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MANDELA: 95 hearty cheers to his footprints of greatness. By Chido Nwangwu

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MANDELA: 95 hearty cheers to his footprints of greatness.

By Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston.

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USAfricaToday, July 18, 2013, the great Nelson Mandela turned 95 years old. To Mandela, for your humility and greatness, firm resolve and friendly, humorous dispositions, all rolled into one mythical, complicated

but uniquely amiable personality, here’s the same toast I made to you before you left in June 1999 as South Africa’s president; on this your 95th birthday: Madiba, may your lineage endure!  Without a  doubt, it has been 95 years which have left, what I call, indelible footprints of greatness! 

Amidst the increasing challenges of his ill-health — especially these past 10 months, his towering moral height and earned respect have grown, exponentially, across continents and among diverse people.

The complication and stress of his lung infection and sheer wear and tear of old age have not minimized the mile deep affection and charismatic adulation about the global testimonies to the actual greatness and vision of Madiba Nelson Mandela.

At the blessed age of 95, I believe it fit and proper to do an updated word portrait of a good man who is certainly the greatest political figure in the recent history of people of African ancestry and one of the greatest leaders and inspirers of the 20th and 21st centuries. He talked the talk, and walked the walk.  He’s at once visionary and practician; excuse the latter usage.

In my view, there’s a compelling political trinity to Nelson Mandela: the man, the messiah and the mystique. 

Mandela remains the preeminent statesman, icon, political superstar, titan of Africa’s politics, one of the world’s moral authorities, Africa’s most astute and formidable political lion. He served from 1994 to 1999 as the first South African president to be elected in a multi-racial, democratic election. Mandela went on to lead South Africa through the last stretch of a peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy.

This 2013, also, marks not only his 95th birthday but the 23rd anniversary of the release of Dr. Mandela. He was freed in February 1990 after spending 27 years in prison especially at the isolated Robben Island (near South Africa’s Table Bay, roughly 4 miles from Cape Town).

I’ll forever remember having walked inside and peeped through that historic Mandela jail cell at the dreaded Robben Island on March 27, 1998, alongside then Editor-in-chief of TIME magazine and later news chief of CNN, Walter Isaacson (and others) when President Bill Clinton made his first trip to South Africa and came to Robben Island. Come to the island of scourge and you will understand, in part, the simple greatness and towering grace of Nelson Mandela.

In 1999, he, unusually, became president emeritus of South Africa after only one term, and gracefully retired  as father of the nation in June 1999. Yes; unusual in Africa and most of the developing and advanced world – where All politicians like to stay in power. He would have easily won reelection. But he chose not to; as a message to others.

In many ways, Mandela is the living catalyst for the recent exponential growth of African, African-American and the wider American entrepreneurial and diplomatic exchanges.

Also, Mandela’s dedication in laying the  foundation for a multi-racial, pan-human South Africa propelled the collective dignity of the African continent and shamed the so-called Afro-pessimists who believe no good can from Africa. Even amidst the poverty of the African and “colored” populations of South Africa, Dr. Mandela and the vanguard of change across South Africa have enhanced Black empowerment, relative progressive and destroyed apartheid/segregation laws.

I feel a special interest regarding Mandela and South Africa, among other personal reasons, for his years of statesmanship, principled engagement with life and its multifarious challenges and inequities.  Also, I’ve had the privilege of meeting three of the four most significant historical figures who play(ed) very important roles in that country’s transition from apartheid to a multi-racial society.  First, the remarkable former President F.W de Klerk here in Houston.  Then, the amiable Bishop Desmond Tutu.  Of course, the Mahdiba himself, Nelson Mandela.

In my forthcoming 2017 book, MANDELA & ACHEBE: Footprints of Greatness, I assess two global icons and towering persons of African descent whose exemplary lives

Mandela-n-Achebe-by-Chido-book-frontcover-Lrs and friendship hold lessons for humanity and Africans, especially.I wrote and published the first version of this tribute only 60 days preceding his retirement and as other African Presidents and business executives planned to gather in Houston for the remarkable Corporate Council on Africa 1999 summit for attracting capital and investments to Africa. As his Brother Presidents and the creme dé la creme of U.S-Africa business and diplomatic circuits rose to toast to the quantum leap in the volume and substance of trade between our two continents, I thought more about Mandela and the African National Congress government of South Africa.

I recall it was during his 80th birthday on July 18, 1998 that I argued in various media outlets in Southern Africa and in the Voice of America and WorldNet television tribute to Mandela that those who expected him to turn their lives around by the break of dawn are awakening to a certain realization that the Messiah Mandela does not make milk through incantations!

Yet, we must accept the fact that those who feel that President Mandela’s government did not fulfill most of their yearnings and lofty expectations constitute a sizeable but smaller slice of millions of Black and Colored South Africans.

I recall taking time out from the 100 year-old hotel in which we were lodged in Cape Town late March, 1998, (during our visit with U.S President Bill Clinton to parts of Africa) to go into the less-privileged, run-down quarters of the city to talk with a number of suffering Blacks.  I also shared some time with some homeless teenagers ( five of them, aged between 8 and 19) and a few weary adults (in their 40s and 60s).  I sought to know their assessment of President Mandela.  Their refrain: Mandela needs to do more!  They feel he is forgetting “us.” They all said in many ways: “We thought his presidency was going to completely and quickly improve our lives.  We’re left out.  We’re not happy….”

Translation: Idealism meets scarce resources in South Africa!  In South Africa, I noticed that the radical Blacks and Coloreds still see Mandela, wrongly I must add, as a dignified caretaker for the remnants of apartheid.  On the other side, interestingly, the previous beneficiaries and yesterday’s oppressors, largely the Afrikaans, think Blacks are taking too much away, already.  Those questions will be a challenge for Mandela’s technocratic and very able successor Thabo Mbeki.

Why do we celebrate Mandela’s life?

First, he is most famous for staring down and vanquishing the goons and racist archdeacons of separatism and economic violence who ran the evil policy of state-sponsored mayhem called ‘apartheid’ in his homeland.

Second, for remaining the most relevant living person of African descent who has given impetus and cause for African-Americans to seek institutional and daily business and physical presence inside the African continent.  Third, his moral authority derives from his selfless fortitude and enduring, exemplary sacrifices.  Mandela is neither intimidated by raw power nor the attractions of luxuries and allurement of money.

Fourth, his example as a study in forthrightness.  A leadership whereby what you see is what you get.  Hence, it was typical Mandela, unenfeebled by age, unrestrained by arthritis, and unintimidated by the legitimate concerns and arrogations of his friend, the super-power president Bill Clinton, to confront the latter on issues of principle.

Mandela has also, in some ways, attacked the stinking hypocrisy of America’s right-wing politicians and media spin doctors.  We remember North Carolina’s right-wing Senator, Jesse Helms, as the latter day pro-apartheid regime’s cheerleader-in-chief in the U.S Congress.  His raucous choristers had the likes of George F. Will, Pat J. Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh, Rev. Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and a confederacy of other conservatives who hemmed, hawed and distorted every turn towards a multi-racial South Africa.

Recall that Will, Buchanan & Co were misleading Americans as they disparaged the civil rights movement and others for supporting Mandela whom they foolishly and falsely labeled a “Communist!” History has shown the foolishness of the label.

Fifth, his graciousness and capacity to forgive communal sins and wickedness masquerading as government.  Until you see (or may be graphic and accurate images of the inhuman conditions and psychological warfare imposed on him and his colleagues of the African National Congress, you may never adequately know why Mandela’s capacity to forgive and rebuild has such global respect.  Hence, I am thankful that I entered and observed on March 26, 1998, the lonesome jail room where Mandela was kept for 25 painful years in the isolated, deadly Robben Island.

We toured the Island with Rev.  Jesse L.  Jackson, Clinton’s close personal aide Bruce Lindsey, Congressional Black Caucus champion California congresswoman Maxine Waters, Sam Donaldson of ABCNews, New York Congressman Charles Rangel, BET’s Robert Johnson, Walter Isaacson, managing editor of Time magazine, Scott Pelley of CBS News, Melanie Lawson of KTRK Channel 13, Houston, and a number of others.

Sixth, we celebrate Mandela because after five years in office and almost 81 years of a rugged but worthy life, Mandela has shattered a number of other ancient and fatally-flawed bogeys to smithereens.  He has made nonsense of the string of quasi-racist mythologies and knee-jerk ill-logic concocted by the George F.  Wills, Pat Robertsons, Rush Limbaughs and Jesse Helms of America to create a global ‘White scare’ and run on the post-apartheid South African economy.

Also, Walter Mead, the acclaimed and advertised columnist for Worth magazine terribly misanalyzed and issued way-off predictions about South Africa’s economy led by “Blacks” and Mandela.  Anyway, he’s an “expert” on U.S economies, therefore, pray, he knows all about the “future” of South Africa!

Fact: The economy under Mandela’s presidency has attracted more international capital under a stable, justiceable political economy.  The gathering in Houston April 24-28, cannot be divorced from the opportunities which South Africa offers American, and other business persons/corporations.

What’s Mandela’s record?  Since becoming president in the spring of 1994, Mandela’s economic policy has not only achieved an expansion in the percentage of growth and created a broad-based industrialization efforts, the economy has become more attractive for international capitalists.

It’s more stable than under the hateful, and misleading and putrid opulence of a few under apartheid.  Yet, the socio-economic profile of South Africa cannot be described as “rosy” and fully equitable.  Not quite!  The deprivations in Soweto cannot be divorced from the terrible “deals” by some influential players in the system, Blacks and Whites.

Yet, some see Mandela’s challenging task to utilize the government as a mechanism to enhance access and “fairness” to all, especially the deprived.  For example, an Afrikaans staff of the United States Information Agency who drove me from the airport to the plush Michelangelo Hotel in Johannesburg said “We know Blacks want this and that but they have to take it easy because we, Afrikaans, feel that all our privileges and positions are going away.  I commend Mandela because everyone is asking him for one thing or the other.  He is trying to be fair to all.” That will be Mbeki’s burden, soon.

This lanky, well-spoken driver who reminded me he was very “comfortable driving a Black man” (that is, my ordinary self, who would have been driven to a pit of hate rather than the Michelangelo just a few years before Mandela and his team scattered and conquered the temples of apartheid.) We must note that the expansion of the relative influence of Black South Africans through their new empowering instruments of state power and private leverage since the defeat of apartheid has been very modest.  Downtown Johannesburg and Cape Town, especially the spotless Pretoria remain bastions of White/Afrikaans economic dominance.

Regardless, there has been major progress for middle class Blacks who have unprecedented access to the bureaucracy and private capital.  They have partnerships with international organizations, too – especially African-Americans who are establishing tertiary and sub-strategic industries and community-based service businesses.

When all is said and done, Mandela’s greatest legacy will remain that he has lived a life of fighting against the predatory, vile and boisterous mix of Anglo-Dutch, Afrikaans, Euro-Caucasian and other economic scavengers who took over through armed, brutal force, the most beautiful, gold-rich and breathtaking southerly cape of the African continent.  They could not break his will; they made peace and he led a powerful, promising country composed of many ethnic nations to the lips of the 21st century.

Mandela has been governing with ill-will toward none and affirmative opportunities for all those previously locked down and locked out of South Africa’s rich resources and lands.  He may yet teach the distortion artists who miscast the reason and value of “affirmation action” in the U.S a thing or two.  That’s an issue for another day.  Back to The Man.

Mandela, rock ribbed nationalist, visionary, exemplary icon in personal dignity, durable boxer, principled symbol for all believers in the inevitable triumph of committed democratic forces over any army/gang of tyranny and oppression in Africa and elsewhere, has become this decade’s ultimate measure for statesmanship, leadership, character and will.

To Mandela, for your humility and greatness, firm resolve and friendly, humorous dispositions, all rolled into one mythical,

Chido Nwangwu, Publisher USAfrica multimedia

Chido Nwangwu, Publisher USAfrica multimedia

complicated but uniquely amiable personality, here’s the same toast I made to you before you left in June 1999 as South Africa’s president; on this your 95th birthday: Madiba, may your lineage endure!                                                                                                                                            •Dr.  Chido Nwangwu, author of the forthcoming 2017 book, MANDELA & ACHEBE: Footprints of Greatness, honored by the Washington-D. C.based National Immigration Forum for utilizing multimedia to fight authoritarianism and foster freedom of expression, is the Founder & Publisher of first African-owned, U.S-based professional newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com, The Black Business Journal, CLASSmagazine, PhotoWorks.TV, AchebeBooks.com, USAfrica.TV and several blogs. He served on the board of the oldest civil rights organization in the U.S., the NAACP Houston;  publicity committee of the Holocaust Museum, Houston; served on Houston former Mayor Lee Brown’s international business advisory board (Africa), and has appeared as an analyst on CNN, SkyNews, VOA, SABC, etc. 

(First written on April 19, 1999, exclusively for USAfrica, updated after his retirement as President, on February 11, 2010 remarking 20th anniversary of his release from apartheid South Africa prison and updated July 15, ahead of his 92nd birthday on July 17, 2010). This USAfricaonline.com commentary is copyrighted. Archiving on any other web site or newspaper is unauthorized except with a Written Approval by USAfrica Founder. copyright © 1999, 2010, 2013. ChidoNwangwu. USAfrica Media Networks. wireless: 832-45-CHIDO (24436) • Office: 713-270-5500.

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

Follow  @Twitter.com/Chido247Facebook.com/USAfricaChido n Facebook.com/USAfrica247

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

 

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

Also, see Tiger Woods is no Nelson Mandela

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

—— Forthcoming 2017 book: In this engaging, uniquely insightful and first person reportage book, MANDELA & ACHEBE: Footprints of Greatness, about two global icons and towering persons of African descent whose exemplary livesMandela-n-Achebe-by-Chido-book-frontcover-Lrsand friendship hold lessons for humanity and Africans, the author takes a measure of their works and consequence to write that Mandela and Achebe have left “footprints of greatness.” He chronicles, movingly, his 1998 reporting from the Robben Island jail room in South Africa where Mandela was held for decades through his 20 years of being close to Achebe. He moderated the 2012 Achebe Colloquium at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.”I’ll forever remember having walked inside and peeped through that historic Mandela jail cell (where he was held for most of his 27 years in unjust imprisonment) at the dreaded Robben Island, on March 27, 1998, alongside then Editor-in-chief of TIME magazine and later news chief executive of the CNN, Walter Isaacson (and others) when President Bill Clinton made his first official trip to South Africa and came to Robben Island. Come to this island of scourge and you will understand, in part, the simple greatness and towering grace of Nelson Mandela”, notes  Chido Nwangwu, award-winning writer, multimedia specialist and founder of USAfricaonline.com, the first African-owned U.S-based newspaper published on the internet, in his first book; he writes movingly from his 1998 reporting from South Africa on Mandela. http://www.mandelaachebechido.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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AFRICA

U.S says it will investigate Zimbabwe presidential election violence; MDC disputes result; winner acknowledges there were “challenges”

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Special to USAfricaonline.com

The MDC Alliance led by 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa is disputing the outcome of the polls alleging that they were rigged to the point of having more votes than registered voters.

While the winner, ZANU PF leader and incumbent president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, acknowledged that there were “challenges” he insisted the polls were free and fair.

The US Department of State said Zimbabwe’s 30 July elections presented the country with a historic chance to move beyond the political and economic crises of the past and toward profound democratic change.

“Unfortunately, Zimbabwe’s success in delivering an election day that was peaceful, and open to international observers, was subsequently marred by violence and a disproportionate use of deadly force against protestors by the security forces,” the department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Six people were shot dead on Wednesday by soldiers and many others were injured. A seventh person is reported to have succumbed to gunshot wounds on Friday at a hospital in Chitungwiza.

The US said it welcomes the commitment by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release comprehensive election results in a form that provides full transparency. ZEC maintains that the election results were an accurate reflection of the voters’ will.

Former colonial master, Britain, also remained concerned about the developments.

“The UK remains deeply concerned by the violence following the elections and the disproportionate response from the security forces,” said UK Minister of State for Africa, Harriett Baldwin.

She, however, urged electoral stakeholders to work together to ensure calm.

“While polling day passed off peacefully, a number of concerns have been raised by observer missions, particularly about the pre-election environment, the role of State media, and the use of State resources. There is much to be done to build confidence in Zimbabwe’s electoral process.”

Baldwin urged that any appeals against the results or the process be handled swiftly and impartially.– African News Agency (ANA)

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Zimbabwe’s presidential election offers opportunity for post-Mugabe progress. By Wilf Mbanga

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Zimbabwe-Politics-USAfricaonline

Today, Monday July 30, 2018, Zimbabweans [went] to the polls to elect Robert Mugabe’s successor. For pretty much the average life expectancy of many Zimbabweans, one man has ruled the country with an iron fist. Eight elections were held during his rule – and every time, that fist ensured victory for Mugabe.

The current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, the man who finally ousted Mugabe in a bloodless coup last November, has also crushed his enemies ruthlessly in the past – but his iron fist lies within a well-padded velvet glove.
Mnangagwa goes head to head at the polls with Nelson Chamisa, 40, who took over as leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after Morgan Tsvangirai died earlier this year.

Whoever wins, this election heralds a new dawn for Zimbabwe. Mugabe has gone. Things will never be the same again. Certainly, Mnangagwa brings a lot of baggage from the Mugabe era – having been the former president’s righthand man.

But he is different in many significant ways – today, Mugabe even urged voters to turn their backs on his leadership, and went so far as to wish Chamisa well. Most importantly, Mnangagwa understands business and is determined to resuscitate Zimbabwe’s moribund economy and give the people what they so desperately want and need – jobs.

He is primarily a soldier, having left Zimbabwe as a teenager in the early 1960s for military training in China. He has fashioned himself after the former communist leader Deng Xiaoping, who modernised China and laid the foundations for the economic powerhouse it has become, while maintaining a strictly authoritarian regime.

Deng abandoned many orthodox communist doctrines to incorporate elements of the free-enterprise system. Mnangagwa seems determined to do the same for Zimbabwe. He is a wealthy man in his own right, having run Zanu-PF’s and his own businesses since the early 1980s. He has been mentioned in a UN report on the plundering of mining and logging resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo together with General Sibusiso Moyo, who is now the foreign affairs minister.

Over the eight months since he took the reins from Mugabe, Mnangagwa has given clear signals of a clean break with the past – actively courting the west, preaching and practising peace instead of violence, eschewing corruption, meeting business leaders and white farmers, and generally projecting himself as a reformist. He has met personally the many business missions that have visited the country this year, and has promised to get rid of the cumbersome bureaucracy that currently stifles new investment. He has suspended Mugabe’s populist indigenisation act, which required foreigners to cede 51% of their shares to locals (ZANU-PF, of course) in all sectors except gold and diamond mining. He has even made it his election slogan – with party supporters everywhere sporting T-shirts proclaiming “Zimbabwe is open for business”.

While Mugabe was a consummate manipulator, skilfully playing people off against each other and weaving a complex web of patronage, Mnangagwa is a much more of a strategist. He will be prepared to make tough decisions that could ultimately benefit the economy. He has certainly been more successful in attracting foreign investment in the short time he has been in power than Mugabe was in decades of berating the west.

 

The MDC’s Chamisa is just as pro-business as Mnangagwa, and to his credit has surrounded himself with several capable technocrats. There is no whiff of corruption about him and he has been drawing massive crowds in many rural areas which, under Mugabe, were no-go areas for his party. And of course the MDC’s democratic and human rights credentials are well established – while those of Zanu-PF are a constant cause for concern.

Should Chamisa win the election, there is no doubt that the world would welcome Zimbabwe back into the fold with open arms. But Mnangagwa is smart enough to realise that international recognition of his government can only come if this election is acknowledged as free and fair by the global community. While Britain has been unswervingly supportive of the post-Mugabe regime, the US has reserved judgment – recently renewing its sanctions on Zanu-PF leaders and companies, but promising to lift them once credible elections have taken place.

And there’s the rub.

Many believe it is impossible for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to run a free and fair poll. It is accused of rigging every election since it was established in 2004; it is still staffed largely by the military and Zanu-PF loyalists; and it has shown shameful bias towards the ruling party in recent months. For example, the law says the ballot paper should be in alphabetical order, which places Chamisa second on the 23-person list. The commission cleverly formatted the paper into two lop-sided columns, in order to place Mnangagwa at the very top of column two.

So this election could bring three possible results: if Mnangagwa wins, the MDC already has enough ammunition against the electoral commission to cry foul.

If Chamisa wins convincingly, it will be a new dawn indeed – but the military might not accept this, as the Generals have already invested a lot in Mnangagwa.

But if there is no clear winner, the most sensible way forward would be for the two protagonists to agree to a marriage of convenience – otherwise known as a government of national unity.
• Wilf Mbanga, once falsely classified by Mugabe’s government as ‘enemy of the people’, is the founder, editor and publisher of The Zimbabwean weekly, published in the UK and Johannesburg

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USAfrica: “Resign! Get out of office!” – Bishop Oyedepo tells Nigeria’s President Buhari

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The founder of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, aka Winners’ Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, has called on Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, to resign due to what he considers to be the continuing failure of Buhari to stop  the incessant killings by militant Fulani herdsmen.

Oyedepo who spoke on the theme, “Enough is enough” recalled that “When I was talking in 2015, people were saying my own was too much, now everybody can see what’s happening,” he said. ”What has moved forward in anybody’s life? You don’t know it’s war. Why are they attacking the Christian communities? Why has nobody been arrested? I can tell you this, the authorities and the powers that be are behind them.”

“We must wake up and push this evil back. Not one of those so-called herdsmen – they are jihadists – has been brought to book till date. Herdsmen don’t shoot; they have been here all along. They are just taking cover under the herdsmen to assault innocent citizens. They wake up in the night and slice innocent children to pieces. Yet, you have a government in place. What!

“The most honourable thing for any non-performing leader to do is to resign. The most honourable thing is to resign. That’s my own for Mr President. Resign! Get out of office! Even our Islamic friends in the North are calling on him to resign. Because that’s the noblest thing to do. Or are we going to look at one system destroy a whole nation?”

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