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USAfrica: Why Nigeria’s Senate President Saraki should face falsification declaration of assets now

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Why Nigeria’s Senate President Saraki should face falsification declaration of assets now.

By Elsie-Bernadette Onubogu, an International Consultant, former Senior Policy Adviser with the United Nations and contributing editor of USAfricaonline.com

Special to USAfricaonline.com,  and USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston. Follow USAfrica at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido , Facebook.com/USAfrica247 and Twitter.com/Chido247

What I know for sure is that Theodore Roosevelt (the 26th President of the United States of America) was right when he opined, “Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong.”

In fact, I would stretch Roosevelt’s opinion to add, ‘wherever found, whenever found, against the wrong’

Consequently, the attempt to obscure and minimize the alleged falsification of assets declaration form by Nigeria’s Senate President Bukola Saraki as a witch-hunt due, in part, to the claim that: twelve years (12) had lapsed, and his subsequent ascendancy to senate leadership, epitomizes dangerous neutrality designed to subvert justice.

It is simply a case to investigate a potential wrong, a felony. The investigation is necessary to restore accountability in adherence to democratic principles.  

So much has been written about the merits or lack thereof of the Code of Conduct Tribunal’s {CCT} case against Saraki.  Last week, Saraki’s umpteenth attempt to undermine justice was yet again denied by the Appeal Court on grounds that his appeal to stop the CCT’s case lacked merit.  

Elsie Onubogu

Elsie Onubogu

Despite chastisements and abuses, this writer remains resolute on the view that honor has no limitation and nobody is above the law.  

In addition, corruption especially by public officers as established by the ‘Abacha’ case {Liechtenstein v Nigeria {https://star.worldbank.org/star/content/no-statute-limitations-corruption}, as well as the United Nations Convention against

Corruption (https://www.unodc.org/documents/brussels/UN_Convention_Against_Corruption.pdf) (which Nigerian ratified), is not bound by statute of limitation

 

Accordingly, Bukola Saraki must tell Nigerians whether he knowingly falsified his asset declaration form 12 years ago.  And if so, he should be held accountable for it and vice versa.   Successful and progressive societies do so in order to maintain order, accountability, fairness, and reaffirm fundamental rights and equality before the Law.   

Based on these normative and operational norms, standards and principles, here is what I know for sure:

  • Honor has no limitation
  • Nobody is above the law
  • He/She who goes to Equity must come with clean hands
  • Saraki’s first attempt to disrupt justice by initial refusal to appear before a legally constituted tribunal was out of line
  • Saraki’s subsequent attempt to stop the course of justice through an appeal (which has now been rejected for lack of merit), is antithetical to democratic principles
  • As part of leadership in Nigeria’s governance (albeit, at State level before now), Saraki, must adhere and support legally constituted authority, course of justice and defend himself accordingly as nobody is above the law
  • Bukola Saraki, as the Senate President and the number three (3) most powerful leader of Nigeria’s nascent democracy, must lead not by the example of his power, but by the power of his example
  • Saraki’s statement that the only reason he is being tried for falsification was because he is the Senate President.  And that if he were an ordinary Senator, nobody will care about forms he completed twelve (12) years ago is a careless and unintelligent statement. It is a clear indication that he does not appreciate the seriousness of the alleged criminal offence – a felony.

 

Consequently, Saraki’s attitude signifies his romping with the politics of the case rather than the merits of a serious allegation – a felony. In the same light, I think that the 8th Assembly’s (under Saraki’s leadership) urgent effort to establish immunity for the Senate President and the Speaker following the arraignment of Saraki is suspect. Also, I consider the two-time ‘vote of confidence’ by members of the 8th Assembly on Saraki’s leadership as ‘political charade’, that raises additional dark clouds on the senate leadership

The ignoble spectacle of duty-bound senators temporarily relinquishing their sworn duty to accompany Saraki to the last CCT trial, constitutes a show of shame and total lack of understanding of the duty under oath to serve Nigeria

Without prejudice to Saraki’s presumed innocence, it is safe to say, it is highly unlikely for a salaried Governor of any State in Nigeria to acquire the number of assets alleged in the case unless of course such a person had these assets prior to assumption of office.  In which case, proper declaration was necessary on assumption and departure from office

Any attempt (as speculated) to absolve Saraki and drop the allegations by the ruling party (APC) for Saraki’s role in ministerial confirmations), will be a dislocation of justice, a mockery of the rule of law and the promise of ‘Change’ made by President Muhammadu Buhari and his party. Time is running out!  

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USAfrica: Alex Otti’s masterplan is better than Ikpeazu’s promises. By Sam Kanu

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USAfrica: Alex Otti's masterplan is better than Ikpeazu's promises. By Sam Kanu

By Sam Kanu, Ph.D., P.E.

Special & Exclusive commentary for USAfrica

One serene Sunday evening in October 2018, I had the privilege of attending Dr. Alex Otti’s presentation in Houston. It was a good mix of some of the senior members of the community and the young Abia professionals. I was in attendance to listen to his presentation as well as take assessment of his master plan.

Otti, a former bank executive and the APGA candidate for Abia State governorship, was introduced by USAfrica’s Founder Dr. Chido Nwangwu — with the vivid, opening words “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” He was quoting Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States to buttress his point that Otti prepared for his future…..

Otti spoke with commanding authority on issues concerning Abia State, and the prospects of his proposed government. If I was impressed by his presentation, I was overly excited with his plan. It’s content, value, vision and direction portrayed adequate rescue recipe for this fledgling state. I saw genuine passion in his eyes and I sensed a dire determination in him a wide, to set things in proper perspectives. “Abia State must be lucky”, a convinced voice filtered through from an immediate back row of my seat.

His argument was quite compelling as it was littered with facts pertaining to what his proposed government would accomplish, should he be voted into power in the next dispensation. Without equivocation, he noted that he would replace Ikpeazu’s inept and corrupt administration with a good and transparent governance; and particularly, prevail where Ikpeazu had failed. Ultimately, I came away from that event with a list of what this promising and articulate young man desires for Abia State.

  • He will create an enabling and conducive environment for un-interrupted commercial activities in the state by implementing a strategic and effective plan to drastically reduce armed robbery and kidnapping activities. He understands that security is the foundation upon which other facets of development depend and regrets that Aba has since lost its status as one of the main commercial nerve centers in Nigeria and other neighboring west African countries. He reaffirms his determination to restore this beleaguered city back to its glory, by reactivating lost businesses, partnerships, companies and industries.
  • He will go into partnership with Julius Berger Construction Company to reconstruct Aba roads and drainage systems to improve and allow access to all nooks and corners of Aba to revive commercial activities in this ancient marketing arena.
  • He will immediately put adequate solid waste management system in place to restore environmental sanitation at acceptable hygienic levels.
  • His administration will coordinate with relevant agencies and partners to restore steady power supply in the state.
  • His administration will reorganize the works ministry to rehabilitate rural access roads, and infrastructure, as well as waterline reticulation systems.
  • His plan will provide very attractive educational programs which specifically includes elaborate educational improvement programs for the youth to create opportunities for intellectual growth needed for future developments in the state.
  • His plan also accommodates improved health-care delivery systems which includes the establishment of well-equipped specialist hospitals in each of the three senatorial zones of the state. He will make all the dilapidated state owned general hospitals functional and hire well qualified doctors and health specialists to manage them.
  • He will ensure that salary and pension arrears are completely cleared while guaranteeing that employee salaries and pension benefits are paid on a regular and timely manner.

It is common knowledge, however, that during the past eight years the Abia State government has consistently recorded poor score cards in the management of the affairs of its citizens. The Ikpeazu government, and indeed the Theodore Orji administration before it has witnessed a drastic sense of retrogression in its ability to live up to its sworn obligations to the people. Concerns arising from gross insensitivity on the part of these successive governments have led to disappointments, and ultimately, the loss of faith by the people.

Undoubtedly Dr. Ikpeazu is a good man and I like him. However, something is fundamentally flawed in his administration and he does not seem to have a clue as to how this problem can be resolved.  Maybe for lack of the required relevant experience being that he was recruited into this very demanding position without experiential preambles or background; or maybe because of some mortgaged vested interests to which he is answerable. Whatever may be the case, his performance evaluation report leaves a lot to be desired.

The people’s future has been mortgaged and there has been no sense of economic growth or improvement following an entrenched cycle of corruption that has doggedly stalled all theaters of improvement and development in the state. Without a doubt, the out-break of ‘God-fatherism’, characterized by ineptitude and incompetence may be held responsible in part, for this systemic disorder.

Humanity, and indeed the good people of Abia State have witnessed hardship at such disproportionate levels that the eyes cannot tear upon it enough, neither can the present administration successfully wish the realities away. Salaries and pensions are not being paid and economic activities have been balked without any foreseeable plans at revitalization. To this extent, attending consequences of bad and incompetent governance have attracted poverty, environmental degradation, insecurity at embarrassing levels, infrastructural decay and deterioration, unemployment, unmotorable roadways, epileptic power supply, dilapidated schools, scotched commercial activities, decreased agricultural productivity, and jaundiced industrial activities. This highlighted sordid predicament becomes even more troubling when we note that over Sixty Billion Naira (N60,000,000.00) have been allocated to the state during the past four years. This does not include Fourteen Billion Naira (N14,000,000.00) of Bailout funds. The question that demands immediate answer is, “where these funds embezzled or misappropriated?” Whatever the response, the subject funds were not utilized for the purposes intended.

This is sad! But the good news is that this cycle of unaccountability and corrupt impunity will certainly cease with the advent of Alex Otti’s administration.

Enough is Enough. The time is now; and the time is ripe for the people to make a concerted effort to dismiss this government and put them out of power by a fair and majority vote. Lance Armstrong was correct on this premise when he noted that “there comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say: Enough is Enough”. This administration deserves expulsion and indictment.

If the elite group, youths and low-income population continue to remain aloof and affect indifference, or rather decide not to participate, we will be invariably endorsing political dominance by these professional politicians who have maintained arrogant posture in their insatiable quest for self-aggrandizement. Quite frankly, it will be unfair to mankind to relinquish our fundamental civic responsibility and watch a cohort of misguided power grabbers to place the economy of this state in perpetual ruin.

The time has come when the voice of the people shall be heard. According to Martin Luther King, Jr., “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed”. The current political dispensation presents a golden opportunity for Abians to wrestle power away from the ugly grips of this group of cabals and oppressors. The time is now for the people to re-assert their democratic will and authority by voting into power the only authentic candidate in this era – for the successful pursuit and realization of economic freedom for the people of Abia state, and Nigerians in that part of the country. The people of Abia are hereby called upon to get out of their shelves and rise to the occasion, as the situation calls for action. I mean real action without fear of any consequence. In any democratic world, power belongs to the people only when the people are brave enough to exercise and assert their civic right.  John F. Kennedy’s ideology agrees with this line of persuasion when he noted that, “there are risks and costs to action; but they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction”.

Dr. Alex Otti is a grilled technocrat with a plethora of evidence to show for it. Most importantly, he is self-sponsored and will not be cowered by any undue influences. His strategic plans to drastically improve Abia State in almost all spheres of human desirables and needs will veritably portray his record colossal achievements in Diamond bank as a child’s play.

Aggrieved youths in the diaspora and critics alike have reviewed his master plan with very favorable recommendations. A man with humble beginnings, character and tendencies which are super imposed upon immense cerebral advantages, exposure and experience, Dr. Alex Otti stands very tall as a unique solution for the troubling economic, social and infrastructural challenges that presently beset this embattled state. •Dr. Kanu is a registered Professional Environmental Engineer based in Houston, Texas

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AFRICA

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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USAfrica: Is Trump justified to label Nigeria a “shit hole” country? By C.K Ekeke

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Special to USAfrica (Houston) USAfricaonline.com@USAfricaLive

My position is that the Nigerians and other Africans protesting against President Trump’s “shit hole” comment and writing all manner of nonsense on social media platforms are cowards.  They should rather protest against their rulers who treat them as less than humans. Look at Nigeria.  Since Buhari came into office, the radical Islamic Fulani herdsmen have been roaming  around various communities in Nigeria – especially in Middle Belt, Southwest, Southeast and Southsouth regions with their AK47,  assorted weapons and with impunity — destroying farms lands, raping young girls including married women, mothers, and massacring innocent and helpless citizens.

Into the second week of January 2018, the U.S. President Donald J. Trump, reportedly, called out African nations as “shit hole countries.” Trump expressed preference for immigrants from European countries like Norway and opposed to African immigrants as not the kind of immigrants he wants anymore into the United States of America.

President Trump, a man who now sits in the Oval Office has been exposed to the rot of these countries. And so, he has rightly called out Haiti, El Salvador and Africa with Nigeria leading the pack as “shit hole” countries. Trump is absolutely correct.  Nigeria and most of Sub-Sahara Africa are truly shithole nations.

The ‘shithole’ comment may have infuriated many. Some people have spoken out and even condemned the manner in which this global leader has described a continent that ought to be the richest on the planet but because of bad leadership, incompetence, greed, selfishness, stupidity, cowardice, hate, etc., it has remained a bloody squalor, where lives are reduced and caged like animals.  Even animals will not live and suffer what millions of human beings suffer in Nigeria and across Africa.

 You must understand that Trump is not your typical politician.  He’s not a politically correct leader.  The man has seen the corruption, lawlessness, the illegality, barbarism, evil, wickedness, and all manner of atrocities that African rulers have subjected their people to.  He has seen the suffering, poverty, wretchedness, evil and sheer wickedness of the African people, and he could not find a politically correct word to describe their situation than to tell the U.S. lawmakers that he does not want these poverty, diseased stricken people from these shithole countries to be making their way to America anymore.  America, according to him needs educated, civilized and healthy White people from Northern European countries like Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Austria, etc.  In fact, he does not even wants people from Western Europe because they are now in bed with Islam.

In Buhari’s Nigeria, none of these murderers and barbaric Fulani herdsmen has been arrested talk less being punished for their heinous crimes against humanity.

Yet, we have a President who swore an oath to defend the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria and defend her sovereignty. President Buhari and his lawless Attorney General, Chief Justice and murderous Military quickly tagged the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) a terrorist organization and proscribed their peaceful freedom activities in Nigeria.  Yet, Buhari and his Fulani mafia militants have refused to tag Fulani herdsmen as terrorists.  According to them, Fulani herdsmen are common criminals.  In fact, there is credible evidence that the Fulani recruited in the military are the ones masquerading as Fulani herdsmen and Boko haram going around and slaughtering armless, helpless and unprotected innocent Nigerian citizens – mostly Christians and Biafran people.

Just look at the massacre of innocent church worshippers in Rivers State recently on New Year’s Day Service.  What about the barbarism and mayhem being perpetrated against the Christian population of Benue, Plateau, Kaduna, Kogi States and others.  Yet, Gowon, IBB, Obasanjo and others, who feel entitled to rule Nigeria because they fought the civil war are not saying anything while Christians are being decimated and the conquered territories are turned into Islamic occupation.

The satanic plan to turn entire Africa into an Islamic continent is ongoing.  Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and few other ones are the key targets.  As I write, a tiny Islamic population in Ghana, Kenya, and South African are beginning to push for Sharia and Islamic laws.

After the killings in Rivers and Benue States, rather than arrest and punish these murderous Fulani herdsmen, the federal government is talking about creating “grazing-Cattle colonies” – which is an attempt to resurrect grazing bill which failed in the National Assembly and Senate.

Despite all of our education and bright people in Nigeria and in Diaspora, we cowardly and foolishly elected a man whose first leaving certificate is still in doubt.  We elected a man who feels entitled to rule Nigeria because he fought and won the civil war.  But now, we know that’s not the only reason he ran for president for four times until he was imposed upon us.  He wants to destroy Nigeria by turning her into a thoroughly Islamic country.

The U.S. President is absolutely correct, Nigeria is callously lawless, fantastically corrupt and a shithole nation.  Nigeria is a failed State and needs to be dismembered.                 •Dr. Ekeke, a theologian, is a contributing columnist for USAfricaonline.com

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Sex-ual Harassment and the Weinstein allegations. By Attorney Patrick Chukelu

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Sex-ual Harassment and the Weinstein allegations.

By Attorney Patrick Chukelu, contributing editor of USAfrica

Prof. Anita Hill’s salacious testimony against the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court was unprecedented. 42 U.S.C. 2000e ( Title VII of The Civil Rights Act) prohibits discrimination based on gender/sex. A case ( Meritor Savings) interpreted that “Sex” extends to sexual harassment, which was not in the Statute.

This Federal Statute overseen by the EEOC requires a complaint to be filed within 300 days of the discriminatory conduct (time may be shorter under some State’s laws). Timing is critical because of attendant and varying statutes of limitations. The Lawyer representing some of the Accusers in the Weinstein matter was on CNN last week brilliantly “baiting” Weinstein’s legal team to voluntarily submit to an arbitration for a quick trial were he will have his day in court ( on the condition that Weinstein waives any defense of Statute of Limitations). Will Weinstein’s lawyers accept the offer or not?

If complaints are not timely filed ( within the statute of limitations), Judges are supposed to throw out the non-compliant subsequent suit. Bottom line , one victimized is supposed to meet an administrative component before proceeding to a lawsuit. An O’Reilly Claimant’s attorney discussed her experience with the investigating Agency on their complaint.

The sexual harassment legal process is a complex one that does not reward those who sleep on their rights to timely file required administrative complaints and thereafter timely litigate post-administrative discharge of the complaint. Best to timely seek competent legal counsel.

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INSIGHT

Why Nigeria is a country divided against itself and cannot stand. By Bayo Oluwasanmi

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By BAYO OLUWASANMI
Special to USAfricaonline.com
We have witnessed the independence of Slovenia from the former Yugoslavia, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the division of the former Czechoslovakia, and the separation of both Eritrea from Ethiopia and South Sudan from Sudan.

Numerous of successful secessions have allowed people greater freedom and self-determination: Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire, the Hungarian split with the Soviet Union in 1989, Singapore’s secession from Malaysia in 1965, Ireland’s independence from the UK, and countless others.

Nigeria’s impotence as ungovernable, divided, separate, hostile, and unequal nation is apparent for all to see. Nigeria, as we know it, is dead! The country is irrevocably broken along ethnic, linguistic, geographical, religious, and cultural lines. The sooner the Nigerian people accept this, the sooner the break-up and the sooner we can move on.

From time to time, the break-up of Nigeria becomes inevitable to many of us who believe that “In the course of human events, it is necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them.” We’re in one of those periods now, and while the reasons are unique, the historical moment is not new. In 1953, the northerners considered secession from the Nigerian colony that would soon be an independent nation.

The words of our founding fathers that Nigeria is not one country remain prophetically instructive.

Listen to them:

“Nigeria is not a nation. It is mere geographical expression. There are no ‘Nigerians’ in the same sense as there are ‘English,’ ‘Welsh,’ or ‘French.’  The word ‘Nigerian’ is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria and those who do not,” Chief Obafemi Awolowo said in 1947.

“Since 1914 the British government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country,” Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa said, “but the Nigerian people themselves are historically different in their backgrounds, in their religious beliefs and customs, and do not show themselves any signs of willingness to unite… Nigerian unity is only a British invention.”

Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe argued in 1964 that “It is better for us and many admirers abroad that we [Nigeria] should disintegrate in peace and not in pieces. Should the politicians fail to heed this warning, then I will venture the prediction that the experience of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be child’s play if ever it comes to our turn to play such a tragic role.”

The recent proclamation of northern youths and the ultimatum given to Igbo people to vacate the north within three months shed much needed light on why Nigeria is not, and will never be, one united nation. There is no mystery as to how we got to this point. There is also no mystery as to who to blame. There is no need for conspiracy theories. The polarization of public life exacerbated by government corruption and incompetence has become so tense it led to widespread civil disorder, culminating in chaos and crises.

Nigeria is fast approaching a complete collapse. For long, many of us have raised alarm that our government and the way the system is being run are not working, and cannot guarantee delivery of basic essential services. The ominous declaration of the northern youths has left Nigerians in fear of what tomorrow may bring. While all this plays out, Nigerians watch in horror and amazement from the sidelines and wonder when the inevitable will occur.

Inequality between the looting ruling class and the poor has become increasingly intolerable. The native tyrants in the National Assembly, better still, National Asylum, are in stupor of random pleasures and whims, feasting on plenty of food and sex, and reveling in the non-judgment that democracy is civil religion. From all indications, our democracy is in retreat, close to being destroyed by vast corruption, ineptitude, incompetence, and fraud. Those in Abuja couldn’t care less about our people. They couldn’t care less that for 58 years we couldn’t get along.  They couldn’t care less that Nigeria is as good as dead. Nigerians are angry – Igbos, Hausas, and Yorubas. They are all angry for being sick and poor and tired of being cannon fodders. They are tired of being jobless and hopeless. Brother is turning against brother. Killing of families and children are the norm rather than the exception. Nigerians are nickel-and-dimed to death in their everyday life. Workers, if paid at all, are paid peonage wages. The nation’s peonage wage is at subsistence level. This is simply incompatible with self-determination.

With subsistence living, Nigerians are constrained into a desperate state. Their horizon is limited to the present day, to getting enough of what they need to make it to the next. The minimum wage in Nigeria is N18,000 per month. This is criminally below the poverty line. That’s a scrambling, anxious existence, narrowly bounded. It’s impossible to decently feed, clothe, and shelter yourself on a wage like that, much less a family, much less have money to see the doctor,  or pay for your kids college, or participate in any of those good things of life. Down to the peon level, the pursuit of happiness sounds like a bad joke.

The critical mass of our people is kept in peonage. All its vitality spent in the trenches of day-to-day survival with scant or no opportunity to develop the full range of its faculties. That’s why I’m miffed by the numbed-out, dumbed-down, make belief Nigerians who still believe that Nigeria could be saved from falling apart. This is deceptive and uncharitable given our past political history and the present political realities of our nation. Those who see future or unity in one Nigeria are deluded, ignorant, unrealistic. They don’t know what’s real, what’s possible, and can’t differentiate fact from fiction.

How can the proponents of one Nigeria explain the humiliation and insult heaped on Vice President Osinbajo when Buhari’s Chief of Staff Abba Kyari referred to him as “Coordinator of National Affairs” instead of Vice President? The freest and fairest presidential election in our history was won by MKO Abiola. The election was annulled by a northerner. He was robbed of the presidency and he was killed.  If Osinbajo and Abiola were Hausas, nothing of such would have happened to them. Examples of such second class treatment abound. We need not bury our heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich as if all is well with a troubled and traumatized nation suffering from history of division and disunity.

Nigeria is a country divided against itself and cannot stand. Nigeria is virtually bankrupt. The clamor for separation is the manifestation of a nation grounded as it were, without hope of moving forward after 58 years. I believe it’s too late to save Nigeria from disintegration. Our union for the past 58 years has produced no peace, no progress, and no prosperity for the poor majority. The only beneficiaries and the loudest advocates of one Nigeria are those profiteers from the miseries of the pulverized poor – the ruling class.

 bjoluwasanmi@gmail.com.

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Following May 30 successes, will Biafra agitators compel restructuring Nigeria? By Olu Ojewale

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By Olu Ojewale

Special to USAfricaonline.com  • @USAfricaLIVE

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IT was a day that would be remembered for a long time to come. On Tuesday, May 30, the Ndigbo from different walks of life chose to commemorate the day the agitation for a Biafran state was declared 50 years by the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, a soldier, politician and statesman.

As it happened, Odumegwu-Ojukwu and fellow agitators after fighting in a civil war that lasted for about 31 months, eventually decided to keep Nigeria as one. Although Ojukwu and probably majority of those who shared his Biafran dreams have all passed away, the younger generation of agitators appear unwilling to let them die.

Hence, all the pressure groups that have been formed over the years came together to declare that all the South East indigenes should participate in the stay home protest to commemorate the day. The protest turned out to be a resounding success as many as 75 countries all over the world participated in the protest. It is now common knowledge that activities, business, social and all others were paralysed in the whole of South East that day. Mercifully, there were no reports of bad incidents throughout the period the protest lasted.

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That notwithstanding, the message to the federal government, albeit the political class, was unambiguous: Nigeria needs to change it attitudes to the Igbo nation or give it a country of its own. But it appears that the Ndigbo would need more than such agitation to change the current configuration of the country to suit every segment of the country.

In the past 50 years there appears to be an unending agitation for the realisation of Biafra dream as envisioned by Odumegwu-Ojukwu when he led the region in a civil war in which more than three million people were killed. Since then, the same old issue of marginalisation of the Ndigbo has almost been turned into a sing-song, no matter which government was or in power.

Articulating those issues recently, many Igbo extractions said when the civil war ended in 1970, the then military government had declared a no-victor-no-vanquish situation but the reality on ground have always showed the opposite

President-Buhari-of-Nigeria-contemplative-pix

as Ndigbo were regarded as a conquered people.

Not only that, the apostles of Biafra State have also said that the Ndigbo have been marginalised in all aspects of the Nigerian polity including the economy and politics. They have similarly pointed that despite the pogrom that they suffered, the promise of the Gowon government of reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction were never applied to the people of the South East. Besides, instead of the federal government to harness the industry of the Ndigbo people they are being treated like second class citizens in a country where they should have equal rights.

That, perhaps, gave Uchenna Madu, leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, to say that: “the existence and sojourn of the people of Biafra can be likened to the affirmation of Jesus Christ himself when he compared the Hebrew children to the salt of the earth noting that the earth, would be worthless without its salt.

“Just as the children of light is the salt of the earth, so are the Igbos the salt of Nigeria. Political scene without the Igbo, Nigeria will lose its taste and Nigeria will be no more. In all ramifications, men of goodwill and uprightness know that this assertion is true.”


Madu said trouble appeared to have started for the Ndigbo as far back as before and after the war. He said: “This attempt at establishing an independent state of Biafra was dependent upon the premeditated genocidal pogrom against the Igbo and other people of eastern region of Nigeria then outside of their homeland. This choreographed genocide was followed by the coup of July 29, 1966, during which Nigerian troops of Northern origin systematically killed many southern officers and men, of whom at least three quarters were easterners.

“It is apt to say that the involvement of military officers of Northern extraction in these massacres effectively destroyed the Nigerian army as an effective agent of Nigerian unity.

“The subsequent massacre of citizens of the Eastern region in the north, starting again in September 1966 and the mass migration back to the east that ensued widened the rupture in national unity. It was at this point that issues such as problems of refugees, economic support of displaced persons and intensified fears of citizens of the Eastern region for their personal safety combined to escalate the tension between the Eastern region and central government.

“Nobody could have blamed Ojukwu for declaring Biafra, which was brutally resisted by the Nigerian state but today the situation has not changed. What Ndigbo suffer today seems to be more. Harsh economic policies aimed at reducing the capacity of the Igbo.”

Madu argued that the policies of marginalisation were efficiently and effectively carried out throughout the military era which dominated Nigerian politics at the time from 1970 to 1999. “Interestingly, the current democratic dispensation has also coincided with the emergence of a post-war Igbo generation who do not accept the obvious marginalisation of the Igbos in Nigeria. The manifestation of this resentment is seen in the number of Biafran groups and movements that have emerged to demand for the re-establishment of an independent Biafran state as a panacea to the alienation of the Igbos in the Nigerian polity,” MASSOB boss said.

According to him, the new Igbo nationalism is anchored on a shared vision that the Ndigbo are better off as an independent state than being an integral part of the Nigeria state.

He vowed: “We the people of Biafra will never relent in promoting, projecting and upholding all the legacies of General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the supreme leader and Commander of Biafra Nation.”

Supporting the separatist idea, Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, the founder of Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, said that there was not much for him to say because of the grim situation in the country, especially among the youths. He said: “You need no other barometer to  feel the pulse of the people judging from their feelings of despair. The youths are so despondent that they are now asking to be allowed to opt out of the country. I do not need to say anything further.

“We are a country and but not a nation. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Biafra, we remember the time we were invaded; we remember the killing of over three million Igbo and we also remember how we managed to survive. We are asking for self- determination
Kanu

Similarly, Chilos Godsent, president of the Igbo National Council, INC, said in an interview that the economic policies of Nigeria had made things for the Igbo difficult. Godsent expressed the fear the Igbo would continue to find it difficult until the Nigerian  state is liberalised to accommodate every ethnic nationalities in the country. He said he was convinced that the marginalisation of the Igbo people was deliberate.

The INC president said: “I can tell you authoritatively that those issues before and after the Nigeria/Biafra civil war have not been addressed. The issue of lopsidedness of political structure of the Nigerian state is still there. The deliberate marginalisation of the Igbo, the conspiracy of the Arewa and Oduduwa bloc against the Igbo nation is still very strong. Let me tell you that these issues led to the fear of uncertainty and made the Igbo feel so unwanted in the Nigeria federation.

“That was what started self determination, which they eventually called the Biafra Republic. The struggle is ongoing but what we are concerned about is the tactical approach and the existing frame work on the modus operandi of all the organisations that are struggling for the sovereign state of Biafra.”

That notwithstanding, Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, was pleased with the success of the sit-at-home protest, saying the realisation of a Biafra republic was near.

Speaking through Emma Powerful, the IPOB’S media and publicity secretary, Kanu said he was encouraged by the outing, vowing that he would stop at nothing in ensuring that the people of the area were liberated from the stranglehold of their oppressors.

He used the medium to thank “friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom all over the world for their tenacious efforts that made our Heroes Day Sit-At-Home Order a resounding success.”

The IPOB leader said the fact that people obeyed the order to sit at home “is confirmation that IPOB which I lead has the mandate of all Biafrans to spearhead the ongoing Biafra restoration effort.”

He added: “With near total compliance with this sit-at-home order I issued when I was still in Kuje Prison Abuja, it has proven to me beyond every conceivable doubt that Biafra restoration is a priority to all and sundry and I promise never to let Biafra down even upon the pain of death because you never let me down.

“We must join hands together, with all genuine and sincere individuals and groups, to restore Biafra with truth and honesty.”

However, rather than join hands with the IPOB leader, the South East Peoples Assembly, SEPA, has asked the federal high court, Abuja, to revoke the bail granted Kanu.

The IPOB in collaboration with other groups, on Tuesday, May 30, organised a successful sit-at-home in South East, an action SEPA regarded as a breach of the bail conditions granted Kanu.

Indeed, the IPOB leader has been facing trial for treason and terrorism, being a major sponsor for the secession of South East from Nigeria on the platform of his group.

He was arrested on October 15, 2015, in Lagos, and eventually granted bail in May this year on health grounds with some conditions.

Justice Binta Nyako said that she was convinced that Kanu was ill and needed more medical attention than the Nigerian Prisons was giving him and therefore, granted him bail on conditions that he must not hold any rally, grant any interview or be in a crowd of more than 10 people.


Nyako gave other bail conditions to include three sureties in the sum of N100 million each and ordered that Kanu to deposit both his Nigerian and British passports with the court and that a report on the progress of his health must be made available to her on a monthly basis.

She adjourned the matter till July 11 and 12, for definite commencement of trial.

However, based on the sit-at-home order, the SEPA has accused Kanu of infringing on the bail conditions.

In a letter to Justice Ibrahim Auta, the chief judge of the high court, Chukwuemeka Okorie, president of the SEPA, asked the court, as a matter of urgency, to revoke Kanu’s bail.

He said that Kanu had continued to conduct himself in a manner that was totally at variance with terms and conditions of his bail.

He listed the infractions to include holding rallies, grant of interviews or be in a crowd of more than 10 people.

“Obviously, the recklessness with which he made media statements and even organised the ‘Sit at Home and Stay Indoor’ protest to mark the so called Biafra heroes day on Tuesday, 30th May, 2017, is a threat to the unity, security and peace of Nigeria as a sovereign nation.

“We have no iota of doubt that he is trying to push our dear country Nigeria into an unnecessary precarious situation for his personal agenda and those of his paymasters.

“Sir, our decision to write this demand letter to your good office at this time is to forestall another civil unrest in Nigeria, particularly around the Igbo speaking region.

“As you well know, the struggle by Kanu to be relevant under the guise of actualisation of Biafra does not enjoy the support of right thinking Igbo people both at home and in diaspora.

“That he suddenly addresses himself as the Supreme Leader of Biafra points to how arrogant and disrespectful he is to legitimately constituted authority in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The pertinent question on our minds as stakeholders is: Has Kanu been consistent in providing the court with reports on the progress of his health and treatment on a monthly basis since he was granted bail?

“We fear that if Kanu is not tamed by Your Lordship as a matter of urgency, the IPOB may create a situation where it becomes difficult if not impossible for genuine development to take place in the South East under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“History has taught us that the Civil War of 1967-1970 started gradually and later turned out to be something that caused our people unimaginable losses.

“We cannot afford to fold our arms this time and allow a stooge imported from the United Kingdom by stark enemies of Nigeria to maintain a state of belligerence against the nation and keep the name of Igbo people in the news for the wrong reasons.”

In any case, the SERAP’s opposition has, no doubt, shown that not everyone is in support of the separatist movement of Kanu and his co-travellers.

Monday Ubani, a human rights lawyer and second national vice president of the Nigerian Bar Association, similarly disagreed with the agitation for Biafran state. Rather, he said that the Igbo cause could be better realised within the context of one Nigeria instead of plunging the whole South East into another avoidable crisis.


He admitted that there had been elements of marginalisation against the Ndigbo in the structure of Nigeria, but it was now left for the Ndigbo to build confidence with other ethnic groups in order to get whatever they want.

Ubani said: “If you say you want Biafra, in asking for Biafra what are the plans in place. Have you consulted your political office holders who are holding offices everywhere? Who is going to be the President and then where is the capital to be located? I don’t have any problem with Biafra but I want to see what the plans are. Let’s agree before you pull out.”

He also said Biafra would be difficult to actualise by being hostile and rebellious to other ethnic groups in the country. According to him, the last Biafran war was a waste of lives and opportunities. “I will not at this level of my education now support the Igbo man to go to that level again, war, because I have kids. I will rather like us to get a larger chunk of our right in a more legitimate way in this country God has blessed.

“If you say Igbo should return home because of war, where are the industries to work. Please you don’t sit down and create problems for others and generations yet unborn because you are frustrated. I will advise if we love our land let’s begin to carry our investment home and attract foreign investors,” he said.

Besides, he said that Odumegwu-Ojukwu who started Biafra, before his death said that Biafra was now a thing of the heart. Hence, Ubani said that if Ndigbo want to achieve Biafra “all of us must sit down and work out the modalities of a Biafra state.”

For Nnia Nwodo, president general of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the marginalisation of the South East by successive administrations necessitated agitation by the youths for a sovereign state of Biafra. At the forum of leaders of the South-South and South-East geo-political zones earlier in May, Nwodo noted that he aspired for a country where every part would be fully involved and the future generation would have a better country than the current generation.

“Our children are agitating. Our children do not want to be part of this country anymore because they feel that we are second-class citizens and because they feel that their parents are incapable of standing out for them.

“They want the Republic of Biafra because most of them feel they are discriminated against and are not equal with others,” he said. He, however, argued that the country would be better as one, as the impact of war on any country could never be over-emphasised.

“We think that in the African continent, our size is our asset. We have built a brotherhood over the years since 1960 and we cannot break. Consequently, we have to put our heads together and find a better federal structure, a constitutional structure, which gives every part of this country satisfaction. In weeks and few months to come, the socio-cultural organisations will come together to seek an end to this impending catastrophe,” Nwodo said.

On his part, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said engaging in dialogue with those agitating for an independent state of Biafra would be a sure way to resolving the issue.

At the Biafra conference in Abuja, on Thursday, May 25, the former president said Nigerians must treat the country with care. He recalled what happened during the Biafran war and why such should be avoided.

“I have maintained that the young officers who struck in 1966 were naive but there were some element of nationalism in some of them. Be that as it may, it set us back. The language used in the war did not help matters, the people on the Biafra side called us vandals and we called them rebels…


“We thought we would end the war in three months, but it took us 30 months, and the federal side nearly lost it. Civil war is more difficult than fighting in a foreign land because we are fighting to unite… Some of the people agitating for Biafra today were not even born then. They don’t know what it entails,” he said.

“But I think, we should even appeal to those saying they want to go, we should not tell them to go. We should make them understand that there is enough cake to share. We should massage Nigeria just like in a love relationship.”

Similarly, Balarabe Musa, a veteran politician and a former of Kaduna State, in a newspaper interview, agreed that the Ndigbo have not had their fair share in the scheme of things in Nigeria since the time of the civil war. Musa, however, disagreed that majority of the Igbo are in support of Biafra.

He said: “Sincerely speaking, the South-East has not had a fair-share since the civil war. Their marginalisation is quite obvious. But if the policy of reconstruction, reintegration and reconciliation of General (Yakubu) Gowon and the late General (Murtala Mohammed) Murtala’s administrations had continued, the agitation by the few Igbo for Biafra state would have been a thing of the past. It is the marginalisation that is making a small section of the Igbo to agitate for Biafra.

“If the reconstruction and reconciliation had been sustained, there wouldn’t have been any need for Biafra because the number of those Igbo asking for Biafra is not more than 10 percent. The majority of the Igbo crave for a better Nigeria particularly because of their experience and they are prepared to fight for the unity of Nigeria. Majority of Igbo leaders have said in clear terms that they want a better Nigeria where they can expand because they are enterprising in nature.

“As you are aware, people who are enterprising would prefer a big community as against a small one. Some of them desire a better Nigeria because they don’t want the previous experience of war to repeat itself. But the agitation for Biafra is a ticking time-bomb just as the level of poverty in Nigeria.

“Like I said earlier, the system of development in Nigeria tends to divide the people. There were times in history when the Igbo were targeted and isolated because they were enterprising and because of the system that operates in Nigeria. And probably the system could marginalise everybody until there is a brutal revolution.”

Perhaps, fearing the untold damages that may result from another civil war in Nigeria, the only popular agitation in the country today is restructuring, which appears to be unpopular among some Northerners. But that has not diminished the debate for the need to restructure Nigeria to speed up its development.

Lending a voice to the argument, Olusegun Adeniyi in his newspaper column of May 25, said: “All said, as we reflect on 50 years after the declaration of Biafra and what might have been, I agree with the proponents of restructuring that there are sufficient grounds to question some of the assumptions on which the unity of Nigeria is predicated, especially in the light of our serial failings. But to beat war drums at the least provocation or to continue to marginalise (in critical appointments and projects) a significant section of our country are signposts that we have not come to terms with our past and that we have not learnt enough lessons from that tragic episode in our history to say NEVER AGAIN!”

Indeed, that was the view of the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who declared Eastern Nigeria a sovereign state on May 30, 1967, known as Biafra, when he gave his candid opinion on the same agitation in a video that had gone viral on social media.

He said in the video: “I led the first one and I can say I led ‘proudly’ the first one  I don’t think a second one is necessary. We should have learnt from the first one, otherwise, they would all have been in vain.”

But whether the agitators for a Biafran state are going to heed to the advice is another matter. That notwithstanding, the fear of Biafra state, may after all be the necessary harbinger to reconfigure the country and give everyone a sense of belonging.

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