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CHUBA OKADIGBO: Philosopher, scholar, strategist and mentor (1941-2003). By Chido Nwangwu

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Dr. CHUBA OKADIGBO (1941-2003)Philosopher, scholar, strategist, wordsmith, publisher, activist, orator, traditionalist (Oyi of Oyi) and former President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
                                                               
 By Chido Nwangwu,  Founder & Publisher of  USAfricaonline.comCLASSmagazine and USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston.  
 

USAfrica, Houston, September 26, 2003: A big tree fell in the political and intellectual landscape of Nigeria; and indeed Africa. Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, philosopher, master of political intrigues scholar, publisher, activist, orator, traditionalist (Oyi of Oyi), and former President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on Thursday September 25, 2003, at the age of 61, in Abuja. He was vice presidential aspirant of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) with retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, as leader of the ticket.

Chuba, a hard-nosed political operator, was a bridge between the transited “old brigade” of the Azikiwes and Awolowos and the new, unsophisticated, impatient new breed of politicians in Nigeria. He was colorful, flamboyant and sometimes controversial in his activist life. But one of his misadventures was the oft-cited statements where he allegedly said that Dr. Azikiwe’s opposition to the NPN “victory” of 1982 could be “likened to the rantings of an ant.”

On many issues, he showed rigor and lucidity in intellectual discourses. Chuba was in Kano for an ANPP rally on Tuesday in Kano where federal police sprayed tear-gas to disperse their opposition to the Obasanjo presidency and “reelection.”

Okadigbo, who holds a doctorate in philosophy, had a health record of respiratory issues.

Meanwhile, a key member of Okadigbo’s ANPP in Kano State Hajiya Naja’tu Mohammed has told the Voice of America (VOA) Hausa Service the former senate president may have died from the impact of of an “offensive liquid” which the Nigerian police poured on ANPP leaders dignitaries at the same rally in Kano. “Immediately Okadigbo inhaled the offensive liquid, he was not himself again and party men started administering first aid on him to revive him…. It was something else, I and Okadigbo were soaked, even Buhari was soaked by the offensive liquid. The Police will not say they don’t know Buhari. That was the beginning of Okadigbo’s travails, because he started behaving like an asthmatic patient.”

On his part, durable journalist and nationalist Chief MCK Ajuluchukwu pointedly said that Chuba’s death is a “national calamity which was sure to embarrass President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Inspector General of Police (Tafa Balogun). It is a national calamity. It must be an embarrassment to the president and IGP that the police in Kano had to throw teargas at a rally being addressed by the Governor of Kano State and the Presidential candidate of the ANPP (Buhari) and his running mate (Okadigbo). There should be a revisit to the constitutional provision for freedom of Assembly without police molestation. This death is a kind of incident that can bring the North and the East together because they share a common sense of grief. Things like that should not be allowed to happen. The death of Bola Ige is shocking enough, Okadigbo’s death is even more bizarre. There should be an investigation regarding the real cause of death, which is now being attributed to police teargas in kano. I don’t believe he died a natural death. It seems like a respiratory collapse arising out of poisonous gas.”

Also, the Kaduna State chairman of ANPP Alhaji Kabir Umar has said his party “vehemently object to the way and manner Okadigbo was tear gas(ed) during the Kano rally…the death of Okadigbo was unfortunate, this is because we believe that his sudden death is not unconnected with the use of tear gas fired by the police. If they know that a man like Okadigbo was asthmatic and the security men still went ahead to fire tear gas in that environment, what did they expect?”

USAfricaonline.com contacts indicate that Dr. Okadigbo was taken to his Jerome Udoji Close residence in Asokoro, Abuja, the city where he has a home, to get additional medical attention and some rest. He was also planning for next day to see if could make another court appearance in the ANPP’s electoral-legal challenge to President (retired (Gen.) Olusegun Obasanjo’s controversial reelection of May 2003. The petitioners, the alliance of Nigeria’s political parties, the European Union, Human Rights Watch, and many international observers have since described the “reelection” in various terms as “rigged, unfair, and not credible” – citing certain cases of vote inflation and violence.

Chuba’s police orderlies were withdrawn recently and he has been getting threatening calls. A number of his supporters are outraged by his sudden death.

Chuba told me in an interview during the 2002 World Igbo Congress in Houston that “Nigeria’s President Obasanjo is sorely lacking in the mannerisms of running a democratic government. We fell out because I insisted and worked constitutionally on the principle of separation powers. He believe he owns the government. He’s a soldier and acts like one. But this is a democracy.” He fell out with Obasanjo and the party, PDP, and said the following in Nigeria “Now, the Nigerian polity is sick of second term syndrome, a threatening political cancer. Sadly, I must say that the PDP, which had been a big party of the people, is fast becoming a problem party for Obasanjo and his associates, which is run by his sycophantic cronies. They now lie prostrate in the trauma wing of a political hospital. Some good persons have been trying to nurse the PDP back to good health. But Obasanjo and his cronies are unwilling to let go, due to their ‘second term’ mania. So, what next? We all know that nothing succeeds like failure….”

Before then, Dr. Okadigbo informed USAfricaonline.com in another brief interview after his election in 1999 as Nigeria’s 7th Senate president that “we’ll continue to place the overriding interests of all Nigerians at the top of our legislative agenda. We’ll return quickly to the task of rebuilding the country and its democratic institutions.”

Chuba was key negotiator for Nigeria’s government led at the time (1979-1983) by Alhaji Shehu Shagari in securing the return of Biafra’s leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. He was Shagari’s political adviser. On the same issue of Biafrans and rehabilitation into Nigeria, he argued in 2001 that calling “ex-Biafran soldiers traitors is nonsensical, as it is inflammatory and unpatriotic….it is an attempt to boost up this anti-Igbo sentiment.”

On June 24, 2002, as he was planning to be president of Nigeria, he said “I do not wish to be a South-East nor an Igbo President. Nor do I wish to be a Southern President. I wish to be a Nigerian President, because I am thoroughly Nigerian, very Nigerian. I want my fellow Nigerians to accept me, to endorse me, to vote for me, because I will run a programmatic government which will get things done for Nigerians and for Nigeria and thereby, Move Nigeria Forward- positively.”

On the issue of the Presidency of Nigeria, and a subtle dig at retired Gen Obasanjo, Chuba said elsewhere the same month that Nigeria “As a country, we have been endowed by God Almighty with so much resources and potentials to be great. However, we have to free our Nation from direction-less, authoritarian rulers who are suffocating our democracy and have arrested our growth. What we need to do is simple- with our votes; we can free our nation and free ourselves.
Nigerians, free yourselves and fly!
Nigerians, free yourselves and fly!”

Regarding the ruling PDP which he co-founded with Nigeria’s vice president Atiku Abubakar, and others, later joined by Obasanjo, Chuba said, pointedly, “Sadly, the PDP has been unable to manage victory. The party has burst at the seams and has been in persistent trouble, no thanks to self-inflicted wounds. The problem began in June 1999, when President Olusegun Obasanjo of the PDP induced Senators in the opposition parties, namely, the All Peoples Party (APP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) to defeat the PDP candidate for the post of Senate President in the person of Dr. Chuba Okadigbo. Thereafter, discord between the executive and legislative arms of government began.

“Next, Obasanjo engineered the ouster of the PDP National Chairman, Chief Solomon Lar, whom he replaced with Chief Barnabas Gemade, whom he again replaced with Chief Audu Ogbe. Then. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo made it known that he wanted a second term as President. So did all PDP Governors and Local Government Chairmen. The APP and AD Chief Executives have followed suit. Now, the Nigerian polity is sick of second term syndrome, a threatening political cancer. Sadly, I must say that the PDP, which had been a big party of the people, is fast becoming a problem party for Obasanjo and his associates, which is run by his sycophantic cronies. They now lie prostrate in the trauma wing of a political hospital. Some good persons have been trying to nurse the PDP back to good health. But Obasanjo and his cronies are unwilling to let go, due to their ‘second term’ mania. So, what next? We all know that nothing succeeds like failure. What may happen next can be anybody’s guess. Bearing in mind the fact that success has many friends whereas failure is an orphan.”

In an address to Nigerians in London on July 14, 2002, he directed his sharp mind to the issue of Incumbency as factor in Nigeria’s politics, and what Nigerians should learn from the U.S. He noted that “Incumbency is a two-edged sword. It can be quite raw. It can cut an opponent and it can also cut the holder of the sword. If the holder is a good performer, he can use the relevant performance as a sword of incumbency. But if he is a bad performer, that same sword can cut him, even to pieces. In the contemporary Nigerian setting, it all seems that incumbency will hurt many of its holders, due to dubious performances. Remember that George Bush, Snr, was an incumbent President of the United States when Bill Clinton defeated him. Bush led the US to fight and defeat Saddam Hussein and Iraq in 1990 but the American thought he did not perform at home. They turned out to be right in that Bill Clinton gave America eight straight years of unprecedented prosperity and peace.”

He continued: “Similarly (at the time) incumbent President Kenneth Kaunda, incumbent President Kerekou and incumbent President Gerald Ford were defeated at one time or the other, when the incumbency sword cut its holders in favour of opponents. When voters are appalled by bad performance and when they are vigilant, watch out for change. Moreover, change is the only thing that does not change. Every thing else is subject to change. No one, no class, no nation can stop the mind of change from blowing when it must and none can halt change itself when it is in real motion.”

With an erudite mind and powerful political connections, Okadigbo achieved most of his ambitions. But he could have even been more with just a little more discipline.

Fact is: like or hate him, you cannot ignore Chuba Okadigbo and his imprints on the sands of Nigeria’s politics. Thank you!

Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica (Houston)

Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica (Houston)

Finally, I offer you the gift of the wise words of my Aro elders: Oyi of Oyi, Ikenga Iguedo, may your lineage endure!!


Dr. Chido Nwangwu,  author of the forthcoming 2013 book titled ‘Mandela & Achebe: Footprints of Greatness’  www.MandelaAchebeChido.com, is the Founder & Publisher of Houston-based USAfrica multimedia networks since 1993, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com;  CLASSmagazineAchebeBooks.comIgboEventsNigeria360 and several blogs. He has been profiled by CNN International for his pioneering work on the news and public policy interests of Africans and Americans.  Chido, former adviser on Africa business to Houston’s ex-Mayor Dr. Lee Brown, appears as an analyst on CNN, London-based SkyNEWS,  NBC, ABC, CBSNews and other platforms. e-mail: Chido247@Gmail.com.  Follow Twitter.com/Chido247Facebook.com/MandelaAchebeChidoFacebook.com/USAfricaChido , Facebook.com/USAfrica247

•• The preceding tribute appeared first at http://usafricaonline.com/chubaokadigbo.chido2003.html


 

A thumbnail biography of Okadigbo’s and some of his thoughts will include, the following:

Birth: December 17, 1941

Marital Status:
Married to Margery Okadigbo (they have children and he has other kids before then)

Education :
Diploma in Trade Economics Blankenburg College of Technology, Germany, 1963.

Master der Philosophie Karl Marx Universitaet, Leipzig, Germany, 1967.
Master of arts in philosophy the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., USA, 1972.

Post-doctoral fellow of politics the catholic university of america, Washington. D.C., USA, 1973-1975

Teaching experience :
Assistant professor, later adjunct associate professor of philosophy University of the District of Columbia Washington D.C., 1973-75.

Adjunct assistant professor of politics the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., U.S.A, 1973-75.

Adjunct assistant professor of politics Howard University, Washington D.C., U.S.A, 1974-75.

Director-general centre for inter-disciplinary and political studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, 1975-1978.

Lecturer in philosophy University of Nigeria, Nsukka, 1975-78.

Professor of philosophy Bigard Memorial Senior Seminary [Roman Catholic Mission]. Enugu, Nigeria, 1975-77.

Academic visitor and research scholar [visiting professor] London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Government. London, United Kingdom, 1984-1987.

Author:
Logic for Black undergraduates,

1973 on Hegel’s treatment of Egypt: the middle-point between nature and spirit,

1973 Time for change,

1978 The mission of the NPN,

1979 Consciencism in African political philosophy,

1985 Power and Leadership in Nigeria,

1987 Transition to Transition: a senate profile,

1995 -several articles in national and international journals, magazines and newspapers-

Politics :
Organizing secretary, later administrative assistant, NCNC national secretariat. 2 Ikorodu road, Yaba, lagos, 1959-1962.

Secretary, academic board of NCNC, 1960-1963

Assistant publicity secretary Zikist National Vanguard lagos branch 1961-1963

Special correspondent: the Cock monthly newspaper of the NCNC, 1960-1963

Founder/Secretary, Lagos municipal tenants movement, 1960-1961

Founder/President, Nigeria Tenants movement, 1961-1963

General secretary Nigeria Union of students, East Germany1964-1966

General secretary NCNC, East German branch, 1964-1966

Vice president NCNC, East Europe wing, 1964-1966

Elected member, constituent assembly federal republic of nigeria, 1977-1978 (which framed the constitution of the federal republic of nigeria 1999).

Deputy national secretary later, acting national secretary national party of nigeria [npn], 1978-1979

Special adviser on political affairs to the president of nigeria, 1979-1983.

Secretary elders council [national] social democratic party [sdp] 1990-1992

Senator of the federal republic of nigeria 1992-1993

Chairman, senate foreign affairs committee dec. 1992-nov. 1993

National vice chairman [south east] Peoples democratic movement [pdm], 1993-date

Proponent of the name and title “peoples democratic party [pdp]”

Proponent of the flag of the pdp [green, white, red]

Proponent of the motto of the pdp [power to the people]

Co-proponent of the symbol of the pdp [umbrella]

Chairman pdp national publicity committee, 1998-1999

Re-elected as a Senator of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999

Chairman, senate foreign affairs committee jun.1999- nov.1999

President of the senate of the federal republic of Nigeria. nov.18, 1999 – Aug. 8, 2000.

Founder/chairman Institute of civic affairs, July 2001 till date

Chairman, senate committee on Riots, crises and conflicts, sept. 2001 till date

Honours:
Ekwueme of Ogbunike, 1976.

Ikenga Iguedo, 1980

Oyi of Oyi, 1992

Ikenga Omaballa, 1999

Okwuluoha Ndigbo, fct, 1999

Orji [okeosisi] of Anambra state,

1999 Ijelle Awka, 1999

Ezeudo na Ihembosi, 2000

Okaome Ndigbo [Orlu], 2000

Ode jim jim [Okigwe], 2001

Enyi Nawfia, 2001

Order of diplomatic merit, gwanghwa medal of distinguished international service of the republic of korea, 1980.

National order of the Republic of Guinea, 1981.

Chuba had his way with words. Remarkable, among many, is an excerpt from his interview with erudite journalist Lewis Obi, in the Concord newspaper in July1982, on Statistics: “Statistics are useful, indeed necessary. But you must examine, indeed re-examine statistics before you take really rational decisions. Let me put it another way. Statistics are like bikinis. What they show are quite interesting. What they conceal is even more interesting. In other words, you must look deeper &endash;beyond the first flash of statistical data.

On Ideology:
An ideology is a world outlook or world view, a Weltanschauug to be more scientific. From the stand-point of government, you can call it a framework or the mirror of a leader or ruler for looking at the State and the world generally. In the specific case of Nigeria, there is an ideology in the form of the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, given in Chapter Two of the Constitution. Take note that every councillor, chairman, legislator and executive in Nigeria must take an oath of office wherefore he swears to maintain the Constitution. This is mandatory. In ADDITION, A LEGISLATOR, RULER OR LEADER SHOULD ADHERE TO THE MANDATE given in the manifesto and Constitution of the party on whose platform he came into office. Usually, they do NOT contradict any Constitution of our Fatherland. The central point is that Nigeria should be a welfare state, as originally ordained by the Founding Fathers of Nigeria and their political parties. Nevertheless, there is room for particularisations and rationalised ordering of priorities, according to existential circumstances. This must include the reality of free competition, marketi-sm, and the reward of Merit in the contemporary world.

On Money and Power:
Every body needs money to live and cope with life. You can use money to do good and you can use government money to do good for the many. But as they say, money is the root of all evils. Like the incumbency sword, money can cut both ways, the giver or taker, the rich or the poor. The worst part of money is to have more than you need. With respect to power, the greedy but very important personalities (VIPs) who seek or have more money than they need are among the shamelessly corrupt. They can do any thing bad to stack money and to induce any body to do evil. In business, some persons who worship money are fraudsters, while others may even sell drugs to little, innocent children. Some of the moneybags have often told me that the only way to get power is have money or to be a slave of moneybags. I did ask them how much personal money they think or know that Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Alhaji Tafawa Belewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Mallam Aminu Kano and Alhaji Shehu Shagari had to be Heads of State or Governments. Also, I told them that it is God, not money that gives or takes power to who He wills. Furthermore, I know that God provides money through good men to any one that He wanted to give power.

On Travails and setbacks:
“When one door closes, another opens”. A man may rise or fall. Otherwise, he is static and this can be very boring. When you rise, try to hang in there but never abandon principles. When you fall, stand up, dust up, and move. In addition, I always remember the deep British thinker, Rudyard Kiplins, when I rise or when I fall. He wrote: if you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same…if you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run, yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it &endash;And which is more-you’ll be a Man, my son!” during a chat with students in Umuahia, June 2001.

On Foreign Policy:
At the beginning, Nigerian foreign policy was non-alignment, with either the West or East, as power blocks and as capitalist or communist nations. In 1976, this policy was revised, wherefore Africa became the centrepiece of Nigerian foreign policy. Thanks to this doctrine, Nigeria facilitated the independence or liberation of a host of colonized African countries, including apartheid South Africa, Angola, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Recently, this policy was made to include military intervention for unity and peace in troubled African states, such as Liberia, Sierra-Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This has been overly expensive, in terms of money, human life and property. This spontaneous policy review is in search of yet a more rational review. In addition, the world is no longer as ideologically divided as it was before the fall of the Soviet bloc of nations. It is no longer bipolar or multipolar. The world is now unipolar. This is an additional rationale for some inevitable but dynamic review of Nigerian Foreign Policy. Therefore, I should propose an All Nigerian Foreign Policy Conference, as distinct from any unilateral and undemocratic decision by any ruler or group.

On Nigeria’s Budget
…In his Budget Address, President Olusegun Obasanjo aptly observed in page 2: “for this Government and most Nigerians, our hard-won democracy is yet to translate into significant improvements in our lives.” I completely agree with this. But why? The major reason for this pitiful failure was given by several Senators who spoke yesterday. To wit: The Y1999 Supplementary Budget and the Y2000 Budget, with all their Amendments, have not been properly implemented by the Executive, whose two hands were totally free to implement. You will recall that a highly placed public officer in the Ministry of Finance has been quoted as saying that less than 30% of budgeted money for projects in Y2000 has been spent! Ironically, the Senators, after all, are right at last.

Mr. President, I hereby suggest that the political economy approach, as opposed to the bookkeeper, is the best way for budget formulation and costing in Nigeria. From this standpoint, our national budget must be made to be consistent with the federal principle. In this connection, no state or zone may have more than the other, excepting when and where the Rationale are clear, empirically verifiable, and socially/morally defensible. Unfortunately, in the Y2001 Budget, there are many manifestation of disproportion, with regard to the allocation of fluids and projects to our Zones and States in several particulars. For example, I cannot find any justification for the reduction of my Zone, the South-East, to the sixth and lowest position in the Y2001 Budget of President Obasanjo. Why can’t all Zones have equal share and why must the South-East be at the very bottom of the ‘Zonal Distribution of Core Projects’?

——
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/

VIDEO of the CNN International broadcast/profile of USAfrica and CLASSmagazine Publisher Chido Nwangwu.   http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/international/2010/07/29/mpa.african.media.bk.a.cnn  

——-

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-Lrs and friendship hold lessons for humanity and Africans, USAfrica Founder Chido Nwangwu 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 )

There’s a compelling political trinity to Nelson Mandela: the man, the messiah and the mystique. http://usafricaonline.com/2013/07/18/mandela-95-hearty-cheers-to-his-footprints-of-greatness-by-chido-nwangwu/

——- ——

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

——

 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

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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USAfrica is an international multimedia company, founded since 1992 by Dr. Chido Nwangwu [author of Mandela & Achebe: Leadership, Identity and Footprints of Greatness], with its headquarters in Houston, Texas. Also, he established the 1st African-owned, U.S.-based professional newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com, both assessed by the CNN and The New York Times as the largest and arguably the most influential African-owned, U.S-based multimedia networks. USAfrica’s first print edition of USAfrica magazine published August 1993; USAfrica The Newspaper on May 11, 1994; The Black Business Journal in 1998; CLASSmagazine on May 2, 2003; PhotoWorks.TV in 2005, and several platforms and products. USAfricaonline.com is powered by the global resources of USAfrica, CLASSmagazine, CLASSmagazine.TV, PhotoWorks.Tv, USAfrica.TV, MandelaAchebeChido.com, AchebeBooks.com and ChidoNwangwu.com

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Why Trump should watch out on May 30 for Biafra memorial day

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By Rev Joshua Amaezechi, contributing editor of USAfricaonline.com, Minister of the Christian Reformed Church of North America (CRCNA) and Lead Chaplain, at the Kalamazoo County Jail 

History, they say, often repeats itself. This happens because we fail to learn from it and avoid its pitfalls. A look at history may provide a path for President Trump to reshape the US foreign policy on Nigeria in a manner that promotes life and advances human progress. An alternative is to ignore history and follow the known path of executive and economic convenience as was done in the past and live with the outcome.

History is perhaps about to repeat itself. Igbo Christians as well as their neighboring Christians in the middle belt of Nigeria have been facing unchallenged terrorist attacks from radical Islamists “Fulani Herdsmen” who overrun Christian communities, killing women, men and children and seeking to take over their lands. There had been many cases in which the Nigerian Military under President Buhari had been accused of aiding and abetting these attacks as killers were neither arrested nor frontally confronted by the State Security. Official policies of the government of President Buhari to reduce arms in the hands of civilians ended up only disarming the natives, thereby giving the invading herdsmen an edge over their victims. 

Like Nixon, president Trump has declared that the killing of Christians in Nigeria would no longer be acceptable to the US government. During a recent visit of President Buhari of Nigeria to the White House, president Trump was quoted to have said:

 “Also, we’ve had very serious problems with Christians who have been murdered, killed in Nigeria. We’re going to be working on that problem, and working on that problem very, very hard, because we can’t allow that to happen.”

 President Trumps commitment to protect Christians in Nigeria was reaffirmed in his speech on the National Day of prayer and aligns with his campaign promise to tackle the problem of Boko haram and Islamic terrorism, twin problems which as believed by the Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN) are geared towards the Islamization of Nigeria. But Nixon’s declaration on Biafra is different from President Trump’s promise to protect Christians in Nigeria. While the later was a declaration of a high profile presidential candidate, the latter is the declaration of a sitting president. However, both declarations place similar moral obligation on the US government to act decisively to protect Christians, especially at this time when 99% of the strategic Armed forces of Nigeria are headed by Muslims and mostly kinsmen of President Buhari who is widely known for his nepotism and unflinching support for the spread of Islam. 

The moral obligation of the US comes to the fore as the Igbo people and the peoples of the former Republic of Biafra who are mainly Christians and Omenana Jews gather on May 30 to remember the estimated 3.5 million of their folks who were killed during the Nigerian Biafran war. Already, Nigeria’s ‘President Buhari’s government has deployed Soldiers and combat airplanes to the region ahead of the May 30 memorial, even when that region is known to be the safest and peaceful part of Nigeria. While it is a moral tragedy that genocidists who should have been in jail, were allowed to become Presidents and heads of states in Nigeria, some with streets and public places named after them; it is even a greater moral evil for the bereaved to be denied the freedom and solemnity to mourn their dead. 

It is the aggregation of the pains and sorrow of many Christian families who lost their loved ones due to Nixons dereliction of his moral obligation to save Biafra from genocide and its interplay with current persecution of Christians in Nigeria that makes May 30 a day to watch for President Trump. The moral burden of allowing 1967-1970 to repeat itself will be too much for the US to bear.

 From 1967 to 1970, the Igbo people of the South Eastern Nigeria, with over 80% Christian majority faced the danger of extinction in an avoidable war between Nigeria and the Republic of Biafra. The US presidential candidate, then former Vice President and front runner in the presidential election Richard Milhous Nixon attracted widespread attention and support when on September 8, 1968 he issued a statement calling on the US to intervene in the Nigerian-Biafra war, describing the Nigerian governments war against the Biafrans as a “genocide” and the “destruction of an entire people”. Following his declaration, the Christians of Igbo land felt a sense of relief with the expectation that Nixon’s victory at the poll would usher in a shift in US foreign policy on Nigeria and a departure from Lyndon Johnson’s half-hearted interestedness, evidenced by minimalist provision of relief to the starving Igbo in the Biafran territory.

 Nixon won! Unfortunately, rather than act to end genocide in Biafra, President Nixon followed Lyndon Johnson’s policy. Not even the declassified memo from the former US Secretary of State and NSA, Henry Kissinger, describing the Igbo as “the wandering Jews of west Africa..” and calling for a more robust response turned the needle of President Nixon’s neglect to follow up on his campaign promises on Biafra. With these words “I hope Biafra survives”, he gave up Biafra. The result was that estimated 1 million children and civilians were starved to death following the official blockade of all access of food aid and medical relief by the Nigerian Military Government. 

While the Watergate Scandal put the final seal on Nixon’s presidency, many would argue that his foreign policy failures, including his relative silence over genocide against Biafrans  ate deep into his political capital leaving him with no significant goodwill. We know how it ended: President Nixon resigned!

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#Breaking “Worst case scenario” predicted for latest outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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The World Health Organisation says it is preparing for “the worst case scenario” in a fresh outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

WHO has recorded 32 suspected or confirmed cases in Bikoro, including 18 deaths, between April 4 and May 9. The cases include three healthcare workers, one of whom has died.

This is the country’s ninth known outbreak of Ebola since 1976, when the disease was first identified in then-Zaire by a Belgian-led team. Efforts to contain the latest outbreak have been hampered because the affected region of the country is very remote.

“There are very few paved roads, very little electrification, access is extremely difficult… It is basically 15 hours by motorbike from the closest town,” WHO’s head of emergency response Peter Salama said.

Cases have already been reported in three separate locations around Bikoro, and Mr Salama warned there was a clear risk the disease could spread to more densely populated areas.

WHO is particularly concerned about the virus reaching Mbandaka, which has around one million inhabitants and is only a few hours away from Bikoro.

“If we see a town of that size infected with Ebola, then we are going to have a major urban outbreak,” Mr Salama warned.

The organisation has a team on the ground and is preparing to send up to 40 more specialists to the region in the coming week or so.

Nigeria’s government this week ordered that travellers from DR Congo should be screened as an additional security measure after the fresh outbreak was confirmed, but the request was rejected by Nigeria’s health workers’ unions, who have been striking since April 18 over pay and conditions.

The country does not share a border with DR Congo but memories are still fresh of an Ebola outbreak in 2014 that killed seven people out of 19 confirmed cases. ref: AFP

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USAfrica: Will Rwanda President Kagame succeed President Kagame, ruling for 34 years?

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Special to USAfricaonline.com

Who will succeed President Paul Kagame? Ask the ruling party – Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) – and Rwandan citizens, says the president.

“The succession plan is not mine. If it had been, I would not be here now; I would have left because that is what I intended to do,” President Kagame said last week during a panel discussion at the Mo Ibrahim Governance summit in Kigali.

President Kagame was elected to a third seven-year term in 2017, after a constitutional referendum led to the suspension of term limits.

Under the amended constitution, a presidential term was slashed from seven to five years, and set to be renewed only once. This allows President Kagame to run for two further five-year terms when his current term ends- potentially making him rule for 34 years until 2034.

But even after winning his third term with an enviable 99 per cent of the vote, President Kagame said he had no intentions of leading past two terms, and was only persuaded by Rwandans to stay on.

“I intended to serve the two terms and leave; that was my intention and it is clear, I don’t have to keep defending myself on it. I was deeply satisfied in my heart … until people asked me to stay,” he said.

“And even then, it took some time before I accepted; finally I did because of history — the history of my involvement in politics and being a leader which started from childhood.”

The Rwandan head of state argued that it was never his ambition to be president in the first place, and that he was not prepared to lead the country after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, turning down his party when they fronted him as a leader.

“In 1994, my party had taken it for granted that I was going to take the helm as the leader. I told them to look for someone else. I told them I wasn’t prepared for it; it was not what I was fighting for,” he said.

“I became vice president and Minister of Defence. Later, then president (Pasteur Bizimungu) had problems with parliament and was impeached. They turned to me and asked me to lead and I said yes.”

President Kagame warned that although it appeared as though his longevity in power has been left for him to decide, there will come a time when no amount of persuasion from his party or the citizenry will convince him to stay.

“If I were to reach a stage — and I will not reach that stage — where people ask me to continue… and when I feel I cannot do much for them, then I will tell them no. Even if they insist, I will also insist on going,” he said.

The president said that once he is out of power, he will support his successor.

But in a country where rights groups have alluded that the political climate only favours the ruling party, it is unlikely that President Kagame’s successor — whenever he or she comes — will come from outside the RPF.

On top of overseeing a strong recovery of the Rwandan economy, ensuring peace and stability, the RPF has consolidated political and financial power since taking over power in 1994.

This is to the point of having several other political parties seeking for coalition with RPF rather than contend for influence.

•Mugisha, Rwandan journalist and author Of Sheep That Smell Like Wolves is based in Kigali, Rwanda. He contributes to the East African.

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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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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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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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USAfrica: Mandelas say Winnie sacrificed her life for the freedom of South Africa

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WINNIE MANDELA, the anti-apartheid activist and former wife of Nelson Mandela, died a few hours ago, today April 2, 2018 — following a long illness especially an infection of her kidney. She was 81 years old.

The following is the full text of the statement by the Mandela family on the death on Monday April 2, 2018 of Winnie Mandela.

 

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

It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital‚ Johannesburg‚ South Africa, on Monday April 2 2018.

She died after a long illness‚ for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.

Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela was one of the greatest icons of the struggle against apartheid. She fought valiantly against the apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country. Her activism and resistance to apartheid landed her in jail on numerous occasions‚ eventually causing her banishment to the small town of Brandfort in the then Orange Free State.

She kept the memory of her imprisoned husband Nelson Mandela alive during his years on Robben Island and helped give the struggle for justice in South Africa one its most recognisable faces. She dedicated most of her adult life to the cause of the people and for this was known far and wide as the Mother of the Nation.

The Mandela family are deeply grateful for the gift of her life and even as our hearts break at her passing‚ we urge all those who loved her to celebrate this most remarkable woman.

The family will release details of the memorial and funeral services once these have been finalised.

 

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/

—  2018 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 lives

Mandela-n-Achebe-by-Chido-book-frontcover-Lrsand friendship hold lessons for humanity and Africans, the author Chido Nwangwu 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/

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USAfricaBrkNEWS WINNIE MANDELA IS DEAD

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WINNIE MANDELA IS DEAD

The anti-apartheid activist and former wife of Nelson Mandela died a few hours ago, today April 2, 2018 — following a long illness especially an infection of her kidney. She was 81 years old.

 

The full text of the statement by the Mandela family on the death on Monday April 2, 2018 of Winnie Mandela.

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

It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital‚ Johannesburg‚ South Africa, on Monday April 2 2018.

She died after a long illness‚ for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.

Mrs Madikizela-Mandela was one of the greatest icons of the struggle against apartheid. She fought valiantly against the apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country. Her activism and resistance to apartheid landed her in jail on numerous occasions‚ eventually causing her banishment to the small town of Brandfort in the then Orange Free State.

She kept the memory of her imprisoned husband Nelson Mandela alive during his years on Robben Island and helped give the struggle for justice in South Africa one its most recognisable faces. She dedicated most of her adult life to the cause of the people and for this was known far and wide as the Mother of the Nation.

The Mandela family are deeply grateful for the gift of her life and even as our hearts break at her passing‚ we urge all those who loved her to celebrate this most remarkable woman.

The family will release details of the memorial and funeral services once these have been finalised.

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USAfrica: Nigeria forces repeatedly warned before Boko Haram abducted 110 schoolgirls in Dapchi, says Amnesty

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Nigeria forces repeatedly warned before Boko Haram abducted 110 schoolgirls in Dapchi, says Amnesty

Amnesty said that between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Feb. 19, at least five calls were made to tell the security services that Islamist fighters were in the Dapchi area. Locals spotted about 50 members of the Islamic State group affiliate in a convoy of nine vehicles in Futchimiram, about 30 km (19 miles) from Dapchi, then at Gumsa. In Gumsa, where Boko Haram stayed until about 5:00 p.m., residents phoned ahead to Dapchi to warn them. The convoy arrived at about 6:30 p.m. and left about 90 minutes later.

Special to USAfrica [Houston] • USAfricaonline.com

AFP:Nigeria’s military was on Tuesday accused of ignoring repeated warnings about the movements of Boko Haram fighters before they kidnapped 110 schoolgirls in the country’s restive northeast.

The students — the youngest of whom is aged just 10 — were seized from the town of Dapchi, Yobe state, on February 19, 2018 in virtually identical circumstances to those in Chibok in 2014.

Then, more than 200 schoolgirls were taken in an attack that brought sustained world attention on the Islamist insurgency and sparked a global campaign for their release.

President Muhammadu Buhari has called the Dapchi abduction a “national disaster” and vowed to use negotiation rather than force to secure their release.

But as in Chibok nearly four years ago, human rights group Amnesty International claimed the military was warned about the arrival of the heavily armed jihadists — yet failed to act.

In the hours that followed both attacks, the authorities also tried to claim the girls had not been abducted.

Amnesty’s Nigeria director Osa Ojigho said “no lessons appear to have been learned” from Chibok and called for an immediate probe into what she called “inexcusable security lapses.

“The government’s failure in this incident must be investigated and the findings made public — and it is absolutely crucial that any investigation focuses on the root causes,” she added.

“Why were insufficient troops available? Why was it decided to withdraw troops? What measures have the government taken to protect schools in northeast Nigeria?

“And what procedures are supposed to be followed in response to an attempted abduction?”

There was no immediate response from the Nigerian military when contacted by AFP.

Amnesty said that between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Feb. 19, at least five calls were made to tell the security services that Islamist fighters were in the Dapchi area.

Locals spotted about 50 members of the Islamic State group affiliate in a convoy of nine vehicles in Futchimiram, about 30 km (19 miles) from Dapchi, then at Gumsa.

In Gumsa, where Boko Haram stayed until about 5:00 p.m., residents phoned ahead to Dapchi to warn them. The convoy arrived at about 6:30 p.m. and left about 90 minutes later.

Amnesty, whose researchers spoke to about 23 people and three security officials, said the army command in Geidam had told callers they were aware of the situation and were monitoring.

Police in Dapchi promised to tell divisional commanders, while army commanders in Geidam and Damaturu were also alerted during the attack, it added.

People in Dapchi have previously said troops were withdrawn from the town earlier this year, leaving only a few police officers. The nearest military detachment was an hour away.

The Dapchi abduction has thrown into doubt repeated government and military claims that Boko Haram is on the brink of defeat, after nearly nine years of fighting and at least 20,000 deaths.

Boko Haram, which has used kidnapping as a weapon of war during the conflict, has not claimed responsibility but it is believed a faction headed by Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi is behind it.

IS in August 2015 publicly backed Barnawi as the leader of Boko Haram, or Islamic State West Africa Province, over Abubakar Shekau, whose supporters carried out the Chibok abduction.

Analysts have attributed a financial motive to the Dapchi kidnapping given government ransom payments made to Boko Haram to secure the release of some of the captives from Chibok.

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USAfrica: Zuma’s failed presidency of corruption, what next? By Paul Hoffman

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Zuma’s presidency of corruption, what next?       By PAUL HOFFMAN

South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority needs to box smart – there is no better way to clear the air than swiftly to charge Jacob Zuma for the corrupt manner in which he relieved Mxolisi Nxasana of his post as the head of the NPA. This crime is far more serious, far more recent and far more relevant to the future of the rule of law and constitutionalism in South Africa [SA].

The 18 criminal charges against former President Jacob Zuma, reinstated by the Supreme Court of Appeal on 13 October 2017 in the culmination of a judicial review initiated by the DA in April 2009, must stand. Zuma’s unpublished but bulky representations aimed at their withdrawal have failed, as was announced by current National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, in an 11-minute press briefing on 16 March 2018.

Four serious crimes are identified in the 18 charges: corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering. All of the charges flow from 783 transactions between Zuma and his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, or companies controlled by the latter or in which he had a major interest.

Shaik and his companies were convicted in the High Court on various counts of corruption and fraud in June 2005. The state alleged and proved to the satisfaction of that court (and both higher courts to which appeals were directed) that over a period of nearly seven years, they made some 238 payments either directly to, or for the benefit of, Jacob Zuma, at all material times a prominent politician. The payments had been made between October 1995 and September 2002 as an inducement to Zuma to use his name and political influence for the benefit of Shaik’s businesses or as an ongoing reward totalling R1,340,078 for having done so.

The Shaik trial lasted more than six months, generated huge media interest and attracted a great deal of public attention. More than 40 witnesses testified. The record comprises more than 12,000 pages with oral testimony constituting more than 6,000 pages.

When the Shaik matter reached the Constitutional Court on appeal relating to the forfeiture of the fruits of the crimes, Acting Deputy Chief Justice O’Regan, writing for a unanimous court, observed that:

“It is clear that corruption is a serious crime which is potentially harmful to our most important constitutional values. Moreover, it is clear that both our Parliament and the international community recognise the close links between corruption and organised crime.”

The prosecution has, for the purposes of the now pending case against Zuma, expanded the number of transactions from 238 to 783 and it intends to call over 200 witnesses in the matter, including forensic experts.

Given the length of the Shaik trial, it is clear that the Zuma trial will be considerably longer and a very expensive undertaking, particularly so if the hitherto consistent “Stalingrad strategy” of the Zuma legal team is persisted with during the trial. There is no reason to doubt that the strategy will not be abandoned.

It seems, from what little was revealed during President Ramaphosa’s first parliamentary question session, that the taxpayer will foot the bill for the defence of Zuma and will only be able to seek to recover costs if a conviction is secured at the end of the trial and the appeals which routinely form part of the Stalingrad strategy. This arrangement (flowing from an agreement with then President Mbeki) is both wrong and outrageous; the validity of the agreement ought to be impugned as Zuma does not hold any political office now and was not put in office to commit crimes.

It is also a racing certainty that, for the purpose of delaying the matter, the decision announced on 16 March 2018 will be taken on review, and if necessary on appeal, by Zuma. He may also apply for a permanent stay of prosecution which will also hold up the commencement of the trial.

A rather misguided stab at a permanent stay has already been launched by an obscure NGO in the Western Cape High Court. Both the NGO’s standing to sue and the jurisdiction of that court to hear the matter will doubtless feature prominently in the application. While it is pending, the application will delay the commencement of the criminal trial. The Judge President in Cape Town is a known Zuma sympathiser with a Stalingrad strategy of his own in relation to long-outstanding disciplinary proceedings against him.

The National Prosecuting Authority needs to box smart in the circumstances sketched above. After the review and stay applications are dispensed with (probably on appeal) a long, complex and expensive trial about 783 smallish transactions that mostly took place in a previous century is required.

This trial is not the only option for bringing Zuma to book.

Far more relevant and topical is Zuma’s role in the attempted capture of the state, some State-owned Enterprises and in particular the criminal justice administration itself.

A trial soon, over one transaction which took place as recently as the autumn of 2015 that impacts on the NPA’s overall credibility directly, would involve evidence on a single invalid and corrupt payment, admittedly made, of over R17-million and will, if successfully prosecuted, set the tone of the post-Zuma era. This prosecution is a possibility the management of the NPA ought to consider. Only one prosecution witness need be called and all of the limited quantity of documentation relating to the matter tends to support his version of the corrupt transaction at the heart of the case. Only two charges are needed, one of corruption and one of defeating the ends of justice.

A criminal complaint in relation to the matter has been under investigation by the Hawks since July 2015, when, fortified by a favourable opinion of two senior counsel, and armed with an affidavit and draft charge sheet, Accountability Now laid the two charges concerning the manner in which former NDPP Mxolisi Nxasana was relieved of his duties.

Related civil proceedings, brought by FUL, Corruption Watch and CASAC, have already reached the Constitutional Court on appeal, and judgment in the matter is imminent. The validity of the appointment of the current NDPP, Abrahams, is a live issue in the appeal. It was common cause in argument that the transaction complained of is illegal and invalid. Its criminality was not in issue in the civil case nor was the available evidence of Nxasana, which would be adduced in the criminal trial, before the court, having been excluded from the record because it was presented late. The High Court nevertheless rejected the version put forward on oath by Zuma. During argument in both courts, counsel did describe the payment of Nxasana’s golden handshake to agree to leave office as a bribe.

This low hanging fruit is available for plucking by the NPA, if it chooses to “box smart”. In the Shaik trial a sentence of 15 years was imposed on the corruptor of Jacob Zuma. This is the minimum sentence laid down in the applicable legislation. Zuma, now 75 years old, will surely not get a lesser sentence if convicted for bribing Nxasana to leave office after a short, sharp and well directed trial. There is no special dispensation for pensioners in SA, unlike the Italian criminal law which has been exploited by Silvio Berlusconi after his conviction.

What Zuma did to the country and the NPA by easing out Nxasana is a far more serious matter than his corrupt relationship with Shaik. It goes to the overall administration of criminal justice, not to 783 petty corrupt payments intended to oil the fortunes of the Shaik business empire.

The NPA top management ought to be able to muster the moral fortitude to discern the need to clear the air around its widely perceived lack of constitutionally required independence in its leadership; the dark cloud of suspicions that Abrahams was previously willing to align the NPA with Zuma’s interests rather than the interests of the administration of justice and the general feeling that the NPA “ain’t what it used to be”.

If it is so able, there is no better way to clear the air than swiftly to charge Zuma for the corrupt manner in which he relieved Nxasana of his post as the head of the NPA. This crime is far more serious, far more recent and far more relevant to the future of the rule of law and constitutionalism in SA.

The Constitution itself enjoins the entire public administration to use resources in an effective, efficient and economical way. If the objective of a “winnable case” for the prosecution is the appropriate conviction and punishment of the accused, let’s get there sooner rather than later.

It is time for the NPA to recall the words of the unanimous Constitutional Court quoted above and also to bear in mind that on 17 March 2011 our highest court’s concerns about corruption were expressed in the following words of Moseneke DCJ and Cameron J in the second Glenister case concerning the unconstitutionality of the Hawks:

There can be no gainsaying that corruption threatens to fell at the knees virtually everything we hold dear and precious in our hard-won constitutional order. It blatantly undermines the democratic ethos, the institutions of democracy, the rule of law and the foundational values of our nascent constitutional project. It fuels maladministration and public fraudulence and imperils the capacity of the State to fulfil its obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil all the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights. When corruption and organised crime flourish, sustainable development and economic growth are stunted. And in turn, the stability and security of society is put at risk.”

When the relatively trivial “small time crook” nature of the corruption between Shaik and Zuma is contrasted with the serious harm done to the overall administration of justice and the trajectory of constitutionalism in SA by the “dis-appointment” of Nxasana, then it ought to be a no-brainer that the latter matter deserves priority on the roll for hearing in the criminal sessions of the High Court.

It is up to the NPA to do the right thing, not because the DA’s successful review and a change of president points it in that direction, but out of inner conviction, unswerving independent-mindedness and to preserve its own integrity.

If Jacob Zuma ever considers doing the right thing he could consider negotiating a plea bargain by pleading guilty to common law crimes (those that don’t have minimum sentences, a la the travelgate fraudsters) in both matters and confess to all other wrongdoing on his part so as to shop those he threatened to shop when first charged concerning his cosy relationship with Shaik. Zuma’s little black book of “Where the ‘smallanyana’ skeletons are buried” could be usefully handed to the NPA as part of the plea bargain.

Urban legend has it that when told by Mbeki (whom he later threatened to force into the witness box in the long arms deals related trial now in prospect) that he was being fired as deputy president because of Shaik’s conviction for corrupting him, Zuma looked around the room full of assembled Cabinet ministers and said: “But, But, but I am the poorest cadre in the room!”                                                                                                                      •Hoffman is a director of Accountability Now.

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