Archive for September, 2012

By Desmond Mgboh, Kano

Junaidu Mohammed, former parliamentarian, Russian-trained medical practitioner, leading critic on national politics and National Chairman of the Peoples Salvation Party (PSP), is a man that loves confronting issues passionately, frankly and decisively.

In this interview held in Kano, he speaks on President Jonathan’s outburst on being the most criticized president in the world, Dr. Barth Nnaji’s resignation, Chief Doyin Okupe’s failed contract in Benue State, and the CBN’s N5,000 note. He also speaks on big men’s sons fingered in the fuel subsidy racket, and Prof. Akinyemi’s call for quota representation for non-indigenes outside their states. Excerpts:

Recently, President Goodluck Jonathan said he’s the most criticized president in the world and hopes he will end up the most loved president. Do you make of that?

Frankly, if I had a say in drafting your questions, I wouldn’t have asked you to put this question to me. If you look at the issues we are confronted with in this country: issues of national security, economic near meltdown, bungling of economic policies, constitutional amendment, the very nature of the Nigerian State, the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, the dichotomy being introduced into indigeneship and citizenship, and the rights attached to it, I would have thought there are more important issues to worry about than the perception of the president being criticized and being loved somewhere along the road.

As far as I am concerned, if you are in politics, you are there to be criticized because we are practicing democracy, or at least, we imagine that we are practicing democracy. And if you don’t want to be criticized, then don’t come into public life. If you are in politics, you are there to be criticized, unless of course, you want to be a dictator which is a different thing entirely.

To me, it is utterly irrelevant what Jonathan thinks about himself and how he rates himself vis-a-vis other presidents. I dare say that if he is talking about other presidents, he must be talking about democratically elected presidents, people who came to power by way of free, fair and credible elections. I certainly do not believe he came to power that way. I do not believe his party is a democratic party.

For him, looking at a crystal ball and saying he is going to be the most loved president in Nigeria, well, we will wait and see. For all I care, whether he is loved or hated, Nigerians are going to assess him on the basis of policies he put in place. And secondly, on the kind of personnel he brings to government and how they performed. So, the thrash of being loved or hated is immaterial, it is his policies that will carry him through history.

But, do you think some of the criticisms are valid or are mere hangovers of a hate mindset?

Well, you have to tell me the criticisms and state the specific policies for me to be able to respond.

For instance, he has been criticized over the economy and the security challenges, but he is saying some of these problems did not start with his presidency?

How long have you been living in Kano? I hope long enough to know the difference between the Kano of when you were growing up and the Kano of today. You cannot tell me that the Kano of those days and today are the same experience.

Number two, the sense of belonging of the average Nigerian cannot be said to be the same, particularly from the time he became president of Nigeria. In my entire life, for instance, I have never seen or heard a man come out openly to abuse other Nigerians on the pages of newspapers the way Edward Clark does with ease, the way so many other people from the so-called South-South do? If that is not different to you, then it is different to me. I know that Nigerians do have their own stereotypes; they describe other Nigerians in pejorative terms. But I have never seen it done openly, systematically like it is being done now by individuals close to the president. And if that is not an unhealthy development, then I don’t know what is. And it started squarely, squarely I repeat, with President Jonathan.

Secondly, Nigeria, like any other country, has gone through economic hard times. But whenever the country was in trouble, the government takes the trouble to explain to the people, rightly or wrongly, but they did at least make efforts to explain to the people. They will not put forward a very flippant Governor of the Central Bank, who has assumed the role of economic spokesman of the government, to start insulting people. When the people say there is something they don’t like about an economic policy, this boy says it is irreversible. There is nothing in a democracy that allows for this kind of foul response from an appointed person, who has never won an election and will never win an election. This is the kind of boys put forward as spin doctors and spokespersons for economic policy, which clearly is not working.

Now, if this is the kind of thing you think is good and for which we must praise Goodluck Jonathan, then tough luck. You can assume, for example, and you can say rightly that he did not appoint Lamido Sanusi as Governor of the Central Bank. I will agree with you. But today, he is the President of Nigeria and the Governor holds his position at the pleasure of the President of Nigeria – he can sack the Governor of the Central Bank tomorrow and can dissolve the Board of the Central Bank and get rid of the Governor and the Deputy Governors.

I believe what the Senate intended to do to tame this arrogant man by amending the Central Bank’s decree was childish and it is a way of personalizing lawmaking. You do not make laws for an individual; you make laws for the entire country. If they really wanted, they should first pass a vote of no confidence on the Governor and then insists within their own party or within the National Assembly that he must be sacked. They did not do that. They kept quiet for whatever reasons and now we are stuck with it.

The President’s wife is sick, but there is total silence about it. History is replaying itself somehow. Jonathan’s group, which sought openness in the handling of the late President Yar‘Adua’s health, is not providing information on Dame Patience’s health.

A system is a system. And if you want to make amendment or anything, please go to the system. When Turai was playing Russian Roulette with the destiny of 150 million Nigerians, many of us said the woman was not elected. People who have not gone through the crucible of election and winning have no business determining the fate of a country, or our destiny.

The idea of a so-called First Lady is not even in our constitution. It is easy for any charge and bail lawyer to take this matter to court and establish that the idea of First Lady is not in our constitution and is therefore, unconstitutional. How do you allow women who have not won election – many of them do not even have the characters you can look up to as role models – how can these women who accidentally married their husbands, not knowing what destiny had in stock, simply emerge and assume certain powers, and these powers are to the detriment of the entire country? The idea of the so-called First Lady should be quashed and no budgetary allocation should be allowed, because when you appoint somebody to spend money, which has been appropriated by the National Assembly, by definition, you are holding him accountable because the National Assembly can always call and question him.

The way we have it the money we have for the First Lady is appropriated under the budget of the Presidency and the President now decides to allocate billions of naira to the First Lady and she has the freedom to spend it the way she likes. That, to me, is not a democracy.

Are you saying she is not a national asset and we should not bother ourselves with her health conditions?

No, no! That is wrong. She is a Nigerian and a citizen. In a country that is running a proper democracy, what affects the mood, the lifestyle, and comportment and composure of the president should be of consequence to all of us. But to now spend valuable time, valuable treasure and even valuable pages of newspapers and radio time discussing the health of one woman out of a country of about 75 million women is to me, perverse, irresponsible to the extreme and shows that Nigeria doesn’t have priorities as a nation.

I certainly want to see the First Lady in good health. And I think, basically, she is not as offensive in nature as Turai, for example. I find her rather easy-going, pleasurable and full of humour. But please, we must learn to differentiate what I called the affairs of state and affairs of whoever is president. This woman is the responsibility of the president as a family man. If today he decides to sack her as his wife or not, that is purely his business.

Former Minister of Power, Dr. Barth Nnaji, has resigned, but the suggestion is that he was doing something good in the ministry. But if he was doing something good, why quickly accept his resignation?

Well, I am glad you have touched on an interesting aspect of mis-governance in Nigeria. For example, as a matter of courtesy, it is not a legal matter; it is a matter of courtesy. Once you appoint a person, as the president you do not accept his resignation or dictate his resignation readily. You must go through the facts and must be convinced that there is something that warrants the person resigning, and warrants you to accept his resignation; because it is one thing for you to resign and another for your resignation to be accepted. You have power to refuse to accept the resignation.

Number two, in making certain critical appointments, you first put merit on top and then anything is secondary, whether you call it Federal Character or loyalty or a sense of appreciation towards a governor or somebody else.

Now, I don’t know this Barth Nnaji. All I can say is that given what I know about my own power situation here in Kano, I am not appreciative of his performance as Minister. Whether he speaks grammar, whether he is a better engineer in terms of power generation and distribution than any individual, I don’t care.

What I know is that I have not seen the improvement I had expected; given the amount of money spent in the sector from the time General Obasanjo started lying that he would give us reliable power in six months to the present day. Of course, during the rainy season, there was some kind of improvement largely because the Niger Dam had enough water to move the turbines and therefore, generate certain optimal level of power. But beyond that, there is nothing to explain what this man has done. I heard he likes publicity and likes coming on television to talk. But I have seen no improvement.

That is beside the point anyway. Having determined that he was good enough to be appointed minister, when it comes to sacking him, we have to be sensitive to certain basic requirements. Has he done anything to warrant being sacked? Was he actually pushed or did he jump? The sources I have at my disposal actually told me he did not jump, he was actually pushed. He was asked to submit his resignation letter. And the question is, what did he do to warrant that kind of shabby treatment? Nigerians don’t have a reputation of resigning from their jobs. It must be a sack.

Now, if it was a sack, what did he do? If it was a sack, he must have done something criminal, because we know how the power sector is being parceled out to Generals. Companies in which Obasanjo has interest, Abdulsalami Abubakar has interest, other Generals have made biddings for some of the portions of power, which is being unbundled and taking off. If this man has been fingered, then you take him to court rather than ask him to resign.

The CBN had proposed a N5,000 note. What is your reaction to this proposal?

I have not seen any reason why the Governor of the Central Bank wants to introduce this denomination of the Naira. Let me tell you, my understanding is that economics is a highly speculative science and people who think if they are dealing with economics they are dealing with a reality, which is immutable and cannot be changed, are talking nonsense. We are not talking about religion. We are talking about a science that is on the border line between science and arts.

Those who believe we need a N5000 denomination should tell us why we need it. They should tell us examples and areas where this had been done and what the benefits were. If, for whatever reason, the millionaires in government and those on appointment like the Central Bank Governor, find themselves in a situation whereby they think it is too clumsy to hold a 50, 100, 500, 1000 Naira notes for easy transactions, they should please leave the country or stop dealing in Naira, and use the dollars they have been using anyway! I have been to parties in Lagos where people holding government positions spread dollar bills on the faces of people dancing.

And I know for a fact that this boy in the CBN boasts to his friends that when he likes, he does his transactions in dollars! And there are many other Nigerians so privileged to do so. But if the average Nigerian feels the N5000 note is a bad idea, in a democracy, he should listen and their wishes should be respected. And if their leaders – and I have seen quite a lot of people I cannot write off easily, people like Tinubu and others, who are leaders of thought in their own respective areas, political leaders, and those who have been in government on both sides – legislative and executive – saying this is a bad idea, that it is insensitive, then I think it will be reckless to allow a person (CBN Governor), who was never elected and has never won an election even when he was in school, to say there is no going back.

And for the president to copycat that kind of statement is utter recklessness. You cannot run a democracy and pretend to be undemocratic. You either are a democrat or you are not. The way this government is trying to ram the N5000 note idea through our throats, and yet they are not giving the people any coherent example, rather they are only saying there is no going back, is in my view, insulting, and speaks volume of the kind of characters we are either appointing or electing into positions of trust in Nigeria. And this is a tragedy.

But this same Governor of the Central Bank had in the past enjoyed your positive commentary. Where did things start getting bad?

Never! I have never said anything positive about him. Go and bring your notebooks and your tapes. The last time you spoke about his appointment, I said Yar’Adua was misadvised and mis-guided. And I am sure Yar’Adua, not being an economist, and certainly not knowing anything about the responsibilities of a Central Bank Governor, and also being a very bad judge of character was misadvised and should never have appointed this boy. However, having done so, all of us will live to regret the consequences.

I said that first he does not understand the limit of his responsibility as a Central Bank Governor and I also told you that – if I remember correctly – you will require certain character profile to be a Central Bank Governor. This boy talks too much, he is in love with his voice and he hungers for publicity. That has been his life. For all I care, this boy was not fit, does not have the basic requirements to be governor of Central Bank of Nigeria. And by talking too much, he is rubbishing the institution of the Central Bank and I said no Governor of the Central Bank talks as much as he does.

And I gave example of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in the United States, Professor Ben Benanki, and King, who was the Governor of the Bank of England, which is an institution, and I said if we are building an institution, we should never have appointed people with this character. I have said this boy is not good and I challenge you to bring a single sentence where I said this boy was good.

Okay, let us leave Sanusi out of this and go to other questions…

(Cuts in) It is not a question of Sanusi. It is a question of his policy. Why must you impose a certain denomination of your currency when a vast majority of the people is opposed to it? It is not an issue of Sanusi. I don’t bloody care about Sanusi Lamido.

The subsidy probe has led to the prosecution of children and relatives of those in power. How do we look at the fact that some of them may have used their positions to get their children to steal us dry?

My dear Desmond let us stop deceiving ourselves. It is not their children; it is they, themselves, using their own children in very reckless manner as decoys, as fronts or as cut-out in these deals to steal us dry. Who is Bamanga Tukur’s son to go and dictate to either the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) or to the Minister of Petroleum, or to some of these people in the Presidency, because some of the decisions on the petroleum subsidy issue could not have been taken by the Minister? They had to be approved by the very top.

So, you might ask: who are these small, small boys? What have they done in their lives to get these privileges? You are about their age, why aren’t you getting the same kind of privileges? If those in government are liars, must we follow their lies? You know very well that it is Ahmadu Ali himself, Bamanga Tukur himself who are involved in all these dirty deals.

But here, let us get at the real issue. When some of us raised the alarm that the whole idea of subsidy is nothing but a bunch of lies and that there was nothing like subsidy, the Governor of Central Bank and other people not only said there was subsidy, but gave us the amount of subsidy they were spending. Now, they are quiet! Where are they now? Let them come and tell us who was getting the subsidy fund.

You create a system that allows people to become filthy rich for themselves, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. And now you say this system is only good because it is giving us an opportunity to be a welfare state or to expand the benefits of the oil revenue across the board, blabla bla! Now, the whole thing has proved to be a huge lie.

Minister of petroleum lied, Governor of Central Bank lied, resign? If you now go into the issue of printing the Naira, let me tell you, you will find there is a vested interest at work, either that of the Governor of the Central Bank, or somebody in the Presidency or somebody close to the Presidency or a big wig in the PDP. That is how the PDP runs itself.

Back to the question, don’t deceive yourself that these small boys, who came out of nowhere are going nowhere, as far as their individual achievements are concerned. When you want to address the whole issue, you should go and confront Ahmadu Ali, former chairman of the PDP now aspiring to be chairman of BOT go and attack the current Chairman of the PDP, Bamanga Tukur, and others like him. I know of a state nearby where one of Bamanga Tukur’s children went and got a contract, and when they were threatening to determine the contract, he started boasting that he was going to raise hell.

It is a PDP state and they went ahead to determine the contract and there was nothing the boy could do. But we are aware of efforts by Bamanga Tukur to undermine the governor, even though he could not succeed because the governor is independently powerful in his own right and has a base unlike Bamanga Tukur. Let us stop deceiving ourselves. These boys are running errands for their fathers and they are making money for their fathers. For all I care, if you are prosecuting a small boy, who cannot differentiate between his left and right, you are wasting your time.

If you want to prosecute, you go for the big guns and those of them involved in it should not only be prosecuted, they should leave the public positions they are holding. Ahmadu Ali’s son is one of the chairmen of a federal board or so. He should be asked to resign. If Ahmadu Ali is holding any position, he should be asked to resign. Bamanga Tukur too should go, I know their moves to get rid of him anyway, but that is not my point here. What I am saying is that he should be made to answer for his own indiscretion.

What is your response to the allegations against Chief Doyin Okupe, and the argument that he lacked the moral basis to hold public office because he failed to execute a particular contract in Benue State years ago?

It is very interesting. I knew of a time when Obasanjo wanted to physically assault him in the Presidency and there was a time in my presence, when Chief Okupe was being warned by the National Security Adviser, General Abdullahi Mohammed, that if he was not careful, he was not only going to get him sacked, but was going to jail him. He had described him in very tough words.

And if you know General Abdullahi Mohammed, he is very soft-spoken, a gentleman of very few words. For Okupe to really get him so enraged to respond in such a manner, it must have been a very serious offence. I was not surprised when some months after, Okupe was publicly sacked.

Addressing the question, this again is the issue of Nigeria and the PDP. There is no morality in their understanding of statecraft. Their philosophy is “never get caught”. Once you don’t get caught, there is no problem. That is the end of the story. If Okupe had kept his bloody mouth shut, perhaps, he would have gotten away with what he did. And many people perhaps, would have forgotten about it. This is one of those things you forget, like bad debts in the bank, under the PDP.

But Okupe found new confidence in his new role as a hired ‘attack dog” of the Presidency and the man who facilitated his getting that job was Reuben Abati. Reuben was never in the public life, he has never won an election and so he misadvised the president on that. But if the president was serious, it would have been difficult for like Reuben to mislead him.

And having misled him, and they were found out, Reuben should have thrown him out of the window with Doyin. But typical of the PDP, nothing is going to happen. Okupe will not be punished and that money will never be recovered and the people of Benue will suffer the loss.

Another interesting development is that the governor, who gave Okupe the contract, was then in the PDP and was a sitting governor of the party. Now, that governor is with the ACN and he now knows both sides of the equation. And that is why, for the first time in Okupe’s life, he is learning to keep quiet because everybody knows his background on this issue. But you did not need the latest scandal in Benue. There are, of course, other scandals around that fellow. That such a fellow has now gotten access to the president and is still working in the Presidency is, to me, the biggest disgrace in the way we run government in this country.

Different nationalities in Nigeria are on the march again for some form of self-determination. The South-West wants regionalism, and parliamentary system, some Northern states like Kano have coats of arm, in fact, are tracing and warming up their family roots with Niger Republic; the Ogonis are seeking self-determination just as Bakassi people wants independence. MOSSOP is making some noise, though they are not yet ready for a bloody noise. Where will all these take us?

These calls are not original. They are not inherent in these people. They are merely manifestations of a failed state and Nigeria is definitely a failed state under President Jonathan. What these people are saying is that they have had a raw deal. I am not sure about the Yoruba demand for an Oduduwa Republic, I don’t know. But others, yes, I have a feeling they have not been treated fairly by the Nigerian state. In a democracy, they have a right to agitate.

For all I care, when the states were created in 1967, most of the states had their own coats of arm. I remember General T. Y. Danjuma, then Chief of Army Staff, speaking on behalf of the Supreme Military Council, who said all these things should be swept aside and the idea of any state having its own coat of arms was not ideal for federalism. Now, the issues are coming back to light because politicians are looking for issues to raise and then blackmail the Federal Government. If you want to resolve the issue of people feeling alienated, do them justice. As long as there are injustices, there will be this kind of demands. The Ogoni secession thing is like a suicide. I think if they are determined to commit suicide, good luck to them.

The MASSOB people are a little more sensible, even though I don’t think they have been fairly treated, particularly by the police and the security services. But for whatever reason, I certainly will never support the idea of somebody creating trouble for other innocent people to die. The Nigeria Civil War cost the Igbo at least one million lives. I would hate to see a single soul killed in the name of agitation for either Oduduwa Republic or another Ogoni Declaration. If they play it on the pages of newspapers, fine. It may be fun, it may be a joke. But if they start taking arms and the Nigeria state comes with the Federal might to crush them, then they will have themselves to blame.

And I have no doubt in my mind that the one in the South West will remain on the pages of newspapers. I don’t believe the South-West people are serious, because if they start trouble and they have a head-on collision with the Nigeria State, they have a lot at stake because they are the most developed part of Nigeria. Lagos itself is 40 per cent of the Nigerian economy, and our GDP. And if you want to really mess up Lagos, just bomb one interception of the Third Mainland Bridge and the whole economy of Lagos will come crashing. Secondly, the South West, especially the Lagos economy, is not a productive economy. It is an economy mostly based on currency speculation.

Compare Lagos with what is happening in the so-called Niger Delta, especially Rivers, which is the most developed, you can see clearly that these are the people bearing the brunt of the ecological problems and this are the people enjoying the money and making noise about it.

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By Helen Ovbiagele

Tonight at midnight, Nigeria will clock 52! How time flies! A person of fifty-two is almost considered an elder in the society, not only because of the number of years he/she has clocked, but because of the presumed wisdom and experience he/she must have acquired to live a worthwhile life according to the person’s ability. When he/she speaks, both the older and younger people around listen, because he/she is worth listening to. Some are mentors to guide younger people into a well-adjusted adult life.

There are of course many nations in the world that are very much older than Nigeria in self-rule, some of which we look up to for guidance in development and good and workable governance, still, at 52, our country should be on the verge of being regarded a developed country.

It may have taken some developed countries centuries to get to the level they are now, but that was a time when the pace of development was slow. We are living in a fast moving world these days, so, Nigeria should get on board and move forward with the progressives, and not forever be mired in retarded growth.

At 52, should we roll out the drums and celebrate the success of that number of years of self-rule, or, do we mourn a once great and highly-respected nation with great potential, which is now sliding into the abyss of continuous non-performance?

Personally, I always feel sorry for those at the helm of affairs when our national day comes round. This is because they are usually in for more flak than praise. We hold up the slate listing all their failures and are hardly sympathetic enough to be fair and accord them praise where they deserve it.

I think it would be fair when we compare pre and post independence life in this country, to admit that not every government since independence has been a total failure, and there has been some progress in the lives of our citizens, though we lost out in some areas, such as good morals and discipline.

When we were under colonial rule, there was much poverty in the land, but people were not as greedy and discontented with life as they are today, so, the level of heinous crimes was low. Family ties were strong, and there was discipline that ensured that family members didn’t bring disgrace to their respective families.

Education and delivery of healthcare were more qualitative in pre-independence than now, even though we have more educational institutions and hospitals now than then. Children (and older people) were eager to learn then, and teachers took their job of imparting knowledge seriously, and teaching methods, though Spartan and laborious, were more effective than they are these days. The home and the school joined hands to raise worthy and disciplined citizens.

In the health sector, there was much discipline in the profession, and medical personnel were devoted to their calling, and faced squarely the challenges of the numerous diseases prevailing in the country. There were no fake drugs.

The quality of imported goods and those produced in the country was high, and compared well with those sold in Europe. Our environment was cleaner, as our rulers then appointed Sanitary Inspectors who went round to ensure that premises and public places were clean, and there was proper disposal of refuse. Sanitation all over the country is so incredibly poor now that it’s no surprise that there are outbreaks of one disease or the other at any given time.

However, there have been strides of progress since we assumed self-rule. Women are able to get as much education as they are capable of, and they can be found in most professions. We have more female lawyers, judges, and magistrates than many countries in the western world. Women occupy high positions both in the private sector and in civil service and government, by merit, and are proving their mettle.

We have embraced developed modern technology, and communication, internal and external is that much easier, to the relief of all. Our young people are becoming more enlightened as they can travel all over the world for business, education, etc.

Though our roads and transport system are bad, almost every family in the urban areas has access to a vehicle. We still import petroleum products and our refineries have problems almost all the time, but the country has not been brought to its knees yet. Security of lives and property is a very big problem which we have not been able to resolve, and this is proving a nightmare for citizens.

Now, Nigeria is not an easy country to rule, at any given time, so, let no-one think that he/she has the solutions to our myriad problems, and that if only he/she can get into the seat of governance, things would be fixed the right way. This is not possible. People who have believed this, found when they got to power, that they’re helpless in the face of our problems.

You may be an honest, capable person of integrity, who sincerely wants to turn this country around, and has the right ideas, but you can’t succeed without the help and cooperation of , not only your aides, but of every citizen of this country.

No-one can solve our problems solo, because it’s our attitude to life that is bringing this country to its knees. How? Our lust for power, our greed, selfishness and insatiable quest to be outrageously wealthy, are largely responsible. If you offer/ask for bribe for contracts or provision of services, you’re guilty. If you inflate contracts and overcharge the government, you’re guilty.

If you collect full payment for very shoddy government job done, you’re guilty. If you’re involved in any shady deal and criminal activity, you’re guilty. If you go to work late, and are never on seat to carry out well your assigned duty, you’re guilty. If you put the wrong people in power, you’re guilty. If you deliberately do things to hinder the performance of those in power, you’re guilty. Collectively, all these things contribute to the non-performance of any government in power, and retard the progress of the country.

The Bible and Christian leaders tell us that ‘Righteousness exalts a nation’. It isn’t the righteousness of only those in power, but the collective efforts of all of us, that can bring peace and progress to our nation. This is the only country most of us can call our own. If we want things to work, irrespective of the political party in power, we have to, abandon greed and self-interests and unite for peace and progress.

Yes, we can lift our glasses and celebrate our 52nd year of self-rule in a modest way, and pray for more patriotic and honest Nigerians, leaders, and better and peaceful times ahead. Things may be rough, but let’s do our bit from our corner, to ensure that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Cheers!

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By Justine John DYIKUK

Nigeria has been loosely or broadly segmented into North and South; no thanks to the colonial imperialists. The aim was simply to grease the erstwhile indirect rule system that later bore the golden goose, Nigeria, but whether she will lay the priceless egg is still very debatable. History shows that the indirect rule system suffered a deadly

blow in the South due to its failure to offer more convincing alternative than the established system that hitherto was in existence. The North conversely was the lucky bride as its romance with the colonialist enjoyed conjugal bliss of no small tasteful honey moon. This excited the local emirs who were already in place poised to facilitate “Divide and rule.”

The North as an entity is one of controversial commentaries as various sentiments often flow which always try to make a strict dichotomy between the ‘Core North’ and the unconstitutional ‘Middle Belt.’ Whatever the case is, the 19 Northern States as enshrined in the constitution reveals a journey from Benue to Borno, Sokoto to Kogi, Taraba to Katsina. Needless to point out that this enclave is blessed in so many ways. But if I may ask, what are the immense benefits of these endowments? This piece, therefore seeks to unravel how the North, which has been the envied darling of the nation, has now turned out to be so much of a burden to the rest of Nigeria; which is a sad irony to say the least. The writer in driving home the task at hand offers a ride through these tides which only those with objective and critical-optical lenses can view!

The Glorious Days of Yester Years

One recollects with nostalgia the wonderful and glorious days and years of this terrain. What readily comes to mind include: The erstwhile green revolution and agricultural boom with the famous groundnut pyramids of Kano and the rich plus robust livestock along the length and breadth of the North providing hides and skin for shoe making, bags, mats to mention but a few.

Tin mining in Jos, capital of the then Benue-Plateau exposed the natural weather and platonic formations that attracted locals and foreigners to work, commercialize and be domicile on the Plateau. The one-time ‘Jos Tin City buses’ created added comfort to residents. The textile industrie(s) situated in Kaduna, a Northern City unrivalled as regards federal presence, are sweet thoughts to recall!

The functionality of the Railway system not only connected the North and the South but enhanced a smooth voyage through the Northern States. Thus, journeying from Port Harcourt through Abba, Umuahia to Otukpo, Makurdi, Abuja, Kafanchan to Bukuru, Jos, would lead one up to Zaria and Kaura Namuda.

Trading was at its peak because there was some kind of free market around the area. Notable commercial towns were Jos, (Plateau), Kano and Kaduna. The relics of the extinguished ‘Jos Main Market’ speak volume of the time in question. Kano was warming up to become the commercial nerve center of Northern Nigeria as later events would show. Little wonder then, it is nicknamed tumbin giwa, which literary means, elephant’s stomach, because of its receptive and cosmopolitan nature!

The peoples of the North are blessed with various tribes and dialects; however, Hausa seems a major lingua franca. Whether imposed or freely accepted, this made for free communication and easy trading. As to this being later used as a tool for oppression and seeming domination by the Hausa/Fulani over other major tribes like Tiv, Chamba, Jukun, Ngas, Birom, Bare Bare, Gwarri to mention some, future unpalatable events were to show.

One might be lost in the litany of accolades this territory has achieved over time but recent events have often pitched their tents against seeming strides in the past. Where did the North go wrong? Is the existence the North alongside other parts of Nigeria throughout these 52 years of independence a blessing or curse?

The Sudden Soar Story

Various national/international social commentators have often bared their minds either in public or private on the twist of events in the North. Seminars, symposia and lectures have been held; papers, editorial/articles have been written; all in an attempt to trace the root of the problems deviling the North at a time it should be exploiting its potentials and showcasing them to the rest of Nigeria and the world. One of such brainstorming sessions for a better future was organized by the Arewa Youth Forum on 7th December 2011, in the ancient city of Kaduna, the then headquarters of Northern Nigeria. The choice of the venue was probably to underscore the philosophy and the importance of the meeting. It needs to be pointed out that the meeting was just one of the many organized by the Arewa Consultative Forum which some Middle Belters conceive as budurwan wawa, a fool’s bride; as it relates to them because it is perceived as being used as a political tool for maintaining the monolithic North.

The economic fortunes of the North in her majesty took a nose drive when a vast population embraced laziness, mediocrity and complacency. The air of an attitude of indolence and looking up to some rich or bourgeois Alhaji for one’s daily bread perhaps a hangover of the indirect rule system seems to make sway. At morning or evenings, it is typical to see a bee of almajiri or lousy and idling youths moving from house to house begging and praise-singing in the house of the so-called elite whose children are either studying in Oxford or Cambridge. Employing these directionless youth as political thugs is as easy as taking Fanta.

In the face of rising consumerism that typifies capitalist societies, insecurity started rearing its ugly head when local armed bandits went unchecked. These metamorphosed into full-blown armed robbery; thuggery and religious fanaticism that got clandestine support from ‘the high and mighty’ whose stock in trade is the sustenance of violence and terrorism, typical of the medieval era that glorifies instability and marginalization. Their targets have being basically, military formations and other security apparatus, schools, financial institutions, places of worship, perceived ‘foreigners’ and most recently, telecommunication installations. To say the least, the endless ethno or socio-political cum religious crises that have beset this region is nothing other than a human catastrophe.

Mutual suspicion, acrimony and aversion wrought by the Hausa/Fulani hegemony over and above other Northern tribes and the much talked about indigene and settler problem are major points which soared the apple of peace and concord.

The inordinate quest for power, its eventual loss by Northern power players who have milked Nigeria’s fatted calf for decades and an attempt to retain political leadership to the section belong to woes that have brought us were we are. Political statements of prominent Northern politicians before and after the post-election violence as well as intrigues of the ‘warm-up’ for 2015 lend credence to this fact. “If Yar’adua had lived and gone on to serve until 2015, that would have made for 43 years out of Nigeria’s independence, or fully 78% of the whole period of nationhood. Well, fate intervened in May last (2011-addition mine), and one thing led to another, until we are where we are today. From cries against “Northern domination” only a short while ago, here we are, with Northerners crying “short change!” and “marginalization!” to high heavens.” (Cf., Mahmud Jega., Introduction to Special Section on the North: Many big problems, but the seeds of the solution too, in Daily Trust, Friday 29 2011).

Implication(s)

There implication of these inglorious activities in the North by Northerners is, for the North, nonsensical and I make bold to opine, to the rest of Nigeria, a nuisance! Perhaps the biblical injunction “to whom much is given, much is expected” has been given a deaf ear. One would have not only imagined but expected the North to emerge strong and elegant after all these years of slurping the nation’s ‘milk and honey.’ Will hiding its head in shame surface? Far from it!

Suffice it to orate that a major implication of the appalling situation of things in the North is the relocation of individuals, goods and services by both foreigners and Southerners to the South as we are already witnessing. Kano, the North’s own ‘Lagos’ is gradually becoming a shadow of itself in terms of commercial activities.

A follow up from the above is the likelihood for Northerners living and working in the South to be marginalized, stigmatized/labeled or even attacked, as it has happened in the past. This maltreatment in place, federal character, national unity and integrity is put at a stand-still. What becomes of professionalism and the principles of the federal character commission?

As schools and students are targets of bombings and elimination, one does not foresee academics emerging from this part of the country especially in terms of quality and quantity. It implies that the North, compared to the South will be hundred years backward. One is not surprised at the submission of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, the Most Rev. Matthew Kukah at a Nigerian Leadership Initiative Lecture in Abuja that, the reality catching up with the north is underdevelopment. Would we continue to glory over the feasts of the, Sardauanas, Kukahs (Bishop), Jegas, Angos, etcetera? What shall we offer our mother at 52?

The North’s Gift to Nigeria at 52…

As the former EFCC boss, Mallam Nuhu Ribdu would say concerning the North, “…We have new challenges that require new approaches and solutions.” (Cf., Mallam Nuhu Ribadu., December 7, 2011, InNews). We may have been wayward sons and daughters yet our mother beckons her children to rise up to the occasion. The past may have been miserable – the future holds keys to unlocking impossibilities. If complacency is shown the exit door and our people eschew ingenuity and industriousness, the road to success may not be impossible to thread. Being self-less, patriotic and daring about life’s challenges will engender growth and productivity.

Realizing that no progress can be achieved without peace, our people and leaders must learn to preach peace and peaceful co-existence. Mutual respect for the other person’s tribe, culture, religion, political persuasion, civilization and mentality is paramount. All must sheath their swords to embrace dialogue and reconciliation. So long as the North remains as North, we must learn to accept to live in peace and seek constitutional means to settle our squabbles.

We owe Nigeria peace, progress and stability for her to be rated high among the League of Nations. Father and son, mother and daughter, auntie and uncle; business tycoon and politician, traditional/religious and political leaders, military and paramilitary, captains of industry and civil servants must rise up to present a befitting gift to our Dear Nation at 52. If yours doesn’t build up, let it not destroy. Happy Independence, in advance, Nigeria at 52!

Fr. Justine John DYIKUK, a Catholic Priest, Freelance writer/poet and Public Affairs Commentator writes from CIWA, Port Harcourt, Rivers State!

Emails: justdyik@yahoo.com or justinejohndyikuk@gmail.com

You can follow me on Twitter: @just4realsquare

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By Muhammad Ajah

I look on to that day

When Nigeria, growing older

From strength to strength

Stabilizes in peace, unity and fraternity

I look on to that day

The struggle for leadership, so long hard

Will be connected to service, not mere grammar

For only the disinterested

I look on to that day

When corruption will be buried

In Service and penalties aptly imposed

Without a look on the face or post

I look on to that day

Nigerians will march on one footing

Against misrule and the leadership fears

The angry protest of a single commoner

I look on to that day

A Yoruba mother will tell her child

The beauties in a Hausa damsel

And the dexterity of an Igbo chap

I look on to that day

The blood of an Igbo man or the Kalabari

Will be Haram in the city centres

Of Kano, Maiduguri and Ogbosho

I look on to that day

The yell of a Christian in Yankari

And the trauma of a Muslim in Afikpo

Will be a history

I look on to that day

A pastor will tell his followers

The goodness of an Imam

And Imam, God’s words in the Bible

I look on to that day

When a child from the Mosque

Leads Abia, and a Christian child

Leads Katsina with the merit of citizenship

I look on to that day

Abuja and Lagos will become

Everywhere in this nation

Even if only in the capitals

I look on to that day

Though, as were, peace isn’t wholesome

In a single man, family or society

We live together without suspicion, fear or rancor

I look on to that day

How long! Will it eventually come?

Nay, only a living desires and hopes

And God’s beside the hopeful, the hopeless

I look on to that day

Our hopes will no longer be dashed by ourselves

But that we hold on to the truth

And make this nation the desire of every living being.

I look on to that day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Muhammad Ajah, is a poet, author, advocate of good governance and humanity E-mail: mobahawwah@yahoo.co.uk

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A Thisday Report|amebo|burningpot

Apparently, the lives of children whose parents shaped Nigeria’s politics before and after the independence typify the abruptness that characterised the termination of the First Republic. For the families of such politicians it was mostly not a case of chips off the old block. This is understandable. The First Republic evokes much unpleasant memories, especially for families that experienced its tragic unravelling first hand. The surprise that the children of the First Republic politicians do not occupy offices that inevitably thrusts them onto national consciousness is in part shaped by today’s decadent tendency where holders of public office have no qualms appropriating the country’s common wealth to benefit their families at the expense of the masses. On this note, Nigeria’s early politicians boast an inimitable record. Indeed, their selflessness is underscored by the fact they had not given an undue social advantage to their children. The simplicity of their lives and the tolerant values apparent in their politics reflect also in the lives of their children who do not seem obsessed with the influence that power confers. These families do not pine for the lost privileges; they are simply contented with their simple – but no less edifying – pursuits. But there is one unmistakable point: the common shock they feel about the huge contrast between the people’s living standard when their parents held sway and the present situation. As the nation marks its 52nd independence anniversary on Monday, THISDAY went in search of the children of these nationalists. Where are they now? What are they into? For those who took after their fathers in politics, how successful have they been? YEMI ADEBOWALE, EMMANUEL UGWU, OMON-JULIUS ONABU, SHOLA OYEYIPO and ADIBE EMENYONU dig in

Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was the only Prime Minister of an independent Nigeria. Together with Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, who held the hereditary title of Sardauna of Sokoto, he founded the Northern People’s Congress. In 1957, he was elected Chief Minister, forming a coalition government between the NPC and the NCNC led by Nnamdi Azikiwe. He retained the post as Prime Minister when Nigeria gained independence in 1960, and was re-elected in 1964. He was overthrown and murdered in a failed military coup on January 15, 1966. None of his children is into politics. However, his first child, Mukhtar, was visible during the Obasanjo administration. Between 1999 and 2003, Mukhtar served as special adviser to Obasanjo. He is at present, the director-general of the National Poverty Eradication Programme. He says he and his siblings are not into politics because “one has to be a very rich man to play politics in Nigeria”.

Nnamdi Azikiwe
Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe (November 16, 1904 – May 11, 1996) popularly known as “Zik”, was one of the leading figures of modern Nigeria nationalism. He became the first President of Nigeria after independence in 1960; holding the presidency throughout the Nigerian First Republic. In 1954, he became the Premier of the Eastern Region. On November 16, 1960, he became the Governor General. With the proclamation of a republic in 1963, he became the first President of Nigeria. His first son is Chief Chukwuma Bamidele Azikiwe, the present Owelle of Onitsha. At a point, Bamidele was appointed an ambassador. But none of his children is into politics.

Obafemi Awolowo
Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo (March 6, 1909 – May 9, 1987) was one of Nigeria’s founding fathers and founder of the Action Group. He represented the Western Region in all the constitutional conferences intended to advance Nigeria on the path to independence. He was the first Leader of Government Business and Minister of Local Government and Finance and first Premier of the Western Region. Awolowo was the official leader of the opposition in the federal parliament to the Balewa government from 1959 to 1963. None of his children is into politics. His second son, Oluwole runs the Tribune Newspapers. His daughter, Tokunboh Awolowo-Dosunmu was once an ambassador.

Shehu Shagari
Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, Turakin Sakkwato (born February 25, 1925) was an active member of the NPC in the first Republic. He was a minister in the Balewa government. He also served as the President of Nigeria in the second republic (1979–1983). One of his children, Aminu Shehu Shagari is active in politics. Aminu is a member of the current House of Representatives on the platform of the PDP. His most visible son is Captain Bala Shagari who was retired from the military after the Buhari coup in 1983. Bala is not into politics.

Kingsley Mbadiwe
Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe (1915-1990) was a nationalist, politician, statesman and former minister. In 1951, he was elected into the Eastern Region House of Assembly; he was re-elected in 1954, and made minister for Lands and National Resources. In 1957, he was made the Minister for Commerce. However, his political success was to undergo a great challenge when in mid-1958 he and Kola Balogun attempted to remove Zik as the leader of NCNC. Both of them failed and were removed from the party. He later re-joined the party and was appointed Minister for Trade and Communications. He also served as a special adviser to Balewa, advising on African affairs, though his role in foreign policy formation was limited. He had six children namely Betty, Greg, Paul, Chris, George, and Francis. Greg, the most visible of the children was at some point, the Chairman of the Federal Road safety Commission. He is a member of the PDP.

Dr Michael Okpara
Michael Okpara (December 1920-December 17, 1984) was Premier of Eastern Nigeria during the First Republic. Okpara was, at 39, the nation’s youngest Premier. After the granting of internal self-rule in 1952, he was elected into the Eastern Nigerian House of Assembly on the NCNC platform. Between 1952 and 1959 he held various cabinet positions in Eastern Nigeria, ranging from Minister of Health to Minister of Agriculture and Production. In 1953, when NCNC legislators revolted against the party leadership, he remained loyal and joined forces with Dr. Azikiwe. In November 1960, when Dr. Azikiwe left active politics to become Nigeria’s first African Governor-General, Dr. Okpara was elected leader of the NCNC. His most visible son in politics is Uzodinma Okpara. Uzodinma adopted the name Ome ka nna ya (one who acts like his own father) when he was gunning to be the governor of Abia State in 2007. But that was as far as he could go in his foray into politics. He could not match the political prowess of his father, who was among the pillars of the NCNC. Uzodinma, who is the second child of the late politician came into political limelight in Abia State when he was made the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2002 during the crisis that hit the party in the run up to the second tenure ambition of Dr Orji Uzor Kalu. After the 2003 general elections he lost the chairmanship of the party in the unending internal crisis and it was a matter of time before he left the PDP. Before the 2007 general elections Okpara had pitched his tent with the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). He eventually became the gubernatorial candidate of APGA but came a distant fourth in the poll and challenged the outcome in the election petition tribunal and lost. Okpara has since returned to PDP, combining politics with his private business, perhaps waiting for a time he would finally live up to the political name of his late father, who was fondly called “Mike Power” because of his political sagacity.

Remi Fani-Kayode
Remi- Fani-Kayode was deputy premier of the defunct Western Region. He combined the position with that of a regional minister. The successful moving of the motion for Nigeria’s independence did not take place until August 1958 and this was done by Fani- Power as he was well known then. His motion was not only passed by Parliament but it was also acquiesced to by the British. His motion had called for independence to be granted to Nigeria on April 2, 1960. Though, it was passed by Parliament and acquiesced to by the British a slight amendment proposing that the month of independence should be moved from April 2 to October 1 was proposed by a fourth motion to Parliament by Balewa in 1959 and it was passed. The most visible of his children is Femi, who was very active during the Obasanjo regime – 1999 to 2007. He was minister. At a point, Femi was in the race for the governorship of Osun State. The eldest Child of Remi Power was Rotimi (an artist) who died in 1989. The second child, Akinola is a lawyer. Two others (females) Toyin and Tolu live abroad.

Musa Yar’Adua
Late Musa Yar’Adua was a former Minister for Lagos during the First Republic and an active member of the NPC. He held the royal title of Mutawalli (custodian of the treasury) of the Katsina Emirate. Two of his children – late Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and late Umaru Yar’Adua took after their father in politics. When Obasanjo was military head of state from 1976 until 1979, Shehu was his Vice President. He was sentenced to life in prison by a military tribunal in 1995, after calling on late General Sani Abacha and his Provisional Ruling Council to re-establish civilian rule. He died in captivity on December 8, 1997. Shehu was the leading figure behind the political movement called the Peoples Democratic Movement.
His younger brother, Umaru was the President of Nigeria and the 13th Head of State. He served as governor of Katsina State from 29 May 1999 to 28 May 2007. He emerged president in 2007. In 2009, Yar’Adua left for Saudi Arabia to receive treatment for pericarditis. He returned to Nigeria in 2010, where he died on 5 May.

Anthony Enahoro
Chief Anthony Enahoro (22 July 1923 – 15 December 2010) was Nigeria’s foremost anti-colonial and pro-democracy activists. Enahoro had a long and distinguished career in the press, politics, the civil service and the pro-democracy movement. Enahoro became the editor of Ziks’s newspaper, the Southern Nigerian Defender in 1944 at the age of 21, thus becoming Nigeria’s youngest editor ever. As a student then at the famous Kings College, Enahoro plunged into the Nigerian turbulent liberation struggle against colonial rule in the early 1940s, leading to student revolts at the college, in Lagos In 1953, Enahoro became the first to move the motion for Nigeria’s independence. As a result, he is widely regarded by academics and many Nigerians as the father of “Nigeria State.” Though, his motion was rejected by Parliament and the northern MP’s staged a walkout, the motion had a big impact on the colonial government. Despite his huge impact in Nigerian politics, none of his children has shown interest in politics. Ken, the eldest child says he and his siblings are not into politics because “it is a dirty game in Nigeria.” Enahoro’s children are all into one form of business or the other.

Richard Akinjide
Richard Akinjide was minister of education in the government of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa during the second republic. Jumoke Akinjide is the most visible of his children. She was appointed FCT minister by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011.

Joseph Osuntokun
Joseph Osuntokun was an active member of the Action Group in the defunct western region and at a point, the regional minister for education. His most visible son in politics is Akin Osuntokun. Akin was at a point, the political adviser to Obasanjo. He was also the managing director of the News Agency of Nigeria. He also briefly showed interest in becoming Ondo State governor in 2007.

Kola Balogun
Late Chief Kola Balogun who died in 2002 was one of Nigeria’s most charismatic politicians of the fifties and sixties. Although an NCNC (National Council of Nigerian Citizens) loyalist and a political son of the late Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kola Balogun was nevertheless seen and regarded as a progressive politician throughout his career. At a point, he was a regional minister in the defunct Western Region. None of his children is into active politics. However, the most visible of his children is Stephen, who was invited home from the United Kingdom last year by the Rauf Aregbesola administration in Osun State. Stephen was appointed commissioner for Youths and Sports.

Ibrahim Imam
Ibrahim Imam (1916 – April 1980), a Kanuri politician from Borno, was the secretary of the Northern People’s Congress and later became a patron of the Borno Youth Movement. He was elected into the Northern House of Assembly in 1961. At the inception of the NPC, which later became the dominant party in the North, he was the party’s secretary-general; he joined a large number of his colleagues from the regional house who enlisted on the political platform of the new NPC. His son, Kashim Ibrahim-Imam is active in today’s politics. He was twice the People’s Democratic Party’s candidate for governor of Borno State in 2003 and 2007, losing both times. During the short-lived Nigerian Third Republic Kashim was Borno State chairman of the National Republican Convention. Kashim was appointed Presidential Liaison Officer to the Senate at the start of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration in 1999.

Solomon Lar
Chief Solomon Lar was a member of the first national parliament when Nigeria gained independence in 1960. He was elected to the Federal Parliament on the platform of United Middle Belt Congress. He was re-elected in 1964, and from then until 15 January 1966, when General Yakubu Gowon took power in a coup, Lar was parliamentary secretary to Balewa. He was also a Junior Minister in the Federal Ministry of establishments. His daughter, Beni is the only child that has taken after him in politics. She has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2007, under the platform of the Political Party: Peoples Democratic Party. Beni, a law graduate represents Langtang North/Langtang South. She is the Chairman of the House Committee on Human Rights. During the Obasanjo regime, Beni was Special Assistant to the President on Women Affairs.

Samuel Imoke
Dr. Samuel Imoke was a medical doctor who became a cabinet minister and leader of parliament in the former Eastern Region. In the period leading to Nigeria’s independence, he was an ally of Zik and a key member of the NCNC. The most visible of his children is Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State. Liyel was elected governor in 2007. He is a member of the PDP. In 1992, Liyel was elected a Senator at the age of 30 during the Ibrahim Babangida transition government. His term ended with the dissolution of the government in November 1993 by the military regime headed by late Abacha. In 1999, he was appointed a Special Adviser on Public Utilities by Obasanjo.

Festus Okotie-Eboh
Festus Okotie-Eboh (1919-1966) was former minister for finance during the Balewa administration. In 1951, after some influence from Azikiwe, he contested for a seat and was elected into the western region House of Assembly. In 1954, he was elected treasurer of the NCNC. In 1957, was made Minister of Finance. Okotie-Eboh was assassinated along with Balewa in the January 15, 1966 military coup. One of his children – Adolo is active in politics. Adolo is the incumbent chairman of the Delta State chapter Action Congress of Nigeria. His brother, Ben is not into politics. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Crown FM Radio, Warri, Delta State.

Raymond Njoku
Late Raymond Amanze Njoku was minister for Transport in the Balewa administration. He was Vice President NCNC. Njoku contested for a regional seat in 1951, but was unsuccessful. However, in 1954, he was elected to the Federal House of Representative. He was appointed cabinet minister: Commerce & Industry, Transport & Aviation 1954- 1966. The final and definitive motion for Nigeria’s independence on 1 October 1960 was moved by Balewa and endorsed by Njoku, his cabinet colleague. None of his children is into politics. His only visible son is Tony Njoku, who is a Lagos-based businessman

Akanu Ibiam
Late Dr. Akanu Ibiam worked with Zik in the NCNC in the quest for Nigeria’s independence. After Nigeria gained independence in 1960, he was appointed governor of Eastern Region, holding office until the military coup of 15 January 1966. He was also the traditional ruler of his native Unwana-Afikpo. Ibiam died in December 1995. He had three children. They include: Alu Ibiam (MON), traditional ruler of Unwana-Afikpo, Ebonyi State; Tolulope Tasie, 69, (Nee Ibiam), a Port Harcourt-based medical doctor and Akaa Ibiam, 65, the only son, a retired mechanical engineer from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. None of the children is into in politics.

John Ugwuamakofia Nwodo
Nwodo was a member of the defunct Eastern Regional House of Assembly who later became regional minister of Commerce and Industry under Okpara and later a Minister of Local Government. He was the patriarch of the Nwodo family of Ukehe, near Nsukka, Enugu State. Three of his children are into politics and have held key positions in government. This was started by the appointment of his third son, John Nnia Nwodo (Jnr) as a minister in the Second Republic under Shehu Shagari and again a minister (information) during the military government of General Abdulsalam Abubakar. The second son, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, became the governor of Enugu State during Ibrahim Babangida’s botched transition and later became the first national secretary of the ruling PDP. Okwesilieze also contested the Nsukka senatorial seat in 2003 on the platform of ANPP, but lost to Senator Fidelis Okoro of the PDP. The first son, Dr. Joe, was in the race for the governorship of Enugu before he was stopped by Babangida, the family’s benefactor, as a result of the fierce contest between him and his rival, Hyde Onuaguluchi. He was immediately replaced by his younger brother, Okwesilieze. Joe went further to contest the presidential primaries of the then National Republican Convention but came second after Bashir Tofa, who picked the ticket. The Nwodo sisters are not left out in the dynasty. One of them was elected senator in Delta State, her marital home, during the Babangida’s botched transition. Their eldest sister, Mrs. Grace Obayi, has held positions as a commissioner in various administrations of Enugu and old Anambra State. And the trend has continued thereafter such that no matter the dispensation, there must be at least one Nwodo in that set up either at the state level or at the federal level.

Okupe M.A
Late M.A Okupe was the main financial backer of Awolowo and his Action Group. He was also the first Nigerian to own a bank – Agbomagbe Bank. Okupe later fell out with Awolowo and teamed up with Akintola. His most visible son in politics is Doyin Okupe who is at present the Special Assistant, Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan. Doyin also worked with Obasanjo as special adviser, media.

Musa Daggash
Musa Daggash was an active member of the NPC and very close to late Sir Ahmadu Bello. Musa later became a minister in the Balewa government. His son, Mohammed Sanusi Daggash was elected a member of the National House of Representatives in 1999, and became Senator for Borno North in 2003. Late President Yar’Adua appointed him Minister for the National Planning in 2007, and relieved him of his post in October 2008. He was again re-appointed as Minister for Works in April 2010 by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan.

Matthew Mbu
Late Matthew Mbu was an active NCNC politician, diplomat, and a regular face in Nigerian political affairs for more than fifty years. His son, Matthew Mbu Junior was elected Senator for the Cross River Central constituency in 1999 on the platform of the PDP.

Samuel Ladoke Akintola
He was premier of the defunct Western Region and one of the founding fathers of modern Nigeria. After he was trained as a lawyer in the United Kingdom, Akintola returned to Nigeria in 1949 and teamed up with other educated Nigerians from the western region to form AG under the leadership of Awolowo. He later fell out with Awolowo. This led to the 1962 crisis in western region. He was one of the leading figures killed during the January 1966 coup. Akintola had five children, two of whom were later to become finance ministers in the third Republic – Chief Yomi Akintola and Dr Bimbo Akintola. Yomi served as Nigeria’s Ambassador to Hungary and Samuel Akinola’s daughter-in-law, Mrs. Dupe Akintola was Nigeria’s High Commissioner in Jamaica. His fourth child, Chief Victor Ladipo Akintola, dedicated much of his life to ensuring the continued accurate accounting of Samuel Akinola’s contributions to Nigeria’s position on the world stage. He published many works including a biography that highlighted his fathers love of his country and lifelong commitment to its progression (Akintola: The Man and the Legend). Akintola’s youngest son, the late Tokunbo Akintola, was the first black schoolboy at Eton College, United Kingdom, enrolling two terms prior to the arrival of Dilibe Onyeama (author of Nigger at Eton).

Sunday Awoniyi
Sunday Bolorunduro Awoniyi was a Private Secretary to late Sardauna of Sokoto. After independence in 1960, he held several posts in the Northern Regional Government, including that of Secretary to the Executive Council, where he worked with the Sardauna. Awoniyi held Sardauna as a symbol of good governance, and was known as “Sardauna Keremi”, or “little Sardauna”. His third child Abayomi Awoniyi is currently Kogi State deputy governor. In a chat with THISDAY, Yomi said: “My foray into politics is as a result of my father’s passion for Nigeria. He loved the country so much. He was passionate about the well-being of everyone.”

Daniel Okumagba
Late Chief Daniel Okumagba was an active member of the Action Group in the first republic. Albert Egbaroghene Okumagba is one of those who have successfully toed the line of their fathers in active politics. Albert, who is also the chairman of the BGL group was governorship aspirant in Delta State in 2007 under the platform of the PDP. His brother, Benard is also a member of the PDP. He is a member of the Delta State executive council and current Delta State Commissioner for Economic Planning.

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By Farooq Kperogi

I lived in Abuja for many years before relocating to the United States, but it was only during my last summer vacation in Nigeria that it struck me that a major street in the highbrow Maitama District of Abuja is named after Mississippi, the southern US state that became globally notorious for its murderous negrophobia in the 1950s and the 1960s.

Although Mississippi has always been steeped in deep-seated anti-black racism from almost its founding (it was the second state to secede from the United States in the 1860s on account of slavery) it was the brutal, cold-blooded murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955 by two negrophobic white brutes that first brought the plight black people in that state to the forefront of global consciousness. Till’s offense was that he jokingly made a pass at a white woman! The murderers were caught but an all-white jury found them not guilty.

In the same 1955, two African American activists, identified as Lamar Smith and Reverend George Lee, were cruelly slaughtered by white racists because they campaigned to get black people the right to vote.

And in 1964, Mississippi made headlines again when one African-American activist and two white American campaigners of civil rights for black Americans were murdered because they dared to investigate the willful burning of a black church. The murderers were never brought to justice.

The latest was the June 26, 2011 murder of a 49-year-old African-American man by two white teens who first said “Let’s go f**k with some niggers” and “White Power” before running over the man with a truck. The man didn’t do anything to them. They just randomly picked on him and murdered him for fun. After the man was crushed to death, one the murderers bragged:”I ran that nigger over!” Unfortunately for them, all this was captured on security cameras.

Because of these and many more anti-black racist incidents too numerous to mention here, Mississippi has a terrible reputation as the graveyard for black people in America. It is also, by almost every index, America’s most backward state. It is America’s least educated, most racist, most obese,etc. state. As you can imagine, it’s the butt of jokes and the object of snide remarks here.

I recall that years ago when I told one of my liberal white American friends that I wanted to apply to a Mississippi university for my Ph.D., he looked me straight in the face and said, “Are you out of your mind? Mississippi is America’s most racist state and, as a foreign-born black man, that place would be hell for you, I tell ya.”

I have read about Mississippi since my undergraduate days in Nigeria and always thought it was an inhospitable place for a black person, but I didn’t believe my friend. I told him he was being overdramatic and that he was stereotyping an entire state on account of the misdeeds of a few people. As a media scholar and one who embodies identities that are often the object of vicious attacks and inaccurate stereotypes, I am always leery of any blanket condemnation of a people.

When in May this year a friend of mine invited me and my daughter to attend her sister’s graduation at the Mississippi State University, I accepted her invitation with an open mind. But I couldn’t help thinking that I was going to some horrible place.

I had travelled through Mississippi before, but I had never visited it for an extended period. Now I would have an opportunity to relate with some Mississippians outside the mediation of a predominantly northern media formation, snotty white liberals, and hypersensitive American blacks—or so I thought.

Unfortunately, my experiences in Starkville, Mississippi, (the city where Mississippi State University is located) worked to give comfort to the stereotype of a racist, negrophobic, unkind Mississippi. First, everyone in the town, especially African Americans, appeared to be depressed. The ambience of the city itself inspires languor and sadness. (That was the effect that Jackson, Mississippi’s capital city, had on me when I drove through it in 2005). And I didn’t see blacks and whites mixing as freely as I see them they do in the places I’ve lived and visited here.

I had my first taste of “Mississippian racism” when an elderly white woman that I and another Nigerian met in the hotel elevator asked us if we were janitors, that is, people employed to clean the building. She had no reason to ask us that. She probably just wanted to denigrate us. Or perhaps she didn’t think, as black people, we deserved to lodge in a hotel as expensive as the hotel we were in. But I didn’t get angry.

“No, ma’am, we are not janitors,” I said. “We are guests.” She felt ashamed and started apologizing profusely. She said she mistook us for janitors because we were holding keys, car keys! I didn’t know what to make of that. But I didn’t judge the whole people of the city on account of one old lady.

Then when we drove to the venue of the graduation ceremony, we discovered that a campus traffic cop stood by the closest entrance to the hall where the graduation was taking place. He allowed some vehicles to pass through the entrance and disallowed others. It turned out that every car he disallowed had black drivers and passengers in them. He never disallowed any white driver who asked to go through the entrance. When I told my friend, she stopped to observe and realized that my observation was accurate. She was so enraged that she wanted to confront the man. I talked her out of it.

In sum, my experience in Starkville wasn’t pleasant. University towns are often some of the most liberal and welcoming towns in America. So I said to myself: if race relation is this strained in a college town, how would it be in the rural areas that are notorious for their xenophobia? Well, I am still careful not to judge an entire state on account of my experience in one city.

However, when I went to Nigeria this summer and discovered that one of the most conspicuous streets in Abuja is named after Mississippi, I couldn’t help wondering: “why Mississippi street in Abuja”? I became even more curious when I discovered that no other American state is named after a street in Abuja.

Have we run out of names to give streets in Abuja? Even if we have, what connection does Mississippi, a state that has a history and present of oppressing black people, have with Nigeria, the most populous black nation on earth? Somebody, help me!

http://weeklytrust.com.ng/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10652:whats-a-mississippi-street-doing-in-abuja&catid=50:notes-from-atlanta&Itemid=146

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By Chioma Gabriel
Okonta still remembers that morning when a neighbour rushed to the colonial residence of Dr. Harrison at Ikoyi, Lagos, where he worked to announce to him that his wife Mariana had been delivered of a bouncing baby boy. Okonta was dressed in his well- starched khaki uniform in the colonial house when the cheery news got to him.

He made merry and entertained his friends to celebrate the birth of his son and named him Harrison after the whiteman in whose household he served as a servant.

The birth of his only son coincided with the celebration of Nigeria’s independence on October 1, 1960.

Today, Harrison is 52 years and lives in Lagos. He has no regular job after graduating from the university several years ago.

He had tried to sustain himself as a self-employed businessman but his business at Tincan Island suffered from excess custom duties and multiple taxations. Harrison couldn’t cope with the blows that fate had severally dealt on him. At 52, he has no house he could call his own.

He has no regular means of livelihood despite his B.SC in Business Administration and Masters Degrees in two other Disciplines. He has no home and has transversed severally between being an okada rider and a tricycle driver. On many occasions , he has served as a bus conductor and the finesse he acquired through education has given way to a crude, frustrated, middle-aged man.

But Harrison Ogbonna is not the only Nigerian whom fate has dealt with badly. Across the 36 States of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory, there are many Harrisons who have been battered by fate but only few were able to make a success story from the school of hard-knocks.

The above story sounds like the typical Nigerian story. From what they taught us in history, the pathway to Nigeria’s 52 years of independence was littered with broken promises.

Nigerians are people suffering from battered egos and damaged psyche. Ab initio, our leaders had envisaged prosperity for the country, given the country’s enormous resources but that had been mere dreams. As a nation very rich in oil resources, we have receded from oil boom to oil doom. Nigeria has become a giant with mosquito legs.

The elders of the country left good legacies. But their successors could not match the strength of the sages.

Sir Ahmadu Bello, former Premier of Northern Nigeria at our independence in 1960 said that the freedom of Nigeria from British rule is not the freedom of the jungle, where might is right.

“We are not free to molest others less strong than ourselves or to trample on their rights simply because we are in a position of authority over them. Independence brings with it heavier and new responsibilities.

The eyes of the world are on Nigeria now and there are many friends who hope that we shall be the leading nation in Africa. Let us say with all emphasis at my command that we shall never attain this goal if there is suspicion and mistrust among the peoples of Nigeria.

Such an attitude cannot benefit anyone and can easily lead to strife as has been the painful experience of other independent nations in Africa and elsewhere.”

It is obvious that Nigerians of today never heeded the wisdom of the sages . In today’s Nigeria, deceit holds sway ! Almost every year, we lament our situation , wondering if achieving nationhood is such an unrealistic and unworkable project.

From all indications, many have come to accept the reality that ours is a society where the morons are the barons; a society where thieves are kings; a society where the monkey works and the baboon chops; a society where might is right and injustice the order of the day.

Today, ours is a kingdom against itself. Things are falling apart and the centre can barely hold. Anarchy appears to have let loose upon the nation. Insecurity, corruption in high places and other vices are building strongholds. These are felt in every facet of our daily life.

For years, we keep questioning ourselves about what went wrong with our country but each year, the questions increase but there are less answers. We are forever preoccupied with how to redesign the Nigerian project after 52 years of self-governance because of the folly and greed of those who took over the affairs of modern Nigeria.

Beginning from 1966, the country recorded eight military regimes. The final military regime left power on May 29, 1999 in between interjections of civilian regimes.

The military government came to power in pretence of restoring sanity in government but today, Nigerians know better.

Celebrating Nigeria at 52 is only to fulfill all righteousness. At least, the country has been able to sustain civilian government without interruption of the military government since 1999. With her avalanche of social economic cum political challenges, the country is still rated as a major key player in the global economy.

The present Nigerian leaders should see this independence celebration as time to reflect on our past so as focus on the political emancipation of the country; restore security and the confidence of the populace.

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2012/09/nigeria-at-52-a-city-set-on-a-hill-that-cannot-be-hidden/
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