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USAfrica: Buhari’s policies, actions fuel latest agitation for Biafra. By Femi Aribisala

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Buhari’s policies, actions fuel latest agitation for Biafra.

By Femi Aribisala

Special to USAfrica multimedia networks (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com  @USAfricaLive

 

In the eight years of Obasanjo’s presidency (1999-2007), there was no headline-grabbing demand for Biafra.  Ditto for the eight years of the Yar’adua/Jonathan presidency.  However, within months of Buhari’s presidency, the Igbo demand for Biafra has become deafening.  Without a doubt, the blame for this new impetus must be laid firmly at the doorstep of President Buhari.  Moreover, rather than attenuate it, the president and the APC have exacerbated separatist tendencies in the country.

This was part of the reason why people like me did not support Buhari’s election as president of Nigeria.  I have written severally in Vanguard that Nigeria must remain a united nation.  In my column of 4th March, 2014 entitled: “Re-inventing Igbo Politics in Nigeria,” I maintained that: “Nigeria cannot survive without the Igbo.”  The following week on 11th March 2014, I wrote another article entitled: “Nigeria Cannot Do without the North.”

I remain persuaded by both positions.  But if Nigeria is indeed to remain united, there are certain things that must be said and done.  The problem with the Buhari administration is that it seems totally impervious to these imperatives.

Second-class treatment

There is no question that, as one of the major ethnic groups in Nigeria, the Igbo have been hard done by.  Since the civil war 45 years ago, they have been treated as if they were a minority ethnic group in Nigeria when in fact they are one of the majorities.  No Igbo has been considered worthy of being head-of-state.  The South East of Ndigbo is the only one of the six geopolitical zones of the country with five states.  All other zones have six or more.

Indeed, the number of local governments in the North-East is virtually double that of the South-East.  As a result, the Ndigbo receive the smallest amount of revenue allocation among all the zones, in spite of the fact that some of the South-eastern states are among the oil-producing states.

The roads in the South-east are notoriously bad.  Government after government have simply ignored them.  Inconsequential ministerial positions are usually zone to Ndigbo.  Time was when it seemed the lackluster Ministry of Information was their menial preserve.  It is also a known fact that every so often the Igbo are slaughtered in the North under one guise or the other.  Many are forced to abandon their homes and businesses and run for dear life.  The people who perpetrate these acts never seem to be arrested or prosecuted.

When a major tribe is treated procedurally as second-class in their own country, there will be a demand for self-determination sooner rather than later.  When a group of people feel unsafe in their own country, they cannot but be expected to decide to opt out.  It is not the responsibility of the government to imprison the Igbo in Nigeria.  It is the responsibility of the government to ensure and guarantee that they feel safe and are treated with respect.

Discrimination against the South

While these issues have been brewing under the surface for some time, the lop-sided tendencies of President Buhari have brought them all out to boiling-point.  In his first-coming as head-of-state in 1984, Buhari antagonized Ndigbo by locking up Vice-President Alex Ekwueme, an Igbo man, in jail in Kirikiri; while President Shehu Shagari, a Fulani man was only placed under house arrest.  In addition, Buhari arrested and jailed Ojukwu, another Igbo icon for no just cause.

As Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund, Buhari discriminated blatantly against the South and especially the South-east.  For example, his PTF built only 4,440 kilometres of roads in Southern Nigeria representing a paltry 24%; while 13,870 kilometres were built in the North representing 76%.  Of these figures, the Southeast and South-south combined only received 13.5%.

Under the PTF’s National Health and Rehabilitation Program (NHERP), the entire South got 0% allocation, while the North got 100% in the tertiary program. In the vocational program, the entire South had only 3% while the North had 97%. The same was for the primary side where the South had only 12% but the north was allocated 88%. The secondary area was no different. While the North had 86% percent, the South had just 14%.

Disenfranchisement of Ndigbo

These anomalies have been duplicated to date in the seven months of Buhari’s presidency.  In the first place, Buhari won virtually without Igbo votes.  In order to diminish Jonathan’s votes, a major assault was made against them; recognising that they are some of the staunchest Jonathan supporters.  INEC ensured that, far more disproportionately relative to other geopolitical zones, millions of South-East voters disappeared between 2011 and 2015.

Only 7.6 million voters were registered for the 2015 election in the South-east, and only 5.6 million PVCs collected.  Compare this with Buhari’s North-west, there were 17.6 million registrations and 15.1 million collections.  While in the South-west, there were 4.2 million votes in 2015, relative to 4.6 million in 2011: in the South-east, there were only 2.6 million votes in 2015, relative to 5 million in 2011; a drastic drop of 2.4 million.

While Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Jigawa and Bauchi posted their traditional humongous figures; Imo, Anambra and Abia posted relatively disappointing figures.  While the internally displaced Northerners in the North-East could vote; internally displaced Igbos from the North could not.  While the card-readers failed in many parts of the South-east, suggestive they were programmed to fail; they worked in most parts of the North.  In places like Lagos and Kano, many non-indigenes, including the Igbo, were not even given their PVCs.

Making of a hero

President Buhari then added insult to injury by stating on his visit to the United States that he could not be expected to treat those who voted for him in the same way as those who did not.

He said: “(Going by election results), constituencies that gave me 97% cannot in all honesty be treated, on some issues, with constituencies that gave me 5%. I think these are political realities. While, certainly there will be justice for everybody but the people who voted, and made their votes count, they must feel the government has appreciated the effort they put in putting the government in place.”

While his media assistants later tried to water down this disturbing statement, the reality was that, apart from the constitutionally-stipulated requirement that every state must be represented in the presidential Cabinet, Buhari has virtually ignored the Igbo in his appointments.

Two moves showed the level of insensitivity of the Buhari administration to these anomalies.  The first was the decision to move Boko Haram prisoners down from the North to the South-east; a move firmly resisted by the Igbo as it would have made them a target of suicide-bombers.  The other was the blunder of placing Nnamdi Kanu, the director of Radio Biafra, under arrest; charging him with treason and terrorism.

All the government has achieved by this is inflame passions in the South-east.  It has also made a hero out of Kanu.  Those who did not know about Kanu before now know him.  Those who were not disposed to Biafra before are now shouting Biafra.  For weeks on end, Biafra has become the biggest news item nationwide, with agitations, demonstrations, threats and arrests.

Agenda for action

The government needs to apply more wisdom here.  At the moment, it has become the biggest promoter of Biafra by the way it has gone about things.  The idea of Biafra cannot be killed with a sledge hammer, if at all.  What is required is to address the root causes that impelled Biafra.  Unfortunately, it would appear the Buhari administration is unwilling to do this.

As a matter of urgency, Nnamdi Kanu must be released unconditionally.  If the government persists in labeling him a terrorist, his supporters might decide to become terrorists.  Nigeria already has enough problem of Boko Haram conflagration in the North-east.  We cannot afford to light another fire in the South-east.

Kanu was living in England.  If he were a terrorist, he would have been arrested there.  The fact that he lived there without constraints or restraints shows he was not considered a threat, either to Britain or to Nigeria.

It is not a crime to fight for self-determination; it is a right.  The government must not give the impression that Nigeria is a prison where we must all live, irrespective of the living conditions.  The government needs to address the grievances of the Igbo.  Their roads and bridges must be built.  Their waterways must be opened up to the Atlantic Ocean.

Eastern sea-ports must be developed.  Railways must link their mercantile cities to the North.  Their coal resources must be profitably exploited for the benefit of their unemployed youth and citizenry.  An additional state must be created in the South-east to bring it up to par with other geopolitical zones.

National question

Moreover, we need to revisit again a critical issue addressed during the truncated National Conference: the issue of resource allocation.  This is a major gripe of the Igbo and it is a legitimate gripe.  It is not in the interest of Nigeria to continue in this age-old practice where all the states gather every month in Abuja for handouts, whether they are productive or not.  This gives the wrong impression that some states are insisting on being piggy-backed by others.  We need to develop a system that rewards and encourages productivity.

Those who produce should be allowed to keep disproportionately what they produce, instead of the current situation where they are required to share it disproportionately with those relatively less productive.  The truth of the matter is that every part of Nigeria is resource rich.  Every part of Nigeria has the requisite manpower.  Unfortunately, our current over-concentration on oil militates against the development of other indigenous resources.

A situation where national resources are distributed according to the number of local government councils, and where there is now supposedly only 96 local government councils in the South-East, relative to 186 in the North-west does not suggest equity and justice.

The disgruntlement in the South-east about the Nigeria project will not disappear by ignoring it.  It will not disappear by arresting Kanu.  It will not disappear by issuing threats.  Neither will it disappear by denying the youth of the South-east their freedom of speech and assembly.

Today, the demand for Biafra remains the demand of a minority of the Igbo.  If the root causes of their anger are not addressed, the minority will soon become the majority.  If that happens, Nigeria might unravel.  I repeat what I have stated before: the Nigeria of our manifest destiny cannot be realized without the Igbo.

 

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CHIDO

USAfrica: Buhari goes back to see his doctors in London

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Special to USAfrica [Houston] • USAfricaonline.com  • @Chido247

Only a few days following his return from the United States, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has announced through his spokesman that he is travelling to the United Kingdom to see his doctor. “I will be travelling to the United Kingdom tomorrow [May 8], to see my doctor, at his request,” retired Gen. Buhari stated on his official Twitter account.

Buhari who is 77-years added he will be away for four days, therefore, he has set Saturday, May 12, 2018 as his return date.

On his way back to Nigeria, he stopped over in London to get some medical attention — this fact was hidden from Nigerians with his special assistant [media] Garba Shehu claiming at that time that Buhari’s health challenges did not force the re-routing through London.

On May 7, Shehu added “In the course of the technical stop-over for aircraft maintenance in London on his way back from Washington last week, the president had a meeting with his doctor.”

 

USAfricaonline.com notes that Buhari  travelled to Britain from Abuja on Monday April 9, 2017. Buhari who has been facing severe criticism on his performance since May 2015 will held “discussions on Nigeria – British relations with Prime Minister Theresa May, prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings scheduled for April 18 to 20.”

Since Buhari became civilian President, his first trip to Britain for medical treatment, according to USAfrica News Index, took place from January to March, 2017. Soon, following the clear evidence of the challenges he had regarding his health, he made his longest and most talked about trip when he left Nigeria back to London on May 7, 2017 and returned to an apprehensive nation on August 19, 2017.
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AFRICA

USAfrica: Mandelas say Winnie sacrificed her life for the freedom of South Africa

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WINNIE MANDELA, the anti-apartheid activist and former wife of Nelson Mandela, died a few hours ago, today April 2, 2018 — following a long illness especially an infection of her kidney. She was 81 years old.

The following is the full text of the statement by the Mandela family on the death on Monday April 2, 2018 of Winnie Mandela.

 

Special to USAfrica [Houston] • USAfricaonline.com • @Chido247 •  @USAfricaLive

It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital‚ Johannesburg‚ South Africa, on Monday April 2 2018.

She died after a long illness‚ for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.

Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela was one of the greatest icons of the struggle against apartheid. She fought valiantly against the apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country. Her activism and resistance to apartheid landed her in jail on numerous occasions‚ eventually causing her banishment to the small town of Brandfort in the then Orange Free State.

She kept the memory of her imprisoned husband Nelson Mandela alive during his years on Robben Island and helped give the struggle for justice in South Africa one its most recognisable faces. She dedicated most of her adult life to the cause of the people and for this was known far and wide as the Mother of the Nation.

The Mandela family are deeply grateful for the gift of her life and even as our hearts break at her passing‚ we urge all those who loved her to celebrate this most remarkable woman.

The family will release details of the memorial and funeral services once these have been finalised.

 

WHY I CELEBRATE THE LIFE AND WORKS OF NELSON MANDELA. By Chido Nwangwu  https://usafricaonline.com/2010/07/15/mandela-why-i-celebrate-his-life-works-by-chido-nwangwu/

—  2018 book: In this engaging, uniquely insightful and first person reportage book, MANDELA & ACHEBE: Footprints of Greatness, about two global icons and towering persons of African descent whose exemplary lives

Mandela-n-Achebe-by-Chido-book-frontcover-Lrsand friendship hold lessons for humanity and Africans, the author Chido Nwangwu takes a measure of their works and consequence to write that Mandela and Achebe have left “footprints of greatness.”

He chronicles, movingly, his 1998 reporting from the Robben Island jail room in South Africa where Mandela was held for decades through his 20 years of being close to Achebe. He moderated the 2012 Achebe Colloquium at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.”I’ll forever remember having walked inside and peeped through that historic Mandela jail cell (where he was held for most of his 27 years in unjust imprisonment) at the dreaded Robben Island, on March 27, 1998, alongside then Editor-in-chief of TIME magazine and later news chief executive of the CNN, Walter Isaacson (and others) when President Bill Clinton made his first official trip to South Africa and came to Robben Island. Come to this island of scourge and you will understand, in part, the simple greatness and towering grace of Nelson Mandela”, notes  Chido Nwangwu, award-winning writer, multimedia specialist and founder of USAfricaonline.com, the first African-owned U.S-based newspaper published on the internet, in his first book; he writes movingly from his 1998 reporting from South Africa on Mandela. http://www.mandelaachebechido.com/

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HEALTH

RESIGN: Anglican Church tells Buhari over ill-health

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RESIGN: Anglican Church tells Buhari over ill-health

Special to USAfrica (Houston).  USAfricaonline.com  @USAfricaLive  @Chido247          

As tension and separatist groups increase, the health-challenged Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (who has been in London for additional medical treatment) has been advised to resign if he can no longer perform the duties of his office, due to ill health. 

“The synod thereby prays God to grant him divine healing. The synod, however, observes that in the event where the President is unable to discharge his duties and or perform the functions of his office owing to ill health, he is enjoined to resign from the office.”

This position was part of the decisions made by the Nigerian Anglican Church during its 3rd session of the 16th Synod, held at the Christ Redemption Church, Enugu.

In a communiqué issued and signed by the Archbishop of the Enugu Province and Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, Ven. Augustine Orah, the Synod Secretary and the Registrar, attorney H.B.C Ogboko, the Church underlined its point that “President Muhammadu Buhari’s ill health, which has kept him out of office for long, [has been] impeding the growth of the nation.”

Regarding the controversial and illegal pronouncements by a handful of northern Nigeria “youths” who said the Igbo resident in the North should go back to their south east homeland by October 1, 2017, the Anglican Church called those “hate speeches”; warning the “northern youths and their sponsors” against their history of violence against the Igbo. Hence, the Anglican Church and communities warned against “the repetition of the pogrom of 1967 whereof the Igbos were massively and brutally massacred in the Northern Nigeria and calls on the Federal Government to ensure adequate protection of the lives and properties of Ndi Igbo residing in the Northern part of Nigeria.” 

Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was affirmed by Buhari to serve as “Acting President.”

 

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