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Opinion: What happened to Nigeria’s promise?

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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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AFRICA

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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NEWS FIRST

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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