Special report by CHIDO NWANGWU USAfricaonline.com @Chido247 @USAfricaLIVE
The harsh reality of the mountain high jump, stringent and extremely difficult to meet conditions ordered today April 25, 2017 as required bail terms for the temporary release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, by the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja have forced a rethink of the initial celebrations across parts of the Igbo/south east/south south.
Justice Binta Nyako, a wife of a former top military officer and governor, requires Kanu to provide three sureties; one of whom must be a serving Senator in Nigeria, a Jewish religious leader and highly respected person, who own land anywhere in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
The bail bond was set at N100 million, for each surety.
Kanu was also ordered not to grant any interviews to the media/press, pending the outcome of his trial and should not be seen in a meeting/gathering of more than 10 persons.
She noted that “The first defendant, Nnamdi Kanu, has appealed to the court for bail based on health grounds and it is only the living that can stand trial. So I am minded to grant him bail so that he can attend to his health and face his trial alive.”
Kanu and several IPOB activists were considered, again, for bail after two years of being held in Nigeria jails for alleged treason, and a dismissed charge of “terrorism.”
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.
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Special to USAfrica [Houston] • USAfricaonline.com • @Chido247
Only a few days following his return from the United States, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has announced through his spokesman that he is travelling to the United Kingdom to see his doctor. “I will be travelling to the United Kingdom tomorrow [May 8], to see my doctor, at his request,” retired Gen. Buhari stated on his official Twitter account.
Buhari who is 77-years added he will be away for four days, therefore, he has set Saturday, May 12, 2018 as his return date.
On his way back to Nigeria, he stopped over in London to get some medical attention — this fact was hidden from Nigerians with his special assistant [media] Garba Shehu claiming at that time that Buhari’s health challenges did not force the re-routing through London.
On May 7, Shehu added “In the course of the technical stop-over for aircraft maintenance in London on his way back from Washington last week, the president had a meeting with his doctor.”
USAfricaonline.com notes that Buhari travelled to Britain from Abuja on Monday April 9, 2017. Buhari who has been facing severe criticism on his performance since May 2015 will held “discussions on Nigeria – British relations with Prime Minister Theresa May, prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings scheduled for April 18 to 20.”
Since Buhari became civilian President, his first trip to Britain for medical treatment, according to USAfrica News Index, took place from January to March, 2017. Soon, following the clear evidence of the challenges he had regarding his health, he made his longest and most talked about trip when he left Nigeria back to London on May 7, 2017 and returned to an apprehensive nation on August 19, 2017.
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.
and 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/
As tension and separatist groups increase, the health-challenged Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (who has been in London for additional medical treatment) has been advised to resign if he can no longer perform the duties of his office, due to ill health.
“The synod thereby prays God to grant him divine healing. The synod, however, observes that in the event where the President is unable to discharge his duties and or perform the functions of his office owing to ill health, he is enjoined to resign from the office.”
This position was part of the decisions made by the Nigerian Anglican Church during its 3rd session of the 16th Synod, held at the Christ Redemption Church, Enugu.
In a communiqué issued and signed by the Archbishop of the Enugu Province and Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, Ven. Augustine Orah, the Synod Secretary and the Registrar, attorney H.B.C Ogboko, the Church underlined its point that “President Muhammadu Buhari’s ill health, which has kept him out of office for long, [has been] impeding the growth of the nation.”
Regarding the controversial and illegal pronouncements by a handful of northern Nigeria “youths” who said the Igbo resident in the North should go back to their south east homeland by October 1, 2017, the Anglican Church called those “hate speeches”; warning the “northern youths and their sponsors” against their history of violence against the Igbo. Hence, the Anglican Church and communities warned against “the repetition of the pogrom of 1967 whereof the Igbos were massively and brutally massacred in the Northern Nigeria and calls on the Federal Government to ensure adequate protection of the lives and properties of Ndi Igbo residing in the Northern part of Nigeria.”
Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was affirmed by Buhari to serve as “Acting President.”
IT was a day that would be remembered for a long time to come. On Tuesday, May 30, the Ndigbo from different walks of life chose to commemorate the day the agitation for a Biafran state was declared 50 years by the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, a soldier, politician and statesman.
As it happened, Odumegwu-Ojukwu and fellow agitators after fighting in a civil war that lasted for about 31 months, eventually decided to keep Nigeria as one. Although Ojukwu and probably majority of those who shared his Biafran dreams have all passed away, the younger generation of agitators appear unwilling to let them die.
Hence, all the pressure groups that have been formed over the years came together to declare that all the South East indigenes should participate in the stay home protest to commemorate the day. The protest turned out to be a resounding success as many as 75 countries all over the world participated in the protest. It is now common knowledge that activities, business, social and all others were paralysed in the whole of South East that day. Mercifully, there were no reports of bad incidents throughout the period the protest lasted.
That notwithstanding, the message to the federal government, albeit the political class, was unambiguous: Nigeria needs to change it attitudes to the Igbo nation or give it a country of its own. But it appears that the Ndigbo would need more than such agitation to change the current configuration of the country to suit every segment of the country.
In the past 50 years there appears to be an unending agitation for the realisation of Biafra dream as envisioned by Odumegwu-Ojukwu when he led the region in a civil war in which more than three million people were killed. Since then, the same old issue of marginalisation of the Ndigbo has almost been turned into a sing-song, no matter which government was or in power.
Articulating those issues recently, many Igbo extractions said when the civil war ended in 1970, the then military government had declared a no-victor-no-vanquish situation but the reality on ground have always showed the opposite
as Ndigbo were regarded as a conquered people.
Not only that, the apostles of Biafra State have also said that the Ndigbo have been marginalised in all aspects of the Nigerian polity including the economy and politics. They have similarly pointed that despite the pogrom that they suffered, the promise of the Gowon government of reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction were never applied to the people of the South East. Besides, instead of the federal government to harness the industry of the Ndigbo people they are being treated like second class citizens in a country where they should have equal rights.
That, perhaps, gave Uchenna Madu, leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, to say that: “the existence and sojourn of the people of Biafra can be likened to the affirmation of Jesus Christ himself when he compared the Hebrew children to the salt of the earth noting that the earth, would be worthless without its salt.
“Just as the children of light is the salt of the earth, so are the Igbos the salt of Nigeria. Political scene without the Igbo, Nigeria will lose its taste and Nigeria will be no more. In all ramifications, men of goodwill and uprightness know that this assertion is true.”
Madu said trouble appeared to have started for the Ndigbo as far back as before and after the war. He said: “This attempt at establishing an independent state of Biafra was dependent upon the premeditated genocidal pogrom against the Igbo and other people of eastern region of Nigeria then outside of their homeland. This choreographed genocide was followed by the coup of July 29, 1966, during which Nigerian troops of Northern origin systematically killed many southern officers and men, of whom at least three quarters were easterners.
“It is apt to say that the involvement of military officers of Northern extraction in these massacres effectively destroyed the Nigerian army as an effective agent of Nigerian unity.
“The subsequent massacre of citizens of the Eastern region in the north, starting again in September 1966 and the mass migration back to the east that ensued widened the rupture in national unity. It was at this point that issues such as problems of refugees, economic support of displaced persons and intensified fears of citizens of the Eastern region for their personal safety combined to escalate the tension between the Eastern region and central government.
“Nobody could have blamed Ojukwu for declaring Biafra, which was brutally resisted by the Nigerian state but today the situation has not changed. What Ndigbo suffer today seems to be more. Harsh economic policies aimed at reducing the capacity of the Igbo.”
Madu argued that the policies of marginalisation were efficiently and effectively carried out throughout the military era which dominated Nigerian politics at the time from 1970 to 1999. “Interestingly, the current democratic dispensation has also coincided with the emergence of a post-war Igbo generation who do not accept the obvious marginalisation of the Igbos in Nigeria. The manifestation of this resentment is seen in the number of Biafran groups and movements that have emerged to demand for the re-establishment of an independent Biafran state as a panacea to the alienation of the Igbos in the Nigerian polity,” MASSOB boss said.
According to him, the new Igbo nationalism is anchored on a shared vision that the Ndigbo are better off as an independent state than being an integral part of the Nigeria state.
He vowed: “We the people of Biafra will never relent in promoting, projecting and upholding all the legacies of General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the supreme leader and Commander of Biafra Nation.”
Supporting the separatist idea, Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, the founder of Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, said that there was not much for him to say because of the grim situation in the country, especially among the youths. He said: “You need no other barometer to feel the pulse of the people judging from their feelings of despair. The youths are so despondent that they are now asking to be allowed to opt out of the country. I do not need to say anything further.
“We are a country and but not a nation. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Biafra, we remember the time we were invaded; we remember the killing of over three million Igbo and we also remember how we managed to survive. We are asking for self- determination Kanu
Similarly, Chilos Godsent, president of the Igbo National Council, INC, said in an interview that the economic policies of Nigeria had made things for the Igbo difficult. Godsent expressed the fear the Igbo would continue to find it difficult until the Nigerian state is liberalised to accommodate every ethnic nationalities in the country. He said he was convinced that the marginalisation of the Igbo people was deliberate.
The INC president said: “I can tell you authoritatively that those issues before and after the Nigeria/Biafra civil war have not been addressed. The issue of lopsidedness of political structure of the Nigerian state is still there. The deliberate marginalisation of the Igbo, the conspiracy of the Arewa and Oduduwa bloc against the Igbo nation is still very strong. Let me tell you that these issues led to the fear of uncertainty and made the Igbo feel so unwanted in the Nigeria federation.
“That was what started self determination, which they eventually called the Biafra Republic. The struggle is ongoing but what we are concerned about is the tactical approach and the existing frame work on the modus operandi of all the organisations that are struggling for the sovereign state of Biafra.”
That notwithstanding, Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, was pleased with the success of the sit-at-home protest, saying the realisation of a Biafra republic was near.
Speaking through Emma Powerful, the IPOB’S media and publicity secretary, Kanu said he was encouraged by the outing, vowing that he would stop at nothing in ensuring that the people of the area were liberated from the stranglehold of their oppressors.
He used the medium to thank “friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom all over the world for their tenacious efforts that made our Heroes Day Sit-At-Home Order a resounding success.”
The IPOB leader said the fact that people obeyed the order to sit at home “is confirmation that IPOB which I lead has the mandate of all Biafrans to spearhead the ongoing Biafra restoration effort.”
He added: “With near total compliance with this sit-at-home order I issued when I was still in Kuje Prison Abuja, it has proven to me beyond every conceivable doubt that Biafra restoration is a priority to all and sundry and I promise never to let Biafra down even upon the pain of death because you never let me down.
“We must join hands together, with all genuine and sincere individuals and groups, to restore Biafra with truth and honesty.”
However, rather than join hands with the IPOB leader, the South East Peoples Assembly, SEPA, has asked the federal high court, Abuja, to revoke the bail granted Kanu.
The IPOB in collaboration with other groups, on Tuesday, May 30, organised a successful sit-at-home in South East, an action SEPA regarded as a breach of the bail conditions granted Kanu.
Indeed, the IPOB leader has been facing trial for treason and terrorism, being a major sponsor for the secession of South East from Nigeria on the platform of his group.
He was arrested on October 15, 2015, in Lagos, and eventually granted bail in May this year on health grounds with some conditions.
Justice Binta Nyako said that she was convinced that Kanu was ill and needed more medical attention than the Nigerian Prisons was giving him and therefore, granted him bail on conditions that he must not hold any rally, grant any interview or be in a crowd of more than 10 people.
Nyako gave other bail conditions to include three sureties in the sum of N100 million each and ordered that Kanu to deposit both his Nigerian and British passports with the court and that a report on the progress of his health must be made available to her on a monthly basis.
She adjourned the matter till July 11 and 12, for definite commencement of trial.
However, based on the sit-at-home order, the SEPA has accused Kanu of infringing on the bail conditions.
In a letter to Justice Ibrahim Auta, the chief judge of the high court, Chukwuemeka Okorie, president of the SEPA, asked the court, as a matter of urgency, to revoke Kanu’s bail.
He said that Kanu had continued to conduct himself in a manner that was totally at variance with terms and conditions of his bail.
He listed the infractions to include holding rallies, grant of interviews or be in a crowd of more than 10 people.
“Obviously, the recklessness with which he made media statements and even organised the ‘Sit at Home and Stay Indoor’ protest to mark the so called Biafra heroes day on Tuesday, 30th May, 2017, is a threat to the unity, security and peace of Nigeria as a sovereign nation.
“We have no iota of doubt that he is trying to push our dear country Nigeria into an unnecessary precarious situation for his personal agenda and those of his paymasters.
“Sir, our decision to write this demand letter to your good office at this time is to forestall another civil unrest in Nigeria, particularly around the Igbo speaking region.
“As you well know, the struggle by Kanu to be relevant under the guise of actualisation of Biafra does not enjoy the support of right thinking Igbo people both at home and in diaspora.
“That he suddenly addresses himself as the Supreme Leader of Biafra points to how arrogant and disrespectful he is to legitimately constituted authority in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The pertinent question on our minds as stakeholders is: Has Kanu been consistent in providing the court with reports on the progress of his health and treatment on a monthly basis since he was granted bail?
“We fear that if Kanu is not tamed by Your Lordship as a matter of urgency, the IPOB may create a situation where it becomes difficult if not impossible for genuine development to take place in the South East under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“History has taught us that the Civil War of 1967-1970 started gradually and later turned out to be something that caused our people unimaginable losses.
“We cannot afford to fold our arms this time and allow a stooge imported from the United Kingdom by stark enemies of Nigeria to maintain a state of belligerence against the nation and keep the name of Igbo people in the news for the wrong reasons.”
In any case, the SERAP’s opposition has, no doubt, shown that not everyone is in support of the separatist movement of Kanu and his co-travellers.
Monday Ubani, a human rights lawyer and second national vice president of the Nigerian Bar Association, similarly disagreed with the agitation for Biafran state. Rather, he said that the Igbo cause could be better realised within the context of one Nigeria instead of plunging the whole South East into another avoidable crisis.
He admitted that there had been elements of marginalisation against the Ndigbo in the structure of Nigeria, but it was now left for the Ndigbo to build confidence with other ethnic groups in order to get whatever they want.
Ubani said: “If you say you want Biafra, in asking for Biafra what are the plans in place. Have you consulted your political office holders who are holding offices everywhere? Who is going to be the President and then where is the capital to be located? I don’t have any problem with Biafra but I want to see what the plans are. Let’s agree before you pull out.”
He also said Biafra would be difficult to actualise by being hostile and rebellious to other ethnic groups in the country. According to him, the last Biafran war was a waste of lives and opportunities. “I will not at this level of my education now support the Igbo man to go to that level again, war, because I have kids. I will rather like us to get a larger chunk of our right in a more legitimate way in this country God has blessed.
“If you say Igbo should return home because of war, where are the industries to work. Please you don’t sit down and create problems for others and generations yet unborn because you are frustrated. I will advise if we love our land let’s begin to carry our investment home and attract foreign investors,” he said.
Besides, he said that Odumegwu-Ojukwu who started Biafra, before his death said that Biafra was now a thing of the heart. Hence, Ubani said that if Ndigbo want to achieve Biafra “all of us must sit down and work out the modalities of a Biafra state.”
For Nnia Nwodo, president general of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the marginalisation of the South East by successive administrations necessitated agitation by the youths for a sovereign state of Biafra. At the forum of leaders of the South-South and South-East geo-political zones earlier in May, Nwodo noted that he aspired for a country where every part would be fully involved and the future generation would have a better country than the current generation.
“Our children are agitating. Our children do not want to be part of this country anymore because they feel that we are second-class citizens and because they feel that their parents are incapable of standing out for them.
“They want the Republic of Biafra because most of them feel they are discriminated against and are not equal with others,” he said. He, however, argued that the country would be better as one, as the impact of war on any country could never be over-emphasised.
“We think that in the African continent, our size is our asset. We have built a brotherhood over the years since 1960 and we cannot break. Consequently, we have to put our heads together and find a better federal structure, a constitutional structure, which gives every part of this country satisfaction. In weeks and few months to come, the socio-cultural organisations will come together to seek an end to this impending catastrophe,” Nwodo said.
On his part, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said engaging in dialogue with those agitating for an independent state of Biafra would be a sure way to resolving the issue.
At the Biafra conference in Abuja, on Thursday, May 25, the former president said Nigerians must treat the country with care. He recalled what happened during the Biafran war and why such should be avoided.
“I have maintained that the young officers who struck in 1966 were naive but there were some element of nationalism in some of them. Be that as it may, it set us back. The language used in the war did not help matters, the people on the Biafra side called us vandals and we called them rebels…
“We thought we would end the war in three months, but it took us 30 months, and the federal side nearly lost it. Civil war is more difficult than fighting in a foreign land because we are fighting to unite… Some of the people agitating for Biafra today were not even born then. They don’t know what it entails,” he said.
“But I think, we should even appeal to those saying they want to go, we should not tell them to go. We should make them understand that there is enough cake to share. We should massage Nigeria just like in a love relationship.”
Similarly, Balarabe Musa, a veteran politician and a former of Kaduna State, in a newspaper interview, agreed that the Ndigbo have not had their fair share in the scheme of things in Nigeria since the time of the civil war. Musa, however, disagreed that majority of the Igbo are in support of Biafra.
He said: “Sincerely speaking, the South-East has not had a fair-share since the civil war. Their marginalisation is quite obvious. But if the policy of reconstruction, reintegration and reconciliation of General (Yakubu) Gowon and the late General (Murtala Mohammed) Murtala’s administrations had continued, the agitation by the few Igbo for Biafra state would have been a thing of the past. It is the marginalisation that is making a small section of the Igbo to agitate for Biafra.
“If the reconstruction and reconciliation had been sustained, there wouldn’t have been any need for Biafra because the number of those Igbo asking for Biafra is not more than 10 percent. The majority of the Igbo crave for a better Nigeria particularly because of their experience and they are prepared to fight for the unity of Nigeria. Majority of Igbo leaders have said in clear terms that they want a better Nigeria where they can expand because they are enterprising in nature.
“As you are aware, people who are enterprising would prefer a big community as against a small one. Some of them desire a better Nigeria because they don’t want the previous experience of war to repeat itself. But the agitation for Biafra is a ticking time-bomb just as the level of poverty in Nigeria.
“Like I said earlier, the system of development in Nigeria tends to divide the people. There were times in history when the Igbo were targeted and isolated because they were enterprising and because of the system that operates in Nigeria. And probably the system could marginalise everybody until there is a brutal revolution.”
Perhaps, fearing the untold damages that may result from another civil war in Nigeria, the only popular agitation in the country today is restructuring, which appears to be unpopular among some Northerners. But that has not diminished the debate for the need to restructure Nigeria to speed up its development.
Lending a voice to the argument, Olusegun Adeniyi in his newspaper column of May 25, said: “All said, as we reflect on 50 years after the declaration of Biafra and what might have been, I agree with the proponents of restructuring that there are sufficient grounds to question some of the assumptions on which the unity of Nigeria is predicated, especially in the light of our serial failings. But to beat war drums at the least provocation or to continue to marginalise (in critical appointments and projects) a significant section of our country are signposts that we have not come to terms with our past and that we have not learnt enough lessons from that tragic episode in our history to say NEVER AGAIN!”
Indeed, that was the view of the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who declared Eastern Nigeria a sovereign state on May 30, 1967, known as Biafra, when he gave his candid opinion on the same agitation in a video that had gone viral on social media.
He said in the video: “I led the first one and I can say I led ‘proudly’ the first one I don’t think a second one is necessary. We should have learnt from the first one, otherwise, they would all have been in vain.”
But whether the agitators for a Biafran state are going to heed to the advice is another matter. That notwithstanding, the fear of Biafra state, may after all be the necessary harbinger to reconfigure the country and give everyone a sense of belonging.
As the leadership of Nigeria, especially across the old northern region, continue to weigh their options in the likely event that Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari’s poor health becomes worse during his current medical checkup in London, USAfrica News Index May 7–May 17, 2017 indicate that rumors of possible military coup are spreading.
The realistic implications has moved the country’s Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, to issue a stern warning to members of its armed forces to avoid politicking: “This is to inform the public that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Nigerian Army, has received information that some individuals have been approaching some officers and soldiers for undisclosed political reasons. On the basis of that, he has warned such persons to desist from these acts.”
Such rumored coup, ostensibly and allegedly, will seek to keep the presidency in the north; and “supercede” the position of the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, a professor of law, from Nigeria’s southwest Yoruba.
Although millions of Nigerians might not be happy with the token dividends of its return to democracy since 1999 but they will not clap and cheer for a return to another regime of military dictatorship. By Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica and author of the soon-to-be-released 2017 book titled ‘Mandela & Achebe: Leadership, Identity and Footprints of Greatness’
WHO’s swift response to the latest outbreak is being viewed as a way the organisation is saving face following a damning report published in late 2015, that blamed WHO for failing to respond soon enough to the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa that left more than 11,000 people dead.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the return of the deadly Ebola virus to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after three years.The WHO said DRC’s Ministry of Health notified them on May 11, 2017 of a confirmed case of the deadly disease.
One death has since been reported, with Reuters news agency quoting a WHOspokesman, Eric Kabambi, as saying “It (the case) is in a very remote zone, very forested, so we are a little lucky. We always take this very seriously.”
The last outbreak of Ebola in Congo was in 2014 and dozens of people died. The AFP had earlier reported that the number of deaths was three.
‘‘The WHO Country Office in the DRC is working closely with the national and provincial authorities and with the WHO Regional Office for Africa, WHOheadquarters in Geneva and all other partners to facilitate deployment of health workers and protective kits in the field to strengthen epidemiological surveillance and rapidly control the epidemic’’, says Dr Yokouidé Allarangar, WHOrepresentative in the DRC.
Dr Allarangar also announced that Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, would arrive in Kinshasa this weekend to attend a coordination meeting of the national committee at the Ministry of Health to deal with this emergency and ensure that WHO provides all necessary assistance to the DRC.
By CHIDO NWANGWU USAfricaonline.com @Chido247 @USAfricaLIVE
Since April 25, 2017, millions of Nigerians, international security and diplomatic monitors of Nigeria have been witnessing two contrasting images of the country of an estimated 170 million. One image is that of President Muhammadu Buhari. The other is the controversial profile of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) movement. Ironically, Buhari’s government detention and refusal to respect lawful orders of the courts for almost two years regarding the release or granting of bail escalated Kanu’s profile, globally. It sharpened the contrast with implications.
First, it sent a historic reminder to all students of history and power that demands for equity/fairness in Nigeria’s geo-politics and nationalities questions cannot be swept aside as the high-noon rantings of a few, misguided chaps possessed and jaundiced by youthful impetuosity! Such snotty, condescending nonsense and arrogance have combined to show the evident limitations of some of Nigeria’s leaders at the state and federal levels.
Second, since January 19, 2017, when Nigeria’s President Buhari began his “medical vacation” to London, we’ve all seen the images of a very ill and absent commander-in-chief; plus increasing talk about the likelihood of his quitting due to his complicated, frail health. Essentially, those images fit the current shape of the country’s weakening political economy. Like my made-in-Aba suits and trousers, they fit perfectly.
Third, the dominant message seems to me to be the escalating demands against Nigeria’s 1914 colonial borders as imposed and implemented under The Amalgamation of the Northern and Southern regions by the British soldier of raw materials and minerals named Lord Lugard. I hear the familiar demands approximating the historical agreement at Aburi in Ghana, as reflected in the official minutes, dated January 4-5, 1967. I hear the cries of some young men and young women whose siblings and parents were murdered in the routine killing and genocidal slaughter of the Igbo and the ethnic groups/communities who constituted Biafra. I hear a demand on all those who profit from the militarized impositions of a perpetual, non-negotiable “national unity” since 1960s to date, circa 2017. It seems to me a demand against domestic agents and foreign corporations whose actions have turned the once evergreen Niger Delta into a decimated, polluted environmental nightmare. I hear a demand for economic security and against 10 years of unemployment after graduation. I hear, loud and clear, a stand against discrimination in admissions and employment. I hear….
Fourth, many of the older generation Igbo who fought in and for Biafra caution the youth against pushing for another Biafra, even with the peaceful agitation. For all that it is worth, we note that Nnamdi Kanu was born after that war. It is the dominant demographics and a benchmark to appreciate/understand/critique the younger generation’s interpretation of Biafra and trans-continental agitation for Biafra.
Fifth, Kanu-led IPOB and its affiliates distribute information and mobilize across more cities in the world more than any other Nigerian or African organization. USAfrica news index January 2014-April 2017 also show that the Pope Francis, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu, U.S President Donald Trump know, the British Prime Minister Theresa May, and many world leaders are, at least, aware of their activism and agenda.
Sixth, without a doubt, there are aspects of the new Biafra movement which reflect a certain level of operational and tactical recklessness. On the other hand, the non-dramatic fluency with which they sorted and settled — within 30 hours– the harsh reality of the mountain high jump, stringent and extremely difficult to meet conditions ordered on April 25, 2017 as required bail terms for the temporary release of the leader of the IPOB, by the Federal High Court Justice Binta Nyako, a wife of a former top military officer and governor, showed the credibility and clout of IPOB . She required Kanu to provide three sureties; one of whom must be a serving Senator in Nigeria, a Jewish religious leader and highly resp
USAfrica Publisher Chido Nwangwu,
ected person, who own land anywhere in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. The bail bond was set at N100 million, for each surety. Kanu was also ordered not to grant any interviews to the media/press, pending the outcome of his trial and should not be seen in a meeting/gathering of more than 10 persons.
Finally, what would Ojukwu (the Head of State of Biafra) have said about these events? I interviewed him 3 times; one at his house in Lagos and twice in the U.S. One thing is certain: the ideological children and grandchildren of Odumegwu Ojukwu, of Chinua Achebe, o
f Gen. Effiong, of Christopher Okigbo, of Wole Soyinka have kept a message of national identity, unapologetic zeal and unbowed resilience regarding the 1967-1970 war. Especially, those who swear “citizenship” under the golden yellow colors of the Land of the Rising Sun! Biafra.
*Dr. Chido Nwangwu who appears as an analyst on CNN and SKYnews serves as Founder & Publisher of the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper on the internet, USAfricaonline.com, and established USAfrica in 1992. He is the author of the soon-to-released book, Mandela & Achebe: Leadership, Identity and Footprints of Greatness. @Chidö247 .
By Hamza Hendawi, (AP) Tanta, Egypt — Suicide bombers struck hours apart at two Coptic churches in northern Egypt, killing 44 people and turning Palm Sunday services into scenes of horror and outrage at the government that led the president to call for a three-month state of emergency.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the violence, adding to fears that extremists are shifting their focus to civilians, especially Egypt’s Christian minority.
The attacks in the northern cities of Tanta and Alexandria that also left 126 people wounded came at the start of Holy Week leading up to Easter, and just weeks before Pope Francis is due to visit.
It was the single deadliest day for Christians in decades and the worst since a bombing at a Cairo church in December killed 30 people.
Late Sunday night, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called for a three-month state of emergency. According to Egypt’s constitution, parliament must vote in favor of such a declaration — a virtual certainty since it is packed with supporters of the president. It cannot exceed six months without a referendum to extend it.
The army chief-turned-president also dispatched elite troops across the country to protect key installations and accused unidentified countries of fueling instability, saying that “Egyptians have foiled plots and efforts by countries and fascist, terrorist organizations that tried to control Egypt.”
The attacks highlighted the difficulties facing el-Sissi’s government in protecting Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population.
“Where is the government?” screamed an angry Maged Saleh, who rushed to the church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta where his mother escaped the carnage. “There is no government!”
The first bomb exploded inside St. George’s Church in Tanta, killing at least 27 people and wounding 78, officials said, overturning pews, shattering windows and staining the whitewashed walls with blood.
Video from inside the church broadcast by CBC TV showed people gathered around what appeared to be lifeless, bloody bodies covered with papers. Several doors had been blown off. Women wailed outside.
“After the explosion, everything became dark from the smoke,” said Edmond Edward, attending Mass with his brother, Emil, who suffered head wounds and leaned on him for support at a nearby hospital.
“There was a clear lapse in security, which must be tightened from now on to save lives,” he told The Associated Press. The blast appeared to be centered near the altar, he said.
Susan Mikhail, whose apartment balcony across the street has a clear view of the church and its front yard, said the explosion violently shook her building.
“Deacons were the first to run out of the church. Many of them had blood on their white robes,” she told the AP. The more seriously wounded then were carried out by other survivors and taken to hospitals in private cars, she said.
Hundreds of residents gathered in the area, and church members blocked people from entering the church as police cordoned off the area.
A few hours later, a suicide bomber rushed toward St. Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt, killing at least 17 people and wounding 48.
CCTV images showed a man with a blue sweater tied over his shoulders approaching the main gate to St. Mark’s and then being turned away by security and directed toward a metal detector. He passed a female police officer talking to another woman, and entered a metal detector before an explosion engulfed the area.
The Health Ministry said six Muslims were among the dead in Alexandria.
Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic church leader, had held Palm Sunday services at the cathedral, but his aides said he had escaped unharmed. The timing of the attack raised the question of whether the bomber had sought to assassinate him.
Pope Francis, who is due to visit Egypt on April 28-29, marked Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s Square by expressing “deep condolences to my brother, Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic church and all of the dear Egyptian nation.”
Magdy George Youssef, a deacon at St. George’s, said the church was almost full when the blast occurred and threw him under a pew.
“All I could think of was to find my wife, and all I could see was smoke, blood and completely charred bodies,” the distraught 58-year-old said. Youssef, who suffered only an injured ear, later found his wife at home, with burns to her face.
IS said in a statement that two Egyptian suicide bombers named Abu Ishaq al Masri and Abu al Baraa al Masri carried out the church attacks and vowed to continue attacks against Christians. “What happened is a dangerous indicator that shows how easy it is to attack a large gathering of people in different places,” said researcher Ishaq Ibrahim with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “There is a complete government failure in taking the IS threat seriously.”
El-Sissi said in a statement that Sunday’s attacks would only strengthen the resolve of Egyptians against “evil forces.” He held an emergency meeting of the National Defense Council, which includes the prime minister, the defense and interior ministers, the speaker of parliament and top army commanders and security chiefs.
Regional police chief Brig. Gen. Hossam Elddin Khalifa was fired over the Tanta bombing, with Maj. Gen. Tarek Hassouna replacing him, state-run newspaper al-Ahram reported.
President Donald Trump tweeted that he is “so sad to hear of the terrorist attack” against the U.S. ally but added that he has “great confidence” that el-Sissi “will handle the situation properly.” The two leaders met at the White House on April 3.
Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar — the leading center of learning in Sunni Islam — also condemned the attacks, calling them a “despicable terrorist bombing that targeted the lives of innocents.”
Both Israel and the Islamic Hamas movement ruling neighboring Gaza condemned the bombings as well.
An Islamic State affiliate claimed the December bombing as well as a string of killings in the northern Sinai that forced hundreds of Christians to flee to safer areas. The militants recently vowed to step up attacks against Christians, whom they regard as infidels.
Egypt has struggled to combat a wave of Islamic militancy since the 2013 military overthrow of an elected Islamist president.
The Sinai-based IS affiliate has mainly attacked police and soldiers, but has also claimed bombings including the downing of a Russian passenger jetliner in the Sinai in 2015, which killed all 224 people aboard and devastated Egypt’s tourism industry.
Egypt’s Copts are one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East and have long complained of discrimination and that the government does not do enough to protect them. Security at churches is routinely increased around religious holidays.
The Copts largely supported the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, and incurred the wrath of many of his followers, who attacked churches and other Christian institutions.
While the Copts have stood steadfast alongside the government, an increase in attacks on Christians has tested that support.
Egyptian media had previously reported that the church in Tanta had been targeted before, with a bomb defused there in late March.
As night fell, hundreds of Christians, mostly clad in black, streamed to the church to offer their condolences. Scuffles broke out between the mourners and church volunteers guarding the church’s doors as many pushed and shoved to get in.
U.S President Donald J. Trump suffered a major, strategic defeat with his failure alongside House Speaker Paul Ryan to gather enough votes to support the Republican bill known as the American Health Care Act, a few minutes ago Friday March 24, 2017. They pulled the bill from being voted for or against.
With this collapse of the twin goals of Trump (despite his denying in his initial reaction) to “replace and repeal” Obamacare, Ryan has said “Obamacare is the law of the land, and it will remain the law of the land until it’s replaced.”
Immediate past President Barack Obama successfully passed the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. By Chido Nwangwu, publisher of USAfricaonline.com @Chido247