Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has promised Morocco that South Africa will give its unqualified support to secure another World Cup on the African continent in 2026.

Morocco is vying to stage the world’s biggest football prize against a joint bid by Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

The Moroccan delegation comprises ex-Senegal and Liverpool striker El Hadji Diouf and former Cameroonian goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell.

Jordaan said it would be great for Africa to have a second bite of the World Cup cherry, adding Morocco’s bid was Africa’s bid.

Jordaan assured Morocco that he would personally lobby for the Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) and the rest of the continent to rally behind the Moroccans.

In his remarks, Antoine Bell said Morocco had all the ingredients to host another spectacular World Cup.

“South Africa showed the way and I am confident Morocco will follow suit. The country has international standards, from the stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world,” he said.

By giving Morocco its support, South Africa’s voice would make all the difference on the continent, Bell said.

“When South Africa talks on the continent, the rest of the continent listens hence it is vital for South Africa to support Morocco. South Africa has the experience and Morocco will use this experience to win the 2016 bid,” added Bell. African News Agency

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Catholic priest Etienne killed by militia in DR Congo, after a wedding mass

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  •  @USAfricaLIVE

Goma – A Catholic priest was found shot dead hours after he said mass in Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive North Kivu province, a member of the church told AFP.

“Father Etienne Sengiyumva was killed [on] Sunday by the Mai Mai Nyatura (militia) in Kyahemba where he had just celebrated a mass including a baptism and a wedding,” father Gonzague Nzabanita, head of the Goma diocese where the incident occurred, told AFP.

The Mai Mai Nyatura are an armed group operating in North Kivu, in eastern DRC.

Nzabanita said Sengiyumva, 38, had had lunch with local faithful before “we found him shot in the head”.

North and South Kivu provinces are in the grip of a wave of violence among militia groups, which often extort money from civilians or fight each other for control of mineral resources.

Last week unknown assailants kidnapped a Catholic priest in North Kivu, demanding $500 000 for his release.

Eastern DRC has been torn apart by more than 20 years of armed conflict, fuelled by ethnic and land disputes, competition for control of the region’s mineral resources, and rivalry between regional powers.

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Nigeria’s LOOTERS LIST and Buhari’s selective corruption targets. By Majeed Dahiru

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PDP vs APC Looters List and Buhari’s selective corruption targets

By Majeed Dahiru

Special to USAfrica {Houston] • USAfricaonline.com • @USAfricaLive

 

Timipriye Silva, a former governor and PDP chieftain, who became a founding member and financier of APC, had his corruption charges quashed by a federal high court and Buhari’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to appeal the N19.5 billion fraud case.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to Nigeria’s First and Second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, the PDP appointed former managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from [Buhari’s Information Minister] Lai Mohammed’s list.

For a party that has been accused of destroying Nigeria by squandering accrued oil revenues estimated at over $500 billion in sixteen years, it is confounding that Lai’s list is not only exclusively comprised of PDP looters but also captures the last two years of PDP’s last lap in power and included just Goodluck Jonathan’s associates, who supported him against candidate Buhari, while also relating only to funds used in the last electioneering campaign of the PDP.

Whenever the obviously abysmal performance of the Muhammadu Buhari administration appears to be gaining sustained attention, and leading to murmuring within the rank and file of his supporters, a tale of humungous looting by opposition elements is usually spun and thrown into the public space to distract people away from the core issue of the failure of governance.

Like a fit of deja vu, the recently unveiled list of looters by Lai Mohammed, a fellow who comes across as more of President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief propagandist than a minister of the federal republic of Nigeria in charge of information and culture, didn’t come as a surprise. The list is all too familiar as the unveiling was a summarised rehash of politically exposed individuals who are members of the opposition party, close associates of former President Goodluck Jonathan, particularly his appointees in government, who have been named and shamed several times in well-coordinated media trials.

First on Lai’s list is Uche Secondus, the chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Lai had this to say of Secondus: “On the 19th of February 2015, he took N200 million only from the office of the NSA”. An unidentified former financial secretary of the PDP was similarly accused of “taking” N600 million from the same office of the National Security Adviser. Lai Mohammed also re-revealed that frontline member of PDP and media mogul, who deployed his media power to promote Goodluck Jonathan by de-marketing the Buhari candidacy in the run up to 2015 presidential election, Raymond Dokpesi, is on trial for “taking” N2.1 billion from the office of the then NSA. Lai also reminded Nigerians that his shouting match and former spokesman of the PDP, Olisa Metuh is on trial for “collecting” N1.4 billion from the same office of the NSA.

Lai Mohammed’s expanded follow up list included the usual suspects – former ministers, PDP state governors, service chiefs, presidential aides, associates and family members of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who were collectively accused of looting Nigeria of close to $2.1 billion through the office of the former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.).

The choice of words like “took” and “collected” deployed by Lai to describe the manner in which those named received these monies was deliberate for the maximum effect of propaganda, portraying the accused persons as looters who broke into NSA vault and catered away boxes of cash at something akin to a gun point.

While the clamp down on PDP looters who supported Goodluck Jonathan and are still members of the former ruling party has been heavy handed, others who decamped from PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the eve of the 2015 elections and supported candidate Buhari’s campaign with their share of loot have been forgiven. For example, former NSA, Sambo Dasuki is being treated as an apostate for his role in the disbursement of funds that were used to oil Goodluck Jonathan’s electioneering effort. He has been kept in detention illegally and in defiance of several judicial rulings. Judging by the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption standard of an accusation being tantamount to guilt, in clear contempt of court proceedings by the resort to the naming and shaming suspects even before investigations and criminal prosecution are concluded and convictions obtained, it becomes curious that Lai’s list didn’t reveal any new name. Rather some names were either missing or omitted from what is a familiar list. This appears so because the bulk of PDP bigwigs who “destroyed” Nigeria in sixteen years of national rule are firmly in control of the APC, from its elected national executives to the National Assembly and appointed members of the federal executive council. The majority of APC-elected governors were also former members of the PDP. Even recently decamped PDP members to APC, such as Musiliu Obanikoro and Sulivan Chime, who have been prominently named and shamed in the recent past, were conspicuously missing from the released list of looters.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to the first and second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, a former PDP appointed managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from Lai’s list. Also missing on that list is Bola Shagaya.

Arguably one of Africa’s richest women, with a reputation for close business and political ties to all first families in the past two decades, Bola Shagaya was exceptionally close to the Goodluck Jonathan family. Often described as a bosom friend of former first lady Patience Jonathan, she has been accused, in numerous instances, allegedly, of acting as Patience Jonathan’s front for the laundering of illicit money estimated at over N13 billion, while engaging in other fraudulent activities involved in state capture. All that may be in the past now as she has found her way back to reckoning with the marriage of her son, Seun Bakare to Damilola, the daughter of Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo. Little wonder then, Bola Shagaya’s name is not on Lai’s looters list.

In a clear display of the arrogance of ignorance, the Buhari administration has narrowed its war on corruption to the hounding of members of the Jonathan administration, other individuals and organisations that were known to have worked against the emergence of the President [Buhari] in the 2015 presidential elections. This is clearly evident in the selective nature of the current anti-corruption effort.

The tone of generalisation of the PDP as the problem of Nigeria, as an indicator of corruption, should make all members of PDP (both former and present) and their collaborators in other parties guilty, hence qualifying them for naming and shaming, while being liable for criminal prosecution.

Therefore, Buhari’s list of looters is devoid of integrity, because his selective war on corruption is indicative of corruption in itself. All that is required of a former PDP looter is to get baptised into APC and profess Buhari as the saviour of Nigeria. This is precisely responsible for the failure and ineffectiveness of the war on corruption. Nothing has changed as the current APC looters continue to loot Nigeria, while the redeemed former PDP looters continue to enjoy their loot in hibernation under the abundant grace of the infallible Buhari.

• Dahiru is based in Abuja 

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