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Buhari’s insensitivity to massacre of Biafra activists and a dream deferred

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Buhari’s insensitivity to massacre of Biafra activists and a dream deferred

By Jane O. Ikezi

“What happens to a dream deferred?                                                                           

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?” – Langston Hughes

Over the years, since 1967, the Biafra dream arose in different forms and each time, it was violently attacked by the Nigerian government and was forced to be deferred. Now, that dream has reemerged, rearing its nonviolence message, creative heads in multitudes, with brazen courage and an adamant refusal to be deferred.

In President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech at the 72nd General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, on the 19th of September 2017 (where he represented Nigeria), he called for the establishment of a Palestinian State, as well as, an end to the murdering of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. On the contrary, The retired former general and military dictator Buhari neither acknowledged the plight of indigenous people of Biafra, seeking sovereignty, nor did he acknowledge the mass killings of Christians and indigenous people of Biafra across Nigeria. Why then, must this dream be further deferred?

Despite losing the 1967-1970 War of Genocide and starvation against them by Nigeria, the indigenous people of Biafra moved forward to build Nigeria, promote its name around the world and kept their heads up. Losing the war did not mean losing our dignity.

Despite all our efforts and contributions to Nigeria, we have been marginalised and treated like disposable reserve, not equal citizens. “One Nigeria” remains an illusion.

Hence, I strongly implore and call on the Nigerian government led by  Buhari  and all Nigerians, particularly those of Igbo extraction, who do not understand the reason for the latest “agitation” for the right to self-determination for the indigenous people of Biafra, to consider the questions raised in this poem critically.

Why?

This thought-provoking poem by Langston Hughes challenges the reader or listener to “truth-telling and soul searching.”

The Nigerian government’s systemic erasure of the true and accurate history of its war against Biafrans  (1966 -1970, pogrom included) from its books; and failure to recognise the lives lost, has not succeeded in eradicating the deeply rooted dream, which was deferred at the end of the Nigeria~Biafra War.

Despite many innocent lives taken, that dream was never killed, only temporarily deferred.

 

Some people say that those who seek a sovereign state of Biafra did not experience the war and as such, are disillusioned or naive. You do not have to experience war or be part of that history in order to understand the cost of war. For many Igbo people, the price of war was paid by each family. Many people lost loved ones. Some families talk about the war and some find it too painful to discuss.

There are no monuments or dates of remembrance for the war, or pages in Nigeria’s history books immortalising the war. However, that did not deter the dream for self-determination.

We may debate on which line of Langston Hughes’ poem aptly illustrates the status quo of Nigeria, with respect to the Biafran situation. Has that deferred dream dried up like a raisin in the sun? Has it festered like a sore? Does it stink like rotten meat? Is it syrupy sweet? Or does it sag like a heavy load?

That dream has not dried up like a raisin in the sun. That dream will not be syrupy sweet until it is actualised. That dream has been festering like a sore for years and is now beginning to stink like rotten meat, sagging like a heavy load on the government of Nigeria, which is currently experiencing the explosion of a Dream Deferred.

Jane O. Ikezi,  New York based attorney, is a columnist for USAfricaonline.com

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Nigerian democracy and June 12: case for Abiola presidency

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By Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa

Special to USAfrica [Houston] and USAfricaonline.com

 

For a nation that seemed to be in denial for 25 years, monumental history was made in Nigeria this week of June 12, 2018, as the country’s leadership awakened to face the truth of its recent struggles for democracy.

On June 12, 1993, Nigerians went to the polls to elect a civilian democratic President. The election was generally adjudged to be peaceful, free and fair but the official result was not released. The military President, Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida [IBB] cancelled the elections using all kinds of subterfuge or so it seemed. A motley group of cash & carry politicians led by then irrepressible but now silent Arthur Nzeribe, connived with an equally cash & carry judiciary to give IBB an alibi to cancel the elections. The nation, especially, Southern Nigeria rose up in protest against IBB and his henchmen. I fully remember late Dr Beko-Ransome Kuti, Barrister Femi Falana and the trade unionist Frank Kokori leading protests which many of us joined on Ikorodu Road and Airport Road marching to Alausa in Lagos.There were bon fires all over Lagos and other parts of the South West and for the real first time in modern Nigerian history since the women riots, a full blown civil disobedience was in full swing dragging economic activities to a halt for weeks. Many Nigerians panicked, afraid that another civil war was imminent causing many to relocate( Oso Abiola).

The Peoples ‘pressure’ compelled IBB to step aside, enthroning  Chief Shonekan’s interim National Government (ING). Nigerians were not sure whether to support Shonekan or not despite the very spirited efforts which his government made to reset the nation for a new phase of economic development. The empaneling of the Vision 2010 committee was one of such Strategic initiatives by Shonekan. Sensing that Nigerians were ambivalent regarding the interim National government and perhaps more in keeping with written secret scripts held between IBB and his man Friday, Sani Abacha, Shonekan was forced to resign and with it his government came crashing. Abacha, the ultimate dictator assumed office. It is on record that Chief MKO Abiola the then presumed winner, but now confirmed( by PMB)of the June 12 1993 election was one of the earliest persons to pay a courtesy call on Abacha.

Why he did so? Only historians will tell. But some of us suspected that Abacha played a fast one on him. Perhaps he naively believed Abacha was going to’ restore the kingdom to Israel ‘. Rather, Abacha locked up MKO as the man made efforts to claim his victory. Abacha latter died after he had seized and put Nigeria in his pocket but God delivered Nigeria. Soon after Abacha’s death, hope was raised that MKO would be sworn in as President.

But that was not to be.

The nation woke up one day,to hear that MKO Abiola had been despatched to his ancestors. I thought the Nation was going to burn. Only a tepid response perhaps similar to the one David made when his son born out of adulterous relationship with Uriah’s wife died. While the Child was sick, David was in visible agony,refusing to eat or bath. So when the child eventually died, his aides thought he was going to kill himself. But the guy thought otherwise. No need to cry over split milk. He shaved, had his bath and ordered a sumptuous meal. Nigerians moved on with the fast transition to civil rule plan of Abdulsalami Abubakar or so it seemed.

Former military ruler, Gen.  Olusegun Obasanjo was thrust on the Nation by the Northern military establishment led by the irrepressible IBB himself.

Against all odds including sidelining those who midwifed the new democracy and who prepared to assume the Presidency, people like late Dr Alex Ekwueme and Chief Olu Falae, OBJ, past military head of State returned as a civilian democratic President of Nigeria. It was said that the North gave the presidency to the West to appease them for denying Abiola the presidency. But was the West appeased? It did not look so, as the West at first,essentially, did not seem to have supported OBJ. In the 1999 elections, it was predominantly the North,the Middle belt and  the East that gave OBJ victory. The initial hostility of the West led by Bola Tinubu’s Alliance for Democracy(AD) continued almost through OBJ’s 8-year tenure. Whether this was the main reason OBJ never paid any attention to Abiola and the June 12 movement, one may never know. But through out his tenure OBJ hardly brought Abiola or June 12 into any discussion and one could conclude he wanted the issue buried and forgotten .

President Umaru Yardua’s health did not give him enough time to pay attention to several critical national issues and so it is difficult to say if he would have had a different view about Abiola and June 12, even though the national honor he gave to Gani( which Gani eventually rejected) showed a softness to human right activists. Jonathan,who was in my view the first and perhaps till date the only true democrat in this 4th Republic to rule Nigeria showed more understanding to the June 12 issues. It is on record that he decided to Honour the memory of MKO by naming an important national institution after him- University of Lagos.Again the AD now turned ACN political movement of the South West Nigeria mobilized very strongly to oppose that honour. The democratic Jonathan retreated and perhaps that laid to rest any other plans that he may have had.

Then enter President Muhammadu Buhari( PMB) under the political amalgam called APC as arranged between Tinubu’s Southwest dominated ACN , Buhari’s Northern dominated CPC and the Bugaje/ Amaechi/ Saraki minority belt-led nPDP. This party paraded democratic principles at formation but as at now has become a Democratic Party with very few true democrats if any at all. Much of the promises it made during the campaigns, including those in its manifesto have been largely ignored or denied. Majorly, it promised to restructure Nigeria but came to power and became the major obstacle to restructuring Nigeria. Because of the apparent poor performance of PMB, in its chosen key Result areas- Security, anti-corruption and the Economy, it has lost some of its most ardent supporters. Prominent among these are the leading lights of Nigeria’s Military establishment – IBB, TY and OBJ. In addition, the Country seems to be slowly descending into a dictatorship with the unfolding erosion of the powers and relevance of the Legislature and a patently evident repression and intimidation of the main opposition Party- PDP. As last week closed OBJ issued a statement claiming that his freedom and life were in danger essentially because of his criticism of PMB’s lackluster governance performance. As I read that statement, my mind went back to the Abacha days and I asked my self: are we seeing the reincarnation of Abacha?

It is in this charged political milieu where we were wondering how we got here that PMB sprung the greatest surprise of his tenure. In a twinkle of an eye, he rewrote history and did what Napoleon could not do. According to the media reports,he acknowledged for the first time that Chief MKO Abiola of blessed memory actually won the June 12, 1993 elections. To demonstrate this, he awarded MKO the highest National Honour of the Nation- GCFR , reserved for only Heads of State of Nigeria. Abiola’s Vice-Presidential candidate Babagana Kingibe was awarded GCON- the Honour for Vice Heads of State or Vice-Presiedents as the case may be. He also gave similar Honour to Gani Fawhenmi, the late  human rights crusader and democratic icon. To cap it up, he changed the date for the observance of Nigeria’s democracy day from May 29 to June 12. These are issues which the June 12 movement, other pro-democracy groups and Abiola’s family have consistently canvassed over these many years.

Since this surprise was sprung, there have been several comments in the media. The consensus is that this is a good move but done with a motive to score political points( cheap or costly).And then I ask, what is wrong with that? My wish is that PMB would score many more of such political points. How wonderful it will be for us to wake up tomorrow to hear that a man from the South East has been made the Inspector-General of Police for example!( please this not to say that I have joined the Senate to fight IGP Idris and I pray that this my humble suggestion is not mischievously transmitted to him). Or how will it be wrong to hear tomorrow that he has accepted the recommendations of the 2014 political conference and ordered immediate implementation or agreed to drastically restructure Nigeria using the six -geopolitical zones as federating units for example. Let him score all the political points( cheaply or costly).For one thing, they will help write off his current political deficits and perhaps place him on the positive. Won’t that be a good thing for Nigeria?

Additionally I have heard suggestions that he should do more than what he has done. People have suggested that Abiola and Kingibe should be paid arrears of their salaries as President and Vice President. This is only fair. Others have suggested that Kudirat Abiola who died in the struggle for her husband’s mandate should be equally honoured and I agree. Others are requesting that Government should help rebuild Abiola’s businesses that have failed. I demure on that. Indeed I am hoping that other heroes of June 12 like Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti, Tony Enahoro, Balarabe Musa, Ndubuisi Kanu, Yinka Odumakin and comrade Kokori should also be honored. In similar manner, Nigeria must not forget the sacrifices of Leaders like General Thomas Aguiyi- Ironsi, Col Adekunle Fajuyi, Shehu Musa Yardua,Alfred Rewane, Dele Giwa and many others who have died in the bid to bring peace and unity to Nigeria. They and their families and businesses need recognition, honour, resuscitation and restitution. What is good for the goose must also be good for the gander!

But for me really, to bring this June 12 matter to a full and final closure, I suggest we should go the whole hog and inaugurate an Abiola Presidency. Since Babagana Kingibe survived MKO as VP, he should by the enforcement or re-enactment of the doctrine of necessity by the Senate be inaugurated as the President and he can choose a VP, perhaps the Chairman of SDP in 1993 or his Vice, if the chairman is indisposed . Alternatively, MKO’s first son can become the VP. If this my ‘revolutionary’  idea is acceptable to the good people of Nigeria, we can inaugurate this government on June 12 next year. In which case we will not need to go through the pain, torture and expense of holding presidential elections next year, which if care is not taken and we continue the way we are going as today may run into painful hitches. Can some one please stand to support this motion?                                                                        •Ohuabunwa, recipient of Nigeria’s national award, OFR, is a leading public policy analyst who contributes commentaries to USAfrica. His email is sam@starteamconsult.com

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USAfrica: Trump warns Buhari on “christians are being murdered, killed in Nigeria… we can’t allow that to happen”

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Trump warns Buhari on “christians who are being murdered, killed in Nigeria… we can’t allow that to happen.”

@Chido247

U.S President Donald J. Trump, this afternoon Monday April 30, 2018 at the White House, told visiting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that his government is not only monitoring but outraged by  “very serious problems with christians who are being murdered, killed in Nigeria.”

The transcription of Trump’s statement by USAfricaonline.com reads:

“We’ve had very serious problems with christians who are being 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.”

Buhari, a retired army General and dictator/ruler (1984-1986), attempted to minimize those issues when he claimed, contrary to video evidence and eyewitness accounts, that the “farmers and herdsmen” only carry stick and machete; not AK-47s and other deadly weapons. Across the social media, Nigerians share pictures/videos of them brandishing weapons.

Obama administration and Buhari’s started a deal for Nigeria to purchase up to 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft with sophisticated targeting gear for almost $600 million.

By Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica [Houston], USAfricaonline.com and author of the 2018 book titled MLK, MANDELA & ACHEBE: Power, Leadership & Identity

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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: Martin Luther King’s message and Trump presidency. By Chido Nwangwu

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By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica, Houston.                                                                            •Follow Twitter.com/Chido247Facebook.com/USAfricaChido

 

Today, April 4, 2018, as we mournfully mark 50 years since the killing of the foremost exponent of a global reality of social justice and the equality of the races, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jnr., it is important to bear witness to history and assess the present.

On July 15, 1994, I visited the Martin Luther King Jr.  Center in Atlanta, Georgia, for the first time as a member of a committee of a few African ambassadors, African-American professionals and a handful of continental Africans assembled by the Rev. Leon Sullivan, longtime advocate for equal rights for South African and American Blacks, to plan aspects of the 1995 African and African-American summit in Dakar, Senegal.

As I walked the premises with the late Dr. King’s son, Martin Luther King III, my mind’s eye recalled Dr. King’s vision, his unique poetic cadence, the flowing timbre of his voice, the inimitable rhyme and rhythm that punctuated his manner of speaking.  Amid those memories, I recalled the shattering staccato of angry exchanges between many members of Jewish and African-American communities in far away New York, Chicago and Massachusetts, carrying on in ways that would have made Dr. King recoil.  At least, he would have spoken with the calming ointment of mutual respect and Solomonic wisdom.

Into 2018, what do we see along the trajectory of what I’ll simply characterize as The Power and Permanence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jnr.?

First, the U.S President Donald J. Trump’s inflammatory stoking of bigotry and mainstreaming of the offsprings of the messengers of hate constitute,  substantially, an existential moral threat to the works and legacy of the truth-teller and prophet.

Trump should take an iron-clad stand (not made-for-tv retakes) against the assorted confederacy of skinheads and neo-Nazi thugs in Europe and corners of the United States. As well as against the radical jihadist merchants of death in Nigeria called Boko Haram and other transporters of hate, mayhem and bigotry.

Second, for all it’s worth, these times and the 21st century truly require leaders with a King-size vision, temper and courage. For example, South Africa’s late president Nelson Mandela towered beyond bitterness to live and work with his repentant apartheid jailers. His response to hatred from his apartheid oppressors mirrors King’s timeless example: be forgiving, remain noble, foster racial harmony and be fair-minded. I witnessed part of the King-Mandela sense of grace, first-hand, at the Robben island. I was part of the U.S media team with President Bill Clinton during the closing days of March 1998 when he visited Southern Africa.  I highlighted the spirit of forgiveness of Mandela in my forthcoming 2018 book  MANDELA & ACHEBE: Footprints of Greatness, about two global icons and towering persons of African descent.

Third, 50 years since his assassination, I believe that the global alliances of family, faith, character and social justice,  representing the rich tapestry of our ethnic/racial origins as Indians, Caucasians, Blacks, Jews, Asians, and a multitude of other backgrounds have advanced Dr. King’s vision.

Fourth, on the critical issue of race, racial identity and politics, in the course of political fights in Washington DC and locally, we have listened to the impassioned partisan drivel that Dr. King fought for a “color-blind society.” From my researching King’s view on this issue and having discussed the same question with one of his sons, the claim that the late but revered King worked and died for the emergence of a “color-blind society” amounts to nothing more than grandiose distortion and arrant nonsense.

It is sociological misleading since multi-ethnic and multi-racial societies will have their “color” components.  Therefore, the ideologically misleading mantra pretending to establish a “color-blind society” merely serves as a wedge issue and fund-raising code for contortionists of King’s vision and work which fundamentally and specifically sought the recognition of our backgrounds and even our racial origins.  He specifically demanded that we neither be judged nor discriminated against because of the color of our skin.  He underscored that we rather be judged by the content of our character.

Fifth, as a continental African in America, a recent immigrant and citizen of the United States of America who has been blessed by the graciousness, business opportunities, global breadth and hospitality of other Americans, I have cause to be thankful for benefiting from the vision, personal sacrifice and peaceful soldiering of the late but great Martin Luther King,Jnr. I salute this prophet for enabling a moral and social justice compass which fosters harmony, fair scales of opportunity and acceptance of all our unique talents and racial origins.

Sixth, 50 years since the killing of the evangelist of character first, we should do more by utilizing technological tools, networking our strengths, building family, exercising personal discipline, empowering religious and community organizations to fight all forms of discrimination and intolerance.

Seventh, the believers in King’s goals must deal with an increasing challenge, specifically: the hordes of unemployed (soon unemployable in the robotic computer market) inner-city youths who, frankly, do not care so much about whose holiday is celebrated, when and by whom. They prefer to connect with the “hustle”; but there has been an increase in the high school, first degree numbers and the numbers of healthcare professionals.

Dr. King saw the inequities of his time, but it did not stop him from rising to the challenge of the day and charting a moral, visionary road map for tomorrow.

50 years ago, the King was killed!

USAfrica Publisher Chido Nwangwu, pix Jan11 2014

50 years after, long lives the King!!

50 years ahead, long shall the king live!!!

———

•Dr. Chido Nwangwu is Founder & Publisher of Houston-based USAfrica multimedia networks, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com;  and recipient of several journalism and public policy awards. He has been profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans. He worked previously for the Nigerian Television Authority, Platform magazine, and the Daily Times of Nigeria; and has served as adviser on Africa business to Houston’s former Mayor Brown. USAfrica, CLASSmagazine and USAfricaonline.com are 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 established May 1992.


 

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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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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USAfrica: Danjuma’s genocidal past, hypocrisy and insecurity in Nigeria. By Jude Ndukwe

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Danjuma’s genocidal past, hypocrisy and insecurity in Nigeria 

By Jude Ndukwe

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

When on Saturday, March 24, 2018, retired Gen T.Y. Danjuma sent out a shrill cry to Nigerians using the exalted pedestal of the Taraba State University’s convocation ceremony as a medium to send out his message, one could see nothing but desperation, frustration and hopelessness all over him. Evidently, a result of the incessant killings of Nigerians of diverse nationalities by the marauding Fulani herdsmen terrorists. Such emotions are expected of a man whose kith and kin are directly in the line of fire. 

There is no doubt that Danjuma’s call for Nigerians to rise and defend themselves in the face of the immutable failure of security agencies to come to their rescue is germane, it is however too late, too little and too feeble. This is in addition to the fact that Danjuma has since lost his exalted place in the scheme of morality before the ordinary Nigerian.

An unrepentant war-monger, Danjuma is not different to the criminal behavior of those he is castigating. In fact, it is the tribal antics of narrow-minded people like the former minister of defence that brought us all to this unfortunate saga.

No one may like the content of this piece, but I am not writing to be liked, have never written to be liked and does not wish to write to be liked but to always be as truthful and, if possible, brutally truthful and hurtful to those averse to truth! This is all I owe my conscience and my God.

Just like the Fulani herdsmen terrorists of today, Danjuma also led a gang of armed bandits in uniform to Ibadan to murder the then Head-of-State, Gen JTU Aguiyi Ironsi, execution style. He then went further to actively participate in the near annihilation of the Igbo during the civil war where three million Biafrans were randomly and wantonly wasted, clearly against the rules of engagement.

The Asaba massacre is one example of the mindless nature of people like Theophilus Danjuma.

On that morning of October 7, 1967, the good people of Asaba had thronged out in their numbers to show solidarity to the Nigerian troops who had earlier pushed the Biafran soldiers further back from Ore to the Niger. The solidarity by Asaba indgenes became necessary as a way of abating the continued and unwarranted massacre of their people by the federal troops who accused them of being “sympathizers of Biafra”.

They thought that expressing such solidarity in an all-white attire signifying peace and surrender would appease the federal troops. But that was their greatest undoing!

It is recorded that about 1,000 of them including some as young as 12 were murdered in cold blood during the massacre. Federal troops separated the men from the women in the solidarity march at the square and randomly opened fire on all of them: innocent, defenceless, armless, harmless and helpless civilians.

The gory story of the civil war has been told time and time again. Both sides have their faults, no doubt, but the deployment of “extra-war” strategies to prosecute the war against Biafra would remain the sour point in the history of that war.

The most heart wrenching of them all are the images of infants and children who were starved to death as Danjuma and his cohorts deployed starvation as an instrumentality of war. In that circumstance, innocent Igbo children who should have been spared the consequences of the war having been too young to have contributed to the causes were seen dying slowly and painfully on the streets, in the bushes and everywhere. Some of them had their severely malnourished bodies feasted upon by vultures even while still alive. Not even their mothers whose breasts had shrunk back into their chests due to deprivation could provide milk to save their infants from starvation.

Today, the reasons the late Emeka Ojukwu declared secession have come back to haunt Danjuma who thought he was doing humanity a great service by siding with the Fulani who, today, have turned the sword against him and his people under the auspices of herdsmen terrorists. What they could not see while standing on an Iroko tree, Ojukwu had since seen even while sitting on ute uche ya (his mat of wisdom).

Today, the chicken has come home to roost. While the southeast remains one of the most advanced and peaceful regions in the country, there is mayhem, fire and brimstone visited upon Danjuma’s home by the same people he freely fell into infamy for in the years of the 1967-1970 Nigeria-Biafra war.

Let us even assume without accepting that all those events happened as a result of war, it is more sickening that Danjuma has since carried on like an unassailable veteran whose evil deeds would automatically turn to good simply because he fought on the side of federal troops.

It would be good at this point to remind Danjuma that Igbo blood is sacred. All those who participated in the massacres and starvation of even children in the 1967 – 1970 imbroglio would pay for them, not because Ndigbo would wage another war but because the God of justice hears the cry of the blood of the innocent and would set our traducers one against another unless such participants humble themselves, apologise and make genuine efforts at reconciliation, even if it is on individual basis, with the Igbo nation and all those who constituted the former Eastern Region.

The blood of those malnourished, innocent and extremely weak children whose condition were the result of a deliberate policy of starvation the Danjumas deployed during the war, and who looked on helplessly while their bodies were picked by birds of prey, rodents and reptiles, still speaks till tomorrow. No matter how far Danjuma and his gang run, the unmitigated divine law of vengeance would catch up with them.

In an interview with The Guardian [newspaper based in Lagos] in February of 2008, Danjuma insolently referred to Aguiyi Ironsi as a “useless”, “desk-clerk” Head-of-State. That was 40 years after the war.

As recently as April of 2015, during a private visit of former president Goodluck Jonathan to his residence shortly after Jonathan lost the election, Danjuma ridiculously said if Ojukwu had conceded defeat early during the civil war, one year of bloodshed would have been avoided.

It is instructive to note that at no time did any matter relating to Ojukwu or the Biafra war came up during Jonathan’s visit to Danjuma. He was just showing how obsessed he was and still is with the Igbo, spitting on our people at every opportunity. Fifty years after the war, Danjuma would not let sleeping dogs lie.

Instead of making efforts at healing wounds, Danjuma has continued to open healed wounds with misplaced pride. He does not need to look too far to know that Ndigbo have since arisen from the ashes of that war to become one of the fastest developing regions in Nigeria in spite of the deprivations suffered during and after the war; deprivations that have continued till tomorrow.

So when one saw him on TV the other day calling on Nigerians to defend themselves against armed bandits who he said the military is colluding with and giving cover, one can only laugh and remind him that what goes around comes around. It was exactly how he colluded with men in uniform to commit the worst atrocities against humanity. He should stop lamenting but start reflecting.

A more reasonable man, instead of continuing to ridicule the Igbo at every given opportunity, lamenting and making lame calls, would have visited the Obi of Onitsha, for example, with the leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, present, to say “Your Majesty, we all made mistakes during the civil war. It should never have happened but it did. All sides made mistakes but I am here in your palace in my personal capacity to express my apologies for parts of my role during the war which caused the Igbo great grief. I am here to appeal that we should all let bygones be bygones, forgive one another, close ranks and live in peace. God has given me the grace to live up to this moment and I want to make the best use of it reconciling with all those who I might have offended in the cause of carrying out my duties as a soldier of the federal republic. I acknowledge we went too far in some cases. I want to meet my creator in peace whenever He decides to call me, hence, my decision to do this”.

He has the opportunity to do this especially now that the wife of late JTU Aguiyi Ironsi is still alive and around.

But Danjuma would rather live on like an eternal colossus lacking empathy except when the people of Taraba State are under attack.

Ndigbo have had their rights as major stakeholders in the scheme of things constantly denied and are deliberately deprived; they are marginalized in all areas of the nation’s life and have continued to suffer humiliation from a system deliberately skewed against them as punishment from the civil war. However, they have endured all and should be commended for their steadfastness and revival owing to God’s grace and the people’s determination and hardwork.

I am totally against the killings by Fulani herdsmen terrorists particularly as it is happening in the north right now. It is an act of gross incompetence and wickedness for terrorists to be allowed to run roughshod over our nation without any visible concrete action by government and security agents to stem the tide. It is total failure on the part of government especially one that came to power on the promise of ensuring the safety of Nigerians.

I’ll conclude by noting that Danjuma’s hands are too stained with blood of innocent children from the East to be able to stir the people to self-defence. Let him seek peace and forgiveness from necessary quarters and he shall know peace!                                           •Ndukwe, a commentator on public policy issue, has the Twitter handle @stjudendukwe

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USAfrica: Danjuma’s amnesia and toxic advocacy for anarchy. By Chidi Amuta

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Danjuma’s amnesia and toxic advocacy for anarchy.

By Dr. Chidi Amuta

Special to USAfricaonline.com

Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, retired army General and former minister of defense, stands out in glowing notoriety on the scale of anti-heroes produced by Nigeria’s history of violent disruptions.

Endlessly rewarded by all regimes since after his 1966 bloody emergence as military supremo and poster coupist, he has also emerged as easily one of Nigeria’s wealthiest men, mostly for reasons other than his industry, corporate ingenuity or even plain hard work. On account of his long-standing presence in power circles, Danjuma has managed to anticipate some audience whenever Nigerians are pressed by bad governance to desperately seek an alarmist town crier. We are clearly at one such moment once again.

Therefore, Danjuma’s latest outburst on the sad security situation in the nation falls into a familiar pattern. For a veteran coup maker, the exploitation of public disaffection to align with the general drift of public opinion is a familiar gimmick. But this time, while Danjuma’s outburst on the epidemic of killer gangs virtually all over the country may be in tune with our collective pain and anger, it ricochets with loud echoes of Thomas Hobbes’s picture of anarchy when the state is absent.

Nigerians are united in their concern about the rampaging impunity and uncontrolled audacity of murderous Killer gangs and herdsmen all over the country. We are all worried that a band of armed bandits under the guise of either cattle herding or sectarian zealotry have been allowed to terrorize the entire nation and in the process make nonsense of an overstretched and disorganized security apparatus.

Those with any sense of history cannot but sleep with one eye open as tragic insecurity engulfs the northern half of the country with unfamiliar trends: cattle rustling, kidnapping for ransom, Janjaweed like scorched earth attacks that raze whole towns and villages with industrial scale casualty figures.

Ordinarily, President Buhari is not my kettle of tea. Characteristically, the President has displayed a less than keen interest in ending the menace of these killer gangs while in the process allowing all manner of tales to spiral around the crisis. Similarly, both the military and the police have repeatedly proved impotent on the matter of containing killer herdsmen and other casual killer squads, again tempting all manner of unsavoury conclusions. This situation has not been made any better by the uneducated utterances of high government officials like Buhari’s Defence and Information Ministers and even the chief of police, respectively.

There is, of course, no justification for the apparent tacit support, which all manner of killer gangs seem to be enjoying under President Buhari. This conclusion is above the politics of the moment. No definition of partisanship can outsource these killings to an opposition party. The failure to take absolute responsibility for the security of the lives of every Nigerian can only be ascribed to one factor: crass incompetence and lack of executive decisiveness. No previous administration has presided over such a massive decimation of Nigerians in peacetime.

While these concessions remain valid, Mr. Danjuma’s choice of venue to cry out about the Taraba chapter of the new national killing sport – a university in his home state- does not quite fit into his erstwhile branding as a national elder statesman. The industrial scale sporadic killings of innocent citizens that has become the identity badge of the Buhari presidency is not localized to Taraba or Danjuma’s Jukun ethnicity. Nor are they geopolitically skewed in any way. Anambra, Abia, Delta, Ekiti, Benue, Nasarawa , Plateau, Kaduna, Zamfara, Kano states have all been theatres in an ever expanding national killing field featuring killer herdsmen and other migrants and vagrants .

If indeed Mr. Danjuma is concerned about the abuse of the military and its use to aid and abet violations of people’s rights, why is he just waking up now? If Mr. Danjuma wanted to atone for his murky past and acquire a national voice, where was he when the same military over which he had previously presided repeatedly (according to Amnesty International and most local observer groups) committed the mass killings of unarmed IPOB and MASSOB sympathizers in Onitsha and other parts of the South East?

Maybe it is also part of the attributes of men of immense power and wealth to develop amnesia even on matters that they themselves presided over. Maybe I was the Defence Minister under whose watch the little town of Odi in Bayelsa state was reduced to rubble. I was probably the Minister of Defence when Zaki Biam in Benue State was similarly flattened by tanks and armoured vehicles.

Danjuma is a privileged citizen who has full unfettered access to the president. I have lost count of how many presidential advisory committees he is chairing under the Buhari presidency. There is no indication that Mr. Danjuma has tried and failed to get a presidential audience to air his views to Mr. Buhari on these and other matters. I guess it is easier and more convenient to seek audience to canvass yet another oil bloc than to proffer suggestions on how to improve the state of our national security. Since Danjuma was playing to the gallery, he could have gone the whole hog by openly canvassing suggestions on which the public can engage the government in search of ways to improve a bad situation.

While the idealism and fire of youth can tempt those angry with government to scream at high pitch, the wisdom of age dictates that elders do not rouse the rabble or pull down the homestead. Danjuma’s statement may fit into his definition of freedom of speech. But it steps overboard into the realm of irresponsible utterance and even treasonable incitement.

The full implication of Danjuma’s call for self help in matters of self-defense by citizens goes beyond his immediate constituency. It is a toxic epistle on political philosophy of a most decadent variety. This dangerous epistle is addressed to all Nigerians who today feel increasingly exposed and vulnerable to these marauding killer gangs. It is simply a call to arms against fellow Nigerians and a tacit defiance of the state and its security apparatus. It announces and inaugurates the onset of a state of nature, a land of everyman to himself and God for all of us.

If we were to revert to a state of nature, the armed masses in defiance of the state would be out in the streets machetes, Dane guns, bows and arrows, clubs, cudgels and all. Even a dysfunctional state with the weakest semblance of law and order and a monopoly of the instruments of violence is still our best guarantee for the protection and defense of our residual freedoms, holdings and rights. Our challenge is to make the state work through the periodic regime changes that democracy guarantees.

But in the nightmare universe of Danjuma’s toxic advocacy, the strong will kill the weak except the weak come together in mutinous gangs and arm themselves for self-defense since the state, according to him, has failed.

For Danjuma, the state is failing, Nigerians should go back to a state of nature;  similar to what Thomas Hobbes described,

Chidi Amuta

a place where anarchy reigns and life is short, nasty and brutish. It was the fear of this descent into anarchy that prompted Thomas Hobbes to argue for the necessity of order under a sovereign authority: a leviathan.

Danjuma who owes his emergence, prominence, fame and fortune to anarchic decapitation of a sovereign wants a nation of anarchists.                                                                   •Dr. Amuta is Executive Editor of the USAfrica multimedia networks [since 1993] and USAfricaonline.com. He is based in Lagos, and is the author of several books.

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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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USAfrica: Cows, snakes, rats and reality of Nigeria as an animal kingdom. By Arthur Nwankwo

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Cows, snakes, rats and reality of Nigeria as an animal kingdom.

By Dr. ARTHUR AGWUNCHA NWANKWO, Chancellor of the Eastern Mandate Union and editorial opinion contributor to USAfrica (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com since 1998.

——

How else can you describe Nigeria as an animal kingdom? A country where rats chase away its President from the effective use of his office is an animal kingdom. A country where a snake, reportedly, swallows N36million and monkeys jump on tree tops with as much as N70million is an animal kingdom. A country where cows take over airport runways, classrooms and public institutions is an animal kingdom. A country that values the lives of cows more than the lives of its citizens is an animal kingdom. All these happen in Nigeria. Simply put, Nigeria is, indeed, an Animal Kingdom.

——

There is no doubt that Aristotle belongs to the pantheon of the greatest thinkers the world has ever known. Students of philosophy will agree with me that it was Plato who taught Aristotle. Plato himself was taught by Socrates. Aristotle on his own part was reputed to have taught Alexander the Great who was perhaps the greatest military genius and world conqueror that used world conquest to spread Western civilization to the four corners of the earth. Apart from Aristotle’s other works, his voluminous scientific study titled, History of Animals stands out.

In this fascinating work, Aristotle made this rather provocative passage on the nature of certain animals and implies that these zoological observations have connections to certain aspects of human nature: “Some creatures, he said, are peculiarly salacious, as the partridge, the barn-door cock and their congeners; others are inclined to chastity, as the whole tribe of crows, for birds of this kind indulge but rarely in sexual intercourse…Animals also differ from one another in regard to character in the following respects.

“Some are good-tempered, sluggish, and little prone to ferocity, as the ox; others are quick-tempered, ferocious and unteachable, as the wild boar; some are intelligent and timid, as the stag and the hare; others are mean and treacherous, as the snake; others are noble and courageous and high-bred, as the lion; others are thorough-bred and wild and treacherous, as the wolf: for, by the way, an animal is high bred if it comes from a noble stock, and an animal is thorough-bred if it does not deflect from its racial characteristics. Further, some are crafty and mischievous, as the fox; some are spirited and affectionate and fawning, as the dog; others are easy-tempered and easily domesticated, as the elephant; others are cautious and watchful, as the goose; others are jealous and self-conceited, as the peacock. But of all animals, man alone is capable of deliberation”.

It is actually this capacity and power for deliberation that, in the opinion of Aristotle, distinguishes man from other animals, for indeed man is biologically an animal. Though man is biologically considered to be an animal, God has wired him in such a way that he stands at the summit of creation. Man is the only biological animal that was created by the Trinity. God had said in Genesis Chapter One verse 26 “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth”.

And God said “Let there be Light”, and there was light. And from this light, God created life upon earth; and man was given dominion over all things upon the earth. But men took dominion over other men and from that point freedom was gone from the world. The weak were made to serve the strong; and the conquered were made to serve the conqueror. And so have the lives of our people been made bitter with hard bondage in Nigeria.

Sociability in animals and the nature of animal kingdom are considered by Aristotle in his writings on Politics and the State, in relation with the development of human civilization. However, in his writings on human society, Aristotle is essentially concerned with the civilizational leaps made throughout history i.e. from the domestication of animals, which demonstrated an advance from primitive to civilized life, to the growth and development in the wealth and power of the tribe through the rise of the Greek city-states. As a measure of wealth and power, Aristotle denotes that wealthy men can be described by the number of horses which they kept, for they cannot afford to keep them unless they were rich.

However, legend and history are replete with narratives of the faithfulness and allegiance of animals regarding their human masters, and of the mutual attention and affection which men bestow upon them. However, driven as it is by their purposes for economic or other functions, the taming of animals to adapt to human use will often include violent or cruel abuse. The utility, or even the mistreatment, of animals by man appears to be justified by the servile estate of the savage beast compared to the rational nature. As plants exist for the sake of animals and man, so also animals, according to Aristotle, “exist for the sake of man, the tame for use and food, the wild, if not all, at least the greater part of them, for food, and for the provision of clothing and various instruments.” Similarly, Aristotle’s notion of the natural slave, discussed at length in his work on Politics, and alluded to in his History of Animals, uses the actual domesticated animals as a kind of paradigm for the management of human beings as slaves, tools or implements.

But there are many scriptures in the Bible where animals are used as metaphors to teach mankind spiritual, political and even economic lessons. For example, King Solomon, who is reputed to be history’s wisest king, shows a profound level of understanding of the animal world when he wrote in Proverbs 6:6-8 thus: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest”.

Honestly, if Nigerian leaders had but those three verses of the Bible and were collectively compelled to follow this aphorism as a universal rule of law, perhaps it would be impossible to have the bestial society that Nigeria has become. If only Nigerian leaders had followed this Solomon’s Ant paradigm, there would be no need for all that is happening today in the country because people would act in accordance with their nature so that they would work hard for their daily bread basically because starvation, deprivation, internal slavery and ethnic cleansing as well as displacement are very cruel and pitiable teachers indeed.

Yet today’s Nigeria appears to externalize all the negative and primitive instincts, which rational men would frown at as awful and barbaric. For instance, the lower animals think of nothing but to eat. Take the fowl for example. It wakes up before anyone of us. Form the point of its waking up; it scavenges for food till sunset. This is not how God has wired man. In God’s political economy, man should eat to live and not necessarily live to eat. This is the fundamental lesson in Solomon’s Ant paradigm.

But in Nigeria, our leaders behave like the lower animals. For them, the philosophy is to steal, steal and steal as much as possible from the commonwealth without minding what would become of the country tomorrow. Once he acquires any public position, the Nigerian elite goes on to loot billions of money to be able to buy mansions abroad, send their children overseas and frequently travels abroad to receive medical attention. Yet under his nose, his people are dying of preventable diseases, children are out of school and dying of hunger even as the elite display their ill-gotten wealth with reckless abandon.

In developing the concept of social contract, Thomas Hobbes also alluded to the base instinct of man in society where he likened the state of nature as being brutish, nasty and short. Eminent Igbo songwriter, singer and instrumentalist, Mike Ejeagha captured this scenario in his Akuko-na-Egwu with the story of “Aneke-Oturukpo”, which depicted the animal kingdom as a race of survival for the fittest. In other words, animal kingdoms are commonly denominated by the instinct of “survival of the fittest”.

Nigeria is not different from this instinct of animal kingdom. Having bled the country dry, the governing elite and their accomplices have hit on the expediency of the absurd as a means of correcting the social ills besetting Nigeria. Because of massive corruption in Nigeria as exemplified by the present Buhari administration and past administrations, our hospitals have become glorified mortuaries; our roads have become death traps, our schools have become breeding grounds for cultists and social miscreants, industries and small scale businesses have collapsed due to lack of power, universities and colleges have been shut down due to labour disputes, militancy and terrorism have blossomed and people now take suicidal dives into the lagoon. This is a classical scenario of dog-eat-eat dog. Since 1999, when Nigeria returned to civil rule till date, it is estimated that looted funds attributed to ex and sitting governors, ministers, legislators, public servants, bankers and business men and women  run as high as N3.35 trillion.

As pointed out by Professor Itse Sagay, if we bring home the opportunity cost of such mind-boggling stealing, you will discover that just one-third of the stolen funds could have provided 835.18 kilometers of roads, “36 ultra-modern hospitals per state, 183 schools, educated 5,974 children from primary to tertiary level at 25.24million per child and built, 20,062 units of 2-bedroom houses. This clearly epitomizes a dog-eat-dog characteristic. Little wonder there is devastation in all spheres of human activity in Nigeria and the future of our youths has certainly been eaten by this scourge.

A close examination of social animals will also reveal another astonishing characteristic which bears on Nigerian society. For territorial animals like the lion, even though has described it as noble and courageous, if it wants to join another pack of lions, it demonstrates a high level of ferocity anchored on the base instinct of survival of the fittest. For instance, it must eliminate the cubs sired by the leader of that pack and then populate the pack with its own offspring. For such lion, only its offspring must survive.

This tendency is not different from what is happening in Nigeria presently. Consider the scenario playing out in this country today. The Nigerian elite has initiated a cremating earth-scorch policy that has made Nigeria too hot for her youths to live in. As a response, thousands of Nigerian youths now prefer to go and die in the Sahara Desert, Libya and the Mediterranean Sea; whilst the children of the elite enjoy life in the USA, Europe, and Asia- attending the best schools. The Nigerian elites love their children but do not care a wink about the rest of our children. This is why the President would not empathize with the families of those whose children have been mowed down by Fulani herdsmen in Nimbo, Benue and other parts of Nigeria but would immediately rush his son to the best hospital in Germany after a power-bike accident.

Itse Sagay described this scenario with the pedestrian cliché of “Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop. In the animal kingdom, for example, if a cheetah or leopard makes a kill, before it can settle down to feed, lions or hyenas will chase it away or kill it if it is stubborn and refuses to give the quarry. They will then devour the kill to the pain and frustration of the poor, weaker animal. In this country, the hard working people do back-breaking jobs to create our wealth. Then few members of the greedy elite consume that wealth. If this is not monkey dey work and baboon dey chop, I don’t know what it can be.

I recall that during President Buhari’s long absence from the country on account of ill-health, Senator Shehu Sani, representing Kaduna Central in the National Assembly alluded to Nigeria being an animal kingdom. According to the Senator, “Prayers for the absent Lion King has waned; until he is back then they will fall over each other to be on the front row of the palace temple. Now the hyenas and the jackals are scheming and talking to each other in whispered tones; still doubting whether the Lion King will be back or not. Now the Lion King is asleep and no other dare to confirm if he will wake up or not. It’s the wish of the hyenas that the Lion King never wakes up or comes back so that they can be kings. It’s the prayers of the weak animals that the Lion King comes back to save the kingdom from the hyenas, the wolves and other predators”.

Responding, Aisha Buhari had remarked thus, “God has answered the prayers of the weaker animals. The hyenas and the jackals will soon be sent out of the kingdom. We strongly believe in the prayers and support of the weaker animals. Long live the weaker animals, long live Nigeria”. Do you now blame those who characterize Nigeria as a zoo country? For me, they are justified.

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USAfrica: Time for Nigeria to turn away from analog leadership in digital age. By Donald Duke

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Time for Nigeria to turn away from analog leadership in digital age. By Donald Duke

Special to USAfrica (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com @USAfricaLIVE

One thing we all can agree on, regardless of our diverse backgrounds, privileges or circumstances, is that we could do a lot better than we currently are accomplishing. We need no soothsayer to tell us that our nonchalance, selfishness and greed are eclipsing our collective future and thereby threatening our very own survival to an extent we can hardly fathom.

Expectedly, the launch of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement, shortly after former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, has elicited diverse commentaries. There is the excitement that something is, at last, happening in the polity that reverses the bore and replacing that with hope. There was also confusion and, of course, condemnation by a critical few.

Good enough, still on another side of the divide, there are also those who proffer no ideas or solutions, but seemingly have the answers to all that should be right and wrong in our country.

I am, therefore, not writing this piece to convince anyone about the merits or otherwise of the coalition, it’s aims, objectives or its founders. No, my primary concern is about the urgency of Now!

There are pessimists in our midst who endlessly criticize, yet do nothing, perhaps condemning us collectively to the point of irredeemability; yet there are others who hold the optimism and hope that somewhere, somehow, someone would rise up to lift the despair and desperate situation that Nigeria is deeply in today. That hope and optimism are what is propelling a tiny few who are ready to pick up the gauntlet and literally take the bull by the horns knowing that there must be a resolution, either in favour of him or the bull.

First, a caveat. I am not here to either burnish or attest to anyone’s character least of all that of Obasanjo. He is too well known and such a unique being that whatever one may say is perhaps a shade, indeed a slight shade of the man. There are those and there are many, including my humble self, that believe he ought to take a back seat in the polity and be the statesman that he rightly is; at least until things get awry, then we would appeal to his wisdom to marshal our collective complaints and speak on our behalf. Like many others, I also have personal axe too to grind. So for now, all this talk of Obasanjo’s involvement is diversionary. The kernel of our discourse is our collective existence.

The discourse today centres around women and youth participation in our politics. After all, their demographics easily account for 70% of the population. Have we, the so-called ruling class earnestly considered handing over the baton of leadership in the near future? Let us consider the recent Nigeria PDP primaries, the same old guards dominated the scene. The average age of the aspirants was not less than 60 years going on to 70. Have we considered that a child born at the return to civil democratic rule in 1999 is a voter today and the one that was ten years old then is likely a parent and now saddled with concerns of the future of his or her offspring? The answer is an emphatic No, we haven’t.

At its last convention, the PDP lost an incredible opportunity to redefine itself. The party could have headhunted a breed of younger, urbane and forward-looking and aspiring leaders of both genders at a parity and accordingly rebranded itself as the new PDP. If it did that, it would have borrowed a leaf from the United Kingdom’s Labour Party of the 90s that was out of power for about 15years. What it did was that it rebranded itself as the new Labour, with a centrist manifesto and showcased new breed politicians by positioning the then dashing duo of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The optics was great. But for the PDP, no way. The dinosaurs, which are unable to breed, and also refusing to quit, extinguish the entire land. The APC [Nigeria’s ruling] fares no better. Hardly has it showed nor displayed any room nor scope of throwing up a fresh breathe of fresh air by injecting new blood to replace the gerontocrats.

Before we get carried away with women and the youths, let me proudly proclaim that I too was once branded a youth and seen as a member of the vanguard of a new generation. At 30, I was already a state commissioner, at 34, a member of the National Economic Intelligence Committee and concurrently a member of the National Economic Council and at 37, state governor [of Nigeria’s Cross River]. At 45, I was done and pensionable.

The point is, there is nothing unique here, except that I was fortunate to be mentored; whereas, the bulk of our current young people are not consciously being politically mentored, thereby creating a huge lacuna in the leadership structure going forward. Without digressing too far, let me remind us that unmentored youth could be a lethal weapon. The bulk of the folks who orchestrated the 1966 pogrom were in their mid to late twenties. At that age, you are full of unbridled zeal and idealism, yet bereft of any institutional breeding or knowledge of history. The result was a fatal civil war. Catastrophically, we still deny ourselves the knowledge of history, so we seemingly are on the verge of repeating it.

Over the past couple of months, I have met with and spoken to dozens of young people about the importance of their participation in politics. The level of apathy and disenchantment is frightening. For every hundred urban youth, not more than 20% possess a voter’s card coupled with their alarming indifference that it doesn’t matter. Whereas European societies with older population are witnessing a surge in youth participation who go on to elect younger persons to office. But in Nigeria, the reverse is the case and indeed all of Africa harbouring a younger population. Until the recent forceful retirement of Mugabe, the average leadership age on the continent was about 75; it may have dropped to 65 with his departure and the coming on stage of Gambia’s Adama Barrow and Liberia’s George Weah. But then, are we not depriving ourselves of virility?
Muhammadu Buhari himself has admitted that age is a constraint to his performance in office; I needn’t say more.

But my message to young Nigerians is this: political power is never handed over as an inheritance. You plot and seek it as an entitlement. Our forebears in the First Republic did it to secure our freedom from the British. It’s not a moral obligation to handover and or step aside, you have to go for it or aggressively seek it. Between 1996 and 1999 when we assumed authority in Cross River State, we plotted with like minds to overthrow the status quo and they fought back; but with our numbers, careful and strategic calculations, we prevailed. Above all, we sought office for the right reasons.

The society like many other things is dynamic and moves with the times. Today we can rightly distinguish one from the other simply by acknowledging which one is analog and the other digital. The ways our fathers operated certainly cannot be the way we should, that would be stagnation and retrogression.

Every four years or so, there is so much vibes made of youth participation in politics, it’s an attractive sound bite; the difference this time, however, is that there is no longer time on our hands. Young people urgently need to get a grasp of the issues and appreciate that it is their future that is at stake. Participation from the ward to the federal levels is imperative. A young 27-year-old man has impressed me in this regard. His name is Bukunyi Olateru Olagbegi. Olagbegi is certainly not accepting the status quo of his peer group, so he goes about setting up a political party called the Modern Democratic Party (MDP) to create political space for himself and his cohorts. That is consciousness and activism and should be encouraged. We need more of his type in the political sphere to an extent that they can no longer be ignored.

Back to the Coalition for Nigeria Movement; if all it achieves is to rekindle and galvanize the entire strata of the population to becoming politically active, it would, in my opinion, be a huge success. In that quest, all hands ought to be on deck, the good and not so good, for the weight is great. I would be glad to see Presidents Buhari, Goodluck Jonathan, Obasanjo, Abdulsalami Abubakar and as far back to Yakubu Gowon join the movement. Let Obasanjo alone not enjoy the limelight of assuming the position of an all-knowing individual. More than anything else, their experiences ought to be brought to bear.

It is apathy that encourages the governing class to govern with contempt, with the belief that the electorate is too docile and disenchanted to scrutinize or have oversight of their performance. And this is largely true. That it takes someone who is over 80 years old to awaken us to the foibles of governance, perhaps through the experience of his own shortcomings, for me, regardless of his personal reasons, clearly shows that there is a vacuum somewhere that he wittingly fills. Should we on account of that begrudge him the role he is playing? For me, that is a firm no. Rather, let us fill the gap that he recurringly exploits so expertly and adroitly by ensuring that the leadership no longer takes governance for granted, knowing there is an intolerant electorate out there. Then attention will be paid to job creation and not foreign exchange affordability, neither will herdsmen and farmers clash nor retaliating communities dare ransack land, maim, kill, and destroy property with reckless abandon without fear of repercussion from authorities.

Empathy and compassion will be the yardstick for governance and not crass display of insensitivity, hard-heartedness and high handedness. In the same vein, appointments to offices will reflect the diversity of the nation and IDP camps would not be the new horror chamber. Budgets will be presented and passed on time and there would be consequences for failure to perform in government.

We crave a new lease of life in a country where we will cease to live in fear of our personal safety and rather look out for the wellbeing of each other. There is no doubt that ours is a broken society and this is no time to sit back and criticize, no matter how self-satisfying and alluring it may be. Let us save that energy for things that are more vital and urgent.
Obasanjo is transient; Nigeria is certainly here for the long haul.
There is clearly an urgency of Now!                                                                                          •Duke, born 30 September 1961 in Calabar, is a lawyer who was elected and served as the Governor of Cross River State, Nigeria from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007. He has been featured here at USAfricaonline.com, USAfrica magazine and CLASSmagazine for championing eco-tourism.

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